Friday, October 11, 2013

Recession Reviews: Kobold Press Round up

by Frank Gori


Times are hard and while a gaming book beats any trip to the theatre, our loved ones don’t always see it that way. When you can spare the money what products deserve your hard earned gaming dollars? Who balances enough crunch with the fluff to allow the frugal GM to recycle, after all the best games are the ones you can play over and over again without losing interest.

Normally we’ll not being doing half an AP all at once, and any who wish to review something in this format should email me a request at

Trapster :

Written by: Maurice De Mare

Page count: 70 counting the inside covers

Throw Away pages: 7 (covers, credits, ogl page, 2nd index)

Golden Pages: 46! (reusable npcs, spells, reusable maps, monsters, new items)

Cover price: $9.99 (pdf version)

Price per page: $0.14

Modified price per page: $0.09 = Cover price/pages + golden pages – throw away pages= modified price per page

Crunch to Fluff Ratio: 9 to 1

Our Rating out of 10: 9.5- extremely reusable

Description (minor spoilers): Maurice deserves the Title of Trapmaster. His trap designs shows a mastery of traps that is enviable and he willingly passes on that mastery of traps to anyone willing to pay the price of entry. This isn’t just a books of traps (which would totally be worth purchasing) its also a how to one trap design (which is why this is near perfect.)

Slight quibbles come from the unfortunate fact that I’ve seen 12 pages of this material before for free by being a regular blog reader. I’m also never a fan of the double index give me it by CR I fon’t need alphabetical as well.

Overall I think the goal was to make a GM excited and interested in using Traps again and to arm that GM with a new bag of tricks this succeeds in that with flying colors.


Tales of the Old Margreve :

Written by: Tim and Eileen Conners (lead designers)

Page count: 113 counting the inside covers

Throw Away pages: 6 (covers, forward, ogl page, ad)

Golden Pages: 14

Cover price: $9.99 (pdf)

Price per page: $0.08

Modified price per page: $0.08 = Cover price/pages + golden pages – throw away pages= modified price per page

Crunch to Fluff Ratio: 18 to 1

Our Rating out of 10: 9- valuable

Description: On the surface this is 8 adventures without direct linear correlation sharing only a setting. Seen in this manner the content might not seem to justify the rating, but here’s where I tell you the real value of this product is that it teaches you to generate an atmosphere and theme of dark fairytales.

The adventures range from outstanding to run of the mill, however in the context of a campaign where the forest is massive and alive they become something more sinister. They create a vibe you typically only get from a good old fashioned horror story, you get a vibe that whatever lurks off camera is where the real terror lies.

This is one of my favorite products from any publisher.

Midgard Beatiary :

Written by: Adam Daigle

Page count: 109 counting the inside covers

Throw Away pages: 6(covers, forward, title pages)

Golden Pages: 103

Cover price: $9.99 (pdf only)

Price per page: $0.9

Modified price per page: $0.6 = Cover price/pages + golden pages – throw away pages= modified price per page

Crunch to Fluff Ratio: 13 to 1

Our Rating out of 10: 8.5- quite useful

Description: Counting the reskinned monsters you have over 100 new baddie beasts to throw at your PCs. I warn if you buy allot of Kobold Press stuff many of these monsters will be in other things you own (like tales of the old margrave.) It is still worth having them all in one place however.

Some of these monsters will never see use out of personal taste like any beastiary you’re going to end up with favorites and go to monsters.


Overall: Kobold Press is one of the 3PPs I’d extend trust to. What makes them successful is a business model that puts allot of eyes on a product before it ever gets released. There’s a theme of older school gaming but with modern and typically innovative twists. You will find a range of products that vary largely by contributing designers.

3PP rating- 8.5

The power levels of the GM based crunch work in Kobold Press’ printed work is right in line with Paizo’s. They aren’t stingy on artwork or layout though the writing can be a mixed bag. The vast majority is superb and would be above and beyond Paizo standards, a small minority of it is frankly slightly weaker and more obvious when compared to the other work Kobold press does.

Though I did not review player based content here, I have read and own some and that’s where KP stumbles slightly in my eyes. To be fair the player content is actually underpowered in my eyes and if a player really wanted to play the kobold version of a Shaman or Elven Archer or anything else I’ve seen for them I’d allow it. I’d also expect that player to underperform slightly and possibly make adjustments based on that person’s role in the party.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I haven’t purchased more recent player focused material like White Necromancy and what not, I’m basing this opinion on material that is a bit dated.

I highly trust them for GM related material, for player related content its never overpowered but I do think twice and wait for sales.

see notes below


The 3PP Bias, the Free Bias, Contributor Bias and the Crunch Bias

If you’re paying attention to these reviews you might have noticed something, these reviews will certainly favor 3PPs based on pricing alone. If a product is free or 100% crunch it will also heavily bias the review. In an effort to curtail this I’m taking the following measures:

-3pp Ratings This is an overall assessment of how the company’s products stack up in quality to Paizo’s or WOTC’s. What factors in are generally power rating being in line with standards like CR, layout, art quality, quality of writing, and editorial decisions.

Treat all Paizo and WOTC products as being a 10 or 1.0 multiplier. For 3PPs move the decimal 1 place to the left and multiply the ratings and prices by that to remove the 3PP bias. Below I’m adding my 3PP ratings for companies I’ve reviewed previously.

Raging Swan- 8 They are amazing at layout and underwhelming in art. The writing quality is very, very good and the crunch is meticulously on point. They do not spend money on artwork and it shows. I personally appreciate the savings but for the purpose of the bias standard their products wouldn’t draw the eye candy Paizo’s do.

As I've stated previously I'd trust their products and be more inclined to purchase because fo their brand.

Open Gaming Monthly OGM’s contributors are not paid and it shows. The writing varies widely from absolutely excellent to head scathingly poor, and the same goes for the art. The editing occasionally misses obvious typos and grammatical errors as well as crunch errors. Layout is fairly straightforward and solid but overall I’d never use at least ½ of their crunch every month. You’re still paying very little for it and its entertaining regardless of what you use but I’d place it a little above wayfinder which is a free publication. I will also note that OGM 5 was miles better then OGM 1.

Overall its so cheap and they love to bundle other goodies with it so its worth the price of admission anyway.

-Contributer Refrain I have absolutely no bias in judging the work of companies I contribute to as a freelancer, I will however refrain from reviewing any work that is my own.

-Dollar for 10 page for free products I’ll add a cost of $1 for every 10 pages for your downloading and reading time. This should address the free bias.

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