Magazine Review: Kobold Quarterly: Fall 2011 Issue 19

What is the biggest a kobold can actually grow to? The d20srd.org site says kobolds are 2-2.5 feet tall, weighing 35-45 pounds. And the Pathfinder SRD online doesn’t actually mention their explicit size though it does introduce the idea of different colors of kobolds. That said, you could always apply the Giant template to a kobold and see what the reaction might be… I think a race of giant kobolds might be interesting…

Wow I got way sidetracked there. But Wolfgang’s editorial at the beginning of Kobold Quarterly: Fall 2011 Issue 19 made me wonder about what a “big” kobold might actually be. They’re going to bump the cover price of the print edition by $1 per issue, and I think that’s quite reasonable. When I think back about all the amazing articles and art in every issue, how can anyone really argue? Times are tough everywhere and though I’ve been on the receiving end of the kobold’s generosity for my review copies of the magazine, I just purchased a Print+PDF subscription for myself starting with the next issue (#20). I appreciate that Wolfgang & Shelly Baur offer review copies to get the word out about KQ, I’ve known for a while (like most gamers familiar with it) that the magazine is amazing every issue – so I want to make sure to feed the kobolds who create it.

Now that the serious bit of the review is over (have you renewed or subscribed to the magazine recently?), let’s dive into the content, shall we? By the way – you wouldn’t know it by looking at the cover from Malcolm McClinton (featuring a gorgeous Asia-inspired dragon and a bow-wielding dragon rider I’d think twice about crossing), but there’s a lot of death in this issue.

First, there’s Mark Radle’s article about “The White Necromancer” – a concept I truly never would have come up with on my own. A good necromancer? Really? And yet, if you’re playing in a setting that is all about the dead rising, I can see where this would be a truly powerful class living on a fine line between good and evil where animating dead things is concerned. I always wondered about the fine line between healing magic and necromancy and with abilities such as Necrotic Transfer (transferring some of his own HP to another living being) and the Life Sight ability which grants the ability to “see” creatures living and dead in a ten foot area. Plus, Grasp of the Dead and the image of a “swarm of skeletal arms” erupting from the ground to grab and slash at a group of enemies would be cool
to watch!

In addition to the class abilities, you also get new spells like “Bone Swarm” and “Wall of Bones” which would be very creepy if you were on the receiving end. The psychological damage alone might be interesting to explore. And then there’s the philosophical side of the equation – where is that fine line between animating the dead for good purposes vs. evil? What would normal death-fearing people do to avoid these characters? Would they even allow them into their towns or cities?

Later in the issue, there’s an article from Phillip Larwood on the “Archetypes of Death.” Again, there are concepts here I don’t know that I would have come up with myself – like a “Grave Druid” who protects ancient grave sites and their inhabitants. But I love the concept. I can imagine these druids protecting sacred grounds like elephant graveyards or old battle grounds. The article also describes a barbarian “Deathrager” who gets more powerful the closer they are to death, the “Master of Worms” – a monk trained in combating the undead, and the “Zombie Master” – a summoner who brings forth an eidolon resembling a rotting corpse or skeleton. Again, half of these characters would be shunned in civilized lands by default. And the other half would be feared and revered as warriors against the restless dead.

Beyond the death-related topics, there is plenty of crunch in this issue. Here are just a few other highlights:

  • “Bottled Hubris” by Jerall Toi proves that the pen can be mightier than the sword if you use magic ink! The Calligraphist is a cool new archetype I’ve seen done before, but never as succinctly…
  • “Magic Shops: What’s in Store?” by Christina Stiles and Spike Y Jones offers some new tricks for “ye olde magick store” along with some great examples of how to use a few simple ideals. I can see Hrennsen’s Supply Wagon visiting a campaign near me soon with just the right thing for a PC or two…
  • “Welcome to the Dragon Empires” by James Jacobs provides an overview of the Asian-themed Dragon Empires for Pathfinder. Even if you don’t plan on visiting yourself or playing the Jade Regent adventure path, there are some cool ideas scattered throughout you might be able to use in your own campaigns. And the map alone offers some interesting food for thought – is it just me or could there be several Japanese or Chinese language characters used in the map itself?
  • “Courting Adventure” by Rick Hudson offers a great introductory lesson into court politics – from the landed nobility to religious figures, advisors, and stewards.
  • And “Aneela, Human Cleric” by Matthew J. Hanson is at the top of my list of solo adventures to complete when I get a chance. I was a huge fan of the Choose Your Own Adventures books as a kid and I love that this sort of solo exploration is showing up again. More! More!

Of course, this is just part of that KQ#19 offers in its 80 pages. And like every issue, you’re likely to find something you can use right away or to inspire you to create something on your own. These kobolds really know their stuff, don’t they?

You can find Kobold Quarterly: Fall 2011 Issue 19 at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG and you can find it at the Kobold Quarterly Store. But either way, I encourage you to pick up a copy to see what cool nuggets of fun you can discover for YOUR games!

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