Magazine Review: Kobold Quarterly, Fall 2012, Issue #23

The kobolds have been looking into the abyss it seems… and they’ve come back with a devilish set of articles just in time for Halloween! Kobold Quarterly #23 features 88 pages of content focused on demons, devils, and darkness. Do you think the little draconian beasties were affected by having the abyss stare back at them?

The issue has some great articles and one that raised my eyebrows that I’ll get to in a bit. But let’s focus on a few of the articles that really caught my eye.

A while back I had an opportunity to interview Adam Roy, one of the designers working on Open Design’s Journeys to the West. He was working on a “monster island” vibe with the behtu, a group of cannibalistic island pygmies. Well, in this issue of KQ we learn a bit more about the pygmy behtu and the demon lord Mechuiti. Mechuiti is a treat, plotting and scheming his revenge on the gods and devils of the Midgard universe. His goal? Destroying Midgard of course. If you’re going to plot, plot big! The island of Palau Kelaparan is his home and his prison with a very Island of Dr. Moreau feel. Should he escape… bad things people. Bad things.

Roy includes stats for Mechuiti and his Behtu (the art from Chris McFann really brings across the island influences beautifully), as well as some history, adventure hooks, a new arcane item and new spell. Plenty of crunch to include the evil pygmies in your world without too much trouble. I love the idea of an “Isle of Monsters” approach where fair maidens are sacrificed to a variety of demon spawn and fiendish creatures. A part of my brain says I should be disturbed by this. 🙂

I always look forward to Steve Winter’s articles at the KQ blog and was happy to see his tips in this issue – “11 Techniques for Creating a Strong Horror Atmosphere at the Table.” I’ve seen a few similar posts around the net (including this one from Shorty Monster) and am always looking for good ideas. That said, Winter offers some ideas on “hypnotizing” your players to keep them “in the mood” (by knocking on the table to remind folks to stay focused) and thinking like a storyteller than a film director (think radio vs. TV/movies). And the one I like the most – “Never let the players feel safe.” Muahahahahaha!

Rodrigo Garcia Carmona wrote a chilling article detailing rules for dealing with demons. “Selling Your Soul” offers tables for how to get a demon’s attention (what to sacrifice) as well as the costs for various desires (from information and riches to bringing back the dead or raising an army of demons). Also included are rules guidelines for summoning a demon (with stats for minor, major, and greater varieties), negotiating, and even banishing the demons. Honestly this is one of those cases where “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” and your descendants may pay that price in the end…

Obviously this is just a subset of the articles included in KQ#23. There’s plenty more between the covers including content from Ed Greenwood (“Pages From Asmodeus”), Christina Stiles (“The Fruits of Friula”), and Monte Cook (“Different Kinds of World Building”) will keep you grinning and offer all sorts of ideas for your campaigns. There’s even some cool content about gods in 13th Age from Ash Law.

ESRB

ESRB “Everyone” rating symbol, displayed on the packaging of computer and video games appropriate for audiences over the age of 6. Part of the ESRB Video Game Rating System. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what was the article that raised my eyebrows? “Slithering in Moonlight” from Marc Radle. And it’s not the content, which focuses on learning more about the lamia race and how to include them as a PC race. It’s the art by Claudio Pozas. And honestly it’s not the art, which is gorgeous in and of itself. It’s the racy nature of the art in a hobby magazine meant for both adults and kids.

I’m not usually a prude, so don’t get me wrong. I love the female form as much as the next guy (or gal). But I wasn’t expecting to see uncovered breasts on two pages of the article. I’m sure it was an editorial decision to include them. And they’re tastefully done by Pozas, My concern is that as an adult I wouldn’t have wanted my 12-year-old self to see them. As a parent, I would have liked to have had a hint.

Really that’s what my concern is. I turned a page and *blam*, breasts! No warning anywhere earlier in the magazine or on the cover. No “parental warning”. No ESRB rating. Nothing. If I had handed this magazine to my kids thinking it was “kid appropriate” I would have been disappointed.

That’s my only issue with this issue of Kobold Quarterly. Amazing content as always. Great art. Tons of terrific ideas. I just wish I’d had an iota of warning about the half-nude women. Perhaps the kobolds *were* affected by staring into the abyss a bit too long?

Checkout KQ #23 today at the Kobold Quarterly store and at RPGNow!

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