The King is Dead

Friday, May 26, 2017

The King is Dead: A Malleus Bildungsroman

We need to get back to watching Harlots, for that matter...

Robin and I are trying to get into the headspace needed to finally wrap up The King is Dead and we’re doing that the only way we know how: playing it. All my best world-building either comes from frittering about on the blog or actual play, and I need to maintain some mystery for the book, so actual play it is. This particular campaign is deliberately structured as a bildungsroman – a coming-of-age story – that will see our heroine traipsing all about Malleus as she searches for her place and grows in maturity. 
Our heroine is Rosalind Werner, the illegitimate dhampir daughter of a vampire duke; this marks the first time I’ve seriously tried to explore dhampirs as characters and was chosen so that we could see the vampire side of things along with the human. Rosalind was raised in a human household and scorned by her vampire father, so she has little direct experience with vampire high society. Schooled from childhood to contain – even fear – her bloodthirsty nature by a mother heartbroken by her vampire lover’s betrayal, Rosalind has an unusually strong conscience for a dhampir. One might even describe her as oddly naïve sometimes.
The goal is to bounce around the Mallean archipelago and hit some underexplored aspects of the setting. Rosalind is not a member of a secret society, so she currently has several competing for her attention (the Bluestockings most aggressively, but also Ananzi’s Web, the Illuminated, the Clann O’Naill, and Countess Erzabeta’s school for vampire temptresses – the latter of which I really need a name for besides “Erzabeta’s coven”). Freeing up Rosalind to travel around the countryside will undoubtedly require some sort of terrible family tragedy or reversal of fortune, but I’m hoping we can get her at least semi-involved in the revolution before that happens. 
(I like pro-active protagonists, which is why I often run rogue- or politically-oriented campaigns. People who work toward their own motivations and goals are more interesting to me than defenders of society or ideals who react to villains’ plots. While it makes sense for Rosalind to start sheltered and naïve – how else could we have a sympathetic dhampir? – I look forward to her taking her life in her own hands.)
Plotting out our duet campaigns too much in advance robs them of vitality and fun, but I do know some incidents and scenes I want to make occur:
  • A nightmarish masked ball at a country estate, where the attending noblemen’s daughters are trotted out as commodities for political marriages and favor-trading sexual liaisons, as an example of the truly inhuman depravity of the aristocracy.
  • A raid by the Holy Panoptic Church’s inquisition (and possibly a trial for heresy), as an example of the brutish terror the church wields. I usually tend to depict them as the weakest party in the ruling triumvirate of king, aristocracy, and church, but The Holy Panoptic Church should be equally terrifying. Their power is more subtle but no less real.
  • Fleeing the authorities across the moors of Lochland only to be captured by a band of Clann O’Naill highlanders. Rosalind, as a dhampir, will quickly evolve into a physical powerhouse once she begins learning to defend herself (and possibly learning some blood sorcery), so the highlanders will have to present a decent physical challenge (even if this is meant to resolve amicably). I’ve toyed with the idea of the Clann O’Naill having Highlander-like psionic highlanders, so this would be a good place to insert one.
  • Scenes in the Afari and Keltisch slums of Hammerstadt, possibly highlighting racial tensions and inter-society strife. We certainly need to have our heroine see firsthand the degradation some people endure, and the generosity that even the most downtrodden can extend.
  • A horseback chase in the company of Raubritters. Heck, I’d like a tavern crawl with Raubritters, for that matter; some sort of Beggar’s Opera interlude.
  • Some time deep in the mountains of Malleus, out in the wilderness where things are savage yet sane.
  • Really, I just want a chance to dig into the interiority of each secret society, so I want a highlight chapter for each one. A chance to inhabit a member of each group and articulate their goals in character should really help.
Any way… Things are going well for now and in the next week or so I should be able to spend more time directly writing that setting rather than other people’s, so we hope for serious progress on The King is Dead soon.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lupin III: The Revenge of Mamo!

