You remember the days of non-digital gameplay? When we all gathered around a kitchen table, Cheetos and Mtn. Dew close at hand, dice at the ready, fresh character sheets in front of us? Of course you do; for many of us, that was just last week!
It has been said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If that is the case, Knights of Pen and Paper +1 is a love letter to the times we have hung out with friends, slung dice, fought dragons, and rescued princesses (or princes for that matter; hey, it’s a bold new world out there).
Knights begins as many fledgling P&P RPGs do: with character creation. The opening scene shows a would-be Dungeon master sitting opposite the player (and his soon to be created players. Its like play-ception…or something). You will need to create 2 characters in order to play. Character creation starts with the normative activity of picking a class. There are several to choose from, including but not limited to Fighters, mages, rogues, and clerics. More classes can be unlocked as you play. In place of choosing a race, however, we are confronted with a different choice.
Replacing the “race” portion of character creation is choosing a player to run the character. These choices are ripped from the (mostly) real world. Maybe your Rogue is your Little Brother (who consequently has the Unquiet skill, which gives +5 initiative for some reason). Maybe your cleric is played by dear old Granny. Perhaps the Pizza guy chooses to sit in as your warrior. There are several possibilities here. Each “player” comes with its own unique benefit, and will also add their own dialogue choices to your game as you play. The dialogue runs the gamut from traditional RPG turns of phrase, to all out 4th-wall-shattering statements (very likely about how the DM is a total tool).
Exiting character creation, you’ll find your surroundings changing. No longer enclosed by the trappings of the modern age, you’ll instead see the the walls and items around you have taken on the appearance of a dark and grimy dungeon. True to form in its desire to break the 4th wall, you’ll notice that the players, dungeon master, and playing table all still appear dead center of the screen. While you can modify the table (by unlocking and purchasing new ones), Knights keeps this pivotal play space to remind you that you are playing an RPG… about normal people…playing an RPG…(ow, my head).
Your first combat comes quickly enough, as you try to escape your new (yet moldy) environment. Set upon by the dungeons guards, you have no choice but to fight back. Combat is turn based, and includes a staple of most RPGs: rolling for initiative. While the player does not physically (or meta-physically? Digi-physically? Something like that..) roll the dice, it does serve to make each combat a bit different viaRNG. Your Rogue, for instance, might have a really high initiative score, but can still roll like $4i7, making them go last.
As each players turn comes up in combat, you have the option of attacking, using a special ability, or using an item. This includes most of your standard fare; health and mana potions, fireball spells, laying on hands, etc etc. Each entity in battle gets a turn, going from best initiative to worst. There is some strategy here, as initiative order is represented numerically above each participant. This could allow you to stack attacks on someone later in initiative, giving you the ability to potentially slay them prior to them getting a turn. Combat ends when only 1 side remains.
Players are rewarded at the end of combat with experience (all the levels!) loot (did I just get a bird beak? weird…) and coins. Coins are the interesting item here, as they not only purchase in-game in-game items (yeah, I know that looks like a typo, but it isn’t) as well as in-game bonuses (for instance, you can bribe the DM with pizza, purchased with gold coins you got in game). Crazy, right? Coins also allow you to recruit new players, assuming you have met certain criteria. The game supports up to 5 players/characters in the party.
Once the players get established, they are given an overland map, with multiple places to go. Traveling from place to place includes a roll to see if you are waylaid by bandits or other fantasy encounters. Areas like towns often have quests, vendors, and the like to poke at. Other sites might be monsters lairs, dastardly dens filled to the brim with treasure and beady-eye abominations. Players can go mostly where they want, when they want. Knights also allows players to stay in one place and grind combat to their hearts content, stopping only to rest at an inn to recover from a hard day eradicating evil entities.
Knights of Pen and Paper +1 is a great game for those of us still trying to remember how grapple works in d20 system. It has humor galore, and touches on a lot of the subtle nuances most P&P roleplayers have experienced in their time. For anyone who has somehow managed to live this long without making a save vs boredom roll, there is still a great game here. You may not get all the jokes, but the game itself is still fun.
So, what are you waiting for? Lets roll up some characters! You guys get started; I’m going over there to cast Magic Missile at the Darkness!