Rules for Magic, and the Speaking Gun


Knock Knock is this little cartoon game that manages to evoke utter terror in me. It does it with a simple trick: All the rules are told to you in-character, by multiple flawed and contradictory sources.

So, your little avatar tells you how to play the game. You move from room to room, fixing broken lights. Then he warns to to turn off the lights as soon as you fix them. He has a dream where something outside can see the lights go on.

Soon, you start finding pages from your diary. They make a counter-claim: monsters spawn in dark rooms, so you should leave all the lights on. They also start giving you the rules for some other games. Your avatar can't remember writing any of this. 


You hear voices: a man and a girl. They tell you things that seem to help, but they also laugh when you stumble into one of the shaggy things roaming around your house.

The result of putting the rules in these three sources: I can play the game, and I roam around the house doing things that seem to be working, but everything is shrouded in this mystery that gives me constant, terrible paranoia. Is this actually the right thing to do? Am I missing some crucial rule? What effect is all this actually having? Instead of following orders, I'm piecing them together something mysterious: A detective, instead of a soldier *

  • Follow the rules of the game! Of course you must first understand the game being played with you.
Obviously this is how magic items should work. Scholars and soldiers and folk-tales all disagree on what it is, what it does, and who made it. Your players have to piece together which, if any, of these claims are true.
  1. Pistol: Someone has crudely engraved a mouth on the grip. It's a common superstition, said to increase your aim. It recalls the legendary "Speaking Gun", which told Janus everything about his enemies, making sure he could never lose.
  2. Theological analysisThe "Executioner that Spoke" was actually a metaphor for the terrible indiscretions of Pope Johan Riechart III. The original text describes a bloody tube that destroys the sinner's enemies, but eventually turns on him by "Speaking his name", and thus "Scattering him to every corner of the earth." This represents the Pope's trio of murder-men, who spoke his name in court and thus sentenced him to torture and death. 
  3. Local folktale: Jakob was an envious man, who prayed and received a miraculous pistol. Jakob turns the pistol on a picture of his brother: it speaks his brother's name, and Jakob inherits his brother's wealth. He points it at a portrait of the king: it speaks the king's name, and Jakob inherits the crown. Finally, he runs to the cathedral and points it at the fresco above - but this time, the gun speaks Jakob's name, and he is turned into a monster.
  4. Children's book (1sp):
  5. Journal of a Satanist (Worth 1,000g to the church, who will destroy it and/or anyone who's read it. Written in an ancient language)They cut out god's tongue. That's why he doesn't speak anymore. I saw it, on the lowest level: A vast hollow tube. There's no wind down there, but something moves through it. 
  6. Superstition: If you speak someone's true name backwards, they are unmade completely. They do not exist, they will not exist, they have never existed.
  7. Religious text: But Joseph descended from the mountain; and in his left hand was a great light. And it called Mahanaim, and Edom, and Careb; Nahbi; Kibzaim, Keziz, and Samuel; and all it called fell down around him.
  8. Mural in ruins of civilization (5,000g if it can somehow be retrieved for a gallery). Panel 1: An old warrior. Panel 2: He enters a tent, where a lump of flesh sits on an altar. Panel 3: He points the lump to his head (right handed). Panel 4: His body is stripped from him. Panel 5: His soul wreaks havoc on the enemy.
  9. Asylum patient records: ...strange wet noises coming from his hand. Heinrich claims the "Gun" suckles on his palm. He takes this as more evidence that the thing loves him. No matter how many times I throw the thing away, he somehow manages to get it back in his hands again.
  10. Asylum records:..has been completely mismanaged. Several patients have gone years without being assigned a psychiatrist. Heinrich still claims he had a "Dr. Reed", which the gun devoured. Unable to find anyone of that name in our records - possibly a childhood friend of his?
  11. Black box d10 x 50g: Inscribed with symbols of an ancient cult. Inside is a tiny lump of meat on a velvet cushion, clearly once part of something larger. They say that cult used to have a stronghold on a mountain to the east... 
  12. Statue: Man holding up his left palm, which has a hole straight through it. Often placed at entrances and windows, to guard against spirits. The hole is designed to make an eerie whistling when the wind blows through it.


*Ice-Pick lodge loves using this trick. In The Void, you learn from 10 sisters and 10 brothers, who all explain the rules from their own points of view. The first sister, for example, tells you how to progress in the game, then warns you not to do it under any circumstances. Don't go out into the game, don't try to win. If you stay here in the tutorial, time will never go forward, and nothing bad will ever happen. We can live here forever.

When you leave her island, something terrible happens to her.
Tyrant, one of the Brothers