GTM #293 - Adventure Party
by Smirk & Dagger


 Adventure Party by Smirk & Dagger

Exclusive Side Quests!

Greetings Adventurers… Grab an ale and perk up your ears, for further adventure awaits. So, check your perception roll because, inside this very issue of GTM, you will encounter two exclusive adventure cards to celebrate the arrival of Smirk & Dagger’s ADVENTURE PARTY: The Role-Playing Party Game!

Haven’t heard the tale of this new game? It isn’t your ordinary role-play dungeon crawler, that’s for sure. It’s a game of high adventure with a modicum of hilarity as things go awry. It’s a game that doesn’t care if you “succeed” in a roll or defeat the villain, but rather how good you are in describing the roll of a die. So, you can still be a hero, even if you roll like garbage!

 Adventure Party by Smirk & Dagger

Adventure Party is a party-weight guessing game, where the players provide a clue about how well or poorly they rolled by giving a description of what happens to their character in the scenario! The closer the GM (Guess Master) is to the number you rolled, the more experience points the party receives. As such, “winning” isn’t about how well you rolled or how many monsters you’ve vanquished – it’s about how good a clue you can give about your die roll. How will you get them to guess a 12 vs a 13 as you describe what happens to your character? And like any great role-playing experience, rolling well will lead to tales of true heroism, where rolling poorly leads to memorable, laugh-out-loud moments where everything goes sideways (which, let’s be honest, is the best part of any adventure). For each adventure, each player will get their chance to attempt heroic deeds – AND be the Guess Master. It’s the best parts of fantasy role-playing, without anything to get in the way.

Apart from the 8 translucent D20 dice, 12 character class screens, scads of magic item cards, tokens, and a nifty dragon easel stand – the game comes with 32 adventure hooks. There are encounters with monsters and big bads, like Medusa’s Lair, The Spider Queen, and Sky Pirates. There are questing challenges like The Riddle Room, Pick Pocket Row and Jail Break to shake things up. And more light-hearted adventures like Bar Bets, where you challenge each other to feats of skill after an ale or two, and The Entertainers, where you are pressed into performing on stage at sword point. The assortment of different types of challenges keeps things fresh from adventure to adventure – none of which will ever, ever play the same twice.

 Adventure Party by Smirk & Dagger

That said, who doesn’t want a fresh challenge? So, Smirk & Dagger is also launching The Signature Series expansion with 24 more adventures – all penned by your favorite role-playing celebrities. Featuring the talents of Todd Stashwick, Luke Gygax, Jason Charles Miller, Elisa Teague, Tommy Gofton, Vince Caso, Devin Wilson and more. This is a chance to have your adventures teed-up by some of the best storytellers in the biz. But why stop there? Within this very issue of GTM you will discover two exclusive adventure cards to add to the fun.

 Adventure Party by Smirk & Dagger

In Adventure 1, The Weirding Woods, your party of adventurers stumbles into the old forest, where the trees, soil and tendrils of each plant seem hell bent on soaking their roots with your loamy remains. What plan will you set in motion to defend yourself – and how will you describe what actually happens to you all based on your roll? My mind immediately jumps to hobbits being coaxed asleep and enfolded in the roots of Old Man Willow, but these woods seem more ‘awake’ and active.

Touching the familiar and allowing plenty of room for players to roam and create is a hallmark of Adventure Party. But the magic of the game lies in its simplicity. Two minutes of rules and you are playing. Subtle guide rails that provide just enough tools to create, without getting in the way. A lark for role-players looking for a quick filler before the rest of the group arrives. But importantly, an extremely approachable way to introduce new role-players to the thrill of adventuring.

I have avoided ever calling this a storytelling game. It’s not one. I mean, yes, you are telling stories the whole time, but no one is being judged on how creative or funny they are. Ingeniously, the story-like description is just the format for the clue you give. It doesn’t have to be flowery, funny, long or involved. It just has to be descriptive enough to get a sense of how high or low a roll of the die was. This nuance makes all the difference for those who might otherwise shy away from a ‘storytelling’ game. Giving a clue is easy, where telling a story can be hard or scary. This is the element that makes Adventure Party a true “party game” broad enough to be played by anyone.

At the same time, RPG Game Masters have found the game to be an excellent training ground for GMs and role-players alike. How often have games devolved into announcing abstract dice rolls and damage allocation – at the cost of the story of the action? Adventure Party pushes players to think about what those rolls mean in terms of the narrative. Maybe next time we sit to play an RPG, I roll my dice and describe the results dramatically before applying the damage points.

Adventure Party by Smirk & Dagger

In Adventure 2 of the special insert cards, The Mercenary, we see a whole new type of card. It is a “non-guessing event” adventure card. Here, you and your party meet a warrior who seems capable and eager to help you on your coming quests. But can you trust her? It will come down to the roll of a die. The Mercenary will join your party as a typical NPC (non-player character) and you will draw a new adventure card to encounter. Before the first player takes their turn, they will roll a die for the Mercenary. For the rest of the adventure, your Mercenary will either aid you as best they can, or betray the party, trying to thwart all your plans. It adds a whole new layer to the story for players to shape.

For me, these special adventure cards telegraph the on-going promise of the game. There are a few sprinkled throughout the two boxed sets and each one really opens the game up. In the base game, The Chaos Arch does a similar thing. Adventurers must pass through a magical arch which physically transforms them in some dramatic way. In our recent play, one described their body becoming stretchy and plastic-like. Another grew fangs and claws. I became invisible. But this wasn’t the adventure. The fun came when we had to use these magical transformations in facing the challenge of whatever the next randomly drawn encounter was! Suddenly, we were battling brigands and feeling more like the Fantastic Four. There’s just so many places this game can go – and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

And remember, even if you roll a “1”… it isn’t a failure. It’s just funny as hell.


Curt Covert is the owner of Smirk & Dagger Games and the designer of Cutthroat Caverns, Hex Hex, and Nevermore, just to name a few. For the past 21 years, he has been shaking up game tables with unique game experiences, eye-grabbing table presence and a desire sweep you up in the world of the game.