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Let's Play Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2
Mad Writter

[table of contents]
"I'm Running Out of Catchphrases To Change"
=NYK=

Since this means running "CAH:S2", this one gives tips to be a good player.

The first one is Get-Along, Gang — Where's Dotty and Moose at? Can't help myself. The moral of this sub-section is don't be a "Spotlight-Stealing Squad" and work with your fellow players.

Share The Spotlight is the title of this sub-sub-section. This means a good GM allows each PC hero a chance to the show off the their traits. Don't allow one of your players become a "Spotlight-Stealing Squad".

Don't Touch That Dial - That means watching retro-cartoons even on DVD or YouTube.

Creative Moves' — It's too easy to say "My character tries to punches Lord Dark in the first", but it's better to say, "My character tries to speed around Lord Dark until he's too dizzy to move."

=CAH:S2=

We are in Channel #5 - "Game Mastering". Our first sub-section is "Other Rules".

Does NPC have Oomph? Nope. Are they helpless? Nope. You seem the Game Master gets a Oomph Pool to use. It's the number of player + 6. So if you have the average number of role-players which is 4, the Oomph Pool is 10. You can send it on help the any non-Goon NPC the same way the P Cs do. With one exception: GM can't use "Creative Control" options. The Subplots for NPC are active the same as way as the P Cs. The GM earns 1 Oomph for the Oomph Pool when NPC's subplot is active.

Next up is a list of villian tricks. All tricks cost 2 Oomph from the GM's Oomph Pool.

Villainous Escape: From CCM, "Master villains are experts at evasion, feeing, or otherwise slipping away from the grasps of their heroic adversaries. If you use this trick, roll a die. If it comes up a 1 or 2, the escape doesn’t work. Any other result indicates that the villain manages to get away and is no longer involved in the scene. You should describe how he pulls it off, though. Don’t just say, “He disappears”. Be creative and invent some kind of wacky manner in which he makes good his escape – a hidden escape vehicle, a secret trap door, a collapsing ceiling that conceals him while he hightails it, or whatever else you can dream up."

Traps: Villains of the 1980s cartoons prefer traps to shooting heroes. Roll a dice, and if lands on a 1 or 2, the trap doesn't work or the good guys by-pass the trap. Any other results allows the GM to put 3 Setback Token on among the nailed heroes. Whether or not the trap works—you better explain the trap—the more Rube Goldberg like the better, but simple traps has their usefulness too.

Motive: Bad guys love to threaten their henchman and mooks. This is done in CAH:S2 movie. Roll play the threat according to the villian. Then roll a D12. If it comes up 1 or 2, it doesn't work-but other results earn Leaders and Henchman a +2 to any check they make for the reminder of the turn

Big Speech: 1980s Villains love to explain their plans for the United States, world or the galaxy depending on the genre-so long, that it almost puts the heroes to sleep. Like "Motive" above. Role-playing the speech as usual—and roll a D12. It come up 1 or 2, it doesn't work—but works—the heroes get -2 to checks for the entire scene.

KABOOM!!!!: Here's a fun one, and let CCM explain this one, " Few things spice up an action sequence like the building coming apart at the seams while everyone dukes it out. Roll a die. If it comes up a 1 or 2, the Trick fails to do anything special. Any other result indicates that you should narrate something happening that would begin to make the place self-destruct. It doesn’t have to be something the villain himself does, though it could very well be just that. Then, roll the die again, keeping the result secret from the players. Consult this chart accordingly.

Characters caught in the destruction are automatically Defeated." Ouch.

Next up is NP Cs and Experience. You have the Standard and Freeform Methods. I let CCM do the Standard version, "The standard method follows the rules for improving P Cs, except that NP Cs cannot increase base Oomph, since they don’t have base Oomph to begin with.

