Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

The Penguin Harlequinade

English: Commedia dell'arte mask Français : Ma...

I knew there was a Commedia dell’arte roleplaying game somewhere, and here it is: The Penguin Harlequinade. One of many games that have been designed with a lot of ideas and most likely will never be played more than a dozen times. And that would be among all people who ever downloaded this.
Nevertheless it’s nice to read, in the same sense that I just love to read core books of many systems to give me ideas for my own games.
The Penguin Harlequinade is handicapped by the fact that many players might not be very familiar with the genre Commedia dell’arte to begin with. Not only would they miss the whole point of such a game, they also would miss all the references thrown about.
The other problem of course would be: if they are playing a roleplaying game based on a version of improvisational theatre, why not go the whole way and just, you know, PLAY Commedia dell’Arte instead?
That said there are some neat descriptions of the stock characters at hand that might help even those unfamiliar with the commedia to get into the genre. Those actually are one of the best things about the whole thing, and they involve a mechanism that I would love to steal: the quotes.
One of the main points about the game engine is that the characters are good at certain things, while really bad at others. If they try to do something they are not really good at they have to expend mayhem points to make up the difference between the task and their ability.
How does one get mayhem points?
Well, the easiest way is to say the character’s catchphrase in an appropriate moment, the catchphrase being given by the character sheet.
How is that neat? you might ask.
Well, the phrase has consequences in play. So when Arlecchino says “It’s all right guys – I’ve got a plan!” he has to follow that up in character, or at least the others have to follow it up somehow.
El Capitano has: “The insolence! I demand satisfaction – sir, I challenge you to a duel!” which then should be acted up upon in exactly the right way (El Capitane is a born coward, just imagine all the lengths he would go to when someone actually accepts the challenge).

I love this mechanism, but as I am normally playing less story driven games than that I wonder how to put a mechanism like that into my games.

Download: here

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