The publishers of Kobold Quarterly, Open Design Publishing, provided us with a review copy of their latest issue, the winter edition of their excellent publication, number 16. Michael has written about the magazine before, issue 10 to be exact, and I’ll try not to repeat what he said before. He offered a great overview and I invite you to read his post which gives you an idea about the magazine and what it does.
Unlike Michael, who in his post little over a year ago admitted to never having read Kobold Quarterly (hereafter referred to as KQ) before, I have been a fan for some time. It’s hard not to love it if you grew up reading the old Dungeon and Dragon magazines. In appearance, quality and content KQ is the spiritual successor of those fine publications of old. For the price, $5.99 the PDF, $7.99 for a print copy and $27.99 for the print +PDF combo, it’s a steal!
Want to learn more? Read on…
So what’s issue 16 like? It opens with a gorgeous cover of a mysterious siren by Kieran Yanner. I love the art and it immediately makes me want to create an NPC for that image. The layout and art on the issue, like all other numbers of KQ I have read, is top notch. Modern mixed with a tribute to the gaming magazines of yore. What can I say even the adds stirred my memories. But make no mistake; this is not your grandfather’s gaming magazine! It’s a modern well written product, supporting some of the most popular gaming systems out there; in this issue D&D 4th edition and Pathfinder.
The magazine’s 76 pages are chock full of gaming goodness. Even if I don’t play D&D 4th edition, the articles designed for that game are still fun to read and full of useful ideas. What were some stand outs for me in this issue? Glad you asked!
The article that opens the issue, The Ecology of the Gearforged, a creature similar to the Warforged of D&D, but tied to Zobeck, part of the upcoming Midgard campaign world and cooperative patronage project (more info here). It is a fascinating look into this modern fantasy archetype so closely tied to (in my mind at least) to the fantasy steampunk genre. This is a dual stat article, including the stats for the Gearforged for D&D 4th edition and for Pathfinder. I love the write up for the later and the whole concept of the Gearforged as presented in the article meshes very well with my adaptation of the Warforged to my campaign, so this article will definitely see some use in my game!
This article, along with the Clockwork Adept, an arcane spellcaster specializing in clockwork constructs, a prestige class for Pathfinder, were the articles that impressed me the most, probably because I can find them immediately useful once my Pathfinder campaign starts up again. I can’t say much more or I’ll risk revealing too much to my players who may be lurking about. Both the Clockwork Adept and the Gearforged represent archetypes that have been done before, but the articles manage to give them their own personal touch and make them different; this is a quality, well thought of rule wise, presentation of both ideas.
Other standouts for me (and keep in mind I’m a Pathfinder GM so my taste is biased) were the article on the courtesans of Zobeck, the article was full of great ideas usable in any game, new spells, magic items and alternate Bard abilities. The Magic Items of Golarion presented 12 magic items for Pathfinder, some gems and some head scratchers, but all a lot of fun. There were articles on animated objects, Sanctuary spells, a lot of Pathfinder RPG goodness.
The magazine has two short adventures, a great column by Monte Cook, and the Ask the Kobold column by Skip Williams that reminded me why I enjoyed reading Sage Advice in Dragon so much. The D&D 4th edition articles were very good as well. I particularly liked the short article on mixing potions, that like the author says, has a long tradition in D&D. This is old school fun for the modern gamer.
To round out the issue I loved the cartoons, the book review and even the map of a meadhouse in the back of the magazine. Just like the cover the map instantly gave me an idea for an encounter. This is what I’m talking about, inspiration from cover to cover! A great issue indeed, I heartily recommend Kobold Quarterly, not just issue 16, but the magazine itself, to any rpg enthusiast out there. You will not be disappointed.
Uh, you have a great blog and I'm a big fan, but I have to say I think you're wrong on one point – at a time when game companies are offering free PDFs of hard copy game manuals that you buy or pre-order, $27.99 for both is hardly a steal – well, it is in a way as it's highway robbery perpetrated on the consumer. At the end of the day, production costs of a pdf are minimal – I've produced them – I wish we gaming consumers would quit allowing companies to treat them as if they're actual physical products. (Same thing, on a somewhat different subject, for downloaded copies of a computer game versus boxed copies – if I'm buying the download, the company is saving the production costs of disc, manual, assorted play aids and box – the only reason the company is charging me the same price as a boxed copy is that they feel they can – not very consumer friendly.)
Production costs of PDFs are only minimal if you consider your time to be worth nothing.
I think the $27.99 is for the one-year subscription, so it's even cheaper than buying just four print copies.
I can confirm that the $27.99 is indeed for 4 print copies plus 4 PDF copies. And yes, that's less than 4 print copies at the newstand.
And clearly a PDF is worth something, given how readers scream if a PDF is not produced for a given title. They are only worth nothing if you think the work of everyone on the masthead should be done for free.
Although I love initiatives like Bits & Mortar where you get the PDF for free when you buy the physical product, I find Open Design LLC's Print+PDF bundle prices very reasonable.
And since their products are all of the highest quality I am happy to pay that price!
I must say that considering the quality of the content I think the price for the single issue PDF ($5.99) is more than reasonable. This is not a 12 page PDF, the art quality and the layout are top notch. The price for the print issue may be higher than a newsstand magazine of similar size but this is a product aimed at a smaller audience, with a smaller print run, and again for what I am getting I am more than willing to pay. That doesn’t have to be everyone’s opinion; my gem can be someone else’s lump of coal. I stand by my opinion. Well worth the cost!