Monday, May 18, 2009

Knockspell First Impressions

Matt Finch apparently took exception to the fact that I didn't mention reading Knockspell in my longer post the other day. So he gave me a free PDF copy of #2 to peruse.

Now, first off, let me say that I've never had anything against Knockspell or Swords & Wizardry. I consider myself a Labyrinth Lord guy only because I settled on that game when I was casting about for rules for my current online game, and because Moldvay was my entry to the hobby. I've known about S&W, and Knockspell, but I haven't paid them much attention because I've been busy with my game and new job and there are only so many hours in the day.

But I'll admit that word about Knockspell #2 had me intrigued. I'm looking forward to reading it. So far I've only had a chance to digitally thumb through it. My first impressions?


I was not prepared for what I saw. Understand, I love Fight On! and Green Devil Face. They're both fun and useful to my games. They've both also embraced a fun, playful, home-made feel that just oozes enthusiasm and a spirit of YES-do-try-this-at-home! I love that.

Knockspell ain't like that. Knockspell oozes professional style and production quality. That's not to say it's unfriendly. Not in the least, but it's a highly polished product that's easier to read than some national news magazines (Time, I'm lookin' at you).

I'm going to do something I hope Mr. Finch doesn't mind, but I think you really need to see this. This is a portion of the table of contents from Knockspell #2. That's right, this is a full-color magazine, all the way through. While most of the (jaw-droppingly good) art is old-school black-and-white, color is used to good effect throughout the magazine. The entire product just oozes polish, craft, and love.

Click that pic to blow it up to a readable size. Notice the use of color to block off the editor's note? And the excellent use of fonts to clearly delineate the different pieces: title, author, and page. This is pro-level work, folks.

Another thing that stood out for me is something I miss from the old days of Dragon magazine: ads! Even if I never bought the products or played the games, advertisements in RPG magazines were always neat spurs for new ideas for my games. The ones in Knockspell appear to be primarily for blogs you probably already read, but they're still a neat source for cool ideas, and since the blogs are free, I can check 'em out and make sure I'm not missing anything really good. And the ads for Age of Fable and Road of Knives were as inspiring as the ads for minis back in Dragon of the 1980s.

The art really is amazingly good. I'm not going to step on the artists' toes by posting any of it here. Trust me, get the magazine and see for yourself.


Restless said...

Is the print version color, too? I picked up the .pdf since I expect it will take forever for the print copy to get here. It's very well done, but I kept thinking that in black and white print it will lose something.

Then again, apart from a first read on paper, I suspect the .pdf will see a lot more use.

AndreasDavour said...

Glad to hear I'm not the only one with less time that I need to read all the gaming goodness. Reading reviews hours after books go online is till jarring to me!

trollsmyth said...

Restless: I wasn't sure, so I asked Mr. Finch. He says, "The print version is b/w on the inside - Lulu charges an arm and a leg for full color, unfortunately."

Matt Finch said...

:) I didn't take EXCEPTION to the fact you hadn't mentioned it, I just figured that if you hadn't mentioned it you hadn't seen a copy yet. :)

The print version interior is black and white, simply because lulu charges an arm and a leg for color interior pages.

Mr Baron said...

I totally agree. Its really good. Matt hit a homerun on this one.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the first Knockspell was pretty darned good, but the production quality is outstanding here, kudos to the staff that put it together, layout, design and editorial work are all exceptional.