Lupin III gang by Monkey Punch

Years ago, Lupin III and gang saved the world from the wrath of Mamo,* a 10,000 year-old mastermind who had extended his life through alchemical cloning experiments. Now it appears that Mamo has somehow returned, bringing with him a plethora of the Lupin gang’s fallen foes and threatening to send the world crashing into chaos.
Act I: A Robbery Interrupted
The adventure begins in media res as Lupin III [red jacket or green jacket at player’s discretion], Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko flee robbing the Louvre pursued by Inspector Zenigata and a squad of policemen. Suddenly, Mr. Flinch [Wild Card; as the Super Powers Companion character Knave of Clubs] – Mamo’s long-deceased henchman – and a handful of Fuma clan ninja** [Extras; as Ninja without attack, melee] attack, wiping out the police and challenging the heroes. The Game Master may call for a Fear check as the heroes stagger with the surprise of fighting a dead foe (Goemon is at -2 because he personally killed Flinch in a hard-fought battle); those who fail suffer fear/nausea. When the Lupin gang inevitably defeat their opponents, additional police reinforcements arrive, leading to a Chase scene. Cue opening credits and the classic Lupin III theme song.
Note: If six people are playing, the sixth player plays the other choice between green jack and red jacket Lupin. At the beginning of the act, green jacket Lupin is teamed with Jigen and Goemon while red jacket Lupin is teamed with Fujiko; both teams meet while fleeing robbing separate treasures from the Louvre (possibly the Mona Lisa and the pyxis of al-Mughira). If seven or eight people are playing, the extra three players run Zenigata’s lieutenants [as Wild Card Investigators]. They run into the other Lupins after reconvening at their headquarters.
Act II: Strange Bedfellows
Reconvening at a ruined chateau outside of Paris, Lupin’s gang has a moment to reflect on this strange reappearance (or fight over who the real Lupin is, if multiple Lupins are playing). The Game Master may allow Goemon an opportunity for an Interval, reflecting on his duel with Flinch or his long years of self-sacrifice while mastering swordsmanship. [The Game Master will not correct Goemon’s player if the player has not seen or does not remember The Mystery of Mamo.] Have all of the Lupins draw a card; the winner can also indulge in an Interval to tell a story of why their Lupin is the real Lupin III.
Proximity alarms alert the gang that Inspector Zenigata has arrived – alone and bearing a white flag. When confronted by the other heroes, Zenigata pleads with them to assist him. The INTERPOL database has been hacked by the Mamo Organization and is threatening to plunge world law enforcement into chaos. The Game Master can prompt Zenigata to tempt Lupin III with the chance to save his legacy; if the database is wiped, then all knowledge of Lupin's crimes will be lost! [Go with it, people; it's cartoon logic. Bribe the players with a Benny if need be.]
The debate is suddenly interrupted by the image of Mamo breaking through on their security camera screens, TV, and smart phones. He gloats about escaping Lupin's treachery [smile evilly if players protest that Mamo was just a giant brain that was floating dead in space at the end of the movie] and challenges the team to a scavenger hunt. If they can beat some of their resurrected foes to recover certain special items, then Mamo will unlock the INTERPOL database.
When the players agree, launch into the next act.
Act III: We Need a Montage!
Using a modified version of Sean Patrick Fannon's Freedom Squadron Plans & Operations rules (as found when you back his Patreon), cut to a montage of heist adventures as the team splits up into smaller groups in order to get all the treasures in time. [Only one Lupin III is allowed per team if multiple Lupins are playing.] Most of the scenes should involve more than one character at a time, but solo scenes can be useful. Intersperse the heists with opportunities for the players who have not done Interludes to do so, preferably relating to opponents they are about to confront.
Possible opponents and treasures/challenges might include:
  • Beauty*** – a rogue cop whose fast draw and accuracy challenge Jigen’s skill with a gun – has kidnapped Zenigata’s estranged daughter Toshiko in revenge for Zenigata siding with the Lupin gang against him. [As Hunter.]
  • Count Cagliostro**** – counterfeiter and would-be king of an idyllic European monarchy – has recovered the “goat bills” Lupin III cost him and now intends to flood counterfeit currency into the USA through Las Vegas casinos. [As the Spider.]
  • Count Luis y Almeida***** – a Spanish fascist whose experiments in psychological torture created trouble for Fujiko – has abducted Goemon’s fiancée Murasaki Suminawa and intends to brainwash her into being the ultimate ninja assassin. [As Decay, but with radiation effects swapped for fear and hallucinations.]
  • The Fuma Ninja Boss** – whose skill in swordsmanship rivals even Goemon – leads an expedition to recover the sword Excalibur in the quiet English town of Glastonbury. [As the Black Samurai.]
  • Puma****** – a dangerous assassin who works hard to never be seen – hunts Queen Clarisse of Cagliostro while she visits Istanbul on an international goodwill tour. [As Huntsman.]
  • Pycal******* -- a fire-using “magician” whom Lupin has already killed twice – threatens to immolate the Museum of Modern Art unless the heroes duel him at the Statue of Liberty. [As Oktober.]
[The writer reserves the right to mix things up and work up proper stats for the villains if he has time.] 

