Style and Tone

Romancing the Toaster is a game in which players take the roles of machines, from household appliances to automobile factories to humanoid androids, all struggling to find their way and hold together in a world reclaimed by nature as the forces that connect them threaten to fall apart.

Romancing the Toaster is a game about living through mental illness and physical disability, as well as the importance of community. Despite these themes, it is not meant to be a melancholic game - far from it! All player characters will start with a disability which they will need to circumvent, often through absurdism. An alarm clock may need to ring itself to knock itself off a table and move. A speedboat may not be able to know where it is going, and rely on another GPS character to direct them. The GMs will encourage zany and nonsensical solutions to problems, resulting in what we hope to be a whimsical yet sincere sort of humour.

Another major theme of Romancing the Toaster is the idea of sentience and what it means to be sentient. This is an introspective question that we hope your characters will be able to discover for themselves through the game. The idea of sentience in this game is meant to feel more personal than intellectual; we will always strive to give players more narratively interesting conclusions rather than what is logically 'correct'.

Finally, we intend to bring a sense of wonder into this setting. Although all characters in Romancing the Toaster are robots, they are surrounded by verdant green, with harsh concrete and glass overgrown by trees, and the streets of old civilisation sunk beneath the waves: a world reclaimed by nature and teeming with life. We encourage players to poke around at this setting and the NPCs within it - while we cannot promise it won't be dangerous, we can promise hidden lore, shiny items and great stories to tell other players by the end of it.

Relationships of all flavours are a cornerstone of this game, as illustrated by mechanised relationships. These are designed to encourage PCs to explore the joys, compromises and vulnerabilities that relationships can bring. They were designed with absolute sincerity and we would appreciate players treating them as such, in accordance with our conduct policy.

Romancing the Toaster is a game about communication and complex emotions. We hope that players will use each other and in-game events to explore the meaning of friendship, passion, kinship, and even disappointment and regret. While we encourage discussion and even bickering over these values, it is not within our plan for the game to end in warfare, oppression or dictatorship. As such, it is a game about personal growth rather than material gain.

The GM team by no means wishes to trivialise the complex feelings that can be involved in relationships. We will try and handle them with as much empathy as we can from our own experiences, and we aim to craft a satisfying story of growth and closure for all player characters. If you have any particular concerns about the themes of this game, we encourage you to contact us so that we can minimise any discomfort while engaging with them.

In Romancing the Toaster, skills are meant to help you keep track of not just what your character can do, but also what they can't do. This is meant to reflect the inconveniences brought about by disability in all its forms.

You may find while creating a character that this game is very harsh mechanically. You may able to move but unable to see, able to gather information but never have the hardware to share it, and so on. If your goal in the game is ultimate power/efficiency, gameplay may be difficult and/or un-fun purely by the nature of how skills are gained (or more often, lost).

A key idea to remember when getting around what you cannot do is absurdism. Even though it is a game about robots, not everything need be logical and allowable via the laws of physics or time. As an alarm clock you could have the skill Movement 1 and get around by just aggressively ringing your bells as you slide across the floor through vibration, or maybe some other bot/animal gets so annoyed at the ringing that it just kicks you on your way. Alternatively, you could be an alarm clocks with wheels designed to wake a human up in the morning by making them chase you around the room. The possibilities are endless.

The physical world is steeped in a lush but irradiated blanket of plant life, with scraps of metal and concrete peeking out. In this setting, large man-made structures are decaying and are in the process of being reclaimed by nature. There are pockets of shining, futuristic prestige such as the Internet Café, but for the most part, resources which are clean and which function according to their original purpose are difficult to find. Players can also expect to encounter animals evolved beyond those seen in real life, as well as animals that have learned to live within the cracks of metal in the world around them.

The virtual world is a completely different story. While the physical world is painted in natural colours and post-apocalyptic tones, the Network is a blast of pixelated, pastel glory, best represented by the OC design of this Wiki. Especially around the Internet Café and megastructure, relentless ads and soft yet gaudy colours bathe every webpage in a candy-coated e-girl aesthetic. However, this may change as robots virtually travel further out from the megastructure into more niche servers.

In summary: everything in this world is breaking down; everything is being repurposed by robots or consumed by nature. The world seems to be holding on by a thread and yet this brokenness seems ephemeral, and life - both organic and artificial - is thriving.

Imagine human society at the peak of technology and then a meteor hit and everything was destroyed, then all the destroyed parts from around the world were swept up into a heap. That is the world of Romancing the Toaster.

It is very possible to find, to construct, or even to play as highly advanced machinery from the greatest sci-fi depths of your imagination, only restricted by what you can achieve with skills and quirks (e.g. while a futuristic hovercar would be a perfectly acceptable character thanks to the skill Land Movement 2, even the highest movement speeds would not allow a robot to teleport). Though you may find, for example, part of a laser gun lying around in the wild, it is just that: a part, an unused and decaying piece of non-functional but clearly high tech kit. Even technology of the space age and beyond is not immune to forces of wind, rain and overgrowth.

Amongst these once sleek and advanced tech are older, more archaic forms; military stealth planes sealed with biometric locks exist alongside retro pastel toasters and vintage vacuum cleaners. One gets the impression that as human society advanced, they never let go of the nostalgia brought by automatons, analogue and clockwork. Thus, these sorts of robots also exist, and they do not necessarily have to be older than their newer models - perhaps they were restored by a collector in the past, or were designed with old methods to reflect the taste of the buyer/user.

Along with the many roleplaying games from which we have drawn inspiration, particular works of real-world media which have influenced the development of Romancing the Toaster include:

  • 17776, Jon Bois (web series)
  • 9 (film)
  • A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers (book)
  • Adventure Time (TV)
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence (film)
  • Autofac, Philip K. Dick (book)
  • Bicentennial Man (film)
  • The Brave Little Toaster (film)
  • The Culture series, Iain M. Banks (book)
  • Detroit: Become Human (game)
  • Enslaved (game)
  • Futurama (TV)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (book)
  • Horace (game)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (game)
  • In Other Waters (game)
  • I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
  • Life After People (TV)
  • Nier: Automata (game)
  • Portal 2 (game)
  • Robots (film)
  • Skyward, Brandon Sanderson (book)
  • Subnautica (game)
  • The Talos Principle (game)
  • Thomas Was Alone (game)
  • Toy Story (film)
  • Transistor (game)
  • Undertale (game)
  • WALL-E (film)
  • Westworld (TV)
  • style_and_tone.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/10/10 19:36
  • by gm_conor