Monday, January 16, 2012

Muppet Mondays! - RECESS Replay - Part II

The second game I ran for RECESS was one I've run there before, the Muppets RPG utilizing the characters and continuity (such as it is) of The Muppet Show. For this session however I wanted to do something different. I wanted to incorporate a new mechanic and change the standard Muppet Show episode format into a more open ended game designed to resemble one of their motion pictures (where things seem to be really happening (Real) as opposed to being part of a show (Staged)).

The main inspiration for this adventure was 'The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made', a proposed idea for a Muppet film by Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Jerry Juhl that never came to be.

It went over well, very well in fact, but I can honestly say it almost didn't. I made a few poor choices in how to set up the adventure and I broke a few of my own cardinal rules. Part of the reason for this was that I was exhausted after not enough sleep and the earlier Sesame Street game being awesomely draining. In retrospect however, the fault lies largely with my spending too much time over the previous weeks working on the Sesame Street RPG and the Muppet game's mechanics and not the story for the Muppet game and how to time it out like I usually do.

Eventually I was able to get things back on track, thanks in part to some great players who got what I was going for and ran with it.


The Muppets - Big Time Hollywood Movie!

So the plot...

Following their smash hit film, the Muppets decide to begin work on another movie since their comeback motion picture was such a success. Unfortunately, after paying all the actors, the crew, allotting for damages caused by special effects, etc., most of the profits from the movie are gone. The Muppets must therefore produce this new film on an extremely limited budget.

The script and plot ( written by a Muppet staff writer who is not revealed until the end of the session) basically deals with the Muppets trying to make a movie while an unscrupulous film producer attempts to sabotage them so he can steal their story and put it out first. The result is a sort of movie within a movie within a movie as that is exactly what starts to happen around the Muppet studios lot.

When a pair of Pigs kidnap Miss Piggy, it is at first thought to be part of the film (since such a scene is in the screenplay). Realizing it is the real deal, the Muppets team up (near commando style in the case of Sam the Eagle, Gonzo and Animal) and try to rescue her. Some of the best, craziest Muppet moments we've ever had were in this sequence, yet after Piggy is safe we sort of meandered for a moment as to what to do next. Sam and Big Mean Carl step in to interrogate the Pigs and it turns out the plot of the movie is happening in 'reality'.

The Muppets eventually track down the culprit, who has also stolen an experimental special effects item from Muppet Labs. Bunsen reveals he was working on Pop Rocks that basically act like a fragmentation grenade or those Russian missiles that open up to fire lots of smaller missiles (forget the name). Once wet, the kernel sized rocks will break into smaller rocks, firing randomly in all directions at a hundred miles an hour. When asked why he would invent such a thing the fellow playing Bunsen said, "Kermit, do you really think working here PAYS for most of my research? We have defense contracts you know."

Anyway, the big bad ends up being
Fleet Scribbler, former 'reporter' from the Daily Scandal who was fired from the Muppet Show beat and eventually from the magazine. He attempted to become a film critic but failed at that as well.

As the player playing Bunsen, Rizzo and Sam the Eagle said, "He couldn't make it as a film critic? Is there anyone more pathetic?"

Eventually he saved up enough money to start his own studio. He hired the recently out of work Moopets and stole a copy of the Muppets' screenplay. Now he is attempt to make his own movie and get it out before the Muppets.

After a massive and mad battle featuring machine gun firing Pop Rocks, Swedish Chef's deadly use of a match and a can of oven cleaner, interruptions from the Newsman, frantic rewrites of the script to change what was happening and Bill Shatner, the Muppets manage to put an end to Scribbler's plans and incapacitate the Moopets.


The New Mechanic:

The Budget - Very simply, for this 'Movie Style' adventure, the players had access to a pool of bonus dice that represented the film's budget. Want to make a bigger explosion, summon a cool vehicle, have a famous star make a cameo? No problem but it comes out of the budget. Remember not to blow too much 'money' to soon. You're likely to need some extra cash for that big finale.



A newly constructed, virtually life size, Starship Swinetrek, on loan from ILM, piloted by Link Hogthrob and Dr. Strangepork, attempts to head off two Pigs in a truck cab pulling a trailer containing Miss Piggy. The vessel dives from orbit, shrouded in flames due to improper operation of the shields, careening toward the Earth at Mach 20 or there abouts.

