Dear Connor: This is All Your Fault. Disney Campaign Part 2

Dear Connor,

After sending you the last letter, I was discussing some of the concepts with one of my D&D groups, the only one that I don’t (currently) DM. And when the subject of a world where Disney Villains have taken over and there is some subverted fantasy world, the DM says “Hey, when you’re ready to run that, I’m in.” And the others also murmured their consent.

So now, thanks to YOU, I’m having to build a new campaign setting, that involves me rendering to stock essential elements of a bunch of movies, then blending all of that together into a dignified whole. So thanks for that, I am both angry and very, very, excited.

:p

So, where do we begin?

The Source is the Source, of Course, of Course

To get the campaign, we need the characters.
To get the characters, we need the world.
To get the world, we need the source.

Disney has a lot of stuff under their banner. Partly, because they’ve been around for a while and have made a bunch of stuff, but also, they are kind of a publisher. Small studios release movies through Disney, and that makes lists long and complicated. Still, we’re going to open up a spreadsheet, copy a long list of animated films and drop them in. And then, we’ll go through the list of Live Action films and cherry pick some interesting titles.

This gets our Source Material list to 164 items before we start filtering it down.

I don’t have a good explanation for exactly what I’m filtering. Some things are Obviously Not Disney, like some Studio Ghibli films were distributed through Disney, and therefore, they made it on to this list. There’s also some things I was throwing on there to sort later, like the Chronicles of Narnia Movies were a Disney Project, but they don’t feel right including. So material that I would consider to be worthy its own setting or is a Disney Adaptation instead of part of their library.

And while we’re paring down the list, there are some things we’re just not going to use and we can get rid of. Like the Goofy Movie. And there are a bunch of sequels that don’t necessarily add things to the lore of their worlds. At least from the outset. Perhaps if we’re doing a deeper dive to enrich some lore in some places, they could be useful sources, but, for now, unless I know they add something, let’s cut them

… Some time later …

Okay, the first purge is done. We’ve got it down to 90 movies, and I have a confession to make.

I don’t think of Pixar as Disney. I don’t like most Pixar movies. In this purge, I cut everything but Toy Story, as previous conversations gave that one some interesting potential, but the rest? Gone! The only guilt I feel is letting them on the list in the first place. Muhahahaha!

On a less controversial and adversarial note, I think I have uncovered our first Fact about this world. Animals are People Too. There’s a lot of movies on the list that only really contribute to this one point. Any movie with a talking animal, who is as clever as a human, helps reinforce this.

What I think that might mean for us is that “Animal” might need to be a playable race in this setting. . I had been planning on having Ratigan just be a were-rat, but he might actual be a Ra-

Mouse. A very BIG mouse, but a mouse none-the-less.

Anyway, I’ll filter Animal People movies out of the list. And I’ll also do a pass and remove  (or at least move) some titles that are pure Science Fiction. I have an idea of a thing I might do with those, but for now, they can be shelved. So, on to the second purge!

… Time Passes…

Look, it takes second for y’all readers to see my jumps here, but its taking me hours of thought and consideration, of abstracting out the essence of movies and finding commonalities. So you don’t know how long I poke and prod between my flashes of inspiration. You just get them all in one lump sum.

I figured out The Planes. Which is a big thing. There are three. First the boring Prime Material, aka, the world. Then there is the Fantasy Plane. The Fantasy plane is decidedly more cartoony. Mary Poppins can access it. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is built around it. Neverland might be there? not sure yet. The Genie is from here as that’s where he gets his powers and his references.

The Third plane is the Techfell (Edit:I think I’m going to name this the “Dark Labor”), where futuristic machines do machiney stuff. Tron is probably set in techfell, and characters occasionally get flashes of inspiration from a brief visit to the Techfell, and go MAD!! trying to build the wonders they saw here. Happened to Belle’s father. Crazy old Maurice… *shakes head*

Names aren’t set in stone, btw. I need to get some good names before the working name of “Disnelandia” gets stuck in my head.

A name I am proud of, though, is a new race that shows up in a handful of movies. Toyforged. This includes all of Toy Story stuff, as well as Pinnocihinose and Winnie the Pooh and friends. It would also include Chucky too, I suppose.

AS I go through, there’s a lot of things I’m picking up that define the world, but aren’t big Facts. Take the movie Cinderella. Talking animals is a Fact, sure, but we also have Fairy Godmothers, which is interesting. Spells duration can be Event-based, instead of Moments-based. There is Royalty that is not a gated community, somehow, and Servants are common, and commonly mis-treated. Transformation spells can do incredible things. And even though things are sentient, Cats still chase mice. Or there is a moderately sentient, really large breed of cat.

There’s not a whole lot more substance to the story, and while none of these are earth shaking, they’re worth writing down, as we mark Cinderella as “Thought about”

65 to go.

