21 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 17: Wordplay: The Big Five

I am lucky enough to have regular gaming groups and to be regularly able to play, both face-to-face [well, that was before the lockdown] and on-line. I also regularly attend conventions where I also play a lot.
Despite all this table-top role-playing activity, I don’t play many different games. My gaming life revolves around D100-based games, with the odd Old School or novelty RPG thrown into the lot.

As a result, I have a lot of unplayed role-playing games on my shelves— what we RPGers call our ‘shelf of shame’. And amongst these unplayed role-playing games I do have a few favourites. I understand it may sound absurd to have a ‘favourite unplayed’ role-playing game, but I do read all the rulebooks I purchase, and I sort of can figure out whether I’d enjoy a game or not. And my favourite unplayed RPG is probably Wordplay: The Big Five. See, I am usually wary of narrative RPGs… they all look super interesting when played in a one-shot gaming session, but I suspect they break down at some point if played in a campaign, mostly because they tend not to handle scale well… This is why I do like HeroQuest – the Ш mechanics perfectly cover the change in scale, and you can use HeroQuest to GM a bar brawl or a mighty combat between demigods using the exact same rules. Well, there is something similar with Wordplay: The Big Five called the Scale Level and the Scale Effect, which explains why I like this RPG even though it doesn’t exactly correspond to my customary RPG ‘comfort zone’.

I also want to take advantage of today’s post to highlight the role played by Hungarian adventurers at the turn of the last century. In fiction, Hungarians are often portrayed as decadent Transylvanian nobles or similar outré characters but, in reality, many explorers and travelling scholars at the time when Europeans ‘discovered’ the most remote areas in Asia and Africa were Hungarian. Today’s character, for instance, is loosely based on Ferenc Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás.

Name: Pál Weörös de Nagy-Telep
Age: Middle-aged but still young at heart
Gender: Male
Concept: Scholar-cum-adventurer

1- Decipher the Voynich manuscript
2- Find the entrance to the subterranean kingdom of Agartha
3- Become the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Dextrous 5d
Handsome 4d

Keen-eyed 4d
Manipulative 6d

Ambitious 4d
Crave knowledge 5d

Bibek, my personal secretary, bodyguard, and lover

Wealth 5


  1. How does this game work, roughly?

    1. It's sort of like HeroQuest except it uses six-sided dice (the d's in the character description) instead of a D20.
      You roll all your dice; each 4 and 5 count as one success, each 6 as two successes. Then you compare how many successes you have with the gamemaster's; to give you an idea, if an action is 'easy', the GM rolls 3d, if it's 'difficult', 6d.
      You can also get support from other characters (a little bit like in Revolution D100).
      Then depending on Scale you may remove or add dice.
      I've never played the game, but it really intrigues me.