Wet Hot American Summer has gone from cult film to comedy classic in a surprisingly brief period of time. But while the Netflix revival was great, and a sequel is on the way, why wait? Just launched on Kickstarter, Wet Hot American Summer: Fantasy Camp lets you take the wheel at Camp Firewood and achieve your camp dream, and it even has the cast involved, with David Wain writing the foreword and, more importantly, dick cream as a reward for supporting the game. We sat down with Lee Keeler and Geoffrey Golden to ask just how this came about.
So, how’d this project get started?
Keeler: Our buddy Yehudi Mercado hooked Geoffrey, Amanda and I up with Disneyland passes, so I took a bunch of edibles. We were hanging in some weird mountain lodge kinda bar in a hotel, cooling off over some beers and it dawned on me that not only did The Devastator already make a funny RPG, but they’d also worked with Joe Lo Truglio before. I shot the idea across the table and Geoffrey and Amanda told me to go for it.
Golden: I put a pitch together, outlining Fantasy Camp as classic tabletop RPG set in Camp Firewood mixed with party game goofs, inspired by summer camp activities. Somehow, we got that green light!
Keeler: So I took more edibles, then we got hooked up with their fantastic licensing agent. Geoffrey came to the first meeting with the idea that the book should be penned from the perspective of The Indoor Kids, which had to happen once it was in the air. We drafted the manual, did some test plays with gamer pals, did more edibles, more edits, got exclusive content from Wet Hot director David Wain and cast members like Joe Lo Truglio, Marguerite Moreau, Michael Ian Black…
Golden: Then we put Fantasy Camp on Kickstarter, and then we started this interview, and that’s where we are right… now.
Why an RPG, exactly?
Golden: Roleplaying games are a crucial element to the original film. The day was saved by a 20-sided die! *Pushes up glasses*
Keeler: There seems to be a distinct movement of RPG devotees, especially with recent shows like Stranger Things or HarmonQuest, so it feels right. The characters in the Wet Hot-iverse have a cartoonish quality to them that I have always adored and totally work in a game.
How would you pitch this game to tabletop newbies?
Keeler: Easy! Do you potentially avoid Dungeons and Dragons because, y’know, Dungeons and Dragons? I get it. But if you like awesome shit and customizable games that involve acting out funny characters with your friends, or just making new pizza pals, this game is totally for you.
What’s the process of building jokes in a game like this, aside from the fact sex with kitchen appliances is inherently funny?
Golden: No doubt about that. The manual itself is written by The Indoor Kids, so we get to explore these hilarious characters and the terrible summer they had before the events of the movie.
Lee: The activities themselves are a source of comedy! For Arts (and Farts) and Crafts, players compete with stale markers and crayons to make beautifully shitty art. The talent show auditions are also a hoot! I in no way just said that as an excuse to use the word “hoot”.
Golden: Hoot! And because every character has a Big Camp Dream – a goal they’re trying to achieve before the end of one insane day of camp – players are motivated to find with ridiculous ways to make their dreams come true. For example, if your Big Camp Dream was to get a swimming trophy, you might try to find and swim away from lake sharks to beef up your breaststroke.
Lee: Or you can steal the trophy! Using fireworks as a distraction?
Golden: Firewood’s 11.
Were there any ideas or scenarios you had to let go of to get the game to work?
Golden: In the manual, Keith (the Caped Boy) tries to insert this race of orc creatures he made up called the Gonard Warlings into the game, because he feels that all RPGs need a fantasy element to appeal to hardcore gamers (the only type of gamers, according to Keith).
Lee: Originally, the Gonards were going to actually be playable, with a whole separate D&D style adventure game parody in the woods next to Camp Firewood. It was this whole side story. To streamline the game, and focus on the Wet Hot characters, we didn’t make them playable.
Who’s your dream party for this game?
Lee: Dear Lord. I heard Mindy Kaling is a big Wet Hot fan, so we’d have to have her there as Camp Director. Werner Herzog, Snoop Dogg. Then Bruce Vilanch, obviously.
Golden: …and a lich, to round out the group.
While you consider whether Herzog would be a better camper or counselor, you can contribute to the Kickstarter here. The dick cream is $35.