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BAD BAD BAD’s mixture of Kingdom Hearts and creepypastas swerves on traditional worldbuilding in RPGs

Imagine flying a gummi ship to the Backrooms.

Early art for card-based tabletop RPG BAD BAD BAD
Image credit: Kelly K

Is your game group tired of creating fantastical worlds and would rather crash land into their favourite films, video games and internet urban legends as a group of troubled delinquents? That’s the premise of upcoming card-based tabletop RPG BAD BAD BAD, which sounds like a careless hotwired joyride fueled by angst and 2000s nostalgia.

Designed by Tyler Crumrine of Possible Worlds and brought to life by illustrator Kelly K, BAD BAD BAD deliberately avoids any notion of creating a world for the roleplay group to explore. Instead, it sends players to familiar settings from television, comic books and beyond to deal with a creeping corruption overtaking every reality. Imagine Kingdom Hearts if it was instead composed of fan fiction, liminal space TikToks and Spongebob reruns. The art is overflowing with chunky shoes, streetwear and cute accessories, landing somewhere between The World Ends With You and a cute/punk fashion Pinterest board.

This is a stark departure from Crumrine’s approach to Beak, Feather and Bone, a title solely preoccupied with marking, notating and filling maps with life. BAD BAD BAD separates itself further from traditional tabletop fare by rotating the role of game master (or GM) between players and fitting everything - rules, character stats, art and resolution tools - in a single deck of cards.

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"BAD BAD BAD is a distillation of my last year-and-a-half running games for first-time roleplayers at my local library,” Crumrine told Dicebreaker via email. “Emphasising simple mechanics, quick buy-in, & evocative play aids, I couldn't be more excited to share it with you all.”

The title refers to the three bad things asked of players when building characters, the setting and each GM’s turn leading the game over nine consecutive turns. The players embody disillusioned teens who can only see the way in which their world is broken, and that negativity reflects a twisted image in the corruption streaking through worlds that once comforted or distracted them. If Kingdom Hearts confronts the rejection of imagination with joy and friendship, BAD BAD BAD wields the cynicism and scathing wit of people teetering on the cusp of adulthood.

BAD BAD BAD is still in early development and ashcan copies (read: very rough early editions) will be available at the Toronto Comics Art Festival, table 156. Crumrine confirmed that the ashcan will be available on Possible Worlds’ website in early May, in addition to a public playtest server. The team doesn’t yet have a date for BAD BAD BAD’s final version, nor have they finalised plans for crowdfunding in the future.

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