In this game the stories are centered around young kids. The adventures they get into can range from the everyday challenges of life in school, to a wild and frightening summer camp vacation. The players will create the kids that will try to make it through all the challenges in the story. One of the players will be called the Storyteller and it is this person’s job to create the adventures and stories for the kids. The Storyteller will guide the kids through a series of prewritten interlocking scenes that make up a larger story. In each scene the kids will have specific goals to accomplish. Whether they know these goals ahead of time or not is up to the Storyteller who may find it more fun to have the kids discover for themselves what the goals are.
Examples of main story goals:
- Find out who has been writing all those funny things on the lockers.
- Draw up plans and get the parts to make the biggest and best whizbang Science Fair project ever.
- You missed the school bus. Make it from one side of the neighborhood to the other with all your lunch money intact.
The game is intended to be a rules-lite system which means that the rules take a back to seat to the story whenever possible. But this also means that the Storyteller should be experienced with roleplaying concepts and be able to able to step in with a fair ruling whenever something comes up that the rules don’t cover. The Storyteller should place the enjoyment of the game above all else and this can best be accomplished by keeping the story moving and letting the players at least try anything reasonable they can come up with. The players in return should try to immerse themselves in the story and play their Adventure Kids as best they can by making choices based on upon what they think the kids in the story would do. In order to do this it helps to have a good idea of each kid’s motivations and personal goals. The game rewards putting some thought into their backgrounds when they are created in the next section below.
Another rules-lite consideration is that things that usually play a large part in more detailed game systems, such as time and distance, are largely ignored here, If the stories are structured right the players won’t have to concern themselves with such details. For example it should be enough to tell the players that “The dog will reach you guys next round.” The actual speed and distance of the dog is not important. What is important is that he will be there in the next round. If the written adventure does not provide these tactical clues, the Storyteller can make them up on the fly depending on how hard he wants to make it for the kids. Another example is when the players ask how far a target is the Storyteller can use what he knows about the encounter and then reply with something like “close enough to hit easily” or “real far away” and leave it at that.
After reading all of the above it may shock some readers to see what appears to be a lot of tables and lists in the following pages. Don’t panic! There is no need to memorize those lists. They are just examples and are there to make your life easier not harder. When things come up during the game you can see if it’s covered in these lists of examples. If it is, great, if not then at least you can use them as a guide. Even it it turns out later there were rules suggestions for the situation, don’t worry about it. You kept the game going, so you did great!
(“So, you want to be a tomboy or daddy’s little girl?”)
The first thing the players need to do is to create the Adventure Kid they will be roleplaying. These are the kids that are about to embark on what is hopefully an interesting or exciting story. The game assumes that since these kids are so young they will have to rely more on their natural Talents than any learned skills. So no detailed skill system is needed or provided. Instead each kid has the five Talents listed below to work with.
STRONG You are able to move, bend, and break things.
SMART You are fast thinking, alert, and have good a memory.
FAST You have quick hands and feet, and are sneaky.
TOUGH Your mind and body can take lots of punishment.
CUTE You are pretty or handsome, and likable.
1. After looking at the Talent list, come up with an idea for the type of kid you want to play.
2. Assign 10 points any way you want to the five Talents, but each must have at least 1 point.
3. You get 1 bonus point for a brief written background, or 2 points for a detailed one.
4. In addition to the five Talents all the kids start with a LUCK rating of 1.
LUCK When all else fails, you can hope to get lucky.
5. Name your Adventure Kid and ask the Storyteller how old he or she is. Usually between 7 to 13 years old.
6. Give your kid basic possessions the Storyteller agrees is appropriate to the setting.
7. Write all this stuff down on a Kid Sheet in arder to keep track of it. An index card would work quite nicely.
Note that there are no levels, hitpoints, armor class, or skills needed in this system. So you are ready to start playing!
Ordinary kids and Major Players
Most of the ordinary people you will encounter in the story have no LUCK rating. Their Talents are generated based on their age: 1D4 for kids (age 7-13). 2d4 for teens (age 14-20). 3d4 for adults (age 21+). However it’s possible to have someone who is a “Major Player”. These people have a LUCK rating and are usually an important part of the story.
Doogie MacDougal (nerdy boy genius)
STRONG 1 LUCK 1
FAST 2 Age: 8
Doogie’s parents knew he was special when he was programming their VCR at the age of 3. By 5 he was doing his older brother’s home work for him. However, now 8, Doogie is not a happy kid. As smart as he is Doogie doesn’t seem to show any interest in anything in particular. Everything eventually bores him after he is exposed to it for any length of time. If Doogie has a motivation it’s his desire to find something that maintains his interest longer than the time it takes for him to take it apart. Perhaps that’s why inside his weak and frail body there lies an adventurous curiosity.
