I started to feel that I didn’t know roleplaying games well enough so I came up with the plan to read a roleplaying game corebook for every year they have been published. Selection criteria is whatever I find interesting.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a storytelling and drinking game designed by James Wallis. The 1998 version is a booklet around 20 pages long with illustrations cribbed from the oeuvre of Gustave Doré.
Each player takes on the persona of a 18th century nobleman or woman passing time by telling tall tales of their own amazing exploits. The system works so that you give a prompt to another player such as: “Tell us, Baron, the story of how you forced the surrender of the Turkish armies at Constantinople with a chicken.”
You can also make up your own prompts.
The player who’s turn it is to tell the story starts to ad lib, making up a narrative as they go. Other players can complicate things by challenging details of the story using a coin-based system. There’s also a dueling system based on rock-paper-scissors if things get heated.
The actual instructions for how to play can be summed up in less than a page, as the booklet does on a summary on its last page. The reason there’s over 20 pages of text has to do with style. The game has ostensibly been designed and written by Baron Munchausen himself. His writing is extremely wordy and prone to digressions and insulting the French.
The interesting thing about the game is how buying rounds has been made part of the system. Most published roleplaying games don’t really integrate the circumstances of play into the internal dynamics of how the game works but here they are part of the same comprehensive design.