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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.
The 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.
RPG.NET REVIEW August 1999
Review by DAN DAVENPORT, firstname.lastname@example.org
Review on: http://www.rpg.net
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...
You 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.
Then 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.
RPG.NET REVIEW July 1999
Review by JUSTIN "The Moe" MOHAREB, 01/07/99.
Author: Kevin Davies w/ David Brown
GenreTags: Fantasy Science fiction Horror Far Future Space Comedy Espionage Vampire Gothic Asian/Far East Generic
DWARVEN TAVERN CYBERZINE REVIEW
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.
Based 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.
SERENDIPITY'S CIRCLE MAGAZINE REVIEW
Review by STEVE GUY, Issue Number 9, September/October 1996, Page 36.
PLAYING AROUND, Game Review, MURPHY'S WORLD
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!"
Okay, 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.
Or 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".
The 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.
In 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.
Most 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.
Setting 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.
PCs 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.
The 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.
(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.)
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.
Many 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.
A 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.
The 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?
An 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.
THE ULTIMATE UNKNOWN MAGAZINE REVIEW
Review by DAVID D. COMBS, Issue Number 5, Fall 1996, Page 76.
THE ULTIMATE GAMING TABLE
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.
The 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!
The 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. Combs
THE FAMILIAR MAGAZINE REVIEW
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.
Murphy'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.
Murphy'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.
Of 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.
Gamemasters 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.
The 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.
If you know that you are a fan of games where humor takes a major role, Murphy's World is highly recommended.
PYRAMID MAGAZINE, PYRAMID PICKS REVIEW
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.'"
Murphy'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.
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.
As 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.
Sean 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).
There 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.
As 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.
Peregrine 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.
CASUS BELLI MAGAZINE REVIEW
Review by FABRICE COLIN, Issue #88, September 1995, Page 24. (Translated from the original French).
MURPHYS 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!)
The 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.
A LETTER OF COMPLAINT
Christopher 'Ogre' Croston, Dayton, OH
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!
Even 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!!??
Now 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?
Now 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.
Christopher 'Ogre' Croston
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