When determining whether or not an NPC is eligible for Experience Points, consider how much of an impact he made. See the guidelines below:

Villains

If the NPC is a villain, he should only be given an Experience Point for an episode in which he met at least one of the following criteria:

Heroes

If the NPC is a hero (or a neutrally aligned character), he should only be given an Experience Point for an episode in which he met at least one of the following criteria:

The Freeform Method is just GM playing changing things without any rhyme or reason.

My favorite section in this book is up next, Commercial Breaks. You know that in the past, western animated television shows had 3 commercial breaks. When a GM calls a commercial break—the players can a breathe and talk about the episode—the one Player who sent the most Oomph since the last commercial break or the beginning of the episode and the Game Master rolls off. The winner rolls one of the two commercial tables. One is focus on the Game Master and his villian forces while the other is focus on the bad guy. Here's what you get

Commercial Break Table #1: Game Master's Version

this table, applying both results. Re-roll “no effect” results and duplicate results."

Commercial Break Table: Player's Version

Next up is hazards. First up is "Falling" as CCM puts it, "The threat of falling off of tall structures, into deep chasms, or out of airborne vehicles is always a tense, nail biting experience… which is why the retro-toon writers used it as a dramatic hook so often. " "In game terms, a character that falls should usually be given a chance to make a check to grab onto something, with an appropriate DN based on the situation at hand (e.g., grabbing onto an oily surface is going to be more difficult that grabbing onto a rocky cliff ). The Trait used should usually reflect the character’s reflexes, agility, quickness or ability to think quickly. If the character falls, he could suffer damage. The character makes a check, using a Trait that represents his ability to shrug off damage. The DN depends on the length of the fall. Treat this like a combat check versus the character.

Of course, if give the P Cs a soft landing—they is no falling damage to shake off. Next up is the water's issues, "drowning". Of course, this is the wrong time, since no dies from this—the most biggest problem with this is of course is Defeat. The character can hold his breath to equal to his endurance or swimming based or swimming trait plus +3. Every turn remains submerged after that, he or she gains a Setback Token. Of course, even the character gets 4 Setback, you can dish out some fun cliché such as the character such as the following, "save by mermaids", "animals fish him out of the water", etc.

I let CCM deal with Fire hazard, "In most cases, fire was used in the retro-toons for two purposes. The first purpose was as a plot device (“Oh no! The building burned down with the top secret documents still in it!”). The second purpose was as a barrier (“We can’t get through that way… the hallway is an inferno!”). In game terms, fire is divided up into two categories:

Normal Fire: Because fire was considered extremely terrifying to children, you never saw people get burned up in the retro-toons. Structures, robots, and vehicles were fair game, but not organic beings. Every turn an inorganic character or object is exposed to fire, it gains 2 Setback Tokens. Traits don’t protect against this damage (there’s just too much fire around), unless specifically designed to do so.

Fire Attacks: Fire-based attacks (fame-throwers, dragon breath, etc.) are treated like any other type of attack, even against organic characters. The damage is attributed not to exposure to the fames, but to some type of chain reaction from them. For example, the flamethrower catches the wall on fire, which spreads to the ceiling, scorches the rafters, and causes one of the beams to fall down and land on top of the character. Unlike with “normal fire”, Traits can protect against this type of fire damage."

Next up is Quicksand. Roll a dice, and divide the number. That how many turns that character has to escape. If he's defeat—you need to he or she survives—such as some one fishes him out of the watery sand or he ends up in a lost world.

Next sub-section deals with the Support Cast (NP Cs are both side, good and bad.) I'm going to bold the headings—leading most of the talking to CCM,

"There’s no disputing the fact that the P Cs are the stars of the series. However, if they have no other characters to interact with, that fact is meaningless. They need bystanders to save, allies to rely on, and villains to do battle with. Otherwise, what’s the point of being a hero? That’s where non-player characters (aka “the supporting cast”) come into play. Of course, this means that it falls upon the shoulders of you, the Game Master, to play these characters whenever the P Cs encounter them. Furthermore, it’s your job to create the NP Cs. The latter is what this channel focuses on. When designing “throw away” NP Cs (i.e., NP Cs that have very little impact on the game and will only be used once), don’t bother giving them game stats. Just give them a name and a personality and call it good. As long as they seem interesting, you’re ahead of the game.

