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a storytelling game with strings in a grim world of make-believe
©1995 John Tynes


Puppetland book
Puppetland has been published in paper form by Hogshead Ltd. of England, publishers of other fine games including The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Pantheon and Other Games, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

The printed edition of Puppetland is about 30% longer than the original version you'll find here at Revland. The new material in the printed edition--all of which I wrote--includes useful sections on Puppetmastering and life in Maker's Land, detailing locations such as the Candy Cave and the Lake of Milk and Cookies. It's good stuff, and improves the game significantly.

Please buy the printed edition. The original free edition will remain here at Revland, but Hogshead did a lovely job with the book and it's a pleasure to read; in particular, the cover art by Clint Langley & Malcolm Davis and the interior art by Raven Mimura are marvelous. Plus, it's only six dollars!

You can find Puppetland in gaming shops or you can order it from The printed edition includes my satirical metagame essay Power Kill, also seen first here on Revland.

Also in the vein of exploitation: the movie rights to Puppetland were purchased in 1998 by Sweetpea Entertainment. Sweetpea are the folks making the Dungeons & Dragons movie that New Line Cinema is releasing on December 8, 2000. I've had a good experience working with Courtney Solomon and the rest of the Sweetpea crew, and am hopeful that we may see Puppetland reach Ye Bigge Screene at some point. (I've got no news to announce on that front for the time being.) Meanwhile, you can check out the official and unofficial Dungeons & Dragons movie web sites.

Finally, you can now read a French translation of the original edition of Puppetland, under the title of Le Pays des Marionettes.


A while back (sometime in 1994) I started tinkering with an RPG design. The game is called PUPPETLAND, and is kind of hard to describe. At heart, it's a weird horror game that bears more resemblence to some sort of group storytelling than to normal RPG play.

PUPPETLAND is described as "A storytelling game with strings set in a grim world of make-believe." The players take the roles of puppets--finger puppets, hand puppets, marionettes, or shadow puppets--in a horrific world ruled by the bloodthirsty Punch. He is served by the Nutcrackers, mindless troops who crush the body parts of rebellious puppets in their clacking jaws; and by Punch's Boys, nightmarish creatures sewn from the flesh of the Maker, the human who made this world and who was slain by Punch with his mighty hammer.

As good-hearted puppets in a bad-hearted world, you are part of an enclave headed by Judy, who was once Punch's lover but now his bitter foe. You engage in schemes to defeat Punch and restore the world of Puppetland to its former happy state.

Like I said, it's weird.

Anyway, I developed the game for a while and then gave up on it. PUPPETLAND wouldn't die quietly, however. People found it on my web site, played it, and enjoyed it. It was published in the UK gaming magazine Arcane and the German gaming magazine Windgefluster.

This file contains everything that exists for PUPPETLAND. It covers the world, the backstory, the major players, character creation, and gameplay.

PUPPETLAND was developed as a diceless non-system; it's just storytelling with a group of people. If you're a decent GM, you can probably run PUPPETLAND just using the file here, though you'll have some work ahead of you. You might also find it useful to adapt the world to your favorite game system instead.

Enjoy! And if you think I'm weird, check out this guy...


You can get the game in one of two ways. Both are free.

  • PUPPETLAND can be read here on my web pages.

  • PUPPETLAND can be downloaded via anonymous FTP as an RTF file, which can be read by most word processors.

    Also, you can download the Puppetland Puppet Sheet--used to record your Puppetland character--via FTP. It's an Adobe Acrobat file, which you can view and print with the Adobe Acrobat Reader for Mac or IBM. This sheet was designed by William Clifford who did a dandy job. Note that on some systems, the file will not download to your hard drive; instead, it'll just be another web page. Save that web page as a text file (titled PUPSHEET.PDF) to your hard drive, and Adobe Acrobat should read it just fine. I've tested it this way and it seems okay.

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