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Ecology of the Derro Ecology of the Barghest Ecology of the Lich Ecology of the Cloaker Ecology of the Homunculus
Prince of Hell Baron of Hell Ed Greenwood Interview Angel of Hope Princess of Hell
Erik Mona Interview Wayne Reynolds Interview Star & Shadow Magic Gangs of Zobeck 4E Designers Speak
Kobold Quarterly is a trademark of Open Design LLC. All rights reserved. © 2008. Don’t make us gnaw your ankles in rage.
Kobold Quarterly 5 3

6 Editorial
New Math

From the Mines


Princess of Hell
Jezebel, Princess of Poison Winters
by James Jacobs
She has such a friendly face.

Ecology of the Homunculus
by Joshua Stevens On the Cover
Small creations with big dreams. Darren Calvert brings us a golden look
at our mascot, Jiro, and a scaly friend

28 Mega-Super-Dire-Fiendish

It Came from Monster Isle!

by Matthew J. Hanson
of his. Room enough for big and small
here, apparently.

You might think that this is an

One kaiju is all it takes to kick your ass.
expanded version of our premiere

32 issue’s cover, and you’d be right.

Kobold Diplomacy
4th Edition Designers: Collins, Heinsoo, Wyatt
Toe-to-toe with the 4E designers. Triumph or wipeout?

Flashing Blades
Make Your Action Points Awesome
by Roger Carbol
44 Ask the Kobold: Q&A
by Skip Williams

Dungeon Design

Improving Your Improvisation

by Nicolas Logue
Unique Altars Book Reviews 42
by Phillip Larwood by Cynthia Ward and Pierce Watters

56 Character Design
Maximize Your Monk Cartoons by Stan!

by Ross Byers
10’ by 10’ Toon 46

Horn of Triumph: Magical Instruments
by Stefen Styrsky
Bolt & Quiver 51

V is for Vermin
by Aeryn Rudel
The Free City

66 The Kobold Ghetto

by Wolfgang Baur
4 Kobold Quarterly 5

From the crumbling spires of the ancient runelords in distant Varisia to the bustling merchant
kingdoms of the Inner Sea, the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting forms the panoramic
backdrop for Paizo Publishing’s innovative Pathfinder fantasy roleplaying supplements, modules,
and Adventure Paths. The world’s most popular roleplaying game is always changing, but the
Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting is designed to be great right from the start. Your next
great adventure is about to begin. It’s your world now.

Pathfinder Chronicles Supplements ã $17.99
All trademarks are property of Paizo Publishing ,

LLC. ©2008 Paizo. All Rights Reserved

Kobold Quarterly 5 5
New Math
Edito r ial

obold Quarterly, or KQ if you like, is one
year old. Thank you to all of you—readers,
designers, artists, and everyone who has in the new edition of my favorite RPG, when I know
contributed—for making it happen. Jack Vance was a founding influence on Gygax and the
It’s a sad fact that most new magazines don’t survive, original editions the game. There’s no more gnome PCs
and KQ has at least as many foes as your typical kobold. in the players’ book.
Like our wily mascot, though, we’re beating the odds. That one actually kind of hurts.
We’ve outsmarted them and outlasted them, and I’m I love gnomes, because one of the defining characters
happy to say this coming year looks even brighter. Or at in my high school campaign was a gnome who always
least as bright as it gets, down in the mines. thought he could beat the odds. Gotta respect him for
This issue is our Midsummer Madness issue, appearing trying. And for running an illusionist/thief. Man, the
on or around the summer solstice, the longest day of the weird thing isn’t the new math involved in a new edition,
year. I’ve always treasured the long summer days since it’s fighting off the nostalgia for the way it used to be.
moving to the Seattle area 10 years ago. The sun stays up I digress. Kobold Quarterly is heading to GenCon
long past bedtime, until 10 or 10:30 at night, and people and I will have a surprise for those subscribers who stop
get a little strange around this time of year. Everyone stays by and visit the Open Design booth there, near either
up late because, well, it’s light out and it’s hard to sleep. the Green Ronin or Paizo booth. Ask all you like about
And frankly, I’ve been staying up late as well, working the subscriber prize, there will be no hints until 10 AM
on the magazine and finalizing the most recent Open on Thursday, August 14th, when the dealer’s hall opens.
Design project, Nicolas Logue’s Blood of the Gorgon, Kobolds love to spring surprises and I promise no traps
which went off to its patrons about the time KQ went are involved in this one.
to press. It’s glorious, with beautiful maps, a rich and
engaging storyline full of cults, blood, and all the If you have comments on this issue’s articles, the
entertainment that a madman villain can bring. state of the RPG field, or an opinion on whether the
The next Open Design project, Tales of Zobeck, will next issue should be 3rd Edition or 4th Edition, direct
be just as exciting. It provides an anthology of about your couriers, message spells, sealed letters, and email to
eight adventures written by a both professional designers or to Kobold Letters, PO
and promising Open Design patrons. It also includes a Box 2811, Kirkland, WA 98083.
gazetteer on the city of Zobeck itself, by yours truly. Tales Until then, I look forward to serving you nothing but
of Zobeck will be the short version of the larger setting the best in independent Wizards & Warlocks for another
book I’ve been wanting to write for about two years, and year, and thank you for your patronage.
I’m up to my eyeballs in it and loving it.
The summer madness has also brought new and weird
experiences this summer. There’s no more Vancian magic

Kobold in Chief

6 Kobold Quarterly 5

While the old King of Korvosa lays dying, a new ruler gathers power, sending shockwaves through a populace already
plagued by unrest. In the face of anarchy, new heroes gather at the call of a mysterious patron which sets them on a
path of magic and prophesy against a common foe. Amid the intrigues of kings and generals, knights and thieves, it’s
up to these heroes to decide if the new monarch will bring Korvosa an age of glory or a reign of terror.

Curse of the Crimson Throne, the second Pathfinder Adventure Path, has begun.


Pathfinder Chronicles:
Pathfinder Curse of the Pathfinder Chronicles:
Crimson Throne Player’s Guide Guide to Korvosa

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Kobold Quarterly 5 7
SUMMER 2008 Volume 2, Issue 1

and patrons, or its contributors, who are not liable for opinions expressed
™ herein. Most product names are trademarks owned by the companies that
publish those products. Use of the name of any product without mention
™ of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.
Open Design, Free City of Zobeck, Kobold Quarterly, KQ, KOBOLD Magazine,
and the Kobold logo are trademarks of Open Design LLC.

Subscriptions: Please subscribe at, or send a

check or money order to PO Box 2811, Kirkland WA, 98083, USA.
PDF subscriptions are US$16 per year, €11 in Europe. Paper and PDF
Kobold-in-Chief: Wolfgang Baur combined subscriptions are US$36 per year in the United States,
Circulation Director: Pierce Watters US$40 in Canada, €36 in Europe, and US$56 elsewhere.
Cover Design: Scott Okumura
Consulting Editor: Jeff Grubb Back Issues: Visit to pick up back issues of
Assistant Editor: Scott Gable Kobold Quarterly. Single paper issues of Kobold Quarterly are $7.99
Page Layout: Wolfgang Baur plus shipping. Single PDF issues are $5.99 and are available at
Ad Manager: EP Healy

Advertising: Contact the staff at for

Contributing Authors: Wolfgang Baur, Ross Byers, Roger current rates. All ads are subject to approval, and KQ reserves the right
Carbol, Matthew J. Hanson, James Jacobs, Phillip Larwood, to reject any ad for any reason.
Joshua Stevens, Stefen Styrsky, and Skip Williams
Open Game Content: This issue contains two items of Open content:
Cover Artist: Darren Calvert the “V is for Vermin” article and the “Horn of Triumph, Harp of Despair”
article. All other material is Product Identity. No other portion of this
work may be reproduced in any form without permission.
Contributing Artists: Joanna Barnum, Jeremy Corff, Cris
Griffin, Darren Calvert, Michael Jaecks, Pat Loboyko, James
Submissions and Design: Each issue of Kobold Quarterly supports Open
Keegan, Herman Lau, and Stan! Design, an RPG design community. Article queries are accepted from
freelancers, from KQ subscribers, and from all Open Design members.
Court Calligrapher: Shelly Baur To become a member, visit and donate to support the
Open Design community.
Kobold Quarterly™ is published four times a year by Open Design LLC. No
part of this magazine may be reproduced (except for review purposes) Printed in the U.S.A.
without the prior written consent of the publisher. Material published
herein may not necessarily reflect the opinions of Open Design, its owner ©2008 Open Design LLC

They know the Secrets. Do you?

Some may think they know everything that has transpired
in the colonies, but they are wrong. There are dark things
afoot. There are those with vengeance in their heart who
seek to unleash it. There are creatures prowling the
shadows awaiting to entangle the unsuspecting in their
maws. There is evil flowing in the wind. These are the
secrets of Colonial Gothic.

Colonial Gothic: Secrets $1299

In Store Now!

Games so good they sneak up on you.™

8 Kobold Quarterly 5
From the Mines

Kobol d L etters
Freebies, Editions, No Color, Adoptions

From the Stans

Kobold-in-Chief and Tribe, David, glad to hear that the worldwide
I would like to be added to the Adopt- distribution is working out: Uzbeckistan
A-Soldier waiting list. and Tadjikistan cannot be far behind.
I found issue 3 on the rack in the And yes, you are on the waiting list,
exchange last week as I was passing along with a couple other soldiers who
through Manas Air Base in Kyrgyz- are eligible for the Adopt-A-Soldier the PDF version, I loathe the idea of
stan last week. Then found issue 4 in subscripttont. Any readers who are feel- color migrating to the printed version.
the exchange when I arrived here in ing generous and would like to sponsor Rather, please increase page count,
Afghanistan. a subscription, please visit the Kobold- since that adds a usable quantity to the
Reading the letters section, I found This ain’t a money-maker magazine—more articles! B&W is one
out about the Adopt-A-Soldier for us folks; KQ covers the postage for all of the venerable forms of printing, and
program. these subscriptions. I think the creative use of the media
It’s really great to know that there is a dying art form. Please, seriously
is support for soldiers in the gaming More Free Stuff, Please consider B&W as the soul of the young
community, as gamers are a very gener- I would definitely like to see more free Kobold you hold in your hands.  Sway
ous and caring community. subscriber stuff! but a little, and it will never be the
This is my third tour here in Afghani- ~Dave Mallon same again.
stan. On my previous two excursions Finally, I think you should invent a
I have had very successful gaming Yes, we thought you might! Issue #4 went referral program for new subscribers.
groups. I just got here and once things out to subscribers with a freebie for the How about this: current subscribers
settle down I am hoping to see what I NeoExodus setting, and we learned that who get new subscribers get a 1 issue
can put together. the word free is a power word. extension to their subscription for free?
Until then, I look forward to reading Though there’s no subscriber premium ~Trevor Stamper
Kobold Quarterly, whether off the for this issue, future issues may have free- Batavia, Ohio
rack or through an Adopt-A-Soldier bies just as issue #4 did. When publishers
subscription. I devoured issue 3 in a offer something that we think is of inter- You know, after consulting with our
day while in transit, isuue 4 will take est to the KQ readership, we’ll definitely printer on the price of color, and looking
a little longer as things are pretty busy pass it along. at the circulation, it’s become clear that
right now, not to mention that there is your argument makes a lot of sense.
so much more KQ to read. Color: Just Say No! Seriously, right now we’re spending
Thank you for your support and a Dear Wolfgang, every copper on more art and articles.
great publication, I am writing in response to Constantin Color will come later. Is black and white
Terton’s letter (KQ4) concerning color the soul of the young KQ? Maybe not, but
David Cornwell on the inside of the printed Kobold it is what we can afford right now. And
Unit 3G Quarterly. PLEASE—JUST SAY NO! increasing pagecount is probably more
APO AE 09354 One of the great downfalls of both important than color.
Dragon and Dungeon was the move Your referral program has a lot to
P.S. Feel free to publish my name and to full color. I couldn’t think of a single recommend it. Any new subscribiers who
address in case any gamers would like worse thing to do to this wonderful mention an existing subscriber’s name
to contact me. magazine! While I enjoy the color in when they sign up will extend that refer-
ring person’s subscription by an issue. I
hope to see your name on some of those,
You can write to us at or send paper mail to Trevor. Word of mouth is a kobold’s best
Kobold Quarterly, PO Box 2811, Kirkland, WA 98083 friend.

Kobold Quarterly 5 9
Not Much Fantasy Here? info in the emails that there is a time- the stuff, but the point of buying mod-
limit to download them within?  That ules or magazines is because I don’t
I would like to make a comment about
way I can make sure to do that before have the time to do the conversion
issue #4, there’s not much in the way
they expire...  or the preparation (four kids can be a
of general fantasy. At first glance it
By the way, I love the magazine so hamper to ones GM skills) and thus I’d
seems one article, the rest were pretty
far.  Both issues I have received have rather have the crunchy bits all done
much geared only towards specific
had great content, a good mix of old for me.
flavor types of d20. My first thought
school layout. fluff and the trendier My reasons for not jumping onto 4E
after looking over it last night was, the
crunch we have become accustomed to.  are mostly fiscal and partially famil-
better looking it becomes the less use-
It really fits my needs. I find it difficult ial. I’ve already invested thousands of
ful it is as well.
to read a lot of content on the com- dollars in 3.x and can’t see any reason
If possible, throw in a column that
puter and having a print magazine that to replace the books that I have. And
covers some magic items and another
I can take with me makes me happy.  if I were to start spending the cash,
with spells. Then the mileage of the
Of course having a PDF of it all in the wife would literally kill me. Then
magazine will start to increase. 
color (or so I hear) will be cool too. I gaming wouldn’t be much fun at all,
~David Jones
think that the other company with as I’m certain Gary’s table has a huge
gaming ‘magazines’ will find that some waiting list.
Well, it’s an honest letter and I don’t
of their readership will go missing—I So my question to you, why cater to
mind complaints, but sometimes I don’t
don’t want to pay money for a publica- just one or the other? Why not 1) have
think we’re reading the same magazine.
tion with its content only delivered material the doesn’t bog down with
Issue #3 included a ton of spells and
online. Thank goodness Kobolds ap- crunch but is a lot more fluff, or 2)
an entire new school of magic. Issue #4
pear to be smarter than some way than have a mixed bag of 3.5 and 4 stuff so
included literally nothing but generic
their ancestors.  that both sides get catered. Now I ex-
fantasy, unless you somehow count the
Keep up the good work! pect to hear arguements like 1) having
“Gangs of Zobeck” article as setting
~Sean Kelly stat blocks for both versions isn’t only
specific (a fair critique, though Zobeck
impractical but a waste of space or 2)
is well within the scope of homebrew
Thanks, Sean, for bringing up a useful by catering to both you are really cater-
settings). And this issue includes magical
topic all around. The email announce- ing to neither. To these I say, no matter
instruments, vermin usable anywhere,
ment that a new issue is available always what is done someone will complain
and articles on general topics like monks
includes links good for 2 weeks; after that and if the work is being used by a large
and GM improvisation. I’m not sure how
time they expire. enough portion of the readership then
much more generic fantasy we can print
However, as a subscriber you can it is most certainly not a waste.
without cutting out ad space or doubling
always get a copy of the PDF file directly After all that, I will be renewing, as
the price.
from the store. Just it will take you more than the next 4
There’s a larger point, though. We can
log in, and look in the sidebar on the issues to really get full into 4ed, should
only print what we receive as submis-
right under “Recent Purchases”. Presto, you end up doing that. And your
sions, and what we have received is
your download awaits! magazine is certainly worth the money
overwhelmingly d20 material. If you’d
you charge for the quarterly quality
like more spells and magic items, or The Vexing Question: and quantity you produce.
something else entirely, please query an 1st Edition, or 2nd Edition? I will make a rather bold statement
article along those lines to wolfgang@
Dear Chief Kobold, here and now, KQ will be a monthly
 I just got my 4th issue of KQ, along magazine within 2 years (either that or
with my reminder to renewal. As I be a fond memory).
Link Goblins Thanks a bunch for all your efforts,
pored over the issue my attention was
I went to try to download the latest the lashing may now commence.
caught by your comment in the edito-
issue (I have been away on vacation ~Trevor Chapman
rial that you’d be having a poll to see if
with  net access for 2 weeks) and
you should support 3.5 or 4th edition
YouSendIt! tells me that the file associ- Thanks for your letter, and for your sub-
going forward.
ated with the link has expired. This is scription vote of confidence.
I’d really want to see the result of that
for both the new issue and the NPCs The situation with the GSL and the
poll before I renew, as since I won’t be
freebie and the Havenmine Gauntlet edition change has gotten a bit clearer.
jumping on the 4th Edition band-
Easter Egg (which I just didn’t get We’ll continue to publish material usable
wagon any time soon, I wouldn’t want
around to downloading before I went in both editions (like the Zobeck setting,
another periodical (the others being
away). DM and design advice, interviews, and
online) that will be mostly unusable to
Can these files be reenabled for me?  ecology articles). I hope to make a deci-
me. And, yes I know I could convert
If not, would you mind putting some
10 Kobold Quarterly 5
sion very soon, when folks have seen the lowing for those who want half-mithral
license and the rules, and have had a dragons in their game: The breath KQ 4 Is Missing a Page
chance to play them long enough to have weapon is a 60 ft. line of mithral shards Another excellent issue! I do have to
an informed opinion. (using that half-dragon’s normal stats voice a minor disappointment—the
Plus, I’ll be asking you, the readers, di- for damage and saving throw) that last page of KQ4 didn’t have anything
rectly. Look for the poll to decide whether deals slashing damage, and overcomes on the Free City as KQ 1-3 did.
to shift to the new edition, posted on DR as a silver, cold iron, and adaman- Although three times in a row isn’t now. tine weapon (the shards quickly melt a graven in stone precedent, I really
Note also that, according to the ru- away to nothing). A creature that takes had begun to look forward to another
mored terms of the GSL, the magazine damage from a half-mithral dragon’s tidbit on Zobeck as the closing article.
cannot publish 4th Edition rules material breath weapon takes half of the damage ~Otto
before October. Either way, KQ will lose it suffered (round down) again on the
subscribers, and this fragmentation of the next round, as continuous damage. Otto, I have to admit that we missed it
gaming public marks a sad day in the After this it suffers no further damage too. Despite having the meaty “Gangs of
history of the hobby. from the breath weapon; creatures im- Zobeck” article with the other features up
mune to critical hits do not suffer this front, it wasn’t quite the same. So, this
Half-Mithral, Half-Monster damage on the following round. issue features the triumphant return of
I’ve been a subscriber since the very For immunities, a half-mithral the back page Zobeck rundown! The topic
first issue, and have always enjoyed dragon has none, but rather has the was chosen by readers in the Next Issue
the great material that you bring with following resistances: acid 10, cold 10, poll on the forums.
every issue. My only major complaint electricity 5, fire 10, and sonic 5.
is that three months is a long time to I know that half-dragons are a minor Kobold Rocks Iraq
wait between magazines. I hope that as point in regards to the rest of the I love your magazines. When I get back
your popularity grows (as it quite obvi- article (which was excellently done) from Iraq and have a definite place to
ously is) that you’ll be able to ship bi- but it’s the little things that make good live, expect my subscription.
monthly, or even every month. Though work into great work, which is the bar Your magazine brings new light and
should that happen, a name-change that Kobold Quarterly regularly sets. ideas to our little piece of the world
would quite clearly be in order. ~Shane O’Connor over here. Rock on Kobold!
My one gripe about last issue revolves Lexington, KY ~SGT Sloat, Cody
around the Mithral Dragon. Mike United States Army
McArtor did a great job showcasing the Thanks for the half-dragons! Mike was
new creature, but there was one crucial totally willing and able to provide a set of Happy to oblige, and also, we have a free
omission: no information on half- stats, but we just ran out of space. subscription for you through the Adopt-
mithral dragons. Regarding bi-monthly publication (or A-Soldier program. Yes, we mentioned
It’s something of a rule of thumb monthly!), as you say, we would need to this in response to a prior letter, but it’s
that whenever you write a new true see an increase in circulation. You can worth repeating: We’re looking for both
dragon, you should list the qualities help make it happen; tell your friends to sponsors and soldiers (of any nation).
of half-dragons of that particular type. subscribe, or give us a shout-out on your If you would like to sponsor a KQ
This isn’t that hard to do, since it just favorite messageboard. subscription, please do so at If
requires a sidebar listing their breath KQ depends on word of mouth, so you are an active-duty soldier who would
weapon and immunity, and perhaps please don’t be shy and talk us up if you like free magazines, please send an email
some fluff text to round things out. like what you see in this issue. And if you to
As it stands, I’d recommend the fol- don’t, write and tell us why! <
A Correction
The Table of Contents for issue #4
should have shown the author of
“Dragons without Belly Buttons” as
Derek Kagemann, not “Kaufmann”.
Kobold Quarterly regrets the error,
and offers its heartfelt apologies
to Mr. Kagemann, whose “Dragons
Without Belly Buttons” received
quite a bit of fan mail and several
forum posts including new recipes
for abiogenesis.

