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Murphy’s World Comments & Reviews

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Murphy's World
The Voice of the Critics
Read some of the reviews and comments of Peregrine products. All of the views expressed are those of the authors. None of them have been paid by Peregrine to say nice things about our products — besides Peregrine can't afford to cough up the cash.

The Voice of the Fans

The Voice of Experience
Read about some amusing experiences on Murphy's World shared by others!

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Tell us about some of the humorous and silly things that have happened to your Characters when playing Murphy's World — we'll post them so others can read them too!IMAGE: TOP of Page Link

PARSEC MAGAZINE REVIEW — Fall/Winter 1999 – 2000

Review by JUSTIN MOHAREB (as part of an overview of Canadian created RPGs)
Volume 3, Issue 4, Fall/Winter 1999-2000, Page 61.

Murphy's World, from Peregrine, is easily the most Canadian of the games I've looked at. This game, while set on another world (actually the mythic [Faerie]) has tonnes of Canuck references within it. Ok, mostly Toronto references (but that's the part that counts). Maps refer to mystic lands like Scarberia and Etobicola, and a vast tract of water called the Tee Tee Sea.
Indent: dot clear gifHeh?
Indent: dot clear gifThe fact that it's an interesting game setting which allows you to mix characters from different genres (or just give your own characters a nice change) only helps. The sequel (Bob, Lord of Evil) isn't as strong and has a few jokes you'd hope they'd skip, but both of them are worth a look sea.

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RPG.NET REVIEW — August 1999

Review on:

Imagine that you're an intrepid space explorer, looking for that one big score to set yourself up for life.

Imagine that you stumble across an impossible dream: a beautiful gem of an unclaimed habitable planet. A quick buzz to the Planetary Claims Office, and viola! You're the proud owner of your own world.

Now imagine that seconds after you become the universe's newest gagillionaire, every single system of your spacecraft decides that now would be a great time to go on the fritz, sending you crashing into your new prize possession and stranding you there for the foreseeable future among beings straight out of myths and legends. (Well, maybe not straight out...)

Welcome to Murphy's World, where things can always get worse.

Murphy's World is a comedy game set on the planet Faerie, renamed Murphy's World by Sean Murphy, the hapless planetary entrepreneur of the aforementioned scenario. The world's intelligent and capricious sun, Ludo, bathes the planet with bizarre mystic energies that make it the wackiest place in the multiverse this side of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon...
Indent: dot clear gifYou see, on Murphy's World, the closest thing to consistent natural laws are Murphy's Laws. That means that, first and foremost, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time.
Indent: dot clear gifThen there's the fact that on Murphy's World consensual reality is a fact and is taken to its ridiculous logical conclusion. What a sizable consensus of people believe to be true in any given place will be true. So what happens in places where there aren't enough folks to form a sizable consensus? Simple: the places constantly change. In the wilderness, you could bed down for the night next to a lake and wake up on a mountain peak. This makes cities rather popular places on Murphy's World.

