Revland Essays Fiction Gaming
Poetry Zines Store Photos

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


The Game of Puppetland
The Types of Puppets
The Puppet Sheet
Creating a Puppet
Playing a Puppet
Punch and his Boys
The Nutcrackers
Puppet Master Puppets
Questions & Answers
Symbology & Themes

(Click any left arrow []to return to this list)


The skies are dim always since the Maker died. The lights of Puppettown are the brightest beacon in all of Puppetland, and they shine all the time. Once the sun and the moon moved their normal course through the heavens, but no more. The rise of Punch the Maker-Killer has brought all of nature to a stop, leaving it perpetually winter, perpetually night. Puppets all across Puppetland mourn the loss of the Maker, and curse the name of Punch--but not too loudly, lest the Nutcrackers hear and come to call with a sharp rap-rap-rapping at the door.

Many years ago, there was a war in the real world. Many people were hurt and terrible things happened. The Maker saw all that was happening, and was sorrowful. His creations were the gentlest of creatures, and they were terribly hurt by these tragedies. The Maker made puppets, and in the face of chaos and violence he made a great creation: Maker's Land, a world where all his puppets and all the puppets in the world could go and be safe until the war was over.

It was in this way that Maker's Land came to be. One morning the world woke up and all the puppets were gone. Hand puppets, finger puppets, marionettes, and others--just gone. One morning the puppets woke up and they were found--in Maker's Land, where no terrible humans could hurt them again.

In Maker's Land all was well. The puppet folk lived without fear, and spent their days happy and free. No hands controlled them. No strings pulled them. They could live as they cared, their every need met. All were safe and sound. The Maker was the only human in the whole land, and he was good and kind. He mended broken puppets, made new puppets, and kept out any trace of the fleshy humans who now (except for the Maker) lived only in the puppets' dreams.

Then came Punch, who fancied himself the greatest of all puppets. He crept into the Maker's house one night with a great mallet, and he slew the Maker as the human slept. With the Maker's death, no humans lived in Maker's Land. But the flesh lived, for Punch took the Maker's face and made a cruel new face for himself. That wasn't all he made, either: by morning, he had not just a new face, but six loyal puppet-servants sewn of the Maker's flesh. These six, whom Punch called his boys, stood beside Punch as he announced to all the land that he was now the king. He was Punch the Maker-Killer, and his word was law.

Punch and Punch's Boys now rule Maker's Land with hearts of cruelty and a lack of mercy. All puppets exist to serve them. The puppets toil for hours on end making new clothes, new homes, new food, new toys: whatever Punch and his boys want.

At least, almost all of the puppets do so.

Across the great lake of milk and cookies lies the small village of Respite. The village is run by Judy, who once loved Punch but does so no more. She knows better than anyone the cruelties he is capable of. She knows the evil that lies in his twisted heart. In her little village she runs a freehold of puppets who have escaped from Punch's clutches. They have avoided the terrible Nutcrackers, fled the cruelties of Punch's boys, and made their way to Respite where Judy's small group of free puppets look towards the day when Punch will be brought down and the Maker restored to life. When Punch killed the Maker, Judy was there and she caught the Maker's last tear in a thimble of purest silver. With this tear, the Maker can be brought back to life, Judy says. This is her fondest dream, and the Maker's Tear is her most cherished possession.


PUPPETLAND is very specifically a game, and should be thought of as such. The object of the game is to defeat Punch the Maker-Killer and save Maker's World. To do this, each participant in the game will be an actor, and the character each actor portrays will be a puppet. Unlike an actor in a play, each character's lines and actions are up to the actor, not to some script. Therefore the actors must be prepared to get into the mindset of their character and say and do the sorts of things their character would say and do. One participant does not play just a single puppet, and this is the puppet master. The puppet master is responsible for creating and/or presenting the game, and he or she serves as referee for the game's rules and as an actor who portrays a number of supporting roles. The actors portray the leading roles, and the puppet master portrays the roles of all the supporting characters that the actors will meet.

Actors are unlikely to reach the object of defeating Punch right away. Each time you play PUPPETLAND, you play a tale. A tale is, in effect, a single game of PUPPETLAND in which progress is made towards the object of the game. Over the course of a series of tales, the actors will strive to achieve the object of the game and defeat Punch the Maker-Killer. When they do, the game is over. This may take only a few tales, or it may take many. How long it takes is up to the number of tales the gamemaster wishes to tell, and how quickly and efficiently the actors make their way through these tales.

