By Robert Blezard
Roleplaying magazines are hard to define. Such magazines are rarely famous beyond the niche market of comic book and hobby stores. When I say the word dragon you will probably think of Tolkien's Smaug, but if I say the word kobold, you will probably draw a blank unless you are up on your Germanic folklore. If you combine the word kobold with roleplaying, however, you get something else entirely.
Kobold Quarterly (KQ) is a publication that continues the grand tradition of famous roleplaying magazines such as Dragon (which is now an Internet only, subscription-based publication) and White Dwarf published by Games Workshop. Published by Open Design LLC., KQ is unabashedly “A Magazine of Kobolds and Dragons.”
Kobold Quarterly supports both the current version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game (that would be Dungeons and Dragons in case you're not sure) and the previous version (3.5) of the game. (Kobold Quarterly can do this due to the Open Gaming License and Game System License created by Wizards of the Coast.) KQ also supports anything related to sword & sorcery and tabletop RPGs in addition to D&D.
Kobold Quarterly fills its pages with articles typical of magazines that support tabletop RPGs but with a voice all its own. There are the standards such as Ecology and Reviews, yet each article is as unique as its author. Since KQ considers “article queries from all Open Design patrons, from subscribers, and from established freelancers in the tabletop RPG field” (Baur, 2009, ¶ 2), it isn't surprising that it thrives with a variety of freelance authors from issue to issue as well as online at Kobold Quarterly's web site (www.koboldquarterly.com) where fantasy RPG fans can find exclusive content such as Monday Monsters, Friday Funny, and Trapsmith as well as the advice column Ask the Kobold.
Kobold Quarterly does suffer somewhat when it comes to eye-popping visuals, however. The magazine's art and few photos tend towards black & white with color being saved for major features and important advertisements. The magazine's simple, black text stands out on its glossy white pages, however, and is easy to read. The magazine has a throwback feel to the early years of Dragon; however, it is clearly designed for the future of fantasy tabletop roleplaying games.
Kobold Quarterly is still a little dragon, but it has big claws and an even bigger heart.
(Word Count: 400)
Children of the World
On the World of Rielun, three races are united by their common history and veneration of the deity known as the Heart of the World. 'Children of the World' is a complete overview of these three races — the Teres, the Tigé, and the Trooda — including how they view the world, the other races of Rielun, temporal and steam magic, and the prominent civilizations of the Aether. New player options include a new prestige class for each race and new feats & weapons as well as a section on temporal and steam magic unique to Rielun.
An article for 3.5 roleplaying.
Dreams or nightmares. Which would you prefer? The average adventurer must take them as they come. Not the dream warrior. Masters of their own dreams, these warriors of the sleeping mind must battle night terrors and other creatures that stalk the dreams of innocents. They must ever stay vigilant against the monsters of the mind and other things that go bump in the night. 'Dream Warriors' details a unique prestige class available to spellcasters as well as magical items useful in combating the all-to-common night terrors and their enigmatic masters.
An article for 3.5 roleplaying.
Breakdown of Magazine
The front section of Kobold Quarterly is the smallest only including the magazine's contents page, editorial page, short letters section (three pages), and masthead. The section's other pages are dominated by full- or half-page color advertisements.
The magazine's feature well is quite large. It includes the magazines feature articles, which range from three to seven pages in length. These features are filled with a combination of fictional story elements and game mechanics to be used by the players or game master. The story elements usually come first with the mechanics listed at the end of the feature; however, there is some variation from feature to feature. Sidebars are also a common element in each article while art, photos, and other graphics (black and white dominate) are kept to a minimum.
The magazine's back section includes a variety of short articles, which range from one to three pages in length. Many of the articles here would likely be found in the front section of a different type of magazine. It might seem unusual to someone unfamiliar with tabletop RPG magazines, but it is a format that served Dragon well for years and Kobold Quarterly is obviously paying homage to the early years of Dragon. The articles here are less formulaic in their design; however, story elements and game mechanics are still the norm (this is a gaming magazine, after all).
The magazine's editor, Wolfgang Baur (who is referred to as Kobold-in-Chief in the masthead), appears to have a preference for articles that highlight a contributing author's most interesting ideas. Since Kobold Quarterly is a magazine dedicated to tabletop RPGs, it publishes articles that enhance play at the gaming table first and foremost. An article that has something for both players and game masters has the best chance of being accepted by the Kobold-in-Chief and his minions.
Kobold Quarterly is a magazine designed for fantasy first and it's themes reflect the genre. Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy game, which means the magazine is strongly slanted towards dragons, elves, wizards, and, of course, kobolds. However, Mr. Baur has a strong affinity for clockwork and steampunk content and the magazine's back page is dedicated to Zobeck, a clockwork setting of his own design. It's important to note that he “holds articles dedicated to the subgenre to a very high standard because he loves it” (Baur, 2009, ¶ 12).
(Word Count: 400)
Summary and Reasoning
A look at the audience profile for KoboldQuarterly.com on Quantcast.com shows that the website attracts an educated, middle-aged audience who are single, less affluent, and without children. The audience is split with a slightly higher average for females.
However, what's true for the website isn't necessarily true for the magazine. I can only use my experience as a guide. I have been a roleplayer and fan of game design for over twenty years. I've read (and collected) both Dragon and Dungeon, but did not delve into White Dwarf.
While roleplaying demographics have changed with our changing world, I cannot say for certain that Quantcast's numbers regarding KQ are completely accurate. I suspect a split that is more towards a male audience; however, I cannot be certain without more data.
Since Kobold Quarterly is a roleplaying magazine, I'd already considered submitting queries and had little trouble thinking of ideas. Reading about Wolfgang's interest in steampunk, made me think of my own steampunk campaign. Thus, my pitch regarding three unique races I created for Rielun. The second pitch was a flash of insight that came to me after watching a television show about night terrors and my own experiences.
(Word Count: 200)
- Barton, R., Baur, W., Healy, E. (July 23, 2009). Open Design 003: Kobold Quarterly 10 [Podcast]. Retrieved September 22, 2009, from http://opendesignpodcast.com/odp003-kobold-quarterly-10.mp3
- Baur, W. (2007). Small But Fierce. Retrieved September 22, 2009, from http://www.koboldquarterly.com/k/article24.php
- Baur, W. (2009). Kobold Quarterly Writer's Guidelines. Retrieved September 21, 2009, from http://www.koboldquarterly.com/k/submit
- Hebert, N. (May 19, 2009). “As one of the editors of Kobold Quarterly...”. In How does the query process work? Retrieved September 21, 2009, from http://www.koboldquarterly.com/kqforums/viewtopic.php?t=500
- Herbert, N. (June 11, 2009). “I should probably clarify what I mean by "player-focused" a bit...”. In How does the query process work? Retrieved September 22, 2009, from http://www.koboldquarterly.com/kqforums/viewtopic.php?t=500&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15
- Quantcast Audience Profile. (2009). U.S. Demographics (koboldquarterly.com). Retrived September 25, 2009, from http://www.quantcast.com/koboldquarterly.com