Kobold Quarterly 5 11
Princess of Hell

Princess of
Poison Winters

by James Jacobs
Art by Cris Griffin

“Notwithstanding I have
a few things against thee,
because thou sufferest that
woman Jezebel, which calleth
herself a prophetess, to teach
and to seduce my servants to
commit fornication, and to
eat things sacrificed unto idols.
And I gave her space to repent
of her fornication; and she
repented not.”
—Revelation 2:20-21

hen the poets write
of nature’s beauty,
it is most often of
the blooming flowers of spring or
the heady days of summer or the
color riots of deep autumn. But
some steel-eyed poets hold that true of hunger in the belly, to languish in own princess of winter has claimed the
beauty can be found only in winter, days consumed by night. It is a time hearts of so many kings and prophets,
in the unyielding purity of fresh- when animals seek the dark, when trees for to invite Jezebel into your soul is to
fallen snow, the glitter that frost languish and shrink to wooden skel- invite death in.
gives every blade of grass, and the etons, and when the rivers cease their
delicate crystals in each snowflake. life-bringing flow. Even the mighty History of Jezebel
With winter come landscapes ocean dies in the coldest reaches of a Jezebel was born a mortal; she was
both simple and majestic in their northern winter. the seventh daughter of a brazen and
stark beauty, yet it is not a kind Winter is the onset of death: a slow promiscuous actress who made a habit
beauty. To know winter is to know but rapturous poison visited upon the of bedding adulterous noblemen who
the bite of cold, to feel the rumble world. No wonder, then, that Hell’s
12 Kobold Quarterly 5
wandered backstage after her perfor- “This is Jezebel, and she shall be my Jezebel’s mother languishes still, unable
mances to congratulate her on her heir upon your world. And you shall to do anything but watch through
talents. After enduring six pregnancies be her first subjects.” Baal handed his empty sockets at each new triumph her
and abandoning six bastard daughters daughter a pair of long, curved knives, daughter works upon the world.
to the boneyard because their fathers and stood and watched, for she instinc-
spurned them, the actress was ready to tively knew what to do. The slaughter Allies and Enemies
give up on her plan to invade nobil- was slow but efficient. By the time she Jezebel’s greatest ally remains her
ity through promiscuity when she was was done, naked but for the armor of devilish father Baal (known to many
visited by a strangely handsome man frozen blood, Jezebel stood over the mortals also by the name Bel) who is
who claimed to be the prince of a far last survivor—her mother. With one one of Hell’s greatest generals and the
distant kingdom. hand she gouged her mother’s eyes lord of the infernal realm’s first circle.
Charmed by his words and looks, the away, while with the other she took her A tactical genius, Baal understands that
actress took the stranger to her bed. mother’s hand, lifted her to her feet, not all wars are fought and won on the
Even though he was gone the next and took her to Hell. battlefield. Jezebel is his response: a
morning, she remembered his final Since that fateful evening, Jezebel has loyal child and agent whose strengths
words to her before she slept: “Our served her father well. She travels the are in the poisoning and corrupting
daughter shall rule not just one king- reaches of the world, always appear- of realms best taken with guile and
dom but dozens.” ing in a city on the first day of winter deception.
The actress spent the last nine and always choosing her target within Jezebel herself prefers to work alone,
months of her life on the trail of this a week of her arrival. These victims are disguised as a humanoid woman as best
mysterious prince, following him from nobles, priests, and scholars—men of suits her current needs. She often relies
city to city on a route that led her ever high social standing or of impeccable upon the aid of erinyes or even ice
north. Always she seemed to arrive in moral fiber. devils as guardians, but when she can’t
a town just moments after he had left, Yet, very few can ever resist Je- disguise them (or they can’t disguise
yet always there were ample clues to zebel’s charms. Those who do resist are themselves), she prefers these guardians
follow. The actress gave birth in the murdered on the last day of winter, remain behind the scenes where they
dead of winter after the pilgrim caravan their bodies mutilated and impaled can come to her aid if needed.
she was traveling with was forced to upon church steeples or hanged from Many oppose Jezebel in Hell, par-
halt its progress in the face of a sudden tower peaks by their own viscera. Yet, ticularly those seeking to corrupt the
blizzard. those who perish in this manner are Material Plane’s leaders and philoso-
The birth was particularly difficult the lucky few, for men who succumb phers and priests to their own ends.
and took nearly 16 hours. When the to Jezebel’s promises are tricked away Mephistopheles has long opposed her
baby finally emerged, though, the truth from their faith and devotions. Worse, works in the world, but his desire to
of the mysterious father’s heritage was they become so enraptured with their displace Asmodeus generally prevents
obvious—the child had horns, coal- new lover’s words that heresy spreads him from focusing too long on oppos-
black eyes, skin the color of snow, and like the red cough, infecting those ing Jezebel’s actions.
a long tail tipped with a lancet of bone. who look to them for guidance. By Much greater opposition comes from
Panic took the gathered pilgrims, yet winter’s end, corruption has taken Lilith, Hell’s greatest seductress. Jezebel
before they could decide what to do entire churches, noble houses, or in has stolen many of Lilith’s conquests
with the devil child, her father ap- some cases city governments, and when over the years, and Jezebel is often
peared. Stepping out of the blizzard Jezebel leaves, she does so with a new forced to leave much of her work to
as handsome as ever, his dark suit and base of power in her wake. subtlety and anonymity lest her public
hat seeming to repel the whirling flakes Jezebel’s palace in Hell, it is said, claim over evils wrought upon the
of snow, Baal took his daughter from grows larger with each triumph on the Material Plane arouse Lilith’s jealousy
the stunned pilgrims. “She is mine,” Material Plane, new wings and towers and reprisal. Jezebel chooses her public
he said, voice filled with malice and and courtyards and dungeons rise to victories carefully, leaving her complex
love, and as he set the baby down in a match in every detail those she has route (and the lives she has ruined)
fresh drift of snow, the freezing flakes captured in the mortal realm. This con- obscure so as to give her more powerful
gathered and clung to her. stantly growing palace is peopled by rival relatively little concrete evidence
Before the shocked eyes of the pil- the shades and damned souls of those to accuse her with--except, of course,
grims and the child’s dying mother, the she has corrupted whose reward in for her palace, which Jezebel keeps as a
baby grew to adulthood in the span of death is an eternity of slavery in a place taunting form of scorekeeping against
a few monstrous seconds, until stand- they helped destroy in life. Legends say Lilith.
ing before them was a fully-grown and that in the highest tower of the palace Jezebel greatly has tentatively sought
beautiful woman. Baal spoke again, and in the oldest of its stony chambers, additional support among Hell’s rulers

Kobold Quarterly 5 13
to help her dethrone Lilith and take Once this target has turned over his ists have shed these robes in favor of
her place as Hell’s harlot queen. False or her resources, he or she is typically nudity and some cultists clothe them-
humility does not suit her. offered up as a sacrifice on the Winter selves in packed snow. Not all of them
Solstice. A cleric of Jezebel who fails employ protective magic to prevent
Jezebel in the Real World to tempt, seduce, recruit, or murder frostbite, opting instead to bear such
Jezebel appears in the Old Testament as such a public figure before she reaches wounds for a time as a mark of their
a queen of ancient Israel who pro- 10th level receives a punitive visit from faith before seeking healing.
moted the worship of the Phoenician Jezebel herself—priests who receive Jezebel’s symbol is a silhouette of a
god Baal and who turned her husband such visits often don’t realize their time dagger pointed up toward the heavens,
Ahab away from the worship of God. has come until the last moment, even so that it resembles an upside-down
Her rule and influence as a prophetess if they know they are due such a visit. cross. The dagger itself is inscribed
led her people into an age of sin. The Such is the power of Jezebel’s guile. within a triangle, its point aimed
name “Jezebel” has come to be associ- Jezebel’s cultists spend their winters downward. Some of her cultists wear
ated today with one who performs bringing pain, sorrow, despair, and this symbol against the flesh on a
particularly wicked or sinful acts. death to their enemies, but during the bleached leather cord, but most are
other seasons, they almost enter a form branded or tattooed in some secret
The Cult of Jezebel of hibernation. They carry on their area of the flesh with this symbol, a
Jezebel works alone when she is active normal daily routines, perhaps meeting mark only their most intimate lovers or
on the Material Plane, but she leaves in once or twice a season to take comfort victims ever see. Clerics of Jezebel have
her wake numerous seeds that quickly in each other’s arms or minds, but access to the domains of Charm, Law,
germinate into cultists. When she rarely, if ever, do they seek victims dur- Evil, and Winter (the Charm domain
desires a particularly public or powerful ing these months. Autumns are spent is detailed in the SRD, and the Winter
mortal soul, she spends years establish- preparing for the winter festivities. This domain is detailed in the sidebar).
ing cults in outlying regions or vassal is also a time for the priests of Jezebel Jezebel’s favored weapon is the dagger.
states, so when she makes her final to recruit new members; those who are
move, she can orchestrate her cults in found wanting are sacrificed later in Portraying Jezebel
ways to distract and harry her goal to the year.
lower his defenses. Spring is the most dangerous time Winter Domain
Yet Jezebel more often leaves these for the cultists, and known worship- Granted Power: Your spells mani-
cults to their own devices. They work ers often retreat to hidden fortresses at fest at +1 caster level during winter.
to subvert and poison society for her, this time, when rage and anger at their Winter Domain Spells
leaving the Princess of Poison Winters actions remains fresh in the minds of 1 Chill Touch
free to focus her attention on larger their enemies. 2 Chill Metal
targets. Her cult is at its most active One of the greatest ceremonies for 3 Sleet Storm
during winter, when they work in the cult is the Day of First Frost; this 4 Ice Storm
secluded areas on the edge of civiliza- date changes year upon year; but gen- 5 Commune with Nature
tion to sabotage food stores, lure loners erally occurs near the start of winter. 6 Cone of Cold
away from their hearths, and gener- The Day of First Frost is the first day 7 Control Weather
ally bring despair to all. Those whom that frost appears in the place of morn- 8 Polar Ray
her cult cannot seduce are marked for ing dew and symbolizes the start of a 9 Storm of Vengeance
either assassination or extortion. new winter’s hunt.
Rituals to Jezebel occur at night, The last day of winter is also of
atop frozen lakes or on hilltops sur- religious significance, since on this day
rounded by sacred standing stones. Jezebel is said to return to her palace Jezebel is a temptress and an assassin
Only when her cult enfolds and in Hell, taking with her the shades and of both the flesh and of the reputa-
replaces another local religion do her spirits of her latest victims. The cultists tion. Her name is often invoked as an
cultists hold mass inside a church— mark the occasion with a celebration insult against women, typically from
these cultists replace or subvert priests called Melting of the Last, a day of lovers who have been betrayed in some
in such ways that the local worshipers mourning that always ends in lustful way. Many marriage customs include
never suspect that their prayers are now song and debauchery. invocations against Jezebel to ward off
offered to a darker power. During rituals, the faithful of Jezebel adultery.
Clerics of Jezebel seek out a powerful wear diaphanous white robes and Jezebel lives at the heart of winter
public figures, priests, philosophers, cloaks in order to blend with the snow storms where the cruel freezing cold
or nobles, and seduce that figure into and seem as ghosts to their victims. By approaches the icy chill of her own
Jezebel’s worship (knowingly or not). the end of most such rituals, the cult- passion and heart. She often sends

14 Kobold Quarterly 5
messages to her faithful and threats Usually, Jezebel grows tired of these Her figure is lithe and slender, a vision
to her enemies in the form of erotic, conversations and gets on with her of gothic beauty with long dark hair,
violent dreams—those who receive murderous work, but if a victim can blood red nails, and sensuous full lips.
these dreams waken to a bed coated hold her attention long enough for Yet in her eyes, which are coal-black
with rime and frost. She works through help to arrive, a confrontation can orbs, one can see the true treacherous
the eyes of starving wolves, wolverines, often be resolved peacefully. Jezebel ap- depths of her nature, even before one
ravens, and foxes. preciates those who can outwit her, and takes note of the jagged red horns on
The presence of unusually large rarely holds grudges against those who her brow, the snow-white furred batlike
snowflakes or of freakish hailstorms escape through dint of their own cha- wings on her back, or the long slender
from a cloudless sky are said to repre- risma and wordplay—especially if they tail tipped with a narrow bony stinger.
sent her favor. Her displeasure is rep- are physically attractive. Woe to those As the Princess of Poisoned Win-
resented by a sudden and painful chill who themselves succumb to Jezebel’s ters, Jezebel’s strengths lie in cold and
as if the recipient had been suddenly charms, though, for she rarely lets her venom. She prefers to seek out victims
plunged into freezing water. Patches of “lovers” live long after a tryst unless she who dwell in colder climates and, as
frozen blood, or of blood staining fresh is assured of their blind devotion. a result, avoids those who dwell in
snow, are said to presage her arrival in deserts, jungles, or other warm regions.
a region, particularly if the markings Appearance and Powers This plays well into her use of poisons,
resemble a dagger. Jezebel often cloaks her true appear- for it is in the warmer regions of the
Jezebel herself is a soft-spoken and ance in illusion, but never does so to world where creatures are most likely
patient creature, roused to anger only appear unattractive or even common- to use venom to kill their prey; since
rarely. She appreciates great beauty in place. In all of her forms, she is a vision few venomous creatures dwell in the
both the male and female forms, and of haunting desire. colder climates, few denizens of such
particularly beautiful or handsome In her true form, Jezebel appears as regions can counter this method of
victims have been known to stave off a seven-foot tall human woman clad murder swiftly.
the inevitable by dragging out conver- only in jagged swaths of bloodstained
sations about art or philosophy. ice and a pure white dusting of snow.

Kobold Quarterly 5 15
Princess Jezebel CR 23 SPECIAL ABILITIES
LE Medium outsider (evil, extraplanar, lawful) Aura of Cold (Su) Jezebel exudes an aura of freezing cold
Init +12; Senses blindsight 30 ft., see in darkness, see to a radius of 60 feet. Fire within this area does not burn as
invisibility; Listen +37, Spot +37 brightly (halve illumination radii for objects like lanterns and
Aura cold (60 ft.), icy glare (30 ft.) torches), and all creatures in this area gain a +4 bonus on
all fire-related saving throws. Saving throws against cold
effects suffer a –2 penalty, and any creature that takes cold
DEFENSE damage in this area is numbed by the aura, taking a –2
AC 35, touch 18, flat-footed 27 penalty on Dexterity-based checks (including Reflex saves,
(+8 Dex, +11 natural, +6 armor) ranged attack rolls, and Initiative checks). Creatures with the
hp 406 (28d8+280); fast healing 10 fire subtype take 3d6 points of cold damage each round they
Fort +26, Ref +24, Will +22 remain in this area. Creatures with the water subtype are
DR 15/good and silver; Immune cold, fire, poison; Resist slowed as long as they remain in this area.
acid 10; SR 35 Calm water in Jezebel’s aura of cold freezes to a depth of
three inches. This allows Jezebel to effectively walk on water.
OFFENSE Potions freeze in one round and must be protected from her
Spd 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (good) aura (inside backpacks, for example) and imbibed the same
Melee +3 icy burst dagger +37/+32/+27/+22 (1d4+7/17–20 round they are withdrawn. Jezebel can suppress or activate
plus 1d6 cold) and her aura as a free action. Creatures with cold resistance or
immunity to cold are immune to Jezebel’s aura of cold.
+3 icy burst dagger +37/+32/+27/+22 (1d4+5/17–20 plus 1d6
cold) and Ice Armor (Su) Jezebel is encrusted with thick layers of
ice that grant her a +6 armor bonus but do not impede her
sting +31 (1d6+2 plus poison)
movement. Although she is immune to fire, any fire attack that
Special Attacks sneak attack +5d6, summon devils, venom inflicts at least 20 hp damage melts her ice armor, reducing
curse her Armor Class by 6 points. Her ice armor replenishes at the
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th) rate of one point per round.
At will—blasphemy (DC 27), chill metal (DC 22), control Icy Glare (Su) Any creature within 30 feet who meets
weather, detect chaos, detect good, greater dispel magic, Jezebel’s gaze must make a DC 34 Fort save or be frozen
greater teleport (self plus 50 pounds of objects only), solid. This lasts as long as the temperature remains below
suggestion (DC 23), veil (DC 26) freezing (or until the victim leaves Jezebel’s aura of cold).
3/day—quickened poison (DC 24), cone of cold (DC 25), When the surrounding temperature rises above freezing,
plane shift (DC 27), polar ray, wall of ice (DC 24) the victim thaws but takes 6d6 points of cold damage in the
process—a DC 34 Fort save negates this damage. Creatures
TACTICS with cold resistance or immunity are unaffected by Jezebel’s
During Combat Jezebel avoids combat unless she can icy glare. The save DCs are Charisma-based.
summon devils first. She prefers to remain at range for the Poison (Ex) Injury, Fortitude DC 34, initial damage 1d8
first few rounds of combat to study her enemy’s strengths Dexterity drain, secondary damage 2d8 Constitution drain.
and weaknesses, remaining within range of both her aura The save DC is Constitution-based.
and gaze. She pelts targets with spell-like abilities especially See Invisibility (Su) Jezebel benefits from the effects of see
blasphemy, which reveals which foes are most powerful. invisibility at all times.
In melee, she fights with a deadly grace, focusing on Sneak Attack (Ex) This ability functions as the rogue ability
creatures vulnerable to cold. Faced with targets immune to of the same name.
cold damage, Jezebel tries to work with allies so that her Summon Devils (Sp) Twice per day, Jezebel can
sneak attack damage helps drop the foe faster. Against foes automatically summon four erinyes or one ice devil. This
immune to both cold and poison, Jezebel attempts to plane ability is the equivalent of a 9th-level spell (CL 20th).
shift them to some distant corner of Hell where they will Venom Curse (Su) Jezebel can control how quickly poison
have plenty of time to reconsider the gall of confronting the affects a creature she has touched and can manipulate a
Princess of Poisoned Winters with such defenses. creature’s poison resistance. When she touches a creature
Morale Jezebel flees combat if reduced to 40 or fewer hit (or when a creature touches her, including creatures
points, typically via greater teleportation. successfully striking her with unarmed attacks or natural
weapons), she can opt to delay any pending secondary
STATISTICS damage from poison to that creature. She can, at any point
Str 19, Dex 26, Con 30, Int 21, Wis 22, Cha 31 thereafter, remove this restriction as a free action as long
Base Atk +28; Grp +32 as she has line of sight to that creature (including scrying
Feats Combat Reflexes, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, effects) and all delayed secondary damage affects the target
Improved Critical (dagger), Improved Initiative, Improved at once. While delayed, poison inside the creature cannot be
Two-Weapon Fighting, Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting, removed by neutralize poison or other magical effects.
Quicken Spell-Like Ability (poison), Two-Weapon Fighting, Alternately, Jezebel can reduce a creature’s resistance to
Two-Weapon Rend, Weapon Finesse poison rather than delay any pending secondary damage.
Skills Bluff +41, Concentration+41, Diplomacy +49, Hide If she does, that creature gains a –4 penalty on all saving
+39, Knowledge (nature) +36, Knowledge (religion) +36, throws against poison. A creature (excluding constructs,
Knowledge (the planes) +36, Listen +37 Move Silently +39, elementals, and undead) that is normally immune to poison,
Sense Motive +37, Sleight of Hand +43, Spot +37, Tumble +39 either by spell or racial ability, loses its immunity to poison.
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Infernal; These effect are curses that operate at CL 20th, and persist
telepathy 120 ft. until removed by remove curse or break enchantment. A
Gear two +3 icy burst daggers creature can resist either effect with a DC 34 Fortitude save.
The save DC is Charisma-based.
16 Kobold Quarterly 5
Kobold Quarterly 5 17

“I have never given him reason

to think me unfaithful. Alas,
Jharun’s jealousy knows no
bounds. I loved him once, until
he created that thing to watch
over me. They have some dark
rapport, him and his precious spy.
It makes my skin crawl!
“Naming it ‘Chaste’ was the
worst insult. It is my constant
jailer. I dream sometimes that I
will run away, but as the candle
burns low at night, I know it
watches me even in the dark,
with its inhuman eyes.
“It goes outside my room and
waits in the garden like some
wild animal. But it is no animal,
for the flowers bend away from

it, while it lays in wait for me.”
—Diary of
Alesa Dain,
shortly before her death

of the
oets say the eyes are the

windows to the soul, win-
dows that reveal the spark of
humanity. Life recognizes life. Peering
into the eyes of a homunculus is like
searching for a reflection in a pool of
tar; nothing is reflected. These soul-
less creatures feel no emotion, yet they
move and react with such seeming ease;
it is only natural to interact with them
as if they were living beings.
These abominations are a defiant
Creatures Born of Alchemy and Hubris rejection of the natural order, born of
man’s arrogance and desire to master
By Joshua Stevens the divine. Neither living, dead, nor
undead, homunculi are uniquely ani-
Art by Pat Loboyko
by Wolfgang Baur and Joshua Stevens mated by a shadowy essence that makes
them considerably more than mindless
Art by Pat Loboyko constructs but decidedly less than men.
Through wondrous alchemy, they are

18 Kobold Quarterly 5
instilled with a burgeoning sense of Obsessed, Seb-Gesiret continued his curiosity, the homunculus turned its
identity that serves as a cheap panto- peculiar work until he mastered black attention to the one thing that Seb-
mime to the human psyche. A homun- alchemy. He made an alchemical distil- Gesiret thought of most often—the
culus’ blossoming self-awareness, unfet- lation of the soul, fused with purest Duke’s illegitimate daughter. It wanted
tered by the shackles of a soul, can chaos-stuff, and he funneled it into a to know why Seb-Gesiret hated it so
become a great danger to its master. small statue of queer design. The life- much and compared it to this girl so
less clay doll mewled and coughed up often, so it flew to the girl’s window
Myths and Origins an afterbirth of stinging, acrid chemi- and found her sleeping.
Nearly 800 years ago, the court magi- cals and flailed its limbs spastically. The homunculus set about dissecting
cian Seb-Gesiret served as a confidant Its ooze-encrusted eyes opened, and her in search of the piece that made
to the Duke of Ismaen. Indeed, Seb- it beheld the world. Using an alembic her so special to Seb-Gesiret. The
Gesiret had served in that capacity as a surrogate womb, Seb-Gesiret had entire keep was awakened by the girl’s
for many years and served the Duke’s made an artificial man. screams, and when her chamber door
father before him. To such a power- The tiny creature was weaned on was battered down, the guards saw a
ful man, many things seemed possible Seb-Gesiret’s blood, and it matured far coal-eyed, horrific looking creature,
that, perhaps, were best left undone. faster than any natural child. It learned fishing around inside the girl’s intes-
In his early 60s, Seb-Gesiret fell in to read and write and even to fly clum- tines. The homunculus escaped to
love with a local tanner‘s daughter, a sily with its grafted wings, all within Seb-Gesiret’s tower.
maiden more than 40 years his junior. days. Seb-Gesiret discovered that he The Duke ordered his guards to burn
Forced into marriage by the Duke and and his manufactured child could also Seb-Gesiret’s tower to the ground, and
her father, the girl and Seb-Gesiret peer into each other’s thoughts as easily the court magician barely escaped. He
quickly wed. The young bride became as one stares through a clear glass win- fled the duchy with the clothes on his
pregnant within weeks of marriage, dow. In the first few weeks, the oddity back and the vile creature clinging to
and Seb-Gesiret was overjoyed. aped his every movement and perched his flapping cloak. The Duke’s rid-
His joy lasted just eight months. itself on his shoulder. Seb-Gesiret was ers were soon in pursuit. Hunted and
Seb-Gesiret’s heart broke on the day delighted in what he had fabricated, desperate, Seb-Gesiret made his way
the couple’s daughter was born, her until he realized that the strange little to a small fishing village and hid in an
hair and eyes the mirror of the young, creature, for all its rapid maturation, abandoned hut. Daily, he cursed the
philandering Duke. Destroyed by this stopped growing at a mere 18 inches creature for its wickedness, and finally,
betrayal, Seb-Gesiret drove the harlot tall. For all his sweat and heartbreak, attacked it with a fiery poker from the
and bastard child from his tower into Seb-Gesiret had crafted only a curious hovel’s hearth. To his surprise, when
the street. Determined to have the pygmy, not a true heir. he stabbed the creature and burned it,
child that was denied him, Seb-Gesiret Seb-Gesiret lost interest and kept the a searing brand appeared on his own
stormed into the Duke’s private cham- thing locked in a birdcage for days on chest. Seb-Gesiret fell back in pain, and
bers and demanded an apology from end. He spent long hours staring at the the creature quickly fled the hut.
the Duke. Having been cuckolded damned thing and often found himself When the Duke’s guards cornered
made him dare much more, and he de- thinking of the Duke’s illegitimate Seb-Gesiret several weeks later, his
manded strange changes at the palace. daughter, wishing it were more like body was rigid in his flea-infested cot,
Fearing the raving but powerful old her. He let it out to fly, to get it out and a taut lute string had cut across his
man at the foot of his bed, the Duke of his sight for a time when he could throat. Neither the magician’s homun-
agreed to Seb-Gesiret’s odd demands. no longer bear to see it. This gave the culus nor murderer was ever found.
He granted the court magician com- homunculus more freedoms than one; The Duke was told that Seb-Gesiret’s
plete privacy and a small share of the it discovered that at a certain distance hut seemed strangely undisturbed, save
duchy’s annual taxes to fund his secret from the tower, Seb-Gesiret could not for a stinking pool of ichor beneath his
research. Seb-Gesiret returned to his access its mind. bed and corpse.
tower, where he remained for several In time, the homunculus began to Seb-Gesiret’s journals survived the
years. wonder about the world at large. It destruction of his tower. His original
Servants glimpsed dark shapes mov- read Seb-Gesiret’s tomes in secret and formula has been altered over the
ing about Seb-Gesiret’s marble tower. captured small creatures in traps. It centuries, and many purported varia-
Bubbling masses and noxious fumes dissected them in a grotesque quest tions exist though most of these lead to
wafted from its uppermost reaches. for knowledge. Seb-Gesiret was often hideous failure. A true recipe for creat-
Strange minerals, flesh, and hide annoyed with the bloody messes his ing a homunculus is always difficult to
sculptures were sometimes found at the homunculus’ curiosity wrought, but obtain and is usually found as part of
tower’s base, pitched from above and he did nothing to stop the creature as a collection of occult oddities. Mages
usually smoking in the dawn light. it left him be. Filled with an insatiable wishing to recreate Seb-Gesiret’s design

