The Rudis Review: Kobold Quarterly 9

Book: Kobold Quarterly 9
Length/Type: 64 pages/magazine
System: OGL/Pathfinder, 4e, System Independent
Author(s): Stefen Styrsky, Andrew Hind, Adam Daigle, Mattew Hanson, John E. Ling, Monte Cook, Scott Gable, Richard Pett, Michael Kortes, Joshua Stevens, Jeff Grubb, et. al.
Publisher: Wolfgang Bauer
Licensor/Endorser: n/a
(5 of 5 rudii)

Erik Mona of Paizo and former publisher of Dragon magazine once called KQ the “…spiritual successor to Dragon...” Mr. Mona, respectfully, we disagree. KQ just is the successor to Dragon, and issue 9 really shows it. The publication is fair and balanced, post edition wars: about 50% OGL/Pathfinder, 25% 4th Edition, and 25% System independent. So no matter for which side you warred, at least 50% of the content is for you. Realistically, all of it is for all of you with a little crunch translation. KQ is a must have for every gamer, it’s just that simple.

Here are some highlights from issue 9 to show you what I mean:

Interview with Dave Arneson
Says it all doesn’t it? Last words of the last master. Prophetic, disturbing, touching, insightful and boy am I glad we have it. For this alone, KQ is worth twice its cover price. Jeremy Jones proves a deft touch at the interview task, which is a task I know a bit about.

Ecology of the Maenar
Matthew Hanson turns a talented hand to Greek myth and the maenad. The maenads were the female followers of Dionysus whose name translates as “the raving ones.” As Wikipedia tells us: “...often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by him into a state of ecstatic frenzy, through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear animals…” Hanson gives us an entire society of such creatures, adds a hero to the background myth, and makes them playable as PCs by portraying them as trained to control their rage. New feats and a psionic twist round out his unusual take. As for the writing? Here’s the thing: my wife, a non-gamer, picked up my KQ to flip through it, casually interested in how her husband spends so much of his time. She wandered off with my KQ and wouldn’t give it back, because Matt’s Maenar article fascinated her. Thanks a bunch, Matt.

Unfamiliar Familiars
Now when I first read the title and subheading for this article, I thought, “Adam Daigle, you’re a fine hand at monsters, an exciting creative, a wit, and I love your work in Paizo’s Pathfinder (so much so that I used it in some of my work in Pathfinder), but familiars? Come on, dude. Don’t beat a dead horse.

I hereby officially eat my thought-words.

Adam breathes new life into an old, old trope. I love his new familiars. Turning an unseen servant into a familiar? Brilliant. Blink dog pups, clockwork beetles – Zobeck style – myna birds; what’s not to like? But here are my favorites: the bookmouse and the symbiotic temporum. The bookmouse because you can send it against enemy mages to eat their spells and transfer their power to you; and the symbiotic temporum because who doesn’t like a slimy, magical parasite burrowing through one’s palate and clamping onto the spine? The crowning fun in this last beastie is that, while it grants significant power, it retains intelligence of its own and can choose to temporarily paralyze its host. I positively itch to GM a player hosting a temporum. Well done.

KQ9 contains solid and exciting work from veteran writers: Monte Cook, Richard Pett, Mike Kortes. Scott Gable’s take on the Japanese Kistune is exciting, but the article that truly floated my boat flowed from the pen of relative newcomer Joshua Stevens.

Chasing the Grave
Punning off the Hong Kong slang for opium addiction (chasing the dragon), Stevens gives us a highly addictive opiate like drug that grants users visions of their dead loved ones at the price of poisoning themselves. Right there, I’m hooked. Illusions or true commune with the dead: who cares? The story power of this idea is mighty.

Stevens doesn’t disappoint: his exploration of the drug (dubbed requiem) is thorough. In a nice head nod, his background has the drug originating in the east and migrating to trouble the west. He discusses the variety of dens, the differences between the two versions of the drug – clay for the poor folks and bliss for the wealthy – discusses addiction and suggests how to integrate requiem into your game.

My advice? Don’t miss Kobold Quarterly 9. Hell, consider subscribing. I do!

Want to learn more about Kobold Quarterly Issue 9? Read on...

Drop by Kobold Quarterly.com to pick up your copy today!


Rone Barton said...

Yet another insightful review that was as fun to read as the thing you were reviewing. You make it look easy.

Matthew J. Hanson said...

Matthew Hanson (of the maenad article) here. You review made my day! Thanks!