Time for some more mechanical dump about Children Who Play With Monsters! And some further general musings!

What We Have To Work With
According to the final breakdown I gave in my last post, the components to creating a character in Children Who Play With Monsters include:

  • A Name
  • A Profile
  • A Problem at Home
  • A Problem at School

It’s worth spending some time discussing the Monster now, as it obviously critical to play. There have been games that entertained the notion of circular play, wherein one person at the table is responsible for performing a role relevant to another person at the table. Wraith from White Wolf’s defunct World of Darkness line spring to mind, though I’ve never played it, with the other players at the table taking on the roles of a given character’s dark nature, or as the ghostly players in reenactments of the characters background. RPG-in-development/on-hiatus Utopolis from Eric J. Boyd Designs spring to mind as well, with a character playing your reeducated police detective’s plucky, vacuum-tube robot sidekick. However, I don’t consider this the direction I want to go in with Children Who Play With Monsters, at least not at this point. I consider the Child and Monster inseparable, and I want to try treating them as such — making them part of the same character creation process, and played by the same player. To this end and in-fitting with the fiction, I see this dual-character approach as a convenient way to make use of complications, short-comings, and the general idea of hampering the Player Character’s efforts that crops up in a lot of storytelling games. Besides, who doesn’t want to design a Monstrous Best Friend and then actually get to play that adorable mountain of fur (feathers, scales, fangs, etc)?

In contemplating how Monsters work, I feel that the following observations are fairly often true — often enough that I should consider them:

The Child’s Monster is going to have things that they will always let the kid get away with, or do with the Child. These are the hijinks they get up to whenever they’re frolicking and exploring and having a good old time of things. That said, there are always some things that the Monster won’t allow the Child to do, or will try to stop them from doing — things that the Monster knows better than to do. Why is this? The Monster relates to the Child on a level it can more easily get on with, yet this restriction instills in the Monster a sense of guardianship, and maternity/paternity that is enough to ensure the Child’s safety in its truly loving care; it also serves to see the Child chafe under its watch.

Also present there will occasionally be restrictions on the Monster’s individual behavior — things that inhibit its relationship with the Child or the world around it. These are never staggering impairments, but often appear comedically as moments of value dissonance between a Child who enjoys bath time and their Monster who is loathe to bathe; or a vegetarian Child whose Monster would sooner starve than eat greens! These restrictions can be truly childish, in that they mirror other typical child-like behavior that the protagonist has already moved beyond, or fears and concerns that belie the Monsters size or imposition. Occasionally they are very simply physical impairments, such as inability to speak, or inability to manipulate objects (such as a four-legged Monster might be impaired).

The Monster will always contribute to a sense of wish-fulfillment, if this wasn’t obvious by now. However, this wish-fulfillment will invariably serve as an inverse to the Problem at Home experienced by the Protagonist that feeds ideas of grandeur, and would appear to resolve or contribute to resolving any lingering Problems at School.

The Monster will, finally, be a being that is superior in many ways to the Child, and potentially inferior — as has been previously acknowledged. These advantages and shortcomings will interact with the Child in helpful ways, and also as hindrances on occasion.

Following my pattern from yesterday, I now distill the components to the Monster:

All Monsters will have Allowances, Permissions, or Pass-times: These are things that they absolutely love to do! And they love that you love them! You’re this adorable little pink human monkey thing that loves to roll down hills? That’s the best thing ever! Yes we can do that all day! Yes we can do that outside of the Gnomehold! They won’t get mad that we crush their daisies! I envision categorizing actions broadly into types of Allowances, such as Rough-house or Rumpus.

All Monsters will have No-Nos, Taboos, Reservations, Hindrances, or Never-evers: These are the things that the Monster will, himself, never ever do. You can’t make him, nope. He will never cross running water, he will never cut his nails, he will never brush his teeth, and he will certainly never go to bed on time. While possibly hard to emulate (or, more likely, just a part that will need to be fleshed out and worked on especially), this section seems important to me if I really do want the Monster to serve occasionally as a complication, as a convenient way to bypass the trouble they could make.

All Monsters will have a Wish-Fulfillment section. This is simply an inverted statement of the Problem at Home, or a state of being that resolves it as far as the Child would be concerned. I foresee this as representing an advantageous situation, piece of equipment, or status that will inform, describe, or improve (bonus dice!) how the Child handles problems in the fantasy land.

All Monsters will have a Blurb written out, similar to the Child. I envision three words describing the Monster, and I am imagining right here and now that they will grant bonus dice whenever the description helps the situation, and subtract dice whenever the description makes the situation more difficult!

Character Creation Alpha version1.0
It would appear that I now have the barest semblance of a very first form of character creation! That’s certainly something. As I type this out now, I consider an additional trait to be added to the list but I will hold off on describing it until my next post, as I feel it will work better to include as I talk about the conflict resolution system. Yeah, that’s what I’m banking on showcasing next time! A look at how conflicts will be predicated, resolved, and complicated in the current form of Children Who Play With Monsters! Will it be pretty? Probably not! We’ll see what comes out of it.

As always, please comment below with questions, thoughts, whatever comes to mind. Thoughts on my breakdown of Monsters included in this post? Thoughts on movies, books, comics that treat it differently? Sources are always helpful in my musings!

I can, as always, be reached at alfred_rudzki[at]yahoo[dot]com, as well!