Thursday, 14 April 2016

Knights and Knaves

In a comment on a previous post I was asked what I thought of the Knights and Knaves supplement for Battlesworn.

Firstly I should say that I haven't tried everything in it, but I've read it through a few times so feel qualified to make at least a few comments.

What do you get? Well, the big selling-point are the new character classes - Acrobat, Alchemist, Assassin, Bard, Beast, Berserker, Chaos Warrior, Construct, Druid, Giant, Monk, Paladin, Pistoleer, Priest, Ranger, Swarm, Witch, and Witch Hunter. There's some interesting ideas within the classes and my feeling is that they are best used like spices; a small pinch here and there to improve flavour, rather than a heavy, dominating dose. A number of them are restricted in the numbers you can have anyway, and some are restricted in that they can't be in warbands with other types (a Witch-Hunter and a Witch don't mix, for example).

The restrictions are the trickiest bit actually. All of the characters are now limited as to which other types (including those from the original rules) they are allowed to multiclass with. In some cases this restriction is a list of permitted types and in some cases it's a list of excluded types. I understand that this was done for editorial reasons - some types can only multiclass with a few things, so it makes sense to list just them, whereas other types can multiclass with lots of stuff, so it makes sense to include the exclusions only - but it is confusing to read. Fortunately there is a helpful chart in the back of the book noting the exclusions as well as which types cannot be in the same warband.

I haven't played with all of the new types yet, so haven't encountered too many issues, but I suspect I will have questions about them eventually as just from reading I can see one or two things which aren't explained as clearly as they could be.

There's more magic; some twelve new spells. Some of these are specific to the new Druid class (who also shares a coupe of spells with the Warmage and the Sorceror), but a few are new spells for the basic magic classes as well. I haven't tried any of them, but some of them look interesting, even if the names are a little silly (Switcheroo - swaps the position of any two figures in line of sight; great spell, silly name). You also get rules for potions, talismans and other magic items, which I can't say I found very exciting (one or two silly things in there again), but which certainly offer guidelines as to how to run such things in a specific scenario.

There is an optional rule for tied bids called Escalation, which I tried once and didn't really like. It does encourage figures to get stuck into a fight, so might be worth it for a straight head-to-head game, but in a scenario the rules would sit pretty strangely.

Finally there are set of rules for playing Battlesworn solo, using a chart to determine the non-player bids for initiative and combat. This is cleverly thought out, and not to bad to navigate once you get used to it and understand why certain results are included. There is a priority system for NPC actions and reactions, but players are encouraged to ignore this in favour of 'sensible' moves if they are the more obvious choice. I certainly do.

In summary, this is a curate's egg of a book. You will probably find things you like in it and things you don't, but you can pretty much use it that way anyway. I've enjoyed the solo rules, and tried some of the new classes quite happily. Other things I've looked at and decided they are not for me, but they may be helpful in the future.

If you like Battlesworn, then it's worth the purchase.

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