A video game RPG about controlling a group of people playing a tabletop RPG. As silly as that sounds, that's the premise behind Knights of Pen and Paper, an indie RPG developed by Behold Studios and published by Paradox Interactive that takes cues from older turn-based RPGs, and blends them in the most meta way possible.
Controlling both the game master and a group of two to five players, the game follows a fairly stereotypical fantasy game campaign. However, there are a couple of twists. The first is that not only can the characters be customized, but so can the room where the game is played, which provides different statistical effects for the characters. The second is that the player mostly controls what kinds of monsters are fought, and how many, setting the stage for an easy or hard game depending on the player's whim.
This game is the first entry in the Of Pen and Paper series, which also consists of two Numbered Sequels (2015's Knights of Pen and Paper 2 and 2023's Knights Of Pen And Paper 3, both developed by Kyy Games and also published by Paradox), as well as a 2017 Sci-Fi Creator-Driven Successor by Behold titled Galaxy of Pen and Paper.
Knights of Pen and Paper provides examples of the following tropes:
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: It's three until you earn enough gold to buy a special upgrade, which bumps it up to five.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Multiple:
- One of the room items is a rug that gives you 30% more EXP at the cost of losing control of your characters. This works as well as it sounds, since anything more than a single elite mook will cause your characters to attack at random enemies, whiles they will all focus your tank when you're unable to heal besides regen.
- Becomes Simple, yet Awesome for a "solo" (two players, but one dies in the first fight of the game and stays that way) run with the lone player being a Barbarian. 30% more EXP helps them stay ahead of the curve, which is important in a solo run, and piling on lifesteal and regen makes them effectively invulnerable to anything in the game that doesn't stun and even to some of those. It also turns the Barbarian's utter lack of variety in its movepool into an asset, as it allows them to just autobattle their way through the entire game on nothing but raw stats.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: Near the end of the game the opening dialogue from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is quoted. In the Brazilian version of the scene, the "ill" part of the line "Mankind ill needs a saviour such as you!" is wrongly translated as "sick" rather than "doesn't/hardly". It's hard to tell if this was done on purpose or not, given the tone of the game.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: You can pay real money to obtain gold and save yourself lots and lots of cash grinding.
- Catching Some Z's: Sleeping in an inn is represented by an icon of bed and a Z beside it.
- Chest Monster: Mimics are referenced when the chest icon for the dungeon Random Events are selected:Master: Don't worry, it's not a mimic!
- Creator Cameo: You can actually unlock and use the game developers as players. Naturally, they break the game.
- Foreshadowing: The "Wizards of the East Coast" location is - oddly enough - placed on the west side of the map. It's eventually revealed that this is because your world map encompasses the far eastern portion of the rest of the world.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the first confrontation with the villain, he blasts the party so hard the players feel it, to even the GMs' shock. In the final phase of the final battle against him, he manifests into the room the players are in to kill them. Unfortunately for him, he brought the RPG mechanics with him while being much weaker himself.
- Hit Points: Called HP, presumably for "Health Points", as the "Health" stat is what it tracks, and represented by a red Life Meter.
- An Interior Designer Is You: A subversion, as one of the core mechanics is decorating the room the game is played in.
- Killer Game Master: You can play as one. A couple of sidequests are also written as the product of this.
- Left the Background Music On: If you turn down the music volume, the game master yells at a bard, telling him to play more quietly.
- Life Drain: Dark Bats may attack with an attack that heals them while damaging party members, along with a few points of Mana Burn, averaging around 2.
- Lightning Bruiser: The Rogue class, who are middle of the road in survivability, but are fast and have excellent damage output.
- Mana Meter: A blue meter, called MP, presumably, for Magic Points, as the "Magic" stat is what it tracks.
- Musical Assassin: Bards present a variation on this, in that they do damage by playing badly.
- Mystical 108: One of the equips is a set of 108 assembled similarly to prayer beads.
- Never Mess with Granny: One of the playable characters is actually someone's grandma, and she can become quite awesome with the right set of skills.
- Playing with Fire: This is the main approach that Mages take, with both Fireball and Meteor spells.
- Rain of Arrows: The Hunter's Volley attack. You select one enemy and it will hit it and up to 4 more targets around it.
- Recursive Reality: On top of the example listed in the The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You entry, eventually the players pass through a mysterious portal that takes them to the real world. Both times they're still acting as their characters, and everything still runs on RPG mechanics.
- Self-Deprecation: The team that made the first game, Behold Studios, is from Brazil, and they included a side quest where the heroes have to escort Saci, a figure from Brazilian Folklore. Saci talks like the stereotypical Brazilian troll, saying stuff like "HUEHUEHUEHUE" and "GIBE MONY PLS".
- Shout-Out: Quite a list:
- Some of the unlockable GMs are Lawyer Friendly Cameos of various other characters. Examples include Karate Rat (Splinter) and Yoga (Yoda).
- Also, certain areas and area backgrounds have a few cameos/easter eggs.
- Maya Me Beach - play on Miami Beach. You can also see a sponge and a starfish lying on a rock and Mr Krabs.
- Sands of Time Desert - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. You can see Cyrax's head buried in the sand.
- Volcano of the Phoenix - You can see Gollum's hand with the One Ring sticking out of the lava. As an added bonus, you can get The One Ring as an accessory.
- Journey Village - Characters from the PSN game Journey (2012).
- On the Swamp Area, The Mystery Machine can be seen drowning in the background. Similarly, frogs similar to Kermit are there too.
- Superboss: The most difficult boss in the game, faced after defeating all the dragon enemies in a room, is a... Mom on a kitchen? You won't be laughing anymore once she slaughters your entire party in a single turn.
- Useless Useful Spell: Zigzagged. Techniques that cause status ailments are immensely useful most of the time, including ones that cause sleep or stun status as they're perfect for managing huge hordes of enemies. Elite enemies, however, are completely immune to sleep and stun, and coincidentally every boss in the game happens to be an Elite enemy.
- You All Meet in a Cell: How the main campaign kicks off:All you know is that you're a group of friends locked up in a Tower Prison for no reason at all and everyone's calling you assassins.