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Maze Rats
by Darcy [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2022 21:43:11

Super fun and easy - perfect for a quick game thrown together at the last minute. The spells are a revelation and one of, if not the best, spell casting systems around



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
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The Waking of Willowby Hall
by Chad B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2022 14:02:47

I can't really add much to what others have said, but this is easily one of the most fun adventures I've run in a long time. (For the record, my players encountered this at random while playing Troika!, it was pretty easy to scale things since most anything goes in that system.)

It's an interesting scenario for both DM and players, extremely well laid out and I am always thrilled to see maps I can use for the players.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Waking of Willowby Hall
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Knave
by Joe G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2022 20:17:33

Knave system is a DELIGHT.

I've been playing TTRPG for a couple years, when I turned to do my first DM'ing session Knave was fantastic. A quick read, easy to run rules, tons of room for fun creativity on your player's parts (I.E. List of 100 SPELLS!)

It fit perfectly into a mega dungeon I found online, gave my newbie 1st time Party the character creation pages. Everything flowed well and we had a blast. I High recommend if you want to try DM'ing, but feel overwhelmed by other beefy systems. 10/10 Review!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
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The Waking of Willowby Hall
by Seamus H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2022 23:50:09

THINGS I LOVED:

  1. The layout is about as good as it gets: Ben Milton, who is probably the #1 advocate for product usability in the OSR community, practices what he preaches here. Every room is keyed via its page number (rather than an arbitrary key #) so flipping is made easy as can be. Every time a room, object, concept, or NPC is referenced a page # is provided. Great bolding and hierarchical layout for information. Terse but evocative prose. Altogether wonderful.
  2. Tight, dynamic adventure design. A simple, exciting danger mechanic: a cloud giant circles the haunted house and slowly elevates the danger level within. The mechanic is easy, fun, actionable, and easily integrated in your regular random encounter roll. It makes the adventure feel very accessible for a GM: you understand immediately the sorts of things that playing this adventure will entail, and lends itself nicely to quick GM decisions on the fly to keep things moving and keep the blood pumping.
  3. Good random encounter tables. There isn't a particularly large number of things to fight in here but the encounters that are here are all awesome. In my playthrough, there ended up being an EPIC battle between the Death Knight, the fireball-hurling NPC wizard, and my PC party, who was also trying to wrangle the golden goose in a nearby room, which was on fire. It was unforgettable, people jumping out of windows, fireballs sending rooms up in smoke, the cloud giant peering in and trying to snatch up his goose, and a simultaneous impaling between the death knight and a PC to finish the fight. Boy were my players pissed when the Death Knight came right back! Great potential for awesome chaos in this module.
  4. ZERO empty rooms and lots of interactivity everywhere. Even the least exciting rooms always have good flavor text, stuff to poke or prod, or some level of danger. Things to eat (mushrooms, of course), collect (black candles), steal, read, draw, play (mini-games, harpsichords, etc.), or just admire in every room. Really, really, masterfully designed so that there isn't a single boring room in the whole place.
  5. Good, interesting loot! All the treasure here is unique and memorable: taxidermied wyvern heads, alchemical miscellany, ancient weapons, decorative urns, etc. None of the treasure is boring book loot.
  6. Honestly, great potential for more adventure here! In my game, two of the three NPC adventurers escaped the manor (Helmut got tossed into the woods by the Cloud Giant, poor fellow) and can definitely be recurring villains (or potential allies) for the heroes.
  7. Lots of tough problems which can be solved with other stuff in the adventure. Lots of dangerous weapons, for example, which could be used to kill the giant (bombs, ballista, lightning bolts and fire balls, etc.) even though my players never really considered that route. Lots of clues (in mapping and elsewhere) to the secret areas here.
  8. No fear on Ben's part in offering awesome, game breaking items. Even though my players handed the goose over to Tom about as fast as they got their hands on her, there are lots of awesome treasures in here which will absolutely fuck up your game world, make your players incredibly rich and/or powerful, and that's badass! Let the players have awesome stuff that changes your game going forward.

