Let's Play Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2

Mad Writter

"Yo, TV Troopers!"


Since this chapter (see the previous post) deals with character, we deal with issues related to them.

First out is getting more Getting More Out Of Traits.

  • 1) Trait Focus — Asks you to be more focus, but remember it's a trade off. More from CCC: "Here’s something that you should keep in mind. Some Traits tend to be more specific than others. Generally speaking, the more specific a Trait is, the better the character is when compared to less specific Traits. For example, a character that has “Marine Biologist 3” is considered to be better than a character that has “Biologist3” when dealing with marine life. But it’s a trade-off, because the character with “Biologist 3” is going to have knowledge about
other types of life than the one with “Marine Biologist 3”. Another example is “Martial Artist 2” versus “Ninja 2”. In a straight fight, the character with “Martial Arts 2” is going to have an edge over the one with “Ninja 2”. The reason is because the former is very specific to fighting skills, whereas the latter would also incorporate stealth and subterfuge. “Ninja 2” covers more ground and is thus not as specific. This will result in a bonus to the more specific Trait when opposing a less specific one."

  • 2) Overly Encompassing Traits' —- They are times when the Game Master as to say "no" to. More from CCM:" For example, if I had a player who gave his character a Trait called “Invulnerable Bad Ass with Mind Powers”,I would thump him on the head with something heavy before informing him that this Trait just isn’t going to cut it. I would tell him
that he needed to split it into three Traits (“Invulnerable”, “Bad Ass” and “Mind Powers”)". She then talks about Clusters. More from CCM: "The game system also has a handy little Bonus called “Cluster”. This is mostly intended for use with such Traits as “Sorcerer”, “Psionic Powers”, “Spell-Slinger” and the like, but the GM can use it for virtually anything. Each time “Cluster” is purchased, the player selects one of several categories (Attack/Defense Cluster, Manipulation Cluster, etc.) that cover a certain area within a broader scope. For example, a character with the “Wizard” Trait has taken the Manipulation Cluster. This will allow him to cast spells that can alter the environment (create darkness, cause wind gusts, create a glue-like substance on the ground,etc.) or even the minds of others (change emotions, control minds, hypnotize others, etc.). That character, though, couldn’t use spells that attacked characters, enabled flight, or turned characters into baboons. He would need to purchase additional Cluster categories for that."

  • 3) Naming Traits: Problems that might come up with traits, even know it's sounds trivial.

  • 4) Superhuman Levels': Don't use "Normal Strength at 7" or "Superhero Strength" at 1, but "Strength" can be at any trait rating.

  • 5) Detriment Traits': You can use "Strength" for a 1x if your character is bad at it. Of "Lack of Strength" or "Weakling".

  • 6)Weapons and Armor: Explaining that "Enhancer" bonus is a good idea. And don't use it for any thing that's a part of the character's body like Metal Body for a robotic character.

  • 7)Linked: More from CCM: "While it’s possible to create a Trait that is incredibly comprehensive, you’ll find that it’s less effective than a focused Trait (see Trait Focus
above). If you want the Trait to do quite a few things, you might consider creating separate Traits and giving all but one of them the “Linked” Restriction. This ensures that one Trait isn’t going to be incredibly unfocused.

  • 8)Subplots versus Detrimental Traits': From from CCM: "There is a very fine line between what should be taken as a Subplot and what should be taken as a Detrimental Trait. Honestly, it should come down to one question: Can you imagine the GM telling you to make a check using it as a Trait? If the answer is “yes”, then it should usually be taken as a Detrimental Trait. If the answer is “no”, it’s probably going to be a Subplot. This can be ambiguous, however. If something sounds like it could go either way, use your best judgment. After all, you’ll be compensated regardless… it’s just a matter of how you’ll be compensated. When in extreme doubt, it’s best to assume that it’s a Subplot.

For example, let’s say that you wanted your character to be a super-intelligent panther-like beast. You immediately write “Animal” down as a Detrimental Trait. After doing so, you begin to question your decision, wondering if perhaps it would make more sense to make it a Subplot. In the end, you ask yourself if you could envision the GM requiring you to make an “Animal” check and decide that the answer is no. After all, it’s not a matter of how good the character is at being an animal. Thus, you list it as a Subplot (likely “Physical Flaw”)."

  • 9) More About Modifiers: I let CCM talk about this one, "As one of our contributors stated, if there’s one aspect of character creation that’s going to raise questions, it’s Modifiers. Truthfully, I agree, which is why this section exists. Let’s not waste any time and
dive right into the thick of it.

The Modifiers were created so that each one covers a lot of ground, thus making it so that there’s no need for a massive list that must be poured over constantly. This has the unfortunate side effect of creating some potential ambiguities. Let’s start off by stating that these Modifiers are meant to be malleable. That is, the players and GM can tweak the heck out of them to better fit the character concept.

For example, let’s say that the player wants a magical weapon that grants the character a +1 boost to its “Eye For Detail” Trait. The closest Modifier to this would be “Trait Boost (Self )”. However, the rules for that Modifier state that in order for the boost to work, the Trait has to be used successfully first. In other words, the character would have to make a successful attack against an enemy to gain the +1 boost. With the concept the players has in mind, it just doesn’t make sense. After discussing it with the GM, it is decided that the boost applies automatically whenever the character wields the weapon.

To make a long story short, Modifiers are not etched in stone. Heck, you can even develop new ones as long as your GM approves. The Modifiers were created simply to give a brief list of possibilities... not to stifle your creativity. Don’t be timid about talking to the GM about making changes."

