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Koboldnomicon $7.99
Average Rating:3.2 / 5
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Koboldnomicon
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Koboldnomicon
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Russell M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/08/2007 20:55:51
This is a hefty collection of all sorts of kobold silliness. Equal parts fluff and crunch, this book gives plenty of options for a kobold as a player character. The sub-races have a much better survivability than the base kobold, and the Dragonmarked is just way too cool not to play at least once. The Vermin Kin class will make the squeaming in your group cringe, but it's a great class that plays to the dank, underground world of the kobold. The poetry was funny and the stories were cool, but there were too many of them and maybe they should have been web adds instead of in the book.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Koboldnomicon
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/20/2006 00:00:00
The Koboldnomicon is a 64 page pdf product that expands on the lore, knowledge and applicability of the lowly kobold in the fantasy d20 game. It claims to be the ultimate tome of kobold lore, and aims to provide players and DMs alike with a plethora of new ideas, concepts and mechanics to elevate the status of the kobold to something to be reckoned with. Inside the pages of this product from Bards and Sages are new feats, prestige classes, core classes, spells and even something dreadfully more sinister - kobold poetry!

The product comes as a single pdf file. There is no cover, no bookmarks, and very little in the way of anything that makes this product look great and feel very professional. The layout is simple, the editing good although a few things were missed, and the writing satisfactory. From a presentation point of view the only thing that really stands out are the numerous art pieces of kobolds scattered throughout the book. Certainly I felt a lot more could've been done to make the product presentable. If this is supposed to be the ultimate tome of kobold lore, at least let it look the part.

Despite the rather lacklustre presentation in parts, the product is filled with a lot of content. Included in the product as well are numerous fictions elements as well as something completely unheard of - kobold poetry. The product runs a fine line between being humorous in places, and the serious writing required to portray such a profound book on kobold lore. Somehow the mood and feel of the book get lost a little between the humour, occasional silliness (wolverine battering ram, for example) and the presentation, but that's not taking away from some interesting and very useful content. The fiction is all right, nothing special, and the poetry much the same. I don't think it adds or takes away anything from the book - it's just there, to a certain extent. Where the product really comes out is in the wide variety of new ideas for kobolds presented in its pages, and that's thankfully the majority of the product.

The first section of content takes a look at kobold players characters and introduces a number of useful and interesting kobold sub-races. Good advice on playing kobolds is given, and the three races are distinct enough in flavor to make them stand out from the typical kobold. The races are given plenty of support as well in terms of feats, for example, so they're not just standalone additions to the product. It's always good to see new ideas developed and explored in full.

Next are a handful of new prestige classes. These include the chosen of the dragon father (dedicated warriors of the Gnome Destroyer), kobold trapsmith, and the painted witch doctor (a kobold spellcaster who applies pigment to his face, granting him special abilities). Three different paragon kobolds are presented as well for additional variety, and a new core class, the vermin kin - a ranger variant with a vermin companion and suitable abilities. There are some good ideas here, and lots of potential to catch players off guard with new kobold madness. The mechanics is generally good, and only in one or two places did things look dubious or could've been given more flavor such as the vermin-kin.

The next few sections deal with feats, skills, spells and equipment. There's a very good selection here, although some of the material, in particular the spells, has some rather niche spells that might find limited utility (Speak with Weasels, for example). The feats and skills tie in nicely with the sub-races presented, and give them expanded options that enhance their racial abilities. The pdf introduces a new skill, called Acrobat, that allows the user to add a circumstance bonus to his AC as a move action, and the Kobold Engineering skill.

The equipment section starts by dealing with traps, complete with diagrams, and this was good to see. These should prove interesting for the next time that a DM uses kobolds in his game. The kobold 'bio-weapons' are rather silly, and resort to using live animals as part of weapons. Cats flung by their tails or wolverines tied to battering rams are not exactly concepts that many will find appealing. The last sections of the pdf deal with a kobold pantheon, and a variety of new monsters and kobold NPCs, most of them fairly high in CR, but highlighting the mechanics explored in the pdf.

