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Today we have a bit from the beginning of Bigger Bads, a set of crunchy new rules for your Monsters game.

The following excerpt is by Benjamin Baugh, © 2010. Enjoy.

Fiddly Bits
Here are a few tweaks and nuances to the Monsters and Other Childish Things core rules, stuff that is already implicit but not explicit enough. It'll be useful later on when we get to the titular (hush, you—it doesn't mean that) big, bad GIANT MONSTERS. There's stuff about range and distance, stuff about stats for menaces and dangers that aren't exactly characters but are more than just a difficulty number to beat with a roll. Combined, these things let you know how hard you'll have to run to escape the dreaded Mecha-Rooster, and if you climb onto his leg, how hard it'll be fighting your way past his razor-sharp feathers and mecha-mites to get close enough to sock him in the vulnerable mecha-giblets. Sometimes, a giant monster is more a place than a person.

Pushing and Shoving
Sometimes, in the chaotic melee of an action scene or a crazy social blowout scene, you want your kid or monster to do something that doesn’t really hurt the other guy, but makes him do something or NOT do something. If you can set your foes up like suckers so you’re friends can put the chomp on them, even better.

This allows anybody to take an action that’s pretty similar to what a monster can do with a Useful power as outlined on page 43 of Monsters and Other Childish Things, specifically similar to the Tangle and Hold moves.

Basically what you do is this: During the Declare phase of the round, tell the GM what you want to force the other guy into, and make sure you and the GM have a good sense of what that’ll mean. You can limit your enemy’s choices, restrict his movement, or change his target for a little while, but you can’t win the fight automatically or totally take him out. The effects of this kind of pushing and shoving last for Width – 1 rounds.

Example: Benny McAlyster is having a pretty lousy day. This morning he completely blew a geometry test because he forgot to study—the Order of Horus tried to banish Mr. Crocker to the netherworld (“I’m not even from there! What’s up with these guys?”) . . . AGAIN. Then at lunch, Benny saw Mindy Mezlowski talking and laughing with that jerkwad from the field hockey team. Then when he got home, he discovered that his parents had been replaced with really unconvincing replicons with plastic hair, and there was a black van covered in antennas across the street. So when the MIB zap-and-grab team comes for Mr. Crocker just before bedtime, Benny is having none of it.

The MIB’s are trying to jab Mr. Crocker with a weird gizmo that paralyzes him, and so Benny decides to put himself between his buddy and a zapping. During the Declaration phase of the round, Benny’s player says that his intent is to keep the MIBs from being able to attack Mr. Crocker by FORCING them to attack HIM instead. His player suggests this would best be rolled as GUTS + COURAGE, and the GM agrees; throwing yourself into the path of a MIB zap-prod is a pretty courageous thing to do. What this will do is prevent the MIBs from attacking anybody except Benny for the width of his roll minus one in rounds.

And while Benny is getting the heck zapped out of him, Mr. Crocker can seriously put the bite on these black-suited bullies without worrying about the zap himself.

Helping Hands
Sometimes you want to do your friends a solid rather than do your foes a hurt. If this is your intent, then Declare it as usual and roll the appropriate dice pool. Perhaps you shout some useful factoid (like, “His weak part is his bladder sac! Kick him in the bladder sac!") and roll Brains + Remember. Or perhaps you feint an attack with Hands + Punching so your monster can get a more solid slap in with his spiky tail-knob.

The character you’re helping adds dice equal to your roll’s width to their dice pool next round.

The only restriction is that monsters can't do this. This is a kid-only trick. It has something to do with human empathy and egalitarianism, but has even more to do with a monster’s sometimes very distressing inability to tell the difference in shoving a friend out of the way to assist their Dodge skill and shoving a friend out of the way to assist their Achieve Low Earth Orbit Without a Rocket skill.

Example: Back to Benny’s bad day: Even while the MIBs are zapping him, Benny is trying to help Mr. Crocker out. He decides to grab hold of the MIBs and make it easier for Mr. Crocker to bite them real good. Benny rolls his GUTS + WRESTLING and gets 3x8. He throws three dice to Mr. Crocker to bulk out the monster’s multiple-action, bitey-bite surprise. Two crashing snaps of Mr. Crocker’s jaws follow, and Benny finds himself wrestling furiously with two sets of legs attached each to half a torso.

Benny then wonders briefly if being friends with Mr. Crocker has made him weird, because his first thought on seeing the MIB innards is, “At least they have some color other than black and white.”

Those Who Help Themselves
Can you do your own “Helping Hands” actions and reap the benefits in your own dice pool? Sure! Set yourself up for a cool combo move next round and add your roll’s width in dice to your next action.

Of course, your next action has to make sense given the setup action.

