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Maze Rats
by terence a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/15/2020 11:00:36

Worth it for the tables alone at full asking price. Being able to print it out as a booklet makes it even better and the format is pure Mithral.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
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The Alchemist's Repose
by James H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/13/2020 13:44:05

Absolute fantastic layout and design, it's astounding something this good is all on one page! The perfect module to drop into any type of TTRPG.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Alchemist's Repose
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Knave
by Brian R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2020 12:54:34

The following is a shortened version of a review from my weblog "Welcome to the Deathtrap". You can read the whole article here: https://deathtrap-games.blogspot.com/2020/04/game-review-knave.html#more

Game Review : Knave

Author: Ben Milton Publisher: Questing Beast Games Game Engine: OSR Dungeons & Dragons Market: DrivethruRPG

I am a huge fan of Ben Milton. When I first started looking at ways to make Dungeons and Dragons faster and more enjoyable, he quickly became one of my favourite sources for both RPG theory and product reviews for small press role-playing games. I have bought both of his games, Maze Rats and Knave because I appreciate his channel and want to support it, even though I don't have the funds to become a patron.

I wasn't sure what to expect of Knave, because I honestly didn't like Maze Rats. It wasn't a bad game, just not my cup of tea. So, I was not sure if I would be getting a product that I would use, or if I was just giving back to Ben. It advertised itself as an OSR compatible game, however, and so I was hopeful that I Knave would be my speed. Not only was I not disappointed, but Knave impressed me with its innovations.

Knave's DNA is primarily D&D - both old and new. A Knave Character sheet will look familiar to most D&D players. There is Armour Class and Hit Points. It uses the standard array of six attributes and rolls them in order randomly. The game's unique rolling method delivers attribute scores between 11 and 16 start, weighted heavily to lower numbers.

What these numbers mean is slightly different from in standard OSR D&D, however. The statistics can go as high as 20 as the character levels up. The statistics are conceptualized as both a defense rating and a bonus. The Defense is equal to the classic D&D Attribute. The bonus is the defense -10 rather than using the curved bonus table in standard OSR games. At first these bonuses seem high, especially as attributes and hit points increase with levels, but aside from the six attributes, hp, and AC, there are no other character statistics. Without an attack bonus, proficiency, skill points, ThAC0, saving throws, or similar statistics, Attribute increases are the only way characters advance in terms of numerical precision.

Overall, Knave characters feel pretty much on par with an equal-levelled Basic Fantasy or OSRIC character, despite the very different numbers... and this is what really impresses me about Knave: it strips D&D down to its barest bones, removing almost all surplus mechanics, and builds something very different with that skeleton.

Knave definitely shows strong influences from another indie/ OSR game that I very much enjoy: Index Card RPG (ICRPG). In many ways, Knave takes some of the best innovations bundle. As in ICRPG, Knaves they are competent enough to try anything for which they have an appropriate item. A Knave with lockpicks can pick locks; a Knave with a spellbook can cast the spell within; a Knave with a battleaxe can split skulls. An abstract slot-based encumbrance system determines how much an Knave can haul around. Unlike ICRPG, Knave abandons class altogether, as the gear-based ability system renders them irrelevant.

However, where Knave goes off on its own to experiment with its own style of play and tools.

Good Points Knave has a lot to offer to someone either as a standalone RPG or as a set of rules to pillage for one's own homebrew game. I want to talk about some of the major stand-out features here.

Player Facing Option A "player-facing" game is one where the bulk of the dice rolling is made by players. When a roll is critical to the success or failure of a PC, only the Player gets to roll. This strips the GM of the power to fudge the game, while giving the Player a sense of personal ownership over results. I love player-facing games for the environment they foster at the table. They encourage ownership if the game by the players, and tend to encourage them to take more interest in how their actions create narrative.

Knave offers a guideline for creating a player-facing experience, and points put how easy it is to re-conceptualize the math for almost any contest in D&D to put the dice back into Player hands. While the math is not identical between Knave and D&D, these guidelines could be ported over with no friction.

