Let's Play Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2

Mad Writter

From CAH:S1 to CAH:S2

Next up is Appendix 2, which contains a few extra. Conversions from Edition #1 by Norbert Franz—which I let him do the talking here.

"As we explained briefly in the opening section of this book, this work is in fact the second edition of the Cartoon Action Hour game, and many things have been changed and rewritten completely from scratch when compared with the older edition, i.e. the rulebook released in 2003 in cooperation with another publisher.

Whenever a role-playing game goes into a new edition, this begs the unavoidable question of how to “convert” existing characters from the earlier edition to the new one. After all, if you haven’t discovered Cartoon Action Hour with this current book, but also played or GM’ed its precursor (either with the hardcopy book edition or the PDF), it’s actually likely that you have some characters, companion, vehicles and plotlines, maybe even entire series write-ups written for the earlier version of the game. Maybe you don’t want to scrap those.

To put it plain and simple: What happens if you want to keep playing those old characters, but use the Season 2 rules with them? What if you have previously read an older version of Cartoon Action Hour, but now you are going to join a gaming group whose GM is running Season 2? What do you do? Do you have to put a lot of work into comparing new and old rules, mixing and matching, finding a compromise between old stuff and new, discarding what doesn’t ft? Do you have to spend long afternoons re-calculating your character points, stats, and so forth?

Those are legitimate concerns. Something we would like to address in this short section. First of all, fear not! You don’t have to agonize over the new rules. You don’t have to do a lot of calculations and you don’t have to refer to a “conversion chart” or something of the kind. After all, the Season 2 rules and guidelines are so radically different from what we used to have in the earlier incarnation of the game that it’s almost impossible to convert things directly. Instead, you could follow these guidelines:

Oomph and Stunt Points

Season 2 no longer uses “Stunt Points”! Whatever game effect those had has been wholly integrated into the way Oomph now works in the game. In fact, you could say that “Oomph” in the current edition is a lot more similar to the first edition’s Stunt Points than anything else, and Oomph no longer functions like a static “popularity rating” or a measure of “star power” as it did some of the time in the first edition. As a result, if your Cartoon Action Hour character previously had 0 or 1 Stunt Point, you should give them 2 Base Oomph as a default; if they had 2 Stunt Points, make their Base Oomph 3, and if they had 3 Stunt Points, make their Base Oomph 4, the usual maximum in that stat. Do not add any points from first edition Oomph on top of that, as this would just inflate Oomph too much for most characters. Just ignore the first edition’s version of Oomph for the purpose of converting.

Basic Remarks about Trait Ratings'

Traits and their ratings exist in both editions of this RPG and may easily be seen as the centerpiece of the rules system. However, the earlier edition still used a set of pre-defined Traits to express competence in a skill, talent, or inborn ability, and those Traits were quite inflexible, come to think of it—one was always used for melee weapon fighting, one was for firing forearms, one for sneaking, one for driving vehicles, and others indicated e.g. how perceptive or how beautiful your character was, how strong their willpower was, and so on. In Season 2, the player defines pretty much all the Traits himself, and names them accordingly. The easiest way to reconcile this would be to look at the most defining Traits that a given character had in the old edition—the ones that really made the character stand out or gave them their special knack. Very often those core Traits would be the ones with the highest overall ratings in them. You should rename those Traits for Season 2, but then continue using them. As always, come up with spectacular and heroic sounding names, and give them an individual touch. A player-character shouldn’t just have bland stuff like “Combat” or “Demolitions”. But what does “Fight with Uncanny Precision” or “Expert for Defusing Military Explosives” sound like? Instead of saying that a character was “kind of good in Willpower”, give them a “Will of Pure Iron”. Instead of “Healthy”, go with a “Rock-Solid Constitution”, for example.

Character Points vs. Proof of Purchase Points

Now comes a slightly trickier part—comparing the old edition’s usual currency of “Character Points” or “C Ps” with our new Po P Ps currency, at least to some extent. A new starting character with 30 Po P Ps in Season 2 can do at least as much as a first edition character with a full 100 C Ps. For ease of calculation, you could use the rule of thumb that roughly 4 C Ps correspond to 1 Po PP, so a character with 25 Po P Ps is an equal of an old 100-point player-character. I find it much easier to divide the number 100 by 4 than to divide it by 3, and I did not want to give you something that leaves fractions.