Kobold Quarterly 5 19
6 months, and 6 days from the time
Table 1: Knowledge of the Homunculus of their last blood-nursing. In the final
six days of its life, a homunculus ages
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about rapidly, while its master likewise ages 1
homunculi. When a character makes a successful skill check, reveal the year for each of these final six days. On
following lore, including the information from lower DCs. the sixth day, the homunculus’ body
deflates, leaving only a shriveled husk
Knowledge (arcana) with no further ill effects for its creator.
DC Result
The entropic essence that gives a
10 A homunculus is a small statuette animated by wizards and semblance of life to a homunculus has
sorcerers to serve them. A homunculus is crafted from its master’s an odd effect if injected into a creature
own blood, and its master can see everything the homunculus sees. with a soul. This entropic essence wells
14 Homunculi are unique constructs with the ability to reason up within all homunculi, and it forms
and are animated by a chaotic essence. When homunculi bite a dark, viscous liquid akin to saliva in
creatures with a soul, a bit of this chaos-matter is transferred to the their mouths. They can transmit it to
victim, putting it to sleep for a short time. a victim with their bite, at which time
18 Because a homunculus and its master are inextricably intertwined, the essence momentarily suppresses
the death of the master usually causes the immediate destruction the bitten creature’s soul, dampening
of the homunculus, which slowly melts into a puddle of muddy ichor. its humors and fire. This suppression
A homunculus’ destruction also causes grievous injury to its master. causes a catatonic state akin to sleep for
22 Some homunculi may conspire to destroy their masters if they are several minutes.
mistreated. Some have discovered a ritual that frees them of their
master‘s control.
Psychology and Society
26 A ritual called the Rite of Thirds allows a homunculus to turn against At creation, a homunculus’ personal-
its master. ity is a cross between a housecat and a
chimpanzee: they are clever and prone
to mischief and killing, and they pos-
must learn directly from one who has are the proof of this. Lastly, homunculi sess a fondness for stalking mice and
created such an aberration or must can never speak, although they can rats. A homunculus always retains these
chase a long trail of lore and notebook make a host of guttural sounds. mannerisms, but this is where any
ownership to track down a true recipe. Homunculi are constructs and share comparison to natural creatures ends.
many basic traits with golems and the Within mere days of its “birth,” a
Physiology like. They lack internal organs but, un- homunculus can walk, fly, think, and
Homunculi are crafted, never born. like golems, bleed when injured, seep- reason. It learns at a preternatural rate
As such, they vary wildly in appear- ing viscous, black liquid from wounds. and masters skills like reading, writing,
ance, and their hair, skin, and form Homunculi cannot be healed with and menial tasks seemingly overnight.
are influenced by the whims of their healing spells, but spells that mend In these formative days, a homunculus
creators and the particular alchemical objects or repair constructs erase their watches its creator very closely and
recipe used. injuries. Homunculi do not regenerate mimics nearly everything he does.
Homunculi can be created from lost limbs, but severed limbs can be After one week, a homunculus turns its
stone, wood, pottery, bone, or even reconnected with a mending spell. Any single-minded focus from its creator to
assembled pieces of dead creatures. The harm done to a homunculus is exacted the world at large and asks an end-
only constants for homunculi are that simultaneously upon its master with less string of questions. The telepathic
they must be between 1 and 2 feet tall the same type and location of injury bond between a homunculus and
and weigh between 1 and 8 pounds. (the maximum damage to the creator is its master cuts both ways, and their
Anything more and the alchemical equal to the homunculus’ total HD). constant mental probing is not limited
recipe fails because there is too much When created, a homunculus must to their master’s waking hours. While
gross matter to animate. Anything less be fed a few drops of its master’s blood its master sleeps, a homunculus is fond
and the homunculus simply cannot every day for one week. Thereafter, of delving into its master’s subcon-
hold enough chaos-essence to arise a homunculus may eat anything it scious and inspecting long-forgotten
abiogenetically. wishes or nothing at all without any memories.
Additionally, homunculi eyes never effect, but the only foodstuff that sates After a few weeks, a homunculus
have pupils. Many commoners believe its strange hunger is its master’s blood. establishes an identity apart from its
this is because homunculi are made If weaned from its master’s blood, a ho- master’s, a mishmash of childlike won-
without souls, and their inky black eyes munculus will “live” for exactly 6 years, derment and devious cunning. While

20 Kobold Quarterly 5
Kobold Quarterly 5 21
a homunculus shares the same basic Benefit: Your homunculus now injects poison (instead of the bite) for
alignment as its creator, the transpar- stays in contact with you to a range of 1d4 damage, DC 15. However, the
ent nature of its identity is always clear. 3,000 feet. It cannot be dominated (see large tail reduces fly speed to 30 ft.
Homunculi never develop morals, and below), will never turn against you, Special: Taking the Physical Vari-
they only come to separate what is and gains 10 bonus hit points. ant feat replaces Lightning Reflexes
right from wrong in a cold and purely for the homunculus; the DC for Craft
logical fashion. Physical Variant [Monster] (pottery) or Craft (sculpting) checks is
After many trial and error experienc- Your homunculus has unusual raised to 13.
es, a homunculus will learn that some- characteristics.
thing is wrong, but it never feels any Prerequisites: Homunculus, can Alchemical Variant [Monster]
guilt for its actions. Many will perform only be taken when created The variant recipe used in construction
indecent acts to sate their curiosity. Benefit: Choose one characteristic has granted your homunculus unusual
Lacking true emotions, a homunculus from the following list: abilities.
learns roughly how to interact with Cyclopean: The creature has a large Prerequisites: Homunculus, at least
others, but it is prone to asking its central eye that grants superior low- 4 HD, can only be taken when created.
master about inappropriate and sensi- light vision and can see three times as Benefit: Choose one ability from the
tive matters through its mental link. far as a human can in dim light. Poor following list:
Homunculi by their nature are soli- depth perception means attack rolls Acidic Spittle: The homunculus
tary creatures, save for their symbiotic suffer a -1 penalty. can spit acid (3/day) in a 20 ft. line
relationship with their creator, and they Flightless: The homunculus cannot against a single target as a ranged touch
never develop any sense of community. fly but gains both a climb speed of 40 attack, causing 1d4 acid damage the
These creatures are unnatural in virtu- ft. and a +2 bonus to Strength. first round and 2 points of acid damage
ally every sense, and most beings feel Gaping Maw: An oversized mouth the following round unless neutralized.
intensely uneasy around them. Animals grants the Swallow Whole ability and The spell acid arrow must be cast dur-
find them off-putting and often either allows the homunculus to swallow ing the creation.
attack a homunculus or flee from it. creatures of the same size or smaller. A Ashen Lung: The homunculus can
Conversely, homunculi are quite swallowed creature takes 1d4-1 damage breathe a cloud of thick coal dust (3/
interested in living creatures and study per round. A swallowed creature can day). The effects are identical to obscur-
them closely whenever an opportunity cut its way out by dealing 5 points ing mist at a CL equal to the homuncu-
presents itself. On the rare occasion of damage (against same AC). If the lus’s HD.
when one homunculus meets another, creature swallowed is the same size as Blind Eye: The homunculus gains in-
something very peculiar occurs—the the homunculus, it cannot fly until the visibility at will for 10 rounds +1 round
two abominations completely ignore creature has escaped or been devoured. per HD per day.
one another. No amount of manipula- If the creature is one size smaller, Dense Hide: The homunculus gains
tion changes this strange relationship, the homunculus can only fly at half a +2 natural armor bonus to AC. This
for they simply cannot see, hear, or feel speed. A homunculus may swallow a requires the creator to cast barkskin
one another. maximum of one creature its size, two during creation.
creatures one size smaller, or 4 crea- Dire Growth: The homunculus
Homunculus Feats tures two sizes smaller, before it must grows to Medium size for 10 rounds
Not all homunculi are the same; each regurgitate the waste. This process +1 round per HD, gained from casting
recipe yields variation. Witch’s Mark takes 1d6+2 rounds. During this time, enlarge during creation.
is a feat for homunculus creators, the the homunculus is denied its Dexterity Screech: The homunculus can emit a
others are for their creations. bonus to its AC. piercing scream in a 15 ft. cone (3/day)
Multiple Arms: With four arms, that causes 1d4 sonic damage (2d4
Witch’s Mark [General] the homunculus gains +4 to grapple damage to crystal, glass, ceramic, or
You regularly feed your homunculus checks, but its wings are smaller and porcelain) and deafens for 1d4 rounds.
your own blood, and you have devel- thinner, and it can glide but not fly. Its Gained from casting shatter during
oped an incredibly strong bond with it. wings negate any falling damage, and it creation.
You grow a scar on a part of your body can glide 25 horizontal feet for every 5 Special: This feat adds 2,000 gp to
of your choosing, which resembles an feet of falling, at a speed of 50 ft. the homunculus’ creation costs, and
extra nipple. This scar is known as a Oversized Arms: Long arms increase the ability is treated as a spell-like
“witch’s mark,” and it is where your its reach to 5 ft., but its body is spindly, ability. In addition, the DC for Craft
homunculus nurses from. and the homunculus’ attack rolls suffer (pottery) or (sculpting) checks made at
Prerequisites: Must have created a a -1 penalty. creation is raised to 15.
homunculus Scorpion’s Tail: A large stinger

22 Kobold Quarterly 5
Kobold Quarterly 5 23
Flaws in the Design after a homunculus becomes indepen-
dent may it attain class levels. Good-Aligned Homunculi
Fabricating a homunculus is never
To bind a homunculus, the binder
easy. Even with a true recipe and a Though the ecology presented here
must separate the homunculus and its assumes that most homunculi are
well-equipped laboratory, the prod-
master for three days. On the fourth trouble-making and even dangerous
ucts of this magecraft are never more creatures, the creature may have
day, the homunculus must consume
than a handbreadth from ruin. The any alignment. This is largely
three drops of the binder’s blood. The determined by its maker, though
smallest impurity in the occult materi-
binder must then carve his or her name Good-aligned alchemists and wizards
als required—clay, ashes, mandrake are perhaps less likely to create
into an area of the Homunculus that
root, spring water, and blood—can such a servant than evil ones.
does not usually see daylight, using al-
destroy the entire effort. Moreover,
chemical reagents worth half of the ho- The tricks and wiles of such
the statuette used as the frame for the homunculi are more gentle,
munculus’ creation costs. The armpit,
alchemical bindings must be free of restricted to teasing cats or painting
inside the mouth, and bottoms of feet dogs with ink, but a degree of
flaws, cracks, and abrasions. Any break
are all popular areas. Finally, the binder independence and mischief seems to
in the surface of the figure allows the be a part of all homunculi, perhaps
must cast mirror image and have his
chaos-essence to gush out violently, owing to the chaos-matter that
image pass through the homunculus. animates them.
destroying the model with a torrent of
When the rite is complete, the ho-
inhuman screams.
munculus makes a Will save opposed away. Tales of the homunculus also oc-
Not all flawed homunculi are de-
by the binder’s Will save. If it fails its casionally appear in Eastern European
stroyed at creation. If the DC check
save, the binder is treated in all ways folklore, described as a construct made
fails but is within 2 points of success,
as its master. If the original master from natural materials such as dirt,
the homunculus awakens and ap-
reestablishes a mental link with the ho- roots, insects, feces, blood, and any
pears normal, but it soon attempts to
munculus before the rite is completed, number of other fetishes.
murder its master. Flawed homunculi
the homunculus uses its original mas- According to legend, there are three
and those that have been mistreated or
ter’s Will save. The homunculus retains ways to create a homunculus. The first
neglected often conspire against their
its telepathic link with its original mas- method usied a bag of bones, sperm,
ter, but the binder is secretly privy to skin fragments, and hair from any
The bond shared between them often
this shared bond when all three parties animal for which the homunculus was
makes it impossible for them to eman-
are within telepathic range. The origi- to be a hybrid. These materials were
cipate themselves. The Rite of Thirds
nal master can discover this eavesdrop- sealed hermetically in a jar or animal
allows a homunculus to either achieve
ping by the same means as discovering bladder, magnetized, and laid in the
independence or be bound by another.
scrying through a crystal ball. ground near horse manure for 40 days,
The Rite of Thirds is based on the
at which point a tiny homunculus
principal that a homunculus comprises History of the Homunculus would emerge, transparent and without
three parts: man, earth, and chaos-
“I saw the pale student of unhallowed a body. The homunculus then fed daily
matter. By subverting these forces, a
arts kneeling beside the thing he had put on human blood and maintained a
homunculus may become independent
together. I saw the hideous phantasm of constant temperature for a period of
or dominated by another.
a man stretched out, and then, on the 40 weeks, after which it grew into a
Regardless, the Rite of Thirds requires
working of some powerful engine, show childlike creature (though never larger
at least three days to complete. The
signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half- than 18 inches tall). The homunculus,
homunculus must convince its mas-
vital motion.” reputedly, could then be raised and
ter to consume a pint of its entropic
—Frankenstein, Mary Shelley educated like any other child, until it
essence over three days. On the fourth
matured and could take care of itself.
day, the homunculus must choose a
The term homunculus is derived from A second method says that the fabled
name for itself, scrawl this name in
Latin, meaning “little man.” The mandrake root grows only from the
its master’s blood on parchment, and
concept of a homunculus was first semen ejaculated by hanged men dur-
consume it. Finally, someone must cast
attributed to the famed Swiss alche- ing their final convulsive spasms before
the spell false life on the homunculus,
mist Paracelsus, who in the early 16th death. The root should be picked
at which time it becomes independent
century claimed that he had created an before dawn on a Friday morning by a
of its master.
artificial human being that he referred black dog, then washed and nourished
A freed homunculus lives until de-
to as “the Homunculus.” The creature with milk and honey (or, in some
stroyed, without fear of its former mas-
reputedly stood a mere 12 inches tall prescriptions, blood), where it would
ter’s death. Due to the nature of its cre-
and was created to serve Paracelsus. As slowly grow into a miniature creature
ation, though, the mental link between
myth has it however, the homunculus that would resemble the mandrake and
a homunculus and its former master
soon turned on Paracelsus and ran protect its creator.
remains whenever they are close. Only
24 Kobold Quarterly 5
Kobold Quarterly 5 25
the villagers. Shortly before leaving, that had taken him in, Qesh lost his
Father Craedus’ order confiscated a bag left hand to the desperate flailing of a
of devouring and Father Craedus was farmer’s cleaver. Seizing a rusty meat
tasked with destroying it. hook from the barn and jamming it
Rather than destroy an implement into the oozing stump, Qesh fled into
with obvious practical uses, Father the night.
Craedus put the item to use helping Qesh can be encountered almost
the people of Trager’s Pass with the anywhere, and few suspect something
many diseased corpses. To this end, he that stands 2 feet in height, with straw
created a homunculus and hid the bag blonde hair, rosey cheeks, porcelain
of devouring in the thing’s stomach. skin and the wings of a swan, to be as
Craedus’ homunculus resembled a devious as it is. Qesh communicates
small cherub, so as not to scare anyone in pleasant coos and whistles, and if
with its intended gruesome purpose. its rusty hook-hand is inspected, it
Its mouth was specially constructed to pretends sadness and embarrassment.
appear two sizes too small, in a tiny Qesh prefers to surprise creatures, and
“o” shape, but the inside of its mouth usually waits to use dire growth and
was lined with hundreds of razor- devour them until they are alone and
sharp monkfish teeth. Its entire chest defenseless.
Building on the work of Paracelsus, cavity, chin, and throat formed a set of
interlocking flaps that opened into an Qesh CR 3
Dr. David Christianus taught at the
overlarge mouth to help the creature Advanced homunculus
University of Giessen in the 18th NE Tiny construct
century. He wrote that a homunculus devour the many unburied corpses.
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-
could be created by taking an egg laid The homunculus set to devouring the light vision, Listen +5, Spot +5
by a black hen, making a small hole dead at Craedus’ command, and the Languages (understood, but not
in its shell, and removing a bean-sized villagers were overjoyed as the plague spoken aloud) Common
began to subside. Knowing nothing AC 16 (14), touch 16 (12), flat-footed
portion of the egg white and substitut- 13 (11)
ing human sperm. The egg thereafter about the bag of devouring, Craedus
Hp 48 (6d10)
had to be sealed with virgin parch- had no idea of the danger he courted. Fort +2, Ref +5 (+3), Will +3
ment, buried in manure on the first The constant influx of rotting bodies Spd 20 ft. (30 ft.), fly 50 ft. (good)
day of the March lunar cycle, and in awakened the slumbering beast con- Melee +3 hook (1d3-1/x2) or
30 days, a homunculus would be born. nected to the other side of the bag in +3 bite (1d4-1 plus poison) or
This homunculus would protect its the cherub’s stomach, and the beast +3 hook and +1 bite
took interest in this orifice that was When medium-sized, Qesh attacks as
creator in exchange for a steady diet of follows:
lavender seeds and earthworms. suddenly providing it more sustenance
Atk +7 hook (1d6+3/x2), or
Interestingly, the German alchemist than all of its other bag mouths com- +7 bite (1d8+3 plus poison), or
Johann Konrad Dippel, who lived bined. Probing outward, the devourer +7 hook and +5 bite
in Castle Frankenstein and who is discovered Craedus’ homunculus and Base Atk +4; Grp -5 (+7)
widely reputed to be the inspiration dominated it using the Rite of Thirds. Atk Options bite (with poison), dire
Soon, Craedus’ cherub began exhibit- growth, hook hand, swallow whole,
for Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein,
ing strange and violent behaviors and Spell-Like Abilities
was a student of Dr. Christianus at the 16 rounds per day, Qesh may use dire
University of Geissen. Additionally, the adopted the alien moniker, “Qesh.” growth to become a medium-sized
character Dr. Septimus Pretorius in the After several weeks of increasingly creature. (Parentheses show Qesh’s
movie The Bride of Frankenstein grew deviant behavior, Father Craedus was statistics using dire growth.)
awakened one night to a rending pain Abilities Str 8 (16), Dex 16 (12), Con
small homunculi from “seeds” and kept —, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 7
them trapped in jars. in his leg and saw Qesh, mouth agape,
SA poison (DC 13; sleep 1 minute/5d6
swallowing his leg. All went black a few minutes), swallow whole
The Murderous moments later as Qesh’s poison went to SQ construct traits
Homunculus: Qesh work in his veins. By daybreak, not a Feats Alchemical Variant (dire growth),
scrap remained of Father Craedus. Physical Variant (gaping maw)
Qesh was constructed by Father Crae- Skills Bluff +2, Hide +15 (+7), Listen
dus after a bloody battle at Trager’s Pass Qesh is now frequently forced to
+5, Move Silently +5, Spot +5
had left many dead, and the rotting devour creatures to sate its new master’s Possessions bag of devouring, +1 ring
bodies had spread the plague to the hunger, leaving a trail of mysterious of protection, rusty meat hook; 96 gp;
nearby town. Father Craedus was to be disappearances in his wake. Recently, small diamond worth 340 gp.
sent there to erect a temple and to aid after devouring a loving farming family
26 Kobold Quarterly 5
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Kobold Quarterly 5 27
It Came From

By Matthew J. Hanson
Art by Herman Lau

Adrick and his crew had seen

it all. Giants, dragons, demons,
and more fell before their blades.
Hunting monsters was their
bread and butter and was what
brought them to Caddsville.
“It’s less than our standard
price, but I like you,” Adrick told
the mayor. “I agree to your terms.
Now where is this beast?”
“There.” The mayor pointed to a
small mountain not far away, its
sides impossibly steep.
“In the mountain?”
“No,” the mayor replied. “It is
the mountain.”
Adrick and his crew thought
they had seen it all. But they
hadn’t seen this.

ole-playing games have a long
and proud history of borrow-
ing ideas from any source that
isn’t nailed down. One source ripe for
looting is the classic monster movie,
also known as kaiju film.

What Is a Kaiju?
Kaiju is a Japanese term that means
“strange beast” and often translates
as “monster.” Kaiju are often reptil-
ian, always enormous, and prone to
destroying entire cities. Godzilla is
easily the most famous kaiju; some
other prominent kaiju include Rodan
28 Kobold Quarterly 5
(a giant pteranodon), Gamera (a giant toe. And, if you stay true to kaiju form,
turtle), and Mothra (a giant moth). Ex- the adventurers should probably lose Kaiju-Related Side Quests
pansive definitions could also include this first fight. Not every adventure dealing with a
King Kong and the monster from the This first defeat can be tricky to han- kaiju requires all of the focus to be
on destroying it. The party might
recent American film Cloverfield. dle. It can frustrate players to confront also be asked to help rebuild a town,
They need not necessarily be Japa- a challenge they cannot overcome, locate a missing relative, or stop
nese-inspired: epic giants, overgrown especially if it leads to a party death, the pillaging bandits that are taking
advantage of the chaos. These side
hydras, shoggoths, and enormous rocs or worse, a total party kill. One way quests often occur during the initial
could fit the mold (with a few tweaks). to deal with this is to make the kaiju’s build up of the adventure, but could
But not just any monster can be called defenses far beyond the characters’ also happen while the party searches
for a solution or after the Kaiju has
a Kaiju. Goblins, rust monsters, and abilities but to keep its attacks appro- been defeated. These side quests
even most dragons don’t make the cut. priate to the character’s level. could also happen for a party that is
What makes a classic Kaiju? They Perhaps the kaiju chooses not to much too weak to challenge the kaiju
directly; in that case, defeating the
must be size Colossal, must be of unleash its most powerful attacks on kaiju might be a long-term goal for
modest intelligence, and should have the PCs. After all, why bother to at- the party.
powerful melee attacks without great tack things that cannot hurt you? This
spellcasting. A kaiju template is pos- works especially well if the monster’s Kaiju Origins
sible, of course, but the point of these destruction is unintentional. It also
Where do kaiju come from? Players
monsters is that they are all huge and might be a good idea to have numer-
may ask, and you may want to consider
all unique. Take a normal creature, ous NPCs tell the party, “Don’t attack
it when creating your kaiju.
bump it up to Colossal and give it the the beast! It’s a suicide mission! There’s
associated Strength, Constitution, and no way you can possibly defeat it!”
Magic Gone Wrong (or Right)
Armor Class bonuses. Even so, if you think that certain fail-
Kaiju in popular films are often cre-
Of all the classic RPG monsters, the ure is not fun for your players, you can
ated accidentally as a result of humans
tarrasque is closest to the kaiju model: skip this step, and move right to...
pushing science to the limit, such as
an engine of destruction that is almost
testing atomic weapons. In a fantasy
impossible to kill. Goblins are too Find a Way to Defeat It: This is the
setting, science can easily be replaced
small, dragons are too smart, and rust largest section of the adventure. Know-
by magic. Perhaps powerful wizards
monsters just don’t dish out the may- ing what they face, the characters must
constructed a colossal stone guardian
hem in the right way. find a way to stop the unstoppable.
to protect their civilization only to
Kaiju are more than a typical RPG This could involve scouring ancient
have the construct turn on its creators.
opponent; they are forces of nature and ruins, developing a new super weapon,
Or, the swath of destruction might
plot devices. Defeating a kaiju is not an or gathering the components necessary
be exactly what the creators intended.
encounter but rather an adventure and to activate the sacred shrine. It might
possibly a campaign. mean finding a weak spot or uncover-
Visitor From
ing the secret of a special DR type
Another Time, Another Place
Kaiju Adventures (blessed weapons, perhaps).
Another common origin for kaiju
Kaiju adventures can follow any To keep the pressure on, you can sup-
is that they are revived prehistoric
structure, but they often share several ply your characters with steady reports
monsters. Your game could take this
elements. Here’s a four-step outline to on the villages crushed beneath the
approach, or using magic, the monster
build your own kaiju adventure: monster’s feet. Remind them that every
could literally travel through time. In
day that passes costs more lives.
fantasy settings, these timeless mon-
The Warning Signs: Before encoun- sters might be something truly exotic,
tering the kaiju itself, the PCs should The Final Showdown: Now that
especially if campaign includes an “Age
discover glimpses of its power: giant the PCs have discovered how to defeat
of Demons,” or the like.
footprints, mysteriously destroyed the monster, they just have to put the
Kaiju fiction also features giant
fishing villages, witnesses driven mad plan into action. This is easier said than
monsters that come from outer space.
by sheer terror. These warning signs done. Unlike the initial battle, this
If your campaign world contains
should convey the danger the party time the heroes have a chance, though
other planets, this is a perfect option.
faces and raise their curiosity. by no means will this fight be easy. For
In many fantasy worlds, “planet” can
instance, the characters might have
easily be replaced with “plane.” Evils
The First Encounter: You can build found an artifact capable of destroying
from the abyss, elemental colossuses,
suspense around an unseen monster for the monster, but it only works if it’s
or horrors from the realm of madness
only so long. At some point, the PCs thrown strait down the monster’s fire-
make great kaiju.
need to fight the giant monster face-to- breathing throat.
Finally, the kaiju could come from an
Kobold Quarterly 5 29
exotic location on the prime material A Bigger Sword It Takes a Giant Monster...
plane, typically an uncharted island The kaiju can only be defeated by some That’s right. To stop the first rampaging
where the natives revere the monster kind of super weapon. This weapon kaiju, the characters need to awaken/
as a god. These monsters are typically might be a new creation or an ancient create/enlist the aid of another kaiju.
content on their island; however, some artifact. The nature of the weapon This typically occurs after they have
enterprising parties have managed to should prevent the characters from already defeated one or more monsters.
capture certain kaiju outright or lure using it on anything other than the When the big fight comes, let the
them away from their homes by kid- kaiju. It might only work once and players run the “good” kaiju or, bet-
napping worshippers.” then be either destroyed in the battle ter yet, let each player run a separate
or confiscated by the government to be monster. Alternatively, the characters
How Do We Defeat That? examined by “top men” after the battle. may uncover a mystical ritual that
Players will be less interested in the If a new creation, the wizard respon- temporarily transforms them into kaiju
backstory than in the practical question sible for creating it might even take themselves, retaining most of the pow-
of how to beat it. Here’s seven options. his own life to prevent his secret from ers of their character.
endangering humanity.
Chink in the Armor Sample Kaiju
The kaiju has one weak spot where Seal it Away Everyone knows Godzilla and the tar-
it can be injured. For instance, the The kaiju cannot be killed, but it can rasque. Here are some other options
monster might be covered with impen- be imprisoned. This may require a for kaiju.
etrable scales, except for a small patch specially prepared location, an ancient
in the hollow of his left breast. ritual, or a massive portal leading to The King of Sadness
Typically, the party must learn or un- another plane. If the monster escaped The last great war ended when one of
cover this weakness in lost lore or from from some prison, the best way to de- the combatants detonated a weapon of
a wise NPC. Once they have, they can feat it is to return it to the same place, unimaginable power. Though it forced
attack the weak spot directly (rather and this time, make sure the bindings surrender, the weapon killed thousands
than attack the monster as a whole). hold. Characters might also seal the and, worse, left a barren wasteland now
Of course, the weak point is signifi- monster away inside of a volcano or called, “The Sad Lands.”
cantly harder to hit given its smaller within a polar ice cap. As a result, most of the creatures in
size. The PCs might only need to strike The Sad Lands died, but not all. The
the location once, but more likely, they Love and Duty residual energies from the weapon
will need to deal a certain amount of The kaiju isn’t evil; it’s just misun- transformed many creatures into ter-
damage to the vulnerable spot. derstood. All it needs is somebody rible monsters. The greatest of these
To make things more complicated, (especially a young child or beautiful monsters is the King of Sadness. While
the monster might have several weak actress) to show it some compassion. it vaguely resembles a tyrannosaurus,
spots, such as three eyes that must each Or, the kaiju may only have awak- the King of Sadness is something far
be destroyed in the proper order. ened to accomplish a specific goal, such more terrible, equipped with venom-
as retrieving relics stolen from a sacred ous spines, a second pair of powerful
Weakness tomb. If the party can help the mon- arms, and a breath of pure destruction.
Though most weapons do not scratch ster accomplish this goal, the monster In the past, the King of Sadness
the kaiju, it has a weakness. This can stops its rampage and settles down for was only a story told by those foolish
be as mundane as cold damage but is a millennium of sleep. enough to brave the Sad Lands and
probably something esoteric, like weap- lucky enough to survive. Recently, the
ons forged from a rare metal found From the Inside King of Sadness has ventured into the
only in meteorites. Ideally, the weak- The kaiju is so large that it becomes world beyond the Sad Lands, leaving a
ness is not something the characters a “dungeon” while its antibodies and swath of destruction in its wake. While
have on hand; they must either create parasites play the role of traditional it always returns to the Sad Lands, each
it or seek it out. monsters. The player characters must time it ventures forth the King of Sad-
Another variation of the weakness is enter the monster (probably through ness travels a little farther from home.
an environmental condition. Perhaps the mouth) and travel through blood Nobody knows how to stop this ter-
the creature can only be killed under vessels, intestines, and other bodily rible beast. The key may lie within the
the light of the full moon, or perhaps, passages to strike at a particularly vul- Sad Lands, or it might lie with a young
it loses its defenses when not in contact nerable area (usually the heart). but gifted mage who discovered a
with the ground. This strategy also works well for giant weapon more terrible than the one that
constructs, which may have a more created the Sad Lands.
conventional dungeon within.