Small spiralbound notebook (keeps it out of habit from his pre-PDA days)
PDA loaded mostly with games
Bag of Swedish Fish candy
Key to his locker (he doesn’t trust combination locks)
Wallet (not much in it other than a library card)
Pocket multitool with mini flashlight
Brian “Goose” Pilsner (moody schoolyard bully)
STRONG 5 LUCK 2 +1 to Hurt on a successful Sneak (“Atomic Wedgie”)
FAST 3 Age: 10
TOUGH 1 (2)
Goose likes being stronger than a lot of the other kids. He likes the feeling he gets when they act nervous around him. Goose looks tough and he acts it. However what the others don’t know is that he doesn’t talk much because he usually don’t have anything to say and most times he doesn’t even know what they are talking about. He dislikes that he was left back a year a school, due to bad grades and disinterest in his studies. He inwardly admires some of the bright kids he pushes around and takes money from. But he would never admit it to anybody, least of of all himself. Being a loner, he wishes he can find someone who he can relate to and who actually likes him. Maybe if he could do something that would make him popular and well known in a positive way..
Sleeveless leather jacket (TOUGH +1)
Switchblade comb from the 60s his dad gave him
Trucker wallet on a chain:
usually some other kid’s lunchmoney
list of kids who “owe” him money
MP3 player w/earbuds (mostly hiphop, but secretly has some disco on it)
(“Yeah, I think I can hit that steaming cup of coffee onto the teacher’s lap with this rubberband.”)
Whenever someone wants to do something and their success is in question a Challenge is created.
First the Storyteller decides the appropriate Talent to be used.
Below are some sample Challenges along with the Talent used to overcome them.
The following list is by no means complete. The players I am sure will come up with more.
Challenge Use Description
Balance FAST Don’t fall, like when running through a just mopped section of corridor.
Break STRONG Break or bend something. If you’re barehanded, something reasonable.
Climb STRONG Make it up walls or ropes or difficult trees.
Endure TOUGH Shrug off chemicals, extreme weather, exertion, etc
Finesse FAST Disarm or set traps, build neato model ships, paint real well, etc
Jump FAST Leap over or onto something, usually in a big hurry.
Push STRONG Get past something heavy blocking your way, like a door or the opposing team.
Search SMART Discover a useful clue or find something hidden, like a library book.
Shoot FAST Throw or fire something at something, with accuracy.
Solve SMART Figure out codes, riddles, or brainteasers, like a Rubik’s cube.
Stay Awake TOUGH If really bored or on watch duty past your bed time.
The Storyteller then assigns a difficulty rating to the Challenge.
A simple Challenge should be rated around 1 or 2.
A medium Challenge is around 3 or 4.
A hard challenge can be 5, 7, 9, or more!
(“I think it’s called the Ratio resolution system. Beats me what it means.”)
When you know both the Talent involved and the difficulty, the Challenge can be easily described to the players or recorded in the adventure writeup.
Examples of Challenge situations:
- “Since you didn’t write it down, to remember the weird name of that book you need to buy is SMART 2.”
- “If you want to jump over that fence quickly before the dog reaches you next round, that will be FAST 3.”
- “The stuff you just drank is making you sleeply. If you want to try and stay awake, use TOUGH 9.”
- “I am feeling generous, so I will give you three chances at this. To suspect the bucket of sand over the door is SMART 8. To avoid it is FAST 2. And to not be knocked senseless by it is TOUGH 5.”
All that remains is to to make a die roll. Hopefully you have a large assortment of all kinds of weird shaped dice.
Ratio Resolution System:
1. Add your Talent rating to the Challenge rating.
2. Round up the total to the nearest die type you have available at the table, and roll that die.
3. If you roll your Talent or less, you did it!
4. If you had to round up and you roll higher than the total of the two numbers, roll again.
Examples of Challenge rolls (based on the situations above):
- If you are SMART 2 and remembering the name of the book is SMART 3, that is 2 + 3 = 5, rounded up to a D6. On a roll of 1 or 2 on a D6, you remember. Reroll 6s.
- It’s not the dog you have to beat, it’s that fence. That is gonna take FAST 3 and you are FAST 5. That is 3 + 5 = D8. You better roll 1 thru 5 on that D8!
- It was definitely a bad idea to drink that unkown flask of blue stuff. Your TOUGH 2 + TOUGH 9 = D12, You stay awake with a 1 or 2, rerolling 12s.
