While Wizards of the Coast may have killed Paizo's Dragon magazine & Dungeon magazine, Kobold Quarterly really picks up the slack. I feel like that hasn't gotten enough recognition; if you are playing Dungeons & Dragons 4e, or 3e or Pathfinder, then this magazine should totally be on your pick list. Or if you are playing Dragon Age-- I'm so out of the loop when it comes to fantasy gaming, I didn't even know about Dragon Age. KQ had to mention it to me. Seems like it uses 3d6 to establish a bell curve rather than the d20's less reasonable distribution, with doubles allowing extra flair. Seems elegant! I'll get back to that a little later, but it reminds me of how In Nomine called their 3d6 system the d666. Cute. This issue is largely themed "Villainy," which you know is how I roll. I don't know if I agree with Wolfgang Baur's (the
& hey! d20 Monkey! I haven't heard of that gamer comic before, & I'm totally adding it to my feed, right along side Order of the Stick. There is also a "Living Pathfinder" adventure, but...well, I had a major concern with it. There aren't enough ways to interface with the adventure; particularly there is no real "in" for Diplomatic PCs. I mean-- if my friend Bernie was playing that session, he'd derail it but just asking the kobolds what the deal was. Don't your players ever try to figure out their enemies' motives? There are a few somewhat "system specific" resources; "fantastical foods," that are one-use items for fourth edition & some colour commentary & magic items for 4e monks as well. There is also a wonderful article by Jonathan McAnulty on fireworks for third edition, with a great piece of art by Rick Hershey. Besides being awesome, it made me think of the first Lankhmar book, where Fafhrd uses fireworks & skis to make a ridiculous jump. "Getting Ahead" is another grade A 3e article, on...magical heads!? It includes rules for shrunken heads, medusa heads, but oddly no mention of the Head of Vecna. There is a lot of non-system-specific stuff as well; "The Black Goat" is an adventure/location that could easily be used by any Narrator, as well as a list of narrative options as alternatives to killing off a PC when there is a sudden, untimely end. There is also plenty of essays musing on topics that could arise in any game-- hirelings, monsters, & campaigns with a cohesive group.
Issue seventeen also talks about Dragon Age a little more, including an interview with a freelance involved in it-- Jeff Tidball. Now-- I haven't played the video game, & I'm not likely to, but I did appreciate the lead writer's takedown of hetero male privilege. That earns you points right there. The system seems interesting, as I mentioned. 3d6 against a target number is the core, with the flair being that one of the dice is the "dragon die," & if you a) succeed on a test & b) rolled doubles then you get a number of "stunt points" equal to the result of the dragon die. Seems a little needlessly complicated-- why not just say that you get a number of points equal to whatever the set of doubles is? Anyhow-- the core of the system is about combat, but but the expanded system has stunts for exploration & roleplaying, & Quinn Murphy has an article in this issue with stunts for chase & research scenes. Bravo for that! The aforementioned Jeff Tidball also has an article discussing why the stunt system is fun, & how to bring that over into any other system. Yeah! Frank talk about kitbashing is my jam. Me, I figure...who cares about a list of stunts? Or rather-- just use it as a framework to allow improvisation. Anyhow, Dragon Age does seem to be on everyone's mind; the letter's section is largely abuzz with it. The issue ends with some book reviews-- including one by my buddy Pierce Watters-- & an add for The Northlands, which from the looks of it include sentient polar bears. As a huge panserbjorn fan-- I think they are the greatest creation in His Dark Materials-- I am pretty excited.