Traits Tables Around 2/3 of page 2 of the incredibly text-dense (seven-page) Knave manual is dedicated to optional random tables to detetmine a character's non-mechanical characteristics. It includes some expected ones like Alignment, Physique, Background, and Clothes, but also some unexpected ones thst are very rich with ideas. Face, Skin, Virtue, Vice, Speech, and Misfortune allow you to quickly roll up a character with a detailed description, role-playing hints, weaknesses, strengths, and a sob story.

I love the contents of these tables, they are a wonderful mix of general, specific, common, and unusual to make it feel like you have a staggering range of possibilities.

Classless D&D In the 90s I often had difficulties convincing players to have a good old-fashioned game of D&D. Many players preferred "new and better" systems that were class-free. Class was seen by many players of the era as a straitjacket on their creativity when they compared it to (allegedly) classless systems like Shadowrun and World of Darkness.

By making character abilities solely reliant on the gear a character carries and the talents they hone with experience, Knave creates a classless (if "gamey") system. It solves the problem of class in D&D neatly in a way that doesn't involve just piling more classes and class options on the characters.

Copper Currency Scale Several of the OSR games that I have looked at recently use a different economic scale, preferring to treat coins of silver or copper as the base unit of exchange rather than gold. While I am not a stickler for Authentic medievalism in my games, I find the strange economics of a gold-based currency in D&D has always been a bit jarring; especially if you assume that peasants live mostly by barter or exchanging goods for mere pennies.

A copper currency base just makes more sense, especially if you take just a little time and research to make even slightly more realistic values for goods as Knave does.

Simple Mathematics Knave keeps its math simple. Because attributes are the only significant source of die roll modifiers, you don't need to keep track of a number of equations with moving parts. Keeping only positive modifiers, and a universal target number for the majority of rolls simplifies everything further.

Spell Ideas Knave's magic system is simple, and spells native to the game have no spell level. Instead, if a character has the appropriate spellbook, they can cast a spell. The majority of magic spells are a simple one-sentence description for the GM to use as inspiration for narratively resolving the effects of spellcasting.

What stands out in Knave is the sheer unusualness of the spells presented. There are dozens of odd, entertaining and fun spells on offer. A few of my favorites include:

Attract: L+1 objects are strongly magnetically attracted to each other if they come within 10 feet. Babble: A creature must loudly and clearly repeat everything you think. It is otherwise mute. Marble Madness: Your pockets are full of marbles, and will refill every round. Summon Cube: Once per second, (6 times per round) you may summon or banish a 3-foot-wide cube of earth. New cubes must be affixed to the earth or to other cubes.

I have already integrated a number of these spells into my game, and the comedic effect has already been worth every penny spent on the game.

Portability Rather than offer a huge selection of monsters, or an exhaustive interpretation of spells from D&D source material, Knave includes a guideline for using D&D / OSR content in Knave. The standard D&D stat block can be used with practically no conversion, and minimal math. Knave characters, despite being simplified from their D&D equivalents, tend to be pretty much on par in terms of ability.

Open Culture Knave is far enough removed from D&D that it doesn't require an OGL license. Instead, it is offered Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This is as free and open a product that you can make in the Creative Commons system. It makes it possible to create almost anything for- or out of- the Knave system that you care to.

Growth Points Extreme Minimalism Like Maze Rats, Knave is not just stripped-down in terms of game structure, but employs an economy of language and design that is incredibly tight. Knave comes as a complete role playing game on seven pages in landscape orientation of small font across 3-5 collumns per page.

If I were planning on printing the game, rather than reading it off my tablet, this level of economy would be very welcome, indeed. And I definitely appreciate the care and effort it takes to edit a game down to this level. It almost seems foolish to me to call this a growth point, because Ben Milton has accomplished exactly what he set out to do in writing this manual.

There is, however, something to be said for the fripperies and vices of RPG design that have been stripped out of Knave.

