You may recall that I’m a huge fan of roleplaying games. Well, I am. I was practically raised on Dungeons and Dragons but had the joy of learning several systems as I grew older. In 2013, Monte Cook Games introduced me to the Cypher System by releasing their critically-acclaimed Numenera RPG. Later, they’d go on to release The Strange RPG as well as a generic rulebook for their system simply entitled The Cypher System Rulebook. I haven’t talked much about these before, but if you ever talked with me, you’d know that I’m just as huge a fan of Numenera as I am of Dungeons and Dragons. The science-fantasy setting and the ease of use in both character creation and gameplay is a testament to why this system won so many awards.
Monte Cook Games has done it again. Last year they held a Kickstarter for No Thank You Evil, a toned-down, simplified, and family-friendly version of their Cypher System built for kids 4 and up. The game was initially inspired by the story of a young girl who pointed at a movie trailer and said, “No thank you, evil!” after being taught that instead of screaming, “NOOO!” they should say, “No thank you.” The magic spawned from there.
The game is built to be played as a child grows and the level of complexity slowly begins to add-on as they grow, if they so choose. Shanna Germain explained in an interview one time that “Playing at a higher level increases the complexity and variety for the player by providing more choices, but it doesn’t make the character better. In a story-driven game like No Thank You, Evil! the creativity of the player is the key; no matter what type of character you have, if you can think of it, you can try it—and potentially succeed.”
Backer rewards have started shipping and I recently received my copy to the linked PDFs in my email account. I think this has the potential to be absolutely ground-breaking. While other companies have tried similar approaches before (such as Paizo Publishing’s Pathfinder Beginner Box), Monte Cook Games has really knocked it out of the park in ways those other companies can’t and haven’t by making it so that I can play with even my 5-year old son without bogging him down with mechanics that, while toned down somewhat from their full version, are still complicated enough to confuse him. My son regularly comes up to me and tells me that he’s a superhero or that he’d like a story, so the chance to both tell him that story and incorporate his own choices and imagination into that story appeal to me as a roleplaying parent.
In “No Thank You Evil”, character creation is done by simply saying something about who your character is. The younger the player, the simpler this phrase can be. Whereas my 5-year old might simply say, “I’m a superhero,” your 9-year old might say, “I’m a superhero that flies with a jetpack.” This doesn’t change the character around much at all at first, but as you go on, it helps add a few new layers to the system and helps nurture a child’s imagination at the same time.
After all, like my son says, “It’s my imagination and I can do whatever I want with it.”