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Review of Kobold Quarterly #14 Summer Edition

They stretched their beloved lord in his boat, laid out by the mast, amidships, the great ring-giver.” ~ The Saga of Beowulf

Kobold Quarterly #14 was released the week of GenCon 2010, and although I had a review copy from Kobold Minion #1 well before the “Best Four Days of Gaming”, I was sworn upon pain of many lizard-claw lacerations not to reveal its secrets too soon.  Alas, amidst the hurly-burly that was GenCon 2010, and the post-convention article frenzy that followed it, I have not had the chance to do a proper review of the latest offering from KQ, until now.Cover KQ14_220px

But “better late than never”, as they say…

And as I did with my review of Kobold Quarterly #13, I will rate the articles for Fluff and Crunch on a scale of 0 to 5, based upon how useful and applicable the content is to D&D 4E.  As before, a 0 rating means that the material is barely applicable to the 4E system or setting, while a 5 rating indicates it is some really great content!

Kobold Quarterly #14
  • Editor:  Wolfgang Baur (Kobold in Chief)
  • Illustrations: Nicole Cardiff (cover)
  • Publisher: Open Design LLC
  • Year: 2010
  • Media: PDF (100 pages)
  • Price: $5.99


This year’s Summer Edition of Kobold Quarterly is quite a sizeable ebook  – 100 pages in all – with six feature articles and nearly a score of other articles and columns.  The Production Quality of this issue is excellent, with a straightforward and easy-to-read format.  There is also some nice art in this latest edition, particularly a lovely piece of cover art entitled “The Paladin’s Treasure”.  There are also plenty of glossy full-page ads, which remind me a bit of how old Dragon Magazine used to look, and a few cartoons by STAN! to liven up the pages.

This month’s Editorial by Wolfgang Baur discusses the Viking code of reward, referred to in the sagas as “ring-giving”, which also inspired my choice of epigraph for the review.  The Summer Issue contains five full articles on new treasures to find in D&D and Pathfinder campaigns, and I personally appreciate that the Kobold-In-Chief is including features to help Dungeon Masters add a bit of unknown to their adventures.

Crunch: NA
Fluff: NA

Aasimar is a article by Kolja Raven Liquette which brings back to 4E a playable Character Race that many might remember from Planescape.  Although true to many of the original concepts of the PC Race from previous editions, it comes across as a bit over-powered in comparison to other races when upgraded to 4E standards.  There are, however, some excellent support contents in the article, including Player Backgrounds, Feats, and even a race-specific Paragon Path.  Definitely a well-developed concept, but DMs might want to be cautious when they decide to allow this Aasimar Player-Character Race into their campaigns.

Crunch: 3
Fluff: 5

Prince of Wolves by James L. Sutter is a feature filled with game-mechanic adaptations of concepts found in the Pathfinder Novel, Prince of Wolves by David Gross.  Although not written for 4E, it has some really inventive material which could be adapted to a D&D campaign, including a stat block for a fascinating NPC named Radovan, a tiefling rogue/monk bodyguard to the hero of the novel.

Crunch: 2
Fluff: 4

Ecology of the Tengu By R. William Thompson is designed for Pathfinder, and as such has little in the way of “crunch” for a 4E Dungeon Master.  However, the “fluff” portion of this Ecology is well-written and would very easily be adapted to the Kenku, providing plenty of hooks and adventure ideas for a DM to wrap an adventure around these roguish avian humanoids.

Crunch: 1
Fluff: 5

Healing Hands (Variant Rules for Laying On Hands) is a Pathfinder article by James Graham, offering new Feats to allow a Paladin to cure other maladies and combat conditions through their healing touch.  Some interesting ideas here, but it is solidly a Pathfinder feature, although enterprising DMs might consider adapting some of these abilities as Leader Powers for NPC Paladins.

Crunch: 1
Fluff: 3

Perfumes of Bourgund by Stefen Styrsky offers Pathfinder Dungeon Masters a fascinating NPC who specializes in creating non-magical and magical perfumes which have in-game effects.  Enterprising DMs from the 4E side of the fence could easily adapt these wondrous fragrances to their own campaigns, providing new types of magic items and alchemical recipes.

Crunch: 1
Fluff: 4

Skill Battles is a new use for Skill Challenges by Matthew J. Hanson, and offers some exciting new ideas for creating a new type of combat encounter.  It is definitely worth taking a look at for any Dungeon Master who wants to involve more Skill Challenges in their adventures, and includes three examples of Skill Battles, showcasing how his encounter design ideas work.

