Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My Middle Name is Larceny

Text boxes are your best friend for throwing together character sheets.

Just over a month ago, Robin and I realized we just weren’t having that much fun with our Blue Rose AGE duet campaign; despite our mutual sympathies toward the setting and themes, neither of us has actually read any romantic fantasy novels nor has the time to learn the setting that the game demands. We’d also bought a Roku and started up a Crunchyroll subscription, so we were finally watching the 2015 Lupin III series. To my great surprise, Robin suggested starting a Lupintic cat burglar campaign and My Middle Name is Larceny was born.

Some readers of the blog requested additional information about the campaign, but I’m afraid there isn’t that much information to share. I improvise our duet games to such a degree that I often don’t even make notes before a session starts; this has its drawbacks, but we’ve learned from experience that we both get bored if things are too structured. With that stated, I can at least make a bullet point list of highlights.

  • Our heroine, Beverly “Bev” Larceny Slick, is the master thief child of a pair of deceased phantom thieves; she was raised to a life of globetrotting thievery and is an expert in her field. As the protagonists of this kind of fiction—characters like Lupin III, Modesty Blaise, and To Catch a Thief’s Charles Robie—are cinematic-style polymaths, she was created as a Legendary hero with the Pulp Hero Power Point spread from the Super Powers Companion (said points limited to purchasing super attribute, super edge, and super skill). Frankly, I’d recommend this for any duet Savage Worlds campaign; if you spread around skill points to get at least a d6 in most skills, there’s still plenty of room for improvement at Legendary Rank.
  • We’ve been using that Carry Forward hack (not setting rule) I wrote about a couple of posts ago as a way to weaponize intelligence gathering—but with that said, we often go several sessions in a row without rolling dice, just narrating things instead. Dice are for when you want to introduce the element of chance, or enjoy the tactile fun of playing with toys. A game like this where there’s an explicit understanding that the protagonist will overcome and survive physical threats hinges on emotional stakes, and you don’t really need dice for that.
  • The setting is sometime in the 1970s, partially as an homage to Lupin III, partially as an excuse to set some cool funky jazz/rock playing in the background while we game. I have both Damnation Decade and Spirit of ’77, but I haven’t made much use of either, instead largely relying on childhood memories and film and TV of the period. For the most part—like Lupin IIIMy Middle Name is Larceny is more grounded than either of those published settings… except when it’s not, and then it’s more of an homage to Philip Jose Farmer’s sexed-up pulp homages and the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams Batman run.
  • Admittedly, there’s a lot of borrowing from the late ‘60s as well. I’ve joked about it being set in the Funk Age, somewhere vaguely between 1965 and 1975, but it’s mainly the ‘70s.
  • Lots of Dramatic Tasks. They're a nice challenge for Legendary characters and a fun way to simulate the complexity of the obstacles (a safe you can crack with one roll just doesn't seem as cool as one that takes five successes, even if they're both relatively easy for someone so skilled).
  • Ranges in Chases don't need to mean actual physical distance. "Long" and "Medium" range can actually just indicate the amount of cover the target has. I need to do more Chases.
Part of the goal with the campaign is to hit a variety of Funk Age genres, works, and tropes. Some of the adventures have been generated using that Globetrotting Cat Burglar Adventure Generator I posted; others have just emerged spontaneously. The adventures so far have been mashups of:

  • “Killer Queen” + “A Scandal in Belgravia” (yeah, it’s anachronistic, but so is Sherlock) + the X-Men's original Hellfire Club
  • Hammer horror + Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu
  • ‘70s surf and counterculture outlaw movies + yakuza + Code Name: Diamond Head + a proto-A Team
  • Richie Rich + New York real estate mogul + KGB + Xaviera Hollander
  • Diabolik + The Godfather + car chases + Olympic decathletes
  • Invasion of the Bee Girls + Wonder Woman (1974) + Aguirre, the Wrath of God + Rio de Janeiro
  • Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter + Golgo 13 + Battles Without Honor and Humanity + pink eiga   
  • The Pink Panther (1963) + Batman (1966) + hot tubs + scavenger hunts + disco
  • Ra’s al Ghul + Carlos the Jackal + Gaddafi’s terrorist training camps + zombies

I expect Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster will show up eventually, but we’re going to try segueing back towards more grounded, lighthearted adventures after the zombies. Also, a lot of these references are secondhand; it’s not so much that I’ve seen all the films I’ve namedropped so much as I know about their existence and/or have read summaries.


 I tried incorporating Leverage-style score names, but gave up.



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