Is this issue… ticking? Yes, Kobold Quarterly issue #17 is all about the rogues and villainy!
For your inspection, a list of highlights from the table of contents:
Ambush in Absalom: Our first official adventure for Paizo’s Pathfinder Society, a little piece by Mark Moreland.
"So We Meet Again!" Special adversary abilities for recurring villains and the PCs who hate them. These adversary mechanics give recurring villains and PCs the ability to uniquely track, thwart and escape each another over many adventures. For Pathfinder RPG.
The Right Way to Do Wrong: Brandon Hodge presents classic swindles for your rogue to play. Say, would you watch this violin for a second?
Know Why You Play: Jeff Tidball gives us both an insightful interview and the complete scoop on the Dragon Age RPG stunt mechanic, and how to adapt it to D&D or Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Elf Needs Food, Badly: Yes, magical foods make an appearance, and are giving us a case of the nom nom noms!
Magical Squibs and Firecrackers: Rockets, firecrackers, and squibs were good enough for Prof. JRR Tolkein in The Hobbit. Now they're here for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
The Black Goat: A tavern mini adventure for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that will leave your PCs changed...forever.
Group Concepts: Nine ways to kick off a perfect campaign, with the right concept for the PCs from the start. Excellent advice, with examples from the Midgard campaign setting.
Getting Ahead: Taking trophy heads and turning them into magical items might cross a line somewhere, but we're guessing both PCs and villains will do anything to get a head when they see what these beauties do. For Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Ask the Kobold: Gaming legend Skip Williams takes on the use of magic items on companion animals, with rather amusing results.
Not to mention monster advice from Monte Cook, two articles for the AGE System on stunts, plus book reviews, details of the Midgard campaign setting, and much, much more!
Kobold Quarterly #17 is replete with moustache-twirling villainy, classic crunch, and the finest RPG flavor available anywhere! Pick up your copy today!
"Ambush in Absalom" is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Its Chronicle Sheet is a free download (108 KB zip/PDF).
Ah, villainy... foundation of all the best conflict! Where would the heros be if there were no villains for them to strive against? Indeed, heros are often more interesting if they have a touch of villainy themselves. (Really, which is your favorite Star Wars hero - the smuggler and space-pirate Han Solo, or squeaky-clean Luke Skywalker?)
As you have certainly guessed already, Kobold Quarterly #17 takes a look at villainy. Five of its dozen-and-a-half articles were chosen for this theme. If you're not looking for villainy right now, that still leaves over a dozen articles for you enjoy.
The theme articles are:
Wolfgang Baur's introduction, which makes some excellent suggestions about believable motivations for villains. He also makes some points about motivations that don't work. (Spoiler Alert -- Insanity is a lame reason for being evil.)
"So We Meet Again" by Michael Kortes: An intriguing set of "nemesis and hero" abilities specifically designed for use by (and against) recurring enemies.
"The Right Way to Do Wrong" by Brandon Hodge: Describes nine real-life cons used by grifters back in the pre-internet days. Naturally, he also describes how these schemes can be used in your game.
"The Scourges of Vael Turog" by Stefen Styrsky: This article is less about villainy than its aftermath - three magical diseases created by a long-gone empire of evil. Diseases which have outlived their makers and yet still seek new victims; diseases which have spawned changes to the very landscape where they lurk.
"The Value of the Monster" by Monte Cook: When you are planning the next arch-nemesis for your group, don't overlook all those truly inhuman creatures in the Monster Manual / Bestiary. A lot of Game Masters, myself included, tend to use human (or at least nearly human, like elven or dwarven) foes when creating a long-term threat. Mr. Cook presents some compelling reasons for breaking that habit.
Stepping beyond this season's theme, here are the general gaming articles:
"Know Why You Play" by Jeremy L. C. Jones: An interview with Jeff Tidball, author, screenwriter, and game designer. Chances are very good that you have encountered his work more than once.
"Ambush in Absalom" by Mark Moreland, with art by Jenny Clements and cartography by Corey Macourek: This is an official Pathfinder Society quest.
"On the Streets and In the Books" by Quinn Murphy: This short article has some excellent ideas about how to conduct an exciting chase scene, and also how to inject some interest into doing research. Yes, I said "doing research", as in "looking stuff up in libraries" - the kind of scene that is usually glossed over with a music montage in movies, and just as often resolved with a single bland skill check in d20 games. This article is written for the Dragon Age system, but everything in it is very easily portable to other systems.
"Elf Needs Food Badly" by Matthew J. Hanson: Fifteen ways to add some "flavor" to your campaign. Potions aren't the only magic items that must be swallowed to be effective. Despite the tongue-in-cheek title, there are some crunchy tidbits in this article.
"Secrets of the Four Golden Gates" by Davis Adams: This article presents new options for 4th edition monks, including some intriguing monk-specific magic items.
"Magical Squibs, Crackers, and Fireworks" by Jonathan McAnulty: Remember those early scenes in the first "Lord of the Rings" movie, where Gandalf brings a wagonload of enchanted fireworks for Bilbo's birthday party? Yep -'nuff said!
"The Black Goat: by Richard L. Smith II, with art by Kevin Crossley and cartography by Sean Macdonald: This nicely creepy little module has a spooky Lovecraftian feel. Unlike most adventure modules, you can place this one in a town or city that your players frequent, and let them slowly discover that something is amiss.
"Feats of Stunning Might and Brilliance" by Jeff Tidball: An article about how stunts work in the Dragon Age Roleplaying Game. Lots of game-design insight makes this an interesting read even if you're not a Dragon Age gamer.
"Lackeys, Hirelings, and Henchmen" by Tom Allman: Your players don't exist in a vacuum. This article shows how and why you can make NPC's a part of the adventuring group, while enhancing everyone's fun at the same time.
"Group Concepts" by Mario Podeschi: How do you put together a new group? How do you make a set of PC's or NPC's coherent enough to qualify as a group? This article explains it all. Although presented as part of the Midgard Campaign Setting, everything here is immanently portable to any setting or game system.
"Getting Ahead" by Ben McFarland: The subtitle sums it up perfectly - "Seven Magical Heads of Power". Beware the headhunter...
"It's Not Supposed to End This Way" by Scott A. Murray: What can you do when a series of unlucky dice rolls threaten to kill off a character at the most inopportune and awkward moment possible? Is there a way to save the character for a better death later without actually cheating now? Why yes; in fact there is not just one way, there are six ways!
"Seven Secrets of the Seven Cities" by Wolfgang Baur: Although technically part of the Zobeck campaign setting, these seven ideas can be used in any game.
Plus regular columns like "From the Mines", "Ask the Kobold", and "Book Reviews"
By the way, this review would not be complete if I didn't mention something about the advertisements. Serious book publishers have finally realized that we fantasy role players represent a ready-made market for good history books. (Do you know any gamer who doesn't own at least one factual book about swords, the crusades, or knighthood?) As you read through this issue, look at some of the books being advertised. I plan on owning several of them before the year is out.
Once again KQ delivers a packed issue of great articles. I like that they're supporting Dragon Age with new stunts. Goblins and fireworks also go well together. I also always enjoyed the article on food, from orcish pie to pickled aboleth brains.