Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen

A few days back I was on the hunt for a birthday present for a good gamer friend of mine. I had an idea what his interests were, but I was concerned that I might find something he may already have had or something that would not fall within his pursuits. Time had began to run short and I had still not found what I considered to be the right gift and was close to resigning to something more base when I happened across it in my FLGS. It was amusing and interesting enough that I felt it might suit his personality, which in fact did. It certainly piqued own interest as well, so I picked up a copy for my own collection.

I happened upon it tucked away far from where one would least expect to find it, literally gathering dust. A terrible shame considering how magnificent this piece of work is and the praises that have been heaped upon it. Now, if you haven't guessed already by the title and the image, the object I'm referring to is The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, a "Game of Telling Tales & Playing Roles" as it were. There, sitting on a shelf amongst a mixed assortment of spin-off gaming trade-paperbacks, were three copies of the ‘Gentlemen’s Edition' of this game. These hardcover editions were limited run to a 1000 copies, and have long been out of print from the publisher since it was released in October 2008. And there three of them sat neglected and gathering dust!


Anyway, more about the game itself, which is simple as it is clever and amusing. The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a collaborative storytelling game where the players take turns regaling each other with fantastic tall-tales spun from short but interesting requests in attempt to concoct the most amusing story, whilst the listeners can add more complexity and depth to each story by wagering twists through objections and corrections with tokens. (The whole ante and barter with tokens kinda reminds me how Fate points are used in FATE games. A precursor perhaps?) The game objective itself is not to acquire tokens nor to lose them, as once everyone has told one story, each player gives all of their tokens to the player they think told the best story, the winner being determined by whom has the most tokens once the game concludes.

Despite its simplicity, the thing that I believe makes TEAoBM stand apart from other collaborative storytelling games such as Umläut, is the utterly brilliant writing of the whole thing. The entire book is written as if by the Baron himself (with assistance from his publisher), and is rife with all the pomposity, exaggeration, and digression of an 18th century nobleman. The book itself is a hilarious read, and helps set the mood for a raconteur of "true" flights of fancy. :)

-Cheers!