As all games have rules, so does PUPPETLAND. This game has three important rules.

The First Rule: An hour is golden, but it is not an hour.
A tale of PUPPETLAND can last no more than an hour. Puppets are special and magical creatures, and can only move around and do things for an hour at a time. The puppet master should keep a watch handy, and once an hour has passed by then the tale for the evening must end. Note, however, that the puppets are aware of this rule and always know how long they have before the hour ends. When the hour ends, all of the puppets in Maker's World fall asleep; when they awaken, at the start of the next tale, they are all safe back in their beds where they begin every tale. Things outside are still the same as they were at the end of the previous tale, except that all the puppets (who survived) are back in their beds snug and warm. Wounds from one tale are not carried over to the next tale-injured or maimed puppets awaken whole and well again-but puppets who die never return. An hour is golden.

A PUPPETLAND tale may seem to last more than an hour: for instance, the puppets might make a long journey that takes many days. But time only passes in the time it takes to talk about what you are doing. A puppet can say, "I sleep for a week!" and a week has gone by, but only a few seconds have passed on the clock. The clock is the arbiter of time, as it should be; not the actions of the puppets. The time passed is the time in which the tale is told, not the time in which the events of the tale occur. An hour is not an hour.

The Second Rule: What you say is what you say.
During a game of PUPPETLAND, it is very important that as long as the actors are sitting in their chairs, they say only what their puppet says. Every word a player says while seated comes out of his or her puppet's mouth, exactly as the actor said it. No actor should say anything while seated that he or she does not mean for their puppet to say, at all, even if it's "Pass the chips," or "I'm going to the bathroom." If an actor wants to say something that their puppet does not say, he or she must stand up and say it. If an actor wants his or her puppet to do something besides speak, this must be stated as something the puppet says: for example, if an actor wants her puppet to climb a ladder to a window, she would say "I think I shall climb the ladder, and go in the window." If an actor wants his puppet to take a hammer and smash a window, he would say "With this hammer I now hold, I shall smash the window in!" All forms of action that an actor wishes his or her puppet to take must be expressed as dialogue spoken by the puppet, though the dialogue can be kept simple: the puppet master is expected to infer appropriate action based on the dialogue and need not have every step spelled out.

An actor cannot ask a question of the puppet master, for in Maker's World there is no "puppet master" and hence no one to whom the actor's puppet would address such a question. If an actor does not quite understand something that the puppet master has said, or desires more information, he or she should simply say something like "I don't quite understand all this," or "I find this all most confusing." The puppet master will then attempt to explain things better. The puppet master can ask the actor a direct question, out of character, but it must be a yes-or-no question and the actor must answer it by shaking or nodding his or her head: he or she cannot speak except in character.

If the actor or the puppet master simply must converse out of character, the actor must get up and come over to the game master, and the two must hold their discussion in whispers so that no others may hear. If the actor must then communicate information he or she has just learned to the other actors, he or she should if at all possible sit back down and communicate the information in the voice of his or her puppet. Out-of-character conversation should be avoided at all costs and at any inconvenience.

To help this process work, imagine that somewhere, someone is "reading" everything that the actors and the puppet master say, verbatim. This someone is expecting to read a story, told like a story, with appropriate dialogue and description. As a rule of the game, you must endeavor to make every spoken word sound like part of a story rather than an out-of-game conversation between a bunch of people at a table.

The Third Rule: The tale grows in the telling, and is being told to someone not present.
The puppet master must realize that while he or she has a certain tale in mind, that tale may not be the one that ends up being told. The actors must realize that they are a part of the tale they are hearing: they create the dialogue of the main characters. They should strive to make their dialogue sound as colorful and appropriate as possible, and should also strive to make the tale as entertaining and unpredictable as they can. Together, the puppet master and the actors will create a tale better and more exciting than any one of them could have created on their own.

Always imagine, as mentioned above, that an invisible reader is reading every word that is spoken during a game of Puppetland, and they will be most disappointed if the words sound bad or don't flow well or don't make sense. Since this is a tale, it should always be told in the past tense except for dialogue, which is in the present tense.

