I started writing this post late May. Well before the Kickstarter started. I wrote a lot; I hated it all, it all felt like I was parroting some bullshit press releases. I wouldn’t care, except… I read an extremely early copy of the rules, and I was so excited to write about it. But, I mean, the world… sucks right now. I’m horribly depressed and unmotivated. I’m floating between highs and lows, but… nothing is great. I’m doing lots of retail therapy; collecting films I meant to watch, filling up gaps in my manga collection, I bought the dang perfect scale replica of the Ohmu from Nausicaä. Shit is hard. And I’m glad in these times, folks are creating… happy things.
See, Monster Care Squad is a TTRPG from my pals at Sandy Pug Games that… is exceedingly gentle. My initial take in May was that it was fantasy James Herriot; I know I’m not alone in making this connection. You roam its world, Ald-Amura, fixing up monsters who have been afflicted by a poison: the False Gold. Somewhat uniquely, monsters in this world are… well, they coexist with humans, they’re… not villified. And accordingly, you play a roaming monster veterinarian who never encounters combat. That’s not the sort of game this is. You heal; healing is the end goal, the level-up trigger, the apex of the narrative arc. You may need to slap a monster around to get it to accept your anaesthetic, but… fighting is ancillary here. It is a gentle game, a healing game.
I think part of why I struggled to finish this post was that… there’s a lot of rules to dive into, and again… I fall into some trash PR writing very easily. I will say that a core dice mechanic is that of control, which shifts what dice you use based on how much you’ve succeeded or failed up until that point. It’s a neat system that makes my maths-brain dance. But honestly… all these bits are great, but they mean nothing without realizing how much heart is in the game. And, I have known this from the beginning, I know these people and I know that they care; I’ve read the initial text, and I know that it cares. But…
…here’s the thing. The Kickstarter is going very well. Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t back it; you should! But… the team is doing something amazing. They’ve set up a grants system for what amounts to fanfiction. They’re not claiming ownership over anything that comes of it; they’re essentially not setting any rules at all. They’re asking people to apply, submit community works, and potentially get paid under a patronage sort of system1. Creators potentially get paid to develop whatever the hell they want, and then… they keep the ownership. This is the sort of shit I’ve always been pushing for. This is the sort of shit that we all need to be doing when we get a wee bit of power, yet are still stuck in this capitalist hellscape. Fixing stuff on a large scale is… kind of hard to even fathom. But on a medium scale… Sandy Pug Games is doing something that feels unprecedented to me for a small games company. This is a big fucking deal.
I don’t know how to wrap this up. Monster Care Squad is… so exciting to me. I imagine it would be exciting to anyone who happens across this blog. More importantly, the creators are finding new ways to… be genuinely good. Which is… what you’re to be doing in the game, in Ald-Amura, you’re a selfless professional. It’s some full-circle shit, and I’m here for it. I hope you are too. Redundant link, just in case, y’all.
- Apologies for supporting GOOG, y’know how it goes. ↩︎