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Netbook Reviews

Quoth the Raven

Authors: Various
Editors: The Fraternity of Shadows
Distributors: Fraternity of Shadows

Rafael "Desdichado" San Miguel Thurn

While my goal was to review the issues one by one and as objective as possible, I finally recognized that this wasn’t at all possible and turned to a very basic system of valuating each issue: 3 = I liked this issue and have used or will use something out of it FOR MY GAME. 2 = I liked this issue as well, but in kind of an indifferent way. ;) Means that I enjoyed the articles, but didn’t find them useful FOR MY GAME. Doesn’t mean they are not of use in another DM’s campaign. 1 = Nothing of interest FOR MY GAME and not far too interesting for me as a roleplayer in general, in my honest opinion.

Most of the QtRs are excellent compilations of very ambitioned fan work that I spent a pleasant time reading. I wouldn’t wonder if some of the contributors ended up working for a professional RPG company. But please remember that everything I write here is strictly my opinion, just my point of view, nothing absolute, and if I return to the material on some later occasion, I might as well change my opinion completely. - If you think I do your journal justice with this review, I’ll distribute this review in the other web communities I am member of, to promote your mag a bit more and to make people recall the older issues. I’ll name four issues as my personal favourites. Those will end up printed out and bound to booklets. They’re as good as any official sourcebooks one can find. Most of the articles were anonymous, so don’t think that I bash one issue because I think the “wrong people” contributed to it... ;)

Quoth the Raven #1

A worthy start. The first two articles are too abstract for my taste, with too many “fluff” information in them. Might be my opinion because I was never a fan of VRG style roleplaying guides, but always most happy with naked stats and descriptions. The stuff that comes after, however, is exactly what I’d expect from a RL fan mag. New monsters for my game, a lot of creepy lairs, new magic items and a lot of campaign hooks.

Overall Rating: 3 Outstanding article: No idea, who Shane Glodoski is, but he’s definitely the man of this issue for me. Among his two adventures presented there, I especially liked his Mansion of the Ghoul Queen, and this is sure to end someway in my games, even if they’re completely RL – unrelated at the moment. Besides, Wiccy’s Celtic Banshee is quite cool, as well.

Quoth the Raven #2

Another very good issue. Although I didn’t come to use it’s material yet, anyone doing a small-range campaign in RL will eventually look for something like QtR 2, so I’d recommend most RL n00bs to give it a close look, especially for the discussion on different cultural levels. Now, with the article detailing the Zherisia, playing RL can become quite cheap: With QtR 2 and the free Shadow of the Knife, what a great campaign can one launch, and that without paying huge sums for (now soon oop?) books of varying quality... From that point of view, it may the best issue up to day. I also found the background and the stats for the great Van Richten very useful, should he ever come to star in my game.

Overall Rating: 3 Outstanding article: Although nearly all of the articles of this issue were good a lecture I really enjoyed like reading a good novel, it was the Jersey Devil article that interested me the most, although it’s barely two pages long. Sounds like a interesting encounter for my parties, maybe even the first step into a bigger misty campaign...

Quoth the Raven #3

The worst issue in the series, from my point of view. Not only am I no great fan of the Carnival – minisetting, I found the critters presented mainly - uninteresting, to say it with one word. Now, no offense, but it just didn’t catch me like the previous material had done.

Overall Rating: 1 Outstanding article: Defenders of the Misty Faiths is certainly something one should redo in a bigger way. Apart from it being a supposedly endless demiplane, the biggest problem for RL from my point of view, is the lack of a detailed religious background for native characters. I’d certainly like to see more stuff like that. Although it comes in the issue I like the less, this is one of the best articles in the history of your misty mag.

Quoth the Raven #4

With a special focus on medieval topics, this issue was far more to my liking than the last one. Although I am bo particular friend of “roleplaying instructions”, I found the articles about feudal societies and about knight lords fairly interesting. The adventure included in this issue however, was really not my kind of style, not to talk about the cheesy names... Hellman... bmpf.. Maybe it’s because I like Darkon and Barovia, but always found Falkovnia a total mess... Not the fault of the author however, more the error of those who originally designed that domain...

Overall Rating. 2 Outstanding article: Again, it’s an article about deities, “Blessings of Halla”. I am a particular friend of nordic fantasy (from my Birthright days) and of Vechor especially, so every glimpse of information I can find on it is something very special for me.

Quoth the Raven #5

Too much fan fiction this time... Not bad, but not what I am searching for when I read a rpg – magazine. Still, having fond memories of desert campaign, I always dream of doing a desert campaign some day myself, and for that purpose, this issue will be a must-have, for the pyramid dungeon as well as for the arabian-fantasy cities... Means, until WotC relaunch Al-Quadim. ;)

Overall Rating: 2 Outstanding article: The Rising Dark article is my favourite in this issue. Although unrelated to the overall theme of the issue, this controversial description of the aftermath of the traditional GE era really kept me tied to it from the first to the last line. OTOH, it would be a ton of work to do to really play in that time setting, so ScS’ article might remain an intriguing, but practically useless fiction for my game... More material on this topic, please!

Quoth the Raven #6

Theme: Nightmares. Without an explicitly GE corner this time, which IMO is a weakness of the issue. In any case, since dreams and nightmares are a common theme for Ravenloft since I10, and the Nightmare Lands Box is a quite popular supplement, so QtR may help out many frustrated DMs like me. Especially the closer look to the Abber Nomads, inhabitants of the Nightmare Lands, can come in handy for anyone who wants to extend the original boxed set campaign. Now, as with carnival, without the original game supplement, some articles are pretty useless... One may milk a bit out of it using the overall info one finds for the Nightmare Lands in the 2e boxed sets...

