Friday, May 27, 2016

Baron Munchausen - no prep, no GM, all fun!

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a game that has cast a long shadow over my gaming life and it's also had a heck of an impact on role playing games in general.

You see, Baron Munchausen was one of the first games you could really call an indie RPG, coming out in 1998, before indie had become  an idea or a movement. 

Of course, at the time, not too many folks considered it a role playing game. Heck, when I first played it in 1999, I didn't think of it as a role playing game, just a fun party game. But, these days, after a lot of exposure to indie games, I think of it as both :D

Baron Munchausen is a GM-free minimalist system that requires no preparation and it can easily be run in just an hour or two. In it, the players reenacting mud.   the life of the actual historical Baron Munchausen. That is, sitting around a bar and telling outrageous lies.  :P

While the actual mechanical rules to the game take up only two pages in what's over a hundred pages in the latest version (and only consist of how to interrupt another player in the middle of their story), the book is a lot of fun to read. It gives you a good grounding on what kind of stories to come up with and, just as important, the tone of those stories.

It's worth noting that the designer, James Wallis, was also one of the designers of Once Upon A Time, a collaborative and/or competitive fairy tale telling game, which even further blurs the line of RPG and party game. 

In fact, while I now do consider Once Upon A Time an RPG, even when I didn't, I considered it a useful way to teach new role players how to play pretend and work together to tell stories.

While Baron Munchausen was innovative in the way that it took parlor games and improvisational exercises and turned into a role playing game, it's not the end all, be all of indie gaming. You're not going to get a deep or introspective game. You're going to get light, silly fluff. Of course, Baron Munchausen isn't promising you anything but that.

Baron Muchausen still holds up as a fun game, after all these years. It's a role playing game that you can literally just sit down, make up funny titles for yourselves and start playing.

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