16 Impossible Things Before Breakfast (RPG) Review
Are you confused yet? Good.
By MARK WILSON
RPG System: 16 Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Based loosely on a Lewis Carroll idiom, each player has one attribute: Confusion. This number can go up or down based on the outcome of conversations. Per the “16” theme, you roll a d16 (!) to determine the discussion mini-game, and roll again to determine the specifics.
Should you lose all confusion, you stay at the party where the conversations are being held. If you gain confusion, you’re subjected to more conversations. There’s no clear win condition, but that’s not the point. Whether or not you’re confused is based on honest self-reporting.
The discussion premises and specific options are universally delightful, and the possibility that you might return to a particular conversation adds some additional hilarity, as you might be in the same conversation, but from the perspective of a different flower and/or personality type, or arguing against the idea that a particular word should exist when, moments ago, you were advocating for it.
This strikes me as a game that works best with 2-4 people. Semi-abstract improv exercises tend to suffer, imo, when you add too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. However, given that caveat, there’s a bunch of wonderfully offbeat ideas to prompt creative debate or discussion. Many act as word games that have a puzzle-like vibe to them, as you try to think of something clever or defend a particular position that may or may not make much sense.
I frankly don’t have much experience with other RPGs that are discussion-based improv systems. But if this one is any indication, there’s a lot of fun to be had with them.
I’ve sprung this on my unsuspecting friends when I and 1-2 others have a few minutes to kill between games or at bars and such. We drop the requisite six conversations and just roll for one of the prompts and set off. After a couple iterations, my friends discovered that Confusion was the only manipulable attribute, so our conversations have become weird, “yes, and” exercises designed to deliberately confuse the others. Having them fumble over the internal logic of a conversation is tantamount to winning. It’s fun.
I could also see this working well with children, or as a game to play on long car rides.
As I understand it, Caroline (the designer) made this for a contest, making it all the more impressive since those are generally on tight deadlines. It could probably benefit from a slightly more robust introduction to the book (and a few play notes that I’d like to see at the beginning are at the end), but those are minor nits to pick in an amusing – and free – item.
Go download it and try it out! Just remember that if you don’t get around to doing this, it’s always the Pickles’ fault.