Scatalogical Utterance v 1.0: Role Playing Rules for Pessimists
Scatological Utterance version 1.0
A Role Playing Game for Pessimists
SU is a paper and pencil RPG, designed for campaigns that could last anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. A play session longer than that could be very bad for your soul, unless you have a truly twisted sense of humor, in which case: Game On!
SU is not restricted to any genre of game. In any game session the DM (DeMotivator) and the Players could be in high fantasy, gothic romance, science fiction, weird west, bustlepunk, horror, you name it. As long as the genre is agreed upon: Game On!
Characters in normal RPGs have attributes like strength and dexterity and durability. This is SU. Players have the following attributes:
Oafishness. The chance that the character will unintentionally break something.
Butterfingers. The inability to hold onto weapons or tools in dramatic moments.
Jinx. Despite the character’s best efforts, things still go wrong.
Lethonomia. Failure to think of the right word when you need it.
Boorishness. Failure to keep others interested in the character or any interesting fact or bluff they are trying to pull off.
When creating a character, after determining the genre of the game, the players should agree on the number of dice for each attribute. There should be two, three, or four dice used. Roll that number of dice once for each attribute and distribute those numbers as you see fit. Match your mood. Feel like lifting a great log so you party can crawl underneath it just to have it snap in your arms and possibly kill them? Put your highest attribute in Oafishness. Want to throw knives behind you into the wizard instead of at the ogre rushing the party? Go high in Butterfingers. Want to bore the guard with your daring tales of designing PowerPoint presentations? Pick up your Boorishness trait. Of course, if you just want your bowstring to snap, go with a solid Jinx score.
No adventure is complete without a challenge. The DeMotivator will decide if a task is easy (1), run-of-the-mill (2), hard (3), or stupid (4). They will roll the indicated number of six-sided dice from a common pool of five dice. The player will roll the remaining dice and add that to their inability. Low score wins.
Example. Lorto the Inelegant is a 3-dice character who wants to use his body as a brace between two slabs of stone closing off the corridor in the deathtrap designed by Mock the Magnificent to protect his genuine diamelle collection.
The DM decides this would be a stupid test of oafishness, and grabs four dice and rolls an 18. Lorto’s rolls the remaining die and gets a 5, which he adds to his oafishness score of 8 for a total of 13, which is less than the DM’s 18, so the test is a success. This interferes with the first unwritten rule of Scatalogical Utterance: there are no successes in Scatelogical Utterance!
Lorto may be able to keep the stone slabs from squashing him like a bug for a while, so the DM declares that the first person to scramble through his legs needs pass an Stupid test against Jinx to make it through. After all, isn’t crawling through the unwashed legs of an Oaf to progress through one death trap a really stupid thing to do?
Cyrano the Cyclopedia goes first, (ask him about insects. Any insect. We dare you) and rolls one die, gets a 2, adds his 10 Jinx for a total of 12. The DM rolls 15, and Cyrano gets through.
Eddie is next. The Demotivator decides that, emboldened by the walls being held and Cyrano making it through, the challenge is downgraded to Hard. He rolls three dice and gets 12. Eddie rolls a 10, adds it to his Jinx score of 9, and as an end result forgets to remove his backpack before crawling through the hairy arches and smashes Lorto right in the soprano makers. The walls may now close in on the pair for fun and games.
Health and Combat
Unlike the disability scores, a character’s health is measured on a scale:
Zippity-Doo-Dah: The player is feeling good and optimistic.
Feeling Groovy: The player is not so hot, but holding on to a positive world view.
Meh: The player could call it quits anytime now
Yesterday: The player has regrets
Smile: Short for “Please Don’t Ask Me to Smile”
Plate Mail: Short for “donning plate mail, going to the top of the mountain in the storm, and blaspheming the local thunder gods”.
Dead: When all else fails, the only option is to go through the character’s pockets and look for loose change.
Combat is meant to be fast and flexible, so SU does away with all “to-hit” checks or rolling up points or any of that recordkeeping nonsense. Characters who attack with brute force should check against their Oafishness to see if they break their weapon or not (any residual energy could, in theory, be applied to to downgrading their opponents health label). Characters who want to fire a gun or a bow or throw something check against Butterfingers or Jinx, depending on the circumstances. Naturally, a spell thrower or esper would have to remember the inflection tone for fireball is almost, but not quite, the same as the chirp that turns themselves into a parakeet. Bard types, when not being strung up by their party for the obvious reasons, need to check against Boorishness to ensure they don’t sing their tank to sleep instead of the thing the tank is fighting.
Your job is simple: entertain the players and challenge them in ways that get them to plate mail as soon as possible. Killing characters is generally discouraged unless the party goes into the game planning for multiple personalities, in which case the game session should feel less like The Lord of the Rings and more like Whose Line Is It Anyway?
The players should, despite the many ways these should go wrong, at all times embrace the attitude of Joel and the Bots (or Mike, or Jonah, if you prefer): This is gonna suck, may as well get in a few snarks before we die.