Hijinx by Kayn Slamdyke
Concept, Classes, SkillsOriginal SA post
Y'know what this thread needs?
Hijinx, A Mini-Game of Animated Pop Adventure
So sitting in Polyhedron 158 , in all it's printed glory is a mini-rule conversion for 3rd Edition D&D, giving us exactly what we wanted to always play when we first started this hobby.
That's right people. We finally have rules to play Hanna-Barbera Music Cartoons, looping backdrops and meddling kids and all.
Words fail to capture how truly AWESOME this concept is, so instead here is a picture of it's cover
The article is about forty or so pages long and written by Jeff Quick and edited by Erik Mona. This makes it the best thing ever published by Paizo. In case you're wondering, the rest of Dungeon and Polyhedron magazine for that month is taken up by an adventure in a sunken library, and stats for a Choker with Fighter and Rogue levels.
Introduction, or Track 1
Yeah the game is pretending it's on a CD and being all hip and with it. Kinda a bit hi-tech for a game about 70's cartoons but, hey, whatever...
The concept of the game, in case you've had the good fortune not to ever see something like Jabberjaw or Josie and the Pussycats or Jem and the Holograms , is simple. Instead of playing a party of adventurers going into dungeons and fighting a gaggle of monsters, you play a group of pop-rockers who go into concert halls and convince people to dance along to your music and buy your merchandise.
So what kind of Hijinx (ho ho) are you meant to get up to in this game?
Your goal is to go platinum with your record. To do that, you need to get out of the garage, build an audience, get a record deal, and then sell a million copies by playing lots of shows and touring the world.
But rock stardom is about more than just music.
It’s also about having fabulous adventures.
As your stars rise, you’ll be involved in a lot more than stage performances. Everywhere you go, your characters get involved in good causes, wacky mishaps, and dirty dealings with a constantly rotating cast of allies and villains
It won’t seem strange that practically everywhere you go you’ll encounter some villainous sort with an all-new nefarious scheme, ranging from kicking you out of your apartment to ruling the world. You’ll have to put the kibosh on these plots to help out yourselves and your friends. Then you can play a triumphant concert at the end!
Hijinx puts a new spin on several d20 concepts, so we’ll be referring you to the Player’s Handbook pretty often to explain how Hijinx is different.
The biggest difference between the two games is that there’s no fighting in Hijinx. It’s not even a possibility. To stay true to the source material, nearly all interactions happen with music or non-violent action .
Someone is going to have to homebrew a set of rules for this so I can play Toki Wartooth...
It's not kidding about the lack of combat in the game though. This is a D&D game where there is no longer a Base Attack Bonus. Partly because all the Combat rules have been replaced with it's own spin called Rocking Out. See. It even comes with a handy chart...
The game pretty much takes the mechanics for D&D and asks you to run your own personal Find and Replace in your mind with these charts. Tell you what. Just so we don't get confused I'll strike out all the D&D terms and replace them with Hijinx ones. Won't that be FUN?
Let's actually get into some rules now shall we?
Track 2 - Character Creation
Character creation is standard D&D. Quoting the game...
4d6 six times. You know the drill
Everyone has to select a genre of music the band will play, which is solely there to act as a buff for the entire party (playing Punk rock gives you a +1 to Fortitude saves, while playing Metal gives you all a +1 Bonus when playing a POWER song... that's explained later...)
You might also consider some non-rockin’ options like country, R&B, world, swing, or “jazz odyssey.” ... Okay, whatever, but you don’t get any bonuses for that. This game is about rocking and topping the charts. You do yourself no favors playing weird stuff...
Your band might turn out with three drummers and a bassist. That’s cool. Rock‘n’ roll isn’t about following rules, man.