- If you don’t notice the bucket is there (your SMART 2 + SMART 8 is 2 in D10 to detect), and can’t avoid it (your FAST 4 + FAST 2 is 4 in D6 to dodge), it’s gonna hurt (your TOUGH 2 + TOUGH 5 is 2 in D8 , rerolling 8s, to remain standing).
(“What do you mean I have to convince him to give me his locker’s combination?”)
Some situations involve someone or something actively trying to stop you from doing something.
Or they may be actively trying to convince you of doing something.
Your problem is that that someone or something also has Talents of their own.
In these cases you don’t use a Challenge rating, you use the other person’s Talents.
Some Contests results in the other person losing a point on some Talent they have.
These Contests are a form of attack and you are intentionally trying to wear the other person down in some way.
Luckily most of these attacks are lighthearted, mischievous, and are more of a test of wills.
Still, the Adventure Kids should be discouraged from doing mean things to others when at all possible.
The Storyteller organizes the situation into a series of rounds and each round everyone gets to do something.
To see which side goes first, the FASTest person from each side have the Surprise Contest below.
The winning team then do all their actions in FAST order, high to low.
After that the losing team get’s their turn and then the two sides alternate from that point on.
Each round the players describe what they are doing through roleplaying.
If these actions involve interacting with an unwilling target, see if it fits a Contest from the list below.
If the action is not on the list use what’s there as examples and make up your own Contest.
(Note that most of these Contests work great against adults too.)
Contest You Against Target
Type use their loses Description
Annoy Fast Smart Smart Stay out of reach and bother them until you get what you want.
Charm Cute Smart Smart Sweet talk them to make them act or do like you want.
Distract Cute Cute Smart Get them confused or unsure while you are around.
Escape Strong Strong --- Get out of a Grab, Wrestle hold, or ropes tied around you.
Grab Fast Fast --- Try to Grab someone avoiding you and get a good hold on them.
Hurt Strong Fast Tough Cause them pain by hitting and striking them real hard. You big bully.
Intimidate Tough Tough Smart Basically a stare down contest. A seriously menacing one.
Joke Smart Tough Strong Make them laugh at your jokes until they weaken.
Push Strong Strong --- Pull, push, or get past a single person.
Scare Fast Tough Tough Usually involves absolute silence then a perfectly timed loud noise.
Scold Tough Smart Tough Yell or scream at them in a very mean way.
Sneak Fast Smart --- Get past something unnoticed, like a neighborhood dog or a hall monitor.
Steal Fast Smart --- Steal something from someone’s clothes or plant something on them.
Surprise Fast Fast --- If you win this, your team goes first!
Tag Fast Fast --- Touch someone briefly or snatch something from their hands or clothes.
Tease Smart Tough Tough Insult and make fun of them until they lose it. Rapping is optional.
Tickle Fast Tough Strong Tickle them mercilessly until they are breathless.
Wrestle Strong Strong Strong Bearhug or headlock them until they weaken. Must Grab or Sneak first.
If you succeed the target loses 1 point from the specified Talent, if any.
If someone loses all their STRONG they sit or fall down tired.
If someone loses all their SMART they are confused or do what the winner wants.
If someone loses all their TOUGH they give up, remain on the spot, and cry.
Note that at any time you can walk away from a contest, if possible. But if you do, you immediately lose a point of TOUGH. If this brings you down to zero, you walk or run away whimpering.
IMPORTANT: MOST CONTESTS END AFTER A SINGLE POINT IS LOST IN SOME TALENT. ONLY TRULY COMMITTED PEOPLE DRAG ON CONTESTS TO THE BITTER END. MOST PEOPLE, UNLIKE MAJOR PLAYERS AND THE ADVENTURE KIDS, SIMPLY GIVE UP AND WOULD RATHER NOT BOTHER. SO IF YOU FAIL ON YOUR FIRST ATTEMPT AGAINST THEM THEY WILL PROBABLY JUST WALK AWAY (PERHAPS ANGRILY). IF YOU SUCCEED ON YOUR FIRST ATTEMPT, YOU GET THE REACTION YOU WANT FROM THEM.
Major Players and Adventure Kids can also choose to give up on a Contest before they are reduced to zero. For instance things may be going badly for them and they may not want to risk losing any more Talent points. But if they quit they must voluntarily give in to the opponent - and give up the key, or the location of the Rebel Base, or whatever.
(“Billy, I can’t believe he said that! Don’t take that from him! Talk about his mom!”)
