Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's Time to Raise The Curtain...Part 2

Applause and Star Power

Applause are very important to the Muppets. It's why they do what they do. It's not to receive the admiration of their fans, though that's part of it for some. Instead, applause let them know they've entertained the audience and made the world a little better because of it.

Each time a Player Character makes the other players and/or the Director laugh out loud, cheer, clap or otherwise make an obvious, outward show of being seriously entertained, the character's player marks of a 'Round of Applause' on his or her character sheet. Now I'm not talking a 'Tee Hee' snicker or "Nice Job" comment. You've got to make chocolate milk shoot out of my nose, get me 'whooping' like the Jerry Springer audience at an 'I'm Not The Mama' taping or something else that makes it clear that you made it worth my time to roll out of bed that morning and come to this game.

At the end of the game session you tally up how many Rounds of Applause you received. If you received 5, that is, you filled up all your Rounds of Applause, you add one Star to your Star Power.

If you received less than 5, you may convert the Applause into points for improving your character. Applause not spent disappear so you start each session with no Applause. Further specifics on PC improvement in a moment.

Star Power is powerful stuff. It's sort of like Hero Points or Force Points in other games but not exactly. Spending one Star does enable you to roll an additional die for your next action/use of a Shtick. You can spend as many as you want however, if you have 5 and use all 5 the effect is quite different. In addition to your bonus dice you essentially take over the scene. For the rest of the sequence (one scene or sketch as it were), the player that used all their Star Power is now The Director. You are in charge. You run the show.

I give you a word of caution however. You see, you are taking a gamble. Normally, any Stars spent during at game session are immediately replenished at the end of the session. There are two cases where this doesn't happen. The first is when you spend all your Star Power to take the reins and you don't end with a big finale. That is, if no one thought the scene ended awesomely or hysterically, at the end of the game session you gain back all your Stars but one. You lose a Star. Fame is fleeting.

The only other way this can happen is if you are Upstaged. If you spend Stars on a Shtick directly against another PC and they out do you in the scene anyway you were Upstaged and lose a Star.

Note that only Custom Muppets can do this. If a Whatnot has 5 Stars it can spend them to get 5 bonus dice but that's it. They can not take over a scene. Well...not exactly.

If 3 or more Whatnots all spend 5 at the same time they can take over a scene together. We've seen this happen on the Muppet Show numerous times where, for example, the Pigs or the Rats take over the show.

I'm sorry...But is that a cool idea or what?

"Wait! Hold on just one moment mister."

"Oh Hi Sam what's up?"

"Do not 'Hi Sam' and 'What is up' me. I am shocked. This is appalling. I leave you to tell people about the rules of your game and you give them Star Power and Applause?!? This is an outrage. Where are the charts of weapon speeds...the...the experience point to level lists? How am I supposed to know if my stats qualify me to be a warrior or a wizard or a bard."

"They're not needed. I mean...aren't all of you bards in a sense?"

"You sir are a weirdo."

Moving right along...

Now here's why Whatnots are cool to have as characters.

If your Custom Muppet PC has no stars for three consecutive sessions, the character is Retired. That's right...death for a Toon. You see, your just not that popular a character. We're going another way. It's not you it's us. I tried to fight for you goodness knows but the audience...yeah. Sorry Fleet Scribbler.

So why is it good to be a Whatnot? You can't die. You're not intended to be a main character or a star and as such you don't need to maintain Star Power to stay around. You can benefit from it but not to the extent of a beloved TV or movie celebrity. Note however that you can spend 5 Stars at once and become a Custom Muppet. You get to redesign your look, choose three permanent Shticks to replace your temporary ones and begin anew with one Star in Star Power and therefore a Costume slot.


'll leave you, for now, with Character Improvement, then return soon with combat and some final notes on the rules. I'm really eager to get into the next phase of this month's theme with adventure ideas, running a campaign and other fun stuff.

Character Improvement couldn't be simpler. If it could it would be and if it does become simpler, that is, if I figure out how to simplify it even more, I'll probably use that idea in the Sesame Street variant rules. Basically, as previously mentioned, if you fill up all five Rounds of Applause on your character sheet you get a Star. If you only have four marked off at the end of the session, those become 4 Points to improve your Shticks. The cost is 1 for 1 so if you have 'Gargling Gershwin' at 5 and you apply 4 points you have it at 9. Be careful. It seems like you'd go up fast but that's not really the case. You are never going to get more than 4 Applause points at one time for use in this way so it really makes more sense to spread them out. Remember Applause disappear at the end of the game and can't be saved. You always start a new session with 0 Applause.

