[Review] Kobold Quarterly 21
Kobold Quarterly 21, the spring 2012 issue, looks at the divine. Normally, I focus my reviews of Kobold Quarterly on the articles dealing with new and expanded Pathfinder mechanics. For issue 21, I’m going to take a slightly different approach. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of good Pathfinder material in the issue, including a new base class, the shaman (a spontaneous divine caster, somewhere between druid and oracle), divine archetypes (featuring a divine gunslinger (yes, please) and a new style feat tree), and (my favourite) a new improved aberrant familiar that can replace its “master’s” tongue, granting some disturbing, yet very interesting abilities.
The big draw for issue 21, however, lies in the collected advice, across the numerous articles, about making better use of the divine in your game, regardless of system. Topics covered include world-building, campaign ideas and adventure hooks, and both player and GM advice for devout PCs. Three articles, in particular, stood out:
Why No Monotheism?, by Steve Winter, takes a look at the prevalence of the polytheism within RPG settings. It’s a fascinating read, detailing different structures of polytheistic worship and discussing why they work so well in RPGs. However, the article also discusses how to build a setting or campaign around a monotheism – great advice for making monotheistic religion a core aspect of a campaign rather than relegating it to campaign or character background.
Clerical Conflicts, by Tim and Eileen Connors, introduces a series of internal conflicts that might face any religious character. I rather liked how this article was written. Each conflict was described from the view point of a different clergyman, all from the same church. The conflicts provide a mix of role playing challenges, rewards and consequences. The article looks at martyrdom, disillusionment and prophecy amongst several others. Though Clerical Conflicts includes Pathfinder mechanics to support the conflicts, I found that it provides more than enough advice for any system.
It’s a Mystery!, by David “Zeb” Cook, discusses the use of mystery cults in role playing games. Drawing on real-world influences, the article serves as a cook book, providing the tools to help you design and run a mystery cult. The article is peppered with examples, ranging from adherents of the Old Ways to secretive merchant orders, and adventure hooks. Cook provides ample advice for running mystery cults as enemies, allies or even as organisations for the PCs to join.
KQ 21 includes all of the usual good stuff (covering the AGE system, 4e, Pathfinder and including several system neutral articles), but stands out as a great resource for GMs and groups looking to enjoy a game that focuses on the divine and religion. This issue truly inspires the world-builder in me and, who knows, perhaps I’ll be sharing a few new religions, gods, clerical conflicts and mystery cults in the near future.