Rolling the Dice: Clay -o- Rama, a look back

Today’s Rolling the Dice article is a quick look back at a game that was released in Dragon Magazine issue #125 (way back in 1987) called Clay -o- Rama. I thought it would be fun to take a look at a the more humorous nature that games can take, and couldn’t think of a better game to discuss.

Clay -o- Rama was designed by David “Zeb” Cook. Included in the Dragon Magazine described above, it was a small four page rule booklet with no pieces – the players must provide their own. The game is extremely light on rules, easy to play, and was designed simply as a way to have a fun time with friends and family. A complete game of Clay -o- Rama can take at most thirty minutes or so.

Dragon Magazine 125 - Infamous for the rules for Clay -o- Rama

Initial setup requires that each player have an equal amount of clay (or any other clay like material – we used Play-Doh). Each player then has twenty minutes to create a creature or monster, called a “Claydonian” in the rules. The players can create whatever kind of creature they want with the amount of clay they were provided with – they can be anything; the only limit is the imagination of the players. The players can’t use more clay than they were provided with, and they can’t trade or give clay to other players. They can use less clay if they wish, and the remaining clay can be used to create projectiles or other objects. Once the twenty minutes are up, the players then take a “Claydonian Character Sheet” and begin to fill it out. This is where the game begins to get amusing.

Movement points are assigned based on the number of legs the Claydonian has… each “point” means the Claydonian can move the span of the player’s hand once for each point per turn. Additionally, similar methods are used to define the number of attacks the Claydonian gets per turn. Hit points were assigned purely on the amount of clay the Claydonian has in it’s mass – if the full amount of clay was used by the player then the Claydonian received maximum hit points (with original rules that was 50 hit points). Hit points were limited from that total by how much less clay was used to create the Claydonian in lieu of projectiles or other objects. Lastly, each creature gets one “Special Power.”

Claydonians in the thick of battle

The Special Powers were amusing. For example, one, called “The Drop,” could be used in lieu of a standard melee attack. The player would roll to attack, and if their Claydonian scored a hit, they would – instead of just rolling for damage – use The Drop power… which allowed the player to pick up the opposing Claydonian, hold it out at arms length while standing, and drop it. Any pieces, limbs or other parts of the Claydonian damaged, crushed, or broken off due to the fall were written off as damage in the attack and damage points were scored accordingly. Another Special Power was “The Blob of Death” – this allowed the player to use their fist and smash the opposing Claydonian once in lieu of an attack. Yet another one was “Use Opponent as Missile” where the player could use the opposing Claydonian as a missile, physically throwing it at yet another Claydonian and assessing damage accordingly to both Claydonians after it was over.

To ensure that the game ran smoothly, generally it was played with a Gamemaster who had the final say in attacks, damage, and other scoring. Dice were used of course to facilitate attacks, as well as when successful attacks were made for standard attack damage.

The Blob of Death attack - and it's effects

To say this game was fun was an understatement. When my friend got his Dragon Magazine for that month, and we saw that game in it (this was, of course, long before the Internet or BBS’s), we ran to the store and picked up a bunch of Play-Doh and tried it out. It was hilarious.

Since we were long time game players, we decided to alter some of the standard Special Attacks slightly just for fun. In one case, my friend Scott decided to assign his Claydonian “The Blob of Death” – but instead of his hand, he got to take off his boot and use it once.

I still recall that first game we played clearly to this day… and it still makes me chuckle. We played on the kitchen floor, and halfway through the game there were pieces of Claydonians all over the place. The funniest part was when Scott used his Blob of Death attack… he raised his boot up high over his shoulder and gave Tom’s Claydonian a hard whack; half of the poor Claydonian was squashed with a big waffle shaped boot print on it. We were all laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our cheeks. Tom’s earlier attack on Tim’s Claydonian with “Use Opponent as Missle” had us rolling on the floor as well – Tim’s had a bunch of limbs he’d tried to reconnect (rather than mold them from the original blob of Play-Doh), so when Tom’s Claydonian struck all of those limbs when flying across the kitchen floor. We played Clay -o- Rama many times after that, but that first time was the most memorable.

Unfortunately the game isn’t easy to find anymore – one has to hunt down that Dragon Magazine to find it. If you do know someone who has it, I recommend getting together to give it a shot… it’s probably the most fun you’ll have playing a table top game.

Sources:  BoardGameGeek.Com

About Mike Charves
I have been playing video games since I was a kid, as far back as the mid '70's when my father brought home Pong. From that day forth I played games as often as I could on as many platforms as I could - from the Atari 2600, to the Macintosh, Apple IIC, Commodore, Nintendo, etc. Once I got my first computer however, I was from then on hooked on PC computer games as my primary gaming vice. I tend to enjoy the more hardcore type of game, such as flight simulations, racing simulations, and sports games... but I also enjoy role-playing games of all types (which includes not only MMOs but table top RPG's as well), along with strategic and tactical wargames.

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