For a bad example of playing PUPPETLAND:
Puppet Master: "Okay, the door bursts in and there's a bunch of those nutcracker guys standing there. One of them yells at you to stop."

Actor 1: "Let's get out the back door, and fast!"

Actor 2: "I pick up the rock and throw it at a nutcracker!"

Puppet Master: "You throw the rock and smash the nutcracker's jaw. He can't bite anymore."

For a good example of playing PUPPETLAND:
Puppet Master: "And then, the door burst down! Three nutcrackers stood there, one of them still chomping on the doorknob. 'Stop, you mangy puppets!' cried one."

Actor 1: "Run! Run out the back door! We must escape the nutcrackers!"

Actor 2: "Where is that rock? Here it is! I shall hurl this rock and smash your greedy mouth, nutcracker!"

Puppet Master: "The rock flew across the room and hit the first nutcracker in the jaw. 'Rmmf!' cried the injured nutcracker. 'He cannot bite nor chomp!' cried another. And he was right: the nutcracker's jaw was broken in two."


Four types of puppets are provided for play in PUPPETLAND. The puppet master and the actors are welcome to create new types, but note that each type has specific attributes and that new types should conform to this style by selecting similiar attributes, or creating new ones that fit with the existing ones. These attributes aren't just general descriptions; they are exacting statements of what a puppet can and cannot do. All puppets can talk, and move, and think, and pick things up, and do other basic actions. The attributes characterize such actions and also set out less-common actions. A finger puppet, who is "quick," can always outrun a hand puppet, who is "not very fast," unless the finger puppet is badly hurt or otherwise impeded from normal movement.

Finger Puppets are: short and small, light, quick, and weak.
Finger Puppets can: move quickly, dodge things thrown at them even if they only see them coming at the last moment, and move very quietly.
Finger Puppets can not: kick things, throw things or grab things because they have no legs or arms.

Hand Puppets are: medium size, sort of heavy, not very fast, sort of strong.
Hand Puppets can: move at a normal pace, dodge things thrown at them if they see them coming as soon as they are thrown, throw things, grab things, hit things weakly, and move quietly if they are lucky and careful.
Hand Puppets can not: kick things, move quicker than a finger puppet, or move quieter than a finger puppet.

Shadow Puppets are: tall and thin, light, quick, and weak.
Shadow Puppets can: move quickly; dodge things thrown at them by turning sideways; kick things, throw things, and grab things; and become invisible if they are careful and cautious.
Shadow Puppets can not: kick, throw, or grab things that weigh more than a piece of paper; be invisible if they aren't trying; be invisible to more than one puppet at a time; or get wet because getting completely wet kills them.

Marionette Puppets are: tall and stocky, heavy, slow, and strong.
Marionette Puppets can: move slowly; kick, throw, or grab things as heavy as they are; and hit things very hard.
Marionette Puppets can not: dodge things thrown at them, or move very quickly.


The puppet sheet is the piece of paper that an actor will describe his or her character on, and will keep handy during play to refer to. It contains all of the information about an actor's puppet that isn't just made up at their discretion; rather, it contains the information that is set for the puppet right from the start and can't be changed. Each puppet sheet has five parts. These parts are listed below.

Name: This is the puppet's name, as chosen by the player. Names in Puppetland are usually composed of two pieces. The first is the puppet's common name, the name by which other puppets refer to him or her informally. This name is always a name that would be familiar to most actors, such as "Sally" or "Jim" or "Nadja." The second is the puppet's unique name, a name by which no other puppet is known. The unique name is usually descriptive of the puppet, like "Red Buttons" or "Tassle Hair" or "Purple Hat." A puppet's full (or formal) name consists of both names strung together, like "Sally Red Buttons" or "Jim Tassle Hair" or "Nadja Purple Hat."

Picture: This is where the player draws his or her puppet, to the best of his or her ability. Even if this is just a stick figure, it is fine. The important thing to remember is that this drawing must be done at actual size. An actor's puppet can be no larger than the picture box, and is assumed to be exactly the size it is drawn at. Therefore, the actor should keep in mind the type of puppet he or she is playing when making this drawing. A marionette will take up much more room than a finger puppet. Ignore the jigsaw puzzle lines at first. They will be used during play, and do not affect initial puppet creation.