To save the two Pigs in Space stars, Gonzo gets on a motorcycle, has the cycle and himself loaded into a cannon and fires himself through a window on the ship to access the bridge. Amazing dialog and rolls result in the ship and its occupants landing safe if not so sound.

Sam the Eagle, Rizzo and Bunsen were played by an older fellow and his wife played Rowlf, Beaker, the Newsman and...I forget. They were both incredible. And by older I mean probably my age or just a tad over - if you guys are reading this I do not mean old! You guys were AWESOME! They uttered some of the funniest lines of the game whether on purpose or accidentally.

Sam uses a huge American flag from his personal collection to blind the front windshield of the truck being driven by the two Pig henchmen. Animal then climbs up on top of the truck and tries to get at the driver but can't. The flag is in his way. Animal begins to chew through the flag to get to the Pig.

Sam: "Kermit, stop him! He is eating the flag! My god there goes Rhode Island!"
Animal: "Mmmm. CA-LA-NIES. Tastey."

Sam: "I don't trust this Shatner fellow."
Kermit: "William Shatner? He was Captain Kirk."
Sam: (Whispering) "He's a Canadian."
Kermit: (Softly) "I'm sure he's a citizen by now..."
Sam: (Whispering forcefully - with menace) "Once a Canadian, always a Canadian."

Sam: "These people are criminals of the worst sort. Jail is to good for them."

Kermit: "What did you have in mind Sam."
Sam: "Three words. GUANtanAMO."

This last line (above) had the entire table in stitches except for one fellow who wasn't there at the time. He had left the table with his young son to use the bathroom and upon returning both father and son wanted to know what he missed. There was no way to tell him because, as one player put it, "So...many...levels." Hopefully he can read it here now.

Another key moment came when one of the organizers of RECESS and a fellow I've had the pleasure of gaming with at a previous event walked by as I said...

"OK, just to be clear. Gonzo, you and William Shatner are on a motorcycle. You are driving. Both of you have a hatchet in each hand. You are driving up to the curb and then wheelie-ing into a jump to smash through the front door of the house. Correct?"


To which I hear the fellow observing behind me say, " the greatest game...ever."

Oh, almost the Muppets all enter Scribbler's house but he's nowhere to be found. We notice he has two guard dogs on the back porch. Someone tells Rowlf, "OK Rowlf, you're on!". The woman playing Rowlf proceeds to mimic playing the piano.The group asks Rowlf what he's doing.

Rowlf: "Aren't I playing us out?"
Scooter: "No Rowlf, this is your chance to shine."
Kermit: "Yeah Rowlf. You can do something here only a dog can do."
Rowlf: "...?...Pee on the furniture?"

We meant talk to the guard dogs to find out where Fleet Scribbler went.

Hilarious group. Awesome portrayals.

The big Muppet Fan couple from the first (Sesame Street) game were back for this one too. The young lady (sorry I am so bad with names - remind me in the comments if you see this) did an amazing Miss Piggy. It wasn't so much the voice but the mannerisms, the style of speech and the attitude. Fantastic.

The young lady playing Gonzo was incredible too. She really nailed his weirdness. She didn't play him as crazy like some do but rather as an eccentric artist who is sure that his ideas are brilliant on a level most have yet to realize. He is bringing both excitement and avant garde culture to the masses. Using flaming torches and the Hungarian Hatchet Dance.

It's all so clear to me know.

Anyway, great games, great people, another great RECESS. I actually have some more stories to tell about the event and some things I'd like to say about ideas the event inspired but I'll save that for tomorrow.

Until then,

Barking Alien


  1. Speaking as the "older fellow" I can safely say that was my best bit of RPG work since I started playing back in high school. It was a great game. Many thanks to Barking Alien for putting it together and going with whatever madness we came up with. "Weapons grade Pop Rocks." New from Muppet Labs.

  2. And they were grape. Why? Why even flavor an edible explosive compound? Because, according to Bunsen, "You have to flavor them. They're Pop Rocks. And grape is the most explosive flavor we could think of."

    Frickin' fantastic!

    Glad you had fun. Thanks to you and the Mrs.. You guys are welcome at my table anytime.

  3. My son thought the two of you were the funniest people he'd met in a long time. I think the work "High-larious" was used.

    Great game, Adam.