Suffice it to say that a traditional role-playing manual is as much meant to be enjoyed or experienced as it is meant to be a vessel for conveying rules. And, in the OSR it is also a means of supporting people in our community whose contributions we admire. I would have happily put down a few dollars more for an expanded edition of the game with art, layout, some monsters, and maybe a few adventures that show off what Ben Milton, as a game critic, finds most appealing, and that richly expresses his vision for a role playing game.

The NPC Reaction Table is a Proud Nail. I have always thought there is something deeply compelling on a philosophical level about the old 2d6 D&D NPC Reaction table. It teaches by its very nature that most people have no feelings about you at all. It is a good mechanic, and one we should not have lost in newer editions of D&D.

However, in a game with as tightly unified and simplified mechanics as Knave, it stands as something of a Proud Nail. Perhaps an alternate system built on the PCs charisma to generate a first impression might have been more consistent.

This is a minor gripe, all told. Knave brings its design A-Game to so much of the base OSR material, that seeing a part left untouched and outside of the unified mechanics of gameplay just seems strange.

Stunts in Need of Honing Much like DCC RPG's Mighty Deed of Arms mechanic, Knave resolves fancy moves like disarming, tripping, shoving, etc. with a single die roll mechanic: the Stunt. However, in as simplified a system as Knave we have no clear idea what a monster being knocked down, or an enemy being demoralized looks like.

My own GMing intuition suggests costing enemies turns, granting advantage to allies or disadvantage to enemies seem like obvious outcomes for a successful stunt. I feel, however that fleshing out that section of the book with another paragraph would be very helpful.

Underdeveloped Magic System The magic system in Knave is truly reduced down to its bare bones. A character can cast a spell for which they have a spellbook. Spells have no level or other requirements. A character rolls to cast the spell, and if he fails, cannot cast that spell again that day. The level of the character casting the spell may modify the area if effect or duration. The GM controls access to spells to keep anything he or she might find game-breaking out until it is appropriate.

Knave includes no spells that deal (or heal) damage directly in order to side-step a lot of mechanical questions about magic. It does not give guidelines for using spells to drop things on bad guys or slamming them against objects. This becomes entirely DM Fiat, which I don't necessarily object to, but having a good rule of thumb for having heavy stuff dropped on you would have been handy to keep Knave feeling self-contained.

The magic section goes on at length (relatively speaking) about adapting classic D&D / OSR spells, including making use of spell levels by making them the minimum required level for a knave to cast them. This is unnecessary; spells already don't need or use levels in Knave. The fact that PCs cannot make spellbooks means the GM can set whatever bar for access to a spell that they desire. Including simply not letting players find it.

Conclusion Knave is a stark seven pages of incredibly thought-out, innovative, and compact game design, punctuated by random tables and spells that show off an amazing creative flair. It is designed to work with any OSR style D&D material with a minimum of fuss, while using much simpler and more direct math, along with some of the modern conveniences of more recent editions of Dungeons and Dragons.

If I were asked to run a game completely by the seat of my pants, Knave would be my go-to game; It can be set up in seconds, and run out of almost any module I have on hand with very little prep.

The magic spells and random character generation tables are tools that I am already using in my games, and would recommend them to most anyone else looking for fresh ways to make magic or characters more interesting.

As is, Knave is well worth its price, and I would happily pay more for a version with some new monsters, adventures, and a little more fleshing out of the magic and stunt systems.

I would also have loved to see some art and manual design that reflects Ben Milton's creative vision and expertise. He can talk at length about what is impressive and compelling about a book's design. Seeing that knowledge fully deployed would be of great interest to me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
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Knave
by Brandon F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2020 01:28:31

I have absolutely loved this system since I've been able to get my group to give it a go. I first heard about it when I kickstarted another project that used these rules as a foundation.

Knave is a very lovely 'Basic' RPG system that has been a gem to work with. As with all systems, it doesn't cover everything that you'll want in your game, most likely. However the system is easy enough to work with that it's easy to make all of the modifications to get you closer to what you and your players want out of the game.

Yes, it's a short document. I can't even really call it a book. It doesn't have classes, feats, or specializations. The proposed magic system is incredibly stifling for would be spellcasters. Combat tends to be on the more lethal side. There's no big list of monsters for you to throw at your players. There are no special rules for social 'combat'. It limits inventory. There are no big magic item or treasure lists.

