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Along with many other folks, I had an opportunity to check out the Fall 2009 issue of Kobold Quarterly in October… And I’m just now getting back to writing up the review. But here I am!
I have to admit that I’d only seen one other issue of the magazine a couple of years ago and though I was impressed, I wasn’t blown away. This time it hit me more like the old Dungeon or Dragon magazines of yore and from the cover on I was hooked. Not only does it have great art to capture your attention, but the content covers everything from vampires to the myth of the Philosopher’s Stone and far beyond.
As with many magazines, there are quite a few ads – but I’m guessing KQ (like many other magazines) uses ad- and subscription-revenues to keep providing us great content every quarter. On the plus side, most of the ads are well designed, colorful, and definitely meant for the target audience (of which I’m definitely a member).
The issue starts off with “A Broken Mind – Sanity and Mental Disorders” by Scott Gable – and I love the idea of merging in sanity rules with D&D. Ever since I played Call of Cthulhu in college, I’ve been fascinated by usually slow (sometimes quick) slide to madness that can occasionally overcome a character. Gable’s mechanic of adding “Mind” as a 7th ability score and a pool of sanity works great to bring in the dark overtones of a world where mortals are not meant to experience everything the world might throw at them… And I just love describing a character’s sanity points as “the currency of madness”… [insert evil laughter here]
Gable’s article presents not only the base mechanic for sanity, but how to use it (and lose it) as the character reacts to the bizarre things an evil GM might throw at his or her players. Having lost my sanity in CoC long ago, I remember going Berserk and killing the rest of my party, so I was pleased to see that slip into the list of “Temporary Insanities”. And among the “Indefinite Insanities” you have things like Fear, Obsession, and Paranoia – a trifecta of mental illness sure to cause a player to stretch some roleplaying skills!
Another great article is “Howling Werebeasts – How to Play Lycanthropes as PCs” by John E. Ling, Jr., which covers a bit of the history of Lycanthropy and how to integrate it into a game. Unless you’re playing White Wolf‘s Werewolf, I think the templates covered presents both sides of the were-beast picture. As a player, you must take the bad with the good. It hurts to change. People will react to you differently. And it requires a it of work on your part. As a GM, it offers logical responses to how to work it into a game without throwing the balance off.
What I really liked about the article was how it broke the Wererat, Werewolf, and Werebear into actual, playable characters. I don’t think I want to play one soon, but it might be something to consider as a NPC should I need to throw some PCs a curve ball. And once you’ve introduced it as an NPC it’s not too much of a stretch to see your PCs get infected… [insert more evil laughter here]
The other articles in the magazine are just as good, covering the “Ecology of the Vampire,” “Uvandir: The Pride of Craftsmen” (great details about dwarven life), “Running Across the Screen (A GM Roundtable)” (great roundtable interview with 16 GMs!), and more. The book reviews were also welcome, presenting a few fantasy and science-fiction titles that might inspire GMs and Players alike.
In 82 pages you get a bit of everything, which is awesome. Be sure to check it out at KoboldQuarterly.com today!
Looks like I’m going to have to break out my wallet and purchase a subscription just in time for the holidays.