Then CCM talks about Giant Transforming Robots, while I copy here, "In the retro-toons, there was no shortage of robots that could turn into other things (usually vehicles). Fans of giant transforming robots (GT Rs) are given all the tools necessary to create them as characters in Cartoon Action Hour. It just might not be obvious right off the bat. I hope to fix any ambiguities here.

In order to make a GTR, the main thing you need is a Trait with the “Transformation” Bonus. Once you have that, the rest is cake. There’s only the matter of creating the alternate form (i.e., the vehicle). Check out the section about how to create alternate forms on pages 35-37. It will guide you through the process, which involves essentially creating a vehicle as per the rules on pages 38-39. You won’t want to overlook the purple text box that spans across the bottom of pages 36 and 37. That has critical information about alternate form.

Lastly, you’ll need to understand that GT Rs are going to have superhuman ratings for Traits that involve strength, resilience, size, etc. Ratings of 6-7 should be considered average for such Traits.

Following that, on the following pages (pages 43 & 44) we have a good amount of sample traits for characters.

Then on page 45, we have samples traits for animals (critters), weapon, and vehicles.


Channel #4 deals with the "Rules of Play". This starts with the sub-section "Before We Began" in with CCM explains that Cartoon Action Hour is a story game. Use the rules when you want to. Some GM never uses the rules while some GM use the rules all the time. Most GM are between the two extremes mention in the rules. Generally normal actions can be done with out rolling dices. If the traits have a Detriment Rating, always roll. All traits from zero and higher assume basic action can be done without rolling dice.

The sub-section here deals with "Time in Cartoon Action Hour". They are few different type of time measure here. Turns is the short amount time, but for each person to do something. Turns are only use in combat and other situations when their is a time limit.

Scenes: From CCM, "A scene in the game is pretty similar to a scene in the retro-toons. Whenever the show goes (“cuts away”) to another situation or location, the scene is usually over. There are exceptions to this and this is ultimately the GM’s call. For example, the GM might be running two scenes concurrently, switching back and forth between them every so often in order to keep the action moving for both groups of characters. In this case, she may rule that neither scene is over when she cuts away to the other one."

Episode: One adventure of the P Cs in "Cartoon Action Hour". Usually the story of the adventure takes one episode, but the GM make it a two-part or more, if he and she wants.

Season: A group of eight episodes. The GM can change the number fix his group's playing style.

Series: From CCM: "A series is an ongoing game, featuring mostly the same characters and underlying themes throughout. There is no limit to the length of a series; it can consist of a season or numerous seasons"

The next sub-section is "Tasks" which CCM says are, " defined as a challenge that requires skill, talent, knowledge or effort on the part of one or more characters in order for success to be attained. Sample tasks include attacking a particular foe, leaping over a gaping chasm, suckering someone into doing what you want them to do, building a device, resisting mind control, using most powers to gain a particular effect, pushing aside a heavy boulder, swimming through rapids, grabbing onto an overhang as you fall off a cliff, and so forth."

"Making Checks" is the next sub-section. Here's what CCM has to say about this, " Whenever a character attempts to perform a task, the GM may ask the character’s player to make a check. A check is the method we use to determine success or failure and is defined as any roll involving a rating, To make a check, the player describes what his character is going to do. Based on the description of the action, the GM chooses which one of the character’s Traits is most appropriate to the situation (if any). In many cases, the player controlling the character can choose the Trait used, though the GM can rule that it’s not appropriate. When selecting a Trait to use, players are encouraged to come up with interesting and colorful ways to implement it.

The GM also selects a Difficulty Number (or DN) to represent how hard she feels the task is; the higher the DN, the tougher the task.

  • If the character has a Trait with a Detrimental Trait rating: The player rolls a die plus a number of Detriment Dice equal to the Detrimental Trait rating.
  • If the character doesn’t have an appropriate Trait: The player rolls a die and adds 0 to the result.
  • If the character has an appropriate Trait that could help him out: The player rolls a die and adds the Trait rating to the result.
  • If the character has a Trait with the “Specialty” Bonus: The player rolls a die plus a number of Benefit Dice equal to the number of times the Bonus
was purchased.

If the total result is equal to or more than the DN result (which is the DN plus the roll of a die, as rolled by the GM), the character is successful. If the GM wishes to eliminate the random element of the DN result, she can simply assume that she rolled a 6, adding the DN to it.

I.E: Thomas declares that his character, Jason Rock, is trying to break down a iron door to get inside Dr. Screwdriver's hideout. Jane (the GM) assigns the DN of 4 to the task. Thomas asks if he can use Muscle Punch trait. Jane thinks that trait is suitable for the task. Jane rolls the dice and gets 3, making the total DN result 7. Jason Rook's Muscle trait is a 4. Jason rolls a 4. 4 + 4 = 8. Since 8 is larger then 7, the Muscle Punch is success in knocking down the iron door.

Now we got the two special dice to chat about: Detriment Dice is up first. Here's what's CCM has to say about this: " While making a check, characters may find themselves forced to roll one or more Detriment Dice. This is usually due to one of three factors. Sometimes, more than one factor applies to a check.

