Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dungeon Crawling with TOON

Over the past "shelter in place" weekend I got the opportunity to play in a handful of online games in lieu of going to GaryCon. One of the games was TOON, a game I first played in 1995. This session helped me remember all the things I love about TOON. Let me list a few of them here for you now:
  • Fast character creation
  • No concern for balance
  • You can't die, so you can focus on having fun instead of staying alive
  • Failure makes things more interesting
  • It's just goddamn hilarious
Anyways, after the game, we were talking about doing some D&D-style dungeon crawls using TOON as the system. The more I've been thinking about it, the more excited I've gotten about the idea. I've been in search of the perfect mix of two of my favorite things - 80s cartoons and dungeon crawling - and I think this might be just what the doctor ordered.

Here are some draft character generation rules I've been thinking about.

Equipment: two or three six-sided dice
  1. Choose species/race. It's important to do this first to increase the chance you get something weird that doesn't fit the stats you roll.
  2. Roll 1d6 for each attribute: Muscle, Zip, Smarts, Chutzpuh. Maybe you can reroll 1s. Or maybe not. Sucking can be fun in this system.
  3. Roll 1d6+6 to determine max hit points.
  4. Select a class: Fighter, Thief, or Wizard (see details below). Make adjustments as needed. I've included some simple stat adjustments but the net effect is zero and I feel like they are optional.
  5. Spend your 30 skill points. You can buy one schtick if you like (you will get 1 or more schticks for free from your class).
  6. Choose 1-2 Natural Enemies.
  7. Choose Beliefs & Goals.
  8. Record starting equipment: 4 weird items and 4 mundane items.
  9. Draw a picture, or snag one from the internet.
  10. Write a description of your character.
Stat Adjustments: +1 Muscle, -1 Smarts
+3 to Max Hit Points, +2 to Damage Rolls
Schtick: Toughness (Physical),

Stat Adjustments: +1 Zip, -1 Muscle
Schticks: Bag of Many Things, Maximum Boggle

Stat Adjustments: +1 Smarts, -1 Muscle
Schticks: Cosmic Shift or choose two Spells

Other Considerations
In playing a few online games, I found the sweet spot for the length of a session for me to be about 3 hours. Beyond that I would start to get burned out. Others' opinions may differ, but let's operate under this premise.

Small Dungeons: This game should run a bit faster than traditional D&D, so small dungeons of 5-10 rooms should be about right for a 3-hour session.

Running a Megadungeon: I think a fun way to run different groups through a megadungeon in short sessions would be to have some sort of teleporter at the beginning that transports the group to a randomly determined area in the dungeon. The dungeon rooms themselves should be somehow marked or labeled so that the players can create maps in each delve, and have a way to know how to stitch them together after the fact.

Classic TSR Modules: I first got this idea from hearing about Adam Thornton's "TOON of Horrors" game. It sounded to me like a great way to experience that classic module. Since you never actually die you could play it more aggressively and not have to worry about dealing with the death of a high-level character as you would in D&D. Why not play the other TSR modules on my shelf as well? There's less of a barrier to entry with TOON characters and casual players.

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