Thursday, 14 January 2010

winter warmer (review: kobold quarterly 12)

Disclaimer: Review PDF copy submitted by Open Design.
Metric: Kobolds (one bad, five awesome).
Overall: 4.5 kobolds (Impressive stuff, entrails everywhere).

Lots of half kobolds but this is an improvement. Quality is raised from KQ11 (impressive in itself) and the Dragon-ish flaws mentioned in the previous reviews are being ironed out. Some articles aren't the usual crunch /fluff affair but show a wider interest. A good thing as it gives a change in pace and reveals how creativity spurs the hobby.

Artwork: 4.5 kobolds. Colour is nice; fewer words on cover means more artwork. Internal line art is good with use of classical artists still prevalent.

Telkari, Inevitable of Death (Tim & Eileen Connors): 4.5 kobolds.
A corrupted marut inevitable and biomechanical plagues redolent of Hellraiser and Tetsuo: Bodyhammer. Awesome article, the Central Casting paladin bigot is the only flaw in a real diamond of a campaign concept.

Ecology of the Froghemoth (Jonathan McAnulty): 3 kobolds.
I like Ecology articles without cultural baggage*. Beyond that, it's a solid reworking of a Dragon article for later editions with nice art.

Burnt Offerings on Stage (Jonathan Jacobs): 3.5 kobolds
Interesting author's perspective whose humility shines through. Lovely article, nice to see LARP props and kids running rampant as goblins. Score one gaming advocacy!

The Holy Remix (Scott Gable): 5 kobolds
Pathfinder Cleric Hacking! Like clerics of different deities being distinct from each other? You'll love this. Holy monks, cloistered sages, missionaries, covert cultists, wow…

Impossible Caravans & Unseelie Ambassadors (Neal Hebert & Jon Cogburn): 5 kobolds
Concept-laden, sinister ("It warms us.") and otherworldly with dark humour. Eminently liftable for other games and provides 4E stats for those in a hurry. Gaimanesque in all the good ways.

The Myths & Realities of Game Balance (Monte Cook): 5 kobolds
Monte talks game balance, design decisions and social contracts.  Thought provoking stuff for all gamers.

Elves: The Fallen Ones (John Wick & Jess Heinig): 4.5 kobolds
More Wicked Fantasy, conquered elves enslaved by iron. Perfect with the right players, awesome NPCs. Add Ravenloft's Falkovnia for maximum win.

Spiked Pits, Poisoned Arrows and Healing Words (Scott Murray): 4 kobolds
Traps to boost 4E monsters. A nice way to buff encounters and diverse enough to suit different monster types.

Spice Up Your Combat Encounters (Phillipe Menard): 5 kobolds
Integrate skill challenges with combat in 4E, this guitar solo article takes disparate elements and brings the fun.

Lessons from The Shadows (Catherine McDonald): 4 kobolds
Ninja 101 - Reputation, improvisation, desperation. A call for players (and DMs) to think on their feet.

Sanctus et Virtus (Brandon Hodge): 4 kobolds
Relics for the Zobeck setting; magical items and plot hooks with lavish backstories and a sense of humour.

Eight Plagues & Diseases (Stefan Styrsky): 4 kobolds
Nice. Fills a noted gap in a 4E DM's arsenal though a couple have some rules kickers. If you like, try this.

Vilest Evils of the Abyss (Philip Larwood): 4 kobolds
Detailed backstory but no stats for new demon lords and references to Green Ronin's Book of Fiends. Some adult themes here.

War Wagons of the Magdar (Wolfgang Baur): 3.5 kobolds.
An intriguing concept for the Zobeck setting and nice take on the war wagon. How about a tabor floorplan?

Dragon's Lair (Corey Macourek): 4.5 kobolds
A working map at the back for a dragon's cave nest; not a battlemap but easily scalable for those with the tools.

Editorial: 5 kobolds
Nice reminder brevity is the soul of wit and namechecks for Red Eye of Azathoth and Courts of the Shadow Fey. Shame this review eschews that.

Book Reviews: 4 kobolds
The reviews are consistently informative and useful in considering if you buy a book. Boneshaker looks like a certain buy.

Letters Page: 4 kobolds
Meta is still meta, nice to see information on back issues, distribution and Adopt-A-Soldier.

Cartoons: 4 kobolds
Stan! riffs on elven lack of Twilight sparkle and holy gall stones.  Thematically consistent & funny.

Advertising: About 12.6 pages (18.5%). Higher quality and weirdly less obtrusive because of it. Hat tip to the layout folks.

In conclusion: If I didn't know better I'd say Wolfgang took the last review to heart! Heartwarming to see ChattyDM in print where he belongs. If KQ can keep this up, they may have overtaken their draconic ancestor which for three years is pretty impressive.

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