Friday, December 30, 2011

Game Reviews: Gentleman's Entomology Club

The Gentleman's Entomology Club is a role playing game written by Michael Sands for 2005's Game Chef competition. The game has this to say about itself:

"The Gentlemen’s Entomology Club is a roleplaying game of wine-drinking, boasting, beetles and some incidental rationalist philosophy. You take the role of an aging eighteenth century entomologist attempting to impress his peers with tales of adventures seeking bizarre insects in far-flung corners of the world. Your objective is to tell the most diverting stories of the evening."

This is one of those games that caught my eye one day. The title was intriguing, the fact that it's free sealed the deal. After downloading and reading it I have to say that I think this could be loads of fun to play if you had the right group. 

The idea behind Gentleman's is that you are a member of an exclusive club somewhere in Western Europe during the Enlightenment. During your younger years you were quite the adventurer, and now you meet with some of your peers to reminisce about the old days while drinking a fine alcoholic beverage and slipping in some observations about the nature of man. 

Gentleman's uses plain old d6s as the driving mechanic. There are no character sheets. A deck of cards is provided with the game. This deck will drive the mechanics of the game. 

The first step in playing the game is to decide on the nature of the club, the location, the time, and the city. For example the club might meet in a private room of a local private "members only" club, or it might meet in the billiards room of one of it's members.

Character creation simply involves each player determining the age of the player, a few locations he's traveled to, and some insects he may have captured or purchased. As per the conventions of the era, the characters are almost always men.

Game Play
Game play is driven by use of the special deck of cards. The cards are prompts for the stories, containing various insects, modifiers, and themes. Whoever plays the insect card is the Storyteller, while the players who put down the modifier and theme cards play different roles. For example, the cards played might be "butterfly", "farmer", and "Machines can tame Nature". 

The Storyteller begins his tale with the statement "I remember the time" and then tells the story about the rare butterfly or crazy adventure he had. The player signifies the end of the story by saying "And that's how I got the "modifier" "insect". 

During the storytelling, the Skeptic can add a difficulty "I seem to recall that you ran across a difficulty" At this point the narration stops, the Skeptic introduces the difficulty and they roll a d6 each, with the highest score "winning" and being able to narrate the conclusion of that difficulty.

At some point it's possible that the storyteller may be telling an out and out lie, at which point the Skeptic can say "Sir, that can not be true" and then narrates what really happened, making sure that the details are as embarassing as possible. The narrator can rebut with his version. The person playing the Companion can accept either version, or tell what both are trying to hide.

There's more to the storytelling of it than that, but I can't put it all here or there would be no point in getting the pdf. 

--I think that this could be loads of fun if played with the right group.
--This seems very much to me to be more improv than rpg, though in a certain sense you could argue that all improv is role playing
--I think the use of props could greatly increase the fun of this. Top hats, monocles, canes, etc.  all add to the spirit of the game.
-- same with the setting of wherever you're playing. 

1 comment:

  1. sounds something like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen RPG. We used to like playing this at parties and in pubs.

    You get used to the weird looks