This puppet is: Here, the actor copies the information given under the "(Finger/Hand/Shadow/Marionette) Puppets Are:" heading given previously. He or she also adds information as desired; this is discussed in the next section.

This puppet can: Here, the actor copies the information given under the "(Finger/Hand/Shadow/Marionette) Puppets Can:" heading given previously on page xx. He or she also adds information as desired; this is discussed in the next section.

This puppet can not: Here, the actor copies the information given under the "(Finger/Hand/Shadow/Marionette) Puppets Can Not:" heading given previously on page xx. He or she also adds information as desired; this is discussed in the next section.


Each actor chooses one of the above four puppet types. This should be done as a group. Each puppet type has advantages and disadvantages, and an ideal group will have at least one of every puppet type for maximum versatility. Two actors should avoid playing the same puppet type unless they either have a good reason for it (e.g., the puppets are part of the same family) or because there are already actors playing all four puppet types.

Once each actor has chosen their puppet type, they need to give their puppet a name and draw a picture of their puppet on the character sheet. No actor need also be an artist to do this; even primitive drawings are acceptable. It is important for the actor to visualize their puppet and try to express that visualization on paper, no matter how primitively. Remember that the puppet should be drawn at actual size; that is, however big the actor draws the puppet, that is really how big the puppet is. Two actors should be able to hold their character sheets up side-by-side and immediately know whose puppet is bigger, or taller, or whatever. Drawings of puppets should make a point to show what limbs are or are not present.

Once each actor has chosen a name and drawn a picture, the actor should then write the following information: what the puppet is, what the puppet can do, and what the puppet can't do. This information should be copied from the list just given earlier, but the player must choose three additional items to add to each list. These additions must be approved by the puppet master. For example, take a look at the following puppet. Items in bold are additions made by the actor.

Name: Sally Red Buttons
Puppet type: Hand Puppet
This puppet is: medium size, sort of heavy, not very fast, sort of strong, very clever, quite pretty, and good at magic tricks.
This puppet can: move at a normal pace, dodge things thrown at her if she sees them coming as soon as they are thrown, throw things, grab things, hit things weakly, do magic tricks, charm a puppet into doing her a favor, sing very well, and move quietly if she is lucky and careful.
This puppet can not: kick things, move quicker than a finger puppet, tell a lie, swim fast, hurt another puppet who hasn't or won't hurt her or someone she cares for, or move quieter than a finger puppet.

Once an actor has done all of the above, he or she is ready to play.


The examples of play given above should make it clear how a game of Puppetland is played. Interactions are adjudicated entirely by the puppet master, using the attributes of the puppets involved as a guideline. For example, if a Nutcracker hurled a rock at Sally Red Buttons (described just above), she could avoid it (as described in her "This Puppet Can" attributes) if she sees it coming in time. Again, all such actions are at the puppet master's discretion, and they should serve the interests of the story as the third rule said.

The jigsaw puzzle portion of the character sheet needs explanation. That portion of the character sheet is simply a large box with the outlines of a jigsaw puzzle within it, into which you draw the picture of your character. This particular jigsaw puzzle (for every sheet is the same) has sixteen pieces.

During play, the actor will fill in a piece of the jigsaw puzzle with a pencil or pen when certain things happen. These things are:
  • When the puppet does something it shouldn't be able to do (if Sally Red Buttons told a lie, her actor would fill in a piece of the jigsaw puzzle).
  • When something especially bad happens (if Sally Red Buttons was taken prisoner by the Nutcrackers and had one of her legs crunched off, her actor would fill in a piece of the jigsaw puzzle).

Note that "bad" damage is still healed normally when the next tale begins like all other damage. However, filled-in jigsaw puzzles are nevererased. They always remain filled in. Once all sixteen pieces are filled in, the next time a tale ends the puppet never wakes up again. They are dead, and can no longer be played. Death is rare in Puppetland, but it is inexorable in its approach.
The puppet master always determines when a puzzle piece should be filled in, and is always the final authority in this matter.


