If you’ve played role playing games before, then this isn’t quite like one of those; if you haven’t played RPGs before, you may want to go and play some of those before diving into this. If you want to dive in anyway, then welcome to the world of When Bad Things Happen to Good Magicians! This is designed to be played as a quick pick-up or filler game, not an on-going campaign or series of linked sessions (though you could do that if you like). The rules are very simple and easy to learn, the game itself being playable in a couple of hours, depending on the size of your group. Each game begins with the Heroes being taken to task for their failure to successfully complete a quest; the players then pass the buck for that failure around the table by creating incidents where one Hero was responsible for the outcome of that scene, for good or bad. This continues until any Hero has run out of excuses to use, at which point one player is named as the scapegoat for their misadventures and one other is the champion who gets to pronounce their punishment. In order to play, you will need copies of the character sheets to be found at the end of this book, pencils & erasers for making notes, a set of poker chips, beads or other tokens to use as action chips and lots of dice, ranging from six- to twelve-sided.
In When Bad Things Happen to Good Magicians, or WBT for short, one player takes on the role of game moderator, known generically as the GM but specifically in this game also known as the Magistrate. It is the GM’s job to be familiar with the rules and apply them appropriately within the game; they also get to start the game off with an opening scene and prod the other players into action by adding detail to what occurs. In addition to the GM, there must be four or more other players, each of whom plays a Hero; unlike other games, Heroes in WBT have completely pre-generated statistics and abilities, so all you do is add a name and a description of them. There are eight Heroes to choose from in this rulebook, each of whom should be regarded as being a bit of a failure, since true heroes are in short supply at this time.