  • 1) The character has a Trait with a Detrimental rating. In this case, the player rolls a die (as per normal) plus a number of Detriment Dice equal to the Detrimental Trait rating. The lowest-rolling die is the one used. This is done before applying any effects, increases, or decreases to the result. Once the lowest result is determined, add 0 to it
  • 2) The character uses the same Trait for the same task during any given scene. In this case, the player rolls a die (as per normal) plus a number of Detriment Dice equal to the amount of subsequent times the Trait was used for the task. The lowest-rolling die is the one used. This is done before applying any effects, increases, or decreases to the result. Once the lowest result is determined, add the character’s normal Trait
rating to it.
  • 3) The opponent suffers an effect determined by the GM (toxic gas, grogginess, poison, etc.). In this case the player rolls a die (as per normal) plus whatever
number of Detriment Dice the GM instructs you to roll. The lowest-rolling die is the one used. The is done before applying any effects, increases, o decreases to the result. Once the lowest result determined, add the character’s normal Trait rating to it."

I.E.: Later in the episode, to escape a bad guy's HQ, Jason has to steal a car. Bad news is he's has "Horrible Driver 2x", so Thomas has to roll three dices: he gets 2, 8, and 6. He force to take the 2 for the check—as the 2 is lower then other numbers.

Now for the opposite of Detriment Dice, Benefit Dice. Here's what CCM about them: "While making a check, characters may find themselves being allowed to roll one or more Benefit Dice. This is usually due to one of two factors. Sometimes, both factors apply to a check.

  • 1). The character has a Trait with the “Specialty” Bonus In this case, the player rolls a die plus a number of Benefit Dice equal to the number of times the Bonus was purchased for the Trait. The highest-rolling die is the one used. This is done before applying any
effects, increases, or decreases to the result. Once the highest result is determined, add the character’s normal Trait rating to it.
  • 2) The character is participating in an opposed check and her appropriate Trait is more focused than the Trait being used by the opposing character. In this
case, the player rolls a die plus a Benefit Die. The highest-rolling die is the one used. This is done before applying any effects, increases, or decreases to the result. Once the highest result is determined, add the character’s normal Trait rating to it. "

I.E.: Some time later, Jason Rook has to deal with password protected system. Jason has a "Security System" with one Speciality. Thomas rolls throws two dice. The dice gives Thomas 4 and 10. 10 is higher and he's get to use that number.

One Detriment Dice and One Bonus Dice cancel each out on a one-on-one fight. More from CCM: " If you have Detriment Dice left after all the canceling is done, you must utilize them for the check. If you have Benefit Dice left after all the canceling, you may utilize them for the check. If there are no Benefit Dice or Detriment Dice left after all the canceling, only the normal die is rolled for the check."

The following is about Trait Rating Adjustments from CCM: "It’s not uncommon for various circumstances to temporarily increase or decrease a Trait’s rating. While no rules ambiguities arise from increasing a rating, decreasing ratings to a number below zero is another matter. Just to clarify, ratings can be reduced to 1X and 2X. Should a rating be dragged lower than that, treat it as 2X, but subtract 1 from the roll equal to the difference. For example, if a character has a rating of 1 and suffers a –5 penalty, the player would roll 2 penalty dice (as per a rating of 2X), subtracting 2 (the difference) from the die results."

The next following is Difficulty Numbers, which are hard a task is. They is a table by this with rating on it. More from CCM:

  • "0 = Moderate: An average person can pull the task off about half the time.
  • 1-2 =Challenging An average person will have a difficult time pulling this task
off, though a trained or skilled individual should be capable of succeeding most of the time.
  • 3-4 = Hard: A trained or skilled person will find it tricky to succeed at the task.
  • 5-6 = Very Hard: Even a trained or skilled per-son will usually fail at the task
  • 7-8 = Extremely Hard: Hardly anyone can succeed at this task, and even the
ones who can pull it off can’t do it with any regularity.
  • 9-10 = Nearly Impossible: Only those with superhuman levels of ability will find them-
selves successful at the task except for with an occasional brush of luck.
  • 11+ = Beyond Comprehension: Normal humans will virtually always fail at the task and even superhuman will find it intensely hard to come out successful in the endeavor."

They is a sidebar on should you tell or not, here's what CCM has to say on this: " The GM is not obligated to announce the DN result to the players. In fact, keeping it secret heightens the suspense, ensuring that the players remain on the edge of their seats. Some G Ms, though, tell the players what the DN result is, exchanging suspense for functionality. After all, at least the players cannot accuse him of cheating this way. In the end, it’s the GM’s call. There is no right or wrong answer."

Next up is Flubs which is when the D12 rolls a natural "1"—a action automatic fails and you can't use OOMPH to alter it. The GM can also make something particularly bad or embarrassing happen to the character rolls a flub.. Flubs are followed by it's opposites, Boons, which is a natural "12" on a D12. When this happen, you can double a trait rating or add +1 if the trait rating is 0. The GM can also make something extremely good or beneficial happen when a character rolls a boon.

Next up, CCM takes about a Degree of Success: " Sometimes, the GM may need to know by exactly what margin a character succeeded. How much the check beats the DN result by is called the degree of success. The larger the degree of success, that is achieved, the better the result of the task. If the check total equaled the DN result, the character may have only partially succeeded, but if it was ten more than the DN result, then the character succeeded in spectacular fashion. In many cases, however, simple success or failure is sufficient."

Next Opposite Checks as told by CCM, " There will inevitably be instances where your character’s actions will be directly opposed by another character, such as when one person is pursuing another on foot, when one person is trying to push open a door that’s being blocked by another person, or when one person is attempting to pull off a con job on another person. When this happens, an opposed check is in order.

