Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Actual Play: Toon

We got to play Toon a week before the July 4th holiday week.

Part 1: Character Creation

On Staturday the kids made characters while I used one of the Toon Adventure Generators to generate some adventure ideas and looked for interesting NPCs in the Toon books. T.A. created a helpful ghost named Jim and took ghostbusters as his natural enemies. I'd rolled the location to be a haunted house, so I told L.B. and E.A. they were ghostbusters and gave them a ghost trap and proton guns, and told T.A. that he was one of the ghosts haunting the house, a former sailor, “Salty Jim the Ghost” 1. T.A. was worried that L.B. and E.A. would spend the whole time ganing up on him 2, so I told him that they would initially be at odds, but later they would have to cooperate. E.A. created Tanny the Ballet Bunny and took gardeners as her natural enemy, so I added a garden and gardener/caretaker to the haunted mansion, although they didn't get used very much. L.B. created Nicole the Chameleon. I decided they be facing an alien invasion and the Dough Boys would be the minions of the aliens.

Part 2: The Haunted Mansion

On Sunday we actually got to play. The ghost and the ghost busters spent some time trying to make each other fall down, destroying much of the foyer of the haunted mansion and turning up a plaque holding the spirit of Prof Winterbottom, the missing owner of the mansion, who in the course of a world spanning career had collected an enormous collection of weird items from all over the globe and then disappeared mysteriously. Once the initial player-vs-player slapstick had wound down I had a delivery truck crash through the front porch 3 and dump a load of cylinders of bread dough through the front door of the house, which burst and combined into Dough Boys from the Toon rulebook. The PCs then fled down a long corridor (on roller skates?) and crashed down the steps into the basement. I decided that the aliens would be extra-dimensional octopus-faced Cthulhuoid monsters called “pluggoths” named for their odd special effect of squeezing through any aperture (doors, mystic portals, etc.) as if it were a plughole only an inch in diameter. The pluggoths were using The Dough Boys to open a portal to to Earth in the basement of Winterbottom's mansion, since it was the only building with the necessary density of weirdness, and planning to launch their invasion using the house as a base. Luckily the PCs were hiding in the basement, and after the aliens did their inevitable gloating and explanation of there plans to conquer the world and suck out everybody's brains, it was up to the PCs to foil their schemes and save the world. After some entertaining efforts by T.A.'s Salty Jim using bottles from the wine cellar as simultaneously triggered cork-guns and playing on the octopus-faced pluggoths' fear of fishermen things moved on to a climax. E.A.'s Tanny the Ballet Bunny had, unbeknownst to me, taken dynamite one of her possessions and in a move echoing all those desperate Call of Cthulhu characters proceeded to set an explosive trap for the pluggoths and the Dough Boys. Unfortunately, she failed her Set/Disarm Trap roll and the resulting explosion completely destroyed the entire mansion, flinging the PCs and Prof. Winterbottom's plaque high into the air. Luckily the pluggoths and their extra-dimensional portal did not survive the blast. All the PCs Fell Down, and Tanny fell down out of the sky through the Gardener's chimney and right into his stewpot. The End.

Remarks

I find Toon to be difficult to run: I feel a lot of pressure to keep up the wacky slapstick humor we're familiar with from Bugs Bunny, the Roadrunner, or Tom and Jerry, and frankly that's hard. Moreover, I find it hard to think up things to do. Thank goodness Toon has a number of “Adventure Generators”; they really help me come up with ideas. In any case, this episode became more and more a slapstick Bugs Bunny cartoon Call of Cthulhu episode as it went on, with creepy voices and noises and villains whose ambitions were only overmatched by their slapstick weaknesses: I worked hard to keep things at a Scooby Doo 4 level of creepiness, saving only that the monsters weren't people in disguise but silly cartoon creatures. I was aiming at Bugs Bunny visuals and Scooby Doo creepyness factor, but not forgetting the Tom and Jerry slapstick and the Scooby Doo chase scene goofiness.

I wonder if Toon would be easier or harder with adult players?

Note

This is a timewarp post.

1

T.A. wanted to make sure that his character could be other kinds of ghosts in other games, which I thought fit in well with the many examples of recurring cartoon characters taking on different roles in different episodes, so I assured him that the “Salty” part of “Salty Jim the Ghost” was only for this episode. I also gave him some temporary Shticks to help his ghost role.

2

T.A.'s very much into hack-n-slash and kill the monsters, and like the other kids hasn't internalized Toon's Tom-and-Jerry-like “conflict between players is fun” attitude, yet.

3

Who needs a man with a gun to burst through a door, when you can have a whole truckload of bread dough cylinders burst through and explode?

4

The first three seasons of Scooby Doo only, thank you.

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