I thought it’d be a good idea to write a little bit about our T&J campaign out of character, partly to give some perspective to anyone who might be reading this blog who isn’t part of the campaign, and partly to take some time to examine how the game is playing. To those who are participating, please post comments and call shenanigans if necessary.
Admittedly Mascot-tan isn’t the sort of game that requires really massive amounts of playtesting, but I did run a test session anyway, partly to look for any kinks and partly just because I thought it would be fun.
The setting I came up with I call “Tiny Aliens,” which I describe as “Bottle Fairy meets Invader Zim.” The PCs are aliens from the Planet Kyut, sent on a first contact mission, and I explicitly told the players to choose whether their characters were interested in peaceful contact or conquest and not tell anyone else, not even me. Also in this setting the -tan suffix of the game is actually an honorific for the Kyutian elites; the normal citizens have to use -chan, while members of the imperial family are called -chama or “Your Awesomeness.”
Character creation had a slight hiccup because the players had a hard time coming up with a full four Gimmicks, but I suspect that’s partly because of the alternative setting. (When statting up the RPG Girls I had a hard time limiting myself to only four). For that I’m thinking of just having a rule that the GM can “call time” and the players lose any Gimmick slots they haven’t used up. And it might be amusing to have them be stuck with any Gimmicks they haven’t finished writing on the character sheet. (“I don’t know what a ‘Special Atta’ is, but you’ll find out if you try to use it.”)
The first thing I noticed was that, to my surprise, the Rock-Paper-Scissors-based resolution mechanic actually worked really smoothly. This was especially surprising because (1) actualy writing the rules put my brain in knots, and (2) we never play RPS normally in the first place. I also seemed to be really good at it, though that’s partly because I would space out and do things like throw Rock three times in a row.
Handing out and spending “moe” tokens (I renamed Popularity, though I still haven’t posted that revision to the PDF on the website) worked out well too. I’d gotten a couple things of those flat marble glass beads months ago (at Cost Plus where they’re meant for plants and dirt cheap) and finally put them to use. Mostly I gave them out when the players were entertaining, though I docked Akido-tan for a reference to anal probes.
In keeping with the spirit of the game, I did my best to mess with the players a bit. I had them choose a number between 1 and 6 for the opening theme, though I was lying then because it was going to be “Birthday Cake” by Cibo Matto no matter what. At one point I announced that whoever bidded the least moe would be attacked by a housecat, and at the end when the fanboy’s little sister found them, assumed they were dolls, and played dress-up, I had each player decide on the outfit put on the character of the player to their right. Then a 1-6 choice (for real this time) for the ending theme (Electric Light Orchestra – Twilight) and preview background music (Unsolved Mysteries), though Akido-tan’s preview was kind of meh.
What threw the session a bit off track was that all three players made characters with a Smarts of 1; they’d decided to have stupid characters, and roleplayed accordingly. It was very fun and entertaining, but I basically had to abandon any hope of them actually completing the adventure’s objective (them being so tiny, they were supposed to fend off a housecat).
Akido-tan saved me the trouble of having the ship be too damaged to fly. When they stepped out of their tiny flying saucer that had crashed in a strange world (some anime fanboy’s messy room) and Genko-tan asked “How are we going to get home now!?”, Akid0-tan grinned and said, “We’re not!” and hit the remote detonator for the explosives she’d planted all over the ship.
The funniest part was when they got up on the desk; they found all these plastic figures of anime characters, and being cute, miniature anime characters themselves, the figures looked an awful lot like Kyutians. Genko-tan went off about how they’d become “plastonians” (gasp!) and Honeko-tan’s question was, “WHY ARE THEY HAPPY?!” They also borrowed some (non-functional) armaments from the figures. The computer was on too, and Genko-tan briefly chatted with someone on AIM, and managed to mistake a casual chat attempt for whoever was responsible for the “plastonians” being on to them. There was also a brief bit of Katamari Damacy action with the ship’s gravity core, and a moment when they managed to make contact with the Kyutian Empire’s Second Crown Princess, who gloated about how she’d ensured they were stranded there, but Genko-tan didn’t get it at all.
But anyway, it was a quick, fun, and zany game (I think we played for two hours tops), as I’d intended, though the players were a lot of what made it work.