On a recent visit to the mall to go see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (which was very entertaining, despite including nothing from the last volume of the comics) I stopped in to one of those sports memorabilia stores that also has a small section of comic books and Magic: the Gathering cards and their ilk. While there, I discovered this wonderful roleplaying supplement from 1985 for a game called World Action and Adventure. This book is so obscure, I couldn’t even find a picture of the cover on the first 14 pages of Google Images.
The supplement, which is subtitled “Actor’s Book of Characters,” is not something that I would typically associate with a product named “World Action and Adventure.” I mean, that’s a title that you look at, and you know exactly what you’re getting. There’s gonna be action. There’s gonna be adventure. They’re going to be together. The action is going to be… worldly? I don’t know, but what I do know is that you can’t go about calling a game “World Action and Adventure,” and duping people expecting some manner of Indiana Jones-style romp through – well, the world, I guess – into purchasing a book filled with bland descriptions of different careers throughout the ages and various tables to aid players in selected said careers for their characters.
That’s right, it’s not enough to decide “I want my character to be a baseball player.” Nope, you have to choose to be an athlete. Then, you get to either roll on a table, or choose on the table, depending on the results rolled on a completely different table at the beginning of the book (of which there are seven, one of which the DM specifies at the beginning of the whole process). Then you get to read such brilliant descriptions as, “Basketball can be a rough game. The players there have the same span of years that they can play as their football counterparts. But when a top basketball star is on the court, he is the highest paid professional athlete in the United States. Earnings of one million per year are the rewards for the best of the basketball athletes.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love randomized character generation, but this whole thing is an exercise in pointlessness. In “World Action and Adventure” (which, by the way, calls its players “actors,” calls the GM the “Action Guide,” and features a back-of-New-York-Times-bestselleresque picture of the game’s creator, Gregory L. Kinney, on what appears to be his yacht, wearing what appears to be an epically douchey expression) I want to roll up a character capable of taking on Nazis or fighting evil voodoo witch doctors, not accurately filing tax reports or executing a bitchin’ triple-axel (that’s a thing, right?).
If anyone has any information on this game or how it came about or who this G. Kinney guy is, it would be very much appreciated. To give you the ultimate sense of how pretentious this book is, I leave you with the following quotes, which are taken in order, in their entirety, as presented on the “World Wisdom” page, which comes just after the table of contents:
“The great creative individual . . . is capable of more wisdom and virtue than collective man ever can be.” – John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)
“Act well at the moment, and you have performed a good action to all eternity.” – Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) [I have this sinking suspicion that Kinney though he was talking about acting in the sense of theater, but I could just be projecting]
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island . . . and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” – Walt Disney (1901-1966)
“Patriotism is the same as the love of humanity.” – Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
“As life is action and passion, it is required of man that he should share the passion and action of his time, at peril of being judged not to have lived.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [so perhaps Kinney used Action in the title simply in the sense of the act of doing anything, be it exciting or or otherwise?]
“God so loved the world . . .” – excerpt from John 3:16