Learning is fun and vice versa

DB map

Here’s another reflection on a game session at Lincon, this one being Drakar och Banan (Dragons and Banana). I confess I don’t know who wrote it or how you can get it, so anyone who does, please provide the info.

My fellow culprits are pictured in order: Lowe, Mikel, Viktor, and Kim; respectively, Zten, Groo, Longnose, and the Knight of True Justice, and I played Painsong Ebonblade. I’d love to post the pic of our group but will have to get confirmation from the players. You can see the map of our setting, which includes but is not limited to our travels, in the attached file.

Obviously, this is a comedy game, beer-and-pretzels as they say, but I make a case for such things being (i) of long standing in RPG history and (ii) one of the primary arenas for design and rules-refinement. In this case the insight into dynamics and mechanics is well worth it.

About that poem I mention in the video, well, when Viktor said he wanted me to write it, I did – but I told him he’d have to provide the verbs. If you want a go at that, here’s what I gave him:

moon, lover, ruins, torment, shadow, heart, sad piano, memories, narcotics, loneliness, loss, Tom Waits, somber colors, anomie



5 responses to “Learning is fun and vice versa”

    • That’s what I thought! But

      That's what I thought! But when I looked at the site, I didn't see it, so I decided to say the simplest true thing, which is that I didn't know.

    • Nobody who knows me will me

      Nobody who knows me will me surprised by this, but the game was designed in … 2013? It lived for a long time without being written down, until finally Jonathan Kilhamn (Pilzeman at rollspel.nu) wrote down the rules in English in a Story-Games christmas giftswapping thing. Then, when Rickard Elimää (Han at rollspel.nu) asked me for the rules, I sent him that. He didn't like the layout, so made a great layout for it. I have yet to do any actual work in producing this thing, and one could expect me to at least upload it to the website, but, er. Well, it's only been four years since it was finished, I'll get around to it any day now.

      Actually, I'm getting around to updating my page after years of neglect. I recently uploaded Nerver av stål (also a few years late) and D&B is next on the list. In the meantime, it's actually available in this Story-Games thread: http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/20439/dungeons-bananas-its-finally-here/p1

  1. About the game

    So the name of the game is related to the Swedish RPG theory term "bananbeskrivning" ("banana description" in English). There is a dispute over the origin, where I and Rickard Elimää both claim we invented it. I claim it actually originated with the predecessor to this game, the "Banana System", whereas he claims he invented it and I used it as an inspiration for this game. The truth is lost in Internet history (I tried searching for the original discussions once, but couldn't find the origin). As time has passed, I have begun to suspect that he is, in fact, correct.

    Anyway, a banana description is a form of creative challenge, of the type "Describe how you get past the guard by using a banana". You will recognize this from games like InSpectres and Baron Munchaussen. You get a few pieces of unrelated inputs and need to create a description that merges these elements into a coherent whole. The result of each roll in D&B is this sort of challenge. "Ok, so describe how you use your Impressive Hat to defeat the Toilet Paper Golem and in the process, you lose your fake beard." Those elements are called "bananas", and basically, the Attributes and Items of the game are all bananas, which is why the super-ability is called the Spotlight Banana. It's the most impressive banana of them all.

    Banana description tends to lend itself to silly games, since the result of merging these disparate elements together can eaily strain credibility. However, much like the advice given in InSpectres, I find that the game really shines best when you start out with rather normal characters and a reasonable quest. The strange and quirky results of the dice get to shine more when they emerge from rather mundane origins, like a fiasco movie which, through events that all individually seem reasonable and plausible, still ends up with a speeding car filled with cotton candy and a bleeding clown speeding to escape from a Russian mobster hit squad. When you start out the game with the intention of making it silly, I find it can easily go over the top and just be weirdnedd heaped over more weridness. This often happens when people who played the game at one convention come back next year to play it again. They remember how wild and silly it was, and start out with those expectations. When the game then cranks up the silly, all coherence is lost in an orgy of ninja-robots throwing pies at the baboon pope or whatnot.

    Those creative challenges are the meat of the game, together with a simple but somewhat amusing risk management dice game. And yes, the newly bought items should absolutely come from the loot of the challenge that was won. My most memorable item, "Blue lizard on a stick" is a testament to this truth.

    • Oh, and of course “Drakar och

      Oh, and of course "Drakar och bananer" is a parody of the most well-known Swedish RPG "Drakar och demoner" (Dragons & Demons). As such, the English name has to be "Dungeons and Bananas".

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