Kobold Press
Showing articles categorized as “Articles.” See all articles »

Prepared!: The Ever-Burning Shrine

Fires of creation, fire in the soul, a fiery heart—why do we so often evoke flame when we speak of the essential?

—Archdruid Naqua of Tellwood

Travelers meet and discover the truth behind an unending blaze in today’s elementally imbued scene.

The Ever-Burning Shrine

Recent rains have made the road muddy and pitted. Traveling along it is a chore, and the gloomy mist settling over the area does little to ameliorate the situation. Further up the road, you see a column of smoke rising into the clouds. As you draw nearer, you hear the sounds of a crowd and, turning a bend, you discover a strange scene. A dozen local farmers and travelers have gathered in the mud and are watching fire consume a roadside shrine. “It’s been like this for three days,” says one oafish looking fellow. “Ain’t natural—what’s left to burn?” asks a severe woman dressed in an apron.

The shrine consists of three simple columns of stacked stones holding aloft a shallow bronze brazier. The charred remains of wooden roof lay smoldering on the ground. The flame is centered in the brazier; the heat makes it uncomfortable to approach closely. For a moment you think you see a face in the flames before it disappears into the smoke.

Continue reading »

Pulp Sorcery: The Secret Art of Better Spell Descriptions

Hugh Rankin - The People of the Black Circle“Sorcery thrives on success, not on failure.” —Robert E. Howard, “The People of the Black Circle”

When it comes to mechanical systems in RPGs—Pathfinder in particular—there are perhaps none more esoteric than the malleable rules that govern magic. Casters and their iconic spells have evolved over the various editions of D&D into what we know of them today, including the litany of arcane and divine spells found in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and beyond. And though the names and numbers may have changed, one axiom remains: these “one-time magical effects” can shape the game in extraordinary (and often unimaginable) ways.

Uncle Ben’s old words of wisdom ring true: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Keen observers may notice an extension of this notion at the tabletop, as spellcasting characters frequently rest in the hands of more seasoned players. After all, the ins-and-outs of the magic system can seem daunting—especially when each spell acts as something of a special case scenario. But I think there’s more to this than a simple aversion to lists and statistics. Thinking back to my earliest days as a player, I recall spells being the stuff of evil wizards and their foul minions. Sure, my half-elf fighter with his hackneyed name may have wielded a few wondrous items and a magic weapon or two; but raw magic was the unknown domain of the Dungeon Master. The more I played, the more I wanted to try those spells on for size. And, eventually, I wanted to reveal my newfound arcane diableries from the other side of the screen.

Continue reading »

Prepared!: Clouds Come Down

John Constable 1814 Stour ValleyWe started there, a mote from the heavens; we’ll return there—if the sky will have us.
—Archdruid Naqua of Tellwood

A bit of intrigue is just what your party’s stroll through the wilds requires. Today, Prepared! brings you a bit of the sky with this elementally imbued scene.

Clouds Come Down

The road vanishes now and again, but, for the most part, guides you onward. It is not a bad day for travel, but it is also not a bad day to be a gnat—gathered swarms of biting dots surround you. The clouds are thin and wispy; they seem a god’s afterthought.

After you turn a bend in your mostly reliable road, you bear witness to a strange sight a hundred feet ahead: a cloud is falling heavily from the sky. It lands on the soft grass—such that the air from its descent flutters your clothing and hair. A cloud has come down in front of you.

Continue reading »