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52 Pick Up: Reshuffled. A New Game each, err... month or so

Plastic People

by Micheal Lafferty, selected by Chris Czerniak
October 24, 2001
Seven of hearts

Welcome to 52 Pick up Reshuffled. This column is an outlet for readers of rpg.net to publish their games as columns. I encourage everyone to write a game. If you are interested I encourage you to contact me or to submit a game at cczernia@zianet.com.  

Plastic People

In this "break from serious role-playing" setting, the players take on the role of action figures. Think 'Toy Story' meets 'Army Men' meets 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids'. Campaigns should be fast-paced, fun and quirky.

The system is a modification of GMS's system for Time Knights (52pickup02.html).


The game is set in and around Tim's house. Tim is a typical, grubby, hyperactive 6 year old boy, with a messy play room and a little sister named Bonnie, who loves to annoy him. Character classes available at this time are Army Guys, transforming robots, dinosaurs and Bettys® (the blonde dolls from Bonnie's room.) Readers are encouraged to come up with their own character classes.

Toys' lifeblood is the attention they receive from humans. The emotional energy that toys absorb from humans enables them to move and act. The more a toy is played with or thought about, the more energy it has. Toys that are favorite collector's items (like Bettys®) gather strength from the ambient public recognition and don't have to be played with to remain vigorous. On the other hand, toys that are forgotten in a year and left in the bottom of the closet lose strength until they're just a shade of their former selves. So, little sister's well-loved Betty® could whip up on the fearsome looking but forgotten transforming robot toy. Toys venerate, or resent, humans as the source of strength and status.

The most important rule in toy culture is the Places rule, which holds that no matter what happens when the humans away, when they return you need to be in the exact spot you were in when they left. Rare exceptions are allowed if unavoidable (Resulting in a "Hey! I don't remember leaving that there!" from the human.) This rule is the cornerstone of toy life. The Betty's® are the self-appointed enforcers of the Places rule and they deal harshly with those who break it.

Malcontent toys see this as a way for the popular toys to hang on to human attention. For example, in Tim's room, the toys that are played with are put in a blue toy chest at the foot of his bed. Toys he has forgotten about are in the bottom of his closet scattered among shoes and dirty laundry. Some of the forgotten toys believe that if they simply moved to where the popular toys are, they'd get some attention.

Character Creation

Plastic People has 5 Attributes: Agility, IQ, Willpower, Charm and Human Attention. Agility, IQ, Willpower and Charm are generated by rolling 1d10. Human Attention is a reflection of how much human emotional energy a toy has at it's disposal and is assigned by the GM. A popular toy (like a Betty®) will have a 10, while a slightly less popular toy (like an Army Guy) may have a 6. The Human Attention Attribute may be raised or lowered at the GM's discretion, if the toy receives more or less attention from humans.

The Human Attention Attribute is used for most physical rolls. (It replaces what Strength, Constitution etc might be used for.) All attacks, whether melee or weapon based, rely on the Human Attention Attribute plus a combat skill.

Character Classes


Human Attention: 10

Bettys® are the slender, perky blonde dolls in Bonnie's room.

At Tim and Bonnie's house, the Bettys® are the strongest power block because of their numbers and unity. There are two dozen Bettys® who all work together. In addition, all Bettys® share a telepathic bond and have the ability to hypnotize other toys. The unlucky victim of Betty® hypnosis will stay hypnotized for ten minutes during which it will speak in an annoyingly cheerful voice, make derisive remarks about other toy's fashion choices and body fat ratio and do whatever the Betty® tells it to. This doesn't include actions that are blatantly suicidal. For example, a hypnotized Army Guy would do something stupid or dangerous, like attack his fellow soldiers or pick a fight with a surly house cat. But he wouldn't throw himself under the wheels of a speeding minivan. The Bettys'® male counterparts, the Brads® seem to be constantly be in this state of mindless hypnosis.

(Brads® are available as an optional character class. They have the same skills and Human Attention score as Bettys®.)