Barking Alien

Muppet Quotes

Gonzo: Hilda, Hilda. Could I ask a great big favor?
Hilda: Oh, Gonzo, I'm very busy right now!
Gonzo: Oh, but I brought my Teddy Bear in just especially for you to repair.
Hilda: Gonzo, aren't you a little old to carry around a teddy bear?
Gonzo: Really? You think I'm emotionally mature enough to move up to a Raggedy Anne?

Here's A Muppet News Flash!

Fleet Scribbler is a gossip journalist for "The Daily Scandal" who sometimes reports on the goings-on at The Muppet Show. He was an aweful and abrasive character designed to be included in the regular cast but as created was unpopular among the writers, performers and fans. He was discontinued after only 2 or 3 appearances.


  1. No way for a single Whatnot to Upstage? That seems kinda odd... Aren't certain characters in any show, movie series, novels, RPG sessions, etc... breakout hits? It would seem more intuitive the other way around, ala the force of the individual personality or somesuch. But I guess it has to do with the inherent value placed on each type.

    Man. I need to get some Muppets DVDs and watch that stuff. One of my roommates used to be a huge Fraggle Rock fan, we should invest in some of this good, classic TV!

  2. Ah, you have the terms a bit confused. A single Whatnot can Upstage another character. Upstaging is a one on one conflict between two PCs - Shtick vs. Shtick.

    A single Whatnot can not take over a sketch or scene by itself the way a Custom can (by spending 5 Stars at once).

    Rizzo the Rat became a main character from among the many background rats. He was essentially a Rat Whatnot. In the episode of the Muppet Show where he organizes the rats to take over the show, he (Rizzo) stands out but because he was a Whatnot he couldn't take over the scenes all by himself. He needed to rally all the rats to help him.

    There are several episodes of the Muppet Show with similar themes which is where the idea comes from. Pigs, rats, animals in general and even monsters have banded together to override Kermit's control of the show.

  3. :-P. Quite right. My bad. I equated the real life terms stealing show/taking over and upstaging. Reading while really tired != cogent statements...

    'Pigs, rats, animals in general and even monsters have banded together to override Kermit's control of the show.':
    I do seem to remember a few episodes like this... Dang, I really do need to go through the show's seasons.

    Thanx for the response!

  4. Having a go at a character and seeing if I've got the rules so far, here's what I've got:

    Doc Whiskers:

    A mouse in a lab coat. He has a clipboard strapped to his belt and is holding a scalpel. In the background, various pieces of research equipment can be seen, though he appears to be in a log structure of some sort.

    He has the following Shticks (I rated them, as no-one else was around at the time I made him)

    Mouse: 5
    It's Bad Doc: 4
    Backwoods: 2
    Researcher: 3
    If I Could Make A Correction...: 2

    His costume allows him to perform basic first aid, minor surgery, and take notes.

  5. BA, great stuff. I'm enjoying seeing how this is coming all together. At some point, I want to run this with my family. Looks like it will be great family fun, especially as my kids are hams ;).

  6. Wow! I couldn't be happier with the responses on this one. Even Velaran's initial confusion was useful as it made me take a second look and ask myself, "Is this right? Does it make sense? Is it actually playable?"

    @Velaran - I highly recommend watching the episodes of course but you can see numerous clips from the Muppet Show and Muppets Tonight on youtube.

    @C'nor - Woohoo! Someone made a character! Perfect C'Nor. It looks exactly right. In absence of the committee method of scoring I would go with the optional rule of 5,4,3,2,1 to cover Shticks. Otherwise its fantastic. His Costume should probably be named (Like 'Surgery Costume' or 'Doctor's Costume') but it's perfect for giving him the tools of the trade.

    @Johnathan - How old are your kids again? I only ask because I'm wondering if the Muppets version of the game or the Sesame Street version is more appropriate. I don't think there will be major differences between them but maybe more like a few tweaks.