Saturday, February 11, 2017

Role-Playing in the Octonauts Universe

Back in the early days of the blog, I searched for time to research kid's RPGs.  I took to Princess themes with my own homebrewed T.I.A.R.A, only to recently discover that it's balanced perfectly between Savage Worlds and Princesses and Palaces. 

One of the projects that's remained in unpublished draft form on my blog for years has been trying to emulate the Octonauts cartoon in game form.  For those of you whose TV doesn't permanently reside on Disney Jr, the Octonauts are a team of anthropomorphic undersea explorers with a mobile base the travels around the world. 

From Wikipedia
From Wikipedia:
"The TV show is episodic, with each 11 minute episode seeing them encountering an unusual but real sea creature as they explore strange underwater worlds. Often they must discover a vital biological or behavioural fact about that creature to rescue it or themselves from danger. The stories usually feature three main characters: Captain Barnacles, Kwazii and Peso, with the other five Octonauts acting in supporting roles."

This format makes great fodder for setting up kids' games.  The episodes are short, action-packed, and feature a rotating cast of characters.  But how do we emulate this, so one kid doesn't always grab Kwazii... or better yet, can't play him?

I suggest mining the Scavengers RPG by Metal Weave Games.

Scavengers was a small Kickstarter, full of artwork by Travis Hanson, where the characters were a space battle salvagers flying through the galaxy to get rich.  The setting isn't great for kids, but the basic mechanics

To "Octify" the rules, each character takes on a unique role on the team (Captain, Engineer, Medic, Science Officer, Security, and Laborer).   Each role has it's own unique benefits and flaws, but buy the actual book to see the examples.

You then spread out 15 dice amongst the following skills (Minimum of 1 and Max of 5 in each):
  • Talking
  • Fighting
  • "Sea Feelings" (Psychology)
  • Science!
  • "Sea Tech"
  • Medic
  • Fitness
The number assigned is the number of six-sided dice you roll for that skills.  5's and 6's are considered successes.  The tougher the task, the more successes are needed to accomplish something.

That part that intrigued me the most with Scavengers was Danger Points.  If you failed your skill roll, you could keep the 1's, 5's and 6's you rolled, and re-roll the remaining dice.  Additional successes are added to the first ones, but each 1 from that second roll earns that character a Danger point.   In Scavengers, earning your 10th danger point meant that that action was immediately fatal, regardless of result (luck has finally caught up to you in the unforgiving emptiness of space). 

In the world of Octonauts, that's a bit excessive, so I offer this less dangerous alternative.

Characters may Push their rolls at any time, but they MUST push their rolls if they failed for a third straight time.  Danger Points are still earned on 1's, but if they earned 3, the character is out of commission (knocked out, captured, in trouble), and the player must choose an available crew member for the rest of the game. 

If there's too much success, up the difficulty number.  Too little, make it easier. 

I'm thinking this game would be great for large paper stand-up minis for the Octo-Pod, the crew, the  GUP underwater vehicles. and the sea creatures of the week.  
Cool high stuff like this is from Tobsen77

Of course, the audience for this game isn't looking for high quality models.  A little arts and crafts goes a long way too.

The required disclaimer: This post is not meant to infringe on the properties of Silvergate Media, Meomi, Disney, or even the folks at Metal Weave games.  Watch the shows, play the games, buy the toys and DVDs. Play with them with your kids!    Just don't try it with Jake and Neverland Pirates.  That show always got on my nerves....

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