Being the most powerful toys in the house has made the Bettys® paranoid and quick to react to anything they see as a threat to their position. This is why they go out of their way to enforce the Places rule. They are also suspicious of any toys they find sneaking around or near Bonnie's room. They engineered the disappearance of several Star Princess Jeiya and Power-Gal action figures that they saw as competition for Bonnie's attention. They seem nervous over the arrival of several Keena Warrior-Princess figures, but have taken no action.

Naturally, other toys see the Bettys® as creepy and heavy-handed. The often refer to the Bettys® as the 'Pink Storm-Troopers' or the 'Blonde Collective'.

Army Guys

Human Attention: 6

Army Guys are battle-hardened fighting soldier action figures. There are many varieties of Army Guys: Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, SEALS, Airborne Rangers, Pilots, Tankers, Astronauts, Ninjas etc. They have a fortified HQ playset within Tim's toy chest as well as multiple tanks, jeeps, tanks, half-tracks, planes, ships and rockets.

Army Guys are at war with the forces of the terrorist organization V.I.P.E.R. who are pretty easy to spot as they all wear blue jumpsuits with a bright red snake insignia across the chest. V.I.P.E.R. is led by the curiously whiny V.I.P.E.R. Commander.

(V.I.P.E.R.s are available as an optional character class. They have the same skills and Human Attention score as Army Guys.)

Transforming Robot Toys

Human Attention - 3

An old box of robots that transform from robots to vehicles has been passed down from Tim's older brother. Tim has never shown much interest in these old toys and they mainly stay in his closet.

These toys change into variety of vehicles and in some cases animals. And for some unknown reason, they all have the ability to fly in robot mode.

The transforming robots used to wage epic battles. The heroic land-based robots would fight the evil aerial robots.

But they've lost most of the Human Attention in the last few years and their glory days are over. Since they're all relegated to the same battered and weather-beaten card board box in the bottom of Tim's closet, the old wars seem to have lost some of their importance. They don't battle each other nearly as much as they used to. They are now at the bottom rung of toy society due to their low level of Human Attention. But an ember of hope has been kindled with the rumor of a new Saturday morning cartoon featuring transforming robots this fall. The robots in Tim's room hope this cartoon will bring more attention, playtime and reinvigorate them.


Human Attention - 8

The dinosaurs arrived in Tim's room last Christmas in the wake of the latest Hollywood dinosaur movie. With their high Human Attention Attribute, they're the only faction that might be able to challenge the Bettys®. However, their lack of brainpower makes that unlikely. The dinosaurs, although mighty, fight amongst themselves a lot and also are easily manipulated. V.I.P.E.R. has a history of duping the dinosaurs into fighting against the Army Guys. However the dinosaurs also have short attention spans and tend to wander away from battles when something sparkly catches their eye.

The IQ of a dinosaur character can't be higher than 5.


Toys have 1-d10 points to spend on skills at the time of character creation. It should be noted that certain skills come automatically with certain character classes and do not have to be bought (firearms for Army Guys etc.) See the below list for complete details.

Task Resolution

To determine the chance for success of a task, the player adds together the appropriate Attribute and Skill. If the character doesn't have a relevant skill, just use the Attribute. The total is then multiplied by the difficulty modifier for the action. Easy:x10. Moderate: x7. Challenging: x5. Hard: x3. Impossible: x1.

Once you've arrived at your target number, a simple percentage roll, hitting at or beneath the target, is needed for success.


Combat is run using the same system. All combat rolls in Plastic People use the Human Attention Attribute, since it is the source of a toy's strength and vitality. This is true for ranged attacks (firearms etc.) because any action a toy takes, whether it's throwing a punch or firing a gun is simply a method of channeling it's Human Attention. Granted, some methods of channeling that attention will do more damage than others, but they all come from the same place.