Time Passages

We’ll need an ocean. A big one. Not one of those wrap around the world big, but still, big. I’m not actually sure of the world is a globe. That’s a later detail. (I am dealing with an INSANE amount of realism defying magic. I can do whatever I please) But there is a lot of stories that are tied up with an ocean and boy howdy, it would be convenient if they were all the same ocean. It’s not a safe ocean. There’s at least 2 ships of nefarious pirates, a sea witch, a massive whale and so on and so forth.

I’m starting to see the glimmers of GM secrets. The little bits of Why the players would uncover as the game progresses, that means nothing to the characters. Unfortunately, as fascinating as it is, I don’t think it’s the kind of thing I can share without hurting future reveals. Maybe. I’ll think on it some more.

Actually, what I’ve decided to do is combine this project with Nanowrimo, so over the course of November, I’m going to throw 50k words at the screen, directly towards that project. We’ll see how long my enthusiasm lasts this year, but it’ll be something done towards the project

That doesn’t mean I need to stop with this stream of consciousness drivel, it just means that I’ll be writing in another place, then talking about that writing here.

Races in Dislandia

An interesting thing to me is that the playable races are going to be VERY different from a standard game. It’s hard to say, exactly, what with all the movies that I need to review, what’s out there that are, in fact, playable.

I think thins comes from the basis of human myth. Disney is taking our stories and retelling them. So, while Snow White might have her dwarves, Dwarves are not established as existing anywhere else in the globe.

Actually, taking an aside from this aside, you know what doesn’t exist in Dislandia? Monstrous hordes. Of the 79 titles on my master list, only 7 of them can be really said to have an army that’s being faced, and of those, the only one where the army(s) weren’t human was the Lion King, and because of how that movie works, hyenas basically count as human. There is a large deficiency of monsters in the Disney world.

That’s not a problem, per se. There’s a lot of flexibility in using “humans” as bad guys, but there are consequences. (I just realized that I could have “toy soldiers” with interesting levels of parody.)

Anyway, I’m probably going to have to go through the MM and purge most of it.

Anyway. Races. There’s a lot more of them than I thought, actually, but they’re all non-human. Which I think is pretty fun. I like a good non-human character. Most of the Bestial races stay in. I think Shifter is now needs to be an incredibly flexible and prevalent race.

Take, for example, Robin Hood. The Foxes one. Due to how ambiguous they made it, all of those characters could be actual animals, they could all just be human with an artistically licensed twist, or they are all in between, mostly Shifters whose form is not a scruffy human, but instead, a anthropomorphic Fox, wolf, possum, lion, rabbit, badger, mouse, rhino or bear, depending on who you mean. There’s also a Yuan-ti (Sir Hiss), a Tortle or two, Clucky and the Rooster are Kenku, and there is a lizardfolk crocodile who MC’d the tornament.

There is going to be a lot less of “I want to play an elf for the mechanical benefits” and more of “GM, I want to play a character like such-and-such, how can we make that happen?” Which is a more fun question, as far as I’m concerned.

Disney’s Hate Crimes

Okay, in assembling thoughts about the world, I’ve realized exactly how evil Cruella de Ville was/is. You thought her killing puppies for her coat was bad? Well, that was regular dogs. When you start merging all Disney, it turns out that ALL DOGS are sentient creatures. Cruella was planning on killing and skinning PEOPLE. Meat and Fur are MURDER! Even more than they are here!

Gaston isn’t too great either, although his prowess as a hunter increases if you assume that all the antlers he uses comes from deer who are about as smart as he is. Still, terrifying.

RPGs have a lot of touchy subjects that are awkward. Racism, Sexism, Slavery, War crimes, there’s a lot of things out there that are bad. A lot of prejudices. And there is a decent case to be made that they aren’t stuff to include in a fantasy world. And on one hand, I can see where they are coming from, because who wants to get this drama in your fantasy escape?

On the other hand, though, if you’re assuming people are still people in your fantasy world, then these things are going to naturally rise. Gender isn’t as big of an issue, at least as far as the tables I’ve seen go, as very few playable races have an actual difference between male and female, but in a world where various sentient creatures have different capabilities, I can’t imagine there not being some racial tension. And while I’m not dealing with Southern cotton filed level slavery, There is a race that I will be putting into this world that is a sentient, created, slave race. Meat is, quite literally, murder.

And sure, I could probably still just sweep these ideas under the rug, but I’m not one to do that. Not out of any sense of honor, but because I’ve already thought of it, and I can’t un-think things. I tend to have race matter a little, depending on the world, and I can pivot the slavery question into a form of Classism, which might be better? I dunno. I just pray I can deal with things with a careful touch.

Skraz

It’s hard to tell how much work a setting needs before it is complete. Even harder to judge how long until I would be prepared to run a game. I mean, I could run a game RIGHT NOW but it would involve me making up a lot more than I’d like. (I mean, that part happens ANYWAY, but…) So I want more time as I prepare to run a game, but I don’t know how long it’ll be.

We’ll just have to see. Watch this space for more information.

Sincerely, Your Gamemaster,

Matt

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