Review: Kobold Quarterly #1

I finally got around to reading the first issue of Kobold Quarterly, the new quarterly magazine published by industry veteran Wolfgang Baur to help fill the gap left by Dragon and Dungeon. Is it worth the US$4 asking price? Lets find out.

Taking advantage of the strong pound I took out an advance subscription to Kobold Quarterly, a new D&D magazine timed conveniently to pick up where Paizo’s Dragon left off. Before you discount this as just another amateur production, realise that editor Wolfgang Baur is a former Dragon magazine editor and a regular contributor to Dungeon, so if anyone’s qualified to hook up a new D20 ‘zine, it’s him. Having been disappointed before by electronic D20 offerings, I opened the PDF and readied my critic’s hat.

Volume one is a modest thirty-four page PDF featuring ten or so articles on the world’s most popular roleplaying game. The layout and selection is slightly reminiscent of old Dragon issues, but there’s a modern cleanliness to the magazine that as a web guy I can definitely appreciate.

Opening with “Ecology of the Derro”, the magazine puts its best foot forward with a good quality piece of art that really evokes the experience of adventurers crawling through narrow twisty caverns and being stabbed by dwarves. I’ve complained before that Dragon usually only ran Ecology articles for monsters from Wizards’ monster books and not the common creatures that could really use being fleshed out. This treatise on the derro offers not just insightful description but some very usable crunch in the form of incantations and equipment.

Continuing on we have an encounter list for the underdark, something I think a lot of dungeon masters will be able to draw inspiration from considering the popularity of caves and drow. Next, in what looks due to be a regular series is a game presentation of Titivillus, a powerful devil of twelfth century myth said to be responsible for causing errors to creep into manuscripts. It’s an intriguing read and offers statistics for an easily overlooked archdevil.

Into my favoured field of DM advice, the next article covers ways to reward your players with something other than gold and magic items. After a lengthy interview with Dragon editor Erik Mona we have a handy player advice article on the overlooked topic of trip attacks, followed by a new creature and character class designed for fey illusionists. Lastly, an article on Baur’s City of Zobeck may be of interest to fans of kobolds and steampunk as well as dungeon masters looking for city-adventure inspiration.

My opinion, overall? While it’s not quite as complete or flashy as Dragon's full-page art and full-page, there's definitely a lot to like about Kobold Quarterly. I was pleasantly surprised. A PDF subscription will set you back only US$4 per issue, which on a quarterly publication is not likely to break the bank. Given the high quality and big names behind this lean publication, I’d heartily recommend giving it a look.

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Comments (1)

Bog97th (March 4th, 2008)

Issues #1 and 2 where very good and helped fill the giant gap left by Dungeon and Dragon magazine but Issue #3 almost made me forget about the other two magazines. It was Very nice and I can only see better things coming for the Kobold! Rock on!

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