Saturday, May 16, 2009

Knockspell Magazine #1 Belatedly Reviewed

Now that the second issue has come out, I am going to very belatedly review Knockspell #1, which I ordered a print copy of long after it first became available.

Production value: The first thing I'll say is that it's a little pricey to be honest - $10 for a 61 page magazine (not including shipping). Still, it has almost no ads, and the few that it does have you're glad to see there (for example, there's an ad for Goblinoid Games' Labyrinth Lord). The print magazine is manufactured by on a print-on-demand basis - I think there's something about Lulu's printing process that turns things a slight shade darker than the original artwork, and I suspect this is why the front cover might be just a tad more black than originally intended - still, the art work lends itself to this effect, and I'm a big fan of what art I've seen by the cover artist (Peter Mullen). The 8.5"x11" pages are crisp, the font is very readibly sized. A lower priced electronic download version of the magazine is also available.

There are a few columns as well as about 15 articles in this issue, a few of which are dedicated to player and non-player character classes for use with Mythmere Games' Swords & Wizardry rules. The latter is essentially a clone of the original D&D rules by Gygax from about 1974. These are easily adaptable and could be used with the red/blue box versions or clones, or even with first edition AD&D/OSRIC.

Of these, my favorite is the Necromancer NPC class, which is an absolutely great contribution by author Scot Hoover. Necromancers as a class have been described before, in Dragon magazine if I remember correctly as well as at least one other fan zine I've read. This particular contribution is very well fleshed out, with extra spells, limitations, and upper level constraints and abilities. I can see some of my players being thrilled to see this article and they'd probably love to play the class as outlined here (even though it wasn't really intended for players).

Of the other articles in this issue, my next favorite was probably the short "Random Hireling Generator" by Richard Lionheart. The included tables will definitely find use in my campaign where hirelings figure prominently due to the low level of the PCs.

An adventure for 4-6 PCs of levels 4-7 is included, "The Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent", whose main villain is actually a Necromancer himself.

There's only one article that I really thought of as "filler" here. I'm looking forward to the much larger second issue to come - if you're a fan of the early editions of D&D or the so-called retro-clones, you'll enjoy this magazine. A great premiere and I fully expect even better issues to follow based on the intelligent editing and selection of contributions found in this first issue.


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