Toonaria: The Great Sleep


Death is not the end. In fact, the word isn’t even in the gubby dictionary. As far as most Toonarians are concerned, nobody really dies, they just go to sleep, so there is always hope that a loved one will return. As such, funerals are mostly happy events, and bodies are not buried, but put into Sleeporiums. A fresh set of clothes is always included with the body, so that a Sleeper may dress properly upon their return.

Now, it’s true that those who have entered “The Great Sleep” are mourned for, after all, no one knows when the Sleepers will awaken, and they will be deeply missed until they are reunited. But there is also rejoicing for the Sleeper.

Sometimes Sleepers awaken a year later, a hundred years later, or even a thousand years later. Every now and then, a Sleeper awakens later the same day. A few years ago, one fellow was said to have woken up shortly after the closing prayer at his funeral! Was he ever truly dead? No doctor would have declared otherwise–if dead were a word in Toonaria, The Great Sleep hardly seems permanent for many, so long as hope remains.

One never knows how or why, but Sleepers have been known to awaken from time to time. In fact, it has happened often enough that holidays have been established in the hopes of triggering awakenings on those special days, and it does seem as though a larger number of Sleepers have awakened since the holidays were made official. Even so, not all Sleepers awaken, not even after thousands of years, but this has not diminished the hope that they will indeed one day return. Such Sleepers are regularly visited by their loved ones, and it isn’t uncommon to have multiple funerals in memory of the Sleeper and their family, always with much fanfare.

Two legendary beings who vanished in the distant past and are believed to be sleeping in hidden Sleeporiums include the First Illuminarii and the Sleeping Architect. In the past, when powerful beings have succumbed to The Great Sleep, they have always returned, but these two enigmatic beings have never returned as far as anyone knows.

Much research is being conducted to determine patterns–why some Sleepers awaken while others don’t, and the timing of such awakenings. There are several theories. One, is that sometimes the souls of Sleepers are captured and are given new, temporary bodies to serve powerful beings, making their return greatly delayed. Another theory is that the spirit of all Sleepers is absorbed into the dream realm, and they forget their former lives. Only a few find their way back to their bodies and wake up. Still another suggests that all spirits are taken to their destined afterlife, and only a select few are returned to accomplish some great quest, or to assist another in doing so.

There are other theories as well, but no one knows for sure what really happens, as when a Sleeper awakens, they don’t typically remember what transpired. Those that do, often have very different stories of what took place, and are nearly always confused and forget significant details shortly thereafter. \

It is generally believed one should dwell in the present, and that mysteries are the spice of life, and therefore not a great deal of natural sleep is lost pondering such things. Those that do, sometimes go on grand quests to the dream realm and beyond, but not many of those ever return. Those that have, are not always believed, for their tales are epic indeed.

Well, that’s all for this week, folks. As promised, our posts will be rather erratic during the holidays, and also because I’m in the middle of trying to wrap up my latest book:
Sea of Worms. As ever, I covet your thoughts! Want to know more about Toonaria? Anything specific? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do! Take care and I look forward to hearing from you! To ensure you don’t miss anything, follow this blog and subscribe to our newsletter (subscribing gets you a free book!) Cheers! –Bob Whitely

© 2017QT Games LLC. All Rights Reserved. (like all of our blog posts. As for the little pic of the sleeping star? Nah, that’s Creative Commons. ‘Nuff said.)

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Toonaria: Red Syndrome


In case The Dark Over wasn’t enough to convince you that Toonaria isn’t just for kids or the kid at heart, I thought I’d share with you another dark aspect of this universe. Yep—Red Syndrome!

Toonaria is 100% kid friendly, for those who want it that way, but it is also designed for adults to enjoy, providing both hard hitting stories and thought provoking environments (not just pie wars and fun, epic quests.) Sure, its cuteness rating is Way up there, but it’s your universe. You get to play how you want, and we’re providing the tools to make it happen. Any material that’s strictly for grown ups will be provided separately with a red label.

NOTICE: Let me be very clear about something. If you’re looking for nudity, shock art, or demented, sick stuff, you’ll need to look elsewhere, as we aren’t about that (better yet, may I suggest thinking about something else?) QT Games is a very positive, upbeat company, but we also know that good doesn’t exist in a vacuum—not everything is or can be happy go lucky all the time. Not only is that unrealistic, it’s also boring (Heaven being the exception, of course. Being free of evil, pain and fear rocks after all!) The greatest opportunity for personal growth and success is during hard times.

If you’re looking for something very cool and fun that’s also more mature in areas, Toonaria has that, too. Red Syndrome is as far removed from the realm of the cute lil monsters as you want it to be. But let’s back up. Just what is Red Syndrome? Got your seat belts on? Let’s roll!

Red Syndrome is a Toonarian mental condition that causes its victims to experience hallucinations—sometimes violent hallucinations. Even a small cut will seem to be gushing gallons of blood. Movements will appear more harsh and aggressive. Anything negative is ramped up. All emotions are jacked up. Suffice it to say, Red Syndrome makes Toonaria a very, dangerous, scary place to live.

Creatures with Pink Syndrome who are exposed to Red Syndrome eventually normalize, but then begin displaying symptoms of Red Syndrome. Like Pink Syndrome, the longer you are exposed to Red Syndrome, the worse it is, and the harder it is to cure.

It was Awakened scientists who created Red Syndrome. They were desperate to cure those affected by Pink Syndrome. In their quest to reveal the harsh realities of life, they went too far. Their medicine was flawed, and everything spiraled out of control. Worse still, a powerful dystopian sanctuary began replicating the medicine in order to “help” the “barbarians” living in the surrounding regions “see” how horrible life was outside of their safe and cozy haven, in order to encourage them to come into the fold. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the dark lord, Malistar, got a hold of it, made his own little tweaks and ramped it up further still (Think Fight Club), introducing Red Syndrome to the masses living around the great arena on the Colossea island layer.

Sadly, Red syndrome is addictive and cheap on the Red Market, providing an adrenaline rush and a “wild ride” for those foolish enough to subject themselves to it. There are many who have discovered what Red Syndrome really is and fight it at every turn, but it hasn’t been easy. It has pervaded many corners of Toonaria and doesn’t seem to be going away. Thankfully, most of the Awakened have stopped using it to convince unbelievers, but it has popped up all over Toonaria, thanks to Malistar and other dark forces.

That’s all for this week (sorry about the belated post. The holidays and needing to work on the upcoming Sea of Worms book has me rushing around. Until the holidays are over, our posts might be a tad erratic, but always interesting and cool, I promise!)

As always, I covet your thoughts. Want me to address a particular topic regarding Toonaria? I’d love to hear from you! Post below, join our forum, or email me (Bob) at [info @ qtgames dot com – put “Toonaria” in the Subject so it doesn’t vanish in the Spam folder]. Join our newsletter for a cool free book, behind the scenes and other goodies! Cheers!

[Like all of our blog posts, this material is © 2017 QT Games, LLC. —‘Nuff said.]

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Toonaria: The Dark Over


Something monumental happened eleven-hundred years ago. It wasn’t advertised. It wasn’t serialized, nor made into a movie. It just happened. Those who survived the ordeal could only provide a few obscure pieces of the puzzle. No governments remained to pick up the pieces and figure out how they fit together. No single leader arose to unite the scattered races and usher in a new era of prosperity.

Life simply started over. Some of us still have questions, and demand answers. We’ve read the signs, turned over stones and now know at least part of the truth. It is our lot to never know everything, to always be seeking, but what we do know has made us angry, and we aim to ensure everyone knows the pink has hit the fan.

According to millions of eye witnesses, there was an impenetrable darkness, a bone-chilling cold, and an unexplainable sense of loss followed by a peace that passes all understanding. I know––that’s not a lot to go on.

In stark contrast, we have salvaged sketches and snatches of text from charred books, and graffiti found in smoldering ruins. Such primitive records tell of the coming of the GodStorm. They depict the sun falling from the sky, as a sound like thunder rose to a deafening roar.

Apparently all communications networks died simultaneously. What technology wasn’t destroyed, malfunctioned, be it radio, missile silo, or two-slice toaster. Certain technologies were morphed into odd, arcane caricatures of their former designs. Many inanimate objects gained a semblance of life and crawled from the rubble. Screams and then profound silence followed, heralding a season of moonless, impenetrable darkness called the Dark Over.

The worst affected island layer was Colossea, which we now believe was the cradle of civilization. All of the cities, towns and villages on Colossea were found empty and in ruins. Others seemed to have simply vanished, their location found only on old maps.Thankfully, Storm Garden had never been a heavily populated island layer for the GodStorm continues to embrace it to this day.

Magic had always been a part of our society, but after that dark time, everything was dripping with magic. No, there was more to it than that. Way more. The Dark Over fundamentally changed how many viewed life and death.

We once blamed the Pink Syndrome on the GodStorm, but we now believe that storm was but one of the factors that resulted in the Dark Over. Those who have been “pinked” find it impossible to see how dark the world still is. They are incapable of recognizing the damage the Dark Over caused, or the evil that slinks in the shadows. Instead, they go through life happily oblivous of the Dark. It is difficult to imagine how the little races kept their sanity during the Dark Over, or before, without Pink Syndrome to ease their burden. But they have proven more resilient than any of us imagined.

Pink Syndrome prevents the pinked from seeing what’s really there. A corpse lying right before them would appear as a mound of grass, rocks or debris. When their eyes see blood, it runs pink, not red, and nothing we do can change that. Not unless we can get them out of the affected Pink Zones. Some of the awakened believe it might also be possible to force them awake by inflicting enough damage to their Pink Zone to shatter the illusion.

We’ve tried medicines, and they sometimes work for a time, but as soon as the unenlightened reenter the Pink Zones, they become pinked all over again, and forget the horrors of the past, or at least rationalize the madness as a bad dream or unfortunate misunderstanding.

Arcasia, where most of the survivors live, is blanked with the chemicals causing the delirium. Those who returned to Colossia are equally affected. Our scientists tell us the moon releases the chemicals during the night, and they are spread by the wind. Certain plants and creatures exude the stuff as well. Even some of our faithful have been exposed and succumbed to the pink. The pink is pervasive, so we must remain resolute in our mission.

Sadly, several of our number have succumbed intentionally, for the truth is almost too much to bare. It would be easy to just lie down and pull the pink over our eyes, but we believe the Dark Over will return. The last time, it caught the old gods unprepared and overwhelmed them. Some say the new gods will protect us, but they are weak. When the Dark Over returns we will be there, and we will be ready. We must reveal the truth, force the pinked to believe, and prepare for war. It’s time to take a stand.

–Jandaru, Leader of the Awakened

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from the Toonaria Campaign Setting source book. In case some of you were concerned, thinking the fact that the word “toon” is in Toonaria, let me reassure you that while many kids should fall in love with this blended-genre universe and the game can be played very family friendly, it also has a darker side that delves into more complex, mature topics that adults can sink their teeth into as well. Toonaria and Epic Destinies are not only for kids, after all.

Let me know what you think of Toonaria, and if there are any questions you have about it, or areas you would like me to explore further, I’m all ears! Join our newsletter to stay up on our upcoming releases, get early peeks, go behind the scenes, and get a free book! Till next week. Cheers!

[Like all of our blog posts, this material is © 2017 QT Games, LLC. ‘Nuff said.]

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Toonaria: A Universe of Striking Contrasts


Welcome, friends, to another post about Toonaria, a blended–genre realm unlike any other. Oh, sure—anyone can say that! And as I discussed in a previous post, it is generally best to avoid the extremes of being too obscure, and too familiar. I always seek to strike a delicate, but powerful balance between those. But just because such extremes can be dangerous with regard to trying to generate fans (confusing one and boring the other), that doesn’t mean that all extremes should be avoided.

As those of you know who follow my blog, fiction, games, etc. I’ve mentioned the term blended-genre more than once. Call it mixed genre, hybrid genre, multi-genre, cross-genre, genre-bending, or just plain Science Fantasy, but everything I create is such a thorough and intricate blend and covers more than Science Fantasy, that I call it blended-genre. Regardless, carefully crafted blends of different genres are powerful and amazingly good fun! Toonaria is a realm of striking contrasts both visually and emotionally.

I’ve said it before, but it has been my experience that genres when blended right, go together like peanut butter and chocolate, bacon and eggs, male and female . . . well, you get the point. If you haven’t experienced good blended-genre stories, you’re really missing a special treat.

Chances are, you’ve fallen in love with a number of blended-genre movies and haven’t even realized it. Sure, blends have been done poorly. But they have also been done very, very well, as in movies like Alien (Science Fiction/Horror), Avatar (Science Fiction/Fantasy), Inception (Action/heist/Science Fiction), Star Wars (Science Fantasy), Back To The Future (Comedy/Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction), Blade Runner (Science Fiction/Thriller), just to name a few fun ones. Maybe some of my favorites aren’t yours, but if you’ve got blood running through your veins, chances are you’ve fallen in love with at least one. Got one on your mind? I’d love to hear it! There are so many great ones!

One of the aspects of Toonaria that has always gripped me, is just how many cool concepts are blended into it—not forced, but born to be together, sometimes in ways that are not immediately recognizable. Even I keep discovering how deep the rabbit hole goes and how much potential the campaign setting actually has. I can’t tell you everything. I have to keep some secrets! I’ll be unpacking more and more in the days ahead. Toonaria on the surface may seem like a silly universe filled with adorable monsters, giant kaiju, exotic technology and wayward gods, but it’s really so much more than that.

A Toonarian blend that immediately comes to mind regards Pink Syndrome, which I’ve given you a taste of before, but will reveal a lot more on later. The concept goes deeper and is more exciting than I can unveil in one or two blog posts. Pink Syndrome is so powerful and so pervasive that it is entrenched in every aspect of the lives of those affected by it. The universe is indeed a realm of striking contrasts.

A gubbling sitting on a mound sipping a warm cup of hot chocolate, thinking about gumdrops and enjoying the view of a beautiful sunrise might be experiencing just that, or might be completely oblivious that the mound she’s sitting on is a heap of mangled bodies, the bright pink drops around the mound are spatters of blood, and the meadow is a ruined city in flames. Yes, that’s rather disturbing, but not every inch of the universe is that morbid. Toonaria also includes virtual reality, augmented reality and dream realms.

Pink zones abound within the universe—regions where the populous are under the effects of Pink Syndrome, a magical condition that causes the afflicted to become oblivious of the more dangerous and painful aspects of life in a universe filled with “adorable monsters, giant kaiju, exotic technology and wayward gods”. There are post-apocalyptic regions, a whole new kind of zombie and numerous exotic creatures unlike anything you’ve seen. There are dystopian communities, thriving, isolated, high tech and superhero cities, time-phased regions, bizarre dimensions, floating islands, and peaceful, happy communities of little folk.

You can pick and choose what you want to experience. The RPG and board games will not belabor unpleasant experiences, but focus on telling dynamic, fun stories, sometimes with surprising depth, but always over the top fun. Oh, there will be plenty of conflict, difficult choices, and wild and dangerous adventures, of course.

Our upcoming Epic Destinies Roleplaying Game and board games will spotlight the adorable monsters and life in a society of kaiju and more. Epic Destinies is still under heavy construction and we’ll do plenty of playtesting before release. So far, both Toonaria and Epic Destinies are exceeding all expectations, but time is a bit elusive. Still, not a day goes by that I don’t work on one or the other, and I’ve got another Cosmoverse novel due out before long!

As for the games, I’ve designed more than two dozen board and card games over the past 3+ decades, and aim to polish and publish a few of the very best. If we had piles of money and time, I’d already have several out. Most of them focus on the wonderful little creatures and their incredible journeys. I’ve a feeling you’ll see something cool before long.

One of the neat things about Toonaria is how readers of our fiction and players of our games will be able to enjoy wonderful, clean, family-friendly adventure, something more mature, or even downright scary, or a smooth blend, as desired.

Would you like to hear more about Toonaria or Epic Destinies? Anything in particular? I’m all ears! Just post in the comments below, or join our forums, leave a tweet or post on our Facebook page. You can also join our QT Games Newsletter to be sure not to miss upcoming fiction and games. In fact, joining the newsletter will snag you a cool book for free! Till next week, friends, never stop dreaming and never give up!

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Just how many universes are enough?

Do we really need another campaign setting? Another universe among countless universes? Isn’t Middle-earth, Forgotten Realms/Dark Sun/Eberron/Greyhawk/Dragonlance/Cosmoverse/(enter your favorite setting here) enough? Isn’t the real world enough? In a word: No. Not really, no.

Toonaria offers a universe unlike any other, and one that can bring back the warm fuzzies on a cold night when you’re at your wits end. Frankly, we need snugglebunnies, gubbies and the worlds of Toonaria more now than ever before. Let me illustrate:

Sure, the real world is crucial. We can’t live without it. And there are important things to do. But when you need a breather. When you’re looking for a smile, you don’t have to go any further than Toonaria. Those other universes are cool. They have their place, but so does Toonaria. It’s a universe I dreamed up over three decades ago, and have only grown more fond of as the years passed, and as I continued to write stories, illustrate, and make games about this wonderful realm.

‘Nuff said. Stand with me, and let’s make Toonaria blossom for our benefit, and for future generations! We’d love to hear your thoughts on Toonaria. We have great plans and many projects in the works. But we need you. You are an important element in making Toonaria a success. Without fans, the brightest dream fades. Stand with us and let us know your thoughts! Thanks, and see you in a week!


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Toonaria Creature Spotlight: Snugglebunnies!


Toonaria started with this little guy called a snugglebunny, way back in 1977. Just a silly critter? Well, yes, but I knew they had huge potential even back then, and couldn’t stop thinking about them. The sketch above is from around 1983, shortly after I graduated from high school. I was so enamored with the creature that it made its way onto my first business card, a few of my board games, dozens of greeting cards, posters, a few appearances in a San Antonio magazine, comic strips, and of course in my fiction and Cosmothea Roleplaying Game sessions as well.


Speaking of fiction, before I wrote my first Cosmoverse tale, I wrote stories snugglebunnies and my other Toonarian critters. My first board game, Minotaur Madness, showcased them. It hinted at their unusual abilities and exuberant personality, and included several short stories. Snugs even became the mascot for The Drama Guild, an acting guild I formed back in 2001 to produce, direct and act in my plays and skits both in Las Vegas and eventually, abroad. While the snugglebunny never featured in any of my dramatic presentations, it remained a regular part of my life and a welcome diversion.


Over the years, I’ve developed a big backstory for the creatures and have been expanding their universe, which eventually came to be known as Toonaria. As with the top picture on this post, snugglebunnies are often depicted around mushrooms. One of my Minotaur Madness game board prototypes was three dimensional. It included a mushroom forest where the snugglebunnies lived.

Later, I started developing the Snuggleland board game. With each appearance, their story grew bigger and more exciting. Most snugglebunnies live on the Arcasia layer of their sky ark, a realm filled with other adorable “monster” friends. Snugglebunnies are quick to make friends and are equally quick to forgive (and forget.) In fact, they are extremely forgetful. They are also incredibly resilient and powerful, though they don’t realize it.


Fortunately, they never tap their full potential, because while they are very good-natured, they are not “with it” enough to safely wield such power, and are somewhat naive. As such, at times other creatures have been placed in their paths to help guide them. Sometimes when a snugglebunny feels threatened, it turns whatever’s scaring it into a giant mushroom, and then hops away completely oblivious to what happened. Why? Well now, that’s a big Toonarian secret (that backstory I was telling you about? Yep, it’s in there!)

I’ll reveal that secret one of these days—likely when I release the creature-filled Epic Destinies Roleplaying Game and Toonaria Campaign Setting source books! If you’re uber nice, I “might” reveal it sooner. We’ll see.


(Some of the pics above like the one with the minotaur were done pre-computer. That is, I didn’t own a computer until around 1992—the year I got married and entered the “real world”! Yeah, these are very old pics, but I thought you might enjoy seeing the snugglebunny through the years.

The stats and such in that pic are from my original Minotaur Madness board game and were done with pen and markers.) Oh, and those bold words, numbers and lines in the chart? They were all done at a snail’s pace using Dry Transfer sheets (you align the letter/number or line over your artwork where you want it, and then rub down the letter until it transferred to your artwork. (Yes, I’m aware that means I’m old, but my mind is still young, and actually, those sheets are still sold in some stores. Thankfully, I have a computer for that sort of stuff these days.)

As for the gooey stuff on the ground below the minotaur—those are fallen pies—one of the weapons used in Minotaur Madness. As with all of Toonaria, there are moments of silliness and humor as well as moments that make you think, and wonder and dream.

Toonaria is the sort of place like in the old Andy Griffith show where most everyone gets along and are friendly, but misunderstandings and questionable outside influences inevitably stir up trouble. Just as The Wizard of Oz had their sweet munchkins and Glinda the Good Witch, there was also the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys. Snugglebunnies, like much of Toonaria, harken back to a more innocent time, but make no mistake, there’s plenty of conflict and even thought-provoking, meaningful things going on—just not always. 🙂

Snugglebunnies play a very interesting role in my Cosmoverse as well. They’ve made a few appearances in our gaming sessions over the years, but have also appeared in some hard-hitting stories in recent years, so there’s far more to them than meets the eye. Read my novella, Voices, from Arcane Synthesis, for a sampling on where I’m heading with them in that universe! (you can even read an exciting, FREE excerpt by following that link, though the more significant inclusions appear later in the gripping story.) Speaking of Arcane Synthesis, don’t miss great fiction and more on Toonaria and our other projects by joining our newsletter (doing so will also earn you a FREE Cosmoverse novella!)

I am currently revamping and expanding the Toonaria universe of the snugglebunnies. I have created hundreds of lil creatures over the past three decades plus (at least I think hundreds—I’ve never actually counted them all, but I have piles of sketches and keep turning up more and more adorable—and not so adorable—Toonarian critters every time I open a box in my office. And I have lots of boxes of my creations.)

I’ve been encouraged to create some cartoons based on the snugglebunnies and other Toonarian critters. I do hope to do just that one of these days (reboot the comic strips, if nothing else, but I’d love to go to the next level with them.) We’ll just have to wait and see. My plate is full currently. Your showing enthusiasm over what QT Games is putting together would go a long way to getting things on the market. Just sayin’.

Well, that wraps up my creature spotlight. When Epic Destinies is finished, I’ll probably post the snugglebunny’s RPG stats, if not sooner.

As any snugglebunny can tell you, sometimes all you need is a hug or a gentle ear. Me? I’m all ears! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog, our current and upcoming projects and more! Time is limited if I’m ever going to get Toonarian goodies to market, but I can also chat on some other topics as well. Let’s raise the mark and enjoy some positive, encouraging discussions here and/or on our QT Games forums. Till next week, friends . . . every day’s a gift! Appreciate what’s working in your life and never give up! Cheers!

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Toonaria: Creating a Universe Part 5

Humans are optional. When I began designing the Toonaria universe, I set aside the usual fantasy tropes of dwarves, elves, gnomes, etc. I love those classic creatures, but wanted something completely different. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to include humans. Ultimately, I did include them, though they are not a major species in Toonaria, at least not on the “sky ark” I will be spotlighting for many years to come. Now, different doesn’t mean better, but I’ll address that shortly.  

Why did I include humans at all? Well, for one, because they bring to the table instant understanding. I write a lot of blended-genre stories (fantasy blended with science fiction and other genres), which means introducing a non-human character is more complicated than introducing a common one. You have to introduce the species, too, or confusion will result. With a new species, you have to at some point delve into a number of topics (psychology, customs, language, physiology, etc.) That’s fine, of course (fun, even), but such concepts must be dealt with carefully. And when it comes to shorter stories or games, some just want to play what they know.

With humans, you can slap on a name and gender and just jump into the action. Those of you reading this blog who are humans understand what I’m talking about. You don’t have to think, you just know what humans are basically like. The rest can be revealed in time or left to the imagination.

I handled things differently with my Cosmoverse Campaign Setting, which does include both the classic tropes as well as a large number of unique species. In that universe, even the classics I turned on their heads, changing them in a few ways. Largely, however, a dwarf is still a dwarf and an elf and elf. I focused my creative energies more on making those classics feel a bit different and even more on the other species, exotic locales, unusual magic system, etc.

Of course, if you are dealing with numerous worlds as I am, you can easily ignore elves, for example, and focus on worlds without them. The Cosmoverse is an enormous, rich setting, so it’s a non-issue.

For Toonaria, I wanted to focus on both smaller species, and to —ahem—a smaller degree, on much, much larger kaiju species. Both types open up an amazing number of interesting story concepts. Adventuring in Toonaria does not feel like adventuring in any other universe for many reasons. I’ll delve more into Toonarian adventures in the months ahead (See also earlier blog posts!)

The major species I currently have slated for my Epic Destinies Roleplaying Game (drawn from Toonaria) include: Domas, gubblings, jawbas, moobis, orynii, puffs, robotos (a floating shell housing a dying species), traku, shinar and vogs. Never heard of ’em? Don’t worry. That will change before long. I’ve talked about a few of them on this very blog, as well as on my QT Games forums, but we’ll discuss them more later.

The thing is (and don’t hate me for saying it) . . . innovation is overrated. It really is. Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for it, but it has advantages and disadvantages. And of course we don’t need another generic fantasy or science fiction universe (or copycat universe, for that matter.) That leaves us with one of my earliest design goals for both Toonaria and the Cosmoverse, both of which I have been exploring through games, stories and art for well over thirty years: Create something familiar, but not too familiar, something obscure, but not too obscure. Let me explain . . .

Humans are extremely familiar to most of us (heh), and including them is an exception—by that I mean they are handy to include, but at the same time, if you want things interesting, you need to do what I’ve done and shake them up a bit.

As for new species, anyone can throw a bunch of names into a bucket or random generator app, and draw two (cat/whale, elf/dog, blob/horse). Doing so would likely turn up innovative new species, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. And it’s definitely not something I’ve done, though I love to brainstorm. I’ve lovingly crafted each creature, as well as their talents, backstory, personality and more.

Nobody wants stale, but they also don’t want the uber obscure either. The more obscure something is, the harder it is for people to identify with it, and identification is one of the keys to immersion. You can get pretty crazy with your concepts, but obscure/innovation does slow down comprehension, and in some cases, enjoyment (There is an exception to every rule, of course.) It is very difficult for most humans to understand how a cat/whale would think, much less a blob/horse. Me? I have zero interest in reading about a cat/whale or blob/horse, but you get my point.

Anyone can be innovative, but I suggest caution. Bizarre creatures have their place, but don’t expect your average joe to identify well with them without jumping through some serious hoops. And be sure to think them through carefully before moving forward with “unique” designs.

Personally, I prefer to think of “innovative” as referring to something that’s not only new, but also useful and cool. Skip innovation for the sake of innovation and focus more on the experience you are trying to deliver.

With Toonaria, I’ve created a universe populated by a very wide variety of creatures, most of whom are at least vaguely humanoid in appearance, but they are quite different from humans, to say the least. They are unique, but understandable, and struggle with some of the same things we do in the “real” world. They deal with loneliness, pride, fear, and other familiar concepts.

Connecting with the real world helps make your creatures more real, even if they are pink and fuzzy, have magical ears, or “some other third thing”. I’ve gone way off the beaten path with Toonaria (my sky arks, for example, instead of regular worlds), but I have strategically grounded key elements in reality to ensure a sense of familiarity while still stepping not only out of, but away from the box.

Okay, that’s all for this week. I may revisit the “Creating a Universe” series in the future if I both find the time and you show enough interest, but next week this blog will focus on other Toonarian topics. As always, if you would like to know more about a particular aspect of Toonaria, or just want to chat about our upcoming creative projects, I’m all ears! Have an amazing rest of the week, friends!

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