Whenever an opposed check is called for and one person will likely succeed over the other (such as an arm wrestling contest), each character involved in the struggle makes a check using the appropriate Trait ratings. Compare the results to each other. Whoever rolls higher wins the check. In the case of a tie, the character with the narrowest Trait wins. If it’s still a draw, the check is re-rolled. The GM may also choose to assume a roll of 6 for NP Cs to help speed play.

In some cases, the GM may require the player to role-play the situation before rolling, especially if a PC is trying to fast-talk, con, or otherwise persuade an NPC. If the player role plays well or is particularly clever, then the GM may increase her rating (usually by +1 to +3) for this check. If the player role plays poorly, she may be given a negative modifier (typically, a -1 to a -3) for this check."

Following that up with Situation Adjusters. Here's what CCM has said about that: " With normal checks, the GM can easily reflect factors that help or hinder the character(s) by adjusting the DN. Since opposed checks don’t use D Ns, the GM can reflect the aforementioned factors by increasing or decreasing the check results. These are called situational adjusters. Generally speaking, the GM will assign a +1 situational adjuster to a check result for each helpful factor involved. Similarly, a –1 situational adjuster is subtracted from a check result for each hindering factor involved. If the GM feels a factor is extremely helpful or hindering, the adjuster can be bolstered to +/- 2 or +/- 3. If the same factor helps or hinders both characters equally, ignore the adjuster outright. Keep in mind that the same rules apply for reducing Trait ratings to below 2X during opposed checks as during regular checks."

This follow by Applying Trait Focus. This show what the system means by focused traits. The one on the left is the focused while the one the right isn't. Here's the examples that CCM cooked up for us:

  • "Fireball Spell” / “Wizard Spells” (one spell versus any number of spells)
  • “Repair Tanks” / “Can Fix Just About Anything” (fixing one type of machinery versus fixing any number of machinery)
  • “Sword Master” / “Master of Weapons” (proficiency at one single type of weapon versus proficiency at all weapons)
  • “History Buff” / “Knowledgeable” (knowledgeable about one topic versus knowledgeable about most topics)
  • “Quick Punch” / “Expert Combatant” (proficiency at one type of attack versus proficiency with an number of attacks)
  • “Dodge” / “Defensive Fighter” (good at avoiding attacks versus good at avoiding attacks and a implied use of defensive attack moves)
  • “Stealthy” / “Ninja” (being quiet versus combat ability in addition to being quiet)

The GM will have use the best her judgment when a finding what traits are focus and not. Those that are focus earns two bonus: 1) The character with the most focus traits wins any tied checks & 2) The character can roll a Benefit Dice.

CCM has to say about Teamwork, "Teamwork was an important theme in most of the retro-toons. There were numerous moral lessons about helping a friend in need, cooperating with your teammates, and relying on one another to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Whenever two or more characters work together on a task that involves a check, you must declare which character is the lead for the task. This is usually the character with the highest appropriate rating, but any lead can be chosen. Once the lead is picked, make the check as normal, but for each person assisting, they can add half of their appropriate rating, rounded up (minimum of +1). The bonus can make the total higher than the series maximum rating."

CCM follows Teamwork with chases. Here's what she has to say about that: "Chases in Cartoon Action Hour are very abstract, and intentionally so — the thrill of a chase isn’t in how many feet per second the characters cover, but whether or not the pursuer catches the pursued. When a chase starts, the GM decides on how many Chase Points the chase starts at, and how many points it takes to escape. Chase Points is a general term to describe how far apart the characters are — a good chase can start out at 10 points, with 20 set as the escape total, but G Ms shouldn’t feel constrained to these totals if they feel that the distance should be different, or that escape should be easier or harder.

very turn, each character involved in the chase makes an opposed check, using Traits that are appropriate (e.g., “Athletics”, “Running”, “Winged Flight”, etc.).

  • If the pursuing character has a higher degree success, the degree of success comes off the distance (with a minimum of 1 Chase Point removed).

  • If the chased character wins, they can add degree of success to the Chase Points (again, a minimum of 1).

  • If the pursuing character and/or the chased character tie, nothing changes and the chase continues.

If the chase points drop to 0, the quarry is caught, and if they equal the escape total, the chased vehicle escapes.

Before the checks are made, each player should describe what their character is doing in her attempt to catch or fee from the other character. This adds color to the chase sequence and keeps it from being a mere cluster of dice rolling. If a player is particularly creative, the GM may even grant him a bonus that turn.

Vehicle chases work in an identical fashion."

Now it's time for "Turn-Based Combat". I'm going to let CCM talk about this one. I'm just going to bold sub-sub-sections titles.

"Turn-based combat is the default style of handling fight sequences. It offers the most amount of detail and let each player have full control over every move her character makes.


When a fight breaks out, it’s important to know what order everyone acts in. Generally, the GM can use common sense to determine the order. For example, if the villains sneak attack the heroes, the villains are likely to go first.

Of course, if it’s ambiguous or the GM wants to insert a little randomness, she can call for an initiative roll. When preparing for an initiative roll, the GM must decide if she’s going to have them roll individually or if she’s going to have them roll per side.

Whichever she chooses, it’s important to note that initiative rolls are not considered checks, so players cannot spend Oomph to affect their outcome.

