There’s a fine British tradition of coming up with simple storytelling games that have an absurd twist. They have been the staple of comedy clubs and radio panel shows for many a year, but they’ve also been pretty simple affairs. The prompts tend to be rooted in reality, rather than true flights of fancy.
James Wallis’s genius idea was to take the concept of talking nonsense and add extra flair to the entire proceedings. The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a clever game of telling utterly absurd tales. Each person takes on the role of an 18th century style Baron and then attempts to talk as much entertaining nonsense as possible.
The basic rules of play are quite simple. On your turn, one of your chums gives you an appropriate prompt, such as “How is it that you came to scale the largest mountain on the moon” or “How did you find the world’s most precious diamond in your soup”. You then have to concoct, on the spot, a ridiculous tale. If you can work in romance and sword fighting, even better.
To stop it from getting stale, your friends can interrupt the tale telling by asking questions. Tokens, coins or alcohol are used to (sort of) keep track of who’s interrupted who, and in the end you vote on who told the best fib and then go again.
The book, detailing the rules of the game, originally came out in 1998 and was a rather slim volume. Author James Wallis has since expounded on the whole affair to create this 140-odd page hardback. For a start, the writing style is appropriately verbous. It’s hard not to read it without being inspired to speak in a similar style. There’s a story winding throughout these pages and the tale is, of course, nonsense. The art is also rather nice and quite evocative.
There are also variations on the theme. For example, the family version ‘My Uncle the Baron’ has simpler rules that even six-year olds can understand, and this makes for a delightful distraction (and can be a life saver on long car journeys). Other variations include adding other literary characters or changing genre. The book also contains enough prompts to get anyone started.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a remarkable book and anyone who likes telling tales needs to add this to their shelf.
THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN / DESIGNER: JAMES WALLIS / ARTISTS: ANDREA BOEKHOFF, GUSTAVE DORÉ, OMAR RAYYAN / PUBLISHER: FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW