Lou's Review #1: Kobold Quarterly #20

Hey all! I've owed this blog a review for a long time now and -- excuses about the never-ending busy, busy aside -- the latest issue of Kobold Quarterly just dragged me to the table, kicking and wailing. Well maybe not wailing, but definitely kicking my heels up for joy. I've said it before, here it is again: Dragon and Dungeon Magazine are not dead, they're just renamed Kobold Quarterly.

Thank you Wolfgang -- and all your little Kobold's too.

And there isn't a better reason to come to the keyboard then to trash...er...review the work of a fellow designer and Werecabbage. KQ #20 not only features the stunning artwork of my friend Rich Clark on the cover, it showcases the Elven Archer core class, designed by John Ling.

Now John and I have a long history of disagreeing about design on most everything. Our bitter dispute about magical toilets or the lack thereof deeply influenced our collaborative contributions to 0onegames Great City Campaign Setting.

I pause here to reflect: what does it say about me as a designer that I could have a dispute both bitter and deeply influential -- about magical toilets? *sigh* Sometimes I wonder...

Full disclosure: John and I have frequently collaborated. The man is a mechanics mavin. Rone Barton of the Ennie winning Atomic Array podcast dubbed him the "Ling 9000" for just that reason, and I've relied on him to ground my more gonzo design notions in solid mechanics time and again. All that said, we do indeed frequently disagree, and I LOVE rubbing his nose in his errors.

So, here we go. Here are John's errors with the Elven Archer

[[          ]]

That blank space contained all the places where I disagree with or dislike Ling's archer.

*sigh* Yeah. It's blank.

It burns me to say it, but Ling's "The Elven Archer" rocks! Not since Lenard Lakofka's little article "Missile Fire and the Archer subclass" from his Leomund's Tiny Hut column in Dragon #45 (dating myself!) have I found myself so enamored of a designer's take on archery. After reading this, I'm just itching to pull back the gut and let fly the shaft.

Here are some highlights:
  • A little gem of a section on adapting the class away from Elves and even away from archery! I'm so gonna steal this from him.
  • The careful introduction of sneak attack like damage
  • The power to grant divine enchantment to arrows
  • A dollop of ranger and a sprinkling of rogue to create the ultimate silent forest archer
Then I noticed in a little aside at the end of the article that John and his group have been playtesting and refining this class for three years. Can you say dedication anyone?

It's a great class, and I'm looking forward to running one. Then KQ takes things a step forward by adding an article on magical arrows of the Arbonesse, tying the class into their campaign setting without locking it in there -- deftly done and a great article to boot.

If I have one beef with KQ it's lies with their recently introduced book review column. Most of the reviews are great. Thorough. Informative. They really help me decide if I want to spend my money and time on a book. I particularly enjoyed Ben McFarland's review as well as his cozy reviewing style. Other reviews? Not so much. I'd like to see a bump in quality there. But I'm nitpicking. Really nitpicking.

Let me close by singing KQ praises again: check out KQ #19. They introduced a class there that I absolutely adore -- the White Necromancer. A necromancer who only uses his powers for good. I'd like love to combine that class with a Super Genius Investigator birthing something out of a medieval John Carey novel or a magical Name of the Rose.

I suggest you pick up a subscription to KQ if you haven't already. You really won't regret it. Oh, and KQ doesn't pay me to say that, but if you want to suggest it to Wolfgang? I won't disabuse you. ;)

Game on! 

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