5. Avatar the Last Airbender
4. Danny Phantom
3. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
Onwards we go...
#2 - Recess
"This film takes place at an adventurous elementary school. Among the elementary school faculty is the sleazy principal (Prickly), the tough playground guard (Finster), and the nice 4th grade teacher (Grotkey). The six main cast members are T.J.,the leader and schemer of the group; Spinelli, the girl who is a bully with a heart of gold; Vince, the playground jock; Gretchen, the science whiz and smartest girl in school; Mikey, the poetic drama king; and Gus, the wimp with a military family. Then there are plenty of other typical elementary school kids, like the spy Randall, the 4 Ashley snobs, the diggers, the kindergardeners, etc., and including the older kids like King Bob. Everyday the group hangs out at recess dealing with different problems they must work together to overcome."
What Makes It Awesome?
I know, I know, another school based game. Blah, blah. But seriously, the world that Recess provides is awesome, and totally worthy of immortalization in RPG form. Lets break it down.
If you've seen the show, the main characters basically fill out a balanced adventuring party. You've got the leader, the nerd, the punk, the romantic, the jock and so on... And yet, they come together despite their diverse backgrounds to overcome challenges and be best friends. Sound a little like your gaming group's last session?
The big reason this game would work so well is it's parallels to D&D games already. In addition to the "classes" your character could fill, based in their role in the school yard - statistics like popularity, intelligence, athleticism and charm play a big part of this series and could easily be translated into a tabletop game's rules system.
The general basis of this show is to get the most out of every recess, whether it's participating in the various strange rituals of the playground, to battling older students for authority, to simply trying to cause trouble without getting caught. Players could be presented with a variety of tasks to complete, and much like in the Mouse Guard vein, they could be presented with a series of challenges opposing them. Depending on how they respond to the challenges they may either succeed or fail, presenting new challenges as a result.
The greatest part of Recess however, is simply this. The world of the playground is much more expansive than you might think, with a fleshed out culture, several factions, ancient rituals and traditions, and a government of it's own to boot!
A Snapshot: The World
The playground is a massive collection of varying factions and a self-sustaining government with customs and traditions that kids of the playground are expected to know. As such, the playground is populated with people who can aid with a variety of tasks, or who should be avoided at all costs. Here are some examples:
The King of the Playground (King Bob) - The playground exists as a monarchy, with the King attended by his personal aides, wielding the power to create or destroy traditions or decrees within the playground which then become law. The King is also a judge in all disciplinary issues or matters between two students who need a judge. In the show, King Bob is the ruler of the Third Street playground and the former prankster prince, whose throne sits atop the jungle gym. He is one of the school's older students (he is in the sixth grade). Bob is regularly depicted with a number "8" hockey jersey, and carries a hockey stick as a scepter. He is the individual with the most power on the playground and all bow to his commands.
The Ashleys - The prissiest members of the playground are the collection of all the girls named Ashley, a name which by some right sets them on a higher pedestal then the rest of the playground. As such, they also hold a bit of power, in addition to their own private clubhouse. They are fountains of gossip and generally good targets to go to for information.
The Kindergartners - Making up their own unique group among the students, the kindergartners live as uncivilized, and even dangerous, little urchins that wear face paint, carry tribal weapons, and harass the older children. They are uncontrollable and do not abide by the laws of the playground - sectioned off in their own private area with their own King. When they get loose however... dangerous things can happen.
And it doesn't end there. There are dozens of personalities on the playground. Each known for their specialties:
Randall C. Weems - Randall is the resident snitch of the playground. He is at the beck and call of the assistant teacher, who rewards him with various confiscated items and cookies.
Theresa "Cornchip Girl" LaMaise - Cornchip Girl is a sweet and loving girl who always thinks of other people and also gives people lots of useful advice.
Sam and Dave the Diggers - Two boys who enjoy digging holes.
Swinger Girl - A girl (voiced by Francesca Smith) who likes to play on the swings every recess. She wears her trademark pilot's outfit.
Upside Down Girl - A girl who hangs upside down on the monkey bars every recess. As a result, her pigtails always stand up.
The Hustler Kid - Francis, the Hustler Kid, is a kid that offers the children of the playground trivial toys and food, often discreetly.
Guru Kid - A boy who offers Buddha-like wisdom to kids who seek his advice. He wears a pair of striped shorts and his shirt on his head as a turban.
And my favorite...
Knarf - The nerd who usually hangs out in the school basement during recess with his three nerdy friends playing RPG games, reading comic books, and collecting trading cards.
Why Number 2?
Recess is already well on it's way towards being an RPG. There is enough just in the cartoon series to easily craft rules, a class system, and a full map of the playground and school. It would be a fun game for a couple reasons.
First, you get to be a kid again and use kid logic to solve problems. Second, the big problem is how can I get the most out of recess? Is there a nobler task? This game, as would most of these cartoon RPGs, would function best for one-shotish sessions, rather then ongoing campaigns, but I feel like it would be a blast.
This cartoon comes it at number 3 because I can already imagine playing this game, and it's not all that big a task to undertake to write up a small rulebook to make playing it a possibility. Plus, I loved recess when I was a kid - both the cartoon and the actual thing. I wish my playground was like this series!
Watch the opening below, and you can get a good idea for everything I've talked about here. If you get a chance, go watch an episode!
Stick around for #1 on the horizon!