30 Kobold Quarterly 5
Kondulu, the White Ape The Ancient Deep
The great kingdoms of man require Some beings were ancient even before
resources to fuel their expansion, and even the elves appeared: unspeakable THAT WHICH
the Southern Forest has proven a rich entities whose visage drives the stron-
source. Not only are the trees a prized gest mind insane. Fortunately, these DOES NOT
source of lumber, the cleared land feeds monstrosities long ago retreated from BORE YOU
cattle and several veins of precious ore the mortal realm to planes far beyond
lie beneath the earth. our grasp. But not forever. MAKES YOU
It seems, however, that man has cut Recently, an apocalypse cult dedicat- GEEKY
too much and dug too deep. They have ed to the return of these ancient ones
awakened a terrible spirit. Taking the has committed the unthinkable and
form of a massive white gorilla, this drawn something from distant realms
spirit seems intangible until its foes are into the material plane. The Ancient NERDAGE.NET:
crushed beneath its feet. Not even the Deep destroys anything it meets at sea, A new NerdBlog about
most powerful of spells has any effect and based on where ships have gone RPGs, Robots,
on the monster. missing, it’s heading towards shore.
Farms, mines, and logging camps The only description comes from a
Computers, Games,
are all destroyed. Only the People of half-mad sailor who saw a many-eyed Fiction, Astronomy,
the Wood, who live in harmony with tentacle reaching from the water. Electronics, Science
the Southern Forest, seem immune to Sages agree that fighting such a & More!
the White Ape’s rampage. The People monster is suicide. The only solution
distrust outsiders, but if befriended, is to banish it to the plane from which Visit
they explain that they know much of it came. Alas, the only ones that know
this white ape—who they call Kondu- how to accomplish such a feat are the NERDAGE.NET
lu—including that she can never be doomsday cultists who first summoned Today!
defeated, only appeased. it.

Kobold Quarterly 5 31
Kobold Diplomacy

They Wrote
the Book
(The Player’s Handbook, that is)
The 4E PHB Designers want you to switch editions..
and they finally explain how to convert a campaign.
by Kobold Staff
Andy Collins in his mountain retreat.
Andy Collins, Rob Heinsoo, and James
Wyatt are the authors of the 4th Edition
Player’s Handbook and work at Wizards
of the Coast in the R&D department. See
if you can figure out which is the chatty would and wouldn’t fly, based on issues new territory without worrying about
one... of mechanical balance, player percep- consequences.
tion, the way people actually play I, however, am a developer/editor
Kobold Quarterly: What are the D&D, and the weight of tradition. He at heart: All I ever think about are
particular strengths of the individual was, in that sense, the perfect developer consequences.
members of the R&D team? De- voice, even in the throes of design.
scribe each other in simple terms as Rob was the game designer on the KQ: What events, if any, from the
the “number cruncher” guy or the team. He pushed our boundaries, DDXP preview testing made you
“world and imagery” guy. made us consider some crazy ideas, and reconsider various 4E class abilities
led us down a path of design that was and powers? What changed and why?
Andy Collins: Rob is our Mad Genius, different than anything I’d experienced James Wyatt: D&D XP was a pre-
James is the Storyteller, and I’m the before—much more akin to the kind view, but not a playtest. At the time
Stat Junkie. of design that happens when you’re of the show, the core books were just
Rob’s definitely the mad genius of the working on a TCG or an entirely new about finished, and we were ready to
group, particularly when it comes to game than to “writing D&D stuff.” show the game to a wider audience.
mechanical design. We explored count- I feel like I wore a number of hats That said, I do feel the need to point
less crazy ideas of Rob’s over the past over the course of these three years, in- out that there were elements of the
three years, and some of them actually cluding being the numbers guy (largely, characters used at the 4E events at
worked! I think, by virtue of being the guy with D&D XP that were out of date or erro-
James’s designated role on the team a laptop and Excel) until Steve Schu- neous. For example:
was as the “world and story guy,” but bert settled much more comfortably • The fighter’s combat challenge
that diminishes the mechanical talents into that role. works a little differently.
that he also brought to the table. I Now I’m the “story guy”—the lead • The paladin can’t use divine chal-
don’t know why it’s important to story designer for D&D—and I guess lenge and then run away from the
clarify that the “story guy” was also that’s the role I played quite a bit dur- fight to deal ongoing damage to the
making contributions elsewhere, but ing the design process. challenged foe.
story gets a bad rap among many gam- Andy Collins: James is right; I’d to- • The ranger’s careful attack doesn’t
ers so maybe that’s why. tally forgotten that he was the number do as much damage as his other at-
My focus was definitely on nuts and cruncher for a good long stretch of the will attack.
bolts design work. I was the guy who design phase. (2005 is a long time ago.) We did do lots of playtesting, and
kept asking, “So how do we make that In a lot of ways, I was tasked with those three things are all elements that
work in the game?” being a voice of sanity in the room. changed fairly late, though still before
James Wyatt: I think Andy was the Rob and James are both creators at D&D XP, thanks to playtest feedback
one with the clearest sense of what heart, and creators want to explore and careful in-house examination.
32 Kobold Quarterly 5
Kobold Diplomacy
    There was one thing that we fixed new or existing players to watch how
when we got back from D&D XP, they interact with the game. Let me
though: we made sure that the gelati- tell you, there are few experiences more
nous cube can move easily when it has humbling than watching a 12-year-old
engulfed characters. look over your painstakingly crafted
Andy Collins: Agreed. We didn’t ap- game for 2 minutes then discard it in
proach D&D Experience as a massive boredom.
playtest—for one thing, we weren’t
collecting data in anything like an or- KQ: Ouch. The 12-year-old audience
ganized fashion—but we certainly took is brutal. I know this next question
advantage of the opportunity to make may be perceived as applying only to
some anecdotal observations of how the web/older gamer audience, but
people were playing the game. really it’s everyone.
Our experiences at the show did sup- What surprises you about the
port some changes that were already in reception 4E is getting in the gam-
the works: for example, adjusting the ing community as you approach the
stats of solo monsters to make them launch, if anything?
James Wyatt at home.
challenging but still fun to fight. James Wyatt: Honestly, I’m a little
That said, we’re still giving a shout- bit surprised at how positive it has
out to the Experience crowd in been, overall. worked on an artistic endeavor and
the playtest credits page... just not Going to GenCon last year for they’ll admit that you’re never really
individually. the Big Announcement was nerve- “done,” it’s just that at some point
wracking. The Internet can be such a somebody makes you stop working and
KQ: In Wizards’ research about the negative place that I was half-expecting move on.
problems 3.5E suffers from, what to be tarred and feathered by the time James Wyatt: As Andy said, we’ve
kind of games were you looking at: the show was over. But, as Mike Mearls been down to fine-tuning for months
convention game play, home games, pointed out once, GenCon is the anti- now, after working on the game for
games run by teenagers, or what? Internet. Almost everyone at the show three years. Starting six months earlier
Andy Collins: Yes, yes, yes, and then seemed excited by the news and hung would have changed details here and
some. on every word we let slip about the there, but nothing big.
Our best sources of experience were new game.
the campaigns that we played in our- Since then, that experience has KQ: Ok, fair enough. Next question,
selves. There’s no better way to learn repeated several times—most recently and time for some details! I’m inter-
what works (or doesn’t work) in a game at D&D XP. Tons of really enthusiastic ested in kobolds as player characters:
than by playing it, and we learned fans made that my favorite convention What do you think is an optimal
plenty from our own experiences as of recent years. Everyone I’ve played 4E build for 1st-level kobold class, abili-
DM or player. If you assume that with has just loved the game, as I do. ties, and feats?
everyone in RPG R&D interacts with I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I Andy Collins: Well, the kobold
3-6 players who don’t also interact with have to confess that I am. rogue is an obvious choice. The ko-
anyone else in the department, that’s bold’s +2 Dexterity meshes ideally with
over 100 different experiences every KQ: How would 4th Edition have the rogue’s reliance on Dex, and kobo-
week or month. been different if the big push had lds are naturally sneaky thieves who are
Since every group’s experience differs, started six months earlier? That is, tough to pin down in a fight.
however, we also recognize that it’s what systems, classes, or rules do you That said, kobolds will make pretty
important to listen to what’s happening wish you had another six months to decent fighters, too. They’re reasonably
in games around the world, whether tinker with? tough, there’s no Strength penalty any
at a big con, in the back room of your Andy Collins: The issues that come more, and the kobold’s mobile nature
FLGS, or in your own basement. to mind for me are more like flourishes means it can maneuver around really
Each one of us hears from folks at than actual systems—I can’t think of easily in a fight.
conventions, by email, via our RPGA anything big that I think now would Ooh, and a kobold ranger would
contacts, and yes, through the message have benefited significantly from more be pretty fun. Probably an archer, to
boards, and we take those messages time. take advantage of that Dex boost, with
back to the department. That said, I’m sure a year from now, other feats and powers that focus on
And yes, we’ve even run focus group like any creator, we’ll see one or two mobility and sneakery. (Not a word?
testing on D&D games, bringing in things that we might want to have Don’t care.)
done differently. Ask anyone who’s ever Rob Heinsoo: The kobold has Shifty,
Kobold Quarterly 5 33
and a new array of powers, both suited Feywild was a natural step. Using that
to that particular style of character name for the fey player character race
(but also useful to others in the class as was a later flash of insight that made
well). perfect sense once we’d gone that far.
That is, the powers we’ve designed The powerful ghaeles and bralanis still
for “New Warlord Build X” are best exist as potential enemies or allies in
for that build, but they’re also entirely the Feywild, and I think they have a
playable and useful to warlords of much more interesting place in the
builds Y and Z, as well as to warlords world than being the embodiment of
who prefer a general approach rather the chaotic good alignment.
than a particular build. Demons and devils haven’t actually
We’re still nailing down names and changed that much. In the past, they
such, so I’d rather not put one out have blurred together quite a bit, and
there quite yet. we did want to make sure that play-
ers not steeped in 30 years of history
KQ: James, why did you want to might have a chance of understand-
shake up the “story elements” of ing the difference between the two.
D&D so much, changing the planes We emphasized their differences and
The Devilish Mr. Heinsoo
from the Great Wheel cosmology, downplayed their similarities. So far,
making eladrins into a type of fey elf, only one creature has changed sides—
the one racial ability that is pretty
changing demons and devils around, the seductive succubus, we felt, worked
much too darn good to hand out to
and so on. much better as a devil than as a demon.
player characters.
James Wyatt: I can’t take full credit Shaking things up wasn’t our goal,
 The bizarre fact is that if we ever do
for any of those decisions, but I’m but an occasional consequence of deci-
a full kobold PC treatment, I’m gonna
certainly happy with them. The Great sions we made for the sake of improv-
want to nerf the Shifty racial power.
Wheel cosmology was an expression ing the game. We avoided change for
“Want to” isn’t the same as “going to.”
of needless symmetry—a structure of its own sake, and didn’t make any of
So for the moment kobold players who
infinite planes based on the symmetri- these decisions lightly. The result of our
are enjoying their shifty speed don’t
cal alignment grid. Mechanus existed work on the cosmology of the game
have to be told optimal builds —as far
purely because the structure demanded is a bunch of planes that make great
as I’m concerned they’ve already got an
a plane for the Lawful Neutral align- places for adventure—different and
optimal racial ability!
ment. Modrons existed purely because challenging, without being so alien
that plane needed inhabitants. Neither or deadly that characters would never
KQ: What new RPG book are you
of them was particularly good for the want to go there.
most excited about (after June,
play of the game. And that’s why the book I’m most
The Inner Planes were worse—built exicted about is Manual of the Planes.
Rob Heinsoo: I’m excited about
on the symmetry of the four classical (To be fair, my answer to that question
Players’ Handbook II. I love the new di-
elements, and none of them hospitable will almost always be “whatever book
rections we’re taking the classes. That’s
or interesting for adventure. Combin- I’m working on right now.”)
about all I can say, at this point.   
ing them all into the tempest of the But I’m thrilled about this book, be-
Andy Collins: Probably Martial
Elemental Chaos gives us a vibrant, cause it’s just dripping with adventure
Power. It explores some interesting new
exciting, dangerous-but-not-lethal possibilities. I have nothing against
builds for the martial classes, some of
environment for incredible adventures past incarnations of the title, but I’m
which are pretty different in feel from
that the Inner Planes could never be. just so glad we don’t have to spend
the base classes, but without straying
We changed the alignment system in precious pages talking about places
from the core identity of the class and
the game to help players understand you can’t go (like three pages on the
its role in the party. I like the way that
what commitments their characters Negative Energy Plane, where you have
the book showcases the flexibility of a
were making, and the result left us no to save or gain a negative level every
class—something that I know many
need for a symmetrical grid of outer round), and can instead talk in detail
players are concerned about.
planes and creatures to populate it. about places you can go and will want
With no more “chaotic good” align- to go.
KQ: Cool! Care to drop a class name?
ment, we didn’t need outsiders to
Or when you say builds, do you
populate the chaotic good plane. KQ: I’m very excited to hear about
mean alternate class abilities?
Eladrin have always been ultra-fey the Manual of the Planes. I guess
Andy Collins: The builds in this
outsiders, so moving them to the I’m hoping that some Planescape
book each include a new class feature
34 Kobold Quarterly 5
elements will survive into the new should be able to recapture the feel eight PH classes to engage the interest
cosmology. of the character with similar (or even of the players who have wandered off
James Wyatt: I’m working on the more exciting) effects. to swordsages and incarnates during 3E.
section on Sigil right now, and In Your knight, crusader, or warblade But then, in my opinion, this game
the Cage is open on my lap. Hurray, can pretty effectively be recreated as a gives a lot of room for flexibility if
confirmation that Planescape survives fighter or perhaps a paladin or even a you’re willing to get creative with the
into 4E! warlord, depending on his particular rules. Let me tell you a story.
attitude and the special features he My son is 11, and he’s getting in-
KQ: What advice do you have for preferred. creasingly interested in D&D. The toys
someone wanting to continue their There will always be exceptions: The drive his interest quite a bit—he loves
3E campaign in some form using 4E mongrelfolk ranger in my 3E game playing with Dungeon Tiles and helping
(besides “don’t!”)? Surely some rough didn’t have an easy racial translation, me open minis boosters. A few months
conversions are possible, as long as and James Wyatt’s swordsage didn’t feel ago, when I brought home Desert of
your PC isn’t a druid or bard. What enough like a fighter, rogue, wizard, Desolation minis, he fell in love with
are the unofficial hacks and rules of or multiclass combo of any of those the fire archon, and he announced that
thumb? classes for the “conversion of concept” he wanted that to be his character.
Andy Collins: Speaking as someone guideline to be helpful. In both of Rule number 1 for a good DM is
who successfully converted his 3E those cases, the players created entirely to say yes whenever possible, so I did.
campaign to a 4E playtest, I’d say that new 4E characters—the guy playing I built him a 7th-level fire archon
“conversion of concept” should be the the mongrelfolk tried an elf ranger for as his PC. I used rogue powers, but
goal of the DM and players looking to a while, then decided to play a wizard I changed the flavor to fiery stuff
follow that plan. instead (and ended up finding it to wherever I could. Instead of “sneak
That is, don’t fixate on the exact be the most fun spellcaster he’d ever attack,” I let him do extra fire damage
mechanical manifestations of your played), and Mr. Wyatt went with a when he had combat advantage. I gave
character. Obsessing over one-to-one tiefling paladin. him powers that did ongoing damage,
conversions of every feat or spell on James Wyatt: There’s no good reason but made it fire damage. I might have
your character sheet will drive you not to convert your campaign, as long given him fire resistance as a racial
batty (and ultimately be unsuccessful). as you’re willing to be flexible. Andy feature. He had only a vague resem-
Instead, focus on the overarching did it, giving each player the choice blance to any of the fire archons statted
themes of your character, and look for of “converting” an existing character up in the Monster Manual, but he was
new ways of expressing those themes. or creating a new one. I was playing a a perfectly balanced, viable character
For some characters, that’s really xeph swordsage, so I made a new one. inspired by that miniature.
easy—the eight classes in the new The way I see it is that your charac- With similar creativity, I’m pretty
PH cover the most popular character ter isn’t the statistics on the character sure I could have built my swordsage,
choices from 3E, and many can effec- sheet. Your character is the person in drawing on rogue and warlock powers,
tively be adapted to cover other classes your head, with background and his- and maybe altering the flavor here and
as well. Add the eight PH races to the tory from the games you’ve played. The there when necessary.
basic racial information provided for character sheet is an expression of that
other creatures in the Monster Manual character in the rules of the game, just KQ: Why does Wizards use the Delve
and you have a pretty broad selection like if you tried to stat out a character format for adventures designed for
there as well. from a novel. My advice would be to home consumption? Isn’t it more of a
Your 3E dwarf fighter can become set your 3E character sheet off to the tournament format?
a 4E dwarf fighter pretty easily—he’s side, concentrate on the character in Andy Collins: Here’s the question
still wearing heavy armor and swing- your head, and work toward the best I’m going to answer. It’s my best guess
ing a weapon, but now he also gets fun expression of that character you can for what you’re trying to learn: “Why
exploits to use in combat. Your sorcerer produce in the 4E rules. does Wizards use the same encounter
can become either a wizard or a war- Given that it’s going to take us a layout in published adventures as in
lock, or perhaps a mix of the two. while to design 4e versions of all 50ish Delve-style events?”
Did you play a crafty illumian standard classes we published in 3E The encounter layout aims to make
spellthief in 3E? You’ll probably want (and there are some we probably won’t it as easy as possible for a DM to see
to be a human or half-elf rogue who do—the fighter is a good replacement all the relevant information he needs
uses the new multiclass system to for the knight, for example), you might to run the encounter—to minimize
sample some wizard powers (or vice have trouble expressing some charac- page flipping and book references, for
versa). They might not be the exact ters in the new rules as they stand right example.
spells that your spellthief used, but you now. But there’s enough newness in the Delve-style events at conventions led

Kobold Quarterly 5 35
the way in identifying this need. DMs KQ: Ok, ok, dodge and weave. What the other GMT Ancients system I like,
running such events often have no time non-WotC games are you playing Simple Great Battles of History.
to prep before rolling initiative. We saw these days? The other two-player game I’ve been
that all DMs could use a more helpful Andy Collins: I’ve become a huge playing recently is also from GMT:
format for encounter presentation. Few board game fan in the past decade, Manoeuvre, a wargame/eurogame hy-
among us have as much time to prep as my love for the cardboard became brid about 18th century warfare.
for games as we used to, so making the reinvigorated by Settlers of Catan (still I play a lot of Ingenious with my
game easier to run is helpful no matter a favorite). In the past few months I’ve family and non-gamer friends, it’s an
where you’re playing. played Ticket to Ride: Europe, Fury of abstract tile-laying game by Reiner
James Wyatt: This format was de- Dracula, Puerto Rico, Carcassonne, and Knizia. Another Knizia game we
signed to give you (the DM) every- Vegas Showdown (OK, that’s a WotC had fun with recently is a card game,
thing you need to run an encounter on game), to name a few. Formula Motor Racing. And let’s see,
a single spread of two pages, and that’s When I can get a group together rounding out the list with games we
just as helpful in a home game as it I enjoy Age of Renaissance, and once played in the last two weeks… Scrabble
is at a convention. (The name “Delve a year we blow a day with Advanced and Cheeky Monkey.
format” does come from the fact that Civilization.
it’s an outgrowth of using it for our I haven’t been playing computer or KQ: Excellent, sound like you have a
Dungeon Delve at GenCon—but the console games much lately, but I did well-varied gaming diet.
goal was to get it on a single page that have some fun with Zoo Tycoon 2 a I’m sure you’ve answered this one
would be on the DM’s clipboard.) couple weeks ago. It’s like Civilization before, but what is the one reason
You’ve got enough going on behind the meets The Sims, but with zoo animals! gamers should switch their games
screen without having to shuffle back I’ve dabbled with Guitar Hero. to 4E? I’m not looking for a laun-
and forth between a map on one page, Apples to Apples is undoubtedly the dry list, mind you. But I do wonder
room descriptions on another page, best non-gamer game I’ve encountered about the size of a new generation of
and stat blocks on still another page— in my adult life. I can crack it open grognards.
which is what our previous format with anyone in the world and have Andy Collins: For me, the overarch-
made you do. them laughing within minutes. ing reason to move one’s game to 4th
James Wyatt: When I’m not play- Edition is for everyone around the
KQ: Well, it’s a question from the ing D&D with my friends, I’m usually table to have more fun playing D&D.
readership, and I admit it’s a little playing something with my family, so We’ve eliminated a huge range of
opaque. I think the real question- my gaming runs to board games from “game-stopping” rules complications
behind-the-question might be more Life and Sorry to Starfarers of Catan to keep the game (and your story)
like “Why do you use the Delve and Vegas Showdown. (My wife always moving.
format/layout when I don’t like it?”. kills us with the red diamonds...) We’ve broadened the character power
But moving swiftly on.... My son also got me back into World options for all classes, ensuring that
What do you think about the of Warcraft, though he’s already show- every player has something exciting
Pathfinder RPG, currently in Beta? ing signs of becoming a game designer: and special to do in every round of
Are you worried it might fragment When he starts telling me that he every combat, no matter how many
the RPG market? wants to make a character who’s a encounters you have during the day.
Andy Collins: Wizards of the Coast combination of rogue and paladin, I We’ve streamlined monster and
recognizes that Paizo Publishing must tell him we have to switch to D&D! encounter design to help the DM build
make decisions based on their own best We’ve tinkered with the Pokemon TCG and run fast, compelling combats with
interests, and we wish the best of luck rules (we have a DuelMasters-style vari- multiple foes.
with this project. ant) and Uno (keeping track of hands You said you didn’t want a laundry
won, and incorporating a catch-up list, so I’ll forgo listing any more exam-
KQ: Yeah, I hear that. Which is why mechanic). We also enjoy games on the ples of how 4th Edition increases the
the KQ readership offers this fol- Wii, especially Lego Star Wars. fun you’ll have at the game table. But
lowup, already prepared for this The other brain candy that keeps whether you’re a player or a DM, we
occasion: me busy in odd moments is sudoku. I believe—and hundreds upon hundreds
How do you feel about the compe- started playing with creating my own, of playtesters are backing us up on
tition with Paizo and Mona? using letters to spell out two or three this—that 4th Edition provides a more
Andy Collins: I think there’s plenty anagrams in the puzzle. enjoyable, exciting, and entertaining
of room for both companies to succeed Rob Heinsoo: I’ve been enjoying RPG experience than any previous ver-
in their respective endeavors. GMT’s Commands & Colors: Ancients, sion of D&D.
which is much easier to get going than James Wyatt: Yeah, it’s hard to put it

36 Kobold Quarterly 5
Every Thousand Years Or So,
A Ravenous Shark God Tries to Eat the World

You Just Gonna Stand There

And Let Him?