Punch the Maker-Killer is a megalomaniac. A twisted and vicious puppet, he has been corrupted by the ways of humans, and was so before the Maker's Land ever came to be. That he kept this corruption hidden deep within his bitter heart-so that even the Maker couldn't see it-is tribute to his high intelligence and cleverness. Punch is a wily, cruel puppet who lives only to exert power over others and gain more power for himself. He is selfish and bestial, freely abusing those near him when it suits him to do so. Punch is vindictive and takes even the smallest slight as a personal affront worthy of being burned alive at the stake-his standard punishment for any disobedient puppet.

Punch wears a red cloak and hobbles about under the weight of the great deformity on his back. At all times, he wears a hood over his entire head made of the dead flesh of the Maker. He has cut eye and mouth holes in this fleshy hood so he can see and eat, and wears atop the hood a red cap that he dipped in the Maker's blood. Punch the Maker-Killer carries with him a great mallet. When angry, he usually chooses an innocent puppet nearby and beats him to death with the mallet in an explosion of fury.

Punch's Boys are six in number, and if anything the puppetfolk are more afraid of them than they are of Punch-for it is the boys who go out and enforce Punch's insane edicts. They are the ones who glide through the streets of Puppettown and the roads of Puppetland each night, their feetless forms moving swiftly through the air like vengeful spirits. The boys are hollow cloaks of human flesh, cut from the dead skin of the Maker. Their names are Spite, Haunt, Grief, Vengeance, Mayhem, and Stealth.

Spite: Largest of the boys, Spite is a bully with a loud voice and a face contorted in anger and jealousy. He wanders the streets and the roads and rips an arm off of any puppet who he feels is trying to look better than he does. Spite paints his face to look more normal, but only succeeds in increasing his gruesomeness. He has maimed dozens of puppets in his time, and has no intention of stopping.

Haunt: Haunt is greatly feared by those puppets who plot against Punch, for Haunt can feel the wispy emotions of betrayal. Haunt never attacks or hurts any puppet. Instead, he is drawn towards feelings of betrayal and vengence and it is near the source of these feelings that he spends his time. Haunt floats grimly around and around in an ever-tightening circle. Whenever the other boys happen to run across the voiceless Haunt circling ceaselessly, they begin searching house to house within Haunt's circle looking for traitors. Anyone they even suspect of harboring disloyalty to Punch is sentenced to the flames.

Grief: Grief is a tool of Punch's justice. One of Punch's first edicts was "Everyone must always be happy!" and it is this edict that Grief has especial responsibility to enforce. Grief wanders aimlessly, seeking those who are not trying to be happy. Those he finds who are obviously sad, for any reason, he rips limb from limb.

Vengeance: Vengeance is also a tool of Punch's justice. When Haunt or another boy finds a traitor and they aren't in a hurry, they summon Vengeance to the scene. Vengeance's specialty is hurting puppets, or at least hurting traitors. He knows many ways to make a puppet scream, and delights in finding new ways he hasn't thought of before.

Mayhem: Many, many puppets fear Mayhem constantly for he is Punch's implement of random destruction. Mayhem is seen very rarely, but when he is seen it is because he is coming to kill. Mayhem arrives in a village suddenly, and begins killing puppets seemingly at random. He never speaks, never explains. He just rends puppets part from part, dragging marionettes by their strings through the snowy streets or setting fire to a screaming finger puppet just to watch it go bouncing and sparking through the streets.

Stealth: This boy is seen even less often than Mayhem, because he can pull off his cloak of skin and reveal nothing underneath. Stealth's specialty is spying. Since he can become invisible, he tries to follow suspected traitors and find out what they're up to. Twice, some brave puppet has found Stealth's discarded cloak of flesh and tried to destory it, but failed both times. Stealth cannot speak or communicate in any way without his cloak, and for this reason can be considered somewhat vulnerable.


In addition to his boys, Punch has a small army of Nutcrackers who maintain order and enforce the laws. These red-suited soldiers stomp endlessly through the streets of Puppettown and the land beyond. They are not very bright, but their great fierce mouths are sized just right for shattering the joints of marionettes or crushing the parts of any puppet. Punch's boys are more feared than seen. The Nutcrackers, on the other hand, are seen daily and remind all the puppets of the land just who is boss.


Besides the four puppet types available for actors, the puppet master has three additional puppet types available for his or her use. These puppet types-some of whom are unique individuals, rather than general types-are described here.

