Interview with Wolfgang Baur

KoboldSome days ago I managed to arrange an interview with Wolfgang Baur, Kobold-in-Chief of Kobold Quarterly. Wolfgang Baur is a RPG industry veteran and has worked for many companies including Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Green Ronin, TSR and his own Open Design LLC.

Stargazers World: Please tell us a bit about yourself. What kind of a person is Wolfgang Baur? When and how did you start roleplaying? How did you get into the “industry”?

Wolfgang Baur: I’m a fan from the blue box days of D&D; I really started with the Dungeon board game, and then started DMing at an early age. I wrote my first published work while in high school for Dungeon magazine and continued to write adventures in college as a freelancer. I was hired by TSR right out of college based on the strength of my magazine contributions, and learned the industry from the periodicals side of things. I’d say that still influences how I think of game material today.

What kind of person am I? A mildly compulsive language freak who loves history and gaming, a fan of wild berries and wilderness, and a man growing less patient with fools with every passing year.

Stargazers WorldKobold Quarterly magazine, the KQ website and two Open Design adventures have been nominated for this years’ ENnie Awards, so I think congratulations are in order. What were your first thoughts when you learned about the nominations? And what are your plans for the future?

Wolfgang Baur: It was the first thing I noticed in email on a Monday morning, and I was stunned at 5 nominations. I’m very pleased, of course, and I expect we’ll keep putting the magazine and the adventures out there. I keep thinking that Kobold Quarterly is under a lot of people’s radar, but I guess that’s no longer the case.

There’s some biggish plans for the future; adventures that are not patron projects, a couple Zobeck Gazetteers, and a few surprises that we’ll announce in the next month or two.

Stargazers WorldFor a lot of gamers KQ is the spiritual successor of the Dungeon and Dragon magazines. Both are available in digital format only. Do you think it was the right decision of Wizards to go all digital and do you consider a similar move for your magazine?

Wolfgang Baur: Well, sure, the big two aren’t magazines anymore, they’re part of a major subscription Web site. I think they are certainly making more money for the Hasbro shareholders that way than they would as magazines, and — after a really shaky start — they are starting to hit their stride as a web site. So I suspect it was the right move from a profit point of view, and perhaps

KQ doesn’t have the resources to create things like the Character Builder or other web tools, so we’ll focus on what we do well: great D&D articles for any edition, interviews with famous designers and artists, beautiful maps and entertaining Ecologies. The free content on our web site does draw a lot of traffic, and I’m happy to keep it free.

Stargazers WorldYour magazine is called Kobold Quarterly and you call yourself “Kobold-in-Chief”. So, please tell us, what’s the big deal with Kobolds?

Wolfgang Baur: Oh, I just like the little guys. They are sort of iconic underdogs, and we’re really a small press publisher living in a world of giants and dinosaurs.

We try to be nimble. Sometimes we get crushed. We keep doing more articles and we’ve got big ambition. Our motto is “Small but Fierce”, which conveys the kobold attitude in a nutshell.

Stargazers WorldI am sure a lot of people are very interested in the answer to my last question for today: where does Wolfgang Baur get his inspirations?

Wolfgang Baur: Honestly, a lot of it is daydreaming while I ride my bike, sit at the library, or ponder things at the park; a lack of distractions seems to help. Some of it is based on filtering history through a gaming lens, and I do read a fair bit of historical non-fiction. Real life is a rich source of wonderful characters, settings, and legends.

Finally, some of it is just material born of desperation. That is, I improvise at the game table my DM notes have run out — and often that leads directly to something fantastical or terrifying or wonderful. I’m blessed with a hyperactive imagination — the trouble isn’t finding inspiration, but finding enough hours in the day to write and design the best ideas into print.

Stargazers World: Thanks again for answering a few questions for us and good luck for all your feature endeavours!