I decided to use Knave for Bone Marshes because it was popular.
Ben Milton of Questing Beast is an atomic bomb in the RPG community. When he reviews something, that thing explodes. When he releases something, everyone explodes. He’s great.
So I figured I would ride his coat-tails to victory. If I was fast enough, I could be the FIRST adventure to be explicitly based on Knave. But I didn’t really like Knave at the time. I didn’t DISlike it…but I was mostly thinking of the marketing when I made that decision.
I’ve warmed up to it in a pretty big way. Some of this is a rehash of what I wrote a year ago. But I’ll try to say something fresh and new.
Knave was written, playtested, and designed by Ben, a HUGE fan of old school modules and other OSR games. He claims it’s compatible with most old school modules, and I’ve found this to be true. It plays well with Tower of the Stargazer, Ynn, and Tomb of the Serpent Kings, from my own experience.
Every game requires a little bit of tweaking, but Knave requires the least of the games I’ve tried.
So if you’re looking for compatibility with old-school modules, Knaves really does deliver.
But more than that, it streamslines a LOT of things that make those old games annoying:
Useful Stats. Every stat is useful for EVERY character. Really.
- STR is used for melee combat, lifting, smashing.
- DEX is used for running, jumping, dodging.
- CON is used for carrying capacity and healing.
- INT is used for spells and magic
- WIS is used for ranged attacks and wilderness knowledge.
- CHA is used for….okay Charisma can still be a dump stat if you ignore hirelings (like I do!)
Making WIS handle ranged attacks is really smart, and tying CON to inventory makes it THE more important stat (in my opinion, anyway).
Simple Numbers. Stats have a modifier equal to their value. STR+3, INT+1, etc. No weirdness with “A score of 23 means you add +4.5 to all dice rolls”. You just add the stat. And yes, the numbers are still compatible because…
DC 15. Almost everything has a Difficult Check of 15. All the time. Everywhere. This keeps things REALLY clean and simple. With a +1 you have a 25% chance of success. With a +10 you have a 75% chance of success. So everything falls in between those two extremes, which is REALLY nice.
Variable DC numbers always makes me nervous. “Did she fail because her roll was bad? Or was the DC too high for that challenge?” But Knave just puts everything at a hard 15, and it’s up to the GM to alter that if they want.
Item Slots. Items slots are in a bunch of games, but Knave does it particularly well. Tying the number of slots to CON means you get a lot of satisfaction when you increase that stat and can suddenly carry another thing. Items slots are just great.
Level-less Spellbooks. Why hasn’t this been done before? Limiting spells by level has always been a bummer. “How long until I get that awesome spell? 7 levels! Awwww…” But Knave spells scale with your level. Awesome.
Also spellbooks take up inventory space. Trust me, it works really well; magically powerful characters have bags filled with books and scrolls, while martial characters fill their slots with ammo, weapons, and armor. Spells also have to be discovered/purchased out in the world, rather than just being given out with levels. Awesome.
Random Characters. Lastly the character generation of Knave is quick and simple will still creating a wide variety of adventurers. I made a generator of my own, but it’s really not that hard to do by hand.
Knave is now my go-to
I pick up and drop new systems so quickly that I think my players hate me. “Hey guys, let’s try this new thing!”
But Knave’s compatiblity with old modules and it’s streamlined mechanics keep me coming back to it again and again. I can’t wait to run a bunch of old-school modules with it, and I’m proud to use it for Bone Marshes.
Buy Knave Here
It will bring you a lot more joy than a cup of coffee!