The Koboldnomicon provides an expansive variety of new ideas and concepts for the kobold-minded player or DM. While there's plenty going for it in the ideas department (prestige classes, sub-races and feats, for example) there is also a lot of lacklustre implementation or less useful ideas (some of the spells and equipment). The presentation is quite poor, which doesn't really enhance the overall feel of the product. Is this the ultimate tome of kobold lore? Not really, but it is a tome, and should provide some fun and exciting options to enhance the kobold in your game.


LIKED: The variety of new ideas is good and useful, and builds on the kobold's strength. The book expands on ideas nicely, illustrating the concepts clearly through, for example, NPCs and additional feats and spells to support concepts. Overall utility is good, as is mechanical balance, and most players and DMs should find some useful material in these pages.

DISLIKED: Presentation is quite poor, and a lot could've been done to improve it. Bookmarks and a flavorful cover would've been a good start at getting that done nicely. From the product thumbnial it looks like there should've been a cover, though I'm not sure what happened to it. Some material is niche, or just not that useful, and one or two ideas could've been developed further (the vermin kin is too 'ranger-like', for example).

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Koboldnomicon
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/31/2006 00:00:00
I will never know the faciniation we gamers have with Kobolds. It seems that just about every gamer has a story regarding a Kobold. There?s the one about the Kobold assault, or the one about the Kobold thief or the one about the time that blind half-orc cuddled with a Kobold. Needless to say they are quite popular. Bards and Sages feeds that popularity with the Koboldnomicon. Though it does an adequate job of feeding the hunger for Kobold related material, it tends to overfeed in many places.

The Koboldnomicon is 64 pages and is organizaed about as chaotically as Kobold would organize a book. There is a ton of prose mixed in to the chapters. One minute, the book is displaying Kobold races, the next it?s a bad poem about a Kobold knight. There are also no bookmarks, which makes reading through it more difficult. Sad thing is, the book has some really great stuff for Kobold players and DMs.

For the Dungeon Master

The book contains quite a bit of flavor to begin a Kobold campaign, but you will want to refer to other sources such as the SRD for more detailed cultural Kobold information. The different races of Kobold is quite interesting, especially the Dragonmarked, a Kobold subrace which actually makes a Kobold fighter class viable without weapon finessing it out. There is also the Tamarin, a monkey crossed Kobold that has the flavor of the Jurassic Park Raptors. Also, there are several NPCs in the back of the book that have a ton of character in them. I can not see a DM in this world whom would not want to run Vextor, the Kobold ninja.

For the Player

Face it, this is a player?s book. The kind of book you can throw in your DM?s face and say ?see I can too play a Kobold?. The feats, classes, prestige classes and traps are all written very flavorful and provide the feeling of the quirky Kobold. My favorite feat is actually not a feat for Kobolds at all. Your DM will not let you run a Kobold? Put the Raised by Kobolds on your humanoid character. It allows you take on some of the traits of a Kobold while simultaneously sticking your tongue out at the Dungeon Master.

The spells listed do not quite equal up to the ingenuity of the feats and traps. Most of them you can find in other books and really do not speak to the user as Kobold. I found this most disappointing considering the Kobold?s favored class is Sorceror.

The Iron Word
If you are a fan of Kobolds or want some viable options to use the little dragonoids as playable characters, there is enough material in here to help you out. Though if you are looking for in depth ecology this may not help you. You will also have to deal with the chaotic structuring of the book, but if you like Kobolds, you obviously love chaos.



LIKED: -The Feats are AWESOME for Kobolds
- Makes trapmaking for any class viable
- Great races, finally a Kobold fighter
- The Vermin Kin is a cool ranger varient, wish there could have been varients of all the classes

DISLIKED: - bad organization
- too much fiction
- spells aren't creative


QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Koboldnomicon
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/28/2006 00:00:00
Kobolds can either be a lot of fun or a huge annoyance; Bards and Sages? ?Koboldnomicon? seems to try hard to land in the ?lot of fun? camp. This 64-page sourcebook presents variant kobold subraces, spells, feats, weapons and even a kobold-handful of deities.