THINGS I HAD TO ADJUST:

  1. I ended up ignoring a few things that Ben wrote which didn't sit right during my individual playthrough of this module (this aren't criticisms per se, just small tips I'd have for others wanting to run the game). For example, my players were DEAD SET on negotiating with the Cloud Giant; I didn't want their foolhardy attempt at diplomacy to kill a PC outright in the first half hour of the six-hour session it ended up being, so I let them chat with him a bit. He didn't stop clanging the bell against the manor or anything afterwards, and still created danger for the PCs, but I let them be on neutral terms because they absolutely had their hearts set on talking to him. So I ignored the "Tom can't tell human-sized creatures apart" thing.
  2. I made the Owl Bear a bit tougher because with AC 10 and 18HP a large third level party (even with B/X rules, which I play with) can probably obliterate him pretty easily.
  3. I added a rule where skeletons turn as 3HD when enthralled by the Death Knight so that they couldn't all just be turned automatically by the lvl 3 cleric in my party, and I had them arrive in greater numbers. It made for a fun, goofy, Jason and the Argonauts feel as my players cut through them. But I LOVE the flavor of skeletons wearing aprons and cookware for armor and wielding mops and rolling pins.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This was a perfect weekend reunion game for two splintered groups of players whose characters had long been apart. It was an epic one-shot that will have repercussions for both groups, introduced lots of new NPCs and loot that will affect my game long term, and produced some awesome, awesome memories for everyone at the table. PLEASE BUY AND RUN THIS ADVENTURE! Your players will think you're an awesome GM, and that's what a good aventure does!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Waking of Willowby Hall
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Knave
by Baldemar G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2021 03:14:57

As simple as it gets while keeping the "big picture" intact. This is all you need to use as a gateway to other TRPGs, yet even by iteself, it can be the one and only system you use for your casual players or those you you know won't bother getting into the lore of many weapons, armors, cities, etc. A perfect game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
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The Alchemist's Repose
by Adam D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2021 11:24:16

The Alchemist’s Repose is a clever and inventive One Page Dungeon. The main feature that sets this OPD apart is the idea of programmable constructs. Littered about the dungeon are punch-cards that can be installed in various forms of construct (Armored fighting machine, Tooled repair bot, and a type of courier bot that can pass through magic fields unharmed). Depending on the type of construct and which of the 6 different punch-card programs are installed in said construct yields vastly different behavior and a multitude of possibilities and options. The dungeon itself is well layed out with 2 paths and some required retracing of steps. True to form for OPDs, the enemies are simple general concepts that you can stat according to your own needs and the ability of the party. Well thought-out and well-designed this is worth picking up to team with the excellent Maze Rats system for an enjoyable couple of hours of exploration for any experience level of player.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Alchemist's Repose
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Knave
by Adam D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2021 09:35:53

Knave brings to OSR something that has been sorely missing, namely a bare-bones framework that gives exactly what you need to run the classic published adventures with little to no conversion, and without any further rules to worry over. This system stands on its own, but is also very much ready for you plug in rules from any other system of your choice, and in this manner has become my preferred system for running my weekly games. Creator Ben Milton even goes so far as to include italicized explainations for his thinking for each rule, so you can decide for yourself if the reasoning stands up (it very much does). Combined with the procedural generators and Game Master's Guide from Questing Beast's also excellent Maze Rats, this could easily be the perfect place to start as a new GM/Referee. Pick up the outstanding adventure "The Waking of Willowby Hall" a set of polyhedral dice and some paper and pencils and you have everything you need for an exciting Friday night with your friends.