Every time a villain is defeated, the heroes receive a partial clue to Mamo’s location. Once all the challenges are beaten, the clues can be deciphered and the gang proceeds to Mamo’s lair (which is not on his old private island, but might be back in Paris). 
Act IV: The Secret of Mamo 
The Lupin gang enters Mamo’s office, escorted in by a small army of mercenaries (many of whom they might vaguely remember as soldiers of fortune with whom they’ve crossed paths). Mamo sits at a desk behind a shield of bulletproof plexiglass. He concedes their success, laughing at their distress. [Bribe the players with a "you-can't-attack-the-villain-until-he-finishes-his-monologue" Benny.) 

As weird and non-human the tiny, wizened man always was, there’s something really weird about him. When he reaches out a hand to push the button that unlocks the INTERPOL files, the hero with the highest Notice roll realizes that his arm is being moved by a thin rod – like a Muppet. Suddenly, everyone realizes that Mamo is merely a puppet, and the puppeteer sits in the chair behind him, wearing a concealing suit made of the same upholstery as the chair. The mystery villain laughs, tearing off his costume (or leaping free if one of the heroes slashes or shoots through the plexiglass), revealing himself to be Lupin III! 
This false (?) Lupin claims to be the real one, long ago having gone underground to run the true, ruthless Lupin Organization as the international crime ring it was meant to be – and that the heroic Lupin(s) and gang have been thwarting his plans for years. He summons clones of the heroes and goes on the attack [as duplicates of the heroes, but with Game Master character allotments of Bennies; the villainous Lupin III possibly has Extra Action, allowing him to stay ahead of the heroes while the villainous clones perhaps have an extra die of damage in their attack powers]. 
*see Lupin III: The Mystery of Mamo (AKA The Secret of Mamo AKA Lupin vs. the Clone)
**see Lupin III: The Plot of the Fuma Clan
***see Red Jacket series episode 66, “Shooting Orders!!”
****see The Castle of Cagliostro
*****see Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine
******see Red Jacket series episode 32, “Lupin Dies Twice”
*******see Green Jacket series episode 2, “The Man They Called a Magician” and Lupin III: The Return of Pycal

Lupin III: The Revenge of Mamo! – Lupin III

Lupin III

Arsène Lupin III

Legendary Street Fighter Wild Card (100 XP)


Mystery shrouds the early life of the man called Lupin III, heir to the name and infamy of French Belle Époque cat burglar Arsène Lupin; even his ethnic identity is confused as some sources identify his mother as French and his father as Japanese (instead of the opposite, as one might expect from the Frenchman's grandson). Certainly, a Lupin Organization crime family flourished during the postwar years, apparently founded by the original Lupin's (possibly illegitimate) son. This organization floundered in later decades as the ostentatious burglar and con man Lupin III appeared on the scene, with some informants indicating that the original Lupin's grandson only emerged into the criminal underworld to avenge his family.

If that was Lupin III's motivation, he quickly abandoned it for a life of thrill-seeking adventure. Targeting mainly the corrupt and the powerful (including the occasional government), Lupin III swiftly became the target of a focused INTERPOL manhunt, making a lifetime rival of Inspector Koichi Zenigata. In the years since, Lupin III has been captured many times but rarely imprisoned (though a strange incident involving the geneticist Mamo did result in a clone of Lupin III hanging for his crimes). The master thief and his crew regularly topple dictators, defeat terrorists, and upend the schemes of rival criminals in their pursuit of wealth and treasure.  


Lupin III is completely obsessed with Fujiko Mine, but he recognizes her unscrupulous nature and treats her with no more favoritism while on the job than any of his associates. He appreciates the loyalty of Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa XIII, but also admits that Jigen is sometimes intractable for no good reason while faintly resenting Goemon's haughtiness. Lupin III is possibly the happiest of his crew to see Inspector Zenigata on their tail, never feeling that a heist is quite right until he gets a chance to taunt the policeman.   


Relationships (see One Big Happy Family)

  • Fujiko gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Lupin III gives her a Benny
  • Jigen gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Lupin III gives him a Benny
  • Goemon gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Lupin III gives him a Benny
  • Zenigata gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Lupin III gives him a Benny

Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d10, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8

Skills: Boating d6, Climbing d8, Driving d12, Fighting d8, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Engineering) d10, Lockpicking d10, Notice d8, Persuasion d6, Piloting d6, Repair d10, Shooting d8, Stealth d12, Streetwise d6, Taunt d10

Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 8

Gear: Walther P-38 (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1, Shots 8; AP 1, semi-auto) in armpit holster, Mercedes Benz SSK (as mid-sized car) or Fiat 500 (as compact car), active nightvision goggles, auto grapnel, binoculars, blue shirt, brightly-colored sports jacket (blue, green, pink, or red), cellular interceptor, commlink, Doc Marten boots, flashlight, khaki pants, lighter, lockpicks, parabolic microphone, rebreather, rickety biplane, stealth suit (for emergency situations only), surveillance bug, spy camera, utility knife (Str+d4), yellow tie with tie pin

Hindrances: Arrogant [Major], Loyal [Minor], Mania [Minor; obsessed with Fujiko], Wanted [Minor], Weakness [Minor;  -4 to resist Tests of Will and Tricks by women]

Edges: Ace, Arcane Background: Super Powers, Charismatic, The Best There Is, Team Leader, Thief

Special Abilities

  • Invent (7): 10 Power Point maximum; Limitation (-2; cannot be used to duplicate damaging powers except against inanimate objects; has to fit the Lupin III oeuvre), Requires Activation (-1; requires a successful Trait roll to use); see below for example inventions.
  • Leaping (1) 
  • Super Edge (8): Elan (2), Extraction/Improved Extraction (4), Level Headed (2), Trademark Weapon(Walther P-38) (2).
  • Super Skill (15): +1 Boating, Climbing, Driving, Fighting, Investigation, Lockpicking, Notice, Piloting, Shooting, and Streetwise; +2 Driving, Stealth, and Taunt. 
  • Toughness (2): plot armor.
Players playing Lupin III don't need to declare what invention(s) he's carrying on him in any scene until they declare he is using one. If the invention used does not utilize Lupin III's full 10 Power Point maximum, they may wait to declare other inventions until later in the scene. As per the normal rules for the invent power, Lupin III may share his inventions with teammates (with the normal limitations).
Examples of inventions Lupin III uses:
  • Calling Card or Warning (3): fear; activated by Taunt; Lupin III warns an intended target by sending a jack-in-the-box or similar prank as a calling card; the fear effect is triggered once the heist begins.
  • Climbing Pole or Suction-Cup Pads (1): wall walker; activated using Climbing. 
  • Decoy Dummy or Impenetrable Plastic Bubble or Under-Clothes Bulletproof Vest (1 to 10): armor; activated by Stealth.
  • Glue Bomb or Grabby Lupin III Dummy (3 to 9): ensnare; activated by Stealth; optionally includes Area Effect (+2/+4) and Very Strong (+2). 
  • Rubber Mask and Costume (3 to 8): chameleon; activated by Stealth; optionally includes Inanimate Object (+3) and Voice (+2).
  • Safe-Cracking Autodialer or Security Override (3): interface; activated using Lockpicking; Code Breaker (+1)
  • Safe-Cracking Drill or Explosive (10): attack, melee; activated using Repair; can only damage inanimate objects; Damage: 3d6; Focus (+3), Heavy Weapon (+1).
  • Smoke Bombs (1 to 10): deflection; activated by Stealth; optionally includes Protector (+2)
  • Suped-Up Engine (10): flight or speed; activated by Piloting or Driving; increase speed of biplane to 120 mph or Mercedes Benz SSK/Fiat 500 to 240 mph.
  • Wristwatch Grapnel (2 to 10): swinging; activated with Shooting; base cost is 2 Power Points, but more can be invested to support heavier loads.  