Art: Aristocrat Elves

Indent: dot clear gifAs if this weren't enough chaos for one setting, the planet also features an intricate network of interdimensional gates that only occasionally function as they should. As a result, people and things from all dimensions and time periods may be found stranded among the natives.
Indent: dot clear gifSuch multigenre nuttiness would fit quite well in Tales from the Floating Vagabond. However, while the two settings have much in common, the big difference is in style. Floating Vagabond focuses on cartoonish slapstick. Murphy's World, on the other hand, is more about the whimsical humor based on a detailed setting.
Indent: dot clear gifAnd detailed it is, especially with regards to the native races. Most of the standard fantasy races are here, but with both humorous exaggerations and unexpected twists. Elves are effete aristocrats to whom useful magical talents (as opposed to powers like "Retrieve Croquet Ball") are birth defects, while their Drow cousins are jackbooted fascists with Germanic names and a fondness for Art Deco. Brownies are (literally) hog-riding, trend-chasing hipsters, while Pixies are wee-but-fearsome nomadic warriors with serious attitude problems.
Indent: dot clear gifNow, an average humor game might stop with such amusing, broad-brush characterizations, but not Murphy's World. The races are far more than stereotypes; indeed, each has its own vibrant culture and is fully detailed in terms of physiology, society, economics, religion, and more. Most serious RPGs don't have this level of detail, and most of those that do spread amount of the information presented here across multiple supplements. In fact, the races of Murphy's World easily could be the basis for a serious RPG simply by toning down their comedic elements, which is perhaps the highest possible praise of their design.
Indent: dot clear gifThe game inserts political and social humor into some of these races, which made me a bit wary at first. However, this humor is both good-natured and even-handed, gleefully tweaking both Right and Left. While I doubt conservatives will be pleased with the rotting, radioactive, jingoistic Reagombies, the uber-unionized dwarves and the environmentalist dirt-eating trolls with their wimpy inner-child-seeking males and sex-hating, protest-loving females are sure to ruffle some liberal feathers.
Indent: dot clear gifMagic and high technology both exist on Murphy's World, and the same general rules apply to both: they can be effective, ineffectual, or disastrous, and depending upon either is a really dumb idea. Whether or not either work depends very much upon the beliefs of those present, Murphy's Laws, and, of course, Ludo's mood at the moment.
Indent: dot clear gifIn most Murphy's World games, high tech is likely to be rare -- most beings with any common sense don't have much use for it, and those that do -- the multidimensional castaways known as the Technocrats -- jealously horde it. Magic, on the other hand, is both accessible to all and awfully tempting to use, simply because it's so easy... at least in theory. You see, despite what the wizards and witches of the world might have you believe, magic on Murphy's World is just a matter of petitioning Ludo to grant one's wish. Of course, Ludo (and therefore the GM) is likely to interpret such wishes very narrowly; for example, a character wishing for the ability to fly may be surprised to find herself transformed into a puffin. Aside from simply being more specific in their requests, would-be magicians can improve their chances for success by utilizing various motions, props, and incantations -- the more outrageous and embarrassing the better. Thus, whether a spell succeeds or fails, everyone's likely to get a good laugh.
Indent: dot clear gifSo, does this setting have any flaws? Well, outside of those places covered in the race descriptions, there's not a whole lot of information provided on the various lands of Murphy's World. Now, given that the game covers an entire world, this is certainly forgivable to an extent; however, some kind of quick summary would have been nice.
Indent: dot clear gifParticularly onerous is the lack of information on the Dark Lands and their ruler, Bob, Lord of Evil. The former is simply described as a place where a bunch of mentally and physically warped weirdoes live under the eternal shadow of a moon named Ben, while the latter just gets a throwaway mention in the introductory adventure. Granted, Bob and his kingdom are covered in detail in his eponymous supplement/companion game (see my review of Bob, Lord of Evil, HERE), but such an important part of the setting deserves a bit more coverage in the main book.
Indent: dot clear gifOne final note: the authors suggest that in addition to playing campaigns centered around Murphy's World natives and/or castaways, you may want to try bringing in characters from other games for a short stay via the gates, crashing spaceships, or whatever method you like. I really can't recommend importing characters from anything other than another comedy setting, such as Paranoia or Tales from the Floating Vagabond. It's been my experience that introducing this degree of zaniness into an otherwise serious setting prevents the setting from ever being truly serious again.

The writers point out that Murphy's World is, first and foremost, a setting that can be used with any set of roleplaying mechanics you choose. To facilitate this, the book features conversion from the game's 1-20 human attribute scale to several other popular scales, such as 3-18 (D&D, Basic Roleplaying) and 1-6 (Shadowrun).
Indent: dot clear gifThat having been said, Murphy's World does offer its own mechanics. Again, the scale of human attributes runs from 1-20; skills are percentile-based. The game presents three levels of complexity, the first being totally diceless and the second being a simple succeed/fail roll-under system using 2d10 (for attributes) or 1d100 (for skills).
Indent: dot clear gifThe third is what has become Peregrine's house system, "Weapons and Wonder": skill levels are referenced on a simple table with difficulty levels ranging from -7 to +7, with each difficulty level adding or subtracting to the character's base skill. The amount of difference between difficulty levels isn't a fixed amount for all skill levels, and certain skill levels are lumped together with the same adjustments for difficulty (e.g., +1 difficulty = 53 for skills of 48 and 49). I'll leave it to better mathematicians than myself to determine if there's a logical reason for this. Attributes get their own table with corresponding percentage chances and difficulty levels. (In Bob, Lord of Evil, they've been incorporated into the skill table.) Rolling a number ending in zero results in a noteworthy success or failure, while rolling "01" or "00" results in a critical success or failure, respectively. Fumbles in this game don't just involve the trite dropping of the sword; rather, the fumbling character might suddenly find himself beloved of all small furry animals in the area or the target of defecating birds.
Indent: dot clear gifCharacter creation, like everything else, is rules-light, with stats rolled randomly and then tweaked with a pool of extra points. Characters start with a selection of 10 skills at fixed amounts: 1 at 100%, 1 at 90%, 1 at 80%, 2 at 70%, 2 at 60%, 1 at 50%, and 1 at 40%; this I didn't like, since I'm not fond of systems that totally divorce skills from attributes. I'll probably use the alternate method presented in Bob, Lord of Evil, which starts skills at the attribute's corresponding percentile on the aforementioned chart.
Indent: dot clear gifCombat is straightforward but flawed. Characters don't roll to dodge or parry; rather, they can choose to focus more heavily on defense, giving their opponents a flat -1 penalty to hit regardless of the defenders' skill. (Likewise, characters can choose to mount aggressive attacks at the cost of an increased chance of fumbles.) The hit point-based damage system focuses more on appropriately humorous wound effects rather than on killing the characters; indeed, GMs are encouraged to avoid killing the players except in extreme circumstances. (Humiliation is ever so much more fun!) However, while the book provides a small list of sample weapon damages, it makes no mention of damage for unarmed combat or damage bonuses from strength. This isn't totally damning, since the damage systems from other games can easily be imported to fill this gap, but it does keep the system from being complete on its own.
Indent: dot clear gifAs mentioned under the "Setting" section, the magic system is both simple and simply wonderful, based upon the character's natural magic ability, the nature of the spell, the technique(s) used, and the EXACT wording of the spell. I should add that there's also a related system for divine intervention, the chance of which is based upon the nature and scale of the request and on the number of religious brownie points the petitioning character has managed to store up. Oh, and on whether the character's deity is alone or hanging out with other gods when the request comes in -- doing parlor tricks for mortals is sooo tacky, don't you know.
Indent: dot clear gifFinally, the game provides a massive list of Murphy's Law's for all occasions. Their use is left entirely up to the GM, whether for the theme of a game session or the punishment for a boorish character.