Anyway. As that quote hints, classes are the various instruments you play. Each class is ten levels long and comes with the standard d20 gubbins – you have three saves,
Vocalist , with a d12
Guitarists , who are meant to be responsible for doing the most amount of reliable
Bassists , who get no useful skills, more
Drummers , who are one of the only people to get Craft as a Class skill, get the best range on their instruments, full progression on
Keyboardists , with more skills than you can shake a drumstick at, can hide from the crowd by being ignored by everyone, and can heal a bit less than the Bassist. Rogues... who dropped out of Thieves School and failed the Bard entry exam.
DJs get even more skills (including the depressingly named H4XX0r AND the all important Craft), copying other musician's
And finally Horn Players ... oh come on...
It gets some area effect tricks, deals double
Sultry Tone : When playing a saxophone, as a perform action, all members of the opposite sex (or who would otherwise find you attractive) in your range must make a Will saving throw (DC 10 + one half your level + plus Charisma modifier). Those who fail stop sending bad vibes.
Track 3 - Skills
Skills opens with a nice big Sidebar that may as well have been a neon sign...
The following skills are available to NPCs, but never PCs:
Anyway. Skills are about as you expect. There's no Perform skill since that's covered by combat, Innuendo (hah... oh 3.0 rules...) is used so you can talk to each other on stage, Read Lips is there so you can lip-sync.
Some of the highlights of this chapter...
Disguise: This skill is mostly useful during hijinx. It’s Dexterity based because you usually have very little time to pull off a disguise when you’re being chased around the manor house.
Intimidate: Intimidate is Strength based because big, strong people are more intimidating.
Sense Motive: Nobody has this as a class skill. You kids are terrible judges of character.
Speak Language: The world is full of many different fascinating languages, but for simplicity’s sake, we’re only going to deal with a few of them. This list is totally unfair to many cultures and ethnic groups, including some of the ones that are on it. But if you’re getting mad about this kind of thing,what, are you not paying attention? This game hasn’t conformed to reality since paragraph one. Why are you getting all nitpicky now?
English is your native language. After that,you can pick up:
Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Indian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish
Craft has no subcategories. Ranks in Craft represent your general artsy craftsiness, which allows you to do all kinds of stuff. The primary usefulness of the Craft skill is making T-shirts and merchandise and selling them at your shows.
When you’re just starting out and nobody wants to pay you to perform, selling crap with the band’s name on it is a handy source of income.
Our system is a lot less complicated than the one in the Player’s Handbook.
- Make your Craft check against DC 10.
- For every 1 point over 10, multiply the amount by $5.
- That’s how much cash you make.
- So if your Craft check result is 15, you make $25. If you check result is 10 or less, you don’t lose money, you just don’t make any.
So let's say I chose a drummer or a deejay and put max ranks into it at starting level, and lets say I have a decent Intelligence... hell let's say I'm far too smart for this music stuff and give me an 18. Every time I take ten I make $40 a show from t-shirt and patch sales. Hell if I chance that on a roll and come up with a 20 thats a massive $90 in merch sales.
Hell even at the cap of level 10, which I guess is meant for you to be Gods Of Rock status, max ranks and 2 stat bonuses going into Intelligence... that gives me... $90 for taking 10 and $190 if I rolled a 20.
Tour shirts retail in the UK for about £20 y'know...
:Well done on selling out the O2 Arena old bean. Apparently six rapscalions bought your ever so fancy tour shirts your drummer spent all month stitching! Tally-ho!
At lower levels this is the band's source of income, eh? Man. Now I feel bad for not buying t-shirts at gigs I go to...
Oh. One more highlight from the skills chapter though...
Jump: Might as well jump. Go ahead, jump.
Next Time: Feats, Equipment, and Rocking Out
Feats, Equipment, "Combat"Original SA post Hijinx, A Mini-Game of Animated Pop Adventure - Part II
Or: "What kind of music do you play?" "DEATH METAL"
Track 4 - Feats
These are nowhere as entertaining as the skills chapter. There's a chart for renaming other ones from the PHB...
...and it generally replaces all the Skill buffing ones with...
