log in or register to remove this ad


Puppetland and feature creep

So I discovered Puppetland a few years ago and immediately fell in love with it. I wasn't able to back the kickstarter but I bought the 2016 edition when it became available. I bought a copy of the 1999 edition through the used books market too. I read the 1995 edition on John Tynes' website. I read an informative review:

The review brought to my attention that Puppetland's lore (and to a lesser extent, the rules) has become inconsistent due to feature creep in each edition, and the sample adventures don't give a feel for what a typical adventure would look like. Which I find a shame, because the game is otherwise really neat.

What do you think?

log in or register to remove this ad


David Jose
Wow. I had played the original for a bit back in the mid 90s and really enjoyed it. Definitely too many cooks on that one.


This brings to mind a lot of smaller games that I've played over the years where either the people who I met who were running said games or the fan made material available online really soured me because their personal interpretation of the game was so so far removed from mine.

Nothing ruins things more for me more than someone needing to step in and explain away all the magic as midichlorians.
Last edited:

Nothing ruins things more for me more than someone needing to step in and explain away all the magic as midichlorians.
If the puppets are able to visit the "real world" (or people from the real world visit Puppetland), then it stops being warped storybook fantasy and turns into urban fantasy horror. I preferred the "Christopher Robin-style imaginary world" as the review puts it.

Ironically, several of the adventures would actually work better if Maker's Land was a literal imaginary world. It makes no sense for the Maker to create the puppet cemetery or the puppet hell added in third edition, it makes no sense for the Maker to have invented a prison for dangerous puppets like Crocodile if he could control who gets to live in Maker's Land in the first place, nor does it make sense for Punch to devise various schemes to travel beyond Maker's Land if he already trivially did so as part of his initial take over.

Honestly, the whole concept of "What lies beyond Maker's Land?" deserves it own sourcebook or several. It doesn't feel like something that deserves only some throwaway references and sample adventures in the core rulebook. For that matter, a gazetteer of Maker's Land could probably fit one or more books.

But what really gets my goat is that, as of 3e, Punch's angst is partly derived from his personal inability to create new puppets without human skin (yep, it's that kind of setting). However, there are several instances where this is ignored: he created the nutcrackers (although in one adventure this is retconned to them being immigrants from the Land of Sweets), one adventure hook is that he's creating a dragon puppet using a stone heart, his game statistics don't mention it even though it's vital to his character (all we get is the vague "work magic" ability, which basically translates to plot device powers), and in one adventure he creates a seven-headed "mouse king" out of wild mice to invade the Land of Sweets (which you'd think would make him not care as much about needing human skin). For that matter, it's not explained whether puppets in general are or aren't capable of creating new puppets or under what circumstances: one of the adventure seeds is that Judy is pregnant with Punch's baby and gives birth to a literal puppet baby (this is based on the original Punch & Judy skits, where Punch repeatedly throws their baby out the window), in one adventure one of Punch's boys steal another's skin coat to create its own weird puppet "babies," and in two adventures it's suggested that humans can turn into puppets through magic and possibly vice versa.

I'd hate to have to throw out any of the work that went into this book, regardless of how "out there" it feels compared to the original premise, but these need errata or something. Trying to keep them would require, I don't know, introducing NPCs of the week who have the exact capabilities needed for the plot hook or adventure. One adventure introduces the Blue Fairy with the ability to turn humans into puppets (?!), so introducing NPCs with plot device powers isn't anything new. That said, it might be a way to include characters from the original Punch & Judy skits in an organic fashion.

This goes way beyond the scope of an errata document. This is the sort of thing you'd put in a Puppetland Companion Book or a 4th edition.

I'd actually be interested in working on a companion book. Anybody else have any ideas?

COMING SOON: 5 Plug-In Settlements for your 5E Game