Magazine Review: Kobold Quarterly: Summer 2011 Issue 18

How is it that a bunch of kobolds can magically create amazing collections of articles every few months? Is it because the kobolds at Kobold Quarterly seem to have five digits on each hand as opposed to the three or four digits their more primitive cousins in the Pathfinder RPG universe have? Or perhaps it’s just the kobold cranium that seems larger than normal in proportion for the rest of their small bodies?

Typing can’t really require all that many fingers though, since I have a good friend who’s been two-finger typing as long as I’ve known him… So whether three, four, or five digits are involved, I guess we’ll just assume that there are a lot of creative draconian critters running around in virtual offices around the world typing out their imaginative thoughts and filling up new issues as fast as they can!

However they work their magic, the kobolds have done it again. The Summer 2011 issue, Kobold Quarterly #18, managed to pack in 100 pages of gaming goodness in time for Gen Con back in August this year. And considering that we’re now in September, I’m only a wee bit behind… So with so many great articles to choose from, I decided I’d focus on just a few of the articles that caught my attention.

The first of these was “Silus and the Red Dogs: Solo Adventure for a Halfling Thief” by Matthew J. Hanson. This article reminded me like the love child of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books I loved as a kid and a one-on-one RPG session with a GM. Simplified rules only require some paper, a pencil, the article, and a single d20 to play and I suspect that if random chance is truly random, you’ll end up with a slightly different adventure each time you go through it. I would love to see more of this type of solo adventure and potentially even a collection available to gamers needing to get some gaming in when you have a few minutes!

Next was “Ecology of the Minotaur: Children of the Moon” by Tracy Hurley. Just a few months ago I was pondering the lonely minotaur and wondering how the first one of these creatures went from a lonely existence in a labyrinth in a Greek myth to suddenly appearing in RPGs and fiction all over the place. Now I have a bit better understanding of how these powerful figures fit into Open Design’s Midgard Campaign Setting at least. I love that the labyrinth is a major part of their world, but that there is much more to discover. From a simple anatomy lesson to how to some minotaur think of their horns as a status symbol and are ashamed when those symbols are damaged or tarnished… There’s a ton of great food for thought here whether you already have them in your campaign or are considering adding them.

Matt James’ article on siege weapons – “Tools of War: Siege Weaponry” – blew me away. Though some of these rules appear in Soldiers of Fortune, James manages to take a fresh look at integrating these huge weapons and siege tactics into your 4e game, from new powers and feats to give siege engineers to details about some of the classic weapons of the medieval age. I think it’s the art by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc that really drove home for me how big, complex, and brutal some of these devices could be. When rocks and missiles start flying from the field towards a structure, I sure as heck don’t want to be on the walls!

Adventure design is one of those things most of us work on as GMs our entire gaming careers. So articles like “Elementary, my Dear Wizard: How to Build a Rock-Solid Mystery” by Paul Baalham are a boon to have in your arsenal. I’m not much of a mystery guy to be honest, but I like the mystery format. That said, I’m horrible at setting clues and letting the party do their thing. So having clear steps for creating a murder mystery is awesome! From defining the victim, who the suspects are, and how to get the PCs heading down the right path to how to apply various skill checks for knowledge, interrogation, perception, and so on makes a huge difference when trying to create a great mystery for your players.

Then we have the concept of a “Soul Broker” from Anthony W. Eichenlaub. I’ve always been fascinated with the “deals with the devil” that fictional characters sometimes make for material wealth or skills to improve their lot in life. Summoning a demon to gain the power to cast monstrous spells only ends up a good deal for the demon usually. But after reading this article I was amazed to find out that there’s a bit of a false economy of sorts when trading souls… Who knew there would be a way for PCs to get into the business of collecting souls for another agent? Though I can never imagine playing a PC who does this sort of thing, it would certainly be useful to have a big bad guy in a campaign who dealt in souls as currency. It seems that evil can get very creative indeed when it wants to be!

Lastly I want to talk about “10 Reasons Why Your Characters Should Be in Jail” by Russell Jones. This is a discussion I had with my last GM quite a bit. Doesn’t it make sense that a village, town, city, or nation has laws to protect its citizens? Maybe not all of them, but the rich and powerful at least – and to stay rich and powerful, those folks would probably create laws to help the people who support them… So if you are in a place where you have to peace-bound your weapons in order to carry them in town and your PCs choose not to, they should spend some jail time. Or if they’re caught breaking and entering, stealing, or killing citizens, shouldn’t that count against them as well? Jones’ article brings up these points and a few more I hadn’t considered – and I think all my campaigns are going to introduce laws to keep my PCs on their toes. Consequences can be a pain in the rear sometimes, can’t they?

This is really just the tip of the iceberg with Kobold Quarterly #18. Adventures, editorials, rules… it’s all in there like a cornucopia of gaming goodies just waiting for you to check it out! Another amazing issue from those kobolds with the overactive imaginations and +1 digits of typing quickly.

Pick up your copy today at the Kobold Quarterly Store or over at RPGNow!

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