Friday, 24 November 2017

Gotham City Blues - A Campaign for DC Adventures

One of two Batman comics I picked up while in
New York and the inspiration for this campaign.
So I'm going to begin this post, by telling you little story about myself.  During my last year of High School my Drama class (in association with the rest of Arts program) took a trip to New York City.  By and large I considered the whole trip to be something of a bust.  New York wasn't as spectacular as a life-time (at that point of 18 years) of consuming Pop Culture had made it out to be.  The monuments weren't particularly grand, the food was alright (but not world class) and the free periods were largely spent walking around in boredom, since I'm not the kind of person who shops in Times Square.  There were a number of saving graces though.  I managed to pick up a poster for a friend of mine (actually the friend who's the single player in most of my games), did a great Dustin Hoffman impression when someone else in the group stepped on my foot (Hey, I'm walking here!) and picked up a few purchases which I was quite happy with.  Two of which were DVD copies of Lonesome Dove and In the Streets of Laredo to replace my old VHS copies.  (It's amazing what you can find in an upstate New York Cracker Barrel).  The other two were a pair of Batman comic collections.  The famous A Death in the Family storyline (which has not aged well in my personal opinion) and Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty, the critically acclaimed 40 issue police procedural about Gotham's Major Crimes Unit (of which the book contains the first ten issues).

It was the latter that inspired this particular Campaign pitch.  Which goes something like this.  The characters are members of GCPD's Major Crimes Unit, or to be more specific that particular unit's Night shift.  Pretty much one of the toughest assignments a Gotham cop can get.  The unit is mostly comprised of fanatically honest cops who genuinely want to do good.  Or those that are in the dog-house with the higher ups.  It's a thankless job with hard hours and cops from other units dumping unsolved cases on you.  If that weren't enough pressure you're responsible for cases that deal with Bat's extensive rogue's gallery.  Other cops make drug-busts, you make drug-busts on dealers selling product made by the Scarecrow himself!  
Pretty much what you can look forward to being a cop in Major Crimes.
The Gotham City Blues campaign would use the DC Adventures ruleset.  Which is essentially Mutants and Masterminds, specifically themed towards running games set in the DC Comics Universe.  The players will all be detectives of the GCPD Major Crimes Unit, which deals with cases of a high profile.  High profile meaning those of a politically sensitive nature or involving quote un-quote Super-villains.  (What could be more politically sensitive than a cornucopia of crooks, that escape from Arkham Asylum every other week).  I'd be using a number of various outside resources from other games besides DC Adventures.  The Agents of Freedom sourcebook from Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition would prove to be an indispensable resource for this campaign.  As would this series of posts over at BlargedyBlarg by Moonsylver.  Which include a number of home-brew rules that I personally think would add a lot to Gotham City Blues.  His post on Nightly Patrols could work just as well for random encounters for Cops on patrol in Gotham (with a bit of tweaking for the setting and characters of course).

The Map that I would using for the campaign, which I believe is taken from
the Cataclysm storyline.  You can find it through a simple Google Image
search.  I found this particular one in Pinterest Post which allows you to
zoom in.
City Map and Points of Interest Matched up to Districts from MoonSylver's Patrol Tables

  • (29) Tricorner Yards - (10) Waterfront District
  • (28) Tricorner - (22) Suburbs, Working-Class
  • (56, 40) Chinatown - (7) Chinatown
  • (37, 38, 39, 42) Midtown - (16) Downtown
  • (43) Fashion District - (3) University District
  • (34, 35, 36) Upper West Side - (16) Downtown
  • (30, 31, 32) Robinson Park - (9) Midtown
  • (33) Chelsea - (3) University District
  • (18, 19) Coventry - (22) Suburbs, Working-Class
  • (45, 46, 53, 54) Upper East Side - (16) Downtown
  • (1, 7, 11, 12) Burnley - (12) The Bowery
  • (10) Rogers Yacht Basin - (5) Suburbs, Upper Class

