This is the one hundred thirty-third entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
Our next random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality has announced itself with a horrible “HONK”. It’s The Goose of Grillner Grove, by Jenn Martin, and its tagline in the bundle reads:
A tabletop RPG about a goose, and the townsfolk it terrorizes.
I know what you are thinking, and I will tell you now: no, you cannot play as the goose. Well, not directly, anyway.
The Goose of Grillner Grove seems rather obviously inspired by Untitled Goose Game, the highly successful game that casts players as a mischievous goose wreaking havoc in a small town. The Goose of Grillner Grove, has the same premise, except it’s a tabletop role-playing game (really more of a storytelling game, in this case) for 3+ players and designed to be played in “15+ minutes”. It’s quick and easy, but since I couldn’t be bothered to find more people to play it with, and I’m not personally that interested in improvisational group storytelling, I didn’t actually play it and am just offering my impressions from reading its small booklet.
The Goose of Grillner Grove was a submission to the Big Bad Game Jam in 2019, which challenged creators to make tabletop or live-action games inspired by or about folk tales and myths, to be played at the 2019 Big Bad Con in Oakland, California. I guess it went over well, because The Goose of Grillner Grove later spawned its own game jam, Goose James, that same year (from the FAQ: “Q: Do I need to know anything about geese? A: No. Your game must be about geese. Knowing anything about geese is fully optional.”). Goose James spawned four more games about geese. What have you unleashed, Jenn Martin?
The Goose of Grillner Grove casts players as residents of a small town that has been plagued by a tyrannical goose for the past 20 years. After quickly establishing the basics of the town and who each player is portraying within it, the group must take turns to regale a new visitor (who may be a player or an NPC) with terrifying tales of the goose. Each player gets a prompt on which to base their story, which include things like “I saw it in a shed, sitting on a pile of mail” or “I saw it eat a whole pie”. Players are given a lot of leeway in concocting a suitably chilling narrative, as long as they are kind and thoughtful towards the other players (The Goose of Grillner Grove makes use of the X card to make sure everyone is comfortable) and they do not violate one of the game’s two truths: the goose is not supernatural, and the goose does not die in this game. If a player’s tale violates these rules, the other players admonish them by honking loudly at them. Honestly, this is a brilliant mechanic that should be incorporated into many other games. Then, once everyone has told at least one story, the group must decide if the visitor heeds the warnings, or recklessly disregards them.
I would guess that with the right group, this would be a raucous good time, full of laughter and honking. I like that it’s designed for quick play with minimal time to set things up. Just get a group together, and start building the legend of an absolutely horrible goose. If you enjoy improvising funny stories with friends, and understand the deep menace and malice of the goose — as do we all, surely — then definitely check out The Goose of Grillner Grove. If you missed it in the bundle, it’s sold for a minimum price of $3, including color and black and white versions in English, as well as a Korean translation.
That’s 133 down, and only 1608 to go!