Art: Murphy's World Book Cover
The art is top-notch, detailed, and consistent, presenting a world that's as surprisingly beautiful as it is loony. The writing manages to be witty without letting the humor get in the way of solid information -- the authors wisely realize that game world composed of nothing but jokes will quickly become tiresome and unfunny.
Indent: dot clear gifOrganization is good, despite the occasional chaotic look created by numerous tables and sidebars. Most importantly, like all truly well designed game books, Murphy's World features a comprehensive index.
Indent: dot clear gifThe book's packed with information regarding the races, creatures, (super)natural laws, and notable individuals of Murphy's World, including Sean Murphy himself. (As an aside, how can you NOT love a book that features a giant named Eirik ArmRipperOffer?) However, while the races and NPCs have game stats, the flora and fauna don't. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. If the book is meant to be a complete game, why omit stats in the bestiary? Conversely, if it's meant to be a merely a setting, why provide stats for the races and NPCs?
Indent: dot clear gifFinally, the game includes another trait of a well-designed book: an introductory adventure. This lighthearted romp puts characters in the middle of a crisis resulting from a love affair between an elvish princess and a giant bouncer from the casino resort of Asgard. It's a great mix of roleplaying and Murphy-style dungeon crawling. But watch out for the flying walruses...

I've seldom enjoyed delving into a roleplaying setting as much as Murphy's World. I really wish that the writers had filled in some of the gaps, such as the missing creature stats and the incomplete damage system; these are the only things preventing me from giving the game a "5" for substance. Of course, that's only if you're actually planning on using the Murphy's World system; as a setting alone, it gets an easy "5".
Indent: dot clear gifMinor flaws aside, this is an outstanding game at a great price. So run out and buy a copy. Hey, what's the worst that could possibly happen?
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RPG.NET REVIEW — July 1999

Review by JUSTIN "The Moe" MOHAREB, 01/07/99.

Murphy’s World
Author: Kevin Davies w/ David Brown
Company/Publisher: Peregrine
Cost: $19.95
ISBN: 0-927821-23-0

GenreTags: Fantasy Science fiction Horror Far Future Space Comedy Espionage Vampire Gothic Asian/Far East Generic

Art: Poughvidd
You know, it occurs to The People's RPG Reviewer that some of you trailer park trash out there won't like Murphy's World. You'll complain and say, "Moe, we don't like Murphy's World. We don't get the jokes. We don't find them funny."
Indent: dot clear gifWell, that's just fine and dandy. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, even if they are wrong. Murphy's World is funny. In fact, it's hilarious. Now, some of the peons living out in the colonies will look at a few of the jokes and shrug their pencil their bony shoulders all the way up their pencil thin necks. That's okay. They can't help it, they're just born stupid.
Indent: dot clear gifBut those of us with taste and refinement, those of us with style and panache can't help but love Murphy's World. For the hard driving, hard drinking, hard loving elite, this is a book of beauty, baby!

The book, for those too lazy to get themselves a copy and too dumb to figure it out from the title, is about the world claimed by Sean Murphy, a fine figure of a character, even if he does sound like one of those Irish types. He crashlands on a planet where everything's weird, but funny weird. There's Italian Giants, hard working blue collar dwarves, greaser brownies, hippie trolls, and a potpourri of generally weird stuff. It's a world where the planet itself (well, the sun, actually) is actively out to get you.
Indent: dot clear gifBut the great part is it's all done for laughs. Most RPG games have been fairly poor when it came to laughs. I mean, let's not get started on Paranoia. The only successful comedy RPG has been Traveller (a joke many players have yet to get).

The funniest joke in Murphy's World? Well, I'm glad you asked, now shut your damn trailer trash mouth! The funniest joke in this book is, without a doubt, the names of two of the more northerly lands, Etobicola and Scarberia; to travel between them, you have to voyage on the Tee-Tee Sea.
Indent: dot clear gifNow, some of you aren't laughing. Which will happen. Unless you happen to live in the greatest city on Earth, you might not catch the reference. Well, if you think I'm gonna explain it to you, you're sadly mistaken.
Indent: dot clear gifIn fact, I think I've spoken enough for one day. Buy the damn book, know your role, and smell what the Moe is cooking, or I'll have to lay the smack down on you.

