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Kobold Quarterly 23 Now Available

KQ 23 CoverBursting from the infernal depths in a cloud of fire and brimstone comes Kobold Quarterly’s Fall 2012 issue! Either this is the promised “demons and devils” issue, or the magazine is being guest-edited by Ronnie James Dio.

This issue is packed with Stygian foes, diabolical adventure, cannibal demon apes, soul-sundering artifacts and evil chocolatiers. Kobold Quarterly # 23 includes:

  • The dark aristocratic glory of Dispater, First King of the Infernal City by Wes Schneider
  • The Vile Black Book, a grimoire written by Asmodeus himself, with five new diabolical spells by Ed Greenwood
  • Mechuiti, Midgard’s demon lord of apes and cannibals, with new spells, monsters and adventure hooks by Adam Roy
  • “Devil’s Food”, an adventure among Midgard’s sinister gnomes by Michael Lane
  • “The Urge to Evolve”, a new Pathfinder Society Quest by Adam Daigle
  • GM tips from Steve Winter on creating an atmosphere of horror at the table

KQ # 23 also features inks and poisons from Midgard’s Seven Cities by Christina Stiles, worldbuilding with Monte Cook, Living Gods for 13th Age by Ash Law, a lamia PC race by Marc Radle, plus devil-smiting, soul-selling, and the ever-popular Ask the Kobold with Skip Williams.

The full table of contents for this issue is after the cut:

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You’re Cursed!

An engraving depicting the pirate Edward England with, in the background, the fight of the Fancy (left) and the Cassandra
Imprecations—curses—are as old as recorded memory. They appeal to supernatural powers to inflict harm on a person or group. Practiced by many cultures, the curse usually involves crafting an effigy of the victim with clay, stuffed cloth, wax, or wood, and marking or painting to represent the target. Though malicious and spiteful evil magic, the curse is sometimes used by good- and neutral-aligned characters to harm enemies. Those acquiring a curse may have disturbed a restful tomb, stolen a particular object, or pushed the alignment envelope. A curse can also be a blessing in disguise: it can help flesh out a character’s persona by adding an attack or ability, or it could provide the gamemaster ample fodder for adventure design. For example, African and European cultures mixed together among the islands of the Caribbean Sea, spawning legends of cursed men, places, ships, and treasures. Those enjoying the short and merry life of corrupt codes, debauchery, and scoundrel deeds paid them great heed.

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Howling Tower: Rise of the Miniature

Philip J. Viverito's "Siege of Alesia" game at Cold Wars 2010 (Photo: Steve Winter)
It’s a piece of RPG legend that D&D arose from wargaming. Although that’s true, it’s a case of something not really meaning what people think it means. A more accurate statement would be that D&D arose not from wargames but from wargamers. After all, the magical spark at the core of D&D is that it wasn’t just another wargame; it was a little of this and a little of that rearranged into something startlingly new and different.

But the inventors and early adopters of D&D were steeped in wargaming ideas, and they left a strong imprint on the game. Typically, this influence gets simplified to the most recognizable of the wargamers’ tools—miniatures—yet miniature figures are probably the least of the ways in which wargaming influenced RPGs. Early editions of D&D stated clearly that the game didn’t need miniatures at all. That was an important declaration, because rules for miniature wargames are what TSR published in the early 1970s. Anyone who bought a rulebook from TSR expected it to be for and about miniatures; hence the need to be up front about what people were buying.

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Howling Tower: Mounts

19th-century depiction of a victorious Saladin, by Gustave DoréWhen is the last time one of your characters bothered to own a horse in a D&D game? How long has it been since anyone soared over the mountains on the back of a roc or traversed the underworld on a lizard or giant worm? Has anyone ever even seen a chariot?

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Howling Tower: The Tongue-Tied Bard

"Pericles's Funeral Oration" by Philipp von FoltzThe introduction of skills into D&D and its offshoots solved some important problems in the game, but those solutions came with costs of their own.

The earliest editions had rules for fighting and not much else. That’s not surprising, considering they were written by wargamers, for wargamers. No one yet understood what a roleplaying game really needed or how varied play could become. The first skill-based class, the thief, didn’t appear until the first expansion. Try playing the game for a while without a character who can pick locks or disarm traps and you’ll see why thieves were needed. (In some recent, nostalgic OD&D sessions, a common joke was when a character would muse dreamily about a far-off, mythical land called “Greyhawk” where there existed people known as “thieves” who could somehow open a lock without hacking it into ruin with an ax. It was even said that if they pressed an ear to a door, they could sometimes actually hear sounds on the other side!)

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