Thursday, February 23, 2012

Taking a Trip With Trollbabe (Narrative RPG)

I bet no one expected to see the phrase "Narrative RPG" on this blog, but I played one yesterday, and it was an interesting experience. Definitely not the usual type of RPG session I partake in, but it was being run by David at Games That Can Not Be Named last nite. He ran an excellent Tunnels & Trolls session a few weeks back, so I was willing to take the chance on Trollbabe. I'm glad I did.

It was an educational experience, as you powers and abilities are largely undefined, combat and challenges require narrative input by the player in addition to the GM and over the top play is pretty much encouraged. I'm not all that good at over the top playing, but as the other two players were, that was okay. I kinda kept the balance (and got really lucky with some skill rolls to save the party's bacon).

Narrative RPG gameplay requires a different mindset than I'm used to in my gaming. Although I had a great time, I suspect that was more due to the excellent work of the GM and my fellow players than the underlying game system.

Would I play it again? Definitely - so long as David was running it ;) I don't thing I'd find myself ever running a session.

Talking about running a session... This Sunday at the Brooklyn Strategist I will be running Palace of the Silver Princess (I mistyped when I earlier stated The Keep on the Borderlands - but I've played that classic adventure so often recently - including last night with Trollbabe - I hope you can understand my confusion) using AD&D / OSRIC during the second session .

Should be fun to watch me shake off my DM rust ;)


  1. Anything you thin you too away from the experience that applies to how you run D&D?

  2. To tell the truth, I'm not sure.

    Historically, my GM'ing was weighted about 50/50 between role play and roll play.

    With Trollbabe, social encounters that might have been roleplayed in AD&D are decided by a roll, but you narrate your success (or failure.). Or the GM narrates it.

    But, your narration, good or bad, doesn't really have a game effect. It may effect the direction of the story a bit, but it's not going to have an effect on your success.

    And I'm still trying to wrap my head totally around the re-roll and damage systems, but that's a whole nother kettle of trolls

  3. Erik,

    Thank you for the kind words about the game. It was my second time running it, and I'm not sure I completely get how injuries and the re-roll system work. It occurred to me on the subway ride home that the pace that demands three successes should really be reserved for the highest point of drama, whether the GM or players pick it.
    Having James onboard turned out to be as helpful as I thought it would be. It was good to have someone else at the table with some knowledge and experience of the game.
    Thanks again to you, James and Ben for playing. I thought everyone contributed good moments throughout the session.
    Oh yeah, I think I went into dungeoncrawl SOP when narrating the journey into the owl bear's lair, which turned out rather dull. Next time I run Trollbabe I'll try to stay in dramatic/narrative mode instead.

  4. yeah, not sure why the PCs would ask for more then a 1 success resolution to a challenge, as the extended resolution exposes them to a greater risk of damge.

    All that being said, it works well as a pick up game - less well i suspect for extended play.

  5. I think it could work well for a short series of games. There are some bits in the rules for shaping further adventures and stories that I didn't bring up 'cause of our session's one-shot status. Generally, a Trollbabe series would start at a more personal level and work its way up to involve the entire Land. Since I was using the Keep and the Caves of Chaos we started at a higher Scale than "normal."


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