You certainly won't find better bang-for-your-buck out there, very well worth the price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
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Maze Rats
by Adam D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2021 09:15:43

Maze Rats has become my go-to for introducing new people to RPGs. From middle-schoolers up to roudy group of adults on a Friday game night, this system stands up, gets out of the way, and paves a path for memoriable adventures. Inside you'll find some of the best advice around for new referee/game masters including procedural generators for dungeons, cities, wilderness settings, NPCs, unique monsters and interesting spells. Many of the resources offered here will be useful even in systems other than Maze Rats. Well-worth the price of admission!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
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The Waking of Willowby Hall
by Jake C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2021 09:36:36

Great layout and really dynamic dungeon! Bolded keywords, the map is repeated every page with relevant rooms highlighted, the main map at the front keys the rooms with page numbers as well as gives a summary of what's inside, and a great mechanic for ratcheting the tension up a notch as they spend more time in the house. Ran it just yesterday and we all had a blast, itching to do it again for another group. With this and how sleek Knave was... I'm sure to be looking at anything Milton puts out!

Edit: I used some fan-made maps for VTT, here: https://www.reddit.com/r/osr/comments/mtjsub/the_waking_of_willowby_hall_vttready_maps/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Waking of Willowby Hall
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The Waking of Willowby Hall
by Sam C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2021 17:08:11

Had an amazing time running this, everything's laid out clearly and precicely, easily the most painless adventure I've run in quite a while. The loot is generous, the danger very understandable and ever-present and the progression of the waking mechanic keeps things fresh throughout with extra challenges and a slow build of action as the players progress through the mansion. I'm already looking forward to running this again with a new group to see how things change, as there's more variety here than you can see in one play through :)

I've had to dock a star though because the player maps (included as textless versions in the creators own words "for use on virtual tabletops") INCLUDE THE LOCATIONS OF SECRET DOORS. Please do NOT use these as player facing maps, they completely ruin several fun surprises, we were really disappointed by this when we noticed it by one of the players saying they try opening the door which was on the map but supposedly hidden behind something in the game :(



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
by Christian M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2021 02:36:14

Alright, there are a couple of cool things about Maze Rats. But here's one I'll mention - if you are a solo player, you should get this for the fun tables, even if you don't intend to play. There are so many awesome random generation tables that with any sort of oracle you should be ready to go with a fun adventure. I've been playing Maze Rats alone with the 'Maze Rat' solo play companion, and it's been great fun.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
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Maze Rats
by Richard H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/27/2021 15:21:51

Maze Rats is great for a quick game and even better when half your group didn't show to game night. It's simple, clean, and has everything you need to get into the meat of the action in a few minutes. Personally, I like more guts to my games so I lean towards Knave but having Maze Rats in my back pocket is great. Aside from it being a great pick-up game it's also a great solo game, Parts Per Million has a nice two page PDF to help you through any rough spots but Maze Rats already has so much in the game for generating adventures it's hardly needed. It's $3, just buy it and revel in the simple joy that is Maze Rats.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/02/2021 05:42:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Okay, so Maze Rats is a rules-lite, condensed version of the OSR-style of gaming; the system is more akin to games like Into the Odd than e.g. AD&D; depending on which pdf you consult, you’ll have pdfs of 12 or 14 pages – why? The 14-page version is intended for booklet-printing! Nice! The game comes with a character sheet in an extra-pdf; the sheet is included in the booklet-version as well.

This review was requested as a prioritized review by my patreon supporters.

You start the game by choosing one of 6 ability distributions (or rolling a d6 and consulting the table): There are three ability scores: Strength, Dexterity and Will. You will always end up with +2 in one ability score, +1 in another, and +0 in the third. As an alternative, you can roll 1d6 for each score: On a 1-2, you have +0, on a 3-4 you have +1, and on a 5-6 you have a +2.

Each PC begins with 4 maximum health, and 4 current health. Each level attained nets +2 maximum health. PCs recover 1 health when eating a meal and resting; 24 hours of rest recover all health. Medicine restores 1 health but only once per day. 0 health = death.

