Thursday, June 22, 2017

Toon Review

Toon was one of the earlier RPGs to come out, with it first being published in 1984. It was published by Steve Jackson Games and because I just found a used copy at my FLGS, I'm going to do a review.

Chapter 1:
Chapter 1 contains both the traditional introduction to RPGs and some advice specific to Toon.
Excerpt: "Survival? Who cares? You can't die, so you've got nothing to lose by jumping right in and having fun"
This excerpt explains the play style expected in Toon very well. As instead of dying you just have to sit out for three minutes, there's no risk associated with just jumping right in! There's no risk, just fun. All in all, the introduction is fairly well written and helps set the tone.
Chapter II:
Chapter II introduces the main mechanics and pieces of Toon. Toon only uses six-sided dice and the core mechanic is just rolling one, two, or three dice. There are four attributes, Muscle, Zip, Smarts, and Chutzpah. They can be compared to Strength/Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence/Wisdom, and Charisma for you six attribute people.
Chapter III:
Instead of trying to explain all of the rules before you can play, Toon goes in the opposite route. It explains the bare bones and then sends you on an adventure. The introductory adventure is called The Cartoon Olympics and is fairly well written. This chapter also introduces Skills and combat. In combat, both parties roll two dice and if it's below one of their Fight skill levels but not the other, they deal damage. If both succeed or both fail, nothing happens. This is fairly easy to understand. Toon uses the fairly standard hit point system but as mentioned before, you Fall Down instead of dying, you just have to sit out for three minutes. In addition to the decent starting adventure, this chapter also contains information on Plot Points. Plot Points are tools used by the Animator (GM) to reward players for being funny. The adventure is fairly straightforward and doesn't need much description here.
Chapter IV:
This chapter goes over creating cartoon characters. It goes over generating attributes (roll 1d6 for each or use a point buy system), determining hit points (1d6+6), choosing a description, natural enemies, and beliefs and goals. The beliefs and goals section is fairly in depth and helps you decide on your motivations in the game. Toon does use a fairly unique equipment system. You can have effectively anything (within certain limits) as equipment but can only have eight items. You can also have 'gizmoes'. Gizmoes are items that exist in a state of indeterminacy until you decide what they are. Then they are that for the rest of the adventure. This makes sense due to the more freeform nature of cartoons.
Chapter V:
Chapter 5 goes over all 23 skills, including the ones not discussed in Chapter 1 and Shticks. Shticks are amazing abilities that go above and beyond the skills. The base level for all skills is equal to the number in the relevant attribute and you can increase it to a maximum of 9. This is one of the more effective ways I have seen for handling attributes and skills, having a good attribute make increasing your skill cheaper. Shticks, however, are where this chapter really shines in my opinion, in addition to the good art distributed throughout the pages. You can spend skill points on Shticks which do things that skills just can't. Examples include having a bag of almost anything (you have to roll), being able to fly, and stretching (a la Mr. Fantastic). It also provides a (fairly basic) set of guidelines for Animators to make personalized Shticks.
Chapter VI:
This chapter goes over becoming a better Animator or player. It provides several alternative methods of accomplishing things that could help the atmosphere. Examples include instant mail, sound effects, and 'illogical logic'. One of the better parts of this chapter is where it goes over the difference between animals and animals (the difference between the characters and actual animals). The 'Toon Commandments' are also in this table.
Chapter VII:
This chapter includes a lot of adventures for the new Animator, or an Animator who wants more information. I'll just put a rating and brief explanation for each.
The Cartoon Olympics Strike Back- 3/5; Just one page of information on expanding on The Cartoon Olympics
I Foogled You!- 4/5; Fairly comprehensive adventure with some interesting characters and quick laffs.
Spaced Out Saps- 4/5; Funny space shenanigans, but with a seemingly shoehorned method of 're-integrating' things that have been disintegrated.
The Better Housetrap- 5/5; Interesting take on non-cooperative advanced tech as well as at least one dangerous thing in every room (save for Junior's Bathroom)
Fast Food Fracas- 2/5; What can be a fairly interesting adventure, but seems to fall through due to excessively dastardly evil restaurant owners.
Beach Nuts, or, No Sense Atoll- 4/5; Oog is an interesting character who just wants a turkey dinner!
Fangs for the Memories- 4/5; Count Gotchula is a decent bad guy and the concept in itself is fairly novel, if overdone.
Mars Needs Creampuffs- 5/5; The characters return as SAPS (see Spaced Out Saps) and must deal with the Dough Boys and stop Do-Nut from kidnapping the Kruller King and destroying the planet! All in all, quite an original adventure that really takes advantage of the inspiration for Toon.
Jerks on a Beanstalk- 4/5; The characters are actors hired to fight a 'robot' giant to help film a remake of "Jack and the Beanstalk"
Chapter IIX:
This chapter goes over creating an entire series (a la Looney Tunes) and playing in it. It provides fairly good advice for consistent characters, ongoing relationships, running gags, and recurring bad guys. To further explore the ideas of a series, this chapter includes a brief description of the Toon series Witchdusters, Car Blazers, and Spy Guys, as well as a series pilot for each. Like the adventures, I'll just give a rating and brief explanation for each.
Witchdusters- 4/5; Low key parody of Ghostbusters with the twist that they have to pay rent for the massive HQ they work at, the adventure is fairly in-depth and interesting
Car Blazers!- 5/5; Car Blazers are officers of the law who fight Teleks all across the galaxy. The adventure is based around destroying the Giggle Gun and some insane dentists.
Spy Guys- 3/5; Spy Guys is based largely around high explosives but doesn't have much besides that in my opinion. The adventure is more interesting, but doesn't really make up for the poor premise.
Chapter IX: 
Chapter 9 contains 5 'quick flicks' or brief cartoon adventures. I'll do the same as the adventures from Chapter 7.
 Flopalong Foogle- 5/5; Reuses Foogles from I Foogled You (Ch. 7) but they are trying to get the banjo-playing and badly singing Foogle out from in front of their railroad. Interesting character and "reasonable" actions.
Ant Misbehavin'- 4/5; The players are agents of the government who ahve to stop the giant ants. They have to fast talk or fight the ant queen to stop them.
The Jerk's on You- 3/5; This is a decent adventure but doesn't have many interesting features to it.
Surely You Joust- 4/5; This adventure has the players in ancient Camelot, participating in a joust. Its inclusion automatically made me think of playing a Monty Python and the Holy Grail session with Toon.
Lulu of a Lullaby- 5/5; This adventure is made by only a single character and is by Steve Jackson himself. For a single character adventure it's pretty interesting with a decent twist near the end.
Chapter X:
Chapter 10 is full of random generators! Yay! It contains humor charged generators for situations, locations, bad guys, characters, motives, objects, random events, outer space, and an apocalyptic big finish. This chapter makes playing Toon on the fly way easier.
Chapter XI:
Chapter 11 details 11 different locations, with additional information on Martians and ghosts in Toon. All in all, this is a decent chapter, though I would have appreciated more locations.
Chapter XV:
Chapter 15 provides stat blocks for a lot of the characters used as examples throughout Toon, and although extraneous, could give you a better understanding of character creation.
Silly Tables:
Last but not least is a section full of silly tables! You can generate everything from things falling from the sky to random disguises.

TL;DR Review: 4/5
Although flawed in places, Toon is a fun and creative roleplaying game that shines in doing what it tries to do, let you play characters straight from the Saturday cartoons or create your own. If you can find a copy, this would be a good addition to your RPG collection.

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