All the other NP Cs deserve more attention; they should be given full game stats. This may seem like a big pain in the neck, but you’ll be glad you did it later on, because few things can drag down a series like underdeveloped NP Cs. When creating an NPC’s game stats, you’ll see how he or she springs to life as the process continues on. It’s a truly rewarding experience.

Using the System

Channel 3 presents a fully detailed set of rules for creating characters. It is recommended that you use it when designing NP Cs. The rules for doing so are no different than for P Cs, except that you do not buy Oomph. NP Cs do not have their own individual pools of Oomph.

Po PP Total

When utilizing the character creation system, you should first determine how many Po P Ps the NPC will have. Not all NP Cs are created equal, so you shouldn’t feel as if all NP Cs should be built with the same amount of Po P Ps.

For friendly or neutral NP Cs, you generally shouldn’t give them more Po P Ps than the P Cs. There are exceptions, such as if the P Cs aren’t playing the leader of the hero team.

Villainous NP Cs are trickier, since they’ll be the ones the P Cs will go toe to toe with on a regular basis. If they aren’t given an appropriate amount of Po P Ps, the results could be disastrous the first time you send them up against the P Cs.

As you’ll see in the “Villain Hierarchy” section, there are four categories of villains. Each type features guidelines on the number of Po P Ps you should build them with.

even doubling the P Cs. in between. An average Henchman should be built with 75% - 100% of the amount allotted to P Cs.

Not Using the System

If you prefer a more freewheeling approach to NPC creation, you can forego the rules and just give the characters what you think they should have, without messing with Po P Ps. You should be extremely careful using this approach, however, especially in the case of creating villains. If a villain ends up being overwhelmingly tough and trounces the P Cs without breaking a sweat, then it certainly doesn’t facilitate “fun”. Try to make the NP Cs as balanced as possible."

CMM deals with Hero Allies, " The primary heroes in the retro-toons weren’t usually alone in their fight against evil. At the very least, they could claim to have at least a few allies that they could turn to for help. Often, they were supported by other members of a team or organization. Either way, heroic NP Cs played an important role in the genre.

Heroic Ally Roles

Heroic allies are very different from one another in terms of their roles in a series. Below, we discuss a handful of these roles.

Lone Allies

When a series was set up so that the primary heroes were not a part of a larger team or organization, the use of lone allies was common. Typically, the lone ally was something of a plot device. If the heroes needed something that they couldn’t do or obtain by themselves, the lone ally stepped up to the plate. As GM, you should use them in this fashion as well. If, for example, none of the P Cs have any real knowledge of science, but needed to find out what a mysterious fungus is, the lone ally could be sought out to analyze it.

Some lone allies simply complemented the primary heroes’ existing abilities. They might all be great fighters, but having a tough-as-nails lone ally join in the fray certainly would help their chances.

Teammates

Many series are set up so that the focus is on a team or organization. In Cartoon Action Hour, this means that the P Cs will simply be a part of that team or organization. This means that you’ll need to stat out the other team members. Just be careful that you don’t step on the P Cs’ toes. Don’t create team members who are too similar to them or you’ll risk making the players think their characters are not pivotal and important cogs in the wheel.

Teammates can plug holes in the story and can be used as convenient plot devices. If you need the villains to take someone captive in order to drive the story forward, who better to fill that role than a teammate, a character the P Cs will feel obligated to rescue.

Comic Relief

This seemed almost mandatory in the cartoons of yore – the cute or goofy characters the viewers either loved or loved to hate. Comic relief characters came in numerous varieties: the bumbling sorcerer, the spunky robot, the overprotective troll, the bubble-headed blonde bombshell, the cowardly but ferocious-looking beast, the cuddly pet, etc.