Hook-Up Action [General]
Pick two skills that seem related for some reason, like Listen and Spot or Jump and Climb or whatever. You’re extra good at both of them. Feel free to think up a descriptive name for their relationship like “Alertness” or “Athletic.”
(Doesn't help that in the introduction to the article, there's a dedication to them "for being living cartoons")
There's also the Personality feat that lets you be the zany talking shark or robot or hologram or whatever...
The Wacky One [Personality]
You’re just really out there. You might be merely kooky, or if everyone’s okay with it, you might not even be technically human. You might be an alien or a big raccoon or a robot. No one seems to think it’s strange that you’re not human, and you use all the benefits and game mechanics of a human. But it’s weird, all right.
Benefit: You gain a +2 innate bonus to a saving throw of your choice because you’re strangely resilient. In addition, you get a +1 bonus to perform when taking lead on a novelty song.
You’re good. Everybody’s good unless they’re villains, in which case they’re evil. As good characters, it’s your duty to investigate and prevent evil-doing wherever you find it. Since nearly everyone else is also good, they’ll understand and appreciate your help.
Refreshing, isn’t it?
Track 5 - Equipment
Instruments take the place of Weapons in the Hijinxiverse, and unless you're the Vocalist who gets his vibes based on his class level, you'll need to buy one. More than likely a Used instrument.
Important problem areas first. Drummers get 6d10 x 10 dollars, and a used drum kit costs $200. Cymbals extra. Naturally. The maths do not favour you.
To be fair, it does say that if you can't afford anything, the DM should just give you a Lucky Shirt and a used instrument of your choice and call it even. The DM could also be a bastard and have you with no equipment at all - especially if you've all decided to form an a capella group...
Totally got to try getting a group together to play as Van Canto... all those vocalists rolling JUST 3d6 for cash can lend the drummer the spare money to get those cymbals.
Instruments come in three flavours. Used, Decent and Bitchin'. Guitar is the only
Fortunately the book does say somewhere in Chapter 2 that you're only allowed to use
Also. It is FREAKISH how easily this stuff maps to your standard 3.X weapons table...
I mean damn. They have
Maximum Wisdom Bonus: Once you’re wearing a gold jumpsuit with your name across the back in spangles, there’s a ceiling on just how much Wisdom is seriously going to help your emotional defences. The more glamorous you look, the harder it is to keep a clear head about the whole thing.
Threads Check Penalty: The more fabulous you look, the harder it is to run around and do physical stuff without ruining it... Threads check penalties are cumulative with outfits and accessories.
There's a few different bits of equipment like Amplifiers (which give you +1 to +3), Speakers (which move where your attacks come from, and are required for amplifiers to work), Wa-Wa pedals for bypassing defense bonuses, spotlights for aiding spot checks... Generally, the equipment chapter is disturbingly well thought out. FAR better thought out than some other games could be.
Well.. two exceptions... the first is a Josie reference
Ears For Hats: You know that’s where it’s at.
Defense Bonus, +5, Max Wis Bonus (doesn't effect), Threads Check Penalty, -3. Cost: $10,000
Moving the hell on then...
Track 6 - ROCK THE HOUSE
Oh hell yes. Buckle up kids, this is where we take your combat rules and rip them into something completely new!
So the basic rules apply. It's still d20 + Primary Stat trying to beat an Armor Class. There's a lot of changes. First though... ANOTHER chart!
Damn... I totally want to do a Surprise Concert... or one from on HORSEBACK...
Anyway. There is a "pre combat" stage, where you decide on your set list. The DM tells you how many songs your band gets to play, and each song must be a different "type", and the game gives you a list, from Catchy to Dance to Novelty to power to...
• Political (includes any song with, like, a deeper meaning)
You also nominate who's going to be taking the Lead on these songs - they'll be the ones the audience will be directing most of their
So of course there's got to be a reason why the audience is attacking you with these Vibes. And the reason's simple - not everyone is there to see your band play...