The first couple of pages are devoted to an introduction from the publisher and then another introduction from someone named ?Simon.? Apparently, Simon is the poor soul who first stumbled across this strange collection of kobold lore, and his cautionary tale serves as a warning to all those who dare read this supplement.

What?s unfortunate is that for a supplement so designed for a ?Dungeons & Dragons? game, Simon?s introduction feels better suited to a game of ?d20 Modern.? The fantasy-trappings that make D&D what it is are missing from this introduction.

However, the opening chapter of the book does an excellent job of providing the gamer/reader with an idea as to what is to come. ?Love Slave of the Kobold Queen, Part 1,? by Johnathan M. Richards, is a first-person narrative of poor soul named Mallen who?s relating his kobold experiences to his fellow adventurers.

A page is devoted to adapting the kobold as a player character race. The mechanics are the same as the mechanics from the ?Monster Manual,? but a bit more information is given here to help players if they decide to choose kobold as their race. ?For player characters, playing a kobold means living with the fact that you are generally going to be looked down upon my [sic] members of other races . . . The kobold PC needs to make a choice.? The choices presented address how a kobold PC might approach any of the core classes from the ?Player?s Handbook.?

Three kobold subraces (the most interesting is perhaps the quahali kobold who embrace death gladly for they believe in reincarnation) and an ?Ode to a Kobold Sentry? (also by Richards) later, we?re given three prestige classes (the most interesting ? the painted witch doctor, who paints his or her face in such a way that he or she can paralyze, petrify or even kill his or her opponents ? isn?t even kobold-specific and can be played by any tribal race), three kobold paragon classes (one generic and two variants), and a new 20-level player class called the vermin kin (a variant ranger that is more vermin-based than animal-based). The vermin kin is the stand-out here; great care was taken to not just replace any reference to an animal companion with a vermin companion. Instead, the vermin kin gains class abilities like ?vermin scouts,? which allows him or her to, by observing and understanding how vermin behave, to gain a bonus to a Knowledge (nature) roll. (?For example, he may be able to discern how far ahead an adversary is by calculating how long it would take a spider to re-spin a web that had previously been disturbed.)

There are a handful of kobold feats and a new skill ? Acrobat ? presented here, and then we?re treated to four pages of new spells. The feats are mostly kobold-specific, and while the spells aren?t necessarily designed only for use by kobolds, most of them definitely have that ?kobold flavor.? There are three new ?Power Word? spells here (Backstab, Lie and Tire) that seemed a bit out of place (the spell descriptions don?t explicitly state these were kobold-specific or ?devised spells, but my human brain had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that ANY ?Power Word? spells warranted inclusion in a book of kobold-lore).

Two more short fiction pieces (?Dinner? and ?The Trap? both by Peter Schaefer) lead to the section on kobold equipment and traps, and then the book wraps with a few sample NPCS and five kobold deities. ?Love Slave of the Kobold Queen, Part II? brings this supplement to a close.

Overall, there IS some good material in ?Koboldnomicon,? but the supplement is inconsistent in its tone and presentation. Some material is clearly meant to be humorous (right down to the disclaimer at the end ? ?we only test on humans, who are willing to be experimented on in exchange for XP?), while some of it is presented as straight game material. While the idea of a kobold PC might illicit a few snickers, this is a supplement that can?t seem to make up its mind if it?s in on the joke or trying to rise above it.


LIKED: As a fan of new and well-designed player classes, I enjoyed the amount of thought that went into the paragon and prestige classes, but especially the vermin kin. It's a unique spin on the ranger that I'm eager to play myself!

When the "Koboldnomicon" is trying to be funny, it hits it mark, and wrapping the book with Parts I and II of "Love Slave of the Kobold Queen" was a wise choice.

DISLIKED: There's no cover! Additionally, this product is spotted with typos and grammatical errors (there aren't any actual misspellings - just cases in which the wrong, correctly spelled word was used).

