Knave: Second Edition
I’ve finished an initial draft of Knave 2e and released it for my patrons. It still has a ways to go, but if you’d like to check out its current state and give me feedback, consider supporting Questing Beast on Patreon! The new version includes 100 backgrounds with item packages, a weather system, dungeon crawling and overland travel procedures, a detailed encounter system, injuries for your item slots, and more.
Three adventures were awarded “The Best” by Bryce Lynch at 10 Foot Pole: The Blackapple Bruge, Demon Driven to the Maw (which I also flipped through in my recent zine video review) and Barrow of the Elf King. From the Demon Driven to the Maw review:
This sixteen page adventure details a nice party in a manor with about seventeen rooms … before things go to hell. It is everything an adventure like this (social/investigation) should be. Brad Kerr knows how to add flavour to a bit of scenery without bogging you down in useless crap. I want to have millions and millions of this adventures babies.
Bones of Contention reviews the 2010 labyrinth Lord adventure Wheel of Evil. Its particular interesting to see how very early OSR products created tight, engaging scenarios with just the bog-standard dungeon components.
By working within a known and stable set of conventions, the slight novelties and variations it introduces strike me as being all the more surprising and delightful. The excitement and tension within the module derives not from the vast possibilities arising from a sandbox or a more open-ended adventure, but from the juxtaposition of discrete mechanical parts (e.g. monster statblocks or traps with very particular abilities represented mechanically) whose interactions present very narrow paths of success.
Luka Rejec, the author of Witchburner, posted a response to some criticism of the adventure over on his blog, which turns into an interesting essay on the incomplete nature of RPG adventures:
Writers and designers should accept that they cannot provide a total roleplaying experience. Players should accept that every rulebook and adventure module is a skeleton that they must animate and make their own at their table.
Geek Gamers reviews d100 Dungeon: World Builder.
Dreaming Dragonslayer reviews Jon Peterson’s book The Elusive Shift (on the evolution of RPGs post-DnD) by selecting his favorite quotes.
Jorphdan, whose channel normally focuses on 5e material, takes a look at Old-School Essentials.
Grognardia reviews Spine of Night, a recent rotoscoped sword-and-sorcery film.
Welcome to the Deathtrap reviews the Into the Odd engine, Mark of the Odd, considering its mechanics, aesthetic, and game culture.
And Now A Word From Our Sponsors…
The Undying Sands is being reprinted, after receiving two ENNIE nominations for Best Cartography & Best Setting, alongside the Bottled Sea, an all-new Waterworld-esque spin-off. Expect a flooded realm of buoyant wastes, coral-reefs of multiversal debris, floating wrecks, and makeshift technology, littered with sunken vestiges ready to be explored.
The Friendly Local Game Store documentary explores the importance of the local FLGS to the gaming community. Watch the trailer here.
The Merciless Merchants present: Voyages on the Zontani Sea Kickstarter. Two adventures: The Cauldron (OSE) and Ascent of the Leviathan (OSE, OSRIC, 5e) and potentially several more in the stretch goals!! Kickstarter is now live, thanks for your consideration and support!
Abilities Considered Unnatural is a 52-page dungeon crawl through a temple-mine full of plasma blade wielding zealots for Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG. Twenty years ago, miners found something deep in the rock of an isolated rimworld. Inspirations include Star Wars, Aliens, The Caverns of Thracia, T1: The Village of Hommlet.
REACH OF THE ROACH GOD is an RPG adventure artbook from Questing Beast Award winners A THOUSAND THOUSAND ISLANDS. Three scenarios; three gazetteers; tools to create an underground world; a frame for a cohesive campaign. System neutral. Inspired by the caves of Southeast Asia. Crowdfunding now!
Have an upcoming Kickstarter or an RPG project in the works? Advertise in The Glatisant (7,900+ subscribers) or on Questing Beast (48,400+ subscribers) by emailing me at questingmaps at gmail dot com.
Rules and Game Design
Gavin Norman is playtesting a slot-based encumbrance system for Old-School Essentials!
d66 Classless Kobolds shows how to run a Dolmenwood faction system.
Geek Gamers gives a demonstration of how to run Old-School Essentials in solo mode by mashing it up with OSR products like Hot Springs Island, Knave, A Packet of Particular Peaks, Rackham Vale, and Rogueland.
Caput Caprae has a step-by-step guide to creating a Zinequest project (most likely happening again this February on Kickstarter).
Beyond Formalhaut has a detailed guide to setting up and running a hexcrawl, perfect for beginners.
All Dead Generations compares classical and Neo-classical dungeon procedures.
A Knight at the Opera talks about creating a “gritty realism” game and re-framing adventuring around weeks rather than days.