Some may be couples making out. Some may be bored parental chaperones. Some might be religious groups protesting. Whatever.
For a game that's only meant to be forty five pages of silly it sure seems to make a lot of sense when it wants to...
There's six types of vibes, each split into active and passive and the class features and feats do well at highlighting them. You roll initiative for getting to go first, then have to Spot your targets, and be able to target them using your instruments, speakers and your class feature wizardry. When you take vibes damage to your Cool stat, it works like hit points. When audience members drop to 0, they're converted fans of your music and stop sending out negative vibes at you (and might go out and buy one of your t-shirts...). At 0 and below you're dropping notes and generally being useless...
Totally Losing it
At –10 cool points, you burn out, quit the band, and become an accountant. Make a new character.
Rules for flanking are given (and work on diagonals to represent playing on a stage), and cover is given a twist by being stuff that not only has to cope with support beams getting in the way of your sound, but taking into account things like earplugs or people being in the next building over. Movement is instead "shifting your focus", although personally I'd love to see optional rules for stagediving...
Each song is three rounds long, so combat is normally over in twelve rounds. No penalties for losing more than, say, not getting that record executive tempted by your new happening Prog-Jazz quartet of three drummers and a bassist...
Oh but remember. You're not JUST a rock band... Oh no friends. Remember, you're a Saturday Morning 70's Cartoon! It means it's time for
And now it gets wacky...
The plot for this section is simple. Horrifyingly so. You all do your various investigatory stuff in whatever mansion with the spooky ghost you happen to be in, until some mooks or the ghost or whatever find you... and remember, you don't get combat as an option in this game...
When you decide to run, you enter a strange twilight dimension, entirely out of phase with real world topography.
All bets are off regarding maps or floor plans. In fact, you might pass the same objects in the background several times. You have no destination. You’re just running for dear life.
Everyone rolls Scram (which fortunately IS a class skill for everyone) against the chaser's fortitude. Everyone who succeeded grants +2 to everyone who failed's roll, and if the worst score is enough to pass, you deal 1d4 Vibes to the chaser, who's frustratedly losing you. If not, you all take 1d4 vibes. You're all as fast as your slowest member and helping each other out.
Now you could keep running until you drain them of vibes (or get drained of vibes yourself and kicked out of the building), but after a certain amount of successes (the GM only knows how many he thinks is a good 'lead'), you get some other options available to you - Hijinx. These are all ripped straight out of Scooby Doo, and, horrifying as it sounds, generally work better than any skill related task in a d20 game outside of 4E skill challenges.
Hell for those of you without decent skills, you even get a suitably zany random option...
Hallway Full of Doors
This is any set piece where a character could get lost or drop out of sight in a collection of similar objects. It doesn’t have to be a hallway full of doors, this hijinx option is just named for its most famous example. A HFoD can be any area where several hiding options exist such as a room full of big urns, stacks of tires, or a haystack.
The GM rolls 1d4+1 to determine how long the HfoD hijinx last. Every character—PC or NPC—involved in the HFoD rolls 1d8 each round. The result on the die determines which “door” the character appears in. If a chaser and you appear in the same door, you take as many bad vibes as the result on the die. If no band member appears in the same door as a chaser, the chasers take the sum of the numbers of all of the band members’ doors in cool points.
To avoid bad vibes, a PC may attempt to make an opposed Intelligence check. If the PC succeeds, he or she may turn the die up or down one point to weasel out. If there’s also a chaser on the new face, bad vibes still apply. If the PC fails the opposed check, he or she takes double points.
This is where you pull costumes from some nether region and dress up like manicurists or itinerant electricians or a barbershop quartet. The more inexplicable your disguise, the better. Then you proceed to act out a short skit which includes the chasers, who are so taken aback by the sudden and inappropriate appearance of someone in your position that they lose cool points from the mind boggling incongruity of it all.
