Buried in the FAQ of the currently ongoing Kickstarter for the Adventure Time Card Wars Anniversary reprint is a couple of questions regarding the animated series’ adaptation into a tabletop RPG. Publisher Cryptozoic explains that crowdfunding has been delayed until the first part of 2024, and - more baffling - it will now use Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules instead of a previously announced custom system.
When last we checked in on the upcoming tabletop RPG set in the Land of Ooo, players would use a newly designed Yes And rule set that design studio Forever Stoked and its creative director Matt Fantastic cooked up specifically for this project. You can read a deep dive into the inner workings here, but the jist is that contests are resolved with a pool of custom dice marked with “Yes/No” and “And/But/blank” die faces. Roll the dice, interpret the results, keep the story always moving forward.
Such a narrative-focused system makes sense in a world where fantastical elements play a part in everyone’s life - characters are magical dogs or vampires; they’re composed of living candy, sentient ice or have a grass appendage that can transform into a sword. Adventure Time’s stories aren’t about power levels or overcoming combat encounters with hard maths, but instead focus on a journey of emotional maturity and self-discovery where conflict is more often a reckoning with one’s own heart than a force of armed foes.
Fantastic and publisher Cryptozoic always planned to develop a 5E-compatible ruleset for the Adventure Time RPG in the form of an additional zine that would be printed as a companion piece, but now it seems the two sides have flipped with little public notice. The Kickstarter FAQ mentioned above takes a vague position on what fans can expect:
“Yes, we made the decision to make it a 5e experience, based on feedback from fans. That doesn’t mean the game shown at Gen Con earlier this year won’t be released too, but the main offering in the upcoming Kickstarter will be the 5e RPG.”
Will the original vision be released in the same campaign as the now primary 5E edition, or will it come after? Why make this switch at all? Dungeons & Dragons’ popularity has significantly recovered since the OGL controversy earlier this year, largely aided by the landslide success of Larion’s video game Baldur’s Gate 3, but that doesn’t fully explain this shift in direction from a studio that seemed intent on creating a tabletop RPG as unique as its source material.
Dicebreaker reached out to Cryptozoic for comment but did not receive a response before publication.