Dark Vistas #1: Razor Coast

A New Mega-Adventure by Nicolas Logue

Come by
and order your copy today…
or be a food for the Shark God…the choice is yours!
any more clearly than that: More fun. can prove or disprove any of those 2) Cyclops. I’m happy to see the
Definitely don’t switch if you hate fun. theories. The customers will speak with cyclops in the Monster Manual I for
Rob Heinsoo: I’ll help gang-tackle their wallets, and any publisher inter- the first time. And there’s a stupid
this answer: it’s most significant that esting in staying in business will listen. little thing that makes me inordinately
4e is more fun for the DM. 4e makes happy: We went from the stereotypical,
it easier for the DM to get a session KQ: Given that 4th Edition is a pseudo-scientific, “Well, cyclops only
or a campaign started, and more fun product you’re naturally proud of, have one eye so they lack depth percep-
to keep the sessions rolling. DM fun and which will connect with a lot of tion,” to giving them an evil eye power.
translates into player fun with a very people, how has the delay in releas- That strikes me as a brilliant little
high exchange rate. ing the GSL affected Wizards’ plans? insight into our design philosophy.
Are any ship dates moving around to 3) Yeah, dragons. They’ve never been
KQ: Well, I don’t think anyone will fill some of the likely gaps? so fun, dangerous, and impressive.
argue against fun. But how do you AC: We don’t have any plans to ad-
define fun, in design terms? If DM just the release dates we’ve announced. KQ: Tell us what your hopes are for
fun = player fun (and I’m not sure it the GSL. Third-party publishers
always does), how does 4E provide KQ: Purely personal opinion: What might release their own versions of
more of that? are your favorite monsters in the new popular 3E elements to fill the void
Andy Collins: It’s much better for edition, and why? before Wizards releases an official
players if their DMs enjoy crafting Andy Collins: I’d be remiss in not version. Are you concerned about
adventures and running games. A DM mentioning that the dragons in 4E are that delay?
having fun may not guarantee that actually playable right out of the book, Also, how committed are you per-
players also have fun, but that’s way rather than requiring an hour or more sonally to keeping the new GSL SRD
more likely to be true than if the DM of DM design work before using them. updated with content the gaming
isn’t having fun. That alone makes me 127% more ex- community feels is critical, like dru-
A DM who’s frustrated with the cited about using them in my game. ids, bard, or gnome racial options?
rules, or who finds creating encounters The foulspawn (“deranged human- AC: I’m confident that the quality
too daunting, or who feels panicked oids corrupted by contact with the Far of material published by Wizards of
every time he has to run an encounter Realm”) have made several appear- the Coast will make our books com-
with more than one monster, is not ances in my game lately. I really like pelling even to those gamers who’ve
only likely to transfer that unease to his the combinations of powers and role already seen other folks’ versions of,
players (reducing everyone’s enjoy- that these critters offer me in building say, psionics.
ment), he may also just walk away encounters. We’re still talking about how to
from the DM role entirely. And players I’ve seen the bugbear strangler at handle future SRD content for the
without a DM definitely aren’t having work both as a player and as a DM, GSL, so it’s premature for me to guess
much fun. and I think it’s fiendishly fun. as to exactly what form or scope that
Rob Heinsoo: The monsters I love content will take.
KQ: Why should publishers switch having in the MM are the slaads.
to the 4E Game System License (GSL)? “Come, Chaos, and rain befuddlement KQ: Fair enough. Last question:
AC: Ultimately, I believe this is an upon the PCs.” The slaads play havoc How is the work on 5th Edition
economic issues for each company to with carefully laid plans, almost as if coming along?
weigh and decide for itself. the slaads were an unpredictable group Andy Collins: <BLAM!> Thud.
In other words, publishers should of rival PCs.
switch to 4th Edition and the Game James Wyatt. 1) Orcus and friends. KQ: I swear, the readers voted that as
System License if they believe it’s in First, I’m just tickled that they’re in their favorite question. My apologies
their best business interests to do so. there—it’s something I suggested as a for even making you think about it.
There will undoubtedly be publish- joke a long time ago, because we were Rob Heinsoo: Jonathan Tweet is
ers who believe their best plan is to using Orcus as a code name to talk probably hard at work on it.
continue supporting (or to create) their about 4th Edition. Orcus is the high- Andy Collins: If my experience
own house system, and others who be- est-level monster in the book, he’s bad, in the last 2.5 editions of D&D has
lieve that continuing to publish under and he looks cooler than ever. And taught me anything, it’s this:
the 3rd Edition OGL is the optimal he has a nice cadre of companions— One of the key contributors to the
decision for them. his aspect, his exarch Doresain, and a next edition of D&D just started
We certainly believe that publish- deathpriest cultist. He has a great story working here within the last year, and
ing via the 4th Edition GSL is a good and some awe- and terror-inspiring another one doesn’t even work here
choice, but ultimately only the market mechanics. yet... and we don’t know who they are.
Let the guessing commence!
38 Kobold Quarterly 5 <
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trademark clearly identified as Product identity by the of that Product Identity. You agree not to indicate System Reference Document Copyright 2000-2003,
owner of the Product Identity, and which specifically compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet,
excludes the Open Game Content; (f) “Trademark” means or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins,
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License by the Contributor (g) “Use”, “Used” or “Using” The use of any Product Identity in Open Game Content Kobold Quarterly issue 5, Copyright 2008, Open Design
means to use, Distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, does not constitute a challenge to the ownership of that LLC, All rights reserved.

Kobold Quarterly 5 39
Make Your
Action Points
More Player Options in Every Game
By Roger Carbol

ction points are a popular,
if sometimes tricky, vari-
Increasing a d20 Roll
ant rule. Players like them
because they provide more ways to One of the easiest ways to spend an
make characters awesome. DMs like action point is to increase the result of Activating Class Abilities
them because they are easily added to a a d20 roll by rolling a d6 (or, at higher You can spend an action point for an
campaign and cause much less disrup- levels, rolling more than one and pick- extra use of a class ability that has a
tion than many other variant rules. ing the highest). The most common limited number of uses per day. This
And the good people over at Wizards d20 rolls to modify are attack rolls, type of ability includes a barbarian’s
of the Coast must like them, because saving throws, and skill checks. rage, a druid’s wild shape, a monk’s
they are an official part of at least one Attack rolls: If you think you’ve stunning fist, and a paladin’s smite evil.
3.5 Edition campaign setting and the missed the target AC by only a couple The ability to retain spells is es-
4th Edition core rules. points, spending an action point is a sentially a specific form of this usage,
The tricky part comes from the scar- good way to increase your chances of allowing you to cast your spell and
city of action points. Most resources hitting. In cases where your odds of keep it too. If your spellcaster is con-
that a character has are usable a few hitting are high to begin with, however, stantly stressed-out about whether any
times per encounter or a few times per you may be better off spending your given round is exactly the right time to
day. Action points, in contrast, do not action point to gain an extra attack cast his only prepared dispel magic or
replenish until the character gains a instead. fireball for the day, he can stop worry-
new level and any unspent points from Spending an action point to con- ing. Cast it, and use an action point to
the previous level are lost. firm a critical hit is particularly useful, retain it.
Adding to the confusion, a player can especially if your weapon has a critical Your DM will be surprised, but it’s a
only spend one action point per round, modifier greater than x2. completely legitimate use of an action
and exactly when you can spend them Saving throws: Making a single point. Ok ok, you may not want to
varies from effect to effect. saving throw can mean the differ- surprise your DM with it too much;
Many players, paralyzed by the ence between victory and total party it would slow down the game in the
scarcity of action points and the fear of kill. If you expect to be make several middle of combat. But it’s fun to watch
squandering them, simply hoard them. saving throws of the same type dur- the reaction when people hear about
A character that dies with unspent ing a round—after charging a carrion this option.
action points is twice the tragedy, but crawler while naked, for example—you
you can avoid this gruesome fate by may, instead, want to consider emu- Extra Attack
following these helpful tips for the lating one of the saving throw feats: You can spend an action point to make
most common action point usages: Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Lightning an extra attack at your highest base
Reflexes (see below for details on emu- attack bonus. Note that you can only
Which Action Points? lating feats). do this during a full attack action.
This article discusses the variant Skill checks: Skill checks can be as However, you can spend the point after
rules for action points from the
important as any attack roll or saving your full attack has resolved.
standard version of the game.
Some readers only experience with throw, especially for rogues. If you This is especially helpful if your full
action points will come from playing don’t already have Skill Focus in the attack missed completely, your attack
with action points in a certain pulp skill in question, emulating it for a flat
fantasy or science fantasy campaign wasn’t quite enough to take your target
setting. If so, you may be terribly +3 bonus can be a safer option than down, or there’s another irresistible
confused at all these new options rolling 1d6 (see below for details on target nearby. This can often be a more
from the core rules; give them shot! emulating feats).
40 Kobold Quarterly 5
effective way to damage your opponent finds himself in melee or in a grapple.
than spending an action point to gain Losing a spell to an attack of opportu- No, Wait!
Spending an action point to improve
+1d6 on your attack roll. nity in that crucial situation is no fun, a d20 roll has to happen after you
so keep Combat Casting in mind. roll the die but before the DM tells
Automatically Stabilize Eschew Materials: Every once in a you whether you succeeded or failed.
Make it easy on your DM—before
When your own character is dying in a while, you may find yourself without an important roll, tell him that you
pool of his own blood, you can spend your required material components, might want to use an action point on
an action point to automatically sta- whether by enemy action, DM plot it. You will never be disappointed by
premature failure again.
bilize him. This is not a bad use of an twists, or your own incompetence.
action point, and it is certainly better Emulating Eschew Materials can make action point to apply any metamagic
than a character dying, but don’t be too this problem go away, at least for one feat you already have to a readied spell
quick to use it. If you are only at -3 hp round. without changing the spell’s required
and surrounded by your cleric friends Far Shot: It might not come up very slot or its casting time—single-handed-
who have just defeated the monsters, often, but just knowing that you can ly making metamagic feats worthwhile.
you probably don’t need it. Don’t let shoot at someone 600 yards away— So go ahead and maximize that fireball
your character die needlessly, but don’t that’s 360 squares!—with your heavy or quicken that expeditious retreat.
panic, either. crossbow and Far Shot is a good feeling Armed with these tips and tricks, you
(provided you already have Point Blank can stop hoarding action points and
Emulating Shot). start spending them in the best ways
and Improving Feats Great Fortitude, Iron Will, and possible, making your character even
The ability to spend an action point Lightning Reflexes: If you expect to more awesome than ever before.
to emulate any feat (as long as you make more than one saving throw
meet the prerequisites) or to improve of the same type during your round, <
a feat that you already have is one of emulating Great Fortitude, Iron Will,
the most powerful ways to use an ac- or Lightning Reflexes is more efficient
tion point. The wide array of available than spending an action point to gain
options can make it one of the most +1d6 to a single saving throw.
bewildering choices to make, however, Improved Initiative: Sometimes you
so take heed of the following advice. really want to act before your oppo-
Note that, with most of these uses, nents. Emulating Improved Initiative,
the action point must be spent at the or improving the bonus to +8 if you
beginning of your own turn (as a free already have the feat, goes a long way.
action) and that the effect lasts until Power Attack: Power Attack is
the beginning of your next turn. Al- especially useful when trying to batter
your way through an inanimate but
Thrilling OGL and True20
though it would be great to gain Great
Cleave right after dropping a monster tough object. If you already have Power settings and supplements!
with your attack, it is not actually legal Attack, you can double the bonus.
to do so (although your DM may allow Note that the doubling from using a
it). two-handed weapon and this doubling
The following are among the most combine to give you “only” triple
popular feats to emulate or improve: damage.
Quick Draw: Quick Draw is a great Blight Elves: Architects of Despair
way to draw your backup weapon after Blighted Bestiary
Cleave: Cleave is useful when you
being disarmed without losing your Available now (Print and PDF)
cannot use the action point to get an
extra attack because you cannot take ability to take a full attack action.
a full attack action—for example, Run: Run gives you the head start COMING SOON
you need when you really want to run Interface-ZERO
after you have charged. If you cannot
away from (or towards) something True20 Cyberpunk, May 2008
emulate this feat because you don’t Reign of Discordia
have Power Attack—or if you think or someone. If can be the difference True20 SciFi Space Opera, May 2008
you might not manage to drop your between a lone survivor and a TPK. Shadows of Cthulhu
foe with one attack—consider using Skill Focus: Emulating Skill Focus True20 Cthulhu, Summer 2008
your action point to get an extra attack for a flat +3 can be safer than gaining
instead. +1d6 to a skill roll—unless you already
Combat Casting: Even the most have this feat, of course.
combat-averse spellcaster occasionally Metamagic Feats: You can spend an

Kobold Quarterly 5 41
Book Reviews
All tomes read by candlelight
by Cynthia Ward and Pierce Watters

Clockwork Heart
by Dru Pagliassotti explodes, killing two of the Forlore
Juno Books, April 2008 kin, Taya unofficially investigates their
Mass Market Paperback murders in clash-filled collaboration
978-0-8095-7256-421 with the acerbic outcaste, Cristof.
$6.99 390 pages The name of Ondinium, transparent-
ly derived from Londinium, suggests
aya is an icarus, a messenger serving
T London, and the steampunk technol-
the government of Ondinium. The ogy suggests an alternate history of the
icarii are couriers with a difference: Nineteenth Century. However, this
they soar above the mountain city on isn’t the Nineteenth Century, England,
wings forged from a lighter-than-air or Earth. A significantly different
metal. world is the setting of Dru Pagliassotti’s
Taya’s life changes when she rescues debut novel, Clockwork Heart. It’s a
the passengers of a wireferry car whose
The Samarkand Solution
well-thought-out, skillfully developed
cables snap in mid-air. The passengers by Gary Gygax
world, extrapolated in rigorous science-
are exalteds—members of the highest Introduction by Ed Greenwood
fiction style from two key items: its
caste in her rigidly stratified city. Since Planet Stories/Paizo, April 2008
lighter-than-air metal, omnium, and
the icarii pass freely among the castes, Trade Paperback
its steam-powered “Great Engine,” a
plebian-born Taya is accustomed to 978-1-60125-083-4
Charles Babbage-style difference engine
dealing with exalteds. But the rescue $12.99 205 pages
(i.e., a mechanical computer).
gives her unprecedented contact with Steampunk fiction tends to bend and
the caste, and especially with the For- Gary Gygax (1938-2008), the father of
blend genres. Sometimes a steampunk
lore brothers: elegant Alister, an exem- fantasy role-playing games, also wrote
work ultimately ends up in the SF
plar of the exalteds, and caustic Cristof, several fantasy novels. Three of his best
camp; sometimes it ends up fantasy;
who, shockingly, has abandoned his comprise the Magister Setne Inhetep
sometimes it’s science fantasy‑-yet,
caste to become a clockwright. series (tied to his Dangerous Journeys
wherever it lands, a steampunk work
game): The Anubis Murders (1992),
commonly feels like both SF and
The Samarkand Solution (1993), and
fantasy. To this speculative-fiction mix,
Death in Delhi (1993). Paizo Publish-
Pagliassotti ambitiously adds a murder
ing is doing the hobby a great service
mystery and a romantic triangle, mak-
by reprinting the trio (not trilogy: each
ing a tasty multi-genre stew of Clock-
book stands alone).
work Heart’s science fantasy.
A powerful Ægyptian wizard-priest
The novel doesn’t achieve the bril-
and Pharaoh’s former agent, Magister
liance of steampunk classics like
Setne Inhetep remains an investigator.
William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s
The Samarkand Solution seriously chal-
The Difference Engine (1990), China
lenges his considerable detective and
Mieville’s Bas-Lag novels, or Hayao
magic skills. Ærth’s most dangerous
Miyazaki’s anime movie Castle in the
magician-assassin has come to Ægypt
Sky (Tenku no Shiro Laputa, 1986).
for unknown reasons. An undetectable
But Clockwork Heart is a well written,
Ondinium, with its industrial factories magic is slaying powerful men, causing
entertaining novel with complex, sym-
and its steam-powered Great Engine, them to dance to death in mid-air.
pathetic characters, and it will appeal
is the world’s high-tech capital. It has And a beautiful young foreigner, Lady
both to steampunk fans and to SF/F
many enemies, including a bomb- Xonaapi, is kidnapped.
readers unfamiliar with the subgenre.
throwing terrorist group, the Torn Magister Setne Inhetep must work
Cards. And when a wireferry tower with a distrustful police official, Chief

42 Kobold Quarterly 5
Inspector Tuhorus, to uncover the a new foreword from the author, and
deadly conspiracy of an unknown foe a fine introduction by Alan Moore,
before they—and Ægypt—are de- creator of the acclaimed graphic novel,
stroyed by the mysterious “Samarkand Watchmen.
solution.” This edition offers a splendid entrée
Gygax proudly wrote in the pulp to the world of Elric, or a look back
tradition. The Samarkand Solution for those who know this tragedy-torn
embodies the form’s strengths: fast ac- swordsman too well, along with excel-
tion, vivid prose, heroic protagonists, lent support materials and fine illustra-
dastardly villains, an exciting plot, and tions. Recommended!
a rousing climax. It also shows some of -P.W.
the forms weaknesses: clichés, clumsy
phrases, two-dimensional character-
izations, and a tendency to make the An Author Speaks:
darker-skinned characters villainous Moorcock on Elric in RPGs
and the women scarce and silly. Del Rey publishing has just released “During the 70s my work was being so
The Samarkand Solution ably pairs Elric: The Stealer of Souls, volume I in thoroughly ripped off by people who
two pulp genres, sword-and-sorcery their Chronicles of the Last Emperor didn’t ask, that I decided I had to let
fantasy and detective fiction. Suitably, of Melniboné. This excellent edition is one person do games, one handle com-
Setne Inhetep is larger than life... but fully illustrated by John Picacio. ics and so on — the way you pick a lad
he’s not cast in the mold of brawling Veteran readers of swords and sorcery in Morocco to be your ‘representative’.
pulp heroes like Conan of Cimmeria are, of course, familiar with this tragic He then drives away or prosecutes the
and Mike Hammer. Cerebral and hero Elric and his evil sword, Storm- rest. I didn’t know who to trust, who
magically adept, Setne more closely bringer. The Bright Empire of Melni- to go with. I had given Gary Gygax
resembles Sherlock Holmes, Lord boné flourished for ten thousand years, permission to run Elric, but I’d also
D’Arcy, Vlad Taltos, or Harry Dresden. “Ten thousand years before history was told others they could do the same.
Setne’s adventures are especially recorded—or ten thousand years after No money was involved.
recommended to fans of these more history had ceased to be chronicled.” “We were still in the hippy period as
cognition-oriented protagonists, but But now the empire has fallen and far as many of us were concerned, and
will also please many fans of two- the albino warrior wanders the Earth I thought we were all in this for fun
fisted sword-and-sorcery or private-eye with his sidekick, Moonglum, fight- rather than profit. Then games started
fiction. ing and loving and ultimately and to become big business and the guy
-C.W. intimately involved in the battle for at Chaosium threatened TSR with a
supremacy between the forces of Law lawsuit. My agent then formalised a
and Chaos. Stormbringer does not (very bad) contract with Chaosium (he
Elric: The Stealer of Souls just slay, but consumes the souls of would have done exactly the same with
Chronicles of the its unlucky victims and nourishes the TSR) who were going to do Eternal
Last Emperor of Melniboné, Vol. 1 physically weak Elric who depends on Champion games.
Stormbringer for his mortal vitality. “Of course, Chaosium turned out to
by Michael Moorcock The tales of Elric were radical de- be crooks, paying no royalties, ripping
Illustrated by John Picacio partures from traditional swords and me off, behaving in a dodgy way. I
Del Rey, February 2008 sorcery changing the genre forever. tried over the years to get the stuff
Paperback They were also a powerful influence away from them but it wasn’t until
978-0345498625 on roleplaying: Consider the endless Mongoose made a serious offer to Cha-
$15.00 496 pages struggle between Chaos and Law and osium, plus an offer to me, that I was
then consider one axis of your charac- able to switch. Mongoose have proven
Elric of Melniboné (pronounced ter’s alignment. a completely trustworthy firm, offering
Melnibonay) is the albino lord, final This new volume includes, chrono- me all scenarios and so on for inspec-
Emperor of the Bright Empire, eternal logically, the first adventures of Elric as tion before publishing. In the main,
pawn in the struggles between Chaos published in Science Fantasy magazine, too, they have used better artwork.
and Law and wielder of the dread and the first Elric novel, Stormbringer. “Gary told me that he wished he’d
sword Stormbringer. Renown fantasist Also included are essays by the au- known the circumstances, since he had
Michael Moorcock has been chroni- thor, the original editorial comments other ideas for EC games. I too wished
cling the adventures of this fey hero from John Carnell of Science Fantasy, I’d signed with GG, who seemed a
since 1961. magazine covers, the first book review, pleasant and agreeable guy.”

