Welcome to Pitfalls and Penguins!
This is a game where you and your friends will use your imagination to tell a story together.
If you’ve played a tabletop game before, you’re likely familiar with many of the concepts in this book, but if not, don’t worry, we’ll walk you through them!
In this chapter, we’ll give you some quick information about the world of Pao, and what makes Pitfalls and Penguins stand out from the Open Gaming Licensed content it is built on.
The world of Pao
This game takes place in another reality on the world of Pao. You can learn more about Pao in the Setting Chapter, but here’s enough information to get started.
The Penguin God’s contributions to global society have outlasted empires. Motivated largely by his laziness, these include the Snow Dollar (a completely stable and universally accepted global currency abbreviated as S$), the common language of English (a derivative of Penglish), and a belief that dying is to be avoided.
The word “man” as a suffix refers to all sapient species of Pao regardless of gender, and is an abridged form of “Roaman” adopted after the end of the Pax Roamana and the collapse of the Roaman Empire.
Optimized for fun!
Pitfalls and Penguins is optimized for fun rather than simulation, and several core mechanics of the game veer hilariously away from the Open Gaming Licensed SRD content we’ve built upon.
In this section, we’ll explore each briefly, though each will be dealt with in greater depth in later chapters.
Wishes are funniest when granted literally.
When a 1 is rolled on a d20, the character achieves his goal literally, but with undesirable collateral damage and consequences.
For example, if you rolled a 1 on an attempt to hot-wire a car, you might start the car easily, but soon learn that the mob had sabotaged the car in hopes of killing the owner.
If you were trying to force open a door and rolled a 1, you might find that the door opens easily when unlocked from the other side by a security patrol.
A six-level system
Past continental destruction has left Pao with a legacy of caution toward powerful individuals, so it is relatively low-powered compared to other fantasy settings.
Our six-level system is based on the OGL E6 rules by Ryan Stoughton, where character growth beyond the sixth level is achieved through the selection of additional feats.
In practical terms, if you play a Pitfalls and Penguins campaign for a long time, your characters will grow more powerful, but not uninterestingly godlike.
On Pao, confidence is everything, and overconfidence is hilariously effective.
Your Imaginary Modifier represents how much better you think your character thinks he is at something than he actually is. In addition to rolling three dice to determine each of your Ability Scores at character creation, you will also use a fourth die to determine your Imaginary Modifier.
You won’t die
Pitfalls and Penguins is a collaborative improv game. Players should try things because they are awesome and hilarious, even at great risk to them- selves.
In this game, if a Playable Character’s health drops below 0, that character is considered unconscious. If the entire party is rendered unconscious, the Pitfall Master should simply time-skip to the party waking up, possibly in prison or about to be sacrificed to an ancient god.
Players may elect to allow their characters to die for role-playing reasons, such as sacrificing them- selves for the good of the party.
Onward to Adventure
Organizing your group
We recommend you and your friends schedule a few hours to create your characters and select a Pitfall Master.
Unlike the other players who only control one character in the game, the Pitfall Master is your window to the world of Pao. If anyone in your group already has experience with pen and paper role-playing games, that would give them a head start in playing as Pitfall Master, but experience isn’t the most important thing. We recommend you choose someone who is enthusiastic about storytelling and collaboration, but also respected and recognized as fair by everyone in your group.
You don’t need to memorize everything in this book, but we do recommend you become familiar enough with it to quickly answer any questions you have during play.
The chapters on Core Gameplay Mechanics and Combat are required reading for the Pitfall Master and recommended reading for the rest of the players.
Everyone can own this book for free
Your entire group may not have spare cash to buy a physical copy of this book.
Don’t worry, you can download a digital copy for free at: http://gum.co/penguins
If you have a few extra bucks you can spend on the download or a physical copy, rest assured that we appreciate your help as we continue to develop new game features, new games, and other awesome creations.