Game Review: Argyle & Crew by Benjamin Gerber (Troll in the Corner)

If you have kids, you know how important it is that they exercise not only their bodies and minds in practical ways, but that they use their imaginations as well. My two daughters are bright young girls – ages 6 and 11 – and we do a variety of things together. Together we read stories and poems (especially Shel Silverstein poems), we make up songs, and we play games. But each also plays with toys, loves to draw, and makes up stories of their own. Imaginations are key to all of that and I hope that’s something they continue to develop even as adults.

And recently we started doing a little roleplaying. Nothing major – just creating a wizard and a thief to clear a small ruin of rats big and small. But both really got into it, wanting to act like their characters, talk like their characters, and become their characters even just for a little while.

That’s why I’m so happy to see games like Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple and Argyle & Crew – games that encourage not just kids to exercise their storytelling abilities, but families and friends to get in on the act as well.

So what is Argyle & Crew? It’s a game about roleplaying in a world of sock puppets. The game has wide applications in classrooms, counseling offices, homes, and wherever there might be a story to be told by kids or adults. Really that’s the beauty of it. What do you need? A sock or a paper bag, a marker, and your imagination. How simple is that?

Though writer Ben Gerber (Troll in the Corner) originally tried to fund the book via a Kickstarter campaign that didn’t quite reach its funding goal, Gerber has moved forward and published the game as a PDF and made it available on DriveThruRPG as well as a print version through

The Land of Skcos (a jumble of “socks”) is a place populated by Soppets (Sock + Puppet = Soppet) – magical, smart, fun-seeking socks. And, like most puppets, they just lay around until there’s someone to bring them to life. A hand, small or large, gives them the spark of movement, speech, and individuality.

What do you need? Well, as I said before – socks or paper bags, some tools (markers + odds-n-ends) and the imagination of each participant. Plus someone to work as the “Guide” – who works sort of like a gamemaster to create a story and keep the players on track to solve it. There are additional rules to make it a d6-based rules-lite RPG, but I’m going to keep my review to the basics. No dice needed.

Argyle & Crew is one of those “oh duh” ideas that just… makes… sense. I can easily see my sister, a kindergarten teacher, using it as a creative yet constructive play exercise. Imagine playing through some of the classic fairy tales we all learn as kids. What could you do with a group of kids playing the various roles in Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel? You could look at various scenarios while letting the kids explore various roles. Why did Red Riding Hood behave the way she did? What might have happened to Grandma? And how did the wolf get through the door?

It could just as easily be used in a retirement home as a social activity and creative exercise to keep the wolves of Alzheimer’s at bay for another few years. Or in a group of adults just looking for a way to work together to collaborate on a story. Or at home with parents and kids getting into the act to explore more serious things like “Stranger Danger” or what should they do during a fire… The possibilities are endless. And that’s a beautiful thing. Simplicity crossed with creativity equals epic win.

And one of the rules I love the most – “There is only ‘yes’.” Far too often as parents we use negative reinforcement. “Don’t do that.” “Stop that.” “Find something else to do.” Well, if you’ve ever seen the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey, you’ve seen some of the dangers (and thrills) of saying “Yes” all the time. What if you had a safe environment in which you could say “yes” to everything? Imagine the confidence that could give a child. He or she can do ANYTHING
with their Soppets in the Land of Skcos. Let me repeat that – ANYTHING.

Yes, if you’re anything like me – ANYTHING probably includes things you don’t want to go through with your kids. But try it. I promise you’ll like it and your kids will surprise you. I hate saying no and am often the bad guy at my house, so having an outlet where I can do the opposite (ever heard of “Opposite Day” folks?) is actually a relief.

You really need to experience the magic of Argyle & Crew yourself, so I’d encourage you to try it with your family or find some friends and give it a try. There are no limits. I mean – Gerber uses a scene from Star Wars in one example for adults and a simple mystery of a missing toy for kids in another. Why not play with your kids or your friends just like you used to when YOU were a kid. Somewhere buried under the adult layers that kid is still there screaming to splash in the puddles, scream and yell nonsense, and generally do whatever it takes to have a good time. I think you should let him or her out!

As I said before, you can pick up a copy of the PDF at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, but you can also look for the book at Lulu if you want a physical copy of your own. Electronically or print, I think you’ll enjoy Argyle & Crew! After all, we all should let our inner kids out to play sometimes, don’t you think?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.