Kobold Quarterly 5 43
Ask the Kobold
Abilities, Bonuses, and Monks
by Skip Williams

Skip Williams is a co-author of 3rd the druid spell list. Does this hold
Edition and the author of the world’s true for other classes with divine
longest-running rules advice column. spell lists as well? For example, does spells, but it sure would be great for
If you have a question for the kobold, a god need levels in blackguard to monsters if some abilities did com-
send it to grant spells from the blackguard bine with a spectral hand.
spell list, or can a god do this I would be inclined to suggest that
Do inherent bonuses to ability scores automatically? anything that has a “level” of 4th or
count as part of the ability score I suggest that you allow any deity that less could work, provided the power or
itself, or are they separate bonuses? accepts evil clerics to grant blackguard ability in question has a touch range.
For example, if my druid has a spells also. In general, if a divine That generally means spells and spell-
+4 inherent bonus to Strength (say, spellcasting class is not on the pro- like abilities.
from four castings of wish) and wild hibited list, go ahead and allow the To determine a spell-like ability’s
shapes into an elephant (Str 30), by deity to grant the spells—alignment level, use the level for the sorcerer/
the rules he now uses the elephant’s permitting. wizard version of the spell. If the spell
Strength score instead of his own. has no sorcerer/wizard level, use cleric,
Would his +4 inherent bonus apply Specialist wizards gain a bonus spell druid, bard, paladin, or ranger level.
to his new Strength score, or not? for each spell level that they gain. Check each spell list for the spell in the
An inherent bonus is a bonus, not What about epic spells? Could an order given; for example, a spell’s level
part of the ability score. That’s why it’s abjurer have a bonus epic spell using as a cleric spell takes precedence over
called a bonus. In general, inherent the Ward seed? What about bonus its level as a druid spell. If a spell-like
bonuses stack with other bonuses (but spells from other sources, such as ability does not have an assigned level
not with other inherent bonuses). feats or prestige classes? and the ability doesn’t appear on any
In cases where a character’s physical No. You don’t gain epic spell slots for class spell list, it is best to disallow the
ability scores are completely trans- specialization or for any other process ability’s use through a spectral hand.
formed, such as through wild shape or that uses a spell’s level. An epic spell I do not recommend allowing any
polymorph, I recommend tossing out has no “level.” extraordinary ability to work through a
any inherent bonuses along with the spectral hand. An extraordinary ability
base ability score and replacing them Some feats and prestige classes re- is not magical, so there is nothing to
with the assumed form’s score. quire a certain number of ranks in a channel through the hand. Supernatu-
I suggest this because inherent bo- skill. Does this mean one’s acquired ral abilities that have a touch range and
nuses are intended to reign in rampant skill ranks or one’s effective ranks an assigned level of 4th or less should
wishing and rampant use of ability after all bonuses are applied? be okay for use with spectral hand. If
enhancing books and not to provide Acquired ranks. That’s always the case there is no assigned level, I do not rec-
characters with portable ability bonuses for a skill prerequisite. Keep in mind ommend allowing the ability to work
that take effect no matter what form that a character’s maximum rank in a through a spectral hand.
the character takes. class skill is character level +3 and half
of that for a cross-class skill. A monk can use her unarmed strike
The ability of deities to grant spells ability as either a manufactured or a
says that gods can grant spells from Can extraordinary, spell-like, or natural weapon, is that correct? What
the cleric and the ranger spell lists supernatural abilities be used in is this ability to switch categories
automatically, but a god must have conjunction with the spectral hand good for?
paladin levels in order to grant spells spell? I’d guess “no” because the spell It is correct that a monk can treat her
from the paladin spell list and druid description refers explicitly to touch unarmed strikes as either manufactured
levels in order to grant spells from
44 Kobold Quarterly 5
or natural weapons (see the monk class description). This is
useful when qualifying for feats, such as Improved Natural
Attack or when receiving enhancing spells, such as magic
weapon or magic fang. CAPTURE
Can monk use a flurry of blows (unarmed or with a LOST
special monk weapon) to attempt a trip or to initiate a
grapple? For example, a low-level monk with two attacks
per flurry, Improved Grapple, and Improved Trip uses his
flurry of blows as a full attack action. For his first attack,
he uses a stunning fist (unarmed) and stuns his foe. On Back issues of Kobold
his second attack, he trips his foe with a kama held in one Quarterly are available to
hand and takes his free attack to make another unarmed right-thinking Humanoids,
strike at the same attack bonus or, alternately, to initiate a
Giants, and Outsiders
grapple to further damage the prone foe.
of all subtypes.
That sounds fine to me. Tripping and grappling count as
attacks and not as full-blown actions. That is, you can trip ISSUE 2 ISSUE 3
or grapple in lieu of a melee attack, even as an attack of Winter 2008 Issue 3 Celestial Bodies
W � � � � � � � B � � � P � � � � � � �

opportunity. Ecology of the Derro A tiny little magazine of Kobolds & Dragons

Prince of Hell
Keep in mind that you are under some severe limitations Erik Mona Interview
Keith Baker
Does Noir
More than

when grappling. For example, you can make an attack only Steam & Sorcery Dragon
for Sorcerers
with an unarmed strike, natural weapon, or light weapon Ecology
of the

against an opponent you are grappling (not a problem when Greenwood

you using a flurry). Additionally, if you grapple someone dur-
CAN $10.99
ing a flurry, any additional attacks you make against that foe Power Attacks / Star & Shadow Magic / Cinematic Combat

US $7.99
Prince of Swarms / Ask the Kobold / 10 Dangerous Doors
Fire and Sword
Ecology of the Barghest Ecology of the Lich
suffer a –4 penalty (unless you decide to let go).
8 P M G H B O H  # B V S  1 S F T F O U T

Baron of Hell Perfect Power Attacks

Wayne Reynolds Interview Ed Greenwood Interview

.JHIUBOE Creating Better Characters Star & Shadow Magic
What is the Fortitude save DC against massive damage? .BTUFSZ
Should the DC increase in an epic campaign? &DPMPHZ
Do you mean death from massive damage? The Fortitude DC UI&EJUJPO*OUFSWJFX

is 15 (see Chapter 8 in the PHB or the combat section of the
System Resource Document).



PDF Back Issues

CAN $10.99
US $7.99


Frankly, I think death from massive damage is a stupid rule

(see sidebar). I would not recommend kicking up the DC for
Ecology of the Cloaker
Mithral Dragons $6 at
Gangs of Zobeck
epic campaigns. I suppose you could, however, increase the
Print Back Issues
Drunken Fey

DC by +2 for every 50 points of damage a character takes (or AVAILABLE

whatever threshold you’re using for possible instant death). $8 + shipping*
< Issue 1+2+3 SOLD OUT in print
Death from Massive Damage Issue 4 x + shipping = $
This rule has a fairly long history, going all the way back to Total = $
the old AD&D game. It’s intended to address some of the
consequences that arise when characters start accumulating Address:
high hit point totals. City: State:
When players think they have hit points to burn, they can ZIP Code: Country:
start doing some ridiculous things. One player character I
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ally sticking them into his arm. Tales of characters simply PO Box 2811
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The death from massive damage rule discourages players
from deliberately exposing themselves to big slugs of damage, Kobold Quarterly and Open Design are trademarks of Open Design LLC All
and it allows truly overwhelming attacks a chance to obliter- rights reserved. © 2008. Don’t make us gnaw your ankles in rage.
ate characters. So, for example, if a whole castle wall falls on
you, there’s a chance you will be killed outright no matter
how many hit points you have.
I have several problems with the rule. First, it punishes
Kobold Quarterly 5 45
fighter and barbarian type characters. These characters have
more hit points than anyone else and anything that makes
those hit points irrelevant makes these characters weaker.
More importantly, I think the way a DM runs a cam-
paign has more influence over how silly the players act
than any single rule can have. If the players don’t value
their characters’ lives, they’re going to take absurd risks, no
matter what rules are in play. On the other hand, if play-
ers value their characters and they know that unexpected
dangers lie it wait for them they will not expend their hit
points foolishly.
Finally, consider what hit points are supposed to rep-
resent. Hit points are only partly derived from physical
robustness; luck, persistence, defensive skill, and a general
ability to sidestep a lethal attack have more influence on hit
points. The death from massive damage rule shifts things
more firmly back into the physical realm.
When I run a game, I only invoke the death from massive
damage rule when I think a player deserves it. If you de-
liberately jump down into a crevasse of unknown depth, I
have no problem calling for that Fortitude save. Of course,
even if the character survives the fall there is likely to be
a giant remorhaz or white dragon lurking down there to
chew on the foolish character.
On the other hand, if I create a horrible fire giant fighter
with Power Attack and Improved Critical, I do not force a
save-or-die roll if that villain scores a lucky hit.

46 Kobold Quarterly 5
to Game
How do designers pitch their ideas
to editors? What makes a compelling
urban, Arabian, or underdark adven-
ture? Find out!
Wolfgang Baur, Keith Baker, Ed
Greenwood, and Nicolas Logue
share the distilled wisdom of more
than 50 years experience in RPG
A powerful summary of adventure
design, genre, and worldbuilding.

Get your copy from
Kobold Quarterly 5 47
Dungeon Design

Improving Your
Campaigns by the Seat of Your Pants
by Nicolas Logue

n my recent Open Design project,
I examined what the screenwriter
has to offer us hard-working Game
Masters, and an excellent point was the seat of my pants. In the case of a campaign, I suggest
raised by many patrons that the tech- An awesome TV series might be making it a team decision. Last year’s
niques therein may provide for a very the end goal we’re shooting for in our Origins Award winning RPG is an
exciting single session of play (more campaign, but truth be told, the skills excellent sci-fi game called Burning
akin to sitting down and enjoying a of a highly experienced improvisation Empires. One of the coolest aspects
kickass movie), but they simply can’t actor are probably a better means to of this game is a huge chapter devoted
address the grueling task of creating the that illustrious end. to what the game refers to as World
ultimate, full-length campaign. Talent at improvisation is often a gift, Burning. In World Burning, the play-
In this article I will tackle the chal- it’s true, but it’s also a learned skill set, ers and you put your heads together
lenge of campaign design, but not and one with very clear guidelines and and decide what kind of planet/set-
in the way you might think. When I techniques that actors practice for years ting excites everyone the most. Do
originally sat down to bang out this on end. Guidelines and techniques we we want a high-tech universe ala Star
article, I skimmed my trusty Crafty TV GMs can steal and employ to great Trek with interesting politics among
Writing softcover and thought about effect when enacting (note: not plan- multiple races? Do we want a low-tech
a few of my favorite long-running ning) a long-term campaign. world where space travel is hard, dirty,
television series to see if screenwriters Winging it ain’t just about making it and dangerous, and the society on our
could offer any insights for a full-on up as you go along…no siree! It takes homeworld is caught up in a horrible
campaign. Well, they did; they offered hard work. More hard work and, oddly World War where a race for the effec-
me plenty of insights but, ultimately, enough, more preparation than craft- tive weaponization of space is the key
left me in a dilemma. A campaign is ing a scripted adventure path. But, if to victory for the PCs? Do we want to
nothing like a television series for one you give yourself in to the true spirit of play in a Firefly-like setting?
very important reason—you don’t get improvisation, you will find your play- For a fantasy game, it helps to offer
to write the characters’ actions and ers will do a lot of the heavy lifting for the players some options, or let them
control what the protagonists will care you if you let them. dream up their own, and then compro-
about or do. The players do. mise to make sure the campaign you all
Exhaustively architecting a master Defining the Setting… are playing satisfies everyone.
plan for your campaign often leads The Collaborative Way For instance, do you want high
to frustration when your players, as In improvisation, everything happens magic where the Arcane Council of
they are apt to do, completely destroy through collaboration. Before you sit archmages duels with a sprawling
it and burn down the pieces left over. down to create your masterpiece cam- theocratic state whose god grants them
Your evil vampire duke plot seems like paign, you may want to have a prelimi- near-infinite power over life and death?
the shiny shiny joy to you, but when nary planning session with your players Or, are you and your players looking
the PCs decide to flee his evil grasp to establish the setting together. In im- for a gritty, mud and blood, “swords
and seek adventure on the high seas provisation, you need to establish the and horses” genre game where magic is
instead…well, there goes all that hard particulars of the setting you are acting a rarity and heroes live and die by the
work right down the crapper. in very quickly to show your audience sword. Do you want high intrigue or
Down with masterpieces says I. The and your fellow actors where you are dungeon crawling galore? Do you want
best campaigns I’ve run in my life have and what exactly is going on. In gam- to play in the cold, hard, unforgiving
had nothing to do with master plans ing, that audience and those actors are tundra or in a floating city made of
and everything to do with running by one and the same; very convenient. thatched-together derelict ships?

48 Kobold Quarterly 5
Or, are you all after a mix of several It helps to prepare a list of ques-
of the above styles? This will definitely tions for your players that pertain to
be the case if you have several players the setting of the campaign. No need
with disparate interests. It’s best to de- to probe too deeply, for after all, you
cide along with your players and even want plenty of surprises and mysteries
give them the chance to offer a few left for the PCs to discover in-game,
specific details to the setting. but allowing them a little control over
Player A: “Hey can there be a dynas- the basic premise, themes, and set
ty in decline that is beset by enemies pieces of your campaign is a sure fire
on all sides and rotting from within way to get everyone excited from the
thanks to its own frivolous decadence?” get-go.
Player B: “Cool! I want horselords! The campaign premise is the seed
Barbarians on the fringe who have long from which everything grows. Col-
lived under the thumb of said dynasty laborate on it; plant it together and
and now see the chance to bring it you are off to a good start.
down and dance in its ashes!”
The GM: “Excellent, are we talking Make Offers, Not Plans
a “hot” war? Or are we gearing up to- The first thing you do in improvisation visiting horselord’s entourage and some
wards one? A wartime campaign might is to make offers. You can’t create an imperial guards, and then find a dead
be a lot of fun.” interesting scene with your partners if body behind a brothel the eunuch fre-
Player A: “I’m okay with a hot war, you don’t offer fodder for them to play quents (he likes to watch) and a secret
though I’d really prefer gearing up, with and interesting hooks for them to missive concerning a plot to overthrow
mostly because I’d love some crazy pick up and run with. When designing the Obsidian Throne sewn into the
politics and intrigue going on be- your campaign, don’t write anything in corpse’s coat. BAM! Three offers. See
hind the scenes. I want emissaries of stone. which one the PCs want to follow up
the horselords at the dynasty’s court, Instead, introduce NPCs, situa- and then develop it before your next
factions vying for alliances in these tions and conflicts, and introduce lots session. Make your campaign a buffet
troubling times, and the like.” of them. Make lots of offers, and see of exciting options. Not a boring, pre-
Player B: What if we do the “gearing which hooks the PCs bite on. Then ordered, three-course meal (here’s your
up” but with all sorts of border skir- you know you’ve got them, and you salad, now you must have your soup,
mishing going on…best of both worlds can give them what they really want then your entrée…you only get the
with wartime-mission adventure and out of the campaign. Work with them. fish, we’re out of chicken).
political stuff and combining both?” Develop those offers they show the
Player A: “Sounds kick ass to me!” most interest. A Nebulous Cast
Player C: “I’m cool with all that, but Don’t railroad the PCs into one path, Introduce some NPCs, but remember
let’s talk magic…I really want magic to but rather, place several options for you don’t need to know their ultimate
be mysterious and rare.” adventure before them and see which role in the campaign from the begin-
The GM: “Excellent: High or low they are most interested in. Be pre- ning. After all, when you start watch-
magic…good question…let’s rap about pared to do most of your work on your ing Deadwood, you don’t really have
this some now…” feet and some in between sessions. For any idea who the bad and good guys
Even if you use a published setting, my first session, I like to throw the PCs are in the first few episodes. In George
you still need to decide where and several encounters I like to call “incit- R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire,
under what circumstances your group ing incidents” (you might remember characters you assume are good guys
will go adventuring in that world. In this term from the “The Play is the really aren’t, and by book two, you find
a certain pulp fantasy setting, do we Thing” essay in the Kobold Guide to yourself rooting for a few characters
want a high stakes intrigue/espionage Game Design). Prepare a bunch of en- you thought were definitely baddies
game involving the dragonmarked counters, not one, for your first session, before.
houses? Or do we want an campaign and let the PCs seek out and involve For example: Let’s look at our “de-
about exploring the unknown lost con- themselves with any they like. caying dynasty with horselords on the
tinent? If we are talking Golarion, do For example: Let’s look at the setting frontier” setting. Instead of deciding
we mean a game on the wild frontiers we started building with Players A, B, the Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG) is Arch
of Varisia, the sun-scorched deserts of and C above. Maybe the PCs are asked Seneschal Matthias Rodalgo who plans
Qadira, or the bureaucratic beast that to find a missing eunuch of the court, to usurp the Obsidian Throne, hold on
is Absalom with all its political perils and in the process, stumble across a a minute. Instead, introduce a slew of
and hidden knives? street brawl between members of a NPCs, all with their own motives and

Kobold Quarterly 5 49
machinations, and see which ones the take it a step further…
PCs get involved with. When I create Agreeing is step one. You have to add,
a campaign, I like to create a cast of too. Adding is simply a matter of tak-
suspects who all have BBEG potential, ing their idea, fleshing it out, and pos-
as well as a cast of NPCs who could be sibly introducing further twists on it.
allies, neutral parties, or enemies to the For Example: If the players decide
PCs depending on how they choose to to create a resistance movement to act
interact with them. against the Emperor, don’t shoot down
Assume nothing. If you create a this creative idea. Instead, make it the
paladin hero as a mentor to the PCs, focus of your campaign. Come up
one or more of your players may with NPCs who might be interested
decide that their character hates this in helping them, sure, but also create a
guy. Don’t worry, don’t fret, don’t cry few who want to spy on them (hence
“Damn you stupid players!” Roll with adding to their idea in a fun way that
it. You made an offer; they took it in a will create conflict).
new direction. If the PCs hate an NPC Maybe the Emperor hears of the
you were hoping they would like and plot, and not suspecting that one of his
accept as a mentor, start dreaming up previously loyal PCs could be involved
ways this NPC can become an interest- in such skullduggery, invites that char-
ing source of opposition instead of an acter to the palace to discuss this new
ally. threat at weekly meetings over a game
The same is true of the “bad guys” of chess. This is another cool addition
you create. If the PCs think Matthias to the player’s idea that allows one
Rodalgo is the greatest guy in the PC a chance to spy right back on the
world, and he is the breath of fresh air Emperor and puts them within striking
the empire needs to bring it back to its distance when they decide to make
former glory, then cool! Find ways to their attempt on the Emperor’s life).
make the Emperor sitting the Obsidian
Throne worthy of the PCs’ disgust. Be Creating Conflicts,
ready for anything, and don’t chastise
Not Scripting Them
the party for not picking up on your
leads. Instead, pick up on their leads For a campaign to succeed and truly
and allow them to get excited about give the players what they want, the
what interests them the most. conflicts need to be developed in-game,
not scripted by you ahead of time. In-
Agree and Add troduce the above NPCs and provoke
the party. See which ones they end up
In improvisation, the worst thing you
hating. Don’t plan on them picking
can do is block another actor’s offer by
one. Be ready for anything.
refusing to allow them to add to the
Try play a character as incredibly
story in the way they want. To really
self-righteous and see if the PCs take
get your players involved in your cam-
umbrage. If they don’t, no need to
paign, you have to let them in.
force the issue, throw another potential
Never block an offer. If the PCs
adversary their way. Allow enmities to
decide to go west at that fork in the
spawn based on the player’s interests
road, don’t make them go east. If the
and, more importantly, their actions.
PCs decide to slaughter the really
Let the players make decisions and take
funny/quirky troupe of thespians that
action, letting the chips fall where they
you introduced to the story to help
may. Make sure your NPCs are ready
them—then that’s awesome and that’s
to react in myriad and interesting ways.
what they get to do. If they decide to
For Example: If the PCs intervene
join the troupe of thespians who are
in the incident between the horselord
actually assassins in disguise, then that’s
entourage and the imperial guard
cool too! This may seem like rudimen-
described above and end up killing a
tary advice (No GM fiat!), but it bears
retainer of the horselord, well there
repeating and remembering. And let’s

50 Kobold Quarterly 5
ya go: instant enemy. Decide how the You’d better have a planned adventure
horselord intends to get payback. Does up your sleeve just in case.
he kidnap the PCs cousin? Does he I belong to an avant garde theatre
poison their mother? Does he defame troupe that operates in New York and
and slander them, resulting in that Hawai’i called Cruel Theatre, and
PC being kicked out of the Imperial the artistic director created their own
Court? Does he demand vengeance special type of improvised shows. One
in a trial by single combat with the might think that preparing for an
PC? Does he pretend to be grateful, improvised show is easy, but actually, it
since that retainer was his wife’s idiot requires far and away more work than
of a cousin who he always hated, so preparing for a traditionally scripted
he can lure the PCs into a dangerous show. You have to be ready for any-
plot? Is he truly grateful that retainer thing. In particular, you have to be
was his wife’s idiot cousin, but his ready for an audience member who
wife is pissed as hell and plots her own is passive, takes no real actions, and
revenge? doesn’t really do much with all your
Add to the PCs offer (killing the offers. In this case, you have to have
horselord’s retainer) with new and in- something of a “score” or “framework”
teresting offers of your own and BAM! of a show up your sleeve to make sure
You’ve got an awesome conflict, and they are entertained.
the best thing is, your PCs are connect- I suggest you come to the table with
ed to it by decisions and actions they all of the above (inciting incidents; a
made in-game, not some master plan host of NPCs who might be enemies,
of yours that you dreamed up behind allies, or something in between; and
closed doors and then forced down a readiness to agree and add to ANY
their throats. These kinds of conflicts offer the players make), but you should
really engage your players in the action, also have a “scripted” adventure at the
and keep them coming back to the ready in case the party doesn’t feel like
table week after week. initiating crazy stuff on their own and
makes no real solid offers. Be ready to
Have a Plan Just In Case toss this plan at the first sign of your
The above is all about improvisa- players’ excitement about an offer
tion, and these techniques create the (yours or theirs) but have it ready just
strongest and most organic campaigns in case.
in my opinion. That said, what hap- Improvisation is a role player’s best
pens when your players decide to take friend as far as I’m concerned, and it is
no real course of action on their own? especially useful to a GM.

