This review originally appeared in The Digital Front Podcast - Episode 05 and Purple Duck Productions.
Review - Kobold Quarterly #2
by Mark Gedak
Kobold Quarterly #2 is the fall issue of Wolfgang Baur's OGL magazine of kobolds and dragons. It is available in PDF from Paizo's website (www.paizo.com) on an issue by issue basis or by susbscription through Wolfgang's Free City site (http://wolfgangbaur.com/). This issue is 45 pages and is full-bookmarked. Contributers to this issue include but are not limited to Wolfgang Baur, Tim and Eileen Connors, Ed Greenwood, Robert Schwalb, Sigfried Trent, Nicholas Logue, Jeff Grubb, John Ling, and Skip Williams. There are 6 new game articles, two previews from upcoming products, an industry interview, letters column, Bolt & Quiver and Ask a Kobold. As Kobold Quarterly is being developed as a magazine, there are a few ads in the product.
There is a good mix of DM and player articles in this issue. For players, there is a 20 level non-magic using assassin class by Robert Schwalb. This section is a preview of material from Green Ronin's d20 Freeport Companion. The class is packed with abilities new and old. It certainly doesn't suffer from the loss of assassin spells, as it has a backstab (weakened sneak attack), combat bonus to flanking, poison use, a customization option called tools of the trade, death attack, sniper and hiding abilities spread across the 20 levels. If a player looking for something a little less crunchy, Sigfried Trent provides readers with an article focused on creating vibrant characters. He uses a five point approach focus on the theme, appearance, motivation, speech, and quirks of the character to help a person define their characters. John Ling provides players with alternate class abilities for the paladin to that replace the paladin's mount with a bonded weapon, a guardian archon or elemental resistance.
For DMs, there is a wealth of new material. Tim and Eileen Connors present the 2nd article in the Archduke series – this one focusing on Belphegor, the prince of laziness. I don't know if it's right to laugh out loud when reading about the corruption of humanity but way that Belphegor rose through the ranks of the devils is absolutely hilarious in this article. Ed Greenwood brings a three page article on how to bring a community to life. It covers city basics, interesting locals, subplots, information gathering and the law. Nicolas Logue reminds us of what a good ecology article looks like when he examines the origin, physiology, society and history of the Barghest. This article has four Barghest-specific feats, though I think one could easily be adapted to werewolfs, worgs or similar beasties; there is also stats for a greater barghest that lives within the sewers of Zobeck. Jeff Grub expands on an idea that Wolfgang presented in issue #1 of Kobold Quarterly and discuss how aristocratic levels could be given by rulers as rewards, how they interact with class levels and what happens if the character falls out favour. I found this article particularly helpful because in my PbEM campaign, the PCs started with a single level of a npc class and have risen to a heroic class – it was nice to see that a designer would approach the interaction in the same way as we did. Wolfgang Baur closes the magazine with an article on the origin the ghoul empire that is the focus of Open Design 3: Empire of the Ghouls (set for release this month) and an article on the Griffin Towers that surround the Free City of Zobeck.
For DMs and Players alike, Kobold Quarterly had the opportunity to talk to Wayne Reynolds about his work as an illustrator and the new Kobold Sage (Skip Williams) answers questions on the concealment mechanic and charisma modifiers.
One of the nicest features of Kobold Quarterly is the inclusion of materials into a shared open design world. The assassin article references the Free City of Zobeck (Steam and Brass) and the ecology of the Barghest references the Stross family (from Castle Shadowcrag). There is a nice mix of fluff and crunch as well. The product is not without flaws, there are a handful of obvious editing mistakes and the three statistic blocks seemed to have a couple errors or lacked uniform structure between them. Overall, I would recommend this issue of Kobold Quarterly to anyone who is looking for a general d20 fantasy magazine.