The inaugural March issue of Open Gaming Monthly, presented by D20 PFSRD, has been released by Fat Goblin Games. Editor in chief Rick Hershey explained:
Earlier this year, I discussed with John L. Reyst about launching a d20pfsrd.com magazine to help support Open Gaming and the many publishers that work hard bringing fans 3rd party content. After many conversations and random brainstorming emails, we both had a solid idea of the type of magazine we wanted to produce. From there, it was up to me (with the help of Fat Goblin Games co-owner, Jason Stoffa) to start figuring out how we were going to actually pull this off. This first issue has truly been a labour of love – of art, good writing and publishing – by the team at Fat Goblin Games and all the contributors from d20pfsrd.com, the many publishers that donated time and content, the artists and freelancers who sent us material, and the fans who supported the magazine’s announcement on the gaming scene. I cannot say “thank you” enough for everyone’s encouragement and enthusiasm.
Open Gaming Monthly builds on the publications that have gone before, dividing its content into Features (new locations, races, and an interview with an industry insider), Characters (new equipment, spells, and archetypes), Design & DMing (new monsters, locations, and adventures), and Columns (Open Gaming Spotlight; The Good, the Bad, the Henchmen; and BadWrongFun).
The cover by artist McLean Kendree is a gorgeous blue-tinted battle between a flaming-haired demonic wolf-like humanoid and a lot of warriors in an arctic landscape. It's clear the warriors are losing the fight. There's a full-page spread of the picture on pages 4 and 5, but unfortunately it's cut up by the PDF into two separate pages, meaning you can't really get a good look at it.
After a roundup of news and events in the RPG and gaming geek industry, Nicole Lindross provides a recipe for Spinach Lasagna Rolls titled "Adventures in Dinner." It's written like a monster encounter, which is pretty funny, and it looks yummy too. Of course, Lindross is a highly accomplished game designer and her bio is surprisingly modest about her accomplishments. I'm not sure I would have put the recipe as the first feature in the magazine, but it's a welcome and different addition to the usual gaming fare.
A minor oversight: There's mention of Wolfgang Baur concluding Kobold Quarterly on page 11, but no recognition that he will be continuing a column dedicated to Pathfinder open content in Gygax Magazine.
Page 12 features an in-depth interview by Christina Stiles with the mastermind behind D20PFSRD.com, John Reyst. Throughout the magazine are Random Treasures, little blue boxes of magic items to reward readers randomly browsing through the magazine. They're not necessarily magical, but colorful additions to a campaign's random treasure tables.
Worlcraft features the land of Grigoria, complete with maps, deities, cities, and unique races. The picture of the new monster, the Gogling, is frightening, even if the name makes it sound cute. Arctic Arsenal is all about mundane and magical equipment for surviving in cold weather climates – appropriate, given the amount of snow dumped outside as I write this. Spring returns with the Briarborn, a plant race perfect for outdoor classes. Then we're back to winter again with cold weather monsters: the Frost Hag, the undead Glacial Gaunt, and will-o'-wisp variant Ice Wisp.
The discussion of existing open game content picks up with a discussion of intelligent folding boats. Author Landon Bellavia gets a second chance to improve upon his creations by fleshing out the details. The arctic creeps back in again with Winter Wonderland, a list of cold spells by Alex Riggs. That winter theme continues in Drake's Hollow, a frost-themed setting set in a caldera.
Actress and artist Jennifer Page is interviewed, accompanied by several large full color photos. This is followed by the NPC section of Aertar Frostfel the dwarf, his evil sister Ultana, and hound archon Maerlon. There's a short article of Nordic deities and accompanying archetypes for clerics, followed by spells to defeat frozen foes (with fire of course!). The mini-adventure, Ke'Aril's Hunt, is a non-arctic themed scenario for four player characters of 5th to 6th level. Knowledge Check focuses on skill challenges, followed by Nick Esposito's house rules in BadWrongFun. The magazine concludes with Tyler Beck, who explains how to optimize the Winter Witch prestige class, and PJ Grant, who discusses optimizing the Advanced Race Guide.
Overall this is a very impressive magazine for $2.99, with enough content drawn from Open Game sources to make it feel fresh, a professional layout, and beautiful artwork. It's a great start for a publication that's just getting started; here's hoping they can keep up this level of quality for future issues.
[5 of 5 Stars!]