Friday 8 July 2011

Winner of the 1KM1KT Movie Mashup Competition - The Droog Family Songbook by Nathan "Barking Mad" Russell

Few roleplaying games make my brain feel dirty. After reading Nathan Russell's The Droog Family Songbook, a mashup of A Clockwork Orange and The Sound of Music, I will be scraping filth off my consciousness for weeks. Nathan has blended Nuns, Nazi and ultraviolence in a dystopian view of the past. It's such a remarkable slice of head-forgettery that it is difficult to believe anyone could have spawned it in 24 hours.

Von Droogs

Your character is a member of the Von Droog family. A charming pod of ultraviolent Austrians living in a Nazi infested the mountain range. It's 1995 and the hills are alive with the sound of fascists. Each Droog has three (just a few) favourite things and you are desperate to save them. They could be people, objects or places. You set the look of your character, pick and name and that is all. This is a storygame, after all.


The game hinges around creating scenes where each player in turn takes the spotlight to defend their favourite things against the jack boot of the Nazis. It's a night off for your GM because everybody plays. The prime antagonist in any scene is played by the Scene Leader (sort of GM for that scene). Setting scenes and playing through them is well described. This is typical storygame fair and a scene ends in a climax where the player manages to win over the antagonist and either save their favourite thing or see it destroyed/killed/maimed/sent to live in Luton.

The spotlight player (the Von Droog) can choose leave the scene outcome to fate by rolling dice, winner narrating the ending or to inact ultraviolence to save their favourite thing from harm. Ultraviolence demands that the player describe the horrific and uncomfortable violence in vessel bursting detail. Perhaps more disturbing still is that tied fate rolls lead to singing (or rhyming at least).


The closing mechanic that decides how your character ends up after the ordeal is the Denouement Chart. You marry up the number of favourite things you saved and the number of times you used ultraviolence. The more you save with the least Ultraviolence you use the better but there is no winning here, just different kinds of success. Do you end up weak and broken, a violent psychotic or a folk hero? Your choices during the game decides.

In 24 hours?

Droog Family Songbook is attractive to look at, well laid out with good use of language throughout. Nathan has crafted evocative notes from Alex Von Droog that really help bed down the otherwise thin setting. As Nathan points out in his blog, the mechanics are familiar, but I think they are appropriate to the two films, which are blended beautifully. If I were to recommend edits, I'd lighten the background to improve contrast, fatten up the setting and add a silhouette of Alex on the front cover. The singing mechanic could indeed be better but I think that it fits well enough.

Bloody Hell

The Droog Family Songbook picks you up, shakes you and kicks you over a garden wall. It blends dark humour and uncomfortable surreality together, which might not be to everyone's taste. Most of all, the game is novel form of cranial fornication which leaves you stunned into wondering what it is like to play. Very few roleplaying games can do that. This one can.

Well done, Nathan! The £30 in Amazonness is coming your way.


Aldo Ojeda said...

Bloody hell, indeed. Congratulations to Nathan, excellent game!

David said...

If you haven't already, check out FU, Nathan's free RPG ruleset. It's quite awesome and a perfect candidate for your site. It also comes with some cool mods. One of the better rules-lite games I've read lately!

David said...
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