However, that's not a bad thing. If you're the type of GM who likes to play with the system, adding and removing rules to make it better fit how your game plays, then you may enjoy the simple structure of this system.

So, you will have to modify or make up your own monsters (trust me, it's not that hard) and if you may want to give your player characters 'perks' from time to time, extra little rules for that character that are special to them (like giving your assassin extra damage in special situations, letting your spellcasters toss around a spell a few more times, or giving your healer the ability to heal). I've found that this makes the player characters feel that much more special than just building a character from an existing class and having to find a way to make him feel unique.

All in all, I say give it a go if you're going to spend money on an RPG anyway. It's cheap, so you won't regret it too much if you don't like it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
by Paul O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/09/2019 16:37:43

A rare distillation: Everything you need for a good game, and absolutely nothing else.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
by Sweethome A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2019 14:17:05

This is literally the only good RPG. I often think about killing myself because this...this is the peak.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
by Anthony M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2019 20:35:01

I played Maze Rats with my 9 year old with zero preperation. We usually play Heo Kids, but we wanted something a bit deeper. The random tables of Maze Rats allowed for quick world building. The trasure tables allowed us to 'sweep and clean' the basement of an random in and find a nice mixture of stuff. The monster tables allowed us to pull a suprising foe together which fit the scene well. And of course the random spell creation made for a truely unique magic. Colletively this gives Maze rates a deadly, high-magic fantazy world with it's own feel. We had so much fun! (And no minatures were needed!)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
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Maze Rats
by Fil k. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/06/2019 21:11:25

Love this product. fast and easy on the fly generation for short-prep time adventuring. Have used this as the plot and challenge generator for my 5e gestalt-darksun-luchador-campaign. Also used for my eberron-whispering_woods-hexcrawl-campaign. 7 stars if possible.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
by Alexander D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/31/2018 18:35:56

I switched from Pathfinder to 5E D&D because I love how simple and flexible it is. It allowed me to share the hobby with a lot more people in my life because it was less intimidating and confusing and generally overwhelming. But that being said, a lot of times I'd have friends still reject the chance to do a one-off over board games because making characters would still take them at least an hour or two at the beginning of the night and that's no fun.

The point is, Knave is so accessible I got my mom to try it. Hell, I ran a one-off dungeon using Knave with my friends and in about 3 hours of play we went through 3 different parties because characters kept dying, and we could roll up new ones in about 5 minutes. I still love 5E a lot, and it'll be my game of choice in my regular group, but Knave is definitely my game for ad-hoc one-off sessions with miscellaneous people in my life who don't play D&D that regularly. It's fucking brilliant.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
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Maze Rats
by Theodore S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2018 16:01:43

My go to 1 shot for OSR adventures. I print out a bunch of generated characters from http://character.totalpartykill.ca/mazerats/ and have all we need for a fun night.

Highlights:

-The spell system engages the players and GM to make a cool story based on the word pairings -The tools table puts a focus on solving things through being clever over brute force -So easy and quick to get going, yet gives you all you need for a night of dungeon delving.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
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Knave
by Bryan F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/31/2018 20:41:36

I ran my first session of Knave last week. I've been DMing a 5e campaign for over a year and wanted to try something a little simpler. Character creation is really easy and fun, combat was fast and brutal, and we didn't have to spend half the session looking stuff up in the rulebooks. It was great. My players and I both had a lot of fun and we are excited to play again this weekend.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
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Knave
by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2018 07:23:28

A skeleton Alternative PC System suitable for use with your entire OSR library.

The game doesn't have classes. What differentiates one character from another is the gear the character hauls into the dungeon. Each item in the character's kit takes up one or more slots, including spellbooks which each contain one spell, usable once per day. The game doesn't address filling slots with tools to perform skills. This seems to be in keeping with the original game, which didn't waste pages on non-magic/non-melee rules. However, it would be interesting to see supplemental material expand on the kit concept, so that items like a Dark Cloak or Soft Boots allows a character to make Hide or Sneak Checks with their full Dexterity.