Crunch: 4
Fluff: 5

Hoard Magic (Tapping the Power of Treasure) by Michael Furlanetto is an interesting concept wherein an entire “hoard” of treasure becomes a magic item, in and of itself, allowing the owner of the hoard to affect its surroundings (i.e. like a dragon’s Lair).  The author quantifies some of the concepts of “world-breaking” monster encounters, suggesting powers which a hoard might bestow upon its owner depending on its size.  Not a bad concept for DMs unfamiliar or even uncomfortable with designing “world-breakers”, and certainly offers some ideas on the power level and scope of world-breaking powers.

Crunch: 4
Fluff: 3

Men of Honor (Alternate Paladin Codes) is a system non-specific article by Dan Voyce which offers examples of codes of honor and chivalry, many of which are drawn from historical and literary references.  It is a very good read for anyone considering playing a Paladin, or any Character that would have a strong sense of ethics and honor, particular martial honor.

Crunch: NA
Fluff: 5

Dice versus Story is a Game Theories article by Monte Cook discussing the importance of random elements to the Role-Playing Game experience, particularly with regard to random encounters.  His arguments are thoughtful and are liberally interwoven with examples from his own games.  Personally, it has made me consider adding random encounters back into my own 4E game, and although it would certainly require a bit more preparation before a session, might well be worth it.

Crunch: NA
Fluff: NA

Chumming the Dungeon is an interview of Rob Heinsoo by Jeremy L. C. Jones, and provides some excellent insight into one of the “great minds” behind many Wizard of the Coast products.  It is a really enjoyable interview, and has some good humor in it as well.

Crunch: NA
Fluff: NA

Paper Treasures is a Treasure Trove column penned by John Baichtal, and offers a collection of system non-specific books and scrolls that can be found in a treasure trove.  These “paper treasures” have detailed histories, and often contain clues and hooks which can lead to further adventures for DMs to develop further.

Crunch: NA
Fluff: 4

Middle Class Magic by Adam Daigle is a collection of low-powered Pathfinder magic items which might be owned by merchants or other middle-class folk.  Designed with the Zobeck setting in mind, these items could still be adapted to 4E by industrious DMs, but otherwise, the stats are not designed for D&D 4E.

Crunch: 1
Fluff: 3

Book Reviews offers solid backgrounds on a wide variety of fantasy novels, including the Pathfinder Novel Prince of Wolves which inspired one of the Featured Articles in this issue of KQ.  William Banks and Pierce Watters do a nice job of reviewing the books, and is definitely a good read for anyone shopping for a good fantasy novel to curl up with on a lazy summer night.

Crunch: NA
Fluff: NA

How to Create Memorable Characters is an article penned by famed “character-creator” Ed Greenwood, and it is always a pleasure to get insight from the Voice-of-Elminster.  The Author offers a number of solid ideas for creating Characters, both from a DM as well as Player perspective, and is a solid read for anyone looking to improve their role-playing habits.

Crunch: NA
Fluff: NA

Ask the Kobold is a Q&A penned by Skip Williams of questions posed by Readers about game mechanic interpretations.  I am not sure why, but only Pathfinder and D&D 3.5 questions seem to be in the article, which makes one wonder if 4E is somehow less ambiguous than its preceding versions.

Crunch: 0
Fluff: 0

How to Create Feats is an article by Sigfried Trent regarding the theory and philosophy behind crafting balanced and useful feats – specifically Pathfinder Feats.  The Author has worked with the Netbook of Feats project as well as feats in the Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide, and has some interesting ideas on how to conceptualize and write a solid feat.  But sadly, this article has little use to a 4E gamer.

Crunch: 0
Fluff: 1

Ancient Tongues is a Pathfinder article by Michael Kortes which describes the concepts behind creating fantasy languages, and how they can be used to build a campaign setting.  D&D 4E DMs interested in world-building might find this article useful, but otherwise has little application to 4E.

Crunch: 0
Fluff: 2

Courtly Games of the Wizard Prince is a really awesome article by Mario Podeschi, offering Dungeon Masters a variety of “games” which might be held at court functions, particularly in lands ruled by wizards, sorcerers, or warlocks.  The Author describes four contests which can be held, and use skill challenges and combat encounters to compete.  A really fascinating article, and offers DMs a way to introduce interesting encounters in places other than the wilderness or in a dank dungeon.

Crunch: 5
Fluff: 5

Moral Choices That Matter is an article for the Dragon Age RPG, and Author Jeff Tidball offers insights in methods for “Crafting Serious Dilemmas for Your Dragon Age Campaign”.  But really any Dungeon Master playing Pathfinder or D&D can get something from this article for crafting adventures with real moral dilemmas.