It’s possible that one of the players may want to play a comic relief character as his PC or create one as the PC’s Companion. Usually, though, they’ll be independent NP Cs.

Comic relief characters excel at getting themselves (and the P Cs) into no end of trouble. This can be used as a tool for you to create adventure for the P Cs. Perhaps the comic relief character wanders off and ends up accidentally releasing an evil Genie who rampages throughout the land. The possibilities are endless.

Lastly, don’t forget that many episodes of the retro-toons concluded with the comic relief character saying or doing something “amusing” and all the heroes sharing a good, deep belly laugh. When you can’t figure out how to end an episode consider using this device."

Next up is the Rogue Galley, I let CCM do this one, " The most common approach to villainy in the retro-toons was for the producers to develop a pool of bad guys that acted as a collective thorn in the heroes’ sides. This rogues gallery would be drawn upon episode after episode, forming the bulk of the challenges that the protagonists had to face. More often than not, the villains in a rogues gallery were all part of a villain group or organization.

This formula was born from the fact that most retro-toons supported a line of action figures, which would be released periodically in batches. This meant that the rogues’ gallery would grow as the series progressed from season to season.

Not every episode featured villains from the rogues’ gallery. One-shot villains would take center stage once in a while for the sake of diversity. Certain series utilized these villains more often than others. Some series never used one-shot villains, while others used them all the time, in place of a rogue’s gallery. Most series fell somewhere in between these two extremes.

If you plan for your series to have a rogues’ gallery, then you should think carefully before creating the individual villains. Try to cover as many of the basis as you can. Most rogues’ galleries contained a big powerhouse villain, a sneaky villain, a highly intelligent villain, and some kind of combat specialist (ninja, street fighter, archer, & etc.). And let’s not forget about the token female. That’s not to say that these archetypes are mandatory, but you should at least consider keeping with the format to some degree in order to nab that retro-toon favor.

Creating a rogues’ gallery for your series has another practical advantage – it saves you time. Without one, you’d have to create at least one new villain prior to running each episode. If you have established a rogues’ gallery, however, just choose which of the villains you want to use this week and jump into the game.

Villain Hierarchy The villainous organizations of the retro-toons always had a very pronounced pecking order. In Cartoon Action Hour, there are four categories that villains ft into:

Master Villain

The Master Villain is the top dog of the group and is usually the one who founded the organization. While his underlings may constantly plot to overthrow him by means of manipulation, backstabbing or guile, there’s a reason the Master Villain remains in the numero uno spot. Most often, the reason is because he’s the craftiest of all the villains. He’s the man with the vision and he’s too cunning to be so easily ousted. Some Master Villains, though, maintain their status by sheer intimidation. In such cases, he is either physically imposing or has some manner of power (magic, weapons, etc.) that keeps the others in line.

Out of all the NP Cs, the Master Villain is the one you should put the most effort into. He needs to be capable of holding the players’ attentions throughout the series without boring them or making them groan with frustration when he hits the scene. This cannot be stressed enough. It’s best to get it right before the series begins; otherwise you’ll probably have to replace him with a more interesting Master Villain later on.

There are several things that every Master Villain needs in order to be successful:

to do what they do and makes them believe that they are the ones destined to rule the world. Everyone must bow down to them and do their bidding. Or so they think. It’s that sort of overconfidence that is both the biggest asset and the biggest flaw that Master Villains have in their arsenals. It’s an asset in the fact that it motivates them to aspire to “greatness”. Without ego, they’d be nothing but henchmen for someone who did possess it. It is this factor that sets them apart from your run of the mill, rank and file ne’er-do-wells. As mentioned, ego is also a severe detriment to Master Villains. It often makes them overconfident to a fault. They believe they are infallible and that those who oppose them are too stupid or weak to pose a threat to their brilliant plans. Until, of course, the plan goes up in smoke as a result. At that point, the Master Villain will usually shake his fist and proclaim, “You may have won this time, fools, but you’ve not seen the last of me!” before making good his escape. When developing your Master Villain’s personality, stop and think about his ego. You needn’t analyze it too deeply (this ain’t a terribly deep psychological game here), but consider how it affects his effectiveness. Is he prone to explaining his plans to heroes while they’re in his “inescapable” death trap? Does he tend to announce his plots to the world rather than just carrying them out? Does he insist on being the one to push the big red button on the doomsday device even if it’ll delay things?