Style: 5 (Excellent!)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
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Review by LISA GOINS, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine. 9-15-97.

Murphy's World, Where Things Can Always Get Worse.
By Kevin Davies with David Brown

Peregrine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Member, Game Manufactures Association (GAMA)
$19.95, Ages 10 to adult, 2 players and up.
Released: January 1995

This game covers your basic gaming skills and is interchangeable with other role-playing games, play alone, or you can play the complete adventure found in the back of the book.
Indent: dot clear gifBased on an ever changing physical geography, no natural laws effect this world can give every player nightmares for years and enough chaos to delight any GM. As you wander through the planet you will meet the many bizarre races who will either welcome you or eat you. There are several NPC's of the planets populace, creatures, and "goodies" (like the famous book of Ned) GM's can use. Unique artwork comprises this book that is so weird and intriguing, but not so uncommon nowadays. Characters combinations, California Beach Bum/Elves and Hip/Brownies are really streaching to a player but to a GM with a player problem this world will zap, tap, and destroy the "perfect" character. Remember, if there is a chance of it happening it, it most likely will
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Review by STEVE GUY, Issue Number 9, September/October 1996, Page 36.


If you like T-shirts with catchy slogans on them, you're going to love Murphy's World. On the cover alone, you get "Murphy's World™ -- Where Things Can Always Get Worse...™, "A Humorous Roleplay Gaming World Where Reality Takes a Vacation!", "Reality is for People Who Can't Handle Murphy's World." Get the picture? These guys REALLY like capital letters. They missed one, though: "You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Buy This Game... But it Helps!"
Indent: dot clear gifOkay, it's not that bad. Murphy's World isn't bad at all, but it might be better with a lighter touch. In the designer's notes, the authors credit the influence of comedic novelists Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. But wheras Adams and Pratchett leaven their zaniness with plenty of straight storytelling, Murphy's World offers only the humor, leaving it to the GM to add as much or as little pathos as desired. It's a novelty game and it makes no apologies.
Indent: dot clear gifOr is it a game? It's really more of a generic supplement for other games, a sort of campaign-length scenario. GMs are free to use whichever system they find most familiar or comfortable. A barebones system is provided for running Murphy's World as a stand-alone, but inherent in the premise is the assumption that PCs will be dropping in from other worlds via "interdimensional gates".
Indent: dot clear gifThe world into which such hapless PCs will find themselves thrust is, as the name implies, a planet where Murphy's Laws ensures that everything that can go wrong will. You'll go nuts if you try to impose order on the random absurdity of life on Murphy's World. The authors have obviously spent a great deal of time trying to flesh out their world (according to the copyright notice, at least eight years), but the entire project lies deep in the shadow of its title. It's Murphy's World, and don't you forget it.
Indent: dot clear gifIn practice, what that amounts to is a blank check for the GM to screw with the laws of physics, magic, and society. GMs are encouraged to elaborate upon and misinterpret spells, alter the landscape and climate as soon as the players think they've gotten their bearings, and ensure that monsters can't be judged on appearance alone.
Indent: dot clear gifMost of the fun in the game comes from ensuring the players' schemes are thwarted in humorous ways. As in Paranoia, that requires a GM with a deft hand and players with a flexible sense of humor. To aid the GM, there are big tables for determining the result of a failed spell or fumbled attack, a long list of unappealing character traits ranging from "Clothes tend to attract fluff" to "Always speaks in rhyme", plus chapters detailing various goofy NPCs and oddball artifacts.
Indent: dot clear gifSetting all the Murphy's Law jokes aside, Murphy's World is a typical techno-fantasy setting. Native PCs can choose from the usual array of races -- elves, trolls, cyberpunks -- plus a few less familiar types -- nagas, rakshasas, undead Republicans. Imported PCs can be anything from Toon critters to Renegade Nuns on Wheels. Anyone can use magic, if they try hard enough and their luck holds out.
Indent: dot clear gifPCs ported from other systems will probably spend most of their time searching for a functioning teleportation gate to get them home. Native PCs can explore a planet populated with elements drawn from a wide range of popular mythologies... each one given an appropriate post-modern twist, of course.
Art: Elvish Sports HeroIndent: dot clear gifThe manual includes a sample scenario, "Robyn's Summer Romance in Asgard (or, Robyn and Her Merry Sven)," in which PCs are asked to rescue a princess. At least it starts out that way; the GM is advised in the introduction to let the scenario play out however the players like. Yes, for all its seeming antagonism toward the players, Murphy's World is intended to be fun. The premise was originally used to make monkeys out of rule lawyers and historical accurists.
Indent: dot clear gif(Speaking of historical accuracy: "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it." -- engineer Edward A. Murphy, Jr.)
Indent: dot clear gif From the critic's perspective, Murphy's World appears to be an attempt to minimize dungeoneering while playing up interaction between PCs and NPCs. After all, social encounters are the only ones in which players have a fair chance of getting things to go their way. The descriptions of races and regions provide far more information on peaceful encounters than combat. Power gamers probably wouldn't enjoy a sojourn on Murphy's World, but they're not known for their sense of humor to begin with.
Indent: dot clear gifMany of the book's illustrations are credited to Kevin Davies, the main author, and they're good enough that you'll probably be seeing more of his work elsewhere. Unfortunately, it looks as though they were originally rendered in color, so the greytone versions used in the manual come out a bit muddy. Still, the artwork is abundant, topical, and high quality.
Indent: dot clear gifA map of Murphy's World is provided, but it's spread across two pages and several places get lost in the binding. True to the game's schizophrenic nature, most of the locations on the map are gag names, like the town on Rust in the land of Insomnia. The rest are straight and generally drawn from Norse, Welsh, Hindu, and other mythologies. In actual gameplay, you won't use the map much, but it would make a great poster.
Indent: dot clear gifThe one truly innovative feature of Murphy's World, the one that impressed me as elegant and simple, is a promotional offer from the publisher. If you send them an international reply coupon, Peregrine will mail you a set of Murphy's World bookmarks printed with eight of the game's many tables. Why didn't I think of that?
Indent: dot clear gifAn upcoming supplement for Murphy's World will be titled Bob, Lord of Evil and will lampoon the conventions of horror gaming. Future supplements will presumably parody other genres.

