is a role-playing game
A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development...
in which the players take the roles of cartoon characters.
It is subtitled The Cartoon
A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...
was designed by Greg Costikyan
Greg Costikyan, sometimes known under the pseudonym "Designer X" , is an American game designer and science fiction writer.Costikyan's career spans nearly all extant genres of gaming, including hex-based wargames, role-playing games, boardgames, card games, computer games, online games and mobile...
and developed by Warren Spector
Warren Spector is a role-playing game designer and a video game designer. He is known for having worked to merge elements of role-playing games and first-person shooters. He currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, fantasy writer Caroline L. Spector...
, and first published in 1984 by Steve Jackson Games
Steve Jackson Games is a game company, founded in 1980 by Steve Jackson, that creates and publishes role-playing, board, and card games, and the gaming magazine Pyramid.-History:...
is a genuine role-playing game requiring the participation of players and a game master
A gamemaster is a person who acts as an organizer, officiant for questions regarding rules, arbitrator, and moderator for a multiplayer game...
(called the "Animator" here), it is designed with a tongue-in-cheek style that deliberately parodies many of the conventions of more standard, "serious" role-playing games.
the players characters never die. As in many role-playing games, characters have hit points, which are deducted when the character is injured (usually in combat, or by having anvils fall on them). When a character is reduced to zero hit points he does not die or fall unconscious, but falls down. Since cartoon characters never actually die, and always return in time for the next scene, a fallen down character returns to play a set time later, with all hit points restored.
This lack of true "character death" is also designed to encourage players to deliberately abandon the skills and reflexes they learned in other games, namely to have their characters able to solve problems and fight enemies while staying alive. According to the game's rules, the two prime directives for Toon
players to follow are "Forget Everything You Know" and "Act Before You Think".
The game encourages players to have fun above all other considerations - even to the point of breaking the rules of the game. If the players and the Animator agree that a players' actions in a game are funny and enjoyable, then that players' actions are allowed and encouraged. This can be seen as a way for players to "break the fourth wall
The fourth wall is the imaginary "wall" at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box set in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play...
" in the game, in the same way that animated cartoons often ignore reality for the sake of laughs.
The game uses a very simple skill-based task resolution system based on a list of only 23 skills that cover all possible character actions. These are assigned to four controlling attributes, humorously named "Muscle" (strength), "Zip" (dexterity and speed), "Smarts" (intelligence) and "Chutzpah" (pushiness and self-confidence). In addition, characters can have optional "Shticks", which give them unusual cartoon-like abilities, such as flying or invisibility.
The game was clearly inspired by the classic Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...
cartoons of the 1930s through the 1960s, and characters such as Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny is a animated character created in 1938 at Leon Schlesinger Productions, later Warner Bros. Cartoons. Bugs is an anthropomorphic gray rabbit and is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality and his portrayal as a trickster. He has primarily appeared in animated cartoons, most...
and Daffy Duck
Daffy Duck is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons, often running the gamut between being the best friend and sometimes arch-rival of Bugs Bunny...
, but Steve Jackson Games is careful to avoid any copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...
violations. For example, there is an "Ace Corporation" in Toon
products (instead of the Acme Corporation
The Acme Corporation is a fictional corporation that features prominently in the Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons as a running gag featuring outlandish products that fail catastrophically at the worst possible times...
), and the writers' guidelines for Toon
prohibit the use of the word "toon" to mean "a cartoon character".
- Toon: The Cartoon Roleplaying Game - 1984, out of print.
- Toon Silly Stuff - 1985, out of print.
- Son of Toon - 1985, out of print.
- Toon Strikes Again - 1985, out of print.
- Toon: The Cartoon Roleplaying Game (Deluxe Edition) - 1991. Incorporates all material from the original edition, plus Toon Silly Stuff, Son of Toon, and Toon Strikes Again.
- Tooniversal Tour Guide - 1992.
- Toon Tales - 1993.
- Toon Ace Catalog - 1994.
- Toon Munchkin - 2006.