Lupin III: The Revenge of Mamo! – Daisuke Jigen

Daisuke Jigen

Daisuke Jigen
Legendary Street Fighter Wild Card (100 XP)
Either a Japanese-American expatriate or an Americanophile Japanese citizen intimately familiar with the USA, Jigen may be the most accurate marksman in the world – capable of shooting another gunman’s bullet out of the air after a 0.3 second quick-draw..
The earliest accounts of Daisuke Jigen make him an operative of the Lupin criminal empire under Lupin III’s father, perhaps even assigned to “activate” the younger Lupin once the Lupin organization was endangered; later recollections by Lupin III and Jigen indicate they instead met and bonded on a job. Regardless, Jigen has been Lupin III’s right-hand man since early in the master thief’s career.
Jigen is practical and cooperative, content with his role as second banana. He enjoys the friendship of Goemon Ishikawa XIII and respects Inspector Zenigata’s tenacity. The only person frequently in his orbit that he dislikes is Fujiko Mine, seeing her only as a conniving backstabber – but then, Daisuke Jigen’s string of tragic romances give him a biased view toward women in general.
Relationships (see One Big Happy Family)
  • Lupin III gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when Jigen gives him a Benny
  • Goemon gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Jigen gives him a Benny
  • Fujiko gets a -2 penalty on the reroll when Goemon gives her a Benny
  • Zenigata gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Goemon gives him a Benny
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Boating d6, Climbing d4, Driving d10, Fighting d10, Gambling d6, Intimidation d6, Notice d10, Piloting d6, Shooting d12+2, Stealth d8, Streetwise d6, Swimming d4, Taunt d6
Charisma: +0; Pace: 6; Parry: 7; Toughness: 10
Gear: Smith & Wesson Model 19 Combat Revolver, broad-brimmed fedora, rumpled dark suit.
Hindrances: Delusional [Major; dislikes and distrusts most women], Loyal [Minor], Selfish Jerk [Minor; 2 fewer points in his Benny-sharing pool], Vengeful [Minor], Wanted [Minor]
Edges: Ace, Arcane Background: Super Powers, Danger Sense, Level Headed/Improved Level Headed, Marksman, Quick Draw, The Best There Is, Trademark Weapon/Improved Trademark Weapon
Special Abilities
  • Attack, Ranged (Smith & Wesson Model 19 combat revolver) (13): 3d10 damage (4), Enhanced Damage (+4), Focus (+3), Heavy Weapon (+1), Rate of Fire (+3), Device (-2)
  • Super Edge (8): Dodge/Improved Dodge (4), Rock and Roll (2), Steady Hands (2)
  • Super Skill (10): +1 Boating, Climbing, Driving, Fighting, Notice, Piloting, Stealth, and Swimming; +2 Shooting
  • Toughness (plot armor) (4)

    Lupin III: The Revenge of Mamo! - Goemon Ishikawa XIII

    Goemon Ishikawa XIII

    Goemon Ishikawa XIII
    Legendary Street Fighter Wild Card (100 XP)

    Though trained in the arts of the ninja by either the Iga or Fuma ninja clans, Goemon prefers to live his life as an anachronistic samurai, practicing Zen meditation and training in the art of battōjutsu.

    Goemon Ishikawa XIII originally met Lupin III when the latter attempted to steal the formula for the alchemical steel that gives Goemon’s sword the strength to cut any object; after several unsuccessful attempts to kill each other, the two bonded and became allies. Goemon feels a genuine kinship with Daisuke Jigen, a friendship stronger than his often opportunistic alliance with Lupin. He harbors a secret, reluctant crush for Fujiko Mine – indeed, his self-imposed asceticism makes him an easy mark for any pretty woman – but that doesn’t mean he’s above taking a peep at her when the opportunity allows. He counts Inspector Koichi Zenigata as a worthy opponent, but has no strong feelings for him aside from that.

    Relationships (see One Big Happy Family)

    • Lupin III gains no additional bonus when Goemon gives him a Benny
    • Jigen gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when Goemon gives him a Benny
    • Fujiko gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when Goemon gives her a Benny
    • Zenigata gains no additional bonus when Goemon gives him a Benny
    Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
    Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d12+2, Healing d8, Knowledge (Japanese Folk Medicine) d8, Knowledge (Occult) d8, Intimidation d8, Notice d8, Stealth d8, Streetwise d6, Swimming d8, Throwing d8
    Charisma: +0; Pace: 6; Parry: 9; Toughness: 10
    Gear: the katana known as Ryusei (流星,) and Zantetsuken (斬鉄剣) (str+d6+2; AP 2), kimono and hakama, kiseru-style pipe, red fundoshi loincloth, sugegasa hat.
    Hindrances: Code of Honor [Major], Quirk [Minor; insists on traditional Japanese food and drink], Vengeful [Minor], Wanted [Minor], Weakness [Minor; -4 to resist Tests of Will and Tricks by women]
    Edges: Arcane Background: Super Powers, Danger Sense, First Strike/Improved First Strike, Level Headed, Martial Artist, Quick, Quick Draw, Trademark Weapon/Improved Trademark Weapon
    Special Abilities
    • Attack, Melee (zantetsuken) (9): +2d6 damage (4), Focus (+3), Heavy Weapon (+1), Multiple Attacks (+2), Stackable (+2), Device (-2)
    • Deflection (bullet-cutting) (8): -8 to hit (8), Protector (+2), Device (-2)
    • Super Edge (4): Sweep (2), Improved Sweep (2)
    • Super Skill (10): +1 tealth, +2 Fighting, +3 Knowledge (Japanese Folk Medicine) & Knowledge (Occult)
    • Toughness (plot armor) (4)