The hack of Twitch revealed that the the most profitable streamer on earth is…Critical Role. Professor Dungeon Master at Dungeoncraft gives his take:
At Collabs Without Permission, Vi hits up a local movie theater and interviews the people just getting out of Critical Role Season 3, Episode 1. For me, it was like looking into an alternate dimension. D&D is so huge that it now contains whole subcultures that have little contact with one another.
Johnstone Metzger is planning a new monster manual filled with some spectacular art.
Gavin Norman does a deep dive into the planned contents of the upcoming Dolmenwood hardcover book set.
Theory and Advice
Roleplay Rescue advocates for more infinite games where the goal isn’t to complete a campaign arc or level up at a certain rate, it’s just to play together in a shared world for the sake of playing.
Idiom Drottning discusses why D&D (or the open-source folk-tradition that is tabletop adventure gaming) has such staying power.
Location-based, exploratory, open-ended gameplay. I love it. D&D is a big ball of mud, it’s an Emacs, it’s a Unix, it’s a system of system of systems. Grab a dungeon here, some monsters there, some spells here, some oracle charts here. It all mashes up to this huge wonderful never-ending world to explore.
Against the Wicked City has a very useful post on differentiating PC powers that facilitate creative play from those that collapse the game’s fun.
Welcome to the Deathtrap examines what wargames can offer RPG players.
During a wargame, you see emergent play and narrative in an utterly unforced way. A story happens in a wargame, even though creating one is not its goall: Heroes emerge. Tragedies happen. You fear for some units, and feel triumphant for others. You see sacrifices made and judge the ruthlessness of your opponent or the nobility of a piece of plastic given a character in your imagination accordingly. This can be very humbling for a GM: you realize how little it takes for a satisfying and immersive experience to occur.
Prismatic Wasteland explains the Basic Procedure of the OSR, the question-and-answer structure that most of the game relies on, as well as a tweaked procedure that allow for more player contribution.
In Places Deep responds to Prismatic Wasteland with some reasons why players might not want to contribute to the worldbuilding.
Orbital Crypt has an extensive post on creating a huge sandbox campaign for an open table.
Lich Van Winkel has some ideas about how to think about coins.
The Bottomless Sarcophagus describes the goddess Lolth and her strange cults.
Throne of Salt invents a magic system for Mothership.
The core world governments like to say that devils are an issue under control. That they've been chased off to the Rim or sent back to Hell. That well-trained hunters clean up the ferals that show up earthside of the Margin. Those that come to parlay with the core powers wouldn't dare step out of line, cowed into obsequience by our superior firepower.
This is a lie, and everyone knows it.
Listing to Port has Ten Ghosts of Winter Nights to Come.
Caput Caprae has six wizard languages that allow you to speak to all things within a particular domain, living or unliving.
VIA: The language of roads, and bridges, and long traveling things. Spoken by horses, mules, ponies, wagons, carts, wheels, way-signs and -stones, roads, bridges, cobblestones, inns, rivers, backpacks, and certain generous stars. Wizards who speak via are often called mendicants, wanderers, or sages.
Rhystic Studies explores the gothic horror setting of Innistrad from Magic: The Gathering.
One of my favorite posts from this month: Was it Likely? creates a method for generating rich, terrifying monsters whose powers are anchored in their origin stories.
The howl of the Cauldron Wolf is intermingled with the cackling cries of the witch who still lives inside its gullet. Occasionally, her prognostications and prophecies can be heard mingled with the bitter hunting winds of night. Draw too close, and the witch's arms thrust forth from between the beasts jaws: dripping fingers, grey and wrinkled, trying to draw you into its gullet.
False Machine discusses what makes a setting feel big.
Wizard Thief Fighter expounds upon the concept of a metasetting and goes into some detail about The Lastlands.
A metasetting is also not something that can be played as written. But this is by design: it is not designed to be played. It is designed to provide a palette of colours and broad strokes and impressions and expressions, which the players can use to create their setting as fact at their own table.
William SRD looks into the history of Round Table Tournaments, a popular medieval sport where the participants larped as Arthurian knights.
Chance and Circumstance creates a comprehensive ludography of Dave Arnenson’s games.
Delta’s D&D Hotspot examines the evolution of encounter text in Gary Gygax’s adventure modules.
Wargames Illustrated shows off a collection of miniatures painted by John Blanche 40ish years ago.
Hexed Press interviews Yochai Gal, author of Cairn:
Monster Man interviews Zedeck Siew (A Thousand Thousand Islands) about his favorite monster.
GGNORE is back with an actual play of Demon Driven to the Maw:
That’s it for this issue! See you all in December.