Kobold Quarterly 5 51
by Phillip Larwood
Art by Joanna Barnum

ltars are a common sight in
temples, shrines, abandoned
ruins, and ancient crypts.
Ranging from magnificent marble
altars clad in satin and gold to crude
stone slabs covered in foul litanies
and melted wax, altars are used by
the forces of both good and evil for
devotion and sacrifice to a plethora of
gods, demons, and various unknow-
able entities.
This article details 10 magical altars
usable in any campaign. Each altar is
built for a specific type of deity (or
philosophy) but easily works for re-
lated deities without making drastic

Sacrifice: Each altar requires a

sacrifice of some type to activate its
abilities. The sacrifice can be either a
living creature or a valuable object,
depending on the type of altar and
the deity it is dedicated to.
Creatures sacrificed must have at
least 1 HD though they need not
be intelligent. Certain altars might
require the sacrifice of particular crea-
tures, including nonliving creatures
such as constructs and undead.
Objects sacrificed must be worth at
least 100 gp, and some altars require
particular objects or types of objects.
Most sacrificed objects are artwork,
gems, magic items, or masterwork
Primary Power: All of the altars
featured here grant a primary power
that activates with the sacrifice of a
creature or object placed atop them.
For these purposes, lying, kneeling,
sitting, or even standing on an altar
counts as being atop an altar. With-
out this sacrifice, the power of the
altar remains locked away. Unless
otherwise noted, primary abilities

52 Kobold Quarterly 5
take the form of spells and usually have looks scorched, and the smell of burnt
a Caster Level equal to the minimum flesh and charred wood hangs about it
needed to cast the spell. Sacrificial crea- like a shroud. Its surface radiates heat
tures or objects which are associated and may contain a small fire pit for
with the deity (or actively hostile to it) coals.
may increase the power of the primary Deity: This is an altar typically dedi-
ability when sacrificed, as noted. cated to a god of fire or volcanic activ-
Secondary Effect: Tied to the pri- ity such as Surtur. Deities of destruc-
mary power, each altar also has a sec- tion or metalworking might also have
ondary effect. This effect can be purely altars like this in their temples.
cosmetic, or it may have some small Sacrifice: Activating the altar requires
game effect depending on the type of the sacrifice of a living creature with at
altar; it comes into play automatically least 5 HD. Alternately, a wooden or
when the primary power of the altar metal object worth at least 1,000 gp
activates. can be burned or melted atop the altar
Altar of Darkness Primary Power: Once the sacrifice is
This slender altar is made of polished made, the altar summons a Large fire
black stone or paler stone painted in elemental to attack the enemies of the
dark hues. Runes or symbols for dark- god. The fire elemental remains until
ness are written on the altar’s surface destroyed or 24 hours have passed.
or drawn on the altar in white chalk Sacrificing a creature with the aquatic
(these symbols are magical and do not subtype atop the altar improves the re-
simply wash off). sulting fire elemental with the benefits
Deity: This is an altar typically of the Augment Summoning feat.
dedicated to a god of darkness or night Secondary Effect: The altar bursts
such as the Babylonian god Anhur. into flame when sacrifices are made,
Gods of secrecy, subterfuge, thieves, or and anyone touching or striking the
lies might also have altars like this in altar takes 1d6 points of fire damage.
their temples.
Sacrifice: Activating the primary Altar of Gears
power of the altar requires the sacrifice (Machine Altar)
of a living creature with at least 3 HD. This altar consists of fused bits of
Alternately, any art object or jewelry machinery. Often the altar has work-
worth at least 500 gp can be sacrificed ing clockwork components or gears,
atop the altar. though these move only when the
Primary Power: As soon as the primary power activates.
sacrifice is complete, the altar radiates Deity: This is an altar typically
a deeper darkness spell (CL 5th). If an dedicated to a god of invention, time,
object that sheds light (such as a gem or industry. Deities of architecture,
of brightness) is sacrificed atop the craftsmanship, civilization, or magical
altar, the deeper darkness effect gains technology also may have similar altars
the benefit of the Widen Spell feat or in their temples.
Extend Spell feat, as chosen by the Sacrifice: Activating the altar requires
creature performing the sacrifice. the sacrifice of a construct with at least
Secondary Effect: Creatures that 5 HD or an object worth at least 1,500
touch the altar are instantly struck gp. Objects tied to industry or inven-
blind unless they are a follower of the tion, such as steam-driven clock, tools,
deity to which the altar is dedicated. A or a crucible, are the preferred form of
creature can negate this blindness with sacrifice, but any well-crafted, expen-
a DC 14 Will save. sive object will do.
Primary Power: With the sacrifice
Altar of Flame made, the altar becomes empowered
Usually constructed of basalt, obsidian, with a strange form of techno-magical
or fire-blackened steel, the altar surface energy. This energy can be used to re-

Kobold Quarterly 5 53
covering the altar springs to life with Sacrifice: Activating the altar re-
plants writhing and twisting to some quires the sacrifice of an object worth
unknown rhythm. Any runes on the 100 gp. The object is usually a spell
altar also glow with golden or greenish component or a material used to create
light. magic items, such as diamond dust
(the dust is ceremoniously thrown over
Altar of Lust and Death the altar and disappears).
Erotic pictograms of humans and Primary Power: When the primary
undead cavorting in various lewd acts power is activated, a 30-foot radius
cover this crude stone altar. Beautifully around the altar is affected by detect
engraved lips adorn the top of the altar. magic (CL 1st). Anyone with ranks in
The lips are painted black and sensu- Spellcraft can check to see what auras
ously parted to reveal several sharp the magic items radiate just as if they
serrated teeth. had concentrated for the requisite
Deity: This is an altar typically dedi- number of rounds. The power lasts for
place the XP cost in the creation of any cated to a deity that embodies the prin- 1 minute before fading, and during
magic item or construct. Once used in ciples of lust, fertility, and death, such this time, any magic item brought
this way, the altar returns to normal. as the black earth goddess Kali. Deities within the radius is affected. Spells
Secondary Effect: While energized, of envy, pain, and depravity might also that foil magical detection continue to
the gears and clockwork mechanisms have similar altars in their temples. function within the range of this altar.
on the altar whir to life, creating a con- Sacrifice: Activating the altar requires Secondary Effect: While the primary
stant mechanical din. Blasts of steam the sacrifice of an intelligent living effect is active, the runes covering the
or small electrical shocks accompany creature with at least 3 HD. A celestial altar glow with soft blue or white light.
this movement though neither effect is of some kind is the preferred sacrifice, Any magical scroll or tome placed
powerful enough to cause harm. though just about any intelligent living on the altar can be read without the
creature will do in a pinch. need to cast read magic. This does not
Altar of the Green God Primary Power: Any living creature take the place of the Decipher Script
This natural stone slab hides beneath within 30 feet of the altar must make skill, and non-magical writings are
a thick layer of either moss or clinging a DC 15 Will save. Creatures who fail unaffected.
vines. Druidic signs, leaves and fruits, this save are affected as if by a suggestion
or fertility symbols are engraved in the spell (CL 5th) and offer themselves as Altar of Storms
altar’s surface. food to the nearest intelligent undead Carved from the trunk of a lightning-
Deity: This altar is typically dedi- (usually a ghoul or vampire), removing struck oak and encircled by thick
cated to a deity of nature or harvest or discarding any weapons or armor in copper bands, this altar appears slightly
such as Demeter, the Greek goddess the process. As soon as the victim is at- scorched. The smell of ozone lingers
of grain. Deities of agriculture, forests, tacked, the suggestion effect is broken. around the altar, and anyone touching
and rain often have similar altars in Secondary Effect: Any sacrifice it receives a small electric shock.
their holy places. makes the lips atop the altar animate Deity: This altar is typically dedi-
Sacrifice: Activating the altar requires and moan pleasurably, the sound at cated to a god of storm and thunder
the sacrifice of a living creature with once both alluring and horrifying. such as Thor. Gods of disasters or of
at least 1 HD. The sacrifice usually the sky often have similar altars in their
takes the form of an animal such as an Altar of Magic temples.
antelope, calf, or wild goat, though a Hundreds of arcane runes and num- Sacrifice: Activating the altar requires
particularly savage deity might require bers decorate this simple stone altar. the sacrifice of a creature with at least 3
the sacrifice of a living fey or human- The writing includes snatches of spells, HD or an object worth at least 500 gp.
oid. Gentler gods might accept masses names of famous wizards, and various Primary Power: All allies of the
of wine, fruit, or grain worth at least draconic symbols of arcane power. The faith within a 30-foot radius of the
200 gp. whole altar shimmers with motes of altar gain electrical resistance 10 for 30
Primary Power: The altar produces pure power. minutes just as if a resist energy spell
the effects of an entangle spell within a Deity: This altar is typically dedi- had been cast on them (CL 3rd). As a
30-foot radius (CL 1st). This does not cated to a god of magic or knowledge swift action, a creature can choose to
affect clerics or druids of the deity to such as the Norse god Odin or the end its electricity resistance to deliver
which the altar is dedicated. All others Egyptian god Thoth. Gods of astrology, a shocking grasp spell (CL 3rd) to an
in the area must make a DC 13 Reflex numerology, dreams, and writing often opponent.
save to avoid becoming entangled. have similar altars in their temples. Secondary Effect: The altar begins
Secondary Effect: The vegetation
54 Kobold Quarterly 5
Design your own races.�
crackling with electricity. Any creature of at least 2 HD (such as an orc or Create your own spells.�
touching or striking the altar takes 1d6 human warrior) or a suit of armor or a Develop your own powers.�
points of electrical damage. masterwork weapon worth at least 300
gp. Sacrificed creatures are often war No classes.�
Altar of the Sun prisoners or enemies of the faith. No levels.�
Crafted from a single slab of beauti- Primary Power: All allies of the faith No one to blame�
fully worked stone, this fabulous altar within 30 feet of the altar gain the ben- but yourself�
features carvings of sunrays and solar efits of an aid spell (CL 3). If the crea-
disks gilt with gold. Its sides are stud- ture sacrificed is a cleric of an enemy if you fail.�
ded with topazes and other orange and faith or a champion of an enemy race,
yellow gems. country, or organization, the aid spell
Deity: This is an altar typically dedi- is heightened to 3rd level (CL 5). The
cated to a sun god such as Ra. Gods of same benefit applies if magical armor
dawn, light, the sky, or prophecy might or weaponry is sacrificed atop the
also have an altar like this. altar (which includes suits of armor or
Sacrifice: Activating the altar requires masterwork weapons enchanted with a
the sacrifice of an object worth at least spell such as magic aura).
5,000 gp. Rare altars dedicated to evil Secondary Effect: While the primary
sun gods might require the sacrifice of power is active, the sounds of battle
an intelligent living creature with at can be heard in the distance and the
least 10 HD instead and often involve altar gleams with pale red light.
ritually cutting out the creature’s heart
and setting it on fire. Altar of Winter
Primary Power: The creature per- This altar consists of glacial or frost-
forming the sacrifice is suffused with affected stone or, more rarely, of an
Coming this fall, The�
energy and can now cast a sunburst enormous chunk of ice. Carvings often
spell (CL 15). The creature retains cover the altar’s surface.
Karma Roleplaying System�
this ability until nightfall or until the Deity: This is an altar typically brings you a unique single-�
spell is used. Until the spell is used, no dedicated to a god of winter and cold. die framework that allows�
one else can access the altar’s power; Deities of darkness, entropy, hunting, you to have complete�
the altar grants the power to only one or frost giants might also have altars control of your game. Visit�
individual at a time. like this in their holy places. the�Karma�page at�
Secondary Effect: While the primary Sacrifice: Activating the altar requires to�
power is active, the altar glows with the sacrifice of a living creature with at learn more�
intense golden light, and the gems on least 3 HD. Warm-blooded creatures
the altar burn with a bright inner fire. are the preferred form of sacrifice, espe-
This glow is identical to that created by cially creatures with the fire subtype.
a light spell (CL 15). Primary Power: A sleet storm strikes
the area, with the altar at its center (CL
Altar of War 5th). Creatures of the faith to which
This altar is made of hard basalt, pol- the altar is dedicated are unaffected by
ished iron, silver, or steel. The iron and the spell, and they can traverse the area
steel versions often include weapons without slipping. If a creature with the
and pieces of armor fused, melted, or fire subtype is sacrificed atop the altar,
riveted together while stone and silver the sleet storm gains the benefit of the
altars display glorious scenes of battle Extend Spell feat or Widen Spell feat as

For every�
and carnage. Some altars consist en- chosen by the individual(s) performing
tirely of rune-covered trebuchet stones. the sacrifice.
Secondary Effect: The altar radiates
Deity: This is an altar typically
dedicated to a god of war such as Ares. intense cold. Anyone touching or strik-
Deities of chivalry, death, strategy, and ing the altar takes 1d6 points of cold
slaughter might also have altars like
this in their temples.
damage. If the altar is made of ice, any
blood spilt atop it sinks within, stain-
there are�
Sacrifice: Activating the altar requires
the sacrifice of a warlike creature
ing it a ruddy crimson.
< consequences.�
Kobold Quarterly 5 55�
Your Monk
by Ross Byers
Art by Jose-Manuel Benito

onks are one of the most
misunderstood of the core
classes. They are funda-
mentally melee combatants, but they
cannot take or deal the same amount
of damage as a fighter, barbarian, or
paladin. Many an unprepared player
has taken their monk toe-to-toe and
bitten off more than they could chew.
So how do you play a monk effectively?
By thinking, planning, and making the
most of your unique abilities.

Know your Strengths

and Weaknesses
Monks have a lot going for them. They Bonus Feats ing back or can leave him vulnerable to
have a decent armor class, a decent A monk gains a number of bonus feats the monk’s allies. Rogues, in particular,
attack bonus, and the best saves in the as he gains levels. Any of his options love stunned opponents because they
game. They have great mobility, even are excellent choices. can add their sneak attack to damage
stepping through dimensional bound- (because stunned opponents are denied
aries. They are immune to disease and Stunning Fist their dexterity bonus to AC).
poison, are resistant to mind control, Even though Stunning Fist is avail- Stunning fist requires opponents to
and can dodge many attacks. They can able to any character as a feat, it is one make a fortitude save, so it may not be
speak any language, can heal their own of the monk’s signature abilities and the optimal attack to use against tough
wounds, and can smash steel objects granted as a bonus feat. Stunning fist opponents like barbarians or giants.
with their bare hands. allows the monk to stun his opponents, However, even at moderate levels,
For all their powers, though, monks leaving them unable to act and vulner- monks have a good number of stun
have weaknesses that they must be able to attack. A stunned character or attempts per day, so in situations where
aware of in order to be successful. A creature loses his dexterity bonus to it is crucial to stop a foe from acting,
monk’s base attack bonus is equal to armor class and takes an additional -2 it is worth considering using stun at-
that of a cleric or rogue and is certainly penalty to AC. tempts in the hope that the opponent
nothing to sneer at, but a monk will Since this effect only lasts until the will roll poorly on his save.
have much greater difficulty cracking beginning of the monk’s next turn, a An important, but oft-neglected
the highest armor classes than a fighter stunning attempt is best used at the effect of being stunned is that the crea-
or barbarian. Likewise, a monk’s armor beginning of a full attack action or a ture drops all items it is holding, be it a
class and hit points are both above flurry of blows; if a monk can stun his handaxe or the dreaded Orb of Abyssal
average but pale beside those of a more opponent on the first or second attack, Imprisonment.
hardened combatant. For these reasons, his later attacks are much more likely
a monk should be cautious when to hit because the foe’s AC will have Improved Disarm
engaging opponents dedicated to the dropped. Of course, even if the monk Monks forgo heavy weapons and armor
art of melee, like dragons, giants, and is only using single attacks, stunning of any kind. Why should an opponent
many outsiders. an opponent can keep him from fight- be afforded that luxury? With a simple
56 Kobold Quarterly 5
disarm check, monks can force their checks, there are times when a grapple forward abilities, but it is important
opponents to face them on their terms. just won’t work. A grappling monk to note that ki strike does not actually
The most important thing for a must be prepared to fall back on transform a monk’s unarmed strikes
disarming monk is to have the right more conventional tactics when he is into magic weapons. For instance,
weapon. It is easy to be misled by the outmatched. it does not allow the monk to strike
bonuses that nunchaku or sai provide incorporeal creatures. Ki strike (ada-
to disarm checks and assume that they Combat Reflexes mantine), on the other hand, has the
are ideal disarming weapons. This is Combat Reflexes allows a character to interesting effect of also allowing the
not the case, because a sai’s disarm make many more attacks of opportu- monk’s unarmed strikes to bypass the
bonus merely offsets its penalty for nity than he otherwise could. Clearly, hardness of most objects.
being light. It would be as easy to the way to make the most of this abil- Sundering weapons is not the best
disarm using a club. ity is to force foes to provoke attacks of plan, however, as an unarmed strike
A quarterstaff, however, is ideal. opportunity. is considered a light weapon, and a
Unlike the other monk weapons, it is Unfortunately, it is difficult to force monk is, therefore, automatically at
two-handed, and therefore, it gains a opponents to drink potions, cast spells, a disadvantage when attempting to
+4 bonus on disarm checks. Use the or take risky combat maneuvers, short sunder using this ability. On the other
quarterstaff, just like they do in the of using mind-controlling magic. hand, sundering held items like wands
movies. However, when paired with Improved or holy symbols should be a snap.
Trip, a monk character can force sev- It is also possible to strike the newly
Improved Trip eral opponents to make the unpleasant unattended items that opponents drop
Tripping an opponent leaves them choice between provoking an attack of (due to being stunned or disarmed, for
prone and quite vulnerable (see “The opportunity by standing up and fight- example.)
Ups and Downs of Tripping Attacks” ing from a prone position.
in KQ#1). Improved Trip, predictably Combat Reflexes has the added ben- Movement Abilities
enough, makes a character better at efit of making a monk a more effective Monks possess a suite of abilities that
tripping. Improved Trip is an attrac- blocker, because foes risk several attacks all serve the purpose of increasing
tive prospect for a monk, as the initial of opportunity in a row when passing their flexibility on the battlefield; these
attack to perform the trip is a touch at- though a monk’s threatened spaces. include fast movement, slow fall, and
tack, and the free attack that Improved abundant step. A monk should use
Trip grants receives a +4 bonus since Deflect Arrows these abilities to strike wherever he is
the target is prone. Given the monk’s The ability to deflect incoming missiles most needed on the battlefield, be it
reduced attack bonus compared to is a straightforward defensive ability. defending his more fragile allies, setting
an equivalent fighter, these effects are To maximize its effectiveness, a monk up flanking opportunities, or running
quite welcome. should force his opponents to target down retreating foes none of his allies
A monk who plans to specialize in him with ranged weapons instead of can catch. These innate abilities can be
tripping is advised to carry a kama, in fighting in melee. Monks themselves complemented with skills like Jump
order to avoid an unfortunate reversal make poor ranged combatants, so stay- and Tumble and feats like Mobility and
from a failed trip attempt. ing out of melee reach while remaining Spring Attack to give the monk truly
an effective fighter requires moving in unparalleled freedom on the battlefield.
Improved Grapple and out of combat. A monk consider-
Monks have a unique advantage when ing these tactics should consider Spring Defensive Abilities
grappling: they may deal their full, Attack as an option. A monk gains a wide variety of resis-
enhanced unarmed damage with a It should be noted that Deflect tances and immunities as he gains lev-
successful grapple check. Improved Arrows and Combat Reflexes are at els, from still mind to diamond body.
Grapple, simply enough, makes the odds. While Combat Reflexes suggests There is not much thinking necessary
monk even better at grappling. Grap- that the monk stay within reach of as when using these abilities, and the
pling can entirely shut down unpre- many foes as possible, Deflect Arrows monk can simply laugh when attacks
pared opponents, but a monk planning suggests that the monk stay far away wash off harmlessly. Usually.
to specialize in grappling should be whenever possible.
wary of opponents who can overpower Diamond Soul
him: grappling is based on a creature’s Ki Strike At 13th level, a monk gains spell resis-
base attack bonus, giving many op- Ki strike is a potent ability, allowing tance. Unlike his other defensive abili-
ponents a head start. monks to overcome the damage reduc- ties, spell resistance is not all upside
Additionally, since larger creatures tion of certain foes. Ki strike (lawful) since it applies to beneficial spells cast
gain Size bonuses to their grapple and ki strike (magic) are both straight- by allies as well. Lowering spell resis-

Kobold Quarterly 5 57
tance voluntarily is a standard action ditionally, arcane casters have low ACs difficult to have one’s hands cast of
and requires concentration to main- and Fortitude saves, making them ideal silver. A monk who carries a cold iron
tain. For this reason, it can be tricky to candidates to receive some kung-fu kama and an alchemical silver siang-
receive spells during combat, which is beatdown. ham can have most of his bases covered
particularly worrisome with respect to When he meets an enemy spellcaster, when it comes to damage reduction.
healing. While wholeness of body can a monk should know his target imme- Since a monk can make unarmed
take up some of this slack, high-level diately. He can use his high mobility strikes even with his hands full (think
monks should also carry healing po- to evade any bodyguard the spellcaster kicks, elbows, and martial arts slams),
tions as well as potions of any impor- may have, and then, lock him out from monk weapons only increase his op-
tant spell effects they desire. Drinking a casting spells in retaliation by using tions. A masterwork or magic monk
potion is not affected by spell resistance Stunning Fist or by grappling. weapon also boosts a monk’s attack
and will usually be faster than volun- bonus, crucial for cracking those high-
tarily lowering resistance. A monk may Monk Weapons AC targets. The quarterstaff allows the
also suggest that any allied clerics or Monk weapons generally look less monk to add 1.5 times his Strength
druids take the Spell Penetration feat, than exciting. Not only are they simple modifier to damage (except during a
for it increases the chances that emer- sticks and other peasant weapons, but flurry), so monks with high Strength
gency healing will be effective while a monk’s unarmed strike will always scores should consider it as a way to
still being useful on offense. do at least as much damage, so why increase their damage output.
bother? The first and most obvious
Tactics reason is to diversify yourcharacter’s The monk is a versatile character
A monk fighting an arcane spellcaster damage types. class: perhaps more versatile than one
is a contest made in heaven (as far as An unarmed strike deals bludgeoning might realize at first. Keep some of
the monk is concerned, anyway). damage. Against foes with DR/piercing these tactics and options in mind, and
With all good saves, a high touch or DR/slashing, a kama or a siangham your maximized monk will have the
AC, and even spell resistance, a monk is a better choice. This principle applies best chance of success against any foe.
is a spellcaster’s worst nightmare. Ad- to special materials as well since it is

Coming Next Issue

Our Gen Con Special Issue. Kobold Quarterly is going
to Indianapolis for GenCon, and we don’t want to arrive empty-
handed. So, next issue will be a little kobold’s chance to show off at
the big show.

The Truth about Tieflings by David “Zeb” Cook

The creator of the tieflings talks about his creation and how they should
REALLY work in your campaign, plus a new variant on this theme inspired
by a mythos you might not expect. A master of the RPG field and the
creator of the TSR planar campaign setting comes back to tell it like it is!

Crab Soothing by Joshua Stevens

The secrets of Zarik fortunetelling, plus rules for oracular pronouncements
in any campaign.

Plus, an ecology we’re ready to ride into town for, goodies for bards and
rogues, possibly some ranger alternate class features, and clockwork magic.
Maybe. Clocks might not keep time. Not to mention the great Skip
Williams deliver a scathing rebuke of 4th Edition heresy (ok, not really)
and an interview with Monte Cook.

We are 3E-tastic but 4E-friendly. Don’t hate the KQ because it’s bi-edition.
It just wants to be loved.