    Lupin III: The Revenge of Mamo! – Fujiko Mine

    Fujiko Mine

    Fujiko Mine
    Legendary Street Fighter Wild Card (100 XP)
    Reason exists to believe Fujiko Mine began her career as the partner of a yakuza assassin nicknamed “Killer Pun,” but the early days of her life of crime were obscured by a case of amnesia and she was already a burglar and confidence artist high on INTERPOL’s most wanted list before she met Lupin III. This amnesia was complicated by false memories of psychosexual torture at the hands of Count Luis y Almeida planted by the vindictive Aisha. Despite this, all trustworthy records indicate Fujiko Mine has always been a crafty and successful career criminal.
    Fujiko’s first encounters with Lupin III were as rivals, not partners, and their relationship continues to be complicated to this day; despite enjoying Lupin’s romantic obsession with her – and feeling some affection for him in return – Fujiko is quick to double-cross her erstwhile lover when it’s to her advantage. She is aware of Goemon Ishikawa XIII’s attraction to her and enjoys his company, using him as a partner on ventures without the rest of the gang. She wholeheartedly returns Daisuke Jigen’s disdain, but would never dream of cutting him out of Lupin’s gang. Fujiko Mine has partnered with Inspector Zenigata on several occasions when it served their mutual interests (usually when it meant going up against Lupin III).   
    Relationships (see One Big Happy Family)
    • Lupin III gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when Fujiko gives him a Benny
    • Goemon gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Fujiko gives him a Benny
    • Jigen gets a -2 penalty on the reroll when Fujiko gives her a Benny
    • Zenigata gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Fujiko gives him a Benny
    Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d10, Strength d6, Vigor d8
    Skills: Boating d6, Climbing d8, Driving d8, Fighting d10, Gambling d6, Intimidation d4, Investigation d12, Lockpicking d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d10, Piloting d6, Shooting d10, Stealth d12, Streetwise d8, Swimming d4, Taunt d8
    Charisma: +4; Pace: 6; Parry: 7; Toughness: 8
    Gear: Browning M1910 (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1, Shots 7; AP 1, semi-auto) in garter holster, active nightvision goggles, auto grapnel, binoculars, cellular interceptor, commlink, flashlight, formal clothing, lighter, lockpicks, motorcycle, parabolic microphone, rebreather, spy camera, catsuit-style stealth suit, surveillance bug, utility knife (Str+d4)
    Hindrances: Overconfident [Major], Greedy [Minor], Mania [Minor; deeply conflicted feelings for Lupin III], Selfish Jerk [Minor], Wanted [Minor] 
    Edges: Ace, Arcane Background: Super Powers, Assassin, Attractive/Very Attractive, Investigator, The Best There Is, Thief
    Special Abilities
    • Chameleon (4): rubber masks and disguises; Voice (+2), Device (-1)
    • Deflection (4): good at dodging
    • Super Attribute (2): +1 Spirit (2)
    • Super Edge (8): Level Headed/Improved Level Headed (4), Martial Artist (2), Steady Hands (2)
    • Super Skill (15): +1 Boating, Climbing, Driving, Fighting, Notice, Shooting, and Taunt; +2 Investigation, Persuasion, Piloting, and Stealth
    • Toughness (2): plot armor

    Lupin III: The Revenge of Mamo! – Inspector Zenigata

    Inspector Zenigata

    Inspector Koichi Zenigata
    Legendary Street Fighter Wild Card (100 XP)

    Inspector Zenigata made a name for himself on the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Force as a hard-edged, ruthless cop. While he pursued Fujiko Mine, INTERPOL recruited Zenigata to head its anti-Lupin task force. Zenigata threw himself into the job, abandoning his wife and young daughter as the chase led ever onward.

    Even as he spiraled into monomania, Zenigata came to respect Lupin III and his crew, recognizing that as often as not they stole from bigger (and frequently more legitimate) thieves. He formed a respectful rivalry with the thief, deeply mourning Lupin on the surprisingly frequent occasions the burglar faked his death. Because of the many times they have inadvertently saved the world, Inspector Zenigata has sworn to bring Lupin III and gang in alive.

    Zenigata recognizes the unique talents each member of Lupin III's gang brings to their work: Lupin's strategic and technical genius, Jigen's marksmanship, Goemon's martial prowess, and Fujiko's well-rounded abundance of skills. He works hard to maintain professional distance, however, when circumstances force them to work together.    