  • (9) Amusement Mile - (14) Small Neighbouring Community
  • (2) Arkham Asylum - (17) Suburbs, Outskirts
  • (24, 25) Gotham International Airport & Gotham Light and Power - (21) Airport District

The players would make players of Power Level 5 with a total of 75 power points.  Most of which would be invested in skills, equipment and benefits, rather than being invested in Superpowers.  Usually the players would be assigned cases to work, being paired up in groups of two.  Representing different partnerships within the Night Shift, though every once in while.  Though every once in while, they'll be required to work in a group of four or more.  For when a case is to big or dangerous to be handled by just two people.  Every once in while they'll have a non-existent caseload, during which I'll run them through random encounters rolled on Moonsylver's tables.  I'll also try to focus a little on the personal lives of the characters, introducing love interests, families.  The sort of people that can be used against them.  Who knows?  I might even go the route of the Killing Joke and have one of the players' loved ones injured or kidnapped by a recurring Super-villain.  (Not the Joker though, that'd be too obvious.  Maybe one of the more obscure ones).

If you're familiar with Watchmen, that should tell you how I plan to handle
the PCs attempts to capture any of Gotham's various vigilantes.
Speaking of Super-villains the players will be interacting with NPCs that are very prominent in the comics.  Ranging from the head of the MCU Maggie Sawyer to the Batman himself.  One of the common complaints you hear about running games set in existing franchises.  Is that the players end up being overshadowed by the property's established characters or timelines.  It is a complaint that you often hear about with games set in the Star Wars Universe.  I personally am planning to go the route of having the players be able to have a major impact on the world.  A common criticism you hear from a lot of comic book fans, is why doesn't someone just kill the villains?  Rather than arresting them just to have them bust out of Arkham a few issues later.  The players are welcome to kill the villains, but they have to realize that there will be consequences to such actions.  Legal consequences, they may have to go through a hearing, be investigated by Internal Affairs, etc.  They may also decide that they want to arrest one of Gotham's many vigilantes.  (My personal money would be on, at least one player starting an effort to arrest Batman).  Of course there will be rules to this sort of this.  The players would not be able to use out-of-character knowledge to aid their investigation.  None of this "I have a sudden urge to explore the grounds of Wayne Manor" crap.  Also the players will have to realize that apprehension of any of these vigilantes will not be an easy task.  Across how many different mediums have the police tried to capture Batman?  Every single time he gives them a run for their money.  Beating the holy hell out of Swat Teams in various comics, movies, TV series and video games.  The point is that the players are going to have a hard time doing it.  Even if they manage to corner him, he may be suddenly saved by a deus ex machina.  As has often happened in the various storylines and media.  Of course I will make a point not to overuse it or to fudge rolls.  As a comic book reader I sometimes get tired when deus ex machina gets overused.  If the players do manage to corner a vigilante and I feel they've fought hard for a victory, then I am inclined to let their hard work pay off.

Anyways I feel that I've rambled on long enough about this.  So I'll get around to wrapping the whole thing up.  Overall I think this would be a fun experiment to run at some point.  When I have more players than I currently have at the present moment.  Honestly if it wasn't for the fact that I'd be the one running this campaign, I'd love to play as a PC in this.  I imagine I'd either make a grizzled veteran cop like Harvey Bullock or a guy who was previously pulled out of undercover work who has some issues to deal with like Mick Belkar from Hill Street Blues.  These are really more just rough notes I wrote down for later, I may never make use of them.  Like a lot of the stuff that I write on this blog, it's mostly here for the purposes of archiving.  To make sure I don't forget some of the great ideas for games that I've come up with over the years.  I always encourage my readers to take inspiration from anything I write to use in their own campaigns.  As that's actually how I've come up with a lot of great ideas of my own.  By reading what other RPG bloggers have written.  Anyway I said that I would wrap this up and I'm a man of my word.  Until next time, have a good day and may the dice be ever in your favour.