58 Kobold Quarterly 5
The Horn of Triumph,
the Harp of Despair
Magical Musical Instruments
By Stefen Styrsky

bard’s instrument is akin to requires the Craft Wondrous Item
the fighter’s sword. It’s the feat. However, unlike other wondrous
possession that identifies his Any saving throw made by the desig-
items, the cost of materials (namely the
class and channels his unique abilities. nated foe to resist an effect from the
instrument) is not subsumed into the
Yet compared to weapons and other instrument suffers a -2 penalty.
creation cost, and the instrument must
items, magic instruments are much If the instrument also deals dam-
be of masterwork quality.
rarer. age (such as through the blare special
The following table shows the base
Even when a bard does find a magic ability) it deals an extra 2d6 points of
price of instrument enhancement
instrument, it might not be one he damage against the designated foe.
bonuses. This price does not include
can use. The character with 20 ranks Moderate conjuration; CL 8th, Craft
the cost of a masterwork-quality instru-
in Perform (string instruments) is out Wondrous Item, summon monster I;
ment. Like weapons, the caster level
of luck if the pipes of pain turn up in a Price +1 bonus.
must be three times greater than the
dragon’s hoard. A fighter, on the other enhancement bonus placed on an in-
hand, can employ most weapons with a Blare: An instrument with the blare
strument, and the enhancement bonus
basic level of competence. ability can emit a burst of damaging
cannot exceed +5.
Using the enhancements and special sound. Three times per day, the per-
abilities for weapons in the DMG as a former can focus this ability on a single
Table 1: Enhancement Prices
base, similar add-ons can be applied to target up to 30 feet away. The target
Instrument Base Instrument Base
a bard’s favored instrument—be it lute, takes 2d8 points of sonic damage and
Bonus Price (gp) Bonus Price (gp)
whistle, or drum.” must make a successful Fort save (DC
+1 1,000 +6 32,400
equal to the user’s Perform check) or be
+2 3,600 +7 44,100
Musical Enhancement stunned for one round.
+3 8,100 +8 57,600
Moderate evocation; CL 6th; Craft
The music from all magic instruments +4 14,400 +9 72,900
Wondrous Item, soundburst, Price +1
is especially pleasing to the ear, and this +5 22,500 +10 90,000
is reflected as a +1 to +5 enhancement
bonus that applies as a bonus to Per- Special Abilities
Dancing: When commanded, a danc-
form checks. This enhancement bonus esides enhancement bonuses, instru-
ing instrument performs on its own
stacks with the +2 circumstance bonus ments can be granted special abilities.
for four rounds. If released, it will
to Perform checks granted by master- An instrument must have at least a +1
hover in mid-air and then drop after
work instruments, and this effectively enhancement bonus before any special
the fourth round. During this time, it
makes the total bonus to Perform abilities are added, and its total bonus
can continuously use one bardic music
checks +3 to +7. As is the case with can never exceed +10.
ability that the owner possesses, but the
weapons, only masterwork instruments Use of a magic instrument’s special
ability used must be declared before
can be magically enhanced. ability requires a standard action and
the instrument is activated. This use
This total bonus applies to any at least 3 ranks in the appropriate
counts against the bard’s total number
Perform check, including those that Perform skill. Magical instruments
of daily uses of bardic music. The bard
determine the saving throw DCs for are not limited to bards; anyone with
does not need to concentrate while
the bard’s countersong and fascinate the requisite skill ranks can use them.
the instrument performs and may
saving throws. For example, a +1 horn However, magical instruments do not
use other bardic music abilities. After
adds a +3 bonus to all Perform checks grant bard class abilities.
the performance, the dancing ability
and, therefore, a +3 bonus to the sav-
cannot be activated for another four
ing throw DC of the fascinate ability. Bane: A bane instrument excels at af-
Constructing a magic instrument fecting one type or subtype of creature.
Kobold Quarterly 5 59
The instrument occupies the same
space as the owner, and it is considered
held by him for all effects that target
items. If the user moves, whether
through normal or magical means, the
instrument follows him.
A user may also command the instru-
ment to play a normal song without
any special effects.
This instrument does not grant
bardic abilities to non-bards. Table 2: Instrument Properties
Strong Transmutation; CL 15th; Craft Minor Medium Major Special Ability Base Price Modifier1
Wondrous Item, animate objects; Price 01-25 01-20 01-09 Bane +1 bonus
+4 bonus.
26-50 21-32 10-15 Blare +1 bonus

Despairing: When activated, a 51-75 33-43 16-17 Harmony +1 bonus

despairing instrument sounds like a 76-99 44-58 18-20 Screaming +1 bonus
damned soul wailing from the Abyss. 59-71 21-27 Disruption +2 bonus
The noise saps an enemy’s strength and 72-81 28-30 Interrupting +2 bonus
willpower. With the expenditure of one
82-85 31-40 Reverb +2 bonus
use of the bardic music ability, a bard
of 3rd level or higher can cause all foes 86-95 41-59 Speed +2 bonus
within 30 feet to suffer a -2 penalty 60-71 Heroic +3 bonus
on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving
72-80 Spell Storing +3 bonus
throws, skill checks, and ability checks.
This penalty increases to -4 at 9th level 81-85 Dancing +4 bonus
and -6 at 15th level. 86-90 Orphic +4 bonus
These effects last as long as the bard’s 100 96-100 91-100 Roll Twice Again 2
enemies hear him play and four rounds
thereafter. A Will save (DC equals 1 Add to enhancement bonus on Table: Magic Instruments to determine total market price
Perform check) negates the effect. 2 Reroll if you get a duplicate special ability or if the extra ability puts you over the +10
Any creature that successfully saves limit. An instrument’s enhancement bonus and special ability bonus equivalents can’t total
cannot be affected by this ability for more than +10.
another 24 hours. This is a mind-
effecting affect. Harmony: With an accompanying grant use of these abilities if the bard
This instrument does not grant harmony, an instrument imbued with is not of the appropriate level or does
bardic abilities to non-bards. the harmony special ability can be used not possess the required number of
Moderate evocation; CL 10th, Craft to increase the save DC of another per- Perform skill ranks.
Wondrous Item, crushing despair, cre- formance’s effects whether by deliver- This instrument does not grant
ator must be evil; Price +2 bonus. ing an impressive duet of string instru- bardic abilities to non-bards.
ments or by accompanying a stunning Strong Enchantment; CL 12th, Craft
Disruption: A disruption instrument oratory or song. Three times a day, a Wondrous Item, greater heroism, cre-
carries positive energy in its notes. bard can increase the Will save DC of ator must be good; Price +3 bonus.
Three times a day a disruption instru- another bard’s suggestion or mass sug-
ment can target one undead creature gestion ability with a +2 bonus. Interrupting: Three times a day, an
within 30 feet. The undead creature This instrument does not grant interrupting instrument can be made
must make a successful Will save (DC bardic abilities to non-bards. to emit a grinding noise that blots out
equals user’s Perform check) or be Faint Transmutation; CL 5th, Craft the verbal component of a spell. Upon
destroyed. Intelligent undead gain a +5 Wondrous Item, eagle’s splendor; Price activation, the instrument plays for up
bonus to this Will save. On a successful +1 bonus. to three full rounds. During this time,
save, the undead creature still takes 2d8 any spellcaster attempting to cast a
points of positive energy damage. Heroic: Instruments with this ability spell with a verbal component within a
Strong Conjuration; CL 14th; Craft allow a bard to use the inspire com- 30 foot radius of the instrument must
Wondrous Item, heal; Price +2 bonus. petence, inspire courage, or inspire make a successful Concentration check
greatness abilities an additional two (DC equals user’s Perform check). If
times per day. The instrument does not the check fails, the instrument’s vibra-
60 Kobold Quarterly 5
tion disrupts the spell and the spell is Table 3: Magic Instruments: Roll When Instrument Appears in Treasure
Moderate evocation; CL 7th; Craft Minor Medium Major Instrument Bonus Base Price
Wondrous Item, shout; Price +2 bonus. 01-70 01-10 -- +1 1,000 gp
71-85 11-29 -- +2 3,600 gp
Orphic: A bard with this type of
instrument may use his fascinate, sug- 30-58 01-20 +3 8,100 gp
gestion, or mass suggestion abilities 59-62 21-38 +4 14,400 gp
against undead three times per day. 39-49 +5 22,500 gp
Each use counts against the bard’s daily
+61 32,400 gp
limit of bardic music.
This instrument does not grant +71 44,100 gp
bardic abilities to non-bards. +81 57,600 gp
Strong Necromancy; CL 13th; Craft +91 72,900 gp
Wondrous Item, control undead; Price
+101 90,000 gp
+4 bonus.
86-90 63-68 50-63 Specific Instrument2 --
Reverberating: A reverberating instru- 91-100 69-100 64-100 Special Ability and roll again
ment increases the duration of the 1 An instrument can’t actually have a bonus higher than +5. Use these lines to determine
effects of bardic music by three rounds. price when special abilities are added in.
The bard does not need to concentrate 2 See Table 4: Specific Instruments.
during this time and may take other 3 See Table 2: Instrument Properties for instruments.
actions, including using other bardic
Table 4: Specific Instruments
music abilities.
This instrument does not grant Minor Medium Major Specific Instrument Market Price
bardic abilities to non-bards. 01-35 Pipes of the Sewers 1,150 gp
Strong Transmutation; CL 12th; Craft 36-63 Pipes of Sounding 1,800 gp
Wondrous Item, Extend Spell, Price +2 68-83 Horn of Fog 2,000 gp
84-91 Chime of Opening 3,000 gp
Screaming: A screaming instrument 92-98 Pipes of Haunting 6,000 gp
emits a high-pitched yowl that terrifies 99-100 Horn of Goodness/Evil 6,500 gp
other creatures. Three times per day,
01-33 Harp of Charming 7,500 gp
the wielder may target a single creature
within 30 feet. The target must make 34-62 Pipes of Pain 12,000 gp
a Will save (DC equals user’s Perform 63-74 Lyre of Building 13,000 gp
check) or become shaken for three 75-86 Horn of the Tritons 15,000 gp
87-98 Chime of Interruption 16,800 gp
Faint enchantment; CL 5th; Craft
Wondrous Item, doom; Price +1 bonus. 99-100 Horn of Blasting 20,000 gp
01-61 Drums of Panic 30,000 gp
Speed: An instrument with this special 62-99 Horn of Valhalla 50,000 gp
ability can be activated with a swift
100 Horn of Blasting, Greater 70,000 gp
action instead of a standard action.
Bardic music played on a speed instru-
ment can be maintained each round as ments contain a single targeted spell of The instrument magically imparts to
a swift action but still prevents the bard up to 3rd level. (The spell must have a the performer the name of the spell
from casting spells, activating magic casting time of one standard action.) currently stored in it.
items by spell completion or activating Any time a musician uses the instru- Strong evocation (plus aura of stored
magic items by spoken word. ment, including using any bardic spell); CL 12th; Craft Wondrous Item;
Moderate Transmutation; CL 7th; music ability, he may cast the spell at Price +3 bonus.
Craft Wondrous Item, haste; Price +2 any target within 30 feet. Once the <
bonus. spell has been cast from the instru-
ment, a spellcaster can cast any other
Spell Storing: Spell storing instru- targeted spell of up to 3rd level into it.

Kobold Quarterly 5 61
“V” is for Vermin
Can there ever be too many kinds of
slithering, crawling, biting, stinging,
mindless, poisonous, chitinous bugs?
We don’t think so.
by Aeryn Rudel
art by Michael Jaecks

or as long as I can remember, giant insects, spiders,
and other creepy crawlies have been standard fare in
fantasy novels, movies, and RPGs. Whether the infa-
mous giant spiders in The Hobbit or the wonderful stop-mo-
tion scorpions in Clash of the Titans, big bugs abound. For Giant Pincer Bug (Earwig)
RPG players, giant vermin are a common adversary in nearly
all the major RPGs on the market. Most of us have at one
This massive beetle is a dark, chocolate brown and has a long,
time or another battled enormous spiders in dark, shadowy
narrow abdomen tipped with a pair of enormous pincers.
dungeons, faced down swarms of giant ants, or wondered if
armor can be made from giant scorpion chitin.
Giant Pincer Bug CR 1
As much as I love the standard giant spiders, centipedes,
N Medium vermin
and scorpions that are so common in RPGs today, they pale
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +0
in comparison to the sheer weirdness that other real-world
vermin bring to the table. Our world teems with bizarre,
poisonous, repulsive, and sometimes downright horrifying
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14
insects, arachnids, worms, and other invertebrate beasties.
(+1 Dex, +4 natural)
Surprise your players with new vermin the next time they
hp 19 (3d8+6)
embark on an underwater adventure, stroll along a placid
Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +1
beach, wander through an eerie forest, or enter a dank
Immune mind-affecting effects
dungeon. The massive pincer bug, velvet worm, and sand
worm present nasty tricks to make any PC’s life a nightmare.
Hopefully, they can find a home in your campaign, and give
Spd 30 ft.; fly 40 ft. (poor)
the giant spiders, centipedes, and scorpions a bit of a much-
Melee pincers +5 (1d6+4) or bite +5 (1d4+4)
needed break.
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
The three new vermin featured here are all super-sized ver-
Special Attacks constrict 1d6+4, improved grab
sions of real creatures, and each one features a nasty trick or
two that can make a PC’s life a nightmare. Hopefully, these
giant versions of the pincer bug, velvet worm, and sand
Before Combat A giant pincer bug may occasionally hide in
worm can find a home in your campaign, and give the giant
dense foliage and attack creatures that wander too close.
spiders, centipedes, and scorpions a bit of a much-needed
During Combat A giant pincer bug attempts to grasp crea-
tures in its pincers, pinning prey in place while it bites with
its powerful mandibles.
Morale A giant pincer bug attacks creature its own size

62 Kobold Quarterly 5
or smaller relentlessly and fights until killed.
However, it may instinctively retreat from larger
creatures (size Large or larger).

Str 16, Dex 12, Con 15, Int –, Wis 10, Cha 2
Base Atk +2; Grp +5
Skills Hide +1 (+5 in forests or overgrown envi-

Environment warm forests and underground
Organization solitary, pair, or colony (5-8)
Treasure none
Advancement 4-6 HD (Medium), 7-9 HD
Level Adjustment –

Special Abilities
Constrict (Ex): A giant pincer bug deals 1d6+4
points of damage with a successful grapple check.
It can make a bite attack against a grappled foe
in the same round it constricts.
Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a
giant pincer bug must hit an opponent of the
same or any smaller size with its pincers. It can
then attempt to start a grapple as a free action
without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it
wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and
can constrict

Giant pincer bugs are large, carnivorous beetle that capture Giant Velvet Worm
and kill prey with a set of powerful pincers on their abdo-
This gigantic, thick-bodied worm has gray, rubbery skin, and
men. They are sometimes called “earwigs” as the young of
moves about on dozens of pairs of small, clawed feet. Its head
these giant insects have the nasty habit of burrowing into
is adorned with a pair of slender antennae, which wave about
the ear canal of sleeping humanoids.
vigorously as the giant invertebrate turns in your direction.
Giant Velvet Worm CR 3
Giant pincer bugs are nocturnal predators that hunt the
N Large vermin
forest floor in warmer climes. Typical prey consists of small
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Listen
animals and other giant insects, but giant pincer bugs are
+0, Spot +0
opportunistic and often attack any Medium-sized or smaller
creature that crosses their path.
Although giant pincer bugs can fly, they rarely do so and
AC 13, touch 10, flat-footed 12
are rather clumsy in the air. Typically, a giant pincer bug
(-1 size, +1 Dex, +3 natural)
takes wing only when threatened by larger predators or
hp 32 (5d8+10)
when seeking a mate.
Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +1
A giant pincer bug is 6 feet long and weighs 175 pounds.
Immune mind-affecting effects
Habitat and Society
Giant pincers bugs live in warm, moist environments. This
Spd 30 ft.; climb 20 ft.
includes both tropical and subtropical forests and any large,
Melee bite +6 (1d8+6)
lush cave systems. Being mindless creatures driven solely by
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
instinct, giant pincer bugs have no social order.
Special Attacks glue

Kobold Quarterly 5 63
Tactics prey, allowing the worm to dine at leisure.
Before Combat When a giant velvet worm detects prey by A giant velvet worm is 14 feet long and weighs 900
sight or tremorsense, it moves immediately to attack. pounds.
During Combat A giant velvet worm fires its glue at the
nearest opponent and then attempts to bite the entangled Habitat and Society
foe until it dies. As a mindless creature, a giant velvet worm Giant velvet worms are found in warm jungles and occa-
cannot deliver a coup de grace attack. sionally underground. They favor dark, wet environments
Morale A giant velvet worm flees if reduced to 50% or less as their rubbery skin quickly dries out if not frequently
of its starting hit points. moistened. Like many mindless vermin, velvet worms only
seek out others of their kind to mate.
Str 18, Dex 13, Con 14, Int –, Wis 11, Cha 2
Base Atk +3; Grp +11 Giant Sand Worm
Skills Climb +12 The placid beach before you suddenly erupts in a geyser of sand
and grit, disgorging a gigantic, rubbery worm. Perhaps forty feet
Ecology in length, the massive invertebrate has a thick, segmented body,
Environment warm forests and underground and a bulbous head crowned with a nest of short, writhing ten-
Organization solitary or pair tacles. Within these waving appendages, you see a pair of black,
Treasure none horny mandibles, easily large enough to dismember a giant with
Advancement 6-10 HD (Large); 11-15 HD (Huge) little effort.
Level Adjustment –
Giant Sand Worm CR 6
Special Abilities N Huge vermin (aquatic)
Glue (Ex): Twice per day, a giant velvet worm can shoot Init +1; Senses scent, tremorsense 60 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +0
thick strands of sticky glue from two glands behind its an-
tennae at a single target. This is a ranged touch attack with a Defense
range of 30 feet. The glue hardens almost instantly when ex- AC 15, touch 9, flat-footed 14
posed to air, and a creature struck by the gluey strands must (+1 Dex, +6 natural, -2 size)
make a DC 14 Reflex save or become completely entangled hp 75 (10d8+30)
and unable to move. An entangled creature is considered Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +3
helpless but can attempt to free itself with a successful DC Immune vermin traits
14 Strength or Escape Artist check (a full round action).
Creatures that succeed at the Reflex save are not entangled Offense
but are considered slowed, as the spell, for 2d4 rounds. Spd 20 ft.; burrow 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
Creatures size Huge and larger are unaffected by the glue. Melee tentacles +13 (1d6+8) and bite +8 (3d6+4)
The Reflex save, Strength check, and Escape Artist DCs are Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Constitution-based. Special Attacks improved grab
Skills: A giant velvet worm has a +8 racial bonus on
Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on a Climb Tactics
check, even if rushed or threatened. Before Combat When hunting, a giant sand worm lies just
below the surface and leaves only its tentacles exposed. It
Giant velvet worms are large, predatory invertebrates that waits for prey to wander within range of its tremorsense.
immobilize prey with sticky strands of organic glue. They During Combat A giant sand worm attacks anything that
are voracious and quite dangerous, posing a serious threat to comes within range of its tremorsense. It attempts to snatch
even well-armed groups of humanoids. prey with its tentacles, bringing the unfortunate creature in
range of its terrible jaws.
Ecology Morale A giant sand worm retreats beneath the sand when
Giant velvet worms are active, nocturnal predators that reduced to less than 50% of its starting hit points.
pursue prey vigorously. The worm locates prey by detecting
minute vibrations through the ground with sensitive pads Statistics
on each of its many clawed feet. Once a potential meal is Str 27, Dex 13, Con 16, Int –, Wis 11, Cha 2
detected, the worm targets its quarry with strands of sticky Base Atk +7; Grp +23
glue fired from two glands behind its antennae. This glue Skills Hide -3 (+9 when it is buried in the sand), Swim +16
hardens immediately, and can easily trap and immobilize SQ amphibious, blind

64 Kobold Quarterly 5
Environment tropical shallows and beaches
Organization solitary, pair, or colony (3-6)
Treasure none
Advancement 11-20 HD (Huge); 21-30 HD (Gargantuan)
Level Adjustment –

Special Abilities
Immunities: Giant sand worms are immune to gaze
attacks, visual effects, illusions, and other attack forms
that rely on sight.
Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a giant sand
worm must hit an opponent of its own or any smaller
size with its tentacles. It can then attempt to start a
grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of
opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a
hold and automatically deals bite damage.
Skills: A giant sand worm has a +4 racial bonus on
Hide checks (+12 when it is buried in the sand with
only its tentacles exposed). A giant sand worm has a +8
racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special
action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take
10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered.
It can use the run action while swimming, provided it
swims in a straight line.

Giant sand worms are immense, blind, predatory worms

found on warm, coastal beaches, and in tidal shallows.
They are voracious carnivores, preying on all types of
animal life, and even humanoids that wander too close to
their burrows. Beaches infested with sand worms can disrupt
shipping and trade in areas inhabited by intelligent, sea-go-
ing races. For this reason, adventurers and other mercenar-
ies are often hired to clear areas inhabited by the worms–a
dangerous undertaking to say the least.

Giant sand worms construct burrows on wet, sandy beaches.
These burrows are sometimes lined with a layer of crushed
shell and mucus but are often simply holes in the sand.
Typically when hunting, a sand worm lurks in its burrow
with its tentacles extended above the surface. The worm lo-
cates prey by scent and by detecting the subtle vibrations of
moving creatures through the sand. These two senses allow it
to home in on any target with frightening accuracy.
A giant sand worm is 30 feet long and weighs 6 tons.

Habitat & Society

Giant sand worms are often found in small colonies num-
bering up to half-a-dozen individuals. However, these
colonies are simply the result of worm larvae deposited in
the same area, and no true cooperation exists among these
mindless creatures.

Kobold Quarterly 5 65
The Kobold Ghetto
By Wolfgang Baur
Art by Jeremy Corff

or many, living in a ghetto – erator, and the reciprocating balance
dingy, crowded, walled off from wheel — and thus laid the foundations
the rest of the city – might be for Zobeck’s rise.
seen as a miserable fate, a hard life of Now, the Ghetto is a place of free
poverty and an early grave. For the kobolds, the legal equal of any man
kobolds of Zobeck, this is actually an or woman of the Clockwork City. But
improvement. they remain a breed apart, keeping
their own nocturnal hours, return-
Slaves and Worse Than Slaves ing before dawn to spend the day in
The kobold ghetto in Zobeck lies di- sleep and rest before returning to labor Big Trouble in Tiny Streets
rectly along the river and is a warren of shortly before sunset. Kobolds hold themselves as a breed
streets which are no more than six feet apart, and are instantly suspicious
wide (at best). Roofs meet overhead The Inhabitants of anyone who comes to visit them.
to keep out the worst of the sun and While the kobold ghetto is a place that While they can pass unnoticed among
provide a great deal of sheltering shade. no respectable human or dwarf visits the rest of town as servants beneath
The ghetto has only two entrances often, it is full to bursting with various anyone’s dignity, no human or dwarf
and exits, with gates that are care- kobold mine gangs, silver syndicates, can visit the ghetto without becoming
fully watched from both sides. Ruling followers of the Red Mask and related an object of curiosity.
over the district is a set of concurrent cults, and also with perfectly respect- This makes it all the more interest-
kobold “kings” or tribal chieftains, able servants and clockworker kobolds. ing for the visitor, because it means
each of which has power so long as he Clockworker kobolds deserve some that the kobold kings instantly take an
keeps his relatives and feudal minions notice; they are mechanically adept and interest in whatever the intruder is up
in line. One king generally holds the trained by a Gearworker’s Guild. They to. Any combat in the ghetto is quickly
others in check until their united serve as the protectors and stewards of hushed up by the kobolds; people
strength undercuts him; currently, that the city’s many gearwork doors, bridg- disappear there all the time, and when
leading king is Brandorek, the 12th of es, gates, lifts, devices, and scullions. kobolds die at the hands of outsiders,
that name. Few kings last more than a Kobolds repair locks, wind-up keys, well, no one wants to talk about that
decade. and gravity-fed devices. Unnoticed, either. Because it remains out of sight
But more than 80 years ago, the they feed coal to boilers in the guild- of respectable society, it is a perfect
kobolds were still slaves, and the halls. They are even responsible for place for assassinations, gang fights,
ghetto was the kobold slave pen. They winding up the springs and oiling the and plain old murder.
were the chattel of House Stross, the joints of the automatons of the town
aristocrats who ruled Zobeck for long watch, though not its human and A Reptilian Heart
centuries. The Stross had an alliance clockwight officers. This maintenance Somewhere under the streets of the
with the worshippers of the Sun God takes them to every corner of the city, ghetto are the king’s halls and queen’s
that kept them in power. They used but their dusty grey-green uniforms boudoirs where kobolds fight, scheme,
kobolds, thousands of them, to do all might as well be invisible. and gossip among themselves. The
the dirty work of the city so that the The dock crews in Zobeck’s small but wilder stories claim these underground
humans and dwarves could work and bustling harbor also make good use of halls are just as large as the surface
live and philosophize. kobolds, which allow them to main- buildings, or larger.
Kobolds dug silver from the mines, tain a working night shift. The river The truth is that humans and
built clever clockworks and worked crews wear blue hats and work in sets dwarves largely don’t care what the
with deadly steam and boilers for of 3, 6, or 9, carrying crates as a team kobolds are up to, as long as it means
constructs and automatons that fueled that a single human could carry easily. the druge work of mining and mainte-
Zobeck’s industry. As slaves, they were Most longshoremen from the day shift nance is done cheaply and well. In re-
never written into the histories, but assume that kobold dock crews are cor- turn, the kobolds are granted one small
some believe they helped invent the rupted by smugglers, but it seems to be patch of ground to call their own, and
everwound spring, the aeolipile gen- the exception rather than the rule. for now, that seems to be enough.
66 Kobold Quarterly 5
Tales of Z OBECK

At the Crossroads City, heroic adventure is always just around the corner.

A city of wonders, and a city of corruption and r*ODMVEFTBOFXHB[FUUFFSGPSUIF'SFF$JUZPG;PCFDL
despair. Zobeck is home to gypsies, kobolds, r'VMMEFUBJMTPGUIF"SDBOF$PMMFHJVN DMPDLXPSL
As a Free City, it stands alone against a hostile UIFDJUZTUVSCVMFOUIJTUPSZ
world, defended only by its wits and the steel of r"VUIPSTJODMVEF8PMGHBOH#BVS 5JN$POOPST 
its heroes. An island of light and reason, but a +FĈ(SVCC 3JDIBSE1FUUBOE+PTIVB4UFWFOT‡ZPV
You can help shape the campaign setting for

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