with somebody who’s bad to the bone. There’s no need to stat the headquarters out. Describing it is usually enough. Villain H Qs were seldom consistent in the retro-toons. If the writers wanted it to feature a huge cannon, then, by golly, it would have a huge cannon in that episode. And in all likelihood, it wouldn’t be there the next episode.

than the next. One aspect that helped in this regard was that the Master Villains had distinctive identities. A distinctive identity encompasses several different nuances – a name, costume, speech patterns, idiosyncrasies, quirks etc. All these factors go into ensuring that your Master Villain is a unique and unforgettable antagonist. All your villains should have a distinctive identity, but the Master Villain requires a bit of special care. Another thing to remember is that your Master Villain needs to look like a Master Villain. It simply won’t do for him to look like his underlings. He’s a ruler and he should look the part. When someone glances at the show’s rogues’ gallery, there should be no doubt as to which one the Master Villain is. It should be plainly obvious. The same can be said for the Master Villain’s name. It should be something that grabs you by the cheeks and says, “Hey, this is the big-shot of the group!” It should be something that sounds grand and larger than life, possibly with some kind of title attached to it (“Commander”, “Lord”, “King”, etc.).

Leader

Leaders are the baddies that are directly beneath the Master Villain. They often act as taskmasters, leading lesser villains into battle or overseeing important missions that the Master Villain wouldn’t entrust to anyone else. Many series have one particular Leader that is treated as the Master Villain’s “right hand man”, who outranks the other Leaders, if only by a tiny margin.

Leaders also tend to be more ambitious than Henchmen and Goons. This sometimes worked against the Master Villain, because this ambition often manifested itself as treachery against him. Many Leaders lie in wait until such a time that the Master Villain slips up, so that they can overthrow him and rule in his stead.

Some Leaders, on the other hand, are as loyal as can be. They stand by the Master Villain through thick and through thin, faithfully doing whatever he asks of them. This type of Leader doesn’t seek to be the ruler of the group and is perfectly content with his position.

Most series have only one or two Leaders, especially in the beginning. After the first season, as new characters are added, you can toss more of them into the mix. Be careful, though. You don’t want your villain organization to have more Leaders than Henchmen. As a rule of thumb, you should have one Leader for roughly every five Henchmen. Some retro-toons featured more, though, and some didn’t have even one.

Henchman

The bulk of “named” villains (i.e., non-Goon villains) in a series are Henchmen. They are competent bad guys in their own right, some of them even rivaling Leaders in terms of ability, but they simply don’t have the clout enjoyed by the higher-ups. The only instances, when they are given any real power, is either when they are assigned to lead a squad of Goons into battle or when they are within their specialty.

Speaking of specialties, many Henchmen have one. It’s common for them to have some skill, ability, equipment, or power that makes them incredibly proficient at one particular thing… but not much else. These Henchmen form a niche in the organization that is an invaluable asset to any resourceful Master Villain.

Not all Henchmen are specialists though. Many of them are well-rounded cretins, meaning that, they get more “screen time” because they are useful to the Master Villain in nearly any situation.

There’s no set number of Henchmen allowed in an organization, though it is recommended that you have no less than 6 and no more than 10 to begin a new series with. You can always add more as the series progresses.

Villain Organization Archetype [Sidebar]

What follows is a standard set-up for a beginning series. If you don’t want to do all the groundwork yourself, use this template instead.