    Relationships (see One Big Happy Family)

    • Fujiko gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Zenigata gives her a Benny
    • Jigen gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Zenigata gives him a Benny
    • Goemon gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Zenigata gives him a Benny
    • Lupin III gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when Zenigata gives him a Benny

    Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d12
    Skills: Boating d4, Climbing d6, Driving d8, Fighting d10, Intimidation d10, Investigation d10, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Piloting d4, Shooting d10, Stealth d8, Streetwise d10, Swimming d4, Taunt d4, Throwing d10
    Charisma: +0; Pace: 6; Parry: 7; Toughness: 12
    Hindrances: Mania [Major; must be the one to capture Lupin III -- alive!], Monologuer [Major], Mania Weakness [Minor; -4 to Notice rolls, Test of Will, and Tricks vs. Lupin III], Vow [Minor; serve INTERPOL and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police] 

    Edges: Command, Command Presence, Connections (INTERPOL), Inspire, Investigator
    Special Abilities

    • Doesn't Eat (1): subsists on infrequent meals of coffee and instant ramen
    • Doesn't Sleep (1)
    • Ensare (5): barrage of handcuffs; Ranged Touch Attack (+2; uses Throwing)
    • Toughness (4): plot armor
    • Super Attribute (4): +2 Vigor
    • Super Edge (10): Block (2), Brawler (2), Dodge/Improved Dodge (4), Steady Hands (2).
    • Super Skill (10): +1 Driving, Fighting, Intimidation, Investigation, Notice, Persuasion, Piloting, Shooting, Streetwise, and Throwing.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    James Bond, Super-Spy

    I felt something was needed upon the passing of Sir Roger Moore, the James Bond of my childhood (though not my personal favorite). All of us can only wish we enjoy such a successful career and a life so filled with love and purpose as Sir Roger. I'm sure James Bond would trade places with him if he could. 

    An argument could be made that each James Bond has his own unique Traits and Edges, but I think it's really just a matter of how you play the role. Are you a bitter Connery/Dalton/Craig or a suave Lazenby/Moore/Brosnan?
    James Bond
    Legendary Street Fighter Wild Card (150 XP)
    Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d10, Strength d8, Vigor d12
    Skills: Boating d4, Climbing d6, Driving d10, Fighting d10, Gambling d12, Intimidation d8, Investigation d8, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Piloting d4, Shooting d10, Stealth d8, Streetwise d8, Swimming d8, Taunt d8, Throwing d10
    Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 7; Toughness: 8
    Hindrances: Vows [Major; to the secret service], Quirk [Minor; sensualist], Ruthless [Minor]
    Edges: Ace, Arcane Background: Super Powers, Charismatic, Investigator, Marksman, Nerves of Steel, Quick Draw, Strong Willed, The Best There Is, Thief
    Special Abilities
    • Deflection (dodging) (4)
    • Super Attribute (6): +1 Spirit, +2 Vigor
    • Super Edge (14): Combat Reflexes, Elan, Hard to Kill, Improvisational Fighter, Martial Artist, Take the Hit, Steady Hands
    • Super Skill (11): +1 Fighting, Intimidation, Piloting, and Shooting; +2 Driving and Swimming; +3 Gambling

    Monday, May 22, 2017

    The Blackwood Kickstarter

    A pair of errants.
    I'm going to assume "red bears" are red pandas. 

    For the record, I’ve exchanged pleasantries with creator Eli Kurtz on Google+, I consider contributor Richard Woolcock a friend, and pal and publisher Eric Simon acted as their Kickstarter consultant, but I have no business interest in the Blackwood Kickstarter.

    Remember the end of Brotherhood of the Wolf when Fronsac paints his face so that we can’t tell Mark Dacascos is standing in for Samuel Le Bihan and then he goes totally kung-fu crazy? And there are all those crazy masked cultists? And Jean-François de Morangias not only regenerates his arm, but fights with a bone sword-whip like he escaped from a Tsui Hark film? Remember that?

    That’s basically The Blackwood Errantry Codex.

    As long-time Wine and Savages readers know, Brotherhood of the Wolf is a significant contributor to the DNA of The King is Dead – but the Blackwood setting hones in on the wild juxtaposition of martial arts and Old World aesthetic shown in that film to create a unique fantasy setting. I picked up the free primer materials from DriveThruRPG this weekend, and they convinced me to back the project. 

    Carved out of the center of the massive Blackwood forest sits the Elder Kingdom, a peaceful land that’s basically Confucian China in Early Modern German drag. Long ago, the Elder King broke the power of the elves – here described as the weird, malevolent creatures of European folklore instead of the clean-cut immortals of Tolkien – but now he’s gone missing and darkness is creeping back into the kingdom from the edges of the forest. Thankfully, a caste of traveling warriors called errants wander the Margin of the Elder Kingdom – the luminal space between the mundane and the supernatural, between law and the outlaw – to quell elves, their monsters, and their worshippers.