Crunch: 0
Fluff: 4

The Reign of Men by John Wick and Jesse Heinig is the final article in their Wicked Fantasy series, offering new takes on high fantasy races.  Previous issues had introduced the haffun (Halfling) and the uvandir (dwarves), and now a new look at Humans, with a somewhat unorthodox design.  Regretfully, the stats and racial abilities are designed for Pathfinder, so 4E Dungeon Masters would need to re-write the “crunch”.  However, the “fluff” might be useful for world-building, as it presents a new take on Humans in a fantasy world.

Crunch: 0
Fluff: 3

Art & Expertise is a 4E article by Scott A. Murray with 50 new ways to use skills, like “determining a corpse’s cause and time of death” or how to “forge a convincing document”.  The Author’s ideas can lend a lot to new skill challenges or role-playing moments when a skill roll might be needed to go beyond their “as written” application.

Crunch: 4
Fluff: 4

Figurines of Wondrous Power is a Pathfinder article by Phillip Larwood featuring new 10 new wondrous figurines, as well as rules for creating cursed figurines – figurines of fell power.  The article is well-written, and some of these new figurines would make excellent additions to a 4E campaign, after conversion from Pathfinder stats.

Crunch: 2
Fluff: 4

Amber Heart is subtitled “An Adventure for Tales of the Old Margreve”, and is written for use with Pathfinder by Tim & Eileen Connors.  The adventure is a rather frightening tale, and offers five encounters and a full color map of an inn (The Griffon’s Nest).  It would be fairly easy to adapt the adventure to 4E, and the inn map is very nicely rendered, and could be used as a “dungeon tile” if printed to the right scale from the PDF.

Crunch: 3
Fluff: 4

Overall Grade:  A-

It is heartening to see Kobold Quarterly continue to provide useful articles for both Pathfinder and D&D 4E, and this issue packs a lot of content into its pages for both rules systems.  While it is true that there “crunch” factor is a bit low on average across the magazine, the 4E specific articles had some very strong ratings.  When the Pathfinder contents which could be converted to D&D is factored in, plus the very inspiring non-system specific articles, and Kobold Quarterly #14 is definitely solid buy for any gamer’s hard-earned dollars.

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!

Editor’s Note: This Blog’s Author received a complimentary copy of the product in PDF format from which the review was written.

Grade Card

  • Presentation: A
  • - Design: A
  • - Illustrations: A
  • Content: B+ (A)
  • - Crunch: C (A-)
  • - Fluff: A
  • Value: A-

About The Author

Editor-in-Chief
Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.

Comments

6 Responses to “Review of Kobold Quarterly #14 Summer Edition”

  1. excellent review–i am picking up a copy based completely on this review–i play 4e and thought that it was all pathfinder all the time–the articles my monte and ed are very interesting to me and the crunch stuff is nice. thanks for posting this. Thanks, David S.

  2. Ben. says:

    “Ask the Kobold” only covers Pathfinder/d20 because that’s Skip’s ballywick of expertise. Now if they could get one of the designers for 4E (who’s no longer part of WotC) to do it without worrying about stepping on anyone’s toes or hurting anyone’s feelings, that’d be ideal– because Skip’s pedigree is what qualifies him to answer the questions.

    -Ben.
    .-= Ben.´s last blog ..Woohoo! =-.

  3. Good point, to be honest, that had not occurred to me! lol

  4. Razz says:

    Why the hell do you keep talking about 4E in all your reviews? 4E sucks and is not real D&D. Pathfinder is closer to the way 4E D&D should be far more than WotC’s 4E garbage.

    Also, the reason why there are 3.5e and Pathfinder questions in Ask the Kobold is because those systems are more intricate and optimized and more to the heart and soul or D&D than the dumbed down, super-easy, MMO-wanna-be game called 4E. 4E is too simplistic for any real questions. Heck, with Essentials, 4.5e is going to be out and it’s dumbed down even more!

  5. @Razz – I have to say that I really do not appreciate the tone you’re taking in your comments regarding 4E. I think I have made it quite clear on the very first page of this site, that Neuroglyph Games is devoted to D&D 4E topics. And as such, my reviews will be designed to examine the usefulness and value of a product to D&D 4E Players and Dungeon Masters.

    While I appreciate that you do not share my views, or the views of others, as to the merits of 4E, I cannot allow you to use my site as a battleground for a continuation of the “3.5 vs. 4E” Edition Wars. If you wish to express your opinions regarding my reviews or other blogs I post, I would recommend that you keep them civil, and without resorting to inflammatory rhetoric aimed at insulting 4E gamers, or attempting to incite a 3.5 vs. 4E “flame war”. Otherwise, despite my personal distaste for censorship, I will be forced to moderate your comments accordingly.

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