Each PC also gets one starting feature: +1 to all attacks, a single spell slot (usable once per day), or one of 4 paths: Briarborn (tracking, wilderness stuff), fingersmith (theft, thief stuff), roofrunner (acrobatic stuff), shadow jack (stealthy/infiltration stuff); in the danger rolls for the respective chosen path, you roll with advantage on danger rolls.

Wait, what? Yeah, well, I skipped ahead to character creation. The core mechanism of the game is that, when there is danger/chance of failure, etc., roll 2d6; on a success (10 or higher), danger is averted. You add Strength, Dexterity and Will bonuses to suitable danger rolls. Opposed danger rolls between characters call for the higher result. If a roll has advantage, 3 dice are rolled instead, dropping the worst.

The pdf offers a list of starting items, combat gear, and offers a table for appearance descriptors, physical details, backgrounds, clothing, personality, mannerism (all one-word lists).

The game knows 7 levels and has a brief table with XPs and the table lists benefits; you can choose each level, and either get an ability bonus or can pick a feature, so no class-corset and one meaningful choice per level attained.

Initiative works in a simple manner: You roll 1d in the game’s parlance (the game only uses d6s, but I’m using 1d6 instead for clarity), and the higher side goes first; the entire side. Yes, this means that you have a chance each round for two consecutive turns for the entire party, or the entire opposition. Ouch! Each round, a character can move 30 ft. and take one action. Casting spells, attacking, drinking potions, etc. – all actions. Ambushes make you go first and yield advantage on all rolls during the first round, with the leader of the opposition getting a Will danger roll to avoid it. Combat works thus: Characters have a base armor rating of 6; light armor nets +1, and so does a shield; heavy armor nets +2. Characters in heavy armor can’t gain advantage on Dexterity danger rolls or surprise attack rolls. Heavy weapons require two hands and inflict +1 damage. Attacking works via the core mechanic: You roll 2d6 and add the attack bonus applicable (sourced from your ability scores); you can’t attack with a ranged weapon in melee. The attacker’s total is compared to the defender’s armor rating; if it’s MORE than the armor rating, the attack hits and deals damage equal to the difference between the armor rating and the result. A result of double sixes is a critical hit and doubles damage. If a hit character has a shield, they may choose to sacrifice it to absorb all damage.

The system comes with a simple NPC-reaction chart, and encumbrance is also interesting: Belts can hold two properly-sized items; backpacks can hold what a backpack can hold, but it takes 1d6 rounds to retrieve something from it. Magic is pretty free-form: You roll 2d6, one die indicating row, one indicating column: We have essentially physical effects, physical elements, physical forms, and the same for ethereal effects, elements, forms. The magic system requires some degree of GM skill regarding improvisation, and RAW lacks any meaningful PC control – “Magic, do what thou wilt!” Whether that’s a bug or a feature for you depends on your tastes. The pdf also provides a brief mutation, insanity and omens/magical catastrophe list.

The monster rules are simple and work pretty much analogue to the character rules, but with +4 being the highest bonus critters can have. You can roll quickly on a base to determine aerial, terrestrial or aquatic animals, then add monster features, traits, abilities, tactics, personality and weaknesses. These all are pretty much one-word baselines.

The pdf has such one-word tables for civilized NPC professions, underworld NPCs, wilderness NPCs, a list of female and male names, upper and lower class surnames, assets and liabilities as well as NPC goals, misfortunes and missions. Add methods, appearances, physical details, clothing, personalities, mannerisms, secrets, reputations, hobbies, relationships, divine domains, and a brief carousing table.

Treasure and equipment follow a similar approach: Basic prices are given for item categories, and then, we have category-style lists, like “Tool Items”, “Miscellaneous Items”, etc. These one-word tables are also used as a baseline for city-creation, wilderness-creation and dungeon-creation. The pdf does include a brief play-example, and offers some beginner’s advice for GMing/creating the respective environments, etc.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard sans art. (It should be noted that one page contains 4 columns.) This is a very dense game. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t absolutely require them at this length.

