Tag Archives: Dungeons & Dragons

Review: Kobold Quarterly #22

The cover of KQ #22, depicting a woman in plate armor with a glowing green sword astride a silver dragon Summer marches onward, scorching us with unrelenting heat. My only relief is the Summer 2012 issue of Kobold Quarterly. It has a pretty wicked cover of a dragon and its rider, and has “Preview: 13th Age” right there. Promising stuff. There is even a Castles & Crusades article, for the old school among you. Let’s see how it measures up.

Barbatos by Wes Schneider, art by Pat Loboyko and Callie Winter

Right out of the gate we have a very strong article about the Bearded Lord of Avernus, the uppermost layer of Golarion’s Hells. I am not well-versed in Golarion lore, so it is appropriate that Barbatos is the gatekeeper. Barbatos’s domains include Evil, Law, Magic, and Travel. Travel is what interests me most. His temples are animal graveyards, crossroads, stone circles, and unmarked graves. An interesting mix, to be sure, and it could offer up some excellent opportunities for side encounters during a campaign.

In my review of KQ’s previous issue, I said that when something mysterious is laid bare, it loses its allure. I don’t feel that happens in this article. We learn about Barbatos’s allegiances, rivalries, and some of his methods, but it does not delve too deeply into his history or his life in Avernus. More generally, it is not an ecology article. Much of the piece discusses Barbatos’s cults, haunts, and servitors (the utterly disgusting edavagors).

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Review: Kobold Quarterly #21

Kobold Quarterly #21 I’m a bit late to the game, but I had a chance to read my very first issue of Kobold Quarterly, which provides content for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, Pathfinder by Paizo, and Green Ronin’s AGE System.

The magazine is reminiscent of Dragon back when you could still get it in print. Much of the material has a similar bent: new classes, in-depth monster articles, scads of new magical items, and it looks like Skip Williams is still answering your rules questions! There is also a letters section, which I have always enjoyed in my magazines.

Let’s touch on some of the articles, shall we?

The Shaman by Mark Radle, art by Rick Hershey

Any class that lets you examine the entrails of animals for a bonus to saving throws is pretty decent in my book! Overall I enjoy this Pathfinder take on a shaman character, though I feel it steps too heavily on the druid in a lot of ways. Is it necessary for every nature-based class to have Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride, Wild Shape, and an animal companion? I do see it a lot. The shaman seeks to spice it up a bit, at least, by making the companion a spirit rather than a normal woodland creature. Also, the class’s use of spontaneous casting seems odd given its otherwise ritualistic nature (with many of its abilities taking rounds or minutes to complete).

I enjoy playing druids, though, and would happily play this in lieu of one. The abilities that do distinguish it from the druid (Blood Divination, Commune with Spirits, Whispers of the Spirits, etc.) are superb. I would just like to see more of them!

Daughters of Lilith by Sersa Victory, art by Claudio Pozas

Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into this article on the ecology of the succubus. Sometimes, when something mysterious is laid bare (no pun intended), it loses its allure. Sersa’s article is an earnest effort at a detached, scholarly interpretation of the life and times of a sex demon in all its unpleasant detail. I’d say it succeeds, yet for that very reason it fails to grab me.

One truly cool thing, though: the Infernal Conspiracy gambit. Once per tier, your character can basically say, hey, that person over there is a succubus who is friendly to my cause. That’s really damn neat. Are gambits a thing? If so, I’ve completely missed them.

It’s a Mystery by Zeb Cook, art by Emile Denis and Jeremy Mohler

These are the kinds of articles I live for, and it is without a doubt my favorite in the whole magazine. I’ve been working on a few off-kilter religions in my own campaign world(s), trying to distinguish them from being "just another pantheon," and this piece is full of invaluable advice. Secret religious and philosophical societies are awesome. Zeb discusses what some underlying motivations for these cults might be, how to join, and the implications of being in one.

I’ll be putting most of the advice in this article to use very soon, I imagine!

Of course, there are several other articles in the issue, including a look at why monotheism isn’t prevalent in fantasy games, and spellcasting backgrounds for the AGE system. Despite a few personal quibbles here and there (nothing is perfect, after all), I  enjoyed this issue and would recommend it to anyone playing one of the three games covered. I look forward to seeing more AGE material within the pages of Kobold Quarterly, and might even break out my Dragon Age box set once more!

Note from the Editor: You can buy this issue of Kobold Quarterly directly from the KQ store for $5.99 (PDF only) or $8.99 (Print+PDF).

Searching For The Best RPG

I have been on an epic quest these last few months tirelessly searching for what could be considered the very best table top pen and paper role playing game out there. My fingers surfed the keyboard of my MacBook Pro all over the Internets asking search engines the question, “What is the very best table top RPG out there?” I have read forum posts, blog posts, e-mails and chats with friends. Sadly, I was unable to get a clear and concise answer.

I took my quest to the next level. I pored through just about every single RPG book and PDF I have collected in the last three years since I got into table top RPGs. It’s a shockingly large amount of material I have collected. I focusing my time on reading how each different RPG handles character creation and game mechanics as those are the areas I have issues with in the RPGs I have played.

The truth is, I didn’t know what to look for, but I will know it when I see it. I wanted simple character creation with lots of choices for races and classes. Something that would fit on one piece of notebook paper old school style. You should not need several sheets of paper and index cards to build your character and track all of their powers. To me that is no longer a pen and paper RPG. It’s something else that I don’t think the hobby has developed a name for. Continue reading