Originally written as a 24 Hour Game project in 2005, Wandering Monster High School is currently being revised and expanded for commercial released. I was privileged enough to play the game run by it’s author, Kynn Bartlett, and had a tremendous amount of fun. The premise of Wandering Monsters High School is exactly what it says: you play a classic fantasy RPG monster attending high school. Evil masterminds wanted better creatures to guard their dungeons and decided the solution was better education. Classes teach things like Introduction to Pillaging, In Search of Adventurers, and Defense Against the Holy Arts along side “normal” things like languages, literacy, and wood shop. Add to that all the standards elements of high school drama, and you’ve got a pretty hilarious game.
Kynn brought pregenerated characters, which we used for reference, but we all decided to create our own characters (mine is shown at the bottom of this article, as an example). Character generation is simple and entertaining. The character sheet is a report card. Your Grades are your attributes: Citizenship, Fitness, Hygiene, Occult, Scholastics, and Vocational. It’s a die pool system, and the number of die equates to the grade: and A is 4 dice, a B is 3 dice, and so on. You start with a standard spread that you get to assign, but can take a lower grade in one area in return for a higher grade in another.
Your Class Schedule acts as your skills. You can choose to be a Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior or Senior, which affects what classes are required and what electives you get to pick.
Each character gets Gifts and Talents based on race (there’s a list, but you can also make up your own with GM approval), and you can get additional Gifts and Talents by taking Special Needs. Characters also take Extra-Curricular Activities, which act as skills in a similar way to classes. Finally, each character gets a Signature Item, which can be selected from a list or made up with gamemaster approval. All of those elements have a number assigned to them, which I’ll explain in a moment.
The die pool mechanic is solid. You roll a number of d6′s equal to the appropriate die pool. If you roll more than two, you keep the best two and hope the total beats a target number. If some other element applies (class, talent, Special need, etc.) you can swap the low die for that number. If more than one element applies, you or the gamemaster can select the best one.
Example: You roll 3 dice and get 5, 3, 2. Keep the best two, 5 and 3. You have a talent at 5, so you swap that out with the 3, and get 5 and 5 for a total of 10.
Combat rolls are opposed, and high total wins. If you roll higher and hit, the damage is the difference between the two low dice.
Example: You attack, and your two best dice are 6 and 4, for a total of 10. Your target’s best two dice are 4 and 2, for a total of 6. You win. You low die is 4, for target’s low die is 2, so you do 2 damage.
The scenario we played through had the player characters in detention, a la The Breakfast Club. While we were supposed to be confined to one room, kids from a rival high school (adventurers!) snuck into the school and tried to steal the school mascot (“Rusty”, a rust monster). Our medusa cheerleader challenged the rival halfling cheerleader to a cheer-off, while our dragon cheerleader and my owlbear marching band nerd fought a jock paladin, a Scooby-Doo-esque blink dog, and a bespectaled and wand-wielding young wizard named *cough* Harvey Plumber.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, the game is a tremendous amount of fun. It’s great for kids or adults, and it’s good for a one-shot or a recurring game. Kynn’s got a winner here, and I can’t wait until it’s available for purchase.
Year in School: Freshman
Citizenship: B /3 dice
Fitness: B /3 dice
Hygiene: C /2 dice
Occult: C /2 dice
Scholastics: A /4 dice
Vocational: C /2 dice
Gifts and Talents:
Natural Weapons (Beak)
Pet (Fluffy the Bearowl, an owl body with a teddy bear head)
Linguist (Asian language analogue of Common)
Special Needs: Exchange Student
Academic Olympics Team
Monstrous Compendium Yearbook committee
Signature Item: Magical Tuba of Useful Items
Health and Wellness
Ambushing Made Easy
Free Period (yearbook)