The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Published by Hogshead Publishing, UK
These comments copyright 1998 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated August 16, 1998

In August, 1998, Hogshead Publishing, of the UK, released The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (called simply BARON in this article), a storytelling game. Even if you don't ever play the game, it is an extremely amusing and entertaining read - worth the money for that alone. Written by the Baron himself, of course, in his own inimitable style.

"Edited" by one of the co-designers of Once Upon a Time (OUaT, from Atlas Games), BARON has some similarities, and some differences.

The primary similarity is that it's a competitive storytelling game, and is likely to appeal to many (but probably not all) fans of OUaT.

The major differences are:

  1. Subject matter. Instead of fairy tales, BARON takes place between a group of 18th-century boasters. The game is definitely aimed at adults, as an optional theme of drinking runs throughout. If you've read a book of the Baron's adventures, or seen the movie, you know what sort of stories are told: balloons to the moon, conquering nations with a handful of companions, inventing outrageous devices, wooing the empress of Russia, etc. Those unfamiliar with history should not be too put off, however, as the Baron had access to a time-traveling device at one point in his career, and you can certainly use it in your story ...
  2. Components. BARON is a book - no cards are included or necessary. It is necessary to scrounge up some coins or glass tokens to play with, but that's all you need (unless you're playing the drinking version, in which case you need something to drink, the higher quality brandy, the better, as befits gentlefolk ...)
  3. Price. BARON is $5.95 US - I don't know the UK price, sorry. OUaT is somewhere between $15 and $20 - don't know the exact price. Both games are well worth the price, mind you, but BARON is undeniably cheaper.
  4. Length/Number of stories. Each game of OUaT is one group story. In BARON, each player tells a story of approximately 5 minutes. When each player has told one story, the game is over. Suitable for three to umpteen players - the book recommends that if you actually gather twenty players, you band together to conquer Belgium instead of playing the game.
  5. Interrupts. In OUaT, interrupts are to gain control of the story. In BARON, interrupts are to make the story more difficult for the teller, and to move coins between players via wagers and objections. Wagers are deliberate attempts to make it harder for the teller to come to the correct outcome. ("I'll wager, Baron, that when you opened that door, you found the entire French Old Guard blocking your way.") Objections are pointing out errors in what the Baron just said - but are risky, as they can lead to a duel. ("You sully my honor by calling me a liar, sirrah - to your sword!")
  6. Duels. Frustrated by other players constantly interrupting your story? Skewer the fools and put them out of the game. Gad, that'll teach them to interrupt a gentleman's story. Now where was I ...
  7. Suggested topics. BARON includes 200+ story topics to use when your brain is too befuddled with drink to think of any yourself.
  8. Winner. In OUaT, the winner is the one who manages to end the story with his/her story ending card. In BARON, the players vote for the winner, moving coins or tokens from your "purse" to another player's "bounty." The player with the largest bounty wins the game. You can't vote for yourself, so winning the most coins during the game means you'll have a tough time winning the game - but can have the satisfaction of selecting the winner yourself.
The game is not for dullards, and follows truth in advertising by telling you this on the back cover. You must have a fairly quick and active imagination to play this game, and be able to change story lines in the middle of a story when those bothersome other players interject idiotic notions and you've no coins left with which to tell them to shove off. If you have this type of imagination, and have another two to ~ten friends who also do, then you'll love this game! Get your local game store to demand it from their distributors.

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