Knave 2E: An Interview with Ben Milton

Ben Milton is an expert on the OSR (RPGs similar to older D&D editions but many with new innovations) and a game designer who adds to the options in that space. His RPG, Knave RPG: Second Edition, is currently on Kickstarter with a bit over $423,000 funded as of this writing. Ben was kind enough to talk to me about his second edition RPG and OSR RPGs.

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Charles Dunwoody (Charlie): Thanks for talking with me Ben. If you had one paragraph to describe Knave 2E for RPG gamers mostly unfamiliar with the first edition, how would you describe the RPG?
Ben Milton (Ben):
Knave 2E is an exploration and resource focused RPG inspired by the best parts of the OSR. It has classless PCs that are mostly defined by the gear they carry and the ability scores they choose to raise, and it contains a huge toolkit for building and running open-world sandbox-style campaigns.

Charlie: What options can players look forward to in Knave 2E?
Ben:
PCs are intentionally very minimalist, which is in keeping with the old-school tradition. Gaining more character options mostly comes from questing for magic items, hiring mercenaries, learning new spells (which all PCs in Knave can cast), and so forth. Special moves in combat can be created spontaneously through maneuvers, which allows for a lot of creativity.

Charlie: Knave 2E includes over 75 d100 tables to rapidly generate dungeons, overworld regions, cities, monsters, items, spells, NPCs and factions. What advice do you give GMs in successfully using this wealth of adventure and world building options?
Ben:
You don’t have to roll for everything! One of the main ways I use the tables is just to scan them for ideas, or combine them with items from other tables to create results that I would never have come up with spontaneously. You also don’t have to build a whole world ahead of time when playing a sandbox-style game. You only need to start out with a small local region and let things grow naturally from there. Ask you players at the end of each session where they plan to go next and focus on fleshing that out. If they wander off in an unexpected direction you can use the tables to quickly generate unique encounters for them to interact with.

Charlie: What items are you offering through this kickstarter?
Ben:
Knave 2E comes in two versions, both of which are digest-sized hardbacks: the standard edition has a beautiful, wraparound cover painted by master illustrator Peter Mullen and the premium edition has black cloth binding, gold foil, and a dungeon map design debossed directly into the cover. The contents of the two versions are identical and they are both packed with Peter Mullen’s gorgeous black and white artwork. I’m also offering a number of zines that can be purchased along with the books. Maze Rats is a short, minimalist OSR system that’s great for playing with kids, The Waking of Willowby Hall is my Ennie-Nominated mansion-crawl adventure, and Summer’s End is a collection of 12 one-page adventures that can be dropped into your campaign world. Note from Charlie: Summer’s End is available in print for the first time in the kickstarter.

Charlie: What are some of the innovative changes being created by OSR creators and how are you involved in these changes and improvements to RPG gaming?
Ben:
I think the biggest effect the OSR is having on the industry right now is re-popularizing the sandboxy, location-based style of play, where GMs are focused on designing places and situations rather than plots, and where the “story” of a session is just what emerges from the PCs’ actions. It’s not a playstyle for everyone, but it’s a lot of fun for groups who favor exploration and player initiative. Other than Knave 2E, games that are doing this really well include Worlds Without Number, Old-School Essentials, and Electric Bastionland. What makes the OSR really shine though are its settings and adventures, books like Winter's Daughter, Veins of the Earth, Yoon-Suin, The Stygian Library, or Hot Springs Island that are just bursting with flavor and creativity. My involvement is mostly through my YouTube channel, where I try to expose these often niche books to a wider audience.

Charlie: Besides the kickstarter, where can fans go to find your work?
Ben:
The main hubs for my work are my Questing Beast YouTube channel and my monthly newsletter The Glatisant.

Charlie: Many readers of EN World are D&D 5E and Pathfinder players. What would you say if they asked why should they should try Knave 2E and other OSR RPGs?
Ben:
I’ve tried to make Knave 2E as useful as possible for everyone, even if you aren’t interested in playing OSR games. The huge amount of worldbuilding generators and content is a big part of that. However, if you are interested in dipping your toe into the old-school waters, Knave 2E is a great place to start, and its rules and guidance are designed to be much more approachable to newcomers from 5E and Pathfinder than jumping straight into something like B/X or AD&D.

Charlie: Any final comments you’d like to share with the readers of EN World?
Ben:
Thanks for reading and I hope you check out Knave 2E!
 

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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody






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