Ben Milton’s “Maze Rats” is probably one of the best “teach to play roleplaying” games I’ve seen in quite a while; it is easy to grasp, concise in its presentation, and manages to actually squeeze some meaningful choice out of its rules lite, simple and elegant chassis. Indeed, pretty much everything on the player-side is very elegant; on the GM-side of things, the relatively free-form magic would have perhaps warranted some guidance, but that’s about the worst thing I can say about this game. Maze Rats triumphantly succeeds at what it sets out to do, and personally, I prefer it over the author’s other rules-light game Knave, though that is primarily a matter of taste. There is but one thing that kinda annoyed me: You can’t copy text, and you can’t search the pdf; I am no layout artist, but that stuff bothers; since I run lots of different systems, being able to parse together my own cheat-sheets its really helpful.

That being said, for a paltry $3, you get one damn elegant ultra-rules-lite game. This is geared for one-shots and very short-campaigns (as evidenced by the swift XP/level-progression), but man does it handle its subject matter well!

Now, as a person, I like more choice and build diversity in my game, I prefer campaigns, and I’m not a fan of the free-form magic, but as a reviewer, I do see the value of a system of this simplicity and smooth elegance, and what is a bug for me might well be a feature for you. As a reviewer, my preferences should not unduly influence the verdict, and frankly, I can’t help but admire how condensed, precise and elegant this little piece of RPG-design is.

As such, my final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval. If you’re looking for an easy to teach ultra-lite setting-agnostic fantasy RPG, then this will be what you definitely want to try out.

Oh, and there is one other benefit for fellows like yours truly, even if the book, in the long run, is not your cup of tea: If you or your Maze Rats players at one point want more choices and means to differentiate characters mechanically from each other, then the mechanics of this game will make it easy to adapt to Best Left Buried, easily one of my favorite games. Heck, I’d teach people to play with this game, then graduate them to BLB, but that’s just me.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Maze Rats
by Sebastián G. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2020 19:54:31

Maze Rats is an elegant and minimalistic OSR that aims to create fast and very narrative characters and adventures. Mechanics are simple enough to don't bog down play and tables make for very colorful characters and situations.

One interesting point is that characters are mainly defined by the equipement they get, being a classless game. For example, one of my players received a shovel, lamp, big sac and other stuff, so decided to be a tomb robber. The other one received three shackles, so slaver. If you have imaginative players, this game is pure gold.

More people should value (and play!) Maze Rats as a game on its own, and not just because of the amazing random tables it brings.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/02/2020 09:44:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This game clocks in at 7 pages, laid out in a horizontal 3-column style that crams a lot of information on each page.

This review was requested as a prioritized review by one of my patreon supporters.

So, what is Knave? It is essentially a very rules-lite toolkit that is designed for general compatibility with OSR-games; the first column of the first page makes the basic design-tenets of the game pretty clear, and character creation is a straightforward manner.

Knave knows the classic 6 ability score, each of which has two related values, a more complex approach than what some games offer: These would be the defense, and the bonus. For each ability score, you roll 3d6. The lowest value you roll is the ability’s bonus. To determine the ability defense, you take the lowest roll and add 10 to it. Say, you rolled 1, 6, 5, then you only have an ability bonus of +1, and an ability defense of 11. You get to switch 2 ability scores after rolling the dice.

Strength is used for melee attacks and saves regarding physical power; Dexterity for poise, speed, reflexes, etc. Constitution deals with poison, sickness, environmental influences, etc. Intelligence is all about concentration and precision, wielding magic, recalling lore, crafting objects, etc. …No, I did not fail to mention something. In a somewhat odd deviation from the standard, Wisdom is the governing ability score for ranged attacks, and it deals with perception and intuition. Charisma deals with persuasion, intimidation, etc., and Charisma bonus caps the number of henchmen at a point.

