Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Augury - Kobold Quarterly #21

Kobold Quarterly #21 is here (and it has been for some weeks, damn my lack of time!). The magazine opens with a new base class, the Shaman. This is a spontaneous divine spellcaster loosely based on the druid. It’s simple, easy to understand, yet flavorful. I love it, specially give the fact that I always missed a shaman class for my D&D/Pathfinder (and no, the druid isn’t a shaman).

The next articles is An Ecology of the Succubus. In the last years I rarely have time to read (and to use) the extra material provided by the various “Ecology of…” articles. However, I was greatly impressed by this one; it was not only an enjoyable reading but it also addresses the theme of sex and the Infernal in a mature and engaging (if somewhat disturbing) way, providing various hooks and plots for the evil-minded Gamemaster. Oh, and this is a 4E article, with a few extra powers at the end.

It’s a Mystery!” is David Zeb Cook’s article about turning religion into something more unique and engaging. It’s another excellent piece, that addresses ancient religions in an intelligent and relevant way, asking some really relevant questions (“What’s the goal of a religion?” for example) and providing solid examples and game hooks.

Clerical Conflicts” is a Pathfinder article that offers divine spellcaster dilemmas (basically, small personal quests or hooks) based around famous archetypes (the Chosen One, the Forsaken, the Reluctant Marty etc), and include a small mechanical effect for each character. It’s a different and very specific, and it may not suit everyone (the various mechanics are clearly narrative-driven and vary, in power, from Character Traits-status to high level spells).

This Quarterly’s Howling Tower (Steve Winter’s column) is about monotheism and its absence in Pathfinder and D&D. It’s a great theme; one I hoped to see properly addressed a long time ago. Unfortunately, Winter barely touches the subject, instead using the theme to explain the various types of worship (animism, henotheism, pantheism etc.) and why monotheism is such a hard topic. A missed opportunity in my opinion, but one that can be amended with a second article.

Divine Archetypes”, by Stefen Styrsky of Advanced Feats fame, for Pathfinder, provides new archetypes (for the Sorcerer, Gunslinger, Fighter and Ranger classes), new evolutions (for the Summoner), traps and 3 new feats. A usual, great stuff!

This Quarterly’s interview – “Fun Happens Here” – is with Bill Slavicsek, well-known legend of the RPG industry (that doesn’t require further introductions I hope).

The AGE System keeps its traditional presence on the Kobold’s pages – “A Background in Magic” has rules for Alchemists, Druids, Illusionists and Seers.

Nine Treasures of Deep Midgard” is a short Pathfinder article with new items from underdark cultures. These items are simple, yet flavorful and fun (or deliciously macabre) – we have dark elf currency, bottled sage heads, derro message gearbox (my favorite!), among other interesting things.

Saints of Mavros” is another Midgard-based article (again for Pathfinder), detailing 2 of that deity’s 20 saints. First cool thing about it: one saint is Lawful Neutral, the other is Neutral Evil. I just love Midgard’s approach to gods – distant entities and forces beyond alignments. Second cool thing: one of the saints is a ghoul! Midgard religions have an authentic ring to them, maybe because of their ambiguity and mystery (and I hope the authors keep it that way).

White Tongue, Black Heart” is disgusting (besides disturbing) and may be too much on the trash side for my tastes (unless you like body-horror stuff), but it makes a great trait for NPC villains – or to scare the hell out of an unfortunate player (oh, and it’s for Pathfinder).

The Shadow Lodge Insurgency” is a Golarion setting article about a sinister conspiracy inside the Pathfinder Society. Since I never played a Pathfinder Society scenario, I was in the dark about the whole thing (it seems to be linked to a major plot). Actually, although I like the Pathfinder Society’s role inside Golarion (a framework for campaigns), I totally hate the idea behind their ruling body – the Decemvirate. They’re basically your classic circle of NPC jerks, created exclusively to frustrate the PCs. Also, from reading “The Shadow Lodge Insurgency” I’m sinister reminded of the worst NPC-ruled periods of the Forgotten Realms – a bad omen.

Dead Tolls and Honest Challenges” closes this issue by detailing the most common bandit bands around Zobeck’s roads. As usual, this 1-page article packs a lot of punch, dripping with adventure ideas.

And that’s all folks! Is Kobold Quarterly #21 worth its GP price? Definitely! Either the Shaman class or the 3 Midgard articles are worth the price alone and all are easily adapted to any Pathfinder/3.5 setting.