Method 1: Individual Initiative

With individual initiative, each player rolls a die and adds her character’s base Oomph to the roll. The GM rolls a die as well, but adds 1 to the roll for most NP Cs and 3 to the roll for the episode’s master villain. Characters act in turn, starting from the highest roller and ending with the lowest roller. This order is maintained for the rest of combat. This method is more detailed and offers more variety, but it also complicates things a bit.

Method 2: Group Initiative

With group initiative, the player whose character has the highest base Oomph rolls the die and adds that number to the result. The GM does the same, but adds 1 to the roll for most NP Cs and 3 to the roll for the episode’s master villain. It’s entirely possible to have multiple groups of NP Cs; in this case, the GM rolls for each side separately. The highest rolling side or team acts first, followed by the next highest rolling team, and so on. This order is maintained for the rest of combat.

What Happens in a Turn?

During a turn, each character involved in the scene can move and then take an action or take an action and then move. Once all the characters have done so, the turn is over and a new one begins.

In most cases, it doesn’t matter exactly how far a character moves during a turn. The GM uses common sense as her guide. If the player describes her character running around the block during the turn, the GM will definitely put her foot down, unless she possesses a Trait that grants her superhuman speed.


An action is defend as something a character can do quickly and that requires at least some attention. Minor things that take virtually no time at all do not count as actions – spouting off a witty insult, drawing a laser from your holster, dropping an item to the ground, and so on. There are three types of actions available:


This action allows the character to move a short distance and then attack or move attack and then move a short distance. The exact distance moved isn’t important, but roughly 10 feet or so seems to be a good ballpark number.


This action allows the character to relocate or otherwise change her location. The character should be allowed to move a greater distance than with an Attack action. The exact distance isn’t important.


This can be any reasonable action not listed above. Some actions may take longer than one turn to accomplish and must be carried out in the turns that follow – this is up to the GM. A few examples of miscellaneous actions include clearing a gun jam, rewiring an electronic door, setting a bomb, using a computer, etc.

Attack Procedure

The term “attack” in Cartoon Action Hour is something of a misnomer in many cases. While an attack can be of the traditional variety such as bonking someone on the head, punching someone’s lights out, etc., it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Many so-called attacks don’t even cause damage in the physical sense. They can also be ways to demoralize, confuse or otherwise put an enemy at a disadvantage. In order to keep the rules unified and concise, however, we still refer to them as “attacks".

If an attack action is chosen, a combat check is necessary. The player controlling the attacker describes what she wants the character to do and selects his most appropriate Trait to use. The player controlling the defender describes how she wants to avoid the attack and selects her most appropriate Trait.

Combat Check

The combat check functions almost identically to any other opposed check. The differences lie in the potential repercussions should the attacker succeed. For purposes of reference and clarity in later text, the combat check consists of two components: the attack check and the defense check.

The Attack Check

Cartoon Action Hour doesn’t have a list of ready-made combat Traits, thus making it impossible for us to tell you exactly what Traits to use when attacking. Instead, we instruct you to select a Trait that could feasibly be used to defeat an enemy (see Creativity and Combat Traits below).

The attacker makes a check as normal, using the chosen Trait. This is called the attack check. The GM may object to the Trait you choose if she doesn’t feel that it’s appropriate.

The Defense Check

Just as with Traits used for attacks, there is no authoritative list of set-in-stone Traits usable for avoiding defeat. It’s simply a matter of selecting a Trait that could be construed as being defensive in some way (see Creativity and Combat Traits below)

After the attacker makes the attack check, the defender makes her check as normal, using the chosen Trait. This is called the defense check. The GM may object to the Trait you choose if she doesn’t feel that it’s appropriate.

Situational Adjusters

In combat, situational adjusters apply as per normal opposed checks. They represent factors such as the target being in cover, the target being prone, the attacker being on higher ground, the attacker ambushing the defender, or whatever else the GM deems appropriate to the situation.

Using Teamwork in Combat

Teamwork in combat is not really much different than teamwork in non-combat situations. The only difference is that characters cannot team up for defense checks; only attackers can team up.

Enhancers in Combat

The “Enhancer” Bonus is a particularly useful Modifer in combat situations. Functionally, it allows you to add one half of the Trait’s rating to another Trait. This is how weapons and armor are most commonly represented in the game. So when making attack or defense checks, don’t forget to apply an Enhancer if you have one that seems applicable.

Creativity and Combat Trait [Sidebar]

Despite the fact that there was never a shortage of combat sequences, you’d be hard-pressed to find much in the way of actual violence in the retro-toons. In most cases, a punch to the kisser is the most violent act demonstrated. A lot of the maneuvers used in these scenes involved the combatants using their heads (e.g., tricking a foe into stepping onto a net trap) Since this is the case, Cartoon Action Hour was designed to accommodate a less radical style of combat by allowing virtually any Trait to be used in fight scenes. If the character has a Trait called “Tricky”, there’s no reason why she can’t use it to sucker an opponent into walking right off a cliff (and safely into the water down below). On the defensive end of the spectrum, it would be perfectly acceptable to use “Resourceful” to snatch up a nearby object and use it to block an incoming attack. The point is that combat in Cartoon Action Hour isn’t like traditional RPG combat. It’s not necessarily about exchanging punches or shots until someone gets hit. It’s much more abstract than that.

The Aftermath

To see what the effects of the attack are (if any), you’ll need to determine who won the combat check.

