First, I'll qualify this... I wrote the Dwarven Airships article, so I might be a little slanted in my praise...
This issue continues to blow the doors off. It comes packed with 4 new Pathfinder monsters, 4 steampunked variants of OGL monsters, and two creepy templates befitting the name Pett, complete with example beasties.
The interview with Sandy Petersen is engaging, providing nice insights into CoC, designing for freeform to video games to excitement and action.
The article on undead creation will have you wondering when they planted a chip in your brain. I know it made me consider changing the locks. Honestly, the alternate system provided here is functional, cool, and may induce a palm to the forehead as you think, "Well, duh! Of course we should be doing it that way!" There are feats and spells that round out this article, leaving you itching to spin up a new villain.
The Centaur ecology dips into the 4E territory for a bit-- though the bulk of the piece is system-neutral and just good background. This is an experiment for the magazine, as it's courted reader opinion and decided to attempt an occasional offering. Even if you ignore the stat blocks, or consider converting them, the piece is well done.
Next comes Spells of the Gun-- a firing squad of eight spells designed to incorporate black powder weapons. Some are intended to defend against guns, like Barrier Cloth or Blunderbuss Burst, while others augment the gunslinger, like Deadeye or Momentary Reload. Some of the spells are pretty high level, coming in at Cleric or Wizard/Sorcerer 7th or 8th, which makes them of limited utility in my opinion, but there are folks out there who love their epic games, so God love'em. :)
Then a useful piece on roleplaying a rogue. This is one for the storyteller/method actor in the group, helping add dimension to a character. It gives some great tips on playing authentic rogues at various points in their career-- which also nice for a GM looking to flesh out his NPCs.
We continue on to book reviews! Personally, I enjoy having these. You can never hear too much about what's coming out or what makes for a good read; all the better to steal from later as you design a session or create a character. This one tackles Gygax, Salvatore, Lovecraft to start things off and digs into a couple of others. As someone who's time is limited, being able to get a good look at both new and old books is nice. This is a feature that I would have ignored when I was younger and reading Dragon. Now, I flipped right to it.
The article on rogues' equipment has some interesting tidbits. I'm not sure about the universal utility of some of the items, but they would definitely add to color and novelty of an NPC or reoccuring rival.
The Garnet Codex article is great because it could fit just about anywhere, acting as a very cool macguffin, a good hook for both a modern or a fantasy game. It's one of those things that would have players "oooh"ing as they try to figure out how it fits into everything else they've been seeing. This is one you can slip into your back pocket and unleash later without a shred of guilt in a modern or a fantasy game-- it's that flexible.
Continuing, the concept of plagues in a medieval fantasy world is explored. Who hasn't considered the impact? When terrible diseases can be simply cured by a pious man, well, what does that do to your game world's society? This article considers the impact and the limitations. It's a very background article, but provides the sort of seed that can drive a campaign.
Next are Dwarven Airships. I think this one rocks, but then, like I said before, I wrote it. Still, when your other options are half a page in a 3.0 splatbook or a hard-to-find supplement, well, this is some welcome material. Additional ship descriptions were provided as a web supplement, giving you four different airships of various sizes to play with, along with a new spell and a wad of new gear. An associated prestige class is due out for it soon on the website, so that adds to the value. The map is gorgeous and well done, providing a lot of detail.
Finally, we close with an article on the Courtesans of Zobeck-- Wolfgang's world of Open Design projects. Even stripped of any one world's flavor, these ladies of the night still offer a very cool look at the world's oldest profession and something more than your average portrayal.
Overall, this article has something for everyone-- Crunch, fluff, player, GM, 3.5, Pathfinder, or gasp 4E. The cover is gorgeous and the material is top-notch. I said it before, but it bears repeating:
KQ continues to blow down the doors and set the standard. You won't go wrong picking up an issue and you won't be disappointed with a subscription. The print copy is perfect bound, glossy, and arrived in beautiful condition. Overall, KQ oozes pure win.
[5 of 5 Stars!]