Past a certain point, the more influence a player has on character creation, the more boring the resulting character will be.
Heresy! What does an actor know about roleplaying games, anyway? Why I—oh, oh wait. The threatening e-mail the Stargazer has left in my inbox tells me I may not be entirely informed. Let’s try that again, shall we?
In his article in KQ #22, noted game designer Monte Cook says that the more a player influences the creation of a character, the more boring that character shall be.
Specifically, he is writing about the idea of the character build. You know, the one where your Pathfinder DM says “We are playing a level 12 campaign” and so you always give your paladin a holy avenger. Or at least you would, but you’re not playing a paladin because druids are way better.[citation not needed because it is true]
I’m aware it is a matter of personal taste, but I’ve always enjoyed 1st-level campaigns precisely for this reason. Over the course of a few levels I will inevitably make choices that are anything but optimal for my character’s combat abilities, skill rolls, or any other aspect. I tend to choose things because they are either cool, or they are useful at that particular moment in time. My characters acquire abilities like a tree acquires rings. Somewhere in that process, a story emerges. Continue reading Under the Influence→
I’m a bit late to the game, but I had a chance to read my very first issue of Kobold Quarterly, which provides content for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, Pathfinder by Paizo, and Green Ronin’s AGE System.
The magazine is reminiscent of Dragon back when you could still get it in print. Much of the material has a similar bent: new classes, in-depth monster articles, scads of new magical items, and it looks like Skip Williams is still answering your rules questions! There is also a letters section, which I have always enjoyed in my magazines.
Let’s touch on some of the articles, shall we?
The Shamanby Mark Radle, art by Rick Hershey
Any class that lets you examine the entrails of animals for a bonus to saving throws is pretty decent in my book! Overall I enjoy this Pathfinder take on a shaman character, though I feel it steps too heavily on the druid in a lot of ways. Is it necessary for every nature-based class to have Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride, Wild Shape, and an animal companion? I do see it a lot. The shaman seeks to spice it up a bit, at least, by making the companion a spirit rather than a normal woodland creature. Also, the class’s use of spontaneous casting seems odd given its otherwise ritualistic nature (with many of its abilities taking rounds or minutes to complete).
I enjoy playing druids, though, and would happily play this in lieu of one. The abilities that do distinguish it from the druid (Blood Divination, Commune with Spirits, Whispers of the Spirits, etc.) are superb. I would just like to see more of them!
Daughters of Lilithby Sersa Victory, art by Claudio Pozas
Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into this article on the ecology of the succubus. Sometimes, when something mysterious is laid bare (no pun intended), it loses its allure. Sersa’s article is an earnest effort at a detached, scholarly interpretation of the life and times of a sex demon in all its unpleasant detail. I’d say it succeeds, yet for that very reason it fails to grab me.
One truly cool thing, though: the Infernal Conspiracy gambit. Once per tier, your character can basically say, hey, that person over there is a succubus who is friendly to my cause. That’s really damn neat. Are gambits a thing? If so, I’ve completely missed them.
It’s a Mysteryby Zeb Cook, art by Emile Denis and Jeremy Mohler
These are the kinds of articles I live for, and it is without a doubt my favorite in the whole magazine. I’ve been working on a few off-kilter religions in my own campaign world(s), trying to distinguish them from being "just another pantheon," and this piece is full of invaluable advice. Secret religious and philosophical societies are awesome. Zeb discusses what some underlying motivations for these cults might be, how to join, and the implications of being in one.
I’ll be putting most of the advice in this article to use very soon, I imagine!
Of course, there are several other articles in the issue, including a look at why monotheism isn’t prevalent in fantasy games, and spellcasting backgrounds for the AGE system. Despite a few personal quibbles here and there (nothing is perfect, after all), I enjoyed this issue and would recommend it to anyone playing one of the three games covered. I look forward to seeing more AGE material within the pages of Kobold Quarterly, and might even break out my Dragon Age box set once more!
Note from the Editor: You can buy this issue of Kobold Quarterly directly from the KQ store for $5.99 (PDF only) or $8.99 (Print+PDF).
A Roleplaying Games blog
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