Of the many pointless ideas I often succumb to, occasionally I think of making a game myself. These thoughts get locked away in a vault somewhere alongside the Ark of the Covenant because they too will melt your face off and not in a good way. Loyal listeners are already familiar with the fun-filled family game about head lice…
The biggest challenge I come across is a threshold I have been unable to pass since Delve even started: Dungeons and Dragons. Because while I played that one session where my ranger got abandoned in a crypt, I have not had experience with the system. Sometimes I think it’s a stats issue, that the system is too dense for me. But I was an avid Magic: The Gathering player and that has a rules system that changes with every expansion. But that got me thinking… maybe it’s the tone.
You see, the tone of a game can influence everything. D&D always felt like a very life and death sort of game, full of gallant heroes and fierce monsters, where every time I open my mouth, the campaign is placed in danger. And boy, doesn’t that sound fun?
But going back to Magic. Perhaps I like the speed and agility of the system. Perhaps it’s the customization or the idea that it’s more a “game” than an “experience”. But perhaps, since WotC produces both intellectual properties, they could use an old idea from Magic to make D&D more (dare I say it) fun.
Once upon a time, namely 1998, Magic: The Gathering introduced a stand-alone card set meant to be used outside the normal Magic expansions. It was called Unglued and it was wonderful. Cards forced you to play as if your hands were tied together, kept you from saying certain words or speak in rhyming sentences. Chickens were a prevalent creature type, led by the rare chicken lord, Chicken a la King. This was a wonderful, light-hearted expression of an otherwise serious card game. But it was not meant to be played with the actual game. Unglued was a stand-alone set, not used as canon or for tournament play.
And that got me to thinking, D&D could use something like that. You know, an RPG that didn’t take itself too seriously, mechanics that were broken by design and monsters that make no sense in any context.
But never fear WotC, I’ll get you started! I know you were hoping… I call it “De-Clawed.”
First of all, we take out all the saving throws and check rolls. Everything boils down to “Roll for Awesome” and “Roll for Buzzkill”. Succeed on an awesome roll and something awesome happens. Lose a buzzkill roll and something really bad happens.
Second, spells get an overhaul. Raise the dead becomes raise the roof, forcing monsters to do the Thriller dance. Healing magic becomes moral support magic, not actually treating wounds, but encouraging your teammates to work through the pain. And I imagine an entire discipline revolving around glitter, because glitter is everywhere and has serious military applications.
Third, stats change completely. You’ve heard of SPECIAL and ACTIONS.
Well, now I give you BLURRY!
Blowhard – How good YOU think you are at combat.
Lothario – How charismatic YOU think you are.
Unnerving – How uncomfortable you make others.
Readin’ – How good you are at books and letters and stuff.
‘Rythmetic – How good you are at math and numbers and stuff.
Yelling – How loud you are.
It’s a beautiful, ridiculous system, and I would trademark it, but I’m lazy and, also, I want them to make it! The work is already 1/800th done for you, Wizards…
For many people, RPGs are very serious. Some people just want to take a bombastic dwelf (half-dwarf/half-elf) out to battle irate gooblins (goblins covered in a sparkling green goo for reasons) in the mythical land of Fluffheim (where only the fluffiest creatures attain god-like powers). So break out your inflatable mallets, dust off your disco blades and get ready to yell loudly as you visit the nursing home for aging dragons. De-Clawed: Coming nowhere at never-gonna-happen, because I’m not stupid! But that’s no reason a game can’t be ridiculous.