Friday, December 30, 2011

On GRIMM Dark Adventure

So, because a friend was curious what it was like and I had access to a copy lying around, I decided to take a look at Grimm.  This post is not a review; it is more of an examination of some of the concepts contained in this game, which are of interest to me as a student of literature and a guy who wants to post more stupid infographics (see below - only one of them is my fault this time, though!)

First, let me give a brief summary of Grimm.  I will keep it to one sentence, but I make no promises about semi-colons:

Grimm begins in a world much like our own but rapidly shifts to an attached a fae dimension where fairy tales (and indeed, perhaps all stories?) end up once they have been completed; this alternate realm is called "Grimm" because it has gelled around the stories of the Brothers Grimm, who intentionally finished many folktales to get the monsters there-in out of our world and into this convenient pocket dimension, and your PC, a child (with a class like Jock, Bully, or Nerd), has been sucked into this realm '80s cartoon style (complete with nigh-impossible escape quest).

Grimm wrestles with competing impulses throughout.  On the one hand, it is the only RPG I have ever read that not only tells you that PCs should never die, but spells out that they should be revive-able if they do somehow die. On the other hand, Grimm stays fairly close to the dark origins of the stories; your characters are children being faced with fairly non-watered-down fairy tale eldritch horrors.  I draw one conclusion from this:

It was this or an image from Madoka.  I'm saving Evangelion for a later stupid infographic.

Grimm is also fascinatingly meta.  Any work that focuses on Story, Myth, or Legend (ohai Fate/Zero, how are you?) is going to be this way, of course, but Grimm really steps up to the plate in this regard.  The local equivalent to your usual "tell a cockatrice from a regular, mundane giant chicken" skill is, of all things, Gaming, and the game even calls out that, because of this, knowledge from a theoretical not-quite-D&D's monster manual is directly applicable to your character.  So not only is the game essentially putting a stat on Genre-Savvy, it is actively telling you that the "skill" with which you are playing the game is the skill with which your character is doing things... in the game... when you do those things.

But wait, it gets better.

A role-playing game is a form of collaborate story-telling.  As is a folk-tale.  And although the story focuses on folk tales, it implies that all stories from the game's version of our world become a part of Grimm, and that many of those stories were true (as in, took place in "our" world) before being sequestered into the fictional pocket-dimension.  So... your story that you are telling through the campaign will become a part of Grimm... which means that you could run into one of your very own past campaign sessions playing out within Grimm...



  1. Interesting, very interesting. It sounds like a setting that Jesse, of all people, would probably like, just for the above-mentioned reasons. Did the system otherwise seem interesting/solid? I was intrigued by the idea of making it very difficult to "crit-fail" since I guess you roll at a lower value every time you fail?

  2. This sounds like a hilarious system. IT HAS MY SEAL OF APPROVAL.

  3. Verily, it does sound interesting. Except that it may mean that we fight Bertram. Even worse, it means we could run into Prespur...

  4. It's definitely a very narrativist system, in the style of World of Darkness. The ruleset is probably around a third of the book - the bestiary section is probably only a bit shorter, though it also includes a lot of background and adventure hooks for each entry.

    I admit, I was mostly skimming the rules. As I said, it reminded me of Orpheus in certain ways (your stat value creates a dice pool, etc). As to the Crit Fail rules, I think they're in part to balance out that the whole game is D6 based, so "botches" (natural 1s) are necessarily going to be pretty common. It also feeds into the narrativist side of it - generally, it's a game where your characters have very limited abilities, so if your action has ANY chance of success, it's likely to have a pretty good chance of success (your 4th grader is simply not going to be able to punch out The Dragon unless you've found something really degenerate hiding in the rules that the GM will definitely fiat, so your clever solution HAS to have a pretty good chance of working).

    And Flask, we all know you want to play this because you could demand that AALLLL the eldritch abominations be at a tea party and be justified because your character wrote fan-fiction about them at a tea party.