One major difference, however, was that each of the major titles was supported with its own magazine: Dragon (for D&D and other TSR games), Different Worlds (Runequest, Call of Cthulhu), Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Tunnels and Trolls), White Dwarf (Warhammer), Space Gamer (The Fantasy Trip), The Journal of the Traveller’s Aid Society (Traveller), and many others. Board gamers, too, weren’t overlooked on the magazine rack, with Nexus (Star Fleet Battles), Ares (SPI’s sci-fi games), The General (Avalon Hill), and others.
With the exception of White Dwarf, all those magazines are dead today.
And I miss them. Many were good, and a handful — including The Space Gamer and Different Worlds — were excellent. They kept us up-to-date on rapid market changes, talked-up overlooked games, and generally kept the level of excitement high around the whole industry.
I never expected the era of the specialized gaming magazine to return. For one thing, I know what it takes to keep a magazine alive these days (a series of miracles).
But Wolfgang Baur’s Kobold Quarterly has changed my mind.
Kobold Quarterly has captured the feeling of Dragon and Different Worlds better than any other magazine. The articles are fun and informative, the design is professional, and the content is fairly diverse. Kobold Quarterly focuses on Dungeons & Dragons and related games, especially Pathfinder, but many of the articles are applicable to virtually any fantasy RPG or Old School Renaissance title.
Lately it has also begun to claim 100% “Open Design” content. I’m not 100% sure what “Open Design” is, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
The latest issue has some entertaining articles, including one on the benefits (and drawbacks) of selling your soul in a fantasy game, and a peek at a modern Earthdawn expansion. There’s also a lot of ink on Midgard, the new medieval Europe campaign setting for Pathfinder written by Baur, Jeff Grubb, and Brandon Hodge, and a surprisingly interesting article on Cannibal Demon-Apes.
But let’s face it. You don’t buy a gaming magazine because you desperately needed the stats for Cannibal Demon-Apes. Half the fun of flipping through the issue is simply to get the pulse of the industry, and there’s no better way to do that than with the ads. While I miss much of the editorial content of those old gaming magazines, sometimes I think I miss the ads the most.
There are plenty of eye-catching ads in the latest issue of Kolbold Quarterly, for exciting products like Midgard; the collected Rise of the Runelords campaign from Paizo; the complete line of A Song of Ice & Fire game books from Green Ronin; something called Radiance, Tesla’s Age of Electrotech; the RPGWithMe Virtual Tabletop; and plenty of Pathfinder support material.
And that’s just in the first 20 pages.
Nothing keeps the industry alive like the urge to spend money. And that’s just what I intend to do, starting with the collected Rise of the Runelords campaign, and maybe that extremely useful-looking RPGWithMe Virtual Tabletop.
Kolbold Quarterly has 40 pages of full color, and even a smattering of cartoons. It’s a pleasure to browse, and there are lots of things that catch the eye. Check it out, and I think you’ll find it’s more than worth the money.
Kolbold Quarterly is published four times a year by Open Design LLC. The latest issue is #23, Fall 2012. It is 88 pages, many in full color, and $8.99 gets you both the combined print and PDF versions ($5.99 for just the PDF version). The cover is by Emile Denis.
The complete contents of the latest issue are here.