Overall Rating: 2 Outstanding article: What Screams May Come - Nightmares In Your Campaign by “ScS” features nice ideas of inserting bad dreams into a campaign. An interesting article, not only for Ravenloft gamers. The article is as good as any DRAGON article you can find.

Quoth the Raven #7

Titled “Worst Issue Ever?” – I wouldn’t go that far, but really, after reading it, this issue gives me a very “patched-work” impression, which was maybe due to the pressure of releasing one issue of the mag every two or three months. Not essentially bad, but from my point of view, one should seriously gather again to redo some of the articles. If they had been written less hasty, I am sure most of this material would have been really original, not like “another monster of the month noone really wants to see”. IMO, only one of those articles, Children of the Night – Marcus La Monte by “Tadelin Darkblade” is really worth a closer look.

Overall Rating: 1 Outstanding article: ScS saves the honour of the Fraternity of Shadows, returning with the GE section and presenting Grande Elizabeth – A Haunted Hideaway, a good attempt to describe a sinkhole of evil on Gothic Earth. Since the article features no stats and is left very open regarding to the dark powers in the back, even CoC or WoD players may enjoy it. Should I ever do another MotRD game, I’ll consider to insert this hellish place.

Quoth the Raven #8

Much better than issue 7! QtR 8 comes again without the Gothic Earth Section. This time, details for different kind of monsters are presented, especially for aberrations that dwell in the land of mists. Among others, Diminuitive Aberrations and More Black Arts,as well Tayce Bloodyblades are very good material one can find in this issue. I really liked this issue, since the articles here are written like to add little easy-to-use tidbits to one’s campaign; there are many big campaign hooks one sees and finds interesting, but for a DM searching to pepper his already worked-out and ongoing campaign, this issue is what he has to look in. Second of my four favourite issues.

Overall Rating: 3 Outstanding article: Brutes and Banshees, a Guide to the Caliban Race is something every serious Ravenloft DM just needs to read. With a few more extensions, IMHO this would be a great supplement even to pay money for! – I wonder if Uri Barak ever considered to submit some material to a professional company.

Quoth the Raven #9

My favourite number: A theme-related issue again, this time focusing on adventures on the high seas. In short, this issue follows the line taken with #8 and provides the community with outstanding game material. Although I normally like land-based adventures, the articles presented here definitely sparkled my interest. For playing on Ravenloft’s high seas, QtR 9 is a great addition every DM should have in his bookshelf. Congrats to everyone who worked on this issue. This is just a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Will surely see print for my personal library!

Overall Rating: 3 Outstanding article: Terrors of the Deep by Uri Barak is my personal highlight, as it provides gamers with a lot of interesting monsters for sea-related campaigns. Now, finding decent stats for monsters isn’t so difficult as it was once anymore, so I also want to name The Night the Sea stood still by Matt White and Winter’s Sorrow by Malus Black, two gripping adventures, too, as extraordinary material one should not miss.

Quoth the Raven #10

Hello to Socko.

Overall Rating: 3 Outstanding article: Ah, I absolutely liked the introduction of two comic characters to Ravenloft, not only because they’ve come to serve for many in-jokes, but because the mists lack a bit of humour and comedy, something that is traditionally as well an element of gothic fiction, as blood and vampires. (“Who’s the second funny character?” Dru is asking.) To do the other others some honour, the description of Reikkenburg was very useful for my game, since I had the chance to borrow many of the interior maps for my campaigns.

Quoth the Raven #11

Being more gothic (earth) than than any other before, this issue managaed to touch a nerve in me. Since I am a big fan of GE, LD and Grimm d20, I read this issue without a pause in between. :) Very athmospherical and somewhat like the essence of what I mean when I say “gothic roleplaying”. Very esoterical, huh? To the printer it goes...

Overall Rating: 3 Outstanding article: Both “Arlington Farm” and the description of gypsy as a character class intrigued me and have an enduring place in my Ravenloft game. With Arlington farm, I scare my players to death, while the gypsy is about to replace the d20 rogue in my campaigns. To the present, I may say that these both articles have influenced my D&D game more than any fan material before and afterwards. Nice work, Wiccy!

Chilling Encounters

To honour your efforts to publish a QtR 12 early this year, I’ve given “Chilling Encounters” a closer look as well. I was very surprised about the high quality of the articles in there, given that you had previously declared that it was something like “not worth” to be a QtR, for it would have been one of the best issues, from my perspective at least. “Northern Frights”, the description of Diesache and, of course, that Barovian Spectre Queen were great articles and may end up all in games of mine. Fifth of my four favourite QtR issues. ;)

An overall summary, however is difficult to make. In general, I’d say you’ve enriched my game with QtR in many ways and I never had the feeling of being bored by the original ideas your mag presented. Go on and know that your work is highly appreciated by those who care to read it. The question will come if you are to be the next in writing the official books for the line, and after what I saw of some of you here in the QtR, I can say without stupid fanboydom: I think you'll be very capable of doing it well! Now,time to rest a bit, pardon my language errors, I revised this article a lot of times, but now it seems sleep is taking me... I wonder if I'll see that nice ballerina again this night...

Yours, Rafael.


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