Toon In Its Time

I was inspired by S. John Ross’s rather excellent recent post on the subject to take another look at Toon. The story behind the writing of Toon is rather famous but bears repeating: Jeff Dee was having a discussion with some fellow games industry buddies, including Greg Costikyan, about whether there were any genres of fiction which you couldn’t feasibly make into a tabletop RPG. Dee proposed that Looney Tunes-style cartoons would be impossible to translate into a game; a few years later, with a little help from Warren Spector, Costikyan would crack the problem, with the original edition of Toon emerging through Steve Jackson Games in 1984.

The original booklet didn’t even hit 70 pages; the most commonly-available version, though, is 1991’s Toon Deluxe Edition, which goes over 200 pages but remains a delightfully light and easy RPG. The Deluxe version incorporates the material from the supplements Toon Silly StuffSon of Toon, and Toon Strikes Again. For the most part, the supplemental material simply integrates a few additional optional rules into the core rules text, adds some useful improv resources like a random adventure generator and a collection of funny tables, and introduces the “Cartoon Series” concept (of which more later) – but for the most part, it just adds an enormous number of additional scenarios, so whilst the page count has gone up the core of the system remains delightfully simple and in one book you have both the core game and a remarkably deep well of support material.

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