Ranged combat difficulties are based on range:  Point Blank is Easy (x10), Short is Moderate (x7), Medium is Challenging (x5), Long is Hard (x3) and Extreme is Impossible (x1).  Melee attacks have a standard difficulty of Moderate (x7).  The target of an attack has a defensive roll which has a difficulty equal to the final rolled result of the attacker. For example, Player A attacks, hitting with a 44.  Player B's target for the defense roll is 44 or below. If she rolls 44 or below on a percentile roll, she dodged or the attack was just ineffective.

Damage is determined by a base 1d10 plus the Damage Value of the attack or weapon. Melee attacks simply do 1d10. See the combat chart below for details.

Taking general cover from a ranged attack (i.e. ducking, hiding behind obstacles) subtracts 7 from the defense roll.

Each point in the Betty® Psychic Shield skill subtracts 3 from the defense roll, against either ranged or melee attack.

The Betty® Hypnosis attack is handled as a modified combat attack. The Betty® adds her Human Attention Attribute plus Hypnosis skill and multiplies by 7 (since hypnosis is moderately difficult). If the Betty® is successful and rolls beneath the target number, the victim must roll beneath the final result of the Betty®'s roll to avoid being hypnotized. The victim's Willpower Attribute is subtracted from the defense roll. If it fails, the unlucky target will stay hypnotized for ten minutes.

Some transforming robots have a Mega-Merge skill that allows 4 robots to merge into one giant robot for 4 rounds of combat. The individual robots can not act independently while in giant robot mode. During these four rounds, all of the attributes and skills of the 4 are pooled and used exclusively for the giant robot's actions. Only the giant robot may use the Mega Plasma Sword skill. See the weapons chart below for more details and damage values.

Hit Points and Being Broken

Death is not permanent in combat between toys. A toy that is 'killed' in toy combat goes into a temporary stasis and awakens in 15 minutes. Damage heals thirty minutes after combat is finished. For unknown reasons, all toys enter a similar stasis whenever a human is present. They are aware of what is happening, but they are unable to act or speak.

True death only occurs when a toy is Broken - a state that can only be caused by humans. A Broken toy is in a permanent stasis that can be lifted if she is Fixed by a human. Being Fixed is the toy equivalent of resurrection and is viewed with awe. From a toy's perspective, humans are the ultimate takers and givers of life.

Hit points are calculated by adding the score of the Human Attention Attribute + 1d10.


Every adventure, the GM will award between 1 and 4 xp points. Points may be spent to raise skills or buy hit points. Spending 1 point will raise a skill by 1 (or buy a new skill), except in the case of the Army Guys heavy weapons skill and the Bettys® Psi Blast Skill which cost 2 points to buy initially and 2 points for each additional level.

Spending 2 points will add one hit point.

Places of Note

The Under the Bed Lounge- Favored R+R site for toys. Run by a jaded one-armed Super-Guy action figure. This meeting place is where toys like to relax at the end of the day and keep up on playroom gossip.

Bottom of the Closet Ghetto - Chaotic mess at the bottom of the closet with dirty socks, soccer shin guards and toys that are never played with reside. The lowest rung of toy society.

Toy Chest - Where Tim's most often played with toys are stored. The high rent district of the toy society.

Betty® Territory - The area in and around Bonnie's room. Tim's toys avoid this area like the plague because of the fearsome reputation of the Bettys®.

Oracle in the Attic - A colorful, cube-shaped puzzle toy stored in a box in the attic of Tim's house that is believed to have arcane knowledge. Sometimes, toys in need of guidance will undertake the treacherous quest to the attic to consult the oracle.


General Attributes for All Characters

Agility (generate by rolling 1d10)

IQ (generate by rolling 1d10)

Willpower (generate by rolling 1d10)

Charm (generate by rolling 1d10)

Human Attention (assigned by GM /not rolled) used for most physical based rolls as Human Attention is the source of toys' strength)

General Skills and Damage Values of Weapons

(damage is 1d10 + DV of the weapon)

Shoe String Lasso- Entangle attack. A successful attack leaves the target entangled (can take no action other than struggling to get free) for 2 rounds of combat.