Saving throws are based on ability scores: To make a save, you add the ability bonus to a d20, and compare the value with 15 – on a value GREATER than 15, you succeed. If the save is opposed by another character, the difficulty of the save is instead the enemy’s defense score. As usual by now, there is an advantage and disadvantage option to modify results. Roll 2d20, take the better, or worse, respectively. Advantage and disadvantage also apply in combat.

A PC starts with 2 days of rations and a weapon of the player’s choice, and you get to roll on the starting gear tables. PCs have a number of item slots equal to the Constitution defense. Most items take up one slot, but some take up more. Armor has a defense value, and it has a defense value of its defense minus 10. An unarmored PC has an armor defense of 11, and an armor bonus of +1.

Knave has no classes, so you roll 1d8 for starting and maximum hit points. A PC’s “healing rate” (per rest – this is explained later in the pdf) is 1d8 + Constitution bonus. Exploration speed default is 120 ft., combat standard speed is 40 ft. Then you add fluff, et voilà. Done.

Reactions are rolled with 2d6, and we have the 5 classic attitudes (hostile -> Helpful); creature morale is usually between 5 and 9, and rolled with 2d6: On a roll greater than morale, the monster tries to flee. Hirelings are also subject to morale rolls. Initiative is determined with a single d6 roll: On 1-3, all enemies act first, on 4-6, all PCs act first; this is rerolled every round. Each round, a character can move their combat speed, and take one combat action. To make an attack, you roll d20 and add either Strength bonus (melee) or Wisdom bonus (ranged) and compare that with defender’s armor defense. If the roll is greater, the attack hits. The game notes an alternative, where the defender gets to roll a d20 and add armor bonus, making that part a contested roll (opposed roll, in the system’s parlance). These opposed rolls are also used for stunts, such as disarming, doing extravagant stuff, etc.

On a successful hit, you roll weapon damage. If your weapon is suited for the enemy (such as attacking a skeleton with bludgeoning weaponry), you get an additional damage die. On HP 0, you’re unconscious; on -1 HP, you’re dead. I noticed advantage in combat before – when you have that, you can gain the standard benefit, or make an attack AND a stun attempt.

If an attacker rolls a natural 20, or if a defender rolls a natural 1, the defender’s armor loses 1 point of quality, and they take another die of damage; the inverse is true for the weapon of the attacker, though on such a fumble, the attacker takes no damage. Items reduced to 0 quality fall apart. Okay, so what if both roll a 20? Or what if both roll a 1? Nothing?

PCs gain a level at 1000 XP, and suggested standard values for XP awarded are provided. Upon attaining a level, the PC gets to roll their new level in d8s; if the result is less than the previous maximum, the old maximum increases by 1 instead; otherwise, the new roll is the new maximum hp. Additionally, defense and bonus of 3 ability scores of their choice are increased by 1. Abilities cap at 20/+10.

The character generation also includes a whole page of dressing and starting gear: These mostly are 20-entry tables with one-word tidbits: Physique, face, skin, hair, clothing, virtue, vice, speech, background, misfortunes. Alignment follows the single-axis paradigm, and the starting gear tables do their job. Another page deals with equipment and uses slots and quality as pretty nice limitations. The default currency is copper, but that’s easy enough to alter, should you so choose.

Okay, re magic: In Knave, you can only cast spells of your level or less, and spells are cast out of spellbooks, which must be held in both hands, the spell read aloud. Each spell book can only be used 1/day, and each spellbook holds only a single spell, and thus takes up an item slot. This is the option that maintains compatibility with the standard 9-level spellcasting of most OSR games. An odd choice here is that all spells, be they a level 9 spell or a level 1 spell, take up the same spellbook; it rubs me the wrong way, but I get it – it’s a conscious choice for the sake of keeping the slot system simple. Spell books may not eb copied, transcribed, etc. – like in DCC, the only option here is to quest for it. Quick conversion guidelines for most monsters are provided.