— Steve Guy IMAGE: TOP of Page Link


Review by DAVID D. COMBS, Issue Number 5, Fall 1996, Page 76.


Murphy's World (Where Things Can Always Get Worse...)

This game is a nice new idea in that it is designed as an add-on to any existing game you may be playing, either so your characters can take a funny little break, or as a weird adventure setting in itself. The game is set on 'Murphy's World', a strange planet wildly affected by the sun Ludo, so the laws of nature are distorted. This allows for some very interesting outcomes, especially in tense situations, so the characters will quickly learn that the game is not meant to be taken very seriously.
Indent: dot clear gifThe planet can be reached either by dimension door (fantasy) or as an accident of stellar navigation (Sci-Fi), so it is compatible with virtually all major play systems. A whole range of beings to interact with is provided, along with a detailed explanation of how Murphy's Laws are built into play. Just when you think you have the perfect plan, everything changes on you!
Indent: dot clear gifThe artwork both on the cover and inside is excellent, and the rules are very well written, though they could be better organized. All in all, they have done an excellent job of designing this game, which could easily spice up any dungeon crawl or space opera!

— David D. CombsIMAGE: TOP of Page Link


Review by JEFF TIDBALL, Issue #7, December 1995, Page 51.

Murphy's World by Kevin Davies with David Brown Grade: A–

Murphy's World describes itself as "a humorous roleplay gaming world where reality takes a vacation." That is certainly an apt description and your initial reaction to it will probably determine whether you will like Murphy's World or whether you will file it next to Tales From the Floating Vagabond and move on to more serious topics.
Indent: dot clear gifMurphy's World is a campaign book much more than a stand-alone roleplaying game. There is a section of rules, but even the book recommends that you use a familiar system or no rules at all in order to fully immerse yourself in Murphy's World. The vast majority of the book is filled with exhaustive descriptions of races, lands, organizations, items, personalities, and so on.
Indent: dot clear gifMurphy's World is an apparent paradise discovered by Sean Murphy, Independent Space Explorer and Opportunist. Unfortunately, after staking his claim, his spacecraft crashed and he discovered that, due to the bizarre radiation emitted by the planet's sun, the normal laws of science do not function. Reality is governed mostly by the consensus of the people who live in a given area. Not only does this mean that most technology does not function properly ("It's amazing! I don't believe it!"), but underpopulated areas are dangerous, because the land's topography often rearranges itself when no one is looking.
Indent: dot clear gifOf course, on a planet governed by Murphy's Laws, anything can and will, happen. This is both the game's best feature and potential downfall. For an experienced gamemaster who can manipulate the Murphy Effect for the enjoyment of the players, incredible entertainment will result. Unfortunately, it is all to easy for an inexperienced gamemaster to allow a game set on Murphy's World to degenerate into a festival of one-liners and wacky but irrelevant physical gags. While fun once, this type of play is unlikely to be amusing a second, third, or fourth time around. In order to combat this possibility, there are many hints on how to roleplay Murphy's World. Anyone dedicated to running a good game is given more than enough tools.
Indent: dot clear gifGamemasters are encouraged to use Murphy's World as part of an ongoing campaign. Magical portals exist all around the planet that allow just about any type of adventuring group to be transported to the planet. I am suspicious about how well this would really function. It seems to me that dropping characters from any serious game into this convoluted land would do more harm than good.
Indent: dot clear gifThe book itself is beautiful. The interior illustrations are both attractive and funny, and all have captions that describe them in game context. Layout is a little cramped, but the writing is entertaining.
Indent: dot clear gifIf you know that you are a fan of games where humor takes a major role, Murphy's World is highly recommended.
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Review by DEREK PEARCY, Issue Number 16, November/December 1995, Page 76.
Article originally printed in Pyramid magazine, copyright 1995 Steve Jackson Games. Used with permission.