When you try this hijinx option, each band member involved makes a Disguise or Bluff check. The DC for both checks is (10 + chaser’s Int mod + chaser’s level). Anyone who succeeds at the Disguise check deals 1d6 points of vibes to each chaser. Anyone who succeeds at a Bluff check prolongs the hijinx for one more round. If no one succeeds at a Bluff check, the chasers get wise, and you have to run again.
Your GM might grant a +2 situational bonus for extra comedy such as a disguise that is ironically related to chasers (underwear inspectors inspecting a scarecrow monster for instance) or nutty cross-dressing.
And they would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling musicians and your DC 10 Jump tests...
In the Final Part: GM's section and some Antagonists
GM Info, Premade EnemiesOriginal SA post Hijinx, A Mini-Game of Animated Pop Adventure - Part III
Hijinx is truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous
Track 7 - For those about to Rock... (GM's section...)
So I've been sparing you all the actual titles of these chapters. They're all either song titles or music references. I'm very disappointed in that there are not eleven chapters so I could post a nice smiley next to the obvious Spinal Tap reference it'd make, but then again I've done a few thousand words on a forty page role-playing game that
The GMing chapter is fairly short. It should be. The advice here, in direct contrast to every GMing guide I've seen in a book, is to... hang on... quotes...
Subtlety is no friend of yours. A session of Hijinx must be in primary colors with plots lean like a guitar neck.
The manager is your shameless deus ex machina NPC who will help you start nearly any game session. He or she sets up the scenario, drops the information you need to get the players up to speed, and disappears to take a meeting. Band managers are historically shady. By all means continue the tradition.
...everything is going to have to happen fast. That’s fine. This is cartoons,not high drama. You don’t have to explain everything, or even necessarily anything, and it doesn’t even really have to make sense at the end.
Yeah. This is the first column of the first page of this chapter. Move too fast for your players to realise what's gone on and throw plot devices at them. And, of course, like everything else so far, it works for the concept of the game. In it's own ridiculous universe, I picture this all working...
Anyway. The chapter gives some surprisingly vicious ways to make the
Room Size: Different-sized, or oddly shaped rooms can mix things up. Audience members under the balcony are much harder to spot, and people sitting behind posts have cover.
Buggy Electronics: Every other round, amps and speakers stop working.
Set Length: Ask the players to prepare a six-song set once, and give them a surprise visit from a tough music critic. You also can cut them off after two or three songs with a power outage, leading into the adventure early.
After the combat advice taking up an entire column of a page, there's some standard recommendation on how to run the Adventuring side of things. However, truly I have now found the BEST chart in the game.
Oh those charts I posted before? They were good. But this? THIS?
... ALL my future adventures are going to be planned out like this. All of them.
Oh... heh... this...
Don’t forget to come up with some flimsy excuse for the PCs to play their instruments.
It gives three "types" of baddies as well. Audience members who aren't so much trying to wish you ill, just think you suck live and should get real jobs and are who you rock out against on stage. Goons who do a majority of the chasing in Hijinx when their bosses aren't around. And Villains who tend to have a Snidely Whiplash look about them, are always planning to bulldoze your band's biggest fan's orphanage and are coincidentally managing your rival band. It gives a few idea powers they can have to give them an edge like...
Hypnosis: The villain has a swirly disk or hypno rave multimedia. Anyone who looks at it must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + Int mod. + V Cool Dice) or be hypnotized (see the charm person spell in the PH for specifics).
Trap Door: Trap doors are subtle things that happen to be wherever the PCs are standing in one specific room. They must make a Reflex save (DC 15). Failure means they fall in.
Oh. Villains and Goons also get the ability to grapple band members with opposed Strength and tie them up (needing a Reflex save of the opponent's strength or an Escape Artist check to escape). Clearly they were missing a paragraph in this book for Ex-Hijinxers and how gross actions can have a band member fall and lose all their powers (but gain a gimmick and the ability to grapple)...
The GM chapter closes with
Hmm. I was expecting a strikethrough then...
