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WG11 Puppets (2e)
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WG11 Puppets (2e)

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First, you find yourselves in the Gnarley Wood, fending off minions of the evil leprechaun who dwells there. Coming through this episode with flying colors, you continue to the Free City of Dyvers, where there has been a rash of break-ins at several inns.

Who is responsible for these crimes?

Evidence leads you to believe that a full-sized person can't have committed the burglaries-the apparent entrance points are far too small, and the footprints aren't those of humans or even demi-humans.

It's up to you, adventurers, to solve this mystery and collect the reward (if you can).

This adventure is adapted from two RPGA network tournaments.

Product History

WG11: "Puppets" (1989), by Vince Garcia and Bruce Rabe, is the eleventh-ish World of Greyhawk adventure. It was published in December 1989.

About the Cover. The Clyde Caldwell cover for WG11: "Puppets" (1989) originally appeared on Dragon #80 (December 1983). As it turns out, recycle and reuse was a recurring trope in this new supplement.

Origins (I): Onwards with Greyhawk. WG11: "Puppets" closed out a great year for the World of Greyhawk, which had seen five different supplements, from WG8: Fate of Istus (1989) to WG11: "Puppets" (1989), plus the boxed City of Greyhawk (1989). It wasn't just the most prolific year for Greyhawk since Gary Gygax had left TSR in 1985, but in fact the best year for Greyhawk since 1983, which saw the release of World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1983) boxed set and four other Greyhawk-related adventures. It was also the bear year ever for products actually bearing the Greyhawk logo — though 1990 would beat it out, showing how intent TSR was on really reviving the Greyhawk line.

Origins (II): Once More, the RPGA. So how do you produce five different Greyhawk supplements in a year, when the original creator of the world was gone and the line had been meandering not just since his absence, but since … always? TSR struck on the idea of using RPGA tournaments and setting them in the world of Greyhawk, resulting in WG9: "Gargoyle" (1989) and WG10: "Child's Play" (1989).

"Puppets" followed through on this same idea, merging together two different RPGA tournaments into a (somewhat) cohesive whole. The first was surprisingly a Forgotten Realm adventure. "At Last, Ravens Bluff!" (1988), by Bruce Rabe, has been run at Gen Con 21 (1988) as the second adventure in a series set in the RPGA's Living City. Now, it was revamped as "The Road to Dyvers". The second was "Puppets", by Vince Garcia, which also ran at Gen Con 21 and then appeared as a network tournament at later conventions like Contact 7 (1989) in Indiana.

Adventure Tropes. "The Road to Dyvers" is a caravan guard adventure, a surprisingly popular D&D adventure trope that would become even more popular with the release of Dark Sun (1991). It gives authors the ability to introduce a series of episodic encounters without them seeming like a railroad … even though they're almost literally a railroad.

"Puppets" is instead a deduction adventure set in an urban environment — which has always been the most popular locale for this sort of D&D mystery. Here, the players must search for urban thieves.

Genre Tropes: Parody. With three adventures in a row all focusing on silliness it seemed increasingly certain that this was now the de facto format for Greyhawk adventures. The "Puppets" adventures trend more toward actual parody than their immediate predecessor, with lots of cultural references such as a leprechaun named Freddie McKrueger, his wererat lieutenant Jason, and puppets with names like Baron Blardo, Conn the Barbaric, Romulus, Remus, Little Miss Muffet, and Boris the Spider.

Some modern-day fans look down on the series of parody adventures that includes WG9: "Gargoyle" (1989), WG10: "Child's Play" (1989), and WG11: "Puppets" (1989). Some even point toward WG7: Castle Greyhawk (1988) and suggest that TSR was purposefully sabotaging the Greyhawk line. That seems very unlikely; TSR was putting a lot of effort into producing a prolific Greyhawk line, far outweighing what they'd done in previous years.

The sharp shift to parody in these 1989 was probably instead a result of TSR's very need to produce so many Greyhawk supplements without having an existing infrastructure for the same. TSR had to take what they could get in order to create so many Greyhawk products, and that meant going to one of the biggest sources of D&D adventures: the RPGA.

The RPGA's adventures were often more light-hearted than what TSR was publishing. They had been for years, as was perhaps best exemplified by the long-running "Fluffy Quest" tourneys (1983-1997, 2013-Present). If these RPGA adventures felt weird when used in a different context, it was due to the difference in the communities of RPGA members and TSR readers, not due to any unlikely act of "sabotage".

Exploring Greyhawk. "Puppets" is set in the middle of the Flaeness. It begins in the Gnarley Forest, then emerges into the Free City of Dyvers, at the edge of the Kingdom of Furyondy. This is all nicely central to the lands that were simultaneously being described in The City of Greyhawk. Mind you, there's not a lot of details on these areas in "Puppets", but the adventures do provide some brief impressions of these areas.

About the Creators. Vince Garcia may be best known for Quest of the Ancients (1988), a d20-based heartbreaker RPG published by his own Unicorn Game Publications. Chemist Bruce Rabe is probably less known than his wife Jean Rabe, who was at the time the Network Coordinator of the RPGA. Garcia and Rabe each contributed to just a few TSR publications, including this one.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

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TSR 9269
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File Last Updated:
November 07, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on November 08, 2016.