MURPHY'S WORLD is listed as one of 6 "Pyramid Picks -- or, 'Christmas shopping hints for the gaming-impaired.'"

Art: Beatnik BrowniesMurphy's World, you can tell with even the most cursory glance, was a labor of love. At conventions, we are used to seeing a person's labor of love. Usually, it's a photocopied mass of campaign notes, illustrated by a friend's crude by heartfelt character sketches, spiral bound at Kinko's and handed out with a smile to anyone who will listen (and maybe pick up the tab for lunch). But Murphy's World is part of the next generation of labors of love, those Herculean labors made by people who were RPG fans in their youth, left the hobby as they got older and acquired valuable creative skills in the workplace, then returned to the world of gaming, bringing their new knowledge back.
Indent: dot clear gif As the trading card game craze rapidly takes attention, time and resources away from the roleplaying game hobby, new RPG companies continue to appear, founded by professionals who remember how much they enjoyed gaming in their youth. Murphy's World is a prime example of what can be achieved when skilled people with an interest in the subject matter -- in this case, one exceptionally skilled and imaginative person with near boundless enthusiasm -- apply what they've learned in the Real World to create a product with the same level of quality as any "professional" book.
Indent: dot clear gifAs a designer, Murphy's World appeals to me. Great care was taken with the layout of every page, and if there was any rush or last minute crunching getting the book to the printers that jeopardized the book's quality, you can't tell. It's an elegantly designed book, almost reminiscent of the care our European gaming counterparts take in their graphic design. Everything is easy to find; it even has a correct index, which I've made use of on several occasions. I could go on for pages about what a great book this is just for aesthetic reasons, but you people would probably get upset if I didn't spend any time telling you what the book is about. Gamers are notoriously picky about those things.
Indent: dot clear gifSean Murphy, interstellar traveler and con man extraordinaire, has crashlanded on the planet of Faerie, where due to the strange energies emanating from its sun, Ludo, life operates according to the legendary Murphy's Laws, the first of which is that anything that can go wrong will go wrong -- horribly, horribly wrong. All the other Murphy's Laws merely detail the various ways that specific things can go horribly, horribly wrong. While this may seem like an excuse for GM sadism, the way the book presents its world (which can be used with the bare bones of RPG rules that come with the book, or with the system of your choice) is far more of an 'Alice in Wonderland' planet than, say, 'Hol' (see Pyramid #10, p. 74).
Indent: dot clear gifThere are 14 well-described races inhabiting Murphy's World, from the exotic Poughvidds to the standard Elves, Dwarves and, of course, Humans. The book's writing flows well, and is perfectly suited for the whimsical twists of the material. Guidelines for running adventures on this planet are scattered throughout the book, and several complete adventures are thrown in for good measure.
Indent: dot clear gifAs a GM, even if you run just one session of Murphy's World, read the book beforehand and your game will be so insanely detailed and fascinatingly impressive that your players will have to be happy with the investment in time away from your regular campaign -- if not for the adventure seeds, the detailed maps or the pregenerated characters, than for the many impressive ways you have to foil all their schemes and leave them begging for more.
Indent: dot clear gifPeregrine is capable of producing the kind of refined, well-designed product that the modern marketplace demands -- and I can't wait to see what they do next.

— Derek Pearcy IMAGE: TOP of Page Link


Art: Gandharva ElvesReview by FABRICE COLIN, Issue #88, September 1995, Page 24. (Translated from the original French).

