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"All history is made up. Good history is made up by good historians; bad history is made up by the others." -David Macaulay
"We talked a little more of Milesians and Firbolgs; but I do not write what he told me here, as it is at variance with things I have written already, as is often the case with legend, whence comes a pleasing variety." -Lord Dunsany
The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men is an RPG with an emphasis on story. I have read the game thoroughly, but not yet played it, so bear that in mind when reading opinions: they're not heavily grounded.

This thin book is a delight to read. The PCs are Gingerbread Men (and Women) cookies, and the game includes a recipe so you can make "miniatures" for use during the game - and for another use after the game!

The story is set in the twelve days before Christmas, when inanimate objects come alive. The game is clearly family oriented, but it would also work well with adults in the right spirit.

Character creation is fairly simple, but does require creativity. Gingerbread Men have certain Advantages, and each Advantage that is called into play at a given time allows the player to roll an extra d6 in action resolution. You get one Advantage just for being a Gingerbread Man, so that's lucky. You must then choose what type of spice you were seasoned with - each of the six types gives you an Advantage in different situations, so choose wisely.

Next you have a Zen background, such as Freedom Fighter, or Tree Climber or Sugar Cookie Translator - this will give you another Advantage die in the right situations, and involves the creativity I mentioned above.

Finally, you must have a Secret - hence the title of the game. This is kept from the other players, but the GM knows your Secret and it will probably drive the action for you.

You also get an Advantage die for a Baking Bond - if you're helping someone baked in the same batch of cookies as you, that's worth an extra die.

Oh - sweets. Of course, you (the player) should help the real-world cook decorate your own cookie in the last step before baking, sticking little pieces of candy in the dough, or in the frosting after baking. These can be used during the adventure as one-use magic items, and there is an appendix describing some of the common sweets, such as Candy Corn, Red Licorice, Black Licorice, Mints, etc., and their specific magical uses. Black Licorice can become a flexible ladder, for example. A very nice touch!

Action Resolution is quite interesting, and requires a flexible GM. Every action that requires dice at all is a contested action. An example from the book involves trying to blow out a candle. If the candle is far away and small, it has the Advantages of Far Away and Small, and so gets two Advantage dice!

So the player rolls a number of dice equal to their total number of relevant Advantages, and the GM does also for the Target, whatever that may be. Each Even result counts as +1, and each Odd result as 0. Most pluses win - in case of a tie, add up the sum of the Even dice (2+4 beats 2+2, for example). A very nice system if the GM is able to assign Advantages well, a subjective assessment, I'm sure.

The book gives a lot of background about the dangers involved in being a Gingerbread Man: humans, pets, wild animals if outside, dropping more than one foot in height, etc. A number of NPCs are described, each with a plot hook - Gingerbread Men have lives, you know. Humans are described, and children react differently than adults - a child is defined as anyone who still believes in Santa Claus. They're also likely to believe in animate Gingerbread Men cookies.

Combat involves losing arms and legs, and probably using up your sweets as weapons. One assumes the players will nibble on their cookie to represent damage and loss of limbs ...

All in all, this book is a delightful read. I will try it at some point, probably near Christmas time, but even without having played it, I feel I've gotten my money's worth out of reading it.


[Note: this is one of my series of semi-reviews of Indie game products.]

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Game on!
This game sounds amazing! Your semi-reviews is a great idea!
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