Goons

Peons, Cannon fodder, Grunts, Lackeys, and Mooks. Regardless of what you call them, these are the guys at the bottom of the totem pole. They are the faceless hordes that are sent out to attack the heroes en masse or to guard a structure of some kind. Of course, they almost always get their tails kicked, but so goes the life of a Goon.

A series should have at least one type of Goon. You can find out more about creating Goons below.

Creating Goons

Goons are the workhorses of nearly every villain organization. From mobs of robots and aliens to power armored soldiers and mutated slime people, Goons are the Master Villain’s first line of defense.

When creating Goons, you must understand that they are not singularly tough enough to be a significant threat to the heroes. That’s why they almost always attack in groups, which are referred to as Goon squads (3-6 Goons). They do not act individually on the battlefield, but as a team. All combat against them is handled by the rules for scene-based combat. It should be noted that, while Goons are most usually the province of villain organizations, heroic organizations sometimes employ them too.

Goon Ownership

In most cases, the goons simply belong to the organization just like the other villains. They aren’t attached to one specific NPC.

Points

You’ll receive a certain number of points to spend on a single type of Goon. The exact number depends on how powerful you feel they should be. If you’d rather randomize things a bit, roll 1d12+5; the result is how many points the organization receives for building its rank and file Goons. These points must be spread among the different types of Goons within the organization.

Battle Rating A Goon’s Battle Rating functions the same as those belonging to normal characters. Of course, they tend to be lower, but that’s to be expected.

Goon Modifiers — Bonuses

You can spend points on the following Bonuses for your Goons.

Rating check, rather than rolling the usual 2 dice and using the lowest result. and “Extremely Rugged”. The Goon squad rolls two dice for the Battle Rating check and uses the highest result. 1. While Goon squads can be given any Trait, the Trait cannot be used in combat. For example, a Goon squad can have “Good Fighters”, but it would be pointless because all combat involving Goons utilizes its Battle Rating. This is mostly used to create Goons that can perform other non-combat tasks, such as giving a Trait like “Repair” or “Communications” to a Goon squad designed to be mechanics and communications experts, respectively. You may take this Bonus more than once. Each time it’s taken, choose one of the following options: [1.] Give the Goon squad another Trait with a rating of 1. [ & 2.] Add +1 to an existing Trait rating. A goon squad’s rating cannot be more than 4. check. side, each Goon squad with this Bonus adds +2 to its result. For purposes of determining whether or not the opposing side is outnumbered, count each Goon squad as 1 character. opponents by using tentacles, pincers, claws, nets or some other means of capture. Before the Battle Rating check is made, roll a die for each Goon squad with this Bonus. Each die that rolls 10-12 causes any one opposing character to reduce his Battle Rating by 2, down to a minimum of 0. If more than one of your Goon squads possess this Bonus, you can apply the penalties to enemy characters any way you wish. So, if two of the Goon squads have Ensnare and roll 10-12, you could choose to give two enemies a –2 penalty or you could give one enemy a -4 penalty. flying-based swoop attacks, special powers, or whatever else you can conjure up. Roll a die before making the Battle Rating check. If the result is 1-6, the Goon squad receives no special bonus; if the result is 7-11, the Goon squad adds 1 to their check result. If the result is 12, add 2 to the check result. one or more non-Goon characters, add 1 to the squad’s Battle Rating.

Goon Modifiers — Restrictions

You can receive up to 4 points by taking Restrictions. Each Restriction write-up lists how many points you receive for taking it.

at least one non-Goon ally, the squad is useless. The enemy automatically destroys it. vulnerable to something, such as the way aquatic humanoids might be less effective when out of the water or the way vampires are susceptible to holy symbols. Upon taking this Restriction, choose one substance, item, type of character, or situation. If this weakness is involved in the combat scene in any way, the Goon squad’s Battle Rating check result is reduced by 4, down to a minimum of 0. either fee or are destroyed."

4th Feb '11 5:17:49 AM flag for mods
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