The remainder of the pdf, is, somewhat to my chagrin, made up of 100 level-less spells; these last for caster’s level x 10 minutes if ongoing, and when referencing item, they mean hand-held ones; when mentioning objects, these may be up to human size. Successful saves negate their effects. Now, I do enjoy level-less spells, and I’m particularly fond of “Wonder & Wickedness” by Lost Pages, but the framework provided for the spells here is a but too basic for me. To give you an example: “Time in a 40ft bubble slows to 10%.” Okay, love the idea; getting some concrete rules for this would be even cooler. As written, most GMs will have a hard time improvising how this works in combat. Or Spellseize: “Cast this as a reaction to another spell going off to make a temporary copy of it that you can cast at any time before the spell ends.” It doesn’t take a genius to note that the game usually has no reaction, so the timeframe when you can cast this is opaque at best (next round? Turn? Out of initiative order?). And don’t start with that “rulings, not rules”-nonsense-excuse often fielded for wonky design; Knave generally is very precise, and the spell literally needs one word to be precise, and the majority of rules language herein is very much precise. As a whole, the level-less spells are easily the weakest part of this system.

Conclusion: Editing is very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, there are a few minor nitpicks to be noted, but as a whole, can be commended. Layout adheres to a no-frills three-column b/w-standard, and the game comes with a character sheet pdf and with a docx-version to encourage you to hack the system – kudos for the latter in particular. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Ben Milton’s Knave is a skeletal take on a rules lite system that can be used with relatively few tweaks with most OSR-games. While it looks pretty unimpressive on paper and doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it plays rather well indeed.

As a private person, I did not like this game. I am not a fan of the swingy results of opposed rolls. I do not like that only the worst roll in character creation really matters. I don’t like that almost all character progression is gear game, and that Constitution is easily the most important ability score; why Strength can’t be used to determine slots RAW is beyond me. I don’t like that Wisdom is the ability score for ranged combat, even though I get the design decision that required this change in the simplified system presented. As a whole, there are many design decisions here that do exactly what they are supposed to do, but that rub me the wrong way. There are no real tactics in combat or serious character growth (as opposed to gear growth) that are the result of this system; what’s here is here in spite of it, imported via e.g. spells from other rules-systems. By design, mind you. The game notes no magic item guidance in its content, and e.g. a handy haversack or similar item imported to the system wrecks the slot-balancing. How would magic swords and their bonuses interact with the attacks? Some guidance for adapting magic items would have been nice.

I totally get why so many adore this game. It is precise (for the most part), inexpensive, and presented in a succinct and concise manner. The designer’s guidelines throughout do a good job explaining design decisions to laymen. As a reviewer, the one thing that’s missing from this is…a reason to play this particular game. Unlike other ultra rules-lite games like Into the Odd, there is, by design, no implicit setting, nothing unique like Arcana that would drag me; there is no focus on special weaponry, magics, etc. – because it aims to be a generally-applicable rules system that can be used with all OSR games – its biggest strength and biggest weakness.

For me, as a person, I probably won’t touch this game again; It’s fun enough to play, but I, as a person, either look for something rules-lite and distinct, with a strong theme and focus for shorter games, or something with more serious differentiation options for longer ones. For me, as a private person, my very subjective internal rating for this would be 2 stars, won’t play again.

My criticisms and personal dislikes aside, this IS a good game! It can be fun to play, and just because it’s not for me doesn’t make it bad, and I’d be unfair to bash this game for things that might well be features for you, even though they don’t work for me. Even though this may not be for me, I do hope this game thrives for what it does.

As a reviewer, I consider this to be a 4-star file; it leaves a few things open and could use a few unique selling propositions to set it apart, but if you’re looking for a minimalist, class-less OSR-compatible game that focuses on gear, then this delivers big time.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Knave
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