The Adventure Time Factor

Started by Lex Mandrake, May 12, 2012, 08:39:25 PM

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Lex Mandrake

Hey everyone,
I'm new around here but from what I've read so far this looks like a great community.

I'm working on a casual RPG inspired by (but not directly about) cartoon networks Adventure Time. (for those who have not seen it, watch the pilot, it's great
This was born out of something I've been noticing as a DM and a player for a long time. I started playing AD&D 2nd Edition in middle school, discovered 3rd when while I was in high school and have played 4th a little since I've been in college. There were also trists into stuff like GURPS, RIFTS, Call of Cthulhu, and many others. While players like a serious game, as we all get older and have more hectic schedules many prefer something more casual and goofy. Huge overarching plots are cool but when you have a play group that is constantly down a different member or two each week it makes more sense to be a bit more loose. I think Wizards knows this and this move toward the casual has influenced some of the stuff going on in 4th edition, and certainly this whole slew of pseudo-board game all-in-one-box D&D adventures (things like the new Gamma World). While I don't agree with all of these decisions, they were clearly done for a reason and I understand that reason.

In the past few years many of my geeky friends (and many people in general) have been watching a great deal of Adventure Time. When we RPGer's see it we notice how much Pen Ward, the show's creator, is drawing from stuff like D&D in a tongue and cheek way. In the episode "The Limit" they are confronted with a puzzle in order to open the door to a room. This puzzle turns out to be the kind of block puzzle you may have on your desktop widgets Lately I've been seeing DMs I know running Adventure Time themed D&D campaigns with great responses from players. This kind of atmosphere allows players to do what I have seen they often love to do but is sometimes frown upon in serious games: make goofy characters and play them as goofy as they can.

I believe that taking these two elements:
- A casual, episodic game style
- The goofiness of something like Adventure Time
would make for a very appealing game.

Since Adventure Time is a licensed thing I have no intention of making direct reference to it but rather simply want to capture the mood of the show.
Also I am very aware that this should be a game with "optional depth". This is a term I like to use for a game that anyone can learn in 10mins and play but for those who are a bit more interested, have optional elements which enhance the experience. I always think of a computer game as an example of this, that game being Diablo 2. You can run around and kill everything and beat the game on normal difficulty and that's great. However if you want to really pimp out your character you can make runewords for special items and synergize skills.

I've been working on this game on and off for a few months and would like to know what people think of the concept. If there's any kind of positive response I'll start posting some of my game mechanics notes because I would really love some feedback from outside my friend group.

Thanks for reading.


Goofy is good! I like the ideas you've voiced, and I'd love to see more. I'm especially curious about this "optional depth"; I'm working on a concept that takes that to the extreme. I'd love to see some mechanics, partly because I have an agenda and partly because I love Adventure Time. As a side note, are you planning for a more rules-heavy or narrative-heavy game?


Seconded. I'd like to see some notes – both because I'm curious about this "optional depth," and because I've been thinking a lot lately about how I'd like to run more fun, casual one-shots instead of carefully orchestrated campaigns.

Lex Mandrake

Thanks for the positive responses guys!
To answer some of your questions "optional depth" refers to stuff like combo-ing attack powers with other players (which i'm going to get into in a later post).
In response to the question about rule-heavy vs narrative-heavy. This is a game that boils much of gameplay into rolls for corresponding stats. In this way it encourages players to think of wacky things to do and figure out a way to argue that they can be done through the use of the stat the player wants to use. Here are the base stats of the game:

Guts (how fearless you are)
Heartstrings (how sensitive you are)
Buffness (how many muscles you've got)
Brains (how book smart you are)
Magicitude (how super-wizardy you are)

When the player makes their character they decide which is their primary stat and which is their secondary stat, their primary gets 3 points, secondary 2 and the others get 1. Each level the players get to give 2 points to one stat and up the others by 1.
Thus a 1st level character who wants to fight and be brave about stuff would look like this:

Guts 2
Heartstrings 1
Buffness 3
Brains 1
Magicitude 1

At second level maybe they decide they want a bit more magic in their lives:

Guts 2
Heartstrings 1
Buffness 3
Brains 1
Magicitude 3

These numbers correspond directly into d6's (the only die type used in the game) and are used for all sorts of things as a base roll. For instance if our hero is fighting a Goo Cube (Gelatinous Cube) and they just want to karate chop it they would say: "I'm going to use my Buffness score to karate chop the Goo Cube." The DM would most likely agree with applying this stat since it makes sense (as opposed to the hero opting to use their Magicitude stat, but hey if they can make an argument that convinces the DM, more power to them). Then the hero would roll 3d6. Now to keep talking about this I should give a quick rundown of how combat works in general but i'll save that till I explain some more stuff about Powers, Items, and Encounters. Next post I promise.

pixel punk

This looks great! I definitely want to see more.
Creating fun filled and simplistic rpgs has been an an and off hobby of mine for quite some time now.