There are times when the kids may have to do something on their own. Maybe it’s because a certain Contest involves some sort of rules of honor and the other kids can’t get involved. Maybe it’s because it’s a Challenge that the kid is trying to accomplish on his own. In cases such as these his friends don’t just have to stand silently in the sidelines. They can pitch in and help by offering words of encrouragment, support, and advice. This is called Peptalking. The point of it is to make a CUTE roll in order to try and increase one of your friend’s Talents. In fact, it is the very basis for cheerleaders in sporting events. The Storyteller should encourage the players to roleplay Peptalking, and if they do follow the procedure below.
1. There has to be a definate Contest or Challenge in mind for the Peptalk to work. You can’t just stand around Peptalking each other for no other reason than to give each other bonuses. The exception to this is when you are helping someone raise a Talent that is down to zero.
2. Select one of your friend’s Talents that you wish to boost. He may even help you in this selection. The Talent chosen may or may not have been reduced previously.
3. You will be using your CUTE to succeed.
4. The Challenge rating is your friends current rating in the Talent you want to boost, plus 10.
5. If you succeed at Peptalking your friend gets a bonus point on his Talent!
If you are not involved in something else you can Peptalk every round of a Contest if you like and are encouraged to do so. More than one person might be involved in Peptalking but each makes a separate roll and provides a separate bonus. To keep Pep rolls to a reasonable level in a large group of kids, assume that only the ones important to the story can roll. Also generally speaking a private Contest is over when one side is reduced to zero but on rare occasions the Storyteller may allow Peptalking even at that point in order to let the Contest go on. Such as, “Get up Billy! Get UP!!”
- Things are not looking good for your friend Billy in a private Teasing contest he is in. This will make you look bad too in the end, so you decide to speak up and Peptalk Billy to do better. After roleplaying some nice suggestions to Billy about the dude’s mother, you figure out what you will need to roll. Your CUTE 3 is being used against Billy’s current TOUGH of 1. So the total is CUTE 3 + TOUGH 1 + 10 = 14, that is rounded up to a D20. Roll 3 or less and Billy takes your words to heart and gets a point on his TOUGH! (Note that in this case you reroll anything over a 14.)
- Your friend Doogie is trying to figure out how to open a puzzle box. You guys really need to get into it to get the key to open the chest to get the map to find the thingamajigit to give to the professor to get his plans to build your Science Project. Ordinarily Doogie is good at this sort of thing but he is a bit distracted right now since Polly put the Charm on him not too long ago and his is not acting as SMART as he usually is. You tell him to stop thinking of Polly and to concentrate on the matter at hand. You end with, “Dude, this is important.” Now you make your Peptalk roll. Your CUTE is 3 and Doogie’s current SMART is 3. That is 3 + 3 + 10 = 16 = a D20, rerolling 17+. Roll 3 or less and Doogie stops thinking about Polly long enough to get a plus 1 added to his SMART. Then he can tackle that puzzle box.
(“My science project exploded?! Whoa. Hold up. Rewind…”)
Sometimes through no fault of their own the kids run into trouble and the dice don’t come out the way they would like. It’s at times like these when being lucky beyond the norm can get them out of dire straights.
There are two ways you can press your LUCK:
1. Whenever you fail a roll you can immediately choose to try the same roll again but this time add your LUCK rating to the Talent being used. Whether you make the role or not, your LUCK loses a point.
2. When you have a Talent reduced to zero you can take a point of LUCK and add it to that Talent. This can be done immediately or you can wait until later - like when your friend fails to Peptalk you back on your feet, or it looks like he can’t beat the bad guys without you.
But it is always best to press your luck as a last resort because beyond these two uses for LUCK the Storyteller may from time to time choose to use a player’s LUCK in other ways, such as:
- When no other Talent seems to apply, such as selecting the unlucky target of a pie in the face, LUCK can be used.
- When a Kid is not aware of something the StoryTeller might choose to use the Kid’s LUCK rating if it is higher than the relevant Talent in question. Such as using your LUCK instead of your SMART during a secretive attempt to steal something real important from you.
LUCK points lost are not returned until the end of the current adventure.
(“Before I hit the dance floor I go to the girl’s room to freshen up.”)
Certain things may give the kids advantages in the game when used.
These usually add 1 or 2 points to a Talent or a specific action the kids are attempting.
The storyteller should prevent any abuse of these sorts of bonuses and not allow more than 2 points at a time.
The following list are only suggestions. Use it as examples of the kinds of things that may provide bonuses.
Notice that most of the things on the list assume that the kids devote some of kind time to the bonus.
But depending on the situation they may not always have the time.
During an active Contest they will need to spend at least a round for the prepartions while doing nothing else.
Examples of Special Bonuses:
- Drinking a soda or eating a sugary snack adds 1 to FAST for the current scene,
- Drinking a power drink or eating a protein bar adds 1 to STRONG for the current scene.
