The Penguin Harlequinade is a fast-paced comic role-playing game based on Commedia dell’Arte, an ancient Italian style of masked comedy theatre. The game focuses on ludicrous plans, ridiculous plots and very silly action. If you don’t mind playing a character with the mental attributes of a brain-damaged ant high on caffeine, you’ll really enjoy this unique game.
First, a disclaimer. There are no penguins in this game. Or at least, we have run many sessions of it in multiple tournaments, and there are yet to be any penguins.
The source of the name was as follows: we were going to a tournament in Wellington called KapCon. We needed a name for this new system we’d come up with, and we were stumped. Eventually one or other of us came up with The Penguin Harlequinade because there are penguins in Dunedin (where we’re from) and not in Wellington; and because the system was designed as a Commedia Dell’Arte system and the Commedia was called a Harlequinade in England.
If you really want to play a game with penguins in it, look out for The Penguin Masquerade, a forthcoming game which we have yet to write. Its premise is simple – you’re a penguin, just keep it under your hat...