Hello, everyone! Welcome aboard the Mouse and Friends Tram. Please lower your head and watch your step while boarding, and disregard the souls of the damned that may still be clinging to the sides. Please place young children toward the inside of the tram, unless you are offering the child as a sacrifice to the Great Mouse. Children may not ride in strollers. As a courtesy to other passengers, we ask that there be no eating, drinking, smoking or bloodletting on board. In just a few moments, we will begin our trip to the Mouse Park Main Entrance. For your safety, remain seated with the doors closed—keeping your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside while the tram is moving or risk getting pulled into the darkness of the void of the deep beyond.
We are now approaching the Mouse Park entrance. On behalf of all our cast members and the Great Mouse, who shall rise only when his apocalyptic appetites are not satiated with life force, blood, and shadow, we are pleased that you have joined us today.
Enjoy your stay at Mouse Park. Driver, you are clear.
Happiest Apocalypse on Earth is a tabletop roleplaying game that is part satire, part horror. Set in a fictional children’s theme park called Mouse Park, the game allows players to customize the attractions in the park, the dangers that lurk there, and their own Mouse Park staff member. Collaborative storytelling and customized character and narrator moves create a wide range of terrifying incidents involving ancient horrors, demonic magic, and a conspiratorial plot to keep a bloodthirsty ancient god appeased. Ghouls, monsters, specters, and cultists abound, but they only scratch the surface of the true evil that lies far beneath.
This game is for horror lovers, monster of the week enthusiasts, and that huge population that thinks animatronics are scary. It takes popular notions of innocence and cartoonish morality and violently turns it on its head. It is part satire of nostalgic pop culture and it is part deadly serious X-Files and Supernatural. The satirical nature shines through in its ironic approach and sometimes humorous take on characters, but the mysteries and plots that unfold are all but trivial.
The game is built using the Apocalypse World roleplaying game framework created by Vincent Baker and adapted and modified to fit the setting. As a Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) game, The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth shines with the best of collaborative storytelling using mechanics that are familiar to the experienced and intuitive to the novice. It works well as a campaign, or a one shot, and can be the centerpiece of family games or adult ones.
Happiest Apocalypse on Earth is already in Beta; the mechanics have been playtested and the text is pretty much written. All backers will get a copy of the unedited beta version immediately upon funding, so you can get a head start on playing! Funds for the Kickstarter will enable me to finalize and produce the final product in just a few short months.
PbtA Adapted to the Setting
The spirit and intent of the Apocalypse World roleplaying game engine was carefully preserved. There is an emphasis on moves that carry the narrative forward, the players are empowered to have control over the story and setting, and there is a codified manner in which the Narrator can affect the game play. It will serve well on the same shelf as many other PbtA classics such as Monsterhearts, tremulus, and Monster of the Week.
- Build Your Own Park. Options to collaboratively create Mouse Park, the company behind Mouse Park, its location, and its attractions—as well as the source of the dangers the player characters will confront.
- Create Your Own Playbook/Character Profile. Character creation allows for a broad and in-depth range of customizations, where you can pick and choose your moves and stat bonuses based upon decisions you’ve made about character backgrounds.
- Setting-Specific Moves. Character moves are designed specifically for the setting, taking advantage of the powers of Mouse Park, while paying homage to the source of the satire through pop culture Easter eggs.
- Sanity Mechanics. Characters can be physically or mentally damaged and can use merchandise and moves to protect or heal from that damage.
- Incident Framework. Turn-key toolbox for Narrators to create interesting and horrifying sessions, as well as many sample incidents that can be played with no preparation.
Game play is light and easy to pick up. Very little prep is needed. Even character generation and setting creation happens at the table collaboratively. The game is moderated by the Narrator, who sets up the scene and puts dangers into motion that the characters must confront. The Narrator does not control the plot, but rather controls the decisions that non-player characters make, and make moves against player characters that advance the plot, or complicate their decisions.
To set up, the Narrator and players use a tool to determine specifics about Mouse Park, where it is located and what attractions are there. The players then decide how they all work together at the park and complete “Mousineer applications” which, through a series of choices, allow players to pick specific backgrounds, stat bonuses, and moves that their characters can do. Once that is done, the players ask each other questions to figure out how they feel about each other and how well they know each other.
Then the game begins.
Characters have the following stats, which are used as a bonus to a roll of two six-sided dice: Brave, Stout, Sweet, Wicked, Wise. The dice are rolled when the character does something that has an uncertain outcome. Many times, these moves are formalized into basic moves that have specific effects on the story, such as: Be Bold and Daring, Help a Friend Get Unstuck/Stick it to a Friend, Find Something There That Wasn’t There Before, Break Some Femurs, Dig a Little Deeper, Charm a Heart Into Deciding, Bare Your Teeth and Ambitions, Go the Distance, Wish Upon a Star. Other times, the moves are specialized to their specific character and chosen during the Mousineer application process.
When player characters do something that triggers a move they must roll a 7 or higher on the die to succeed. A roll of 10 or higher means a boon with the success, but 7-9 means success with a caveat, and a 6 or less is a failure that moves the story forward. These are the same principles in any PbtA game. However, in Happiest Apocalypse on Earth, the characters can also Wish Upon a Star and call upon the power of the Great Mouse in order to reverse their fortune using the Twinkle stat, with the understanding that if they accumulate too many Twinkles, a horrible doom will befall them.
Living in Southern California with my wife and son, I am no stranger to theme parks. I have a tremendous amount of insight into theme parks in the region as a result of my frequent visitor status over the years and have for the better part of 15 years wandered around with the lens of an author. “What ifs” accumulated until finally I had to do something about it.
