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RPGaDay 2015 – Day 4: Most Surprising Game

04/08/2015

Short Answer: Toon, Steve Jackson Games.

Long Answer: Chances are you’ve probably never heard of Toon, which is a shame. Written in the 80’s, it allowed people to play as their favourite cartoon characters (with the serial numbers filed off, of course). The game received an update in ’91, incorporating the supplemental material and, aside for a couple of new supplements, that’s it. While it sounds like the books are long out of print, they’re still available through SJG site for a reasonable price.

Why is a game about dropping anvils on people, blowing things up, and arguing about whether it’s duck season or rabbit season so surprising? In short, I didn’t expect it to be so good.

I first discovered the game in high school. We’d already got our beaks wet with Call of Cthulhu and a couple of other games when one of my friends produced Toon. From looking at the cover it was clear what the game was about, but it wasn’t until we rolled up some characters and started playing that we realised just how good it was.

For starters, Toon characters are pretty much like those in every other RPG. They have stats like any other game, but things are a little more simplified. It was here that the game introduced me to the word ‘chutzpah’ – used as a measure of ‘pushiness and self-confidence’. On top of this, characters cannot actually die. Instead they’re knocked out and return in a later scene.

I don’t recall much about the game we played, other than my character was a were-penguin. It was close to a perfect representation of the old Looney Tunes-style cartoons. It does now make me wonder how easy it would be to adapt for a Duck Tales or TaleSpin campaign. Or better yet, Darkwing Duck!

I’d love to play again. Considering the ‘kid-friendly’ rules, maybe I should run it for some youngsters instead.

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