Monday, March 2, 2020

No one told me Winnie the Pooh was an owlbear

I don’t know if there had to be a Winnie the Pooh RPG but, if there had to be one, Winnie-the-Owl-Pooh does the job remarkably well.

The game was created waaay back in 2006 as part of a design contest from Bully Pulpit about owlbears. Yup, this is about Winnie the Pooh as an owlbear. A two-foot tall, child friendly owlbear who lives in the d100 Acre Wood with other child friendly version first edition Dungeons and Dragons monsters.

Mechanically, it’s a very rules light, narrative game. Folks take turns playing the titular owlbear and come up with innocent fun that always ends in troubles. The only die rolls in the game (and they favor the player who is playing Winnie the Owl Pooh) are to determine who gets to narrate how each kerfuffle ends up going. 

But what really struck me about Winnie-the-Owl-Pooh was how charming it is. I was expecting a  brutal deconstruction of Winnie the Pooh. Instead, it captures the whimsy and gentle satire of original Milne stories. If anything, it’s a reconstruction of old D&D monsters. I wasn’t quite as charmed by the Batman expansion for the game but even that has a similar feel.

As with any game, particularly a rules light narrative RPG, Winnie-the-Owl-Pooh depends on the group. Everyone has to be on board to tell a charming little children’s story or it will all fall apart like wet cardboard. But if you do want to tell such a story, I think this is a good system to use.

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