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Puppetland Impression - Gen Con


Saving Throw

I spoke with Shane Ivey from Arc Dream Publishing about Puppetland, an update of John Tynes 1995 tabletop RPG about puppets surviving in a dark fairytale world. Punch, of Punch and Judy fame, has killed the Maker and become a dreadful tyrant. Surviving his reign will require stout-hearted and inventive finger puppets, shadow puppets, and their kin.

Puppetland is the beneficiary of a successful Kickstarter campaign, which has polished and clarified the original game. The ebook has already been released, while the hardcover version is in progress.

Like its heroes, this version of Puppetland has all kinds of contributors. Several RPG luminaries, including Fred Hicks, Jason Morningstar, and Kenneth Hite, have contributed short scenarios to the book as stretch goals. The art by Samuel Araya, Raven Mimura, Hollie Mengert (character artist and animator for Harebrained Schemes' Shadowrun games), and Heather Hudson promotes the game's tone: dangerous children's stories intended for mature audiences.

Unlike many RPGs, which have little to say about the mode of play, Puppetland openly invokes dramatic traditions. Players stand up and relate their puppet-heroes' actions as if relating a story in the past tense. The story has already happened in one sense, and the act of play is retelling the story while simultaneously creating it. This ritualized involvement lasts for an hour (the Golden Hour), during which out-of-character conversation is strongly discouraged.

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