This issue has the historic, final interview with Dave Arneson. For that alone it should not be missed. His contribution to the hobby can’t be overstated. It provides insights towards his feelings about the very nature of roleplaying games and antecdotes from Ed Greenwood, Matt Forbeck, and James Lauder serve as fine commentary. Personally, I second his attitude on rules lawyers.
The solid cover art suffers a bit from the text splatter, and see one of those stumbles before even cracking a page. A last minute article change seems to have escaped layout, leaving the Warlock-themed teaser without any associated prose. That’s going to frustrate folks hoping to enjoy increased 4E content. We’re told it’ll show up in #10…
The article split is 50/25/25. This seems like a good mix, with half of the material for OGL, a quarter for 4E, and a quarter system independent. Truthfully, three of the OGL articles would require little effort for conversions to 4E or Pathfinder. The independent stuff gives a new column by Monte, which is great for designers and GMs, the interview (of course!), and the book reviews. I think these elements especially help cement KQ's position as a gaming magazine, rather than an OGL or 4E publication.
The OGL material is a solid combination of flavor and crunch. I especially like the bard article, chock full of feats, spells, and alternate class options. The bandit lair comes in a close second, and fans of socially-focused games and the Open Design projects will enjoy the Courtiers of Zobeck article, though it’s probably more useful to those wondering how to add a bit of social interaction to their game. And I wonder how often a CR24 Bat-god avatar will see table time.
The 4E material follows a similar vein on mechanics and inspiration, providing two detailed races for play, though the Maedar also has conversion notes for the Pathfinder Beta system and the Kitsune received an online OGL treatment at koboldquarterly.com. While purely 4E, the Chasing the Grave article doesn’t skimp on the worldbuilding bits, and gives a couple of story seeds for inspiring dark 4dventure in a grim, urban setting.
There are a couple of editing issues, but apparently (according to twitter) the magazine is trying to use of out-of-house typesetting, and kinks aren’t all worked out yet. The art is maintaining a top-notch caliber, and the contributor list continues to boast veterans like Jeff Grubb, Monte Cook, and Richard Pett while giving newer voices an opportunity. I’m happy to keep up with KQ as it enters its third year; it seems to be maturing fantastically.
(I'm giving this review 5 here, despite the editing missteps, because it certainly does not deserve a 3, and I wholly disagree with the other review's comment about the interview. It's far better than a Q&A. It is most definitely a 4.5 effort.)
[5 of 5 Stars!]