Name: Punch
Puppet type: Unique (Marionette)
This puppet is: tall and stocky, heavy, slow, cunning, impatient, cruel, and strong.
This puppet can: move slowly; kick, throw, or grab things as heavy as they are; command the nutcrackers and boys; order any puppet to do anything and kill them if they don't; work magic; and hit things very hard.
This puppet can not: dodge things thrown at him, feel emotions, survive without his mask of flesh, allow disobedience, or move very quickly,

Name: None of them have real names
Puppet type: Nutcracker
This puppet is: tall and stocky, heavy, fast, and strong.
This puppet can: move quickly; kick, throw, or grab things as heavy as they are; order any puppet to do anything and kill them if they don't; crunch parts of puppets or other things with their teeth; and hit things very hard.
This puppet can not: dodge things thrown at him, feel emotions, allow disobedience, betray Punch, or move very quickly,

Name: Spite
Puppet type: Unique (Flesh)
This puppet is: short and stocky, heavy, slow, and strong.
This puppet can: kick, throw, or grab things as heavy as they are; tear off a puppet's limb; yell loudly all the time; order any puppet to do anything and maim them if they don't.
This puppet can not: move quickly; allow disobedience; betray Punch.

Name: Haunt
Puppet type: Unique (Flesh)
This puppet is: short, light, fast, and weak.
This puppet can: move quickly; sense a puppet's disobedience; circle a disobedient puppet closer and closer.
This puppet can not: allow disobedience; betray Punch; hurt anyone.

Name: Grief
Puppet type: Unique (Flesh)
This puppet is: tall, heavy, of average speed, and strong.
This puppet can: kick, throw, or grab things as heavy as they are; notice a puppet's obvious sadness; kill any puppet who is sad.
This puppet can not: allow disobedience; betray Punch.

Name: Vengeance
Puppet type: Unique (Flesh)
This puppet is: short, heavy, slow, and strong.
This puppet can: kick, throw, or grab things as heavy as they are; torture puppets; find new ways to torture puppets.
This puppet can not: allow disobedience; betray Punch.

Name: Mayhem
Puppet type: Unique (Flesh)
This puppet is: of medium height, of average weight, fast, and very strong.
This puppet can: move quickly; kick, throw, or grab things as heavy as they are; kill a puppet in seconds.
This puppet can not: allow disobedience; betray Punch.

Name: Stealth
Puppet type: Unique (Flesh)
This puppet is: short, light, fast, and weak.
This puppet can: move quickly; kick, throw, or grab things as heavy as they are; take off his cloak of flesh and become invisible and silent.
This puppet can not: allow disobedience; betray Punch; communicate without his cloak of flesh.


Each tale will consist of the puppets doing their best to stop Punch, find the Maker's body (which Punch has hidden), and bringing the Maker back to life with the Maker's Tear saved by Judy. In addition, they must protect Judy and her freehold of Respite, and do what they can to save innocent puppets from the ravages of Punch and his boys.

Tales may come from the mind of the puppet master, or may be instigated by actors who have a particular goal in mind and seek to go about it.

Typical tales might include:
  • Dealing with one of the boys, perhaps once and for all.
  • Rescuing a puppet who has been targeted by Haunt.
  • Stopping a cadre of Nutcrackers from finding Respite.
  • Infiltrating Punch's palace to find the Maker.


A net-capable game master known as 'Cheese' asked a number of questions that I thought should be included in these rules. Hopefully you'll find these of use.

#1: What are the dimensions of the picture/jigsaw puzzle box that the players draw their puppets in?
I never decided, but I'd assume it would be most of a sheet of paper since the attributes & info wouldn't take up very much. Call it 8"x8" or so.

#2: What is up with "magic"?
The Sally Red Buttons sample character can do "magic tricks" but that's just meant to be sleight-of-hand stuff. Punch can "work magic" and by this I meant that he could make living puppets from the Maker's skin and presumably other kinds of alchemy-sorcery. I wouldn't say that he could throw fireballs or anything, but he can probably do sinister transformational stuff like turning a captured puppet into stone or something. It'd be more processes than weapons.

#3: What are some of the other skills unmentioned?
I hadn't made up any more besides what are in there, but they're intended to be common-sense kinds of things. What can a puppet do? That's what you ask to figure them out.

