From the Narbonic Role-Playing Game: Mad Scientific Journals

Oh, the memories…

Stan Taylor put together the Narbonic role-playing game. We never published a completed version, but we did playtest a couple of campaigns on the Narbonic message board, and they were a lot of fun. I had never done any tabletop gaming, so the flavor text I wrote for it had pretty much nothing to do with any kind of practical game mechanics.

The photo is based on mad-genius cartoonist Jason Shiga‘s house during one of his legendary art nights. I drew it at Shiga’s place and included everyone who was there as a zombie. The zombies in the foreground are, from left to right, Shiga, Derek Kirk Kim, Lark Pien, Jason Thompson, and Jesse Reklaw. In the kitchen, I’m being attacked by Zombie Andrew. In Shiga’s actual house, the wall covered with a blueprint for the Kill-O-Tron was covered with a huge chart of all the paths in Shiga’s choose-your-own-adventure comic Meanwhile, which features a device by the same name.

You can try to make out the titles of the mad-scientific journals on the shelves yourself if you’re so inclined, but the best one is probably Popular Delusions, which is, of course, a reference to the classic book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Misemiotics is a reference to another piece of text I wrote for the role-playing game, wherein I went on at great length about the controversial field of Mad Semiotics, and how mad semioticians had wiped out dozens of their enemies by harnessing the force of powerful symbols like the number five and the smell of baking bread. How any of this was supposed to apply to a role-playing game, I have no idea, but it seemed funny at the time.

Dr. James Yee, mentioned in the text, is a reference to Jimmy Yee, a name Shiga sometimes uses for the protagonists of his comics. At one point Shiga actually did build a throne out of unsold copies of his awesome graphic novel Double Happiness. He sold them eventually.

It is entirely appropriate for zombies to own things with Grateful Dead logos.

6 thoughts on “From the Narbonic Role-Playing Game: Mad Scientific Journals

  1. It always feels like some sort of treat or present when we get one of these Sundays that’s missing from the regular Archives.

  2. Even if the role-playing game fell through, this little episode of world-building makes this one of my favourite Sundays.
    Meanwhile comes with my firm recommendation, even if it starts out a bit clumsily.

    I hope nothing bad happened to that Mad Semiotics flavour text.

  3. “so the flavor text I wrote for it had pretty much nothing to do with any kind of practical game mechanics.”

     Sounds like a White Wolf game.

  4. Pete: This one’s in the regular archives.

    Leon: What the hell are you talking about? Meanwhile starts with ordering ice cream, the strongest possible opening for a comic.

    • Okay, is there any chance of ever seeing the Narbonic RPG in any form? And if so, how much groveling at your feet would it take, oh wonderfully talented and magnificently creative one?

Leave a Reply