Kobold Quarterly 14

****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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The Gen Con special issue is the largest and most popular every year! Packed with material for both 4th Edition D&D and the Pathfinder RPG, this magazine is the Switzerland of the edition wars, able to appeal to roleplayers of all stripes. The Gen Con issue's theme is "Traps and Treasures," and it will feature masses of loot and some deadly devices to protect it, plus a sneak preview of characters from the upcoming Pathfinder novels, two new PC classes, advice from Monte Cook, and the ever-popular Ecology series.

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****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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The start of a great tradition


In what’s becoming a welcome annual tradition, the folks at Kobold Quarterly bring you the Gencon issue-- #14 is bigger and more jam packed full of good stuff than any issue before it. The magazine rolls in as a full centurion, perfect bound with a great Nicole Cardiff painted cover that’s a little heavier weight paper than the 100 inside pages. The table of contest offers a buffet of twenty-some articles, and depending on which side of the edition fence you stand, you’ll either love or grumble a little at the slight Pathfinder focus. For those keeping score, it’s 5 4E articles, 8 Pathfinder articles, and 9 system-neutral or alternate system articles with a smattering of others.

And four years into this, you can be sure the selection is pretty fantastic all around. KQ has been award winning shop from the start, and this issue doesn’t buck that trend. What articles stood out in this offering? With so many to choose from, it’s tough to pick just a few, but these alone make the issue worthwhile:

“The Ecology of the Tengu” rocked the house, especially when combined with the four days of bonus material provided on the Kobold Quarterly website. Did you want Tengu culture? There. Maybe Tengu variants? Got it. How about ways to integrate Tengu into Golarion or the Open Design world of Midgard? Yeah, it’s in there. The Tengu article is just shy of a full supplement, and that’s great, no matter what you’re playing.

Next, the article on Skill Battles offers a very interesting and cool method for expanding your encounter variety. Intended for 4E but conceptually applicable to any edition, Hanson’s option looks at procedural and dramatic contests, giving characters an abstracted alternative to the usual fare of encounter, dailies and at-wills. It strives to create a hybrid of traditional battles and the reskinned idea of complex skill checks that are skill challenges and succeeds—presenting something a bit off center which builds on established 4E mechanics but pushes the game’s boundaries.

Michael Furlanetto continues to spin up engaging ideas for 4E, and his article on Hoard Magic doesn’t disappoint. Perhaps builing on the idea of magic item sets and detailing how the collected wealth of a great dragon can take up an arcane power of its own, he shows that there’s not only room for unusual and nontraditional magic in 4E, but the system does it very well. This is one idea I’m scooping up for later on just for the pure cool factor.

Finally, the article I thought better than the paladin feats, the magic perfumes, the alternate codes of honor, or the middle-class magic items—which were all rich grist for a GM’s creative mill—was Jeff Tidball’s article on Moral Choices That Matter. He talks first about crafting genuine ethical dilemmas that evoke emotion and push characters into making hard choices, and then goes on to discuss how to make consequences with depth and importance. It’s not a long article, but laser precise and packed with enough roleplaying explosive to change your game’s landscape. You can bet this is one piece I’ll be copying and putting into my design binder.

And while these four stars shine brightest, the whole of the issue continues to build on the reputation of what we’ve come to expect from Kobold Quarterly—a well edited and gorgeously produced magazine that promises to deliver an envelope full of awesome with each season. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—you’ll find KQ is worth every penny. Now if we could just get those kobolds to go bi-monthly!



I finally got my hands on this issue and the first word that came to my mind was … WOW. Although Kobold Quarterly has always been considered the spiritual successor to Dragon magazine, issue 14 truly hammers this home. As I paged through the issue, I honestly felt like I was paging through a new issue of Dragon, even more so than with previous issues. It’s just that good. The production value, the writing, the layout, the content … everything is turned up to 11.

The Ecology of the Tengu was an interesting read and James Jacobs’ Tengu in Golarion was a very nice touch!

There are a number of very good articles for paladins and Monte Cook’s piece was excellent as always.

Ed Greenwood’s article on creating memorable characters is great – a must read!

I also was very interested and intrigued with the new Advanced Feats article. Can’t wait to see what come of this down the road.

The Reign of Men article was very interesting – there are certainly some ideas that will be finding their way into my games. Oh, and a special shout out to Joe Slucher’s excellent illustrations – very well done!

Honestly, I could go on and on and list each article – I even read through the 4E stuff (which I do not play) and found plenty of ideas worth stealing! The bottom line? This is a great issue. If you have been on the fence regarding Kobold Quarterly, or you’ve just never gotten around to checking and issue out … THIS should be the issue that makes a believer out of you!

I can’t wait to see how Wolfgang and company top themselves for issue 15!

Another Excellent work

****( )

And it keeps getting bigger and better.

KQ 14 is full of content, and this one seems extra Pathfinder heavy, with a bit of love for Dragon Age. The fact that the magazine mixes articles from our hobby's "elders" (quotes since any more they aren't much older than I) and newer voices just shows how forward thinking keeping the print magazine alive is.

P.S. If you want to see more 4.x 3.x PFRPG true 20 etc, start submitting!

Blew me away


I'd been avoiding Kobold Quarterly, as I'd gotten tired of people telling me how good it was. But there it was at GenCon, and I submitted to the urge to pick it up.

Boy am I glad I did. KQ14 is the only issue I've read, but it really blew me away.

First, the bad. There are some grammatical/spelling/proofreading errors, and 20% of the articles and adventures didn't do it for me at all. That latter bit isn't really a criticism - no magazine this size would do it for anyone 100% - but it should be said.

Now the good. Lots of articles really inspired me. I'll highlight four.

I wish I'd thought of that! (New material category): Perfumes of Bourgund. How is it that (non)magical perfumes haven't played a bigger role in D&D until now? Really clever take on a historical topic, with cool game applications.

I wish I'd thought of that! (Rethinking category): The Reign of Men. Another historical take, this complete with an inversion of a fantasy trope in a way that works extremely well.

Best design: Hoard Magic. Great use of the fact that the treasure rules are balanced against level in 4e (and 3e/PFRPG, for that matter) to use treasure to tell a cool story. The leading question - why do dragons hoard treasure - had never occurred to me, and now I can't imagine why it never did. Too bad this one wasn't dual-statted in PFRPG, although it should convert pretty easily.

Deepest thoughts: Moral Choices that Matter. This should be in every game mastery guide out there. It could just as easily have been written about Dogs in the Vineyard as Dragon Age, but whatever the system, any group wanting to tell a memorable story should heed this advice.

Overall, this was a great issue. Now I've got to start plowing through the back catalog to see if it's been this good all along.

Small but Mighty

****( )

This was definately the best one so far. There is literaly something for everyone in this issue. I've started to get very antsy and irratable when it's almost time for my Kobold Quarterly to show up. I haven't been like this since the '80s when I was waiting for my Dragon Magazine.

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