Knock! – Issue 2 is as good as the first. The Merry Mushmen have done it again, which is all well and good. I’m just struggling to define what “it” is.
Knock! is too fat to be a mere zine. It’s A5, that’s 5.9×8.25 and 226 pages. The physical copy has a wrap-around cover and paper minis inside.
Like issue 1, Knock! 2 has a mutant face peering out from the front. It is the sort of book you leave on the table, so visiting gaming friends have something to read while you cook dinner.
So, I’ve said Knock! 2 is too fat to be a zine, but it kinda is. I mean, there’s a whole collection of stuff on these glossy pages (130 gr, says the Kickstarter). There are, for example, four complete OSR-thrilling adventures.
There are random tables, maps, classes and rule suggestions just as you’d expect from a zine.
Perhaps it’s the art. The art is incredible and frequent, and enough to push Knock! 2 firmly into that impressively professional look that some zines never reach.
My photos don’t really do it justice, but you can check out more at The Merry Mushmen. Sadly, the DriveThruRPG Knock! issue 2 product doesn’t yet have a preview. But at least it’s on DriveThruRPG and a chance to buy the impressive mini-tome if you missed the Kickstarter.
The Merry Mushmen, aka France-based Olivier Revenu, describe the book as…
Being A Compendium of Miscellanea for Use with Old School Role Playing Games
There’s too much to list, and so here are some of my favourites;
Playing Dice With Death
Written by Philip Loe, Playing Dice With Death is a mini-game to play after the death of a PC. A gamble.
What level should the next character have? The same as the dead PC? Higher? Lower?
The idea here is that 2d6 can add a little risk and determine which level the next character starts at. The dice on these roles are worth XP in the verbatim rules, not levels, but there are twists.
The Anatomy of a Dungeon Map
The argument here is that dungeon maps might look pretty but are actually dull. Too often, designs are one-way rollercoasters.
What about less linear dungeon designs, or three-dimensional environments or even open areas counterbalanced by occasional pinch points?
A Dyson Logo’s map, The Winter Tombs, which will be released by Jim Pinto, is used as a walkthrough of a dungeon that’s less of a walkthrough. It’s an example of good, and the article makes some excellent points.
Five Tips For Horror in D&D
Written by Stuart Robertson with a fantastic illustration by Jason Higgins, this article takes on a scary thing – doing D&D with horror. High fantasy does not often lend itself to spooky tension.
We’ve description versus dice (a particular challenge for some OSR minds), suspense versus surprise, mystery vs mundane, clues vs chaos, and even fleeing vs fighting. Some clever wordplay there and many good points.
One key takeaway from me was that horror in D&D really needs your players to believe you won’t just give them “appropriate challenges”.
Too Much Worldbuilding
Blessed with an accompanying illustration from Goran Gligovic and written by Jack Shear, this article is written in landscape orientation in a book printed portrait. The digital edition may differ. Whereas I appreciate there’s something of a nod to worldbuilding by creating a landscape… it was a bit of a surprise to encounter. Fortunately, the section is worth the extra effort.
Harking back to some classic Google+ discussions (which was a bit of a haven for TTRPG discussions and still missed), most players don’t care as much for the details as DMs. More people have read Lord of the Rings than the history of Middle-earth, for example.
It’s not so much about tips here; it’s a wake-up call, a reminder for worldbuilders like me who tend to treat themselves too many details.
What Are Those Spiders Doing
Random tables by Ktrey Parker and (spot the trend) impressive art from Huargo Illustrador.
You’re bored of giant spiders as encounters but don’t want to cheat on a wandering monster roll. Trust yourself to destiny again, and these tables offer to add some flare to these common monsters.
What’s to say? There’s encountering a giant spider, and then there’s encountering a giant spider that is liquefying the organs of a stiff and pale orc.
Knock! Issue 2, like Issue 1, is a book you can read cover to cover while sprawling across the sofa or in bed. You won’t use it cover to cover as a DM. Instead, you’ll snack from it.
In particular, you’ll want to bookmark those random tables for quick access.
You’ll want to let friends read this but then worry you won’t be able to use the pre-written adventures on them then.
Knock! 2 is great, an absolute thrill and one for collectors. It’s not a straightforward decision, though. You might not immediately know what to do.
My recommendation is to pour yourself a glass of beer, sit back and read a few articles. Soak up the great art, enjoy the wisdom of fellows who think long, hard and cleverly about RPGs.
You’ll enjoy it. I did.
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