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Tailslap - Issue 1 Pay What You Want
Publisher: Unicorn Rampant Publishing
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/22/2010 19:12:02

Tailslap from Unicorn Rampant Publishing aims to join the growing ranks of third-party 4e magazines. Although issue 1 does show some promise, Unicorn Rampant will need to improve the quality significantly in order to gain and hold readers, especially if the price of an issue of Tailslap remains the same as an issue of the much more professional Level Up from Goodman Games.

Issue 1 of Tailslap features two encounter areas (one combat-oriented, one skill-oriented), some feats, some powers, a couple of paragon paths, several magic items, and a new race tied to the most substantial offering in the magazine, a region usable in pretty much any campaign set in the far north (or far south) of the campaign world.

The first encounter area—I won't say too much about it in case potential players read this review—is okay and evocative, but not great. The map is a rough sketch without a superimposed grid. Several new stat blocks are included. I found the other encounter area, the one oriented toward a skill challenge, more interesting.

The feats article essentially broached the subject of "multiracing," if you will. Your character might not be half-elven, but might still manifest an elven trait due to interbreeding farther back in the family tree. However, the execution was a little disappointing. I had a hard time imagining myself taking one of these feats instead of a normal feat. Also, the feats were written in a nonstandard format, and some didn't actually work as written. For example, one of the halfling feats is "Just a Little More - Daily, Free Action - Add +1 to one roll that you just failed." That +1 would be meaningless as a free action; it needs to be an immediate interrupt to make any difference. Almost all of the feats granted a power, but none of the powers were written up in power-type stat blocks.

That formatting decision held true for the article on wizard powers and paragon paths as well. Although the article presented several powers, and included the elements powers should have, the powers weren't laid out in the familiar stat block format. While the paragon paths presented had decent "fluff," the "crunch" blurred the lines between class roles somewhat more than I'd like to see. For example, the Thrall of Graz'zt 11th level feature is basically an arcane version of sneak attack with a 1d8 damage bonus, encroaching on the features of sorcerers and warlocks. (I also recommend that the author learn and respect the difference between a "tenant" and a "tenet.")

I liked the Naahaogo race okay, if you need goat-men instead of minotaurs in your campaign setting. Here again I would prefer to see stat blocks formatted in the customary way.

Overall, my reaction to Tailslap #1 was a shrug and a "Meh." It wasn't great; it wasn't awful. It's certainly not on the same level as Kobold Quarterly or Level Up, though it's priced the same as a PDF-only issue of Level Up (twice as much as a physical copy of Level Up). If the authors and editors will ratchet up the quality a few notches, Tailslap could mature into a good magazine. As it stands, it's just okay.

[3 of 5 Stars!]