- Drinking milk or a healthy snack adds 1 to TOUGH for the current scene.
- Reading the intructions adds 1 to SMART for certain things.
- Planning ahead for a specifically known Contest or Challenge adds 2 to SMART for that situation.
- Clothes that make you feel tougher like leather jackets, uniforms, or gang colors, add 1 point to TOUGH.
- Clothes that are actually meant to be protective, like a football uniform or BMX armor, add 2 to TOUGH.
- Tidying up your clothes, combing your hair, or refreshing your makeup adds to 1 to CUTE.
- Expensive clothes or accessories in clean condition add 2 to CUTE.
- Everyday items used as weapons, such as books or lunchtrays, add 1 to STRONG when Hurting people.
- Items that are actual weapons, or obviously dangerous, add 2 to STRONG when Hurting people. (Note that the Adventure Kids should be discouraged from using these kinds of things.)
- Wearing a frightening mask adds 2 to any Scare attempts.
The Kids don’t even have to be aware of this list or these sorts of things. They can discover them on their own.
LUCK is not affected or restored by any special bonuses however, unless the Storyteller says so.
(“Man, I’m still shaky from that staredown contest with Bruno. Is it lunchtime yet?”)
After some rough adventuring the kids might find themselves tired and dragging around a bit. Some of their Talents might be a lot lower than normal. To make matters worse they may be all out of candy bars and soda pop. Luckily for them there are ways they can get back their lost Talent points. The list below shows some suggestions along these lines.
Examples of how lost Talent points can be restored:
- A relaxing rest of around 15 minutes or so will restore 1 point to all their Talents.
- A quiet nap of around half an hour will restore 1 thru 4 points on all their Talents.
- Eating a meal at breakfast, lunch, or dinnertime gives the kids back half of any points they lost, rounded up.
- A full night’s rest will refresh the kids completely. All their Talents are back up to full.
As a general rule anything that restores lost points to all your Talents should also take away any bonus points acquired from Peptalks and Special Bonuses. In any case LUCK is not usually restored until the end of the adventure.
(“Every year it seems like I learn how much I don’t really know.”)
At the end of every successful adventure the kids each get the following:
1. All LUCK points lost during the adventure.
2. A point permanently added to LUCK.
3. A point permanently added to any Talent of their choice.
4. A permanent bonus to a specific action. See below.
The Storyteller gives each kid a permanent bonus to a specific action. These bonuses should be based on memorable events from the last adventure the kids were in. They are recorded on the Kid Sheet along with any other items of note the kids have accumulated.
Examples of reward points:
- +1 to SMART when solving something. (“A good puzzler.”)
- +1 to CUTE when Peptalking during a Contest (“A good cheerleader.”)
- +1 to FAST when jumping. (“A good jumper.”)
- +1 to CUTE while singing. (“A good singer.”)
When Major Players are created they may also have these kinds of bonuses.
(“No spells or wizards, but cool doohickies.”)
Since this game is based on a moderm setting, there are no specific rules for magic. However, if magic or the supernatural is desired it can be introduced in the form of mysterious items that give the kids strange abilities and powers. These items should be rare and even rarer that the kids get to keep them at the end of the adventure.
Some sample items are listed below just to give the recommended flavor of the items in the game’s basic setting. In a more fantasy oriented setting, the list would probably be different and larger and the items would most likely require extensive training to use. A “wizard” then would just be somebody who has, and knows how to use, a wide assortment of magical items such as scrolls or wands.
Note that in the list below almost all the items have some kind of disadvantage to them.
Examples of magical items:
- A backpack that holds a LOT of stuff, but takes forever for you to find anything in it.
- A book that answers simple questions for you, but has a strange sense of humor.
- A pair of bunny slippers that adds 4 to your FAST. However they are pink and make you crave carrots.
- A dog collar that lets your dog talk with a “Rubie-rubie-roo!” type of accent, and makes people think that that is perfectly normal. The dog also gets a ravenous appetite for yummy food and eats any it finds, even yours.
- A statue of a frog that croaks when danger is near, sometimes a bit too loudly.
- A wand that zaps away 2 points of TOUGH from a target a short distance away, but you have to make a SMART 4 roll to activate it.
- Food seasoning that lets you eat anything you cook with it and survive on it. The smell remains the same.
- An ascot that gives you +4 to TOUGH. Go figure.
- A ring that gets warm whenever somebody tells you a lie
- A really universal remote, that can control all sorts of electronics.
- A potion that adds to 4 to CUTE, but only until the stroke of midnight
- A psychedelically colored van that seems to always lead the kids where they need to be.