Slinky Wrangling - Rappelling, swinging with metal spring toy. Can be used as a weapon. A successful attack will entangle a target for 3 rounds of combat.

Fast Talk - Charming or deceiving

Melee - Punching, kicking, wrestling etc. Damage Value=none. Damage is simply the base1d10 for all attacks.

Special Skills for Army Guys (1d10 points to spend in skills. Automatic 1 in firearms and melee)

Jeep Operation - Driving Jeeps, Humvees, etc.

Tank Operation - Driving tanks. (If you select this skill, you probably want to go ahead and get Heavy Weapons as well, so you can fire the tank's weapons)

Heavy Weapons - Operating cannons, rocket launchers or heavier guns mounted on vehicles. Costs 2 xp to buy or raise. Damage Value=6

Firearms -Use of general military firearms. Damage Value for sidearms=3. For rifles=4

Stealth - Being sneaky and undetected

Piloting - Flying helicopters, planes, hovercrafts, spaceships etc.

Parachuting - self-explanatory

Knife Fighting - Fighting with a knife (duh). Damage Value=1

Kung Fu Grip - Special Army Guy attack. Damage Value=2

Trick Shot - Making a difficult shot.

Special Skills for Betty® ( 1d10 points to spend in skills. Automatic 1 in telepathy, hypnosis, and psi-punch)

Hypnosis - Bends victim to your every whim for 10 minutes (see details on attack under Combat subheading)

Psychic Shield - Each point in this skill adds +2 to defense value.

Fashion Sense - Color coordination and accessorizing

Telepathy - Psionic communication with other Bettys®

Corvette Operation - Driving Corvettes

Psi Punch - Special Betty® attack. Damage Value=3

Psi Blast - Special Betty® attack. Costs 2xp to buy or raise. Damage Value=5

Specific Skills for Dinosaurs (1d10 points to spend in skills. Automatic 1 in trample, bite and claw)

Trample - Overrun an opponent with brute strength. Damage Value=8

Bite - Biting and chewing and gnashing. Damage Value=7

Claw - Claw attack. Damage Value=7

Transforming Robots Specific Skills (1d10 points to spend in skills. Automatic 1 in deception, laser weapons. By GM's discretion, may have automatic 1 in mega-merge and mega plasma sword)

Sword Fighting - Some of the changing robots came with big, clunky swords.

Laser Weapons - Using laser pistols. Damage Value=6

Deception - Passing themselves off as just a vehicle etc.

Mega-Merge - allows 4 robots to merge into one giant robot for 4 rounds of combat.

Mega Plasma Sword - Massive Plasma sword that can only be used by the giant robot created by Mega-Merge. Damage Value=10

Sample Adventure Ideas:

  • Odyssey. A platoon of Army Guys has been lost at a public park. They want to get through the jungles and back to their home fortress in Tim's bedroom. Along the way, they must deal with lizards (which look a lot like a dragon when you're 4 inches tall), squirrels and other lost toys who could be allies or enemies.
  • Through the Looking Glass. A battered Army Guy figure comes back from a scouting mission with word of a portal to 'real' world; a world where bullets really kill and the outcome of battles really matter. In this world, the battle against the terrorist forces of V.I.P.E.R. is in dire straits and reinforcements are badly needed. Infighting erupts as some of the Army Guy's are eager to load up all their plastic vehicles and head for the 'real' world and others think that the portal is a lie - a devious V.I.P.E.R. trick. (It's Game Master's discretion as to whether the portal actually exists or not.)
  • Enemy Mine. Last Friday, the V.I.P.E.R commander was sold at a yard sale for $1.25. After his initial jubilation, the Army Guy General began having troubling visions that told him to contact the Oracle in the attic. The Army Guy General and his troops undertook the perilous quest, which involved dodging humans, skirting Betty® territory, fighting off mice and roaches and scaling the stairs to the attic. The Oracle told the Army Guy General that with his arch-enemy gone, he and his friends will receive much less play time and thus grow weaker and weaker. Realizing this was true, the Army Guy General gathered together a crack squad to brave the dangers of Outside (dogs, insects, cars, lost toys, and kids with bottle rockets) and retrieve the V.I.P.E.R Commander.
  • Moving On Up. A bunch of transforming robot toys languishing in the bottom of the closet decide they would get more play time if they moved to the toy chest at the foot of Tim's bed, where the popular toys are kept. They talk the gullible dinosaurs into helping them and plan a covert midnight raid to seize some territory. Unfortunately, the Army Guys who reside in the chest have gotten wind of the plan
  • Dressed to Kill. The Bettys® realize that their position as mightiest of the toys would be enhanced if they could find a way to Break other toys on their own. They decide to do some research and kidnap an Army Guy. The Bettys®' experiments will include dropping heavy things on him, trying to flush him down the toilet and lashing him to a space heater. The remaining Army Guys launch a rescue attempt into the heart of Betty® territory.
  • Deal with the Devil. One night at the Under the Bed Lounge, the V.I.P.E.R commander asks some transforming robots if they would do him a favor. He wants them to sneak downstairs (and past the surly house cat) and liberate a bag of rubber bands from the junk drawer in the kitchen. The Commander needs it for a secret weapon he's working on. In return, he promises them a coveted spot in Tim's toy chest. Unbeknownst to the robots, V.I.P.E.R. Commander is hedging his bets and has also sent a party of his own troops after the same goal.
  • Shangri-La. A ragged and chewed-up Army Guy figure that was left at the park last summer struggles back into Tim's Room. During his wanderings in the wastelands, he has discovered Great Truths. Humans are not almighty beings and toys can live a life free from their whims. He proves that he's telling the truth by using a stolen tube of Super-Glue® to Fix a Broken dinosaur toy. Several toys are inspired and decide to leave Tim's room to follow the old Army Guy to his paradise. To the Bettys®, this is heresy and a threat to their way of life that must be nipped in the bud.
Non-Toy Antagonists

(All non-toy antagonists use Strength instead of Human Attention for combat rolls and a base attack skill of 5.

Surly House Cat: Strength 19, Agility 10, IQ 6, Willpower NA, Charm NA, Hit Points: 20000 (effectively unkillable). Attack Damage Values: Bite 10. Claw 9. Pounce 7

Quirks: The cat is basically too large to be damaged by a toy's attacks. If it is hit enough times hard enough, it will become annoyed and flee. Sometimes, toys can avoid combat with the cat by playing dead. In this case, or if the cat actually "kills" a toy during combat (ie the toy enters stasis for 15 minutes), he will bat it around for a bit, before carrying it away and leaving it in some special spot (behind the fridge, for example).

Lizard (newt): Strength 4, Agility 9, IQ 3 Willpower NA, Charm NA, Hit points 65. Attack Damage Values: Bite 5, Head Butt 6. Quirks: detachable tail

Lizard (Iguana or Gila-Monster): Strength 10, Agility 7, IQ 4 Willpower NA, Charm NA, Hit points 200. Attack Damage Values: Bite 7. Tail Swipe 5.

Ant :Strength 2, Agility 4, IQ 1 Willpower-NA, Charm NA, Hit points 30. Attack Damage Values: Bite 3. Quirks: attacks in swarms

Bee: Strength 1, Agility 5, IQ 2 Willpower-NA, Charm NA, Hit points 30. Attack Damage Values: sting 2

Roach: Strength 1, Agility 3, IQ 1 Willpower NA, Charm NA, Hit points 40. Attack Damage Values: Bite 3

Mouse: Strength 5, Agility 7, IQ 3 Willpower NA, Charm NA, Hit points 150 Attack Damage Values: Bite 4 TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

What do you think?

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Reshuffled: 52 Pick Up, edited by Chris Czerniak

52 Pick Up original run, by Gareth-Michael Skarka

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