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Dave Bernazzani
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Plainville
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Seems I've been somewhat in the dark with RPG magazines of late - the later issued Dragon and Dungeon magazines weren't quite exciting me as, say, my copy of the Dragon Magazine Archive (Issues #1-#250 of Dragon). The few WotC published "Dragon Magazine" articles I saw published on the web weren't any more appealing to me. So I pretty much assumed the print market for RPG Magazines related to D&D had dried up.

I was recently lent a stack of Kobold Quarterly magazines by an old friend. The glossy covers were certianly appealing, but artwork alone isn't enough reason to buy an RPG magazine. When I read through Issue 10 (the first issue this friend had) I was stunned at the writing. A ton of great material, fodder for campaigns, rules explanation and enhancements and stuff I could use across any version of D&D (Issue #10, apparently, was the first version of the magazine to put little boxes up top that indicated if the material in the article was for 3.5, Pathfinder, 4.0, etc).

Since Issue #10 was recently reviewed (quite favorably - a review I agree with), I decided to take a look at Kobold Quarterly - Issue #11.

Like the previous (and subsequent) issues, this one has a nice glossy cover with a reasonable amount of fine artwork throughout. The layout is near perfect as it doesn't force you to jump to the back-end of the magazine to finish an article. You can read this almost like a book - each article typically spans one, two or three pages with the occasional side-bar box with rules/flavor or maybe a clever cartoon. When you open the magazine, the first real page is a big, bright table of contents without any additional clutter which helps you locate an article of interest. More than once I've gone back looking for something and knowing I can glance at the first page to see where the article is.

I noticed some familiar names when reading this particular issue. John Wick and Monte Cook are two of my favorite designers/writers and I was pleased to see they got some good page time here and apparently this is true of other issues a well. One of the more lengthy and well-written articles is about the androgynous breed of Dwarves called the Uvandir who are unsurpassed as craftsman and hard workers. Those Uvandir Dwarves remaining are the last of their line - they have no way to reproduce. But they seem to last a long time - and they produce goods and works so fine that their work will live long after they are gone. It's a fascinating sub-culture of Dwarves which can be blended into any fantasy campaign (though the article was specifically written for 3.5).

My favorite article in this issue was The Spell-less Ranger which works from the premise that Aragon was a ranger who was not a spell caster. This article offers a full treatment of modifications to the standard Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ranger with the removal of spells. In place, there are a number of new Class Features and tweaks which balance out the loss of spells to make a truly classical Ranger-type. At higher levels (where the Pathfinder rules would grant spells), the Ranger now selects from a number of Ranger Talents where they gain expertise in a particular area. Many are in tracking, hunting, additional favored enemies, trap handling, etc. All very cool and all very much in keeping with the Aragon-image of a Ranger. There are also new feats specific to this Ranger build that allows a higher level of expertise and potency while in their favored terrain. The article concludes with a full table showcasing this new Spell-less Ranger from Level 1 to Level 20. I'm very likely to play this class in the future as the thought of a Ranger without spells really fits with my original internal concept of the class.

Issue #11 of Kobold Quarterly seems on par with the others I've read (Issue #10 - #16) and that's no bad thing. The quality of the periodical is very high. With 3 months between issues, they can really cram a large number of high-quality articles (in this case, 18 articles plus the opening letter from the Kobold-In-Chief Wolfgang Baur). If you haven't checked out an issue of KQ yet, you can get back-issues both in print and in PDF. Their typical print distribution includes a copy of the same issue in PDF (though a lower-cost PDF only distribution is available). If you were part of the Haiti bundle in 2009, you also got a copy of this very issue (#11) which is likely sitting on your hard drive going unnoticed. Read it!
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Mark Noseworthy
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wavemotion wrote:
I was recently lent a stack of Kobold Quarterly magazines by an old friend.

Subtle. Nice.

I used the creatures from the Ecology of the Phantom Fungus in Issue #6 extensively in the Mutants and Masterminds campaign I ran last year for you guys. So this periodical inspired me to use a set of monsters for a completely different system (albeit still d20). I highly recommend these magazines for all sorts of inspiration.
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paz AKA Matt Lewis
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Nice review.

On the subject of rangers without spells, there is also the Skirmisher variant in the Advanced Player's Guide (page 128).
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