.... holy fuck I take it all back. All of it. I'm sorry Craft skill! I should never have abandoned you! Please come back! Please! I will take your sweatshop pay! I will take the stitching and the thimbles and the sewing machine! I can not live on ten dollars for a forty-five minute set!
For the first two levels, PCs will make very little money. If anyone had the presence of mind to take the Craft skill, they’ll make a lot more money selling merchandise than performing at low levels.
To be fair to the game though, it's trying to promote the starving artist archetype, as well as...
Note that dream instruments are off the scale. PCs need the occasional contest prize or gift from the record label to achieve these highest levels of stuff. When they start talking about how much they need to get one more piece of gear and bemoan that performance fees won’t cover it, that’s when you dangle the reward money carrot. Clever you.
... I think I need to stop reading this game. It's causing me to write Scooby-Doo episodes...
On the subject of EXP. You get one exp point for selling five records. A group of four players reaching the level cap at 50,000 EXP will have sold a million records that way. But that's just flavour really. Like this game really has a grip on reality...
... or would really stop you levelling up from level one for not selling twenty thousand CDs...
Track 8 - Prefab Goons and Villains
Oh what's that game? No witty pun? Well good. We're nearly done now.
There's a few "rival band" ideas. A punk rocker band that starts off at level one, a prog rock "grrl power" band (one of them took "The Sexy One". Good feat choice there. Getting stuff at a 50% discount is important for NPCs...) and Holy SHI---
---.. and you thought AUTOTUNE was going to kill the music industry...
There's also a few sample villains to get in the way of the PCs on a recurring basis. Stuff like this guy, right here.
The False Caliph
Rahjneesh used to be the thick-necked vizier to a young caliph in a camel-intensive Middle Eastern nation. Recently, he has attempted to overthrow the caliph’s right to rule through massive goon application. Somebody needs to stop the big jerk.
He gets an intimidating turban and a camel in his gear section. It genuinely says that.
Herr Showpenhower hates anything that isn’t classical music. And he’s got, like, a zillion dollars which he’ll use to try to destroy rock music forever!
He sits in his big Bavarian mansion with his evil cat, Roland, inventing schemes to discredit honest rock ‘n’roll musicians.
If the PCs have a pet, Roland hates their pet too. Roland can use his spunky ability to cancel the effects of one PC spunky pet.
Gear: Priceless artifacts that break easily.
There's also the guy making all those musical robots and a spooooooooky ghost... See?
And on that note, Hijinx ends... it... just ends... there...
... well it does give us a map of a dance club for use in d20 style games.. but the article's over.
HIDDEN TRACK - My Personal Summary
If you can't tell, this is in the "Obscure" side of things rather than the awful. And so far, most people seem to be agreeing. Worse still, some of you are actually making it sound like a feasible game to run
So far some of the most insane ideas I've spotted in this thread are running it at the same time as XCrawl (HOW would you even DO that? No seriously. I want to know. Start writing immediately!), or someone saying they want to use it for Brutal Legend.
... or I suppose you could set a campaign in Toronto and have everyone gestalt Monk... that could work... maybe.
As for the forty-five page document itself, the art is not out of place albeit inconsistant. The layout is clean and I've certainly paid money for FAR worse d20 modules. The editting seemed to catch most things bar a complete non-use for your core saves (but it could be argued they're there for completeness), and the writing seems to know full well how ludicrious the concept was and just ran with it. And it would have been easy to come up with this game concept and run it into the ground, or only do it half-assed, but seeing the D&D combat rules twisted so violently into something like this is quite witty.
Mad ideas aside, this kind of game is something that at least gives me hope I'll end up liking more stuff from Paizo. I'll even go as far as to say it deserves purchasing if you have the cash spare. I've certainly had more fun reading this article than I have reading anything else in a gamer magazine.
It's certainly more fun than the game I'm going to post about next. Something that's also about people making music and having amazing adventures... and throwing fireballs at gangstas...