This satirical Olive Garden TTRPG is incredibly deep.

Board games can capture a wide range of human experience. Whether people want to play as a party of noble adventurers Dungeons & Dragons, criminals planning a daring heist, or bitter rivals coming to blows, RPGs can do it all. However, RPGs that cover the more informal, less violent aspects of the human condition don’t get the attention they deserve, which is unfortunate because the internet is full of weird one-session-only RPGs.

Among the most surprising of these You’re family when you’re here: Olive Garden LARP By Jeff Stormer. It’s exactly what the title says: a LARP that can only be played at Olive Garden. Unfortunately, this simple explanation leads to more questions. why? why? Is this a real game or a joke?

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why? He is sometimes unsure about these questions. Although it advertises itself as a satire, this play has some serious things to say about the immigrant experience. The play focuses on the process of assimilation and the way in which the lifestyle and values ​​of the diaspora community are changed, refined and become an accepted part of the mainstream culture. in other words, why? It’s not just an RPG that takes place in an olive garden; Olive Garden is like an RPG.

The rules require 3-12 players, and there is no game master. Instead of playing as individual characters, players become successive generations of an immigrant community. When they go to the olive garden, the players have to discuss the land they left behind. What will they miss? What are you taking? What do they leave behind?

It’s good to role play to avoid having any harmful stereotypes about real-world groups where the players are often immigrants from the real world. Leaving the Olive Garden is also the time to think about the transition to the new country. Americans think of mass immigration as a horrific process, but that’s not always true.

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There are no conflict resolution mechanics in this game, and the direction of society is determined by discussion and consensus. This rule-light approach to game design emphasizes the aggressive nature of the game. The players aren’t adventurers struggling to solve their problems in an afternoon, but regular people whose struggles can last a lifetime.

Any disagreements on the table may indicate a misunderstanding about the direction in the community. Groups of people are messy things, after all, and every culture has internal fractures. in general, why?Although they’re pretty strict about one thing, the rules are pretty simple: players must order an endless supply of soup, salad, and breadsticks.

in why?, time is measured by soup. Each new round of soup represents a new generation that has to find its place in the world. Breadsticks represent the source of the problem that the table must agree on. By the time the breadsticks run out, the problem has reached a tipping point, and drastic action must be taken.

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These mechanics make time interesting. When a generation eats its waste, it knows that its life is drawing to a close and another generation will soon replace it. If soup represents time, pastries represent the unfolding of history, which sometimes happens quickly and other times slowly. Like a pile of bread sticks, the course of the disaster can be measured and reduced, but it can never be stopped. Each player is responsible for adjusting their breadstick consumption according to their risk needs.


When the meal is done, it’s time to order a coffee and pick up the check. The final round is played in coffee. Now, the players represent a group of pilgrims who decide to leave this new community and head for distant shores. Just like the first round of the game, the players must discuss why they are leaving, where they are going, and what they are leaving behind.

If the game is played well, when the last cups of coffee are drunk, the players should feel a sense of nostalgia for a place that never existed before. More than anything, this feeling is the reason to play You are family when you are here. So is the game a real game or a joke? The answer is both. Despite its strange concept, the game is actually quite thought-provoking, asking players to think in new ways about immigration and the evolution of societies. Before leaving, players must follow the last and most important rule of the game: tip the wait staff very generously.


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