Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baseballs & Basements

The year is 1972. Summer break has just begun. Your mom leaves early in the morning and tells you not to get into trouble. As soon as you're sure she's gone, you fill your rucksack with a carton of OJ and a PB&J sandwich, and then you head down to the sandlot to meet up with the other latchkey kids. All of you are at a magic age where you're not too young to make the whole neighbourhood your playground, but not yet too old to fill that space with make-believe.

Well, is it make-believe? Once you're together, each of you takes on a different persona - a brave superhero, a heroic sportsman or a beautiful princess. Together you search for buried treasure, walk down railway lines, battle monsters in the woods and escape from angry adults. Is it a dragon behind the chainlink fence or just a big Dobermann? Is it Nazi gold in the spinster's attic or just cheap forgotten jewelry? Such questions are meaningless; for the line between fantasy and reality has vanished, now that you have entered the world of Baseballs & Basements!


Superhero: You have superpowers and fight crimes even after it's past your bedtime

 Sport Star: You are a hero just like Babe Ruth & you can conk things on the head with your bat/racket/ball
Princess: You are the prettiest princess in all the land & everyone loves you. but you can kick butt as well.
Beastmaster: You are a pretty ordinary kid but you have an imaginary friend who is anything but ordinary & you are inseperable!
Gadget Kid: You can build awesome gadgets and you have a secret treehouse with secret features...


Anything that's in D&D except reimagined in some way, probably less deadly/scary and more slapstick. Like maybe sahuagin live in the neighbour's swimming pool, goblins in the attic, hell hound in the abandoned house. And generally the way children would imagine them, so no Tolkien stuff, gnomes would be like the Smurfs, elves would be like the Keebler Elves (even though I don't know what those are because I am Australian).

Actually anything that appears on a cereal box is a monster in this game.

Anything from Dust
 Dogs: Dogs can be a mixed bag. Obviously if you have a dog it's a loyal companion. The dog that guards the junkyard though is a vicious fucker.

Cats: They are up to something let me tell you.

Bullies: The lesser sort will just take your lunch money. The older kids may even put you in hospital.

Grownups: The most dangerous enemy of all. If you get caught by grownups you are grounded mister.

Well so it's D&D, yeah? (Why would I want to create a new system for anything when D&D is already the best system there is??) But you can't really die. Fuck me that would be depressing. The perma-death equivalent is that you either get grounded (if you're caught by parents) or laid up in hospital (if you're physically injured) or you just lost your nerve (if you got damaged by imaginary monsters? NO. THE MONSTERS ARE NOT IMAGINARY. But maybe if you take fear damage or something.) The point is that you are unable to play for the rest of the summer, and this summer is the whole game. But just as there's Raise Dead there might be ways to bring a PC back.

And levelling up, I'm thinking as you level up you are growing up. When you hit some sort of level cap you must 'retire' by becoming an adult, and it gets all storygamey as you narrate what you grow up to be (i.e. a Gadget Kid might grow up to be a scientist, a Superhero could become a civil rights activist, etc.) But it is bittersweet because you leave all your friends behind. Time is strange; kids come and go from the game, they grow up and move on, but this summer remains. It's the eternal summer, where there's always more dragons to fight.

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone? 
- The guy in Stand By Me


this game which is adorable and sparked this idea in the first place

all the things with pictures above, especially Calvin & Hobbes and Earthbound

File:Chabon summerland.jpg

(haven't seen this one but what the hell)


  1. It seems like the kind of thing that would fit, but I haven't actually seen it and don't know much about it. The same goes for The Goonies.