You Declare your intention to do the setup action, but you don’t have to Declare ahead of time what you’re setting the other guy up for. You do that the next round, taking into account what you used for the self-help. This gives you some flexibility, so you might not declare the action you’d intended in the following round if the situation changes, but you can likely come up with something that’ll take advantage of the extra dice.

For example, let’s say you want to distract another kid with a nasty insult (Face + Putdown; let’s call it 4d in this case) and then sock him in the belly while he’s shaking his head and yelling at you (Hands + Punching). In the first round you declare the nasty insult and say you’re using it to set the guy up for something later. You roll four dice and get 2x7. The next round, you describe how adding insult helps you do injury, and if the GM thinks it makes sense you add those two dice to your Hands + Punching roll.

Extras: I Didn't Know You Could Do That! 
Here are some new extras and some tweaked uses of old ones.

New Extras
Here are a few new monster Extras. Ask your GM before you use them.

Big: This Extra plugs into the Bigness rules. Bigness is a special-case Extra that has to be taken for each separate location. If you do that, it lets the monster operate higher on the Bigness scale.

Bounce: If your defensive roll beats an attack’s Width and Height, in addition to gobbling the attack’s dice safely, you can also bounce it back and inflict an attack on your attacker equal to his or her own roll. Each additional rank of Bounce allows you to either deflect another attack, or bounce it with one of the attacker's Extras. So, if you get nailed by a 2x5 attack with Gnarly x3 and defend with a 3x6 that has one rank of Bouncy, you can deliver that 2x5 attack right back at the other (very surprised) monster. If you have four ranks of Bounce, you can do that with all three of those Gnarly ranks too!

Immunity: Each rank of this extra makes a single monster location totally immune to something fairly specific—falling, fire, piercing, the judgment of others—even if it’s done by a monster or some other force that can hurt monsters. For all-over immunity, take this in every hit location. If the GM raises an eyebrow and goes “Hmmmmm” when you suggest and immunity to something like “Stuff That Hurts,” you can assume it means you’re reaching, and should dial it back to something more specific, like “Pointy Stuff That Hurts.”

Range: This one applies if you’re using the new “Farness” rules. It gets a proper description in that section. If you’re not using those rules, then don’t take this extra. It'll be less use than the panicked micro-cram you do minutes after you walk into class and realize the final exam is today and not Friday.

Sweet: Each rank of Sweet increases the Width of a successful roll for a Useful power when determining how well you do. It’s like Gnarly but for stuff that doesn't do damage. This doesn't improve your chance of getting a success—you still need to roll a set before you get to be totally Sweet—but it makes successes that you do roll that much nicer. Sweet also doesn’t affect Width for the purposes of initiative. If you want to be quicker, you still need Wicked Fast.

Splash: Each rank of Splash lets a power hit a second adjacent hit location on a target that’s roughly the same size as you (the same level of “Bigness”). If you hit a target's 1–2 location, and have one rank of Splash, then it also hits the 3–4 location. With five ranks of Splash you can hit six locations in one blast—that’s a whole person! (With monsters that's not as sure a thing, what with their tendency to have more limbs than is generally considered decent.) If there’s any choice to be made between available hit locations, the target gets to pick where your attack splashes. Spash damage does not ignore any Toughness the splashed locations might have, so it's not quite the same as how damage will roll-over if it hits a location without any more dice.

Revised Extras
And here are some tweaks on old Extras. Again, ask your GM first to make sure the changes are fair.

Awesome: What if you want more than two levels of Awesome? If the GM is cool with it, you can keep buying Awesome. Every two ranks lets you flip another die to whatever you like after you roll, and any remaining single ranks let you set one before the roll. So, five ranks of Awesome let you set one die before the roll and two dice after. Be careful not to spend too much on Awesome, though—if you can flip more dice than you have, you'll be in trouble unless your monster is mainlining a Relationship.

Spray: As written, Spray doesn’t scale and can be really dominant. Here’s a less macho version: Each time you take a rank in Spray, you can use one additional set to spam your declared action each time you take a rank of Spray. So to use two extra sets (up to three total), you'd need Spray x2.

Thunder Strike Fist Alpha!
As an optional rule, if you strike a dramatic pose and shout out the name of your attack, you can trade dice from the pool you roll on the attack for levels of Gnarly if you land a hit.

And when I say “you” I actually mean “you”—the personal sitting at the gaming table with your friends, who will almost certainly not totally lose it when you leap to your feat, do a few karate passes, and shout “Momma-Insulting Comeback Style!” in order to make your Face + Putdown attack really really hurt.

You have to strike a different pose and shout a different attack name every time you want to do this—you can't just spam your “Rocket Mandible Acid Bomb!!” over and over without earning the justified mockery of your peers.

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