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Tabletop Game / Tales from the Floating Vagabond

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Tales from the Floating Vagabond is a comic multiversal Tabletop RPG released in 1991 by Avalon Hill.

It revolves around the eponymous Floating Vagabond, a bar floating near the middle of a dimension literally formed from the leftovers in the creation of the multiverse. Its owner, one Hawk "Spit" Luger, installed a portal generator on the bar's revolving door designed to randomly pluck up hapless folks from across the multiverse who happened to be walking into their usual watering hole at the time. Since the reaction of most such new customers, after the initial shock and panic had worn off, was to order several strong drinks, this naturally improved Spit's business.

Basically it's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon but cartoonier and without the observations on the human condition.

The player characters are a motley group of such newcomers to the Floating Vagabond who end up getting into various misadventures for one reason or another. Each player goes through the usual routine of assigning stats, skills with silly names such as "Swing Nasty Pointy Thing" (basic melee weapons), "Hurt People Really Badly" (martial arts), "Notice Obvious", and "Raise Children to be Responsible Adults Instead of Game Designers" ("This isn't so much a skill as a warning for parents who may read these rules"), and special powers called Shticks (which can let players ignore wound penalties, become almost irresistible to the opposite sex, or channel a slapstick comedian to bamboozle NPCs), then runs around dealing with (or causing) whatever trouble the Game Master throws at them.

A second edition was crowdfunded in 2013, but after years worth of development, the project hit a stumbling block when author Lee Garvin passed away in June 2019, leaving behind a near-complete draft. A postmortem edition was announced to be in development from this draft alongside this news.

This game provides examples of:

  • Bag of Holding: The Trench Coat Effect lets players store any number of items below a certain size on their person.
  • Born Lucky: Luck is about the only thing Disgustingly Cute Furry Things, one of the sample races, have going for them.
  • Bulletproof Fashion Plate: Available as a skill, Look Good at All Times.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Ouch! Points.
  • Chandelier Swing: The Flynn Effect shtick lets players find something to dramatically swing on virtually anywhere, from chandeliers to conveniently-placed ropes and vines.
  • Chick Magnet: Any PC with the Valentino Effect causes NPCs who fail a Hard Cool test to fall madly in love.
  • Contrived Coincidence: With the "It'd Take a Miracle" Effect, a player can think of something outrageous to get them out of a life-or-death situation, and it'll appear/happen if they make a Luck roll. Also, players with the Trench Coat Effect have a chance to have any small, minor item on their person if another character asks for it.
  • Credits Gag: The credits page includes numerous gags, like crediting Nick Atlas and Lee Garvin with "Undermining the Morality of Today's Youth"
  • Crowd Song: The Musical aspect of the Rogers and Hammerstein Effect gives players a bonus for singing at dramatic moments, which causes other players and even NPCs to join in.
  • Fan Flattering: The adventure Weirder Tales...a Space Opera starts off with the following: "If you are reading this, then you have most likely purchased this module, thus proving yourself a gamer of discriminating good taste. No doubt you are a snappy dresser, a witty conversationalist and a mean cribbage player."
  • Friend to All Living Things: Any PC with the Doolittle Effect instantly becomes friendly with all but the most aggressive animals.
  • Game Master: Here called the Referee.
  • Gargle Blaster: The Singularity, the strongest drink available at the Floating Vagabond. Spit is the only person capable of making one that won't kill the imbiber, and anyone foolish enough to drink a Singularity suffers one or more of a number of strange side-effects.
  • Idiot Ball: In-universe; any PC with the Howard, Fine, and Howard Effect has the ability to cooperate with another person to bamboozle other characters, temporarily making them more gullible and less cool-headed.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: With the Rambo Effect, a PC becomes impossible to hit with ranged weapons at Close or Point Blank range.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: The Floating Vagabond itself.
  • Made of Iron: The Schwarzenegger Effect lets a PC ignore having to take "shock tests" from taking a lot of damage at once, at the cost of not knowing how injured they are until they run out of Ouch Points, and not being able to receive serious medical attention when anyone is looking.
  • Medium Awareness/Musical Spoiler: The Theme Song aspect of the Rogers and Hammerstein Effect, which gives the PC a "soundtrack" that can warn them of surprises or ambushes when the music shifts.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: The John Doe Effect makes a PC have "one of those faces" that causes people to constantly "recognize" them as an old friend, a distant relative, or even a celebrity.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: "Avalon Hill would like to assure you that none of the salmon used in the making of this game were harmed in any way... except for the one we made to dress up like Liz Taylor and dance around the art department."
  • Pie in the Face: A minor effect of the Howard, Fine, and Howard effect is the ability to summon cream pies from nowhere.
  • Power Incontinence: How the game suggests Referees deal with players abusing their shticks.
  • Puff of Logic: The Newton Effect lets a player stop another character from doing something the PC believes should be impossible.
  • Reality Warper: The Escher Effect lets a PC temporarily ignore the laws of physics.
  • The Rival: Luger's rival Solomon Crane, owner of the neighboring Crane's Nest and "a man with more money, more style, and a lot fewer scruples than Spit." A player who rolls for a Shtick may also end up with an Archenemy of their own.
  • Rummage Fail: Can start happening to players with the Trench Coat Effect who over-use their power.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler/Those Wacky Nazis: The Space Nazis are a recurring foe.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Weapons at the top end of the guns size scale, "Don't Point That At My Planet!"
  • Weird Trade Union: The Bylaw Effect gives a PC membership in one of these.
  • Your Head A-Splode: The result of a successful use of the spell Psychic Headbutt IV.