What is Knockspell Magazine?
Knockspell Magazine is the official magazine of the Swords & Wizardry project, a fan-based group dedicated to reviving and supporting old-style, free-form fantasy gaming. Conventional wisdom out there in the gaming world holds that every situation needs a rule – without rules, there’s no fairness, right? And games need fairness or they aren’t games – or so the story goes. And this attitude has led to complex games with lots of rules, “elegantly” tied together so the rules can’t be changed without tipping over the apple cart. Yet, there are those of us – and our numbers seem to be increasing daily – who have a different idea about fantasy gaming. Whether or not there’s value to that rules-heavy approach – and I think for lots of gamers there is – there’s also another model, our model, of how to play. In the “old style” of game, the referee uses rules that are either vague, or highly compartmentalized pieces, and only uses these rules as the basis for making on-the-spot rulings about what happens in the game as the players explore the fantasy world. To preach to the choir, for a moment, there are major benefits to this type of gaming: first, the referee and the players are more engaged with each other, with far more direct interaction, because the rules themselves come into play almost not at all. Rules don’t “get in the way.” Second, if the referee has some little quirk of his campaign world that ought to be represented with a bizarre method of doing something, that innovation isn’t likely to cause problems with anything anywhere else in the rules. Vague or highly compartmentalized rules are easy to house rule.
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