Chuck (chuckro) wrote,
Chuck
chuckro

Monsters and Other Childish Things (Roleplaying Game)

”A roleplaying game about kids and the relationship-devouring horrors from beyond time and space who love them.”

This is a derivative of Wild Talents, but it shows clear World of Darkness influences. The system runs on rolling a certain number of d10s, then looking for matches and comparing them. I found the height/width terminology a little confusing on paper, but it's simple enough that I suspect it would work fine in practice.

The system is very streamlined toward a specific goal: Playing a kid with a monster friend and developing relationship conflict from there. There's a lot of variety within that (three age brackets, a flexible skill system, a huge variety in the ways you can build a monster), but for game styles out of that specific setup, you want to expand to the full Wild Talents system. The book actually includes notes for doing so, and also sample characters, a sample game, and essays on roleplaying and running games. (It's a true “core book” in that it contains everything you need to run games in the system.)

I love the “random conflict table” that allows you to pick a bunch of characters' relationships, roll them together, and get a plot for a session. Roll together “Danny's mom,” “Ed's favorite comic book” and “Ellie's brother” and you might get anything from “Ellie's brother has a crush on Danny's mom and stole the comic unless the characters help with his wacky plot” to “The character from the comic has come to life and possessed Danny's mom and kidnapped Ellie's brother.”

The worldbuilding is actually rather nebulous: A bunch of the backgrounds imply that adults/authority figures are aware of the existence of monsters and just kind of shrug and go along with it. (Which is weird.) My impulse—and that of most people, I suspect—would be to go with the standard “Monsters are rare, and adults don't know about them because they usually can't see them / stop believing in them.” If grownups know about unbeatable monstrosities that form emotional bonds with children, this would very quickly become a world of child soldiers, and that's not the game we want to be playing.

I kinda love the idea of playing in a game of this. Running it, less so—it's a lot of moving parts because each player effectively has two characters and an assortment of important relationships. You'd want to have 3-4 players to give everyone adequate screen time, and that's not my life right now. That said, playing as Stanley Dover and his Monster (“The Beast With No Name”, aka “Spot”) is an idea that delights me.

(Other amusing characters to build with this system: An obvious choice is Calvin and Hobbes, but there's also “Bird” and Snuffalupagus, Elwood and a giant rabbit named Harvey, Sam and his friend-from-the-future Al, Kharisma and “Hello, New Friend!” Fluffmodeous, Dib and his incompetent alien friend Zim, and, of course, Rod and his Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada. The system emphasizes monsters that are Lovecraftian horrifying, but you can obviously build them as terrible or adorable as you want.)

Overall: This is a very cute system clearly streamlined towards a certain type of game, and I do look forward to trying it out at some point, though that may be a while.
Tags: reviews, rpg reviews
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