The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1998)

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1998) is the first in Hogshead’s New Style games. This one is by Hogshead’s owner, James Wallis, and sets the tone for the rest of the New Style games — it’s a small booklet (24 pages) featuring an unusual set of rules, offered for sale for a low price. Of all the New Style games, it is probably the one with the biggest influence on future RPGs.

It is a storytelling game that, like its namesake, is concerned with the tallest of tales. Everyone has coins, one coin for each player. Each player tells a five-minute story, heaping as much ridiculousness on as possible and finishes with a vow of their truthfulness. Other players can complicate the story by putting one of their coins in the center of the table and offering a suggestion. The storyteller can either accept the coin and add the embellishment, or deny the coin and insult the questioner, who in turn can add another coin, raising the stakes further, take back their coin like a coward, or challenge the storyteller to a duel (or three rounds of roshambo, for those squeamish about violence), with the winner taking all the coins. Once a story is finished, the teller invites the person to their right to tell a story, and around it goes until everyone has had a chance to weave a tale. At that point, every player takes the coins in front of them and gives them to the storyteller they think told the best story. The person with the most coins is the declared the winner! Easy!

This is really the first formal rule set for an entirely storytelling-focused RPGs. It forms the foundation of the modern storytelling game and a whole lot of indie games and really changed a lot of our collective assumptions about RPGs. Not bad for half a page of rules.

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