MURPHY’S WORLD Chaotic Vacations

When Sean Murphy, calamitous intergalactic explorer, crashed his spaceship on the planet Faerie, he had no doubt what awaited him, and began, in all modesty, by re-christening the planet with his own name; welcome to Murphy's World. Murphy's Law, you understand -- that same law that makes you miss your bus on a day when you're having an exam, or when your wife leaves you for your boss... Here now, is a planet, a delirious and improbable universe, under the influence of a capricious sun, and fickle moons (Bill, Zeppo, Groucho, etc.), a world much more 'special' than you could imagine: full of snobbish elves, alcoholic dwarves, irresponsible brownies and eco-freak trolls, just to mention the most normal. When you know that the geography is changeable, and that an epidemic of foolishness threatens to overwhelm the land, you will already have a small idea of the merry chaos that reigns. A dream for some, a nightmare for others, as Merlin would say. No one is safe; "Many are the doors which open onto Faerie" (rare are those which permit you to leave!), and a mischievous or exasperated gamemaster may decide unexpectedly to send you on a journey. There you will meet adventurers from every possible world, who, like you, are looking for an exit, or who are trying to profit from the charms of their new world (it's for having fun!)
Indent: dot clear gifThe game is intended to work with the system of your choice, but nevertheless certain 'house' rules are suggested, for those who'd like to stay there (and why not?) Murphy's World is a possible response to Hol (see TA in CB #87), proof that a game can be full of both humour and poetry... but still playable (the background is effectively complete). Of particular interest is the interesting magic system, the exceptional page presentation, superb graphics, and a host of marvellous touches. By his own admission, the author developed this game as a protest against the usual stuff. If yours are bogged down there, Murphy's World is the dream remedy, because in its particular genre, it's never far from perfection.

— Fabrice Colin IMAGE: TOP of Page Link


Christopher 'Ogre' Croston, Dayton, OH

Mr. Davies,

I am very upset with you and your company. After meeting Mr. Brown at Gen Con, I purchased your game system, Murphy's World. I also was given a complementary copy of 'An Order of the Gods'. Complementary! As a respectable member of the gaming community I expect a certain bare minimum gouging in all my purchases! Why the system itself was only $21 and it appears to be pretty complete!! I suspect I could run thousands of hours of Murphy's World without making another purchase!
Indent: dot clear gifEven more upsetting was the relative ease with which I gained a rather thorough knowledge of the rules. Within 10 hours of the purchase I was able to gamemaster the complementary module! How dare you resort to making your system so easy and gamer friendly? What will the White Wolfs and Palladiums of the world do with all their unseemly charts and graphs? Do you realize I never had to use my calculator once? With Murphy's World you don't get bogged down with irritating charts and complex computations so the game becomes centered on (gasp!) roleplaying!! Games that stress roleplaying over statistical dice rolling can become (Lord help us) Fun!! What are you trying to do, cause gamers to get into character and actually enjoy themselves!!??Art: Reagombie - Family
Indent: dot clear gifNow I have yet another problem, my gaming group here in Dayton seem to enjoy having fun themselves! So now I have to run more and more Murphy's World modules. More, more they cry!! So I run 'Robyn and Her Merry Sven' thinking that will sate them. That only made it worse. Now they dress as Reagombies on Thursdays and gather converts for the Saturday afternoon games. Another player is a Dsonoqua Ogre and will only communicate to the living world in whistles! It's a total mania! And more they cry, give us more! As they assault me with twenty sided dice that they rub frantically against their freshly sharpened pencils they scream "Give us this day our daily Murph!!" It's twisted I tell you! So now I have to write my own modules and I am feverishly working on something I call "To Build a Better Mousetrap", it is the tragic tale of a Werecoyote who works for Acheme gadgets and hopes to ensnare the dreaded "meepmeep" bird. Do you see how you've twisted my mind?
Indent: dot clear gifNow the folks at the Kettering Game Convention want me to run a few slots of Murphy's World at their annual gaming con on September 30. The word is spreading and I fear that a Murphy's gateway may soon appear and suck me into the endless void. Then I hear a rumor that a supplement is due out soon, something called 'Bob, Lord of Evil'. Is this true? And if so, how soon before you charge me a sickeningly fair price to purchase said item, for I must have it!!! Tell me the truth, Bob is an Amway salesman, isn't he? The shop I run my monthly games at would like to become a dealer in Murphy's World merchandise, so if you could send me a dealer info sheet, I will pass it to them.

