First published: July, 1990. First posted online: August 18, 2005.
Miniature figures in roleplaying games are a legacy of its wargaming roots. Tin soldiers, war room modelling, and all that, were applied by Gygax & Arneson to dungeon environments, filled with fantasy adversaries. The mind boggles to think how FRPGs might have evolved, without rules– detailing in military precision– the range, speed and damage of magic spells. Would video games have taken off as quickly or as intuitively if hit points and dice had not already paved the pathways of their creative minds?
Those who decry munchkins and rules lawyers meddling in their pure storytelling experiences need to bear this in mind. Modern RPGs all began as military simulations. Magic, by this definition, is just another projection of power.
But of course, enjoying the world of make-believe begins with storybooks… and dolls. Dollplay is like Looney Tunes: Clash of personalities resulting in violent mayhem …with no bloodshed. A place and time where extreme behavior is as safe as can be. Magic as a projection of wonder.
Of course, in this strip we are mixing up the two; we’re like that. The horrific, mortal consequences of happy, fluffy fun. It’s the psychological interplay between childhood and adulthood, after all. Dreams only become reality through pain, and in the process, destroy the reason for the dream being pursued in the first place. The exultation of the spirit become cheap plastic. This is the unhappiness and mediocrity of postmodern civilization in a nutshell.
Fuzzy Heroes from Inner City Games came out the same year as our plush strips; a curious coincidence. True to innocent bedtime adventure, FH was based around a “bloodless combat system that uses stuffed animals and toys as miniatures”. Whenever Chris was at GenCon– (1993, 1995) –the creators would try to be nice to him, but he’d get all weirded out about adults actually playing with dolls. (Posable action figures were never his thing either, at least not since he was twelve.) Wasn’t that something RPGers prided themselves as having outgrown, at minimum? The rise of furry sex cliques at various cons only seemed to ratify his wariness, but in looking back, he couldn’t have been more wrong. It was a kindly answer to those who wished to make the wild play of humanity’s most nascent imagination into a tool of mathematically honed, genocidal wish-fulfilment.
It was and is a fine idea for recapturing what we once meant by “play”. And it’s still in print.
In thanks to Buzzcomics readers for all the traffic, we’ve posted a vote incentive. So hit that black & gold button to see a funny we never found room for during the original run of the strip.
Q. So, what is that font you’re usng for “THE GOD” and “THE PLUSH TOY”?
A. Can’t really recall its name– but then again, it’s not exactly an entire “font” as it’s understood by users today.
Yeeees… those letters are all rub-ons. At the time, given the choice between crookedly-aligned letters and dot-matrix printer letters…
Well. Some of you weren’t there when they made T-shirts back in the seventies.
Letra had the street cred!