In the Editorial, Wolfgang Baur muses on Viking styles of leadership, the 'ring-giver' ensuring a loyal following by distribution of largesse: by such standards, Baur's following must be vast, given the quality and quantity of the material held between the covers of the latest Kobold Quarterly.
First up is a D&D 4e version of the Aasimar as a character race. Effectively immortal avatars of angels, they tend to exhibit a very pragmatic approach: they will do whatever it takes to get what they want. Some have been around for a very long time, but whenever an aasimar mates, an aasimar results whatever the other parent might be, so new ones are produced every so often, even if angels no longer seek to create them to serve their patron deity in your world. Interesting story potential here!
Next a delightfully circular article which presents Pathfinder stat blocks and details of some fictional characters, items, spells, etc., which appear in the novel Prince of Wolves... which is set in the Pathfinder core world of Golarion in the first place! It's reviewed later on in the magazine as well.
Then comes one of the renowned 'Ecology' articles. This issue it is the turn of the tengu, flightless avian humanoids. Useful background if they are to be encountered, or if a brave player wants to take one as a character in their next Pathfinder game. Continuing with the Pathfinder ruleset (although applicable wherever they occur) this is followed by a discussion of variant rules for the Paladin's ability to lay on hands - extra healing abilities always come in handy! (Sorry)
Looking next at treasures, a new and exotic idea: perfume! The ladies like it, tis said, and mediaeval towns tended to be smelly places... so why not introduce them to your game world, either as pleasant odours or even with magical properties. The article shows how you can embed the concept into your game world, rather than just have a few pleasantly-scented bottles in the next hoard. More novel ideas in the next article, which looks at ways other than brawling to solve conflicts, even when playing D&D 4e! Here a skill battle is suggested, pitching the characters' skills against those of their opponents in some manner of contest, either an out-and-out race to accomplish a goal or a more subtle 'balance' where each side can negate the others' efforts as well as succeed in their own. An example is given of characters attempting to prevent a bunch of Drow from opening an interdimensional rift - a refreshing change from the normal approach of stopping them by hitting them!
More innovation in treasure... does the presence of massive amounts, say a dragon's hoard, actually warp its surroundings? Written for D&D 4e, this rules variant means that a significant teasure hoard may exert an effect on the neighbourhood... even once it's been looted from its original owner and is now in the characters' possession! More ideas for paladins follow, in the shape of alternate codes for them to follow - not all of them follow the 'King Arthur knight in full plate' image and, depending on deity and paladinical order (if they belong to one) their whole outlook may be quite different.
Next, Monte Cook muses on the tension between 'storytelling' and 'playing a game' that's inherently a part of any role-playing game. Thought-provoking stuff, followed by an interview with game designer Rob Heinsoo and more treasure ideas, these ones close to my heart - books! Complete with adventure seeds that making finding these tomes more than an exercise in profit calculation. Then a whole street stall of various bric-a-brac that too is a potent source of adventure. And then, Ed Greenwood expounds on what makes characters memorable and why it's important to a great campaign that they are... each page turned, more treasures unfold! How to create feats... fantasy languages... games that wizards plays (think a wizarding Olympics!)... moral choices in Dragon Age... I doubt I'll have fully digested this issue before the next one comes out!
And that sums it up: a wealth of excellent articles that delight, inspire and provoke thought. If you like to think about your games as well as play them, you'll enjoy this, whatever game you actually play - and if your choices include Pathfinder, D&D 4e or indeed fantasy in general, you have a treat in store here.
[5 of 5 Stars!]