Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Muppet Maker





Jim Henson and the people he surrounded himself with had a talent for making vibrant, memorable characters. If you disagree you are wrong and I hate you. One of the big reasons for this is one of the big reasons I like these old school games. To borrow a lamentable line from Ineffectual Movie Batman, it's not who you are on the inside, it's what you do that defines you. The Muppets, like other genre twisting screwballs like the Hitchhiker cast or the Venture Bros. alumni, are mostly defined through failure and by why they fail or how they behave in spite of that failure. Failure is constant, failure comes in all kinds of exciting new packages and from unanticipated angles, and failure is inescapable because of who these characters are and the lives which they lead. They defeat themselves or their aspirations set them up to fail. This makes every small victory, personal, moral, professional, or creative, matter like the lighting of the sun when it happens. James Bond movies are two hours long because James Bond sucks at espionage for one hour forty-five minutes and overcomes the odds against him to win anyway. You feel bad for Oddjob just a little unless you've watched him absolutely dominate the entire film, and then it's like, whew, Bond caught a break, good for him!

Anyway, Muppets. They're not exactly formulaic but because they're designed by obsession and failure CAN be generated using a formula!

You are (any die):

Odds- Male
Evens- Female
OR- an object or a robot or something in which case don't roll.

Who is (d8):

1-2 Humanoid-ish (like the Count or Scooter)
3-5 Animalian (roll 1d6, 1-2 household, 3-5 farm, 6 zoo)
6-8 Monstrous (on roll of Evens on any die they get [roll once for each]: horns, big fangs, tail, extra fur, extra body part)

Your obsession, your core behavior you prioritize as much as possible, is (d20):

1- Doing the right thing
2- Being the best you can be at whatever it is you do
3- Reaching the most people possible with your work or message, or being all things to all people ("Fain let me not play a woman, I've a beard coming.")
4- Knowing the answer/Being right or correct or proper
5- Helping others
6- Making others happy
7- Peace and quiet
8- The pursuit of your craft/Doing a job you can be proud of
9- Novelty: as the kid from Transformers once said, never step in the same river twice!
10- Your own happiness.
11- The show must go on; get it done, or get through it, or deliver on your promises
12- Professionalism, and the appearance and practices thereof, or what you THINK being professional means
13- Your own amusement or entertainment, with other people a secondary concern at best
14- Discovery and learning and personal growth
15- Having fun, because fun can be had.
16- Base needs; hunger, sleep, affection.
17- To be remembered, or have your contributions acknowledged
18- Winning: coming out on top at all costs
19- Having your actions or feelings validated: being acknowledged and appreciated
20- Whatever's worth doing is worth doing BIG.

Screw your rich inner life. When working in a group, how do you behave? What aspects of your personality are obvious to those who meet you? (geez this is starting to sound like a Blockbuster application)(d12, d10, and d8):

1- Optimistic
2- Hopeful
3- Pessimistic
4- Nervous
5- Calculating
6- Unflappable
7- Stoic
8- Excitable
9- Needy
10- Square
11- Gregarious
12- Shy

1- Vain
2- Critical
3- Affable
4- Intimidating
5- Quick-Tempered
6- Expressive
7- Laconic
8- Verbose
9- Animated
10- Naive

1- Eager
2- Paranoid
3- Fatalistic
4- Clever
5- Helpful
6- Inattentive
7- Oblivious
8- Cynical

You aspire to (d10):

1- Fame
2- Fortune
3- Greatness
4- Thrills
5- Entertain Others
6- Respect
7- Enlighten Others
8- Make Friends
9- Personal Success
10- Be Helpful

And you want to find a place (d8):

1-3- In the spotlight!
4- In the chorus, part of the band, one of the gang!
5- Behind the scenes, pulling strings
6- Wherever you can, grateful for the chances you're given
7- Above it all, running the show
8- Out of this dump

But you will never truly succeed because (d12):

1- Incompetent is a harsh word but you're just not THERE yet with...your whatever.
2- Hubris; careful, Icarus.
3- Bad Luck always seems to find you
4- Unique circumstances you keep finding yourself in conspire to sabotage you
5- Goals of those around you and their work towards the same impede your personal progress.
6- You are actively opposed in your pursuit, sometimes maliciously and sometimes with the best of intentions (or without respect to your needs whatsoever)
7- Your inflexibility will not allow you to change or grow to accommodate your efforts
8- You are ultimately self-defeating, lacking the confidence to succeed (or even try) before you even begin
9- You aimed low and settled, and you won't give up what you have for a chance at something better
10- Kind of dumb
11- Being short-sighted and opportunistic keeps you abandoning responsibilities and opportunities to chase others
12- Undisciplined and unwilling to put in the work to make your dream a reality

From there it's just picking up particular goals related to context (showbusiness on the Muppet Show, playtime and learning time on Sesame Street, not all dying on Fraggle Rock, power and influence in D&D, whatever) and a few other things like narrowing down what animal your resemble, what color felt you use, making your look match your personality and matching a voice... and 3d6x10 starting gold.