    Errants look like they stepped out of 7th Sea or one of Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman movies, but they dash along treetops like Li Mu Bai in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Eli Kurtz has adopted an Edge-based approach to martial arts for Savage Worlds that allows players to activate iconic wire-fu abilities without worrying about Power Points and activation rolls – though he’s also created a few new Arcane Backgrounds to bring some additional flavor to spellcasting in the Blackwood, like the Classicists who blend music and scholarship, for those who want to throw bolts around.

    For those who are curious but doubtful, I recommend checking out the free materials at DTRPG. A primer with samples of new magic and Edges, a set of pre-generated characters, and a quartet of adventures are all available. The adventures include murderous remixes of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” and Journey to the West(by way of the Beast of Gévaudan) so they should give you a good idea of whether the Blackwood appeals to you.

    The Kickstarter is a few hundred short of funding with a week left to go. I’ve gone in on a pledge that gets me the physical copy of the book – something I decided to do with Buccaneer: Through Hell & High Water as well – and expect that there will be a last-minute flurry of pledges to get the project funded. As a fan of the disparate genres Eli Kurtz has woven into this unusual setting, I hope the Blackwood flourishes.

    Friday, May 19, 2017

    Setting Rule: One Big Happy Family

    Fairy Tail, obviously.

    The interpersonal dynamics between player characters serve as the primary point of tension in some genres and settings. Anime- and manga-derived settings in particular embrace the notion of “nakama” – friends who are closer than your family – while settings based on American Saturday morning and syndicated cartoons may actually define friendship as magic.

    Just as the Blood & Guts rule dispenses of the need for the No Mercy Edge, so One Big Happy Family dispenses with Common Bond, allowing players to freely share Bennies with their fellow players and designated Game Master Wild Cards (the Natural Leader and Beast Bond Edges are still needed for Extra allies and animals, respectively).

    Game Masters may choose to allow players to complicate the relationships between heroes by assigning bonuses and penalties to the rerolls granted by sharing Bennies. In an average-sized group of four to six players, this combination of bonuses and penalties has a sum total of +4; larger groups may wish to increase the total to +6 or even +8.

    The maximum bonus that can be assigned to any one teammate is +2. By assigning penalties to other teammates, a player may gain additional bonus points to assign elsewhere. If there are five characters in a team, for example, a player might choose to assign one teammate a -2 penalty, increasing the player's total that can be assigned to +6 and allowing him to give a +2 bonus to his three other teammates. The maximum penalty that can be assigned to any one teammate is -2.

    Example: Gray Fullbuster is a member of Fairy Tail, a guild of wizards for hire, and frequently goes on adventures with four of his guild mates: Natsu Dragneel (with whom he has a serious, but not deadly, rivalry), Erza Scarlet (whom he looks upon as an older sister), Lucy Heartfilia (who he thinks is attractive but has no particular romantic feelings for), and Happy the Exceed (about whom he has no strong feelings). Gray’s player assigns his Benny bonuses this way:

    • Natsu suffers a -2 penalty on the reroll when he spends a Benny that Gray gave him
    • Erza gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when she spends a Benny that Gray gave her
    • Lucy gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when she spends a Benny that Gray gave her
    • Happy gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when he spends a Benny that Gray gave him

    Players may reassign their bonus/penalty total at the beginning or end of any session – simulating arcs of character growth as they become closer friends and allies or start to grow apart – but the numbers must stay constant during the session.

    Example: Later, the sprightly Wendy Marvell, Charle the Exceed, and Juvia Lockser join the team on a permanent basis. The Game Master allows the group to expand their bonus/penalty total to +6. As Gray’s attraction to Lucy has cooled while Juvia’s player has declared she has an unwavering crush on Gray, Gray’s player reassigns his total as:
    • That jerk Natsu still suffers a -2 penalty on the reroll when he spends a Benny that Gray gave him
    • Erza gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when she spends a Benny that Gray gave her
    • Lucy gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when she spends a Benny that Gray gave her
    • Happy's been taunting Gray too much recently, so he gets no bonus on the reroll when he spends a Benny that Gray gave him
    • Wendy gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when she spends a Benny that Gray gave her
    • Charle gets a +1 bonus on the reroll when she spends a Benny that Gray gave her
    • Juvia gets a +2 bonus on the reroll when she spends a Benny that Gray gave her

    New Hindrance
    Selfish Jerk [Major or Minor]: You take advantage of your friends and give little back. As a Minor Hindrance, you have 2 less points available in your Benny-sharing pool; as a Major Hindrance, you have 4 less.

    New Edge
    Requirements: Novice
    Your empathy and generosity are legendary. Every time you take this Edge, you gain an additional +2 to your Benny-sharing pool, up to a maximum of 5 times for a bonus of +10 to your pool.