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Inspired by this question, I was reminded of a role-playing game solicited in a late 90s or early 00s Previews (Diamond Distribution's monthly comic book and associated merchandise--including games--catalog). The game's setting was a traditional fantasy world wherein a series of books--reskinned by the game's authors to avoid infringement--falls from the sky. These books also describe a traditional fantasy world. The denizens of this fantasy world adopt the books as scripture and require all the setting's folks to have character sheets, which--either by magic or because the authorities say so--make interaction with the world different based on the sheet the denizen carries.

For example, at the actual, in-real-life gaming table sits Alex whose character in the game is a big burly warrior who's character's character sheet says he's a halfling thief. Therefore, the world interacts with Alex's character as if he were a halfling thief despite him being a big burly fighter.

I remember pre-ordering it and being disappointed the game was cancelled a few months before its release, never to be resolicited. I don't remember the game system. I don't remember the publisher. I don't even know if I've the premise exactly correct (hey, it was 1 paragraph in a 400-page catalog, like, 10 years ago).

What is this game's name? Was it ever released?

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The game was called FRUP. It was never released (one of the casualties of the collapse of Guardians of Order), but the story of it — and the preview of the game from 1995 — are available at WhatIsFRUP.com.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Very cool. That should be it (I mean, what else could it be?), but I'll hold off for a day in case there's more to it. I didn't see mention of Guardians of Order in there, though. Hogshead, yes, but not GOO. Is there something I'm missing? (I'm also going to have to use one of the suggested mechanics from one of the comments on that page in a game though: "Throw a gerbil, and if it runs off the table you fail." One of my players actually has gerbils.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 7 '14 at 23:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a reference to the "Magnum Opus" program, where GOO was going to serve as publisher for independent, already developed RPGs that needed a line toward print publishing and access to distribution. GoO was going to be the home of Hogshead Publishing products like Nobilis. The disposition of those books, and the money that came from selling them, was a matter of some acrimony later on. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Oct 7 '14 at 23:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not only was it never published, but according to Designers & Dragons: The 90s (p. 223) the system design notes were actually destroyed after a license dispute. Obliterated games always make me sad. :( \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 8 '14 at 0:51

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