Monday, January 19, 2015

The Island of Miscreant Toys

Thanks to fatherhood, I've been ingesting a great deal of kid's TV and other media. Mostly Thomas The Tank Engine and his various friends, a quaint and charming show called Pocoyo (kid loves it!) and Richard Scarry stuff, as well as classic Sesame Street and Curious George.  Adventure Time (whole 'nother post, trust me).  What does this mean for my gaming life?  I guess that except for BARROWMAZE (in which I try to be as malicious as possible within the bounds of fairness), my philosophy is changing on some things. I game and play when I have time, excluding writing stuff down (almost always). I want my kid to play games, and I don't want to expose her too much to evil and horror that can't be overcome with kid approaches.  I don't like, anymore, that problems often come down to KILL IT WITH FIRE AND BLADE. Don't get me wrong, there's a place for it, but ... maybe it bears more scrutiny as if adults want to imagine hitting each other with big knives to death, I think it's fine.  On the other hand, I've read, and I believe from my professional experience that kids ought not to be saturated with violent imagery.  I've seen (anecdotally, and this is with kids and teens with behavior problems) bad spin offs of too many video games, too many horror movies, too much wrestling on TV. Come at me bro, and tell me it ain't so, but I can send you to some decent research that says different, and some days it used to feel like I was literally undoing the work of some malicious media villains that want to turn our kids into people primed to use violence to solve even basic problems and disagreements.

Around the time Baby arrived on the scene about a year and a half ago, I was hit with Monster Parts by Pearce S., and it got me thinking about the childhood influences of my own.  I found this Oz game, also, that's really made me think about the reinforcements implicit in the games I play.  Bath time prompted some thinking about the Great Tub Sea, a mythic expanse of bubbly water on which jolly pirates sail and squirty animals arise to gleefully taunt and spray PCs - maybe I'll get into that, later.

On the leeward side of the Tub Sea - juxtaposed to the Heavenly Faucet and far, far from The Drain - there is a floating mass upon which discarded toys frolic and gallavant and acost visitors gleefully. These entities are each unique and made of parts of discarded toys, or are golems or otherwise crafted peoples.  No naturally occuring fauna originates there, but it is haunted by chattering See-gulls, that mindlessly recite rumors they have heard in passing.  The Great Castle of Lord Cog The Cogitator - an adding machine in the body of a Brass Golem - sits square in the middle of the island, but none knows who built it and no one attends his court except for argument's sake.

Scattered to and fro across the Island of Miscreant Toys are wandering bands, or or 'troops' of these beings, engaged constantly in a game that looks quite a lot like marauding and pillaging, and the rules of which are disputed and argued vehemently. The only purpose Lord Cog evidently serves is to iron out these disputes in a slow fashion that primarily serves to inculcate boredom and distract the litigants from their viciousness and wanton slaughter.

The landscape is both blasted and somehow quaint, and all that come to the island are certain that they shall never leave without a great act of heroism that they are incapable of for reasons of poor moral fibre.

Types of Miscreant Toys

Wood - wood golems, dryad-tree marionettes, trains and dollies
Tin - tin soldiers, dinosaurs, robots, woodsmen, mechanical contrivances and animals
Plush/Cloth - teddy bears, rag dolls, haunted security blankets, patchwork scarecrows and sewn-servants
Porcelain/glass - usually dolls, but sometimes elegant animals and crystalline people
Plastic - modern toys with guns and lights and sounds and TO INFINITY WHEREIN INSANITY WILL FIND US
Rubber - squeezable, collapsible, water-fillable horrors and cheery synth-people with gaping mouths and leering smiles. Bloonies and giant balloon dragons

Movement/effects

Wind-up - these often travel in packs to help each other wind-up. Sometimes lonely clubs will be encountered frozen and helpless, as the members are loathe to desert each other in times of need and distress
Pull-string - these are often willed into action and directed by sorcerers that are foreign to the island and that import then back to far-away lands. Fairly uncommon and usually impetuous and dangerous
Batteries - a never-ending variety of corroding and leaking cells, from simple chemical all the way to fusion-type, are required and much sought after.  Shortages generally drive mass combats of sophisticated plastic monstrosities
Ensorcelled - enchanters often find ways to infuse magical wills into toys, and these often rise to prominent leadership roles since a main toy-ish concern and need is by definition lifted from them, allowing them to engage their wiles in intricate plots and internecine warfare

Springs - leaping, bounding, giggling and jiggling - usually attack first
Sparks - old fashioned and recognized as dangerous, these toys were recalled and sent to the island en masse long ago. They can start fires, illuminate darkness, and scorch enemies 
Pokeys - one-eyed and maimed children everywhere are no longer endangered b these malicious brutes
Bite - gnawing, pinching and slobbering but rarely actual teeth. A demented sorcerer fashioned Plush Bears with actual working animal teeth some years ago, many of which were destroyed in general outrage but some of which escaped to the island
Scratch - sharp corners, warning tags snipped off or pried loose
Flit - rudimentary flapping wings, or a twirling rotor
Leap - spring-driven legs that allow them to leap into battle and gain an initiative bonus or surprise
Trod - most toys are not ponderous, but they might overwhelm in great numbers and smash an opponent into smithereenies
Smash - larger toys could be capable of rending depending upon their arms/manipulators. If two attacks hit then start the save process or a strength opposed check else take round by round damage


Drives/motives:

Escape
Mangle
transmute
Transmit
Reveal
Obscure
Guard
Single chore (chop wood, sweep, unclog, etc.)

Areas of the Island:
Dustbin Dessert
The Hopper
The Bit Box
The Shore
Fingerpaint Forest
The Obelich
Secret Door

Just thought I'd get This'n out of DRAFTS and into the world. Tonight I will play some more Kwantoom, and maybe fidget with some layout. Still thinking about a game in which Death was on vacation or absent. More later.

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