Thank you,
Christopher 'Ogre' Croston
IMAGE: TOP of Page Link


Saturday, 15 July, 1995,, by Timothy Toner

Murphy’s World: A Review

This game and me, we've got history. Without getting into too much detail, I can honestly say that no other game's themes has meant so much, synchronicity-wise, to me. I first met the nice Peregrine people when they were parked across from me at last year's GenCon. They were nice to a fault, and for Canadians, pretty funny*. I picked up a paper version of the game, on a lark, and decided to devour it that evening. It was actually one of the few purchases I made at GenCon last year, which should give you a good indication of how impressed I was at first glance. And then I left it in the bathroom. At least I thought I left it in the bathroom. In any event, I cursed dark fate. I kept in touch with the Peregrine People, and every time I tried to get in touch, something would happen. I got chicken pox. My brother had a nervous breakdown. Finally, I spotted a pre-release copy in, and jumped on it. Then another brother moved, and my mail, including the package, were forwarded to him. He promptly lost it. So when this bundle of joy arrived on my front stoop, sent by the kindly Peregrine people, I expected it to explode. It didn't. Somehow, I was disappointed. It would have made a great story, I thought. And then I read the book, and realized that I was living a Murphy's World scenario.
Indent: dot clear gifTo begin with, this isn't HoL. It isn't Paranoia, or Tales From the Floating Vagabond, or even Ghostbusters. It's a humor RPG, but it's not the same type of humor RPG that we've come to expect, where most of the funny bits are privy only to the GM (which HoL is the poster child for).
Indent: dot clear gifMurphy's World is about as playable an RPG as you can get. The rules are devilishly simple, and they don't insult your characters, as Paranoia tends to. Murphy's World doesn't assume that your characters are inept. Instead, crap happens, and they have to live with it. That's part of the charm of the game. Things have to be endured, since it echoes the most embarrassing moments of real life that gives us such joy remembering. Ten years later, that is.
Indent: dot clear gifFirst, the background: Sean Murphy a space explorer, found an uncharted planet, and proceeded to claim it in the name of gold, glory, and God (well, mostly gold, since Sean was a bit of an atheistic coward). The moment he entered the planet's atmosphere... things happened. His ship crash landed, and he found himself stranded on your typical fantasy world.
Indent: dot clear gifWell, it would be typical, if not for the sun, Ludo. Y'see, Ludo is sentient, and Ludo likes to have fun. A Discordian at heart, she bathes Murphy's World with strange energies that make things go impossibly wrong at the most important moment. The natives, who happen to call the place Arcadia (and guess what I'm doing for an Arcadia sourcebook for Changeling until WW does one?), have taken it like fish to water, but her influence tends to boggle the average newcomer.
Indent: dot clear gifAnd there's lots of 'em. Part of Ludo's influence means that dimensional gates are constantly opening and closing. So it's possible to bring in any character from any game, and subject them to the nightmare which is Murphy's World. The rules as presented make crossovers a snap.
Indent: dot clear gifOne of the most alluring things about this game is the backgrounds of the races. An attempt was legitimately made to make mythology come alive. Rather than "there are these short guys and they have beards and they mine and hate elves and stuff," we have races that are as varied as legend. Yes, you can play a Dwarf, or an Elf, or even a Troll, but you can also play a Naga, Rakasha, or Celestial, seemingly taken from the original source material. Rather than an "addition by means of stapling," the backgrounds of each race flow into each other. In a mad, zany, wacky way, it all works.Art: Naga Woman
Indent: dot clear gifWhat does that mean? Pull out those AD&D characters. Even if comedy isn't your bag, something amazingly interesting is going on here, and the game can be toned accordingly. Play elves in a way they've never been meant to be played, and yet a thousand times more authentic than in games created by those who think Tolkien is the be-all-and-end-all source of info on these guys.
Indent: dot clear gifThe illustrations are lush and lavish, and the map (which, as it turns out, is the most useless part of the game once you start playing) was so wonderfully rendered that it made me pore over ever inch. Graphically, the book is a triumph.
Indent: dot clear gifLet's get back to the humor for a second, since that's what they're selling it for. The first time you read this book, you won't find it all that funny. This is too bad, since a lot of people want a yuk a minute. The people who wrote the game understood that guffaws on the page often don't translate to guffaws in play. Instead of trying to beat every toilet joke to death thrice-over, they've opted to point out how you can instill humor in any sort of game, and how you can present situations so that the player's don't think they're being railroaded into a joke. I didn't "get" it until the second read, and once I did that, I realized that most of the time, people try too hard when it comes to being funny. With the copious suggestions provided, you can tone a game to humor, rather than booby-trapping a scenario with "really funny jokes."
Indent: dot clear gifAnd most importantly, the characters are not schlemiels, waiting for God to piddle on them yet again. They don't have to have funny names (though the random name generators for each race are a hoot), nor do they have to be fish slapping Beavis and Butthead clones. The humor presented is much more dry, much more interesting than your standard fare, and after running a sample game, I can honestly say it leaves players with a nice sense of accomplishment.
Indent: dot clear gifFinally, let me close this review with a note about the magic system. Sigh. The first time I saw something like this was when I read T$R's Al Qadim (TM) sourcebook, where a humble petitioner could ask Fate for a break. The more powerful you were, the less likely Fate will bestow her graces generously. HoL had something like this as well, called Grace of God points. Murphy's World goes a step further, abandoning the "small" concept, and going for something "big." Y'see, Ludo listens. Anyone is capable of magic, and that's a drawback. Often, Ludo will obey to the letter of the law, or not hear things quite right, and still obey the letter of the law. The results are amazingly freeform and usually hysterical. I'm sorely tempted to import some of this in WW's Mage game, to kick those sourpusses in the shins, and run away.
Indent: dot clear gif Like the Superhero genre, humor in RPG's are a rare animal these days, especially when it comes to playable humor. Murphy's World offers quite a bit between its covers, most of it immediately portable to whatever you're playing. There's some good satire here, as well as some wonderful ideas. Even if you're not interested in humor, give this book the once over. You'll be glad you did.
Indent: dot clear gif* It's a well known fact that Canada produces more funny people per capita than the US could only dream about.

— Timothy Toner
IMAGE: TOP of Page Link


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