To get a feel for accurately rewriting player-characters from the old edition, you can also have a look at the write-ups of the Guardians of Iconia in the Warriors of the Cosmos section of the Season 2 book, and match them against the stat blocks those characters were given in the old edition. Those heroes’ power levels and defining characteristics were not changed from what they were originally like. Of course, it goes without saying that any and all Special Abilities from the old edition are now also “Traits”, and almost always belong in the “Action Feature” subcategory of Traits.

All the ratings from 1 to 4 can be taken over unmodified into Season 2. They will still be defined as 1 through 4. Period! On the other hand, “Super-Ratings” no longer exist in the present edition. If your first edition character had a rating of “4(2)” in something so far, you can give him an equivalent Trait at 5. Equally, a 4(3) becomes a 6, a 4(4) becomes a 7, and so on If you really insist on having something far above average and your GM allows the character an exceptional edge in an ability, you can translate both 4(2) and 4(3) ratings as a rating (usually 4) with a Specialty, and 4(4) and 4(5) as a rating with a double Specialty attached to it (two Benefit Dice). By the way if this would cause your total number of Po P Ps to go over 30 for a starting character, don’t worry about it, at all. If you are using characters that you have played for quite some time in the old edition, chances are they will have built up and trained several of their Traits far beyond their starting levels. So, they would have more points in the old currency, too.

A Note On Negative Ratings

The rules of the old edition included negative ratings, which the Season 2 rules do not use. Converting is actually a piece of cake. A negative rating at -1 or -2 neatly corresponds to 1X in our new rules, and both -3 and -4 correspond to 2X. In most cases, however, you won’t even need the specific “lowered” ratings from the first edition. They can be seen as Traits that the character actually has a “0” rating in, and a Detrimental Trait Rating should only be used where that incompetence plays a part in the overall story and makes the player-character more interesting and entertaining to play.


The first edition of Cartoon Action Hour placed a big emphasis on the concept of “Components”—building blocks of effects or features that could be combined to define special abilities of all kinds (e.g. magic, extra-sensory perception, comic book superpowers, gadgets, weapons, artifacts, and so forth…). If you have familiarized yourself with the Trait system in Season 2, you will know for certain that all those neat things and special abilities now work according to the basic Trait system. There is no need to give a Special Ability “Components” anymore. Ditto for the first edition’s “Power Levels”, which every Special Ability needed. Duration and Range now emerge purely from story-telling and the definition of the Trait in question. Trait Modification is a special case since it has been moved into the Modifiers section and divided into both Bonuses and Restrictions: “Trait Modification A” now corresponds to the “Trait Boost (Self )” and “Trait Zap (Self )” modifiers; “Trait Modification B” is equivalent to “Trait Zap (Target)” and “Trait Boost (Target)” modifiers, respectively. Some players feel that a very high level of damage, or “Damage Rating”, was too easily available in the first edition. While I cannot give you a stringent guideline for this, you should probably divide most D Rs by two to get an appropriate weapon Trait Rating for Season 2. Most D Rs from 1 to 4 can, however, be left intact.

Bonuses and Restrictions

These were originally quite elaborate trappings that you attached to Special Abilities in the old edition. Most Bonuses and Restrictions still exist in some form or other, and can now be applied to Traits (see Channel 3). Some Bonuses and Restrictions are mutually exclusive. Some have been renamed. Some that were seen frequently in the first edition have been dropped to meet this edition’s main design goals (see the introduction in Channel 1). Other Bonuses and Restrictions have been newly added to Season 2—without having any direct ancestors in the earlier publications. Most of those new modifiers stem from our detailed playtesting discussions, from individual fans’ suggestions and house rules. If you absolutely want to keep using a Bonus or a Restriction that your ability had in the old edition, please do so—either use them unchanged with your GM’s permission, or pick one from this edition’s list that comes closest to the effect that the original Bonus or Restriction had. For example, “Charges, One Shot” combined with the “Rare Recharge” option could now be expressed by taking the “One-Shot” Restriction in Season 2. The other forms of “Charges”, like “Minor” or “Moderate”, do not make sense in a Season 2 context and should be avoided. Just give the character the regular Trait. For an easy example, “Fickle” from the first edition rules would still be “Fickle” now. As always, the first edition’s point costs must be ignored.

Vehicles and Animal Companions

The rules for those have been entirely rewritten and re-organized for Season 2. You’re advised to use whatever comes closest to the original intention. You don’t have to transfer or convert any SC Ps from the old rules. Most importantly here, so-called “Animal Companions” are now simply called “Companions”. The rules for them can also be utilized for small androids, robots, mythical beings, and even subordinate human characters where that fits the story and the series setting somehow."