|Art by Betty Jian|
I love Kobold Press and I love their Midgard campaign setting. I especially love the Southlands; the setting is a work of genius as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes, though, it feels like no one’s really at the helm of Midgard’s lore, and it meanders and dances around Open Game License issues (especially in regards to D&D 5E). Things get lost in translation along the way; it’s understandable. But outstanding works breed fierce fans, and the lack of consistency can sometimes be maddening (thus we are here).
Case in point is the mystery of the Catfolk and Nkosi and Werelions. Take a look at the Kobold Press facebook group and you’ll see the question come up every few weeks. The Nkosi of the Southlands are a well defined and well thought out people. They’re lion-like feline humanoids that can shapeshift into lions. Their society and history is detailed. It’s great stuff, and the race for Pathfinder is a blast to play.
Evidently, though, while Kobold Press writers crafted adventures for the Southlands, catfolk came into the picture. Catfolk are plain old feline humanoids. That’s OK; they’re Open Game Content in Pathfinder’s Advanced Race Guide and have no mechanical similarities to Nkosi. No harm, no foul.
But then D&D 5E rolled around, and Kobold Press put out their “Southlands Heroes” supplement to detail Southlands races. What did we get? Werelions. Humans who can shapeshift into a hybrid feline form, and then can further shapeshift into lions. They’re not real lycanthropes, and they're totally not Nkosi. Why oh why? D&D has Tabaxi for 5E and they’re not Open Game Content. Whatever the reason, confusion was the result.
So here I am, shouting into the void. I’m going to stat Nkosi for D&D 5E. The race in Southlands, however, is not Open Game Content, so I can’t pull the lore as such. That’s OK, because Nkosi are defined in the 5E Tome of Beasts. Defined exactly as the race should be. And the monster block and description are Open Game Content (I’m not a lawyer but the OGL is TTRPG gospel at this point!)
Anyway, I’m not going to call the race Nkosi out of respect. So let’s call them…Ngorongoro. Ngorongoro is a protected area of Tanzania where lions and hyenas basically wage constant war. Golf clap for me.
See the full PDF here with the OGL included