Whimsicality. It’s in games like Troika, Break!!, many of your Final Fantasies and in adventures like Garden of Ynn and in settings like Ultraviolet Grasslands. My media consumption injected me with a hankering for more of it recently.
I’ve written about how my eternal GMing duality is Whimsical and Grounded (although Gritty is probably a better word for it). I go back and forth between the two every couple of days.
I’m subscribed to The Glatisant newsletter (you should be too if you like to stay abreast of quality blogging and products AND it’s free). In there was a fantastic vlog about some guy making an RPG and using Knave as a starting point.
So I felt inspired to make some whimsical art. And like Miscast, I wanted a system and setting that could blend all these everything I made into a cohesive whole.
I started looking at systems that do well with simple and could easily be played online. And then I thought of Maze Knights, which is still in development (become Ben’s Patron for access to its creation). Currently, it has a clear “d6 opposed” system that’s cheap and easy. The setting of Maze Knights, also lends itself well to whimsical-ness. It’s set on WRECKWORLD, a site of crashed spaceships with Mana spilling out all over the place and ready to be collected. It has Treasure Planet listed as an influence, so that just screams Sails and Stars… It also contains backgrounds like “Ooze Knight” alongside “Kettleboys” and “Grease Bugs.” It’s a winner.
The way Miscast also talked about spells made me think of Maze Rats magic, expanded upon in Maze Rats 5.3. Adding some elements of Maze Knights potions would also be uber-fun (grab the PDF at the bottom of that page while you’re at it). The whimsical always has an element of random to it, which helps magic feel more like a barely-controlled tool.
I then set to make myself a creative space. A place at the desk not devoted to work or school but just making things. Separating spaces keeps the mind engaged in those tasks for longer.
It started in absolute chaos. I started getting any art supplies I could find, gathering note cards, colored pencils, tape, scissors, whatever else. I put up a couple things to “set the stage” and then I just started making crap. And I mean crap. I was a child in a sandbox.
A bit of my “least” “objectionable” “material:”
For more creativity fuel, I made an “idea generator basket” filled with Pokemon and modded “In a Pickle” cards with all sorts of nonsense.
And with the space set, I made a piece that I thought perfectly straddled that Whimsical and Gritty duality in the form of the BIZARRE:
It felt relaxing and freeing to set all this up… Give it a go.
Homework: Make a creative space. If you have one, remove everything and put it in a giant pile. Then place it all where it fits best, not where it was before. Change the environment to change your output.
Lastly, I have a week between student teaching (now complete) and starting a real job, so expect more posts! 😛