#4: How does Judy go about restoring the Maker? She just pours the Tear on his skin?
I never dealt with this. Presumably if you got Judy, the Maker, and the Tear all in the same place it would work itself out. I'd suggest that she has to pour the tear back into the corner of the Maker's eye; the tear would flow back into the Maker and restore him to life.

#5: In the group I may run, I think I'm going to start with them being puppets in Puppet Town and then finding out about Respite and travelling there. Would they start in Respite if they got beds and moved there later on?
Sure. Presumably, the puppets will wake up wherever they feel safe and consider "home." Otherwise, the nutcrackers would be at their door every morning out for puppet stuffing.

#6: How BIG do you feel Puppetland is? I mean, is it the size of the world? Is it as big as a regular human-sized town? Are there mountains? How far from the real world is it?
I always imagined Puppetland as being a human-sized city, only scaled down to puppet dimensions. But not a huge city...maybe a thousand puppets, maybe just a few hundred. It's meant to lay on the shore of a great lake of milk & cookies, ringed by mountains. Respite is on the far side. That's as much of the world as anyone knows about; if anyone went up in the mountains, I'd rule that they hit the painted felt backdrop that forms the "sky" of Puppetland. Part of me thinks that Maker's World is actually a huge puppet stage/playland built by the Maker in the back of his shop, and that if a puppet cut through the felt sky backdrop and jumped out, he'd be in a dusty storeroom in an abandoned puppet store in a largely-deserted Jewish ghetto in Germany circa 1941.

#7: How do the character interactions go? Okay...a Finger puppet is quick enough to dodge anything if it sees it right off... so if a nutcracker snuck up on it, the puppet wouldn't know? I mean, how do you know if you hit someone with your hand, or is it just a 'well, it's pretty obvious that you might just do damage'... GM discretion and all that...
Beats me. I meant for it to be run pretty much freeform, taking the attributes of the puppets as guides to what might happen. So, I'd say that it amounts to GM fiat, modulated by the creativity of the players in verbalizing their actions. You could potentially play it using Everway cards or tarot cards as a mediating device, I presume; for that matter, you could roll dice, pick a number between one and ten, or what have you if you'd like that kind of element. I presumed that there wouldn't be much hand-to-hand combat...instead, it'd be stuff like "Let's push the big rock on top of the Nutcrackers!" I mean, imagine a bunch of puppets in a knock-down, drag-out's not a very compelling image. Hopefully, the players will find other solutions and the GM can provide for such solutions.

#8: If you can't answer these questions, I can... =)
Good! It's that kind of game.


PUPPETLAND is a game about children, and what happens to us as children. The gameplay is meant to create the kinds of stories one finds in a children's book; hence the insistence on in-game dialogue and narration. But because the elements in the setting are not the sort of thing one usually finds in children's books, I hope to allow players of the game to get a look at the realities of the childhood experience through childhood trappings, yet with an adult sensibility.

The world of the game is a world of innocence that has been corrupted. This is a timeless theme, and one that I hope has a lot of resonance for the game's participants. Actors in the game adopt the roles of child-like puppets-the kinds of folk who say things like "Gracious! The nutcrackers are at the door!" The threats faced by the puppets are bizarre and often senseless, presented much as children perceive the world of danger that lies beyond the safety of home and family.

PUPPETLAND presents a world in where a single adult-the Maker-has created a world in which children-the puppets-can live safely. But the puppet Punch has entered adulthood, or is trying to, and has usurped the rule of the Maker. Punch is an adolescent, full of rage and confusion and the desire to strike out against authority. Judy is also an adolescent, but has apparently followed a different path than her ex-lover.

The world, then, is a world of childhood and innocence that has just begun to feel the pains of growing up. Maker's World may be a beautiful place, but all children grow up and perhaps it is the destiny of Maker's World to grow up, too. Judy claims that the Maker's Tear will restore everything to the way it was; will it? That's up to the Puppet Master. Perhaps Judy is mistaken, and it's time for the inhabitants of Maker's World to grow up now that their parent is gone. Perhaps Punch can be redeemed. Perhaps Judy's correct, and Maker's World is a golden land where no one need ever grow up.

The choice is yours.

Revland Essays Fiction Gaming
Poetry Zines Store Photos

Revland is brought to you by the fine folks at:

RPGnet-The Inside Scoop on Gaming

To receive an email when Revland is updated,
type your email address below and click the Subscribe button: