Tales from the Floating Vagabond

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Tales from the Floating Vagabond
Cover art for Tales from the Floating Vagabond
Cover art of main rulebook
Designer(s)Lee Garvin
Publisher(s)Avalon Hill
Publication date1991

Tales from the Floating Vagabond is a science-fiction role-playing game by Lee Garvin,[1] published by Avalon Hill in 1991.[2] It has the tagline "Ludicrous Adventure in a Universe Whose Natural Laws Are Out To Lunch".[3]


The game takes a comedic approach to the genre, encouraging the gamemaster to begin each adventure in an outer space bar called The Floating Vagabond. Players choose from races such as humans, elves, Disgustingly Cute Furry Things, and Dogmen, learn skills like "Look Good at All Times" and "Projectile Vomiting", and consume dangerous beverages containing toxic substances such as a singularity. The flexibility of the rules system allows for making characters from any genre, epoch, or world, as well as creating new races and superheroes.

One of the more memorable aspects of the game is a system of shticks that players can choose from, including:

  • The Rambo Effect allows you to dodge automatic gunfire at close range (and only at close range).
  • The Trenchcoat Effect gives you a chance to pull any mundane item out of your trenchcoat, but only if a different party member has already brought up the need for that item.
  • The Rodgers and Hammerstein Effect gives you a personal soundtrack that can warn you of danger or other upcoming events. Alternatively, it can give everyone on your side a bonus to morale.
  • The Roy Rogers Effect allows you to make any trick shot you can imagine, eliminating all cover your target may be behind. Of course, you can't actually kill anyone except at high noon...
  • The Doolittle Effect allows you to communicate with animals, all of which start out being friendly to you. Of course, since they're all friendly, they follow you everywhere...
  • The Flynn Effect allows you to swing across on a chandelier, vine, or bullwhip without worrying about it breaking... or needing an attachment point at the upper end. Or needing to find one, for that matter.
  • The Valentino Effect is... well, about what it sounds like. Everyone of the appropriate gender is crazy about you.
  • The Schwarzenegger Effect allows you to operate without wound penalties... as long as nobody ever sees you receive first aid.
  • The Newton Effect allows you to stop anything that contradicts your understanding of the laws of physics from happening around you.
  • The Escher Effect allows you to act in a way that contradicts the laws of physics.
  • The John Doe Effect gives you 'one of those faces' with people constantly confusing you for old friends.
  • The Merlin Effect allows you to 'just know' a lot of information about people when you meet them such as their name, address, what they had for breakfast and so on.

The second printing of this game included many strange typos, such as providing the incorrect formula strength+luck/2 for "Oops! Points," causing gamers to create characters that are weaker than standard NPC goons, when the correct formula is strength+luck+2d6.[4]

Author Lee Garvin has released the original game in PDF, via OneBookShelf stores,[5][6] and was working on a second edition. Unfortunately, he passed away on June 28th, 2019 before completion.[7]



  1. ^ "Lee Garvin". Pen & Paper Online Database. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-11-04.
  2. ^ "Tales from the Floating Vagabond (1991)". Pen & Paper Online Database. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-11-04.
  3. ^ Garvin, Lee (1991). Tales from the Floating Vagabond. Avalon Hill.
  4. ^ http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=479831&page=4
  5. ^ http://www.rpg-resource.org.uk/index.php?article=4973&visual=6
  6. ^ http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=2010&it=1
  7. ^ https://www.facebook.com/jamiechambers/posts/10219399873011646?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCm5zp_YNnavr0Xioipgd89HgMGwt3H7-pDS-o6N-NbKaG_fXbP9U0q9AS9y-A66uLQEsWpXbbhYaM_LDoykzVIzkWSoB5lil6iWcoENuQGJ4Y5qIDqxluDPlqnYQG_KlzCCkhzFCYbG37YFfawkbGKNUdrN-Z_WPBeVYigdmA0QuodkMFDZxRH-EjrRMb21RdqMOO3079ynw&__tn__=-R

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