Back months ago in May, we returned with a fresh new season of The Beer and Pretzel Podcast episodes after taking months off because of the pandemic. The first series we started off with was Og, the caveman RPG. Today, the episodes are all compiled here with our written and podcast review of this silly and fun tabletop role-playing game.
Actual play of Og: Unearthed Edition
This is our recorded playthrough of Og as our one-shot adventure of Cretaceous Park. Edited with music for your listening pleasure.
Part 1/3: Austen, Travis, Becky, and Brad kickstart the new season by playing as Rocco the rock n’ roll caveman, Bungalu the hitting caveman, and Professor Og as they team up to create the first-ever “Cretaceous Park.” In part one found below, the cavepeople travel up a dangerous mountain to try to find creatures to put inside their zoo, and they get into quite a bit of trouble with a giant beaver.
Part 2/3: After a tumble down the mountain, the cavepeople journey through a swamp where they encounter a giant crocodile that they do their best to capture.
Part 3/3: After failing to capture anything for their Jurassic Park rip-off zoo, the cavepeople travel by makeshift boat to a rocky island where they attempt to construct their Cretaceous Park. Listen to the finale to hear how they sort of pull it off.
Review for Og: Unearthed Edition
Setting and player characters of Og: Unearthed Edition: In Og, you play as a caveman or cavewoman who struggles to survive in the land of Og. Everything wants to kill or eat you, and unlike D&D where you play a heroic character, in Og you play a very stupid character who will be lucky if they make it out of the adventure uneaten. The setting is unique to RPGs, as while there are a couple of RPGs with dinosaurs in them, they mostly feature time travel or futuristic settings that use prehistoric creatures as an extension of the game instead of the main theme. As a huge fan of Jurassic Park and other forms of dinosaurs in media, Og is the closest game to incorporate them well. And playing dumb cavepeople is a unique experience in itself.
Character creation: The most unique mechanic Og has in its character creation and perhaps in its whole game is how it handles speech amongst the cavepeople. Cavemen are very very stupid, and because of this, speech is handled in a way that makes roleplaying these characters much easier, but communicating much harder at the same time. The game gives a list of 18 words that the cavemen can choose from, with everyone having a word pool equal to 1D6+2 (or 1D6+4 for eloquent cavemen). The word choices range from simple words that can be used to mean different things like Fire, Shiny, You, and Rock for example. To words like Verisimilitude, and if you wanted a word that isn’t on the list, you can sacrifice two words to pick any word of your choice. While the rest of the character creation has fun elements to it, with picking your caveman class which helps dictate the rest of your stats, the word selection is something I haven’t seen before in an RPG and it led to a hilarious experience as the players really struggled to communicate with only 4-7 words to speak with.
Game mechanics: All abilities are handled with a single D6 roll. Life is tough for the average caveman, as any ability rolled without training only succeeds on a 5-6. Anything rolled that can be linked to a trained ability succeeds on a 3+ instead. To add to the short lives of the caveperson, anytime a 1 is rolled (17%!) the roller forgets how to perform the task they rolled for, often resulting in a negative story twist imposed by the GM. Having only a single D6 makes this an easy game to teach, if not a bit frustrating because of the lack of chances of succeeding. I compare it to Goblinquest in that you arent making forever characters, you are creating cannon fodder that has a naturally short lifespan, and are often unprepared for the simplest of tasks which I think makes sense. Combat is a bit tougher to translate to a fun experience, as while the base rules are simple with a 5 or 6 needed to hit your target (or 4+ for the Hitting Cavemen class), to do more than one damage per turn or to do anything unique than just clubbing something very slowly (everything in this game has a lot of health for how little damage cavemen do), then the only choice is for players to study the extensive 14 different combat add ons that range to simple shoves, to giving painful purple nurples. The add ons are fun to experiment with, but almost overbearing with how many choices there are. In another game with more focus on combat, this would be fine, but in a game that is set up as an easy one-shot rpg, it really bogs down combat to the point it’s not super fun to run or even play. But with the right party who aren’t inebriated, it could work.
Book layout: The book pdf comes out to 50 pages, with most of it being dedicated to prehistoric dino stats. The sections that teach you how to play are detailed enough but are very brisk too which I like. Looking at this 50-page pdf, I first thought it was going to be a slog to learn how to run this game but thankfully that wasn’t the case. The caveman art scattered throughout the book match the tone perfectly, and in many ways helps the reader set the tone that the game is going for with its lighter and cartoonish style. There is plenty of dino stats to go through in setting up your prehistoric world, but if the rules are all that you are after, there is enough content to run a fun game, while being brisk enough to pick up and play quickly.
Tone and theme of the game (is it fun?): Og is obviously a tongue-in-cheek type RPG. One that isn’t meant to be too serious a game or even meant for campaigns. Besides us playing it on the show, I don’t see myself running this more than one or two times more in my life. Even still it accomplished its goal of providing us a lot of fun and laughs in a one-shot night. And that’s really all I wanted. For those who are fans of “beer and pretzel” games like Kobolds Ate My Baby, Goblin Quest, Honey Heist, and more, Og Unearthed Edition should be another RPG you should check out.
The Good: Og combines the silliness and simple rules of a one-page rpg like Honey Heist, with the more fleshed-out world and mechanics like Goblin Quest. The limited speech and the large chance of Caveman just “forgetting” how to provide simple tasks provides a lot of laughs around the table, and it’s one of those few games with a short character creation while also allowing plenty of choices in building your character.
The Bad: While the rest of the game is pretty simple to match the “beer and pretzel” themed one-shot style, combat is surprisingly long and crunchy. To avoid every round being made of taking turns swinging at each other, the players have to memorize or have a long list of combat options in front of them. Fighting dinos should be more fun and simpler to play.
Og Unearthed Edition summary and score: Og is a near-perfect one-shot RPG with some balancing flaws. 9/10
Check out our podcast review of Og if you wanted to hear the whole group discuss this game.
The Beer and Pretzel Podcast is out every Tuesday and most Friday mornings at 10 am. If you enjoyed the episode, please leave us a review on Itunes which helps out the show.