Also, as mentioned in the actual review, this supplement seems to waver back and forth between trying to poke fun at the kobolds and presenting them as a serious player option for the game.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Koboldnomicon
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/26/2006 00:00:00
The Koboldnomicon is either a dread tome of unspeakable secrets, penned in blood by a yipping and yapping monk from an eastern land?or a somewhat tongue-in-cheek sourcebook of all things kobold. Based on the feats, spells, and prestige classes, I?m leaning toward the latter. Still, it never hurts to be too careful, so I?m checking over my shoulder from time to time as I write this.

Seriously, though, the Koboldnomicon is a book that I?m surprised didn?t come out years ago. It?s just such an obviously good idea to create a sourcebook based around D&D?s lowliest humanoid antagonist. The idea of the book as a kind of forbidden tome gives the Kobolnomicon a neat hook and, when it works, adds a little humor to the sourcebook.

This product was written by a number of different authors, and at times you can tell it?s a compilation effort. While the book as a whole is well-written, it lacks cohesion. The contents are divided into sections: sub-races, classes and prestige classes, feats & skills, etc. Scattered throughout are kobold themed fiction and poetry (yes, kobold poetry). While it?s all organized logically, everything comes out feeling sort of cobbled together. Maybe it?s the sparse design style of the PDF, which is positively drab and uniform.

Fortunately, the actual rules and contents of the Koboldnomicon are pretty good. The Kobold Trapsmith prestige class is a logical addition, and I thought a number of the spells were clever. Every section contained more than a few things that I liked, and everything seemed balanced and well-written. Even the things I didn?t care for (such as the kobold sub-races) would probably work fine for someone else?s group and campaign.

I also found a few things that, while I didn?t really like them at a casual glance, eventually won me over when I read them in more depth. The best example is probably the section on ?kobold bio-weapons.? These are traps and weapons incorporating living animals. At first glance, I found them a little too silly. After all, they include in their number something called the ?angry-wolvering-strapped-to-a-battering-ram?, which is exactly what it sounds like it is. After reading through the bioweapons, though, they kind of grew on me. An angry wolverine strapped to the front of an imposing battering-ram would make a fairly terrifying contraption, after all. My favorite bioweapon is the caltrop-toad, which really is quite clever.

LIKED: The Koboldnomicon accomplishes what it sets out to do: help the DM make the lowly kobold a threat. Between the prestige classes, new spells, equipment, gods, and other new rules and ideas the Koboldnomicon should make the kobold more interesting, if not worthy of the respect of PC adventurers everywhere.

There are a lot of ideas crammed into the Koboldnomicon?s 60ish pages of rules, poetry, and other nonsense. Most of them are pretty darn good and, assuming you?re looking to spice up the kobolds in your campaign, you?ll find more than a few cool things here to help you. The writing is solid, the ideas are clever, and the rules seem pretty well balanced.

Overall, the Koboldnomicon a nice little PDF.

DISLIKED: The Koboldnomicon is built around the idea of an evil, necronomicon-style book dealing with the forbidden lore of the kobolds. It?s a clever thought, but one that the book?s design fails to use to its advantage. The opening introduction (by the mysterious Simon) supposedly came in the form of letter written in shaky handwriting and stained with brownish-red spots. So why not present it on a cool background, in a hand-written font? Some clear divisions between sections, along with a better use of art (which is good, but seems randomly placed) would have gone a long way toward making this book look more professional.

As it was, I felt as though I was looking at some kind of printer friendly version, wondering what happened to the layout and color. Also, where the heck are the bookmarks?

Finally, while the d20 ruleset has the level adjustment rules for handling the benefits a player gains from choosing a monster race, it has no counterpart for boosting those players that want to play weaker races such as kobolds. I would have liked to have seen this addressed. Kobold-themed feats, spells, and abilities are fine and well, but some kind of ?reverse LA? or experience bonus would have gone along way toward making up for the basic Kobold?s statistical shortcomings.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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