  • No Effect: If the Attack Check is lower than the Defense Check the attack has no effect whatsoever The defender remains in the battle.
  • Hit: If the Attack Check was equal to or more than the Defense Check by an amount equal to or less than the defender’s Threshold score, the defender receives a Setback Token (see below). If this is the character’s fourth Setback Token, the character is
Defeated (see below).
  • Big Hit: If the attack check was more than the defense check by an amount higher than the defender’s Threshold score, the defender is instantly Defeated, in this manner is sometimes referred to as “Insta-Defeat”.

Setback Tokens

During a combat sequence, characters acquire Setback Tokens. Setback Tokens don’t necessarily represent damage that the character has suffered (although that can certainly be the case as well). Rather, they can represent any type of impediment imaginable, from a character becoming subdued by vines to a character getting so fustered that she can’t even see straight. Anything that sets a character back is worthy of resulting in a Setback Token; hence the name. Whatever the case may be, each Setback Token gained by a character brings him one step closer to failure. Individual Setback Tokens have no actual effect on the character. However, when the character gains her fourth Setback Token, she is Defeated.

Gestalts and Setback Tokens

Setback Tokens gained by Gestalts are also applied to each component character/vehicle/companion when they return to their regular forms.


Heroes always win, right? Well, not always. In fact, it was quite common for the heroes to come up short during confrontations with the villains. They often found themselves captured, trapped, or otherwise disposed of in a temporary fashion. That’s what kept viewers on their toes, after all. In Cartoon Action Hour, these situations are referred to simply as Defeat. As noted above (twice even!), gaining a fourth Setback Token causes the character to be Defeated. A Defeated character no longer participates in the scene. The participant controlling the character who caused the Defeat can describe the Defeat however she wishes (within reason and the boundaries of good taste). If that participant is a player, she can opt to leave it up to the GM instead. Not all players feel comfortable with this kind of thing. Here are some tried and true ways to describe a Defeat:

  • The attack targets loose boulders, which roll onto the character, trapping him.
  • The attack knocks the character unconscious.
  • The attack flings the character into a wall, which crumbles on top of him.
  • The attack cuts down a tree, which topples over onto the character.
  • The attackers dog-pile the character, capturing him.
  • The attack’s impact causes the character to be sent back into vine-
laden trees and she gets tangled up in them.
  • The attack forces the character to fee (villains only!).
  • The attack sends the character over the edge of a cliff, delaying him long
enough for the villain to get away.
  • The attacker goads the character into moving onto a trap door that
leads to a secret prison cell by way of a grav-tunnel.

Upon being Defeated, the character is unable to do anything at all until the scene is over. At that point, she can get back up; remove all Setback Tokens the character has accumulated. This is true even if the character has been captured and is now in enemy hands.

Gestalts and Defeat

If a gestalt is Defeated, all the component characters/vehicles/companions are Defeated as well, though they remain in gestalt form.

Vehicle Combat

For the most part, vehicles follow the same rules as characters when it comes to combat. There are some differences, however.

Damage Issues

You must track the vehicle’s Setback Tokens separately from your character’s. Attacks are made against the vehicle first if it’s enclosed or mostly enclosed. If the vehicle has a “Physical Flaw” Subplot that exposes the character, the attacker may choose to shoot at the character instead. Doing so imposes a –2 to the attack check result.

When a vehicle receives its fourth Setback Token, the vehicle becomes Defeated. It may explode, get bogged down in the mud, stop working, or whatever else seems appropriate to the situation. The character is then ejected from the vehicle and receives a Setback Token, as having your vehicle become useless is a pretty big setback. Don’t worry; the character will have it up and running again or replaced either during a later scene or in time for the next episode at the GM’s discretion.

The ejection can actually bring forth interesting circumstances of its own. If the vehicle was an aircraft, the ever-present parachute allows the character to glide safely back to the ground. If it was a spacecraft, an escape pod should suffice. Ground-based vehicles offer the best advantage, in that the character can continue fighting immediately.


When pulling off tricky moves in a vehicle, the character operating it will be required to make checks involving an appropriate Trait such as (“Driving”, Piloting”, “Operate Ground Vehicles”, etc.). This Trait’s rating should be modified by the vehicle’s Trait that governs how well it handles (“Maneuverability” “Handling”, etc.). This is the case while out of combats well.


Ramming is an attack check that uses the driver’s Trait that measures how good she is at operating the vehicle. The ramming vehicle may suffer damage as well if at least one Setback Token is dealt out. In such a case, the ramming vehicle receives a Setback Token unless it can make a successful DN 4 check using a Trait that represents the vehicle’s sturdiness (“Rugged”, “Toughness”, “Armored Hull”, etc.)."

Our next thing is Oomph. Oomph can be gain by doing the following:

  • "Dealing with the character’s Subplots
  • Role playing creatively or in the spirit of the retro-toon genre.
  • Participating in accomplishing the primary goal of an episode (which usually involves thwarting the villain’s master plan).
  • [&] Whatever else the GM feels like giving it to you for. "

But Oomph can take away by the following actions:

  • "Attacking another PC.
  • Acting in an extremely violent manner (“I’m going to gut him with my sword!”).
  • A male character striking a female character (a big no-no in
the retro-toons).
  • Acting in a very in a very uncooperative or anti-social manner (some characters have personalities that allow them to get away with a little bit of this,
but not an excessive amount).
  • Attacking an innocent NPC without provocation.
  • Failing to help friends in need (even heroes with selfish tendencies always ended up coming through in the end).
  • [&] Having their characters curse or use tasteless humor."

