Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Advanced Feats + Kobold Quarterly Magazine

Not too long ago, I spent a few paragraphs on Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist, an Open Design product for Pathfinder which impressed me with its balance and utility. It's seriously very hard to balance Feats without making them too specialized to be useful.

VERY hard.

A few weeks later, they sent me a copy of Advanced Feats: The Witch's Brew, and I ... I never got around to saying anything about it - just like the earlier Secrets of the Alchemist, it's a ... well-balanced book of Feats for Pathfinder.  Much like Secrets of the Alchemist, I had to have a friend who is an expert (although he'll never lay claim to the title) on D&D 3.x and Pathfinder.  And by "expert," I mean "rules lawyer capable of breaking systems."  When he tells me something "seems balanced," it means, "There may be something broken in here, but it'll take some effort to take advantage of." And I trust his gut feelings.

They also recently released Advanced Feats: The Summoner's Circle, as well.  Given the success of the first two, I can only assume that it will also be both well-balanced and useful.

I mentioned that it's difficult to keep Feats balanced - and it is. You want Feats to be useful, but not so useful that they're the only clear and obvious choice. Players should have to think when choosing Feats. You also want players to be able to "flavor" their characters with Feats.

It's a tricky balance - one that I would not be able to pull off for more than a Feat or two. There is no way I could put together multiple booklets like these.

The KQ team ALSO sent me a review copy of Kobold Quarterly Magazine #15. Now, I was a KQ subscriber a few years ago. I didn't renew my subscription because I wasn't playing 3.5 anymore, and KQ hadn't started supporting 4E, yet. And the only Pathfinder I had was the pre-release beta PDF.

That has all since changed. Well, other than the 3.5 thing.

Issue number 15 starts off with some Pathfinder material - I'll be honest with you, I only skimmed the first article, which was on variant Druids. I'm sure there are ideas in there that I can use in one of the 4E games I'm in or pondering, but right now, I want to see what goodies Wolfgang & crew have assembled for 4E this issue.

The second article is on the ecology of the Giant Ant. Even though it's written with Pathfinder in mind, there are some great ideas in there that I can use to modify a 4E Giant Ant. I'll admit it - I was caught by a Pathfinder article that I hadn't intended to read.

The next article is "Reasons to Ride," a 4E-flavored article that makes mounted combat significantly more useful. Useful enough that I may consult with one of my DM's about the possibility of getting my Paladin a mount - like they had in the old days. A thorough reading of the article doesn't show anything broken, either.  It seems well balanced.

This was followed by another 4E article, this one on trapmaking for PC's - all too often, only the villains get to make all the traps, and the PC's role is limited to avoiding them. I really liked this article, even though I don't tend to play Thieves - the closest I came was 2E, when I nearly always played Bards.

Then a Pathfinder article on pit traps, which a quick glance shows as having some ideas that can be easily mined for 4E. Or Burning Wheel. Or Legends of Anglerre. Or any number of fantasy games, honestly. I could probably even use these in an AD&D game, if I wanted to.

There's a lot more in this issue - By "a lot more," I mean, "I've only covered the first half or so, here." James Lowder and Monte Cook both have articles that are system-free. My good friend Wade interviewed Margaret Weis at GenCon, and that's in here.  Book reviews ... I could go on for another couple of hundred words on this issue.

The 4E vs Pathfinder balance of the issue is pretty even - Pathfinder has a slight edge on page count, but a lot of the Pathfinder material can be adapted to 4E with a bit of work.

It's solid enough that I regret letting my subscription lapse. The 4E work is occasionally a bit rough, but it's the best third party 4E product I've seen - and the Open Design team aren't the sort to rest on their laurels.

I look forward to next issue.

You can subscribe (and order back issues) at PDF back issues (and the current issue as well) are on DriveThruRPG. If you play Pathfinder, all of the back issues will be worthwhile.  If you play 4E, they started including material in Issue 6, but the page count for 4E material has crept up as time has gone by. And, of course, you can grab and adapt ideas from older issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment