Originally Posted by Roderick_BR
I'd vote for D&D 4e. The system is simple if compared to others more complete systems (3.x, Storyteller), and the lack of depper simulationist rules won't hurt it too much. The teddy's are supposed to go back to the kid's confort during the day, so they don't need to "spend the night" and full heal the next "night". And lets your heroes go all hollywoodian on monsters with their fancy powers.
I was thinking this as well. (However 4e is as close as I get to fanboyism so you should take that with a grain of salt.) It's got four big problems though:
1. Players are going to be creatures that are small at their highest echelons and for the most part tiny fighting through terrain and against monsters (think of all your childhood terrors. I'll bet that the vast majority of them were person size.) that are much bigger than they are.
This at least means that creative terrain and battlefields are easy. (For example) There could be three possible routes that you could use to reach the monster: Hopping onto the floor and attacking the feet in order to bring the monster down to your level, jumping on top of the bookshelf in order to get a decent shot at the creatures eyes or running from bed to toy box to dresser in order to climb onto it's back and scale the beastie.
4e is bad at combat with a marked change in scale between combatants and is worse at large scale movement like that.
2. It's very loot based (as all the D&D versions I've played) and requires a huge amount of magic items in order to bring the players up to scale with the NPC monsters they fight. I really can't see the toy's gearing up for a game like this. A couple of weapons that the kid associates with them but nothing that isn't discrete.
3. It's highly biased towards squad or group combat rather than fighting a single large threat. Which isn't quite a bad thing. There's no reason that say something that threaten's the kid in real life (a bully, the fighting of your parents [That may not lead to divorce but I do think that would be an interesting meta-plot.] the epic level existentialist crisis that comes with the growing realisation that they're time is finite and nothing lasts forever [children who fall prey to this threat grow up to become webcomic writers.]) would shed peices of it's self that move much faster than the actual monster.
Which would play to 4e's strengths. The monster sheds smaller creatures as it comes in through the closet or something and they're what the players fight as you scale up the threats. Finally facing the nightmare it's self when it's shed enough pieces for it to be reasonably fought by the guardians.
On a more construtive note. I've got a couple of ideas (I've looked at the first five pages or so of the previous design thread. I may have cribbed an idea or two [Not sure to be honest.] from there but I doubt it matters much.):
1. There are five types of creatures that can appear in the night. (Ranked in order of threat.)
-Nightmares. The bread and butter of the night's combat/ threats and can appear in any form or can have any source that the GM decides. They make up the cannon fodder of a more powerful attack or are threats in their own right comming in wave after wave after wave.
=Concentrated nightmares. The child has seen a scary movie on TV, heard about vampires for the first time or has simply heard some of the older kids in the playground refer to their teacher as an Evil Witch. These are stronger more powerful nightmares that are given an different form and purpose by the same thoughts that empower the players. (A normal nightmare would merely give the Child a troubled sleep and disrupt the flow of imagination that empowers their toy's to defend them. But with the aforementioned vampire example, if the nightmare reaches it's target it attacks, drawing blood and killing the child if left alone to long.)
-Boogeymen. These are the "real" monsters of the story. The one's that risk actual discovery when the morning comes and the debris aren't cleared away in time. The monster under the bed has been there all along and it's hungry.
They must be destroyed and disposed of afterwards, in order to keep them secret. Because these are the Lovecraft style monsters of the setting. Knowledge of their existence is painful in and of it's self and seeing the corpse is more than enough to send the child mad. Severing the link to his/ her toys and de-animating them forever. (The Boogeymen are not in fact after the child's life. They're after that energy they produce. Even in death they can win.)
However the child doesn't die should that happen. They're going to need years of counciling afterwards but the only thing they really lose is a certain... Spark. Something that makes them special.
-Primal fears (not a good name). These are the greatest of the threats faced by a child with a healthy home life. The collective psychic power of the human race has created a lot of good. It's the source of art and culture, love and the Guardians themselves. But where do the bad things go?
Every sob in the dark fuels them as does every malicious act. When a young man, fighting for freedom and country dies screaming in abject agony from the bullet in his chest or when a sociopath skins somebody in order to finally feel alive. A brother stealing and mauling his sisters dolls. Swearing when getting cut off in traffic or backstabbing the guy in the cubical over from you in order to get ahead is all part of the same thing.
This big ball of hate, pain and loathing resting heavy on the very fabric of the world and reaching out through the dark. Dragging all that is down into the void with it.
-The Unreal Reals. What marks each of the other enemy types are that they're something external. A thought or an image created by somebody else that the child has only tangential contact with. The Unreal Reals are something different. These are the things that make up the very substance of a childs' personality. Their parents are fighting and the kid is worried that they'll break up. The child has low self esteem and feels a need to punish him/ herself and others for it. The kid is falling in with the "wrong" crowd.
These are the things that shape the child and in turn are the greatest threat's against him/ her. (Poorly explained I know.)
2. Mechanically. What if the Guardians levelled backwards?
When they're just starting out as toys they've got a whole slew of different poorly established abilities and powers but as the child grows and individual toys gain a more concrete personality and/ or role in the games that the kid plays and lose the majority of their abilities. (So the Action Man toy loses his magical teleportation and flight powers but his guns start doing more damage and he gains more hitpoints when the kid discovers the joy's of Die Hard.)
Until the toy's reach some kind of optimal balance of imagination and ability. At which point they start going down hill as they're played with less and less. Until eventually they're facing off with the fresh terrors of emergent sexuality and responsibility with a roll of string, a dull wooden sword and their painted on smile.
3. Possible "races":
-Constructables and Packed Toys. (Hero Machines, Bionicles, Legos, Army Men, Polly Pockets. Stuff like that.) A single personality split between several bodies. Each one may only be of one class and may turn various attacks/ abilities into combination attacks via an internal power of friendship. (Maybe three, four or five bodies to a character encompassing the child's favourite members of the group rather than the entirety of the group.) They highly favour DPS and Mezzer type classes (mostly in melee) but are comparatively fragile.
-Dolls/ Action Figures. (It depends on how much the players fear cooties.) I'm not sure what flavour would define these guys. I'm thinking that they would favour tanking roles and would have the largest amount of starting equipment. Ideas?
-Imaginary Friends. Not sure at all.
-Teddys. See above. Love it.