They is no limit to how much you can have in OOMPH, but you can spend OOMPH on the following:

  • Re-Rolls: Cost 1 Oomph. Allows you to re-roll checks.. If you have Detriment or Benefit Dice, you re-roll theme too. You can only do a re-roll only one and it cannot not be one if the first check landed on a "1".
  • Counterattack: From CCM, " You may spend 1 Oomph to make a counter attack when being attacked by an enemy. This must be declared after the enemy makes the attack check. If the enemy fails to inflict a Setback Token or cause Insta-Defeat, she gains a Setback Token himself (Counter-attacks cannot cause Insta-Defeats). This is identical to the “faster combat” variant rule. If the GM is using that rule, Oomph can’t be spent on this option.
  • Extra Effort: When the chips are down and it's looks like evil is going to win the day, the hero or heroine can dig deep down to find the strength to turn the tide back to the good forces. This costs 2 Oomph, and can be send after a check. This can only be done once and can't be done if the first check turned out to a "1". This can't be use for combat.
  • Recover: Send 2 Oomph to remove a Set Back Token.
  • Avoid A Instra-Defeat: Cost 3 Oomph. Prevents a big hit from sending the hero or heroine from dream land. Of course, the hero or heroine had 3 Set Back Token, they are going to be Defeat anyway.
  • Creative Controls: From CCM: "The retro-toons were laden with plot devices, unlikely coincidences, odd uses of character powers/devices, and other such strangeness. This is represented in Cartoon Action Hour by allowing the players to change “reality” a bit. You may spend 1 or 2 Oomph to use creative control. The GM sets the exact cost according to how major the alteration is. Most alterations will only cost 1 Oomph, but if the GM feels the impact of the alteration is major, she may charge 2 Oomph. She can also refuse to allow an alteration if she feels it will ruin the scene. Unlike the other options for spending Oomph, creative control is not very specific. That is, it doesn’t truly limit how it works. With the other options, everything is strictly defined in how they work. Not so with creative control. There are numerous ways to utilize creative control during the game. Below, we’ll discuss the two most common ways." The first one is Scenic Alteration which changes part of location. The other is Trait Alteration which changes characters trait to act in weird ways—kind of like a animation error.

At the end of the episode, you get your Base Oomph back plus any Oomph earned for completing the goal of the last episode. This means all unspent Oomph is lost at the end of episode. The moral of this sub-sub-section as CCM says, "go out and spend those suckers on doing heroic deeds and radical stunts with wild abandon!”

Lending a Hand is a possible. Here's what CCM has to say about that: " Being a hero often means being selfless and lending a hand to friends. This was touched upon in the Teamwork section, but Oomph offers yet another way to give assistance to your character’s allies. You may spend your Oomph to help out any PC or NPC that your character is in the same scene with. This is handled the same as if you were spending it on your own character, except that you can only spend it for re-rolls, extra effort, and creative control. Furthermore, it’s up to you to come up with an in-game reason for the boost. For example, if you spent Oomph to let the ally re-roll when trying to move out of the way of a falling boulder, you might say, “The boulder rolls right toward you, but you don’t see it in time. Fortunately, an alert villager dives into you, knocking you clear of the boulder’s path.” Of course, the GM has the right to veto the reason if she feels it’s not possible even in the world of the retro-toons."

You can send Oomph on companions and vehicles just like you do your own character as they are part of your own character

Another example, this time featuring Nobert as the GM, Bryan playing Combat, and Tim playing Kazgull. It's a full battle, but the opening round of combat using the Group Initiative. This reveal that Setback Token doesn't mean damage, but itching close to defeat.

The next sub-section is Scene-Based Combat. You can use Scene-Based Combat when one of the following is happening: 1) When time is short, 2) When the fight is not important to the plot, & 3) When handing Goon Squads.. If fact, when Goon Squads are part of a battle, it's always a Scene-Based Combat. More from CCM: " When scene-based combat begins, both combatants make an opposed Battle Rating check. Whoever rolls the highest wins the combat. The winner briefly describes how she dispatched her adversary. If a player feels uncomfortable with this, she can ask the GM to describe it instead. The heroes always win ties.

The next sub-section is Scene-Based Combat. You can use Scene-Based Combat when one of the following is happening: 1) When time is short, 2) When the fight is not important to the plot, & 3) When handing Goon Squads.. If fact, when Goon Squads are part of a battle, it's always a Scene-Based Combat. More from CCM: " When scene-based combat begins, both combatants make an opposed Battle Rating check. Whoever rolls the highest wins the combat. The winner briefly describes how she dispatched her adversary. If a player feels uncomfortable with this, she can ask the GM to describe it instead. The heroes always win ties.

Multiple Combatants

Combat isn’t always a one on one affair. Sometimes, there are lots of people on each side. When this is the case, a d12 is rolled for each side, adding in the Battle Ratings of all participants to their respective die rolls. This gives each side a total result. Compare the results as per the method for carrying out a one on one battle. The higher rolling side wins the battle, with the heroes always winning ties. The narrating should be done as a collaborative effort between the participants of the winning side. Of course, if the villains win, the GM narrates the battle.

Rolling Flubs and Boons

Rolling flubs and boons in scene-based combat is identical to rolling them for regular checks.

What Happens to the Losers?

If the bad guys lose the battle, they fee or get captured or, in the case of multiple villains, any combination thereof (GM’s choice). If the good guys lose the battle, they are forced to retreat if possible. If they lose by a margin of 6 or more, the enemies capture them.