It is fairly obvious what this game is targeting, but there is a larger theme at play. It is not my intention to be critical of any company or institution. On the contrary, I am a very big fan and an avid supporter of the many important messages these parks deliver to children. This game is a satire, and in some ways, a social commentary on what has become of the notion of innocence.
In recent years we’ve seen the deconstruction of innocence in popular culture, in our gritty superhero movies, preference for dark and realistic streaming shows, and the rise of morally ambiguous characters in traditionally clear-cut roles (e.g. Rogue One, Star Trek reprise—even the Power Rangers!) On the fringes of the Internet, we’ve seen an absolute explosion of media like Five Nights at Freddy’s and Creepy Pasta which target icons of innocence and pervert them into monsters.
Happiest Apocalypse on Earth transforms the norms around innocence and black-and-white morality and turns it all on its head. The more horrifying, the better. I am attempting to push the genre with this game, to immerse one’s self into the horror of potential.
I do not mean to sound altruistic. I’m not trying to change anything, I’m just trying to create a unique and thrilling experience by dismantling our pre-conceived ideas.
Ultimately, this game is horror and designed for lovers of horror crossing genres from supernatural and Lovecraft to slashing and jump-scares. It is that, but it is also satire. It uses satire as a weapon.
As a marketer and publisher there is much that I can do “in house” and on my own dime, however I am seeking funding so that I can make this the best possible product possible. This budget will enable me to hire some incredible people in the industry to bring the project into fruition, create a top-notch gaming experience, and deliver a beautiful book with incredible art. I am fortunate to have the support of some talented people and want to bring them onto a team so that we can all produce a high-quality product gamers can get excited about.
Funds will go to the following:
- Interior Design: I’m thrilled to have the support of Rob Hebert who has agreed to do the interior artwork. You can see his work here: http://captwerewolf.deviantart.com/gallery/
- Editing: As this is my first real jump into the industry, the majority of the funds will go to game editing. It is important to me that not only are the t's dotted and the i's crossed, but that also the mechanics sing.
As for me, well I’m an author and game designer. I love roleplaying games. I love PbtA. I love telling awesome stories. Beyond that, I’m a good candidate for a Kickstarter. I am an executive at a public relations and marketing firm, so I have a lot of resources at my fingertips and a good pulse on the marketplace. I’m also a publisher, so I have a lot of in house capabilities. I’m a novelist, so I have an understanding of storytelling, setting, and a flare for writing. I’m a gamer and a Game Master. I have an understanding of how to have fun at tables.
I have also spent way too many days, months, and years at children's theme parks. You can find a bit more about me on my author site http://christopher.world.
Check out Happiest Apocalypse on Earth's feature on +1Forward, the Podcast Powered by the Apocalypse.
Interview with Angel Garcia on Hijos Del Rol
Overview from Crystarium Network
Check out my chat on #RPGNet IRC
- DONE! $5,000 Stretch Goal: Robert Hebert will extend the amount of art he will do for the game above and beyond the initial illustrations.
- DONE! $7,500 Stretch Goal: The talented Ian Llanas has agreed to create a stunning and horrific cover. His work is undoubtedly inspired and I’m truly honored that he’s willing to put his mark on this. You can see some of his work here: https://www.artstation.com/artist/ianllanas
- DONE! $10,000 Stretch Goal: Mouse Park Guest Pass Supplement, with mechanics, rules, and incidents for player characters that are guests in the park.
$15,000 Stretch Goal: We will produce a Spanish edition of the game!
$25,000 Stretch Goal: Mouse Park Gods and Villains section, which will include 20 additional bad guys and monsters, and mechanics so your table can develop the park's evil pantheon.
$50,000 Stretch Goal: We will create and publish a supplement with 50 fully fleshed-out Mouse Park incidents to use at your table.
Risks and challenges
One might say there is an elephant in the room here, perhaps a flying one.
The largest risk in funding this project is that I am walking a legal line with regards to intellectual property. I would be foolish to not regard this as a risk, however it is a calculated one. For starters, this is objectively satire, not the repurposing of intellectual property. Secondly, I have not and will not use intellectual property and/or trademarks at all. Now while there can be no doubt I am satirizing certain theme parks and some movies, I have not used anything that is copyrighted or trademarked. Thirdly, the project has no direct reference to any particular company, but rather satirizes a caricature of theme parks. So, I believe I am on solid footing with regards to intellectual property.
Another legal consideration is libel. It is possible that some companies might see this as an attack on their brand and claim damages as a result. For this to work, they would have the burden of proving that average people would believe this satirization to be an actual reflection of the brand and also that they lost money as a result.
All that said, I’m not a lawyer. I have consulted with those with experience in the field and will consult with lawyers before publication, but should I end up on the wrong end of the legal table as a result of this product, I have a solid defense.
Worst Case Scenario
Under pressure of a great legal expense, I would need to change some of the indirect references to theme parks, release my grip on the satire, and repurpose the game so that it is a far more generic setting. And yes, I could do that now, but that dilutes the entire purpose of the satire.
Should I see legal action from any party, and my lawyer agrees that I should be compliant with their position, I’ll make the appropriate changes.
In short, no matter what happens, you will get the game. And I won’t be using your funds to pay for a legal defense. That’s all on me.
It’s worth noting that this is my first Kickstarter. I’m putting my best foot forward and am aiming for a fully funded project. Thanks for your support!
- (30 days)