Monday, June 26, 2006

Roleplaying, pencil style

Plans didn't happen as expected, and I found myself running a one-shot of Corsair Publishing's Sketch! last Friday. Sketch!'s shtick is that character creation is limited to what you can draw. Yup, that means that you can play whatever you can draw. Can't draw? There's clip art in the back to trace.

Once everyone has drawn their character (loosely defined with the expectation of a costumed hero), the sheets are passed around and everyone else secretly votes on your stats (Muscle, Speed, Toughness, Mind, Power, and Gear, ranging from one to ten) and you average the total. We've got a relatively simple 2d6 + appropriate stat versus target number resolution mechanic.

What's really interesting is that this is consciously designed as a "Gateway Game," a way to bring people into the hobby. In fact, the intro to the game assumes that you and your friends are making characters for arena-style combat. (Shades of Clay-o-Rama!) About a third of the way in, the book starts talking about actually playing the game, having one person run the game as a GM, the setting of planet Sketch and the city of Sketchopolis (sort of like Toon meets Over the Edge gone to 11), plus a random Mad-Libs style adventure. "The characters are BLANK BLANK, when they meet BLANK, who BLANK."

For our game, I rolled: "The characters are on a spaceship above the Luxury Moon, hiding from someone, when they meet an insane hobo selling alien memories, who is revealed to be the secret enemy of one of the players." I swear I am not making this up.

Yari played Little Miss Wonder Meyer. (Endorsed by Sketch Originals)
Ryan played AstroMan! (Quickchange!)
Marc played Mr. Peanut. (Olé!)

I picked up Sketch! for a song and $3.50 at Half Price Books, a used chain of bookstores. The book comes as a fifty-or-so page comic-sized digest, a great form for the function. Also, all of the art comes from players and playtesters- I found a review on that says some of the artists were in the second and fourth grade at the time. The inimitable Jonathan Tweet also has a review and a scan of the cover.

My take? This is fun in a basket, something everyone wanted to play again. I'm not sure I could run it for more than three hours or so at a go- it's a little to madcap for me and I'm honestly not sure if I can keep up with the players. Maybe if I was Robin Williams- do you know he's a gamer, too?

I usually don't post about roleplaying sessions because I'm not sure that I have an audience for the subject, and I do try to keep people informed and entertained. Of course, I could say that I don't have an audience for my RPG stuff precisely because I don't blog about it. What say you, vox populi? Do you want to see more roleplaying material?


MyUtopia said...

Mr. Peanut with a hair dryer?

catzmiyow said...

Role-playing GOOD.