Grunts, Mooks, and, Cannon fodder. Whatever you want to call them, Goons are expendable villains that attack in groups. Each such group is known as a Goon squad. A Goon squad attacks as a single character. That is, if there are three Goon squads in a battle, the GM would roll for each squad individually, adding their Battle Ratings as normal. Goons don’t pose as much of a threat as normal characters. This means that when the GM rolls for a Goon squad, she rolls a Detriment Die along with the normal die. In most cases, Goons are incapable of participating in anything except scene-based combat. So, if a battle involves them, it almost automatically becomes scene-based. See below for the exception.

Mixing it Up – Goons and Non-Goon Villains

You may be wondering what happens if Goons and non Goon villains alike are involved in the same combat scene. First of all, this was a relatively uncommon occurrence in the retro-toons. In most instances, the Goons would attack first, while the non-Goon villains stayed back, barking order if necessary. Once the Goons were dispatched, they would make their move… but usually not until then. This should be the case in Cartoon Action Hour as well.

However, if the Game Master really feels the need to mix Goons and non-Goon villains up in the same combat, she can opt to make it a turn-based combat. In such cases, all Goon squads making non-combat checks are considered to be using Traits that have a rating of 0. When making combat related checks, Goon squads just use their Battle Ratings for everything, ignoring any Goon modifiers that aren’t pertinent or compatible with turn-based combat. A Goon squad is Defeated if it receives a single Setback Token.

Spending Oomph

Oomph can be spent during scene-based combat, but only for the Re-Roll option. Since so much rides on that single die roll, however, re-rolling a character’s check costs 2 Oomph instead of the usual 1. Otherwise, all the rules are identical. G Ms may not spend Oomph on Goons. They’re just no important enough."

Our next sub-section is Character Improvement. Characters can only change after a season (8 episodes of a series). You have to 1) Tally Points, 2) Make Improvement Rolls or Revamp the Character and 3) Send Po P Ps. More from CCM on this:

"Tally Experience Points

At the end of each season, the GM needs to figure up how many episodes each PC played a significant role in. This doesn’t include cameos and other brief appearances. For each such episode, the character gains 1 Experience Point.

The exception to the “no cameos and brief appearances” rule is the After-Show Message characters who participate in at least one of them receive an additional Experience Point. This is not cumulative, so participating in two of them won’t net the character a total of two Experience points.

Make Improvement Rolls

Once Experience Points are calculated, each character gets to make an improvement roll. To do so, roll a die for your character and add its Experience Points to the result. Using the total result, consult the table below: This will determine how many Proof of Purchase Points you receive to improve your character with.

Base Oomph Increase

After you make an improvement roll, you can attempt to improve the character’s base Oomph. To do so, roll a die. If the die rolls 11 or 12, the base Oomph goes up by 1. Base Oomph cannot be higher than 5 under any circumstances. An increase in base Oomph will result in a +1 increase to the character’s Threshold as well.

Resetting Experience Points

After the improvement roll, your character’s Experience Point total goes back down to 0. This doesn’t mean that the character is no longer experienced; it means your character has essentially cashed the points in, in return for a boost in her abilities.

Revamp the Character

If you’d like to change a lot of stuff about the character, you can partake in a revamp instead of making an improvement roll. If this is the case, select up to two options from the list below and carry them out. It’s possible to select the same option twice.

  • Get rid of a Trait and gain a number of Proof of Purchase Points equal to the amount it’s worth. So, if you dump “Acrobatics 3”, you’ll gain 3 Proof of Purchase Points. This amount is adjusted by the Modifiers attached to the Trait.
  • Reduce the rating of a Trait by any amount (down o a minimum of 1) and receive a number of Proof of Purchase Points equal to the worth of the amount you reduced it by. So, if you have “Athlete 4” and want to reduce it to 1, you’ll receive 3 points back. Things may become slightly more complex when you move into the realm of 5+ ratings, as each rating above 4 is worth 2 Proof of Purchase Points.
  • With the GM’s permission, you can drop one Subplot entirely or you may replace one with a new Subplot.
  • With the GM’s permission, you can add or subtract any number of Factoids.

Spend Proof of Purchase Points

You may now spend the accumulated Proof of Purchase Points you gained from the improvement roll or the revamp. You can spend them as follows:

  • Increase a Trait rating. This costs the same as during character creation (i.e., +1 for 1 Proof of Purchase Point up to and including a rating of 4; +1 for 2 Proof of Purchase Points thereafter).
  • Add a new Trait, with the GM’s permission. This is handled exactly like during character creation. Most G Ms will accept new skills or gear, but
will be less likely to allow new powers or other supernatural capabilities.
  • Add a Bonus to a Trait, paying the normal cost for doing so (usually 1 Proof of Purchase Point).
  • Add a Restriction to a Trait, gaining the normal amount of Proof of Purchase Points for doing so (usually 1 Proof of Purchase Point).
  • Remove a Bonus from a Trait, receiving an amount of Proof of Purchase Points equal to its cost (usually 1 Proof of Purchase Point).
  • Remove a Restriction from a Trait, paying an amount of Proof of Purchase Points equal to the normal amount that it grants you for taking it (usually 1 Proof of Purchase Point).

Adjusting Battle Rating

Don’t forget to adjust your character’s Battle Rating if its primary combat Trait has been increased."

That's it for this Channel, next up is the NYK for this chapter and then the Game Master rules.