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Tabletop Game / Monsters and Other Childish Things

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Monsters and Other Childish Things is a comedy horror role-playing game about small children with horrible pet monsters. It is published by Arc Dream Publishing and written by Benjamin Baugh, with illustrations by Rebecca Ivey and Rob Mansperger. Initially available as a 52-page expansion of the Godlike rules in 2007, it was expanded into a "Completely Monstrous Edition" in 2008. This later version is an independent game using its own variation of the One-Roll Engine. The Completely Monstrous Edition was republished in conjunction with Cubicle 7 in a smaller, softcover format as the "Pocket Edition" in 2010.

Monsters can take any form imaginable, but are universally terrible and powerful; they frequently combine elements from Lovecraftian cosmic horror (existing outside of normal dimensions, unnatural physiology etc.) and children's stories. They're The Needless. Not needing to eat, drink or breathe, instead feeding on the emotional connections between human beings - especially children, with whom monsters form special bonds. They love their children and will do anything for them, though they are not necessarily obedient. Three default settings are offered, all varying in both tone and the level of knowledge the world has about monsters.

Stories in Monsters revolve around the normal trials of childhood, aided and complicated by the monsters. The game is explicitly intended as allegory; Baugh says the monsters "represent lots of things". The monsters form bonds only with children because they are more "emotionally exposed" than adults, who have learned to guard their feelings to protect themselves. This combines with the fantastic setting to make a game which is serious in subject matter, but light-hearted in tone.

Dice pools of d10s (usually 10d10 as default) are used to determine the outcome of actions; success is determined by sets of dice which show the same number. In Monsters, the traditional stats and skills are replaced by more childlike descriptions of a person's capabilities; instead of "Strength", "Dexterity" etc. the stats are named "Hands", "Feet", "Guts" and so on. The skills are similarly modified. An important addition are relationships; these are any person or thing important to the character and can add dice to appropriate roles. For example, a kid with a relationship with his mother might add dice to rolls to escape a kidnapper if he fears he'll never see her again. All kids have a special relationship with their monster called the bond.

Monsters do not have regular stats and skills; instead points, each worth five dice, are allocated directly to body parts which can be used to Attack, Defend or do Useful Stuff (movement, senses etc.). Dice allocated to a body part can be sacrificed to gain special attributes; these include adding extra basic abilities (so the same body part can both Attack and Defend), adding more Useful abilities, improving damage, defence or speed, or allowing one die from the pool to be set by the player (before or after the roll, depending on the dice spent on this quality).

As well as the three versions of the main game there have been two alternate setting books (Curriculum of Conspiracy, a middle school, and The Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor, a Victorian orphanage) an expansion (Bigger Bads) and an adventure campaign (Road Trip).

Tropes featured include:

  • And I Must Scream: The empty skin of a person an Excruciator has literally hollowed out into a Living Bodysuit is explicitly mentioned to be still live and conscious. No, the game doesn't even hint that there's any way to restore a person from this.
  • Creepy Child:
    • In The Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor, the players are creepy orphans with a mysterious past and terrible powers.
    • Bigger Bads later modified the character powers rules from Candlewick so you can play a superpowered Creepy Child in the normal game. Some of the samples include being various non-human races or being infused with Migojira (A giant fungus/dinosaur hybrid) cells. These Creepy Children don't get monster friends in the normal game, and in Candlewick, they have to actively find and befriend one of the various monsters hanging around the setting in the course of play to get one.
  • Eldritch Abomination: One of the types of monsters used in its dark and twisted take on Mons are Eldritch Abominations. The non-statted sample monster Dewdrop is an Eldritch Abomination take on a Unicorn, while one of the statted sample monsters is a Lovecraftian monstrosity merged with a teddy bear named Yog-So`Soft. Both these and the more "normal" monsters tend to cause bouts of panic and madness in people who see them as well, further adding to it. There are also a few non-Mon antagonists that are also abominations.
  • Kid with the Leash: This game is essentially Kid with the Leash: The RPG.
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: The game places a heavy emphasis on relationships. Kids can draw upon their relationships to give them an extra boost when needed, like punching someone who insulted their brother extra hard, or doing better on a test if their mother encourages them. Monsters can also draw upon a child's relationship for an extra boost in combat, but if a relationship boosted roll fails...
  • Living Bodysuit: Excruciators have a particularly nasty way of rendering people into a Living Bodysuit. They're bizarre and overly-tentacled monstrosities, so to hide their true nature they literally hollow out a person, then use their (still living and conscious) outer layer as a suit to disguise themselves as human. Oh, and there's no indication in the game that the bodysuit can be saved or returned to normal.
  • Olympus Mons: The game is pretty much based on this concept. Your character (who may be anywhere from 8 to 18 years old depending on the game) has a pet monster that's his or her absolute best friend and backs the character up in fights against other kids and their monsters. The adult world generally knows about these monsters, but is powerless to stop them (well, except for the secret government agency that makes monsters and the kids they're friends with "mysteriously vanish") — only monsters can really hurt other monsters, and they can tear through people and most earthly materials like tissue paper. Most monsters are some form of Eldritch Abomination to boot.
  • Shout-Out: The game was never exactly shy about Shout Outs, but the sourcebook Bigger Bads probably wins for sheer volume and diversity, with references or homages to everything from Godzilla, to H. P. Lovecraft, to Sentai shows, to Ultraman, to the Chick Tract "Dark Dungeons".
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: If a Relationship Boosted check fails, or if a monster drawing upon the power of a relationship is PWZNED in a fight, then the relationship is "Shocked" and suffers a penalty as a result. Failure to repair the relationship in time can permanently damage it.