Very little was done to balance the encumbrance system and it will take some work on the group's part to come to a consensus on how certain things might work. For example, a weapon that does 1d10 damage takes 3 slots. A spell takes up 1 slot. As stated above, a spell can only be used once per day. But this slot can be filled with any spell the character finds. A 9th Level Spell and a 1st Level Spell use up the same amount of space. Spells have to be found during the course of play and the method of duplicating spell books has been lost to the ages.

As for magic, the 7 page ruleset dedicates a page and a half to alternative level-less spells. These spells get a line of description and don't always have scaling guidelines. The section is so roughly drafted that it should have been dropped in favor of a deeper treatment of the Encumbrance system or a bibliography of sources that present the subject of magic in more detail.

Knave seems to accomplish precisely what the author set out to do: Present a simple class-less OSR meant to get players up and running without having to teach them some times byzantine OSR concepts. I took marks because nearly 25% of the page count could have been spent more wisely.

I hope the kids the author runs games for appreciates his efforts and I hope he uses the money from DTRPG purchases to buy them all sturdy #2 pencils so they have something to write with while he extolls the virtues of having a high Constitution. Game on!

edit: grammar



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
by Brett M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/07/2018 00:58:46

There's really nothing too special about Knave. But it's because of this that it might just be one of the greatest additions to the OSR that I've ever seen. A lot of brilliant OSR games out there do one of three things: emulate the wheel, attempt to reinvent it, or a little of both. (read "wheel" as D&D) Labyrinth Lord? Emulation. DCC RPG? Reinvention. LotFP? A little of both

Here is what I believe lies at the core of the OSR: There are as many unique systems as there are gaming groups. Every group has different tastes, and the easiest way to match those tastes is by taking away or adding rules to the game.

However, all of the games out there, including old-school D&D, have assumptions built into them. DCC RPG assumes that your gaming group would rather have a crazy romp than a serious hexcrawl. LotFP assumes the opposite. ACKS assumes you'll make it to the later levels to use its subsytems. Even OD&D had the assumption that characters should be differentiated by classes/abilities. These assumptions are what create followings behind certain games. But what if there were a game that focused on having as few assumptions as possible?

In comes Knave. It doesn't try to emulate or reinvent the wheel. Instead, it seeks to be the axle that turns the wheel. The easiest way to explain Knave is to say that it just "is". It's like if you took the math problem 1+3=4, but got rid of everythning except the 1. Knave is the integer of role playing games. The lowest common denominator. You can't really say it's objectively bad, because it possesses no inherent meaning; that's something you and your group will flesh out as you play.

To wrap things up, I'll say that fantasy adventure games are meant to inspire wonder in players because of all the choices and freedom. Knave still does this. But it inspires Referees too because there's so much freedom to hack and add to the system.

Knave need not be your system of choice, but if you're interested in crafting your own game from the ground up, save yourself some time and use Knave as your foundation.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
by Jon S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/01/2018 12:37:32

When I saw author Ben Milton's g+ posting about his game I was intrigued and so spent a small fraction of my treasure hoard on this gem. And that is what it is! Having only just downloaded and read the game I’ve not played it yet, but reading it through I can see it is stuffed with smart and simple ideas. Some parts of the game borrow concepts from other ultra rules light games (Black Hack: simplicity and boiling things down to common sense solutions, Maze Rats: great random tables) and some features from bigger games (Torchbearer: value of resource management, Tunnels and Trolls: degradation of armour) and some are unique. But it reads as if it hangs together really well and could easily be used to build your own version of the game. Knave has been designed to be used straight with OSR resources and it looks like almost all monsters and magic items could be used with very little hacking or conversion needed. Excellent stuff Ben. I hope and expect this will build quite a dedicated little following!

Buy it folks!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
by Alex W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/31/2018 13:45:58

Concise rules, yet contain great design notes about why certain choices were made, and variants for you to consider. Great tables that I will likely find myself using in other games as well. Knave is definitely on the top of my pile for go-to systems.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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