Sunday, 11 March 2018

Looting the Corpse - Cyberpunk Style

My earnest attempt to make up for February's lack of posts continues.  I was looking around for something to do when some inspiration came my way.  As some of my long time readers may know I'm a member of the Cyberpunk 2020 group on Google+, recently one of the members Jon Smejkal posted an old write up of his.  Specifically he detailed a deck of cards that he used whenever his players used to loot dead mooks in Cyberpunk 2020. Go show him some love over on his blog, he's a fan of Paul D. Gallagher famous for writing Augmented Reality.  (Click here for the PDF and here for the Dead Tree Version if you don't know what Augmented Reality is).  So he can't be all bad. I very much enjoyed some of the ideas John put forward for what you could find in someone's pockets.  I made a comment on his post in the Community about how I might use the cards with some modifications for my campaigns.  That's when he replied, that he'd love to see me post those modifications once I made them.  To be honest when I first said that it was mostly meant to be polite. Since I haven't been running a lot of Cyberpunk lately.  But then he got me thinking why not make those modifications now?  I mean with my single player busy with schoolwork it's not like I'm doing much in terms of gaming.  I've got a lot of free time on my hands, I might as well.  So here's my attempt at making a custom Loot Deck for my Cyberpunk 2020 Campaigns.

Logical place to start this kind list really.

  • 1 EB*
  • 16 EB*
  • 25 EB*
  • 64 EB* 
  • 81 EB* 
  • 144 EB* 
  • 169 EB*
  • 254 EB*
  • 289 EB*
  • 400 EB*
*I used EB because it's in the official Rulebook, but this could easily be Credits, NuYen or GURPS Dollars whatever your favourite Cyberpunk system uses.  I personally use Credits.  If the numbers seems kind of random, don't worry they're supposed to be that way.  I wanted to simulate how people never seem to have a logical amount of money on them except when leaving the bank.  If you want to simulate this even more remove on EB from the amount given and roll 1d100.  This can be in Credstick or Cash form, your choice.

  • Car keys.  (Vehicle may be the dead group of mooks getaway vehicle or maybe off-site your choice). 
  • Pack of Non-Cancerous Cigarettes (1d20 left, let's face it Smoking's cool dying of cancer isn't.  So in my setting most Tobacco companies have removed the carcinogenic elements from their products.  Extra points if you take a page from Gibson's book and have them be Chinese.
  • 1d6+2 Doses of Street Drug (If you use Ocelot's Drug Lab like I do your typical Drug addict needs at least four doses to make it through the day). 
  • Deck of Cards or Pair of Dice roll 1d6 to decide which. (Even in the age of phone games there's nothing like shooting the shit before a job over a game of dice or cards). 
  • Key to Housing (May get you into a shitty cube in the Combat Zone or maybe into a Corporate Dormitory.  Maybe you could burglarize it for more stuff, use it as a temporary warehouse or just sell the key on the black market so some other guy can burglarize it.  If only you knew where the guy lived).
  • Cellphone (1d100 percent Battery Power, most likely a Prepaid Burner). 
  • Business Cards (May be plot-relevant, may just be for the local strip-club or escort service). 
  • Cigarette Lighter (1d100 percent fluid left) 
  • Matchbook (1d10 matches left, I put two methods of lighting your smokes in hopes that the poor sap will have kind of light).  
  • Lottery Ticket (In Night City this would be LateNite BodyLotto, in my setting this might be an official lottery or the local Numbers Game.  Roll 1d1000 twice if the same number comes up twice you've got a winner.  Good luck trying to collect though.
  • Skillsoft Chip +3 (1-4 chance on d6 that it's for the predominant language of the local area, 5-6 it's an incredibly detailed Tourist Map, giving a bonus to Area Knowledge).
  • Pen (even in the Cyberpunk Future People need to write stuff down)
  • Phone Number hastily scrawled on a scrap of paper.
  • Swiss Army Knife or Multi-Tool 
  • 3D Printed Vending Machine Pistol (Probably a .22 or .25 caliber, useful for point-blank assassinations and last minute self-defence against unarmored targets and not much else). 
  • Small Notebook (40% chance it contains notes about the plan of attack against the PCs, otherwise it's something personal.  Grocery list, love poem, etc.  Let your imagination run wild a little if they really seize upon it).
  • Sunglasses (Following Cyberpunk Tradition they are probably mirror-shades).
  • Small Piece of Cheap Jewelry (Chains, Earrings, maybe a Wedding Band if you want to make the players feel bad). 
  • Absolutely nothing! (To quote Scott Pilgrim "Wow what a jerk.")
  • Wireless Earbud Headphones (If the corpse has a phone on it, there's probably music on the phone.  It seems that every corpse the PCs loot has lousy taste in Music).  
  • Package of Snack Food (10% chance it's full, otherwise the porker ate it all.  Future equivalent of Skittles or a bag of peanuts). 
  • Snack Bar (%90 chance it's just an empty wrapper, otherwise you've got yourself the equivalent of a Snickers or a Granola Bar). 
  • Pocket Sized Photograph (Sentimental or perhaps it's a mugshot of a target.  The PC or an NPC Macguffin they're in charge of would do nicely). 
  • Hip Flask (10% it's been drained dry, might explain why the guy's now dead.  Otherwise you just scored yourself some free liquor). 
  • Slightly Pornographic Magazine (He's just reading it for the articles, honest.  50% chance the centrefold's been torn out). 
  • Braindance or VR Chip (Never something complex, essentially the equivalent of a Dating Sim for a Handheld Console.  At least in terms of complexity).
  • Miniature Cybertech Toolkit (Used for personal maintenance). 
  • Small Book of Crossword Puzzles (roll 1d100 to determine percentage of completion). 
  • Small Box of Unopened Condoms (He's not gonna need them anymore). 
  • Bottle of Medicine (Pills might be for allergies, insomnia or a host of other mundane medical problems.  Could probably get you high, about enough for one dose). 
There you have it my attempt at making a deck of cards for when the players loot the body in Cyberpunk.  What I have here amounts to about a deck of Forty which is about what Jon had for his.  I figured I'd restrict myself to the same limit, it falls just short of your standard deck of cards.  There's plenty of things here that might add some colour to when your characters loot corpses after a gunfight.  When they loot, just draw 6 cards and that's what they get.  Some of it they might find a use for, other stuff has no real use other than when fenced.  (I actually quite like the food entries myself, it's something you could describe your character munching on the deadman's snack.  Hey killing people's hungry work).  I might construct a deck of cards with these entries on Roll20 for use in my own games.  I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did while writing it.  Hopefully it's of some use to you, it kind of took a Film Noir bent to it in hindsight.  I probably shouldn't be surprised since for me part of the appeal of Cyberpunk is it being Film Noir in a Dark Future.  If you liked this be sure to +1, re-share and follow this blog for more, posts like this.  As always have a nice day and may you roll many crits, I'll see you later.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

GURPS: Hellraisers MC - A Campaign I'll Probably Never Run

With the Actual Play reports on hold until the GM of my current game is done with her semester.  It looks like I'll be writing more about Campaign ideas like I used to when I first started this Blog.  My updates were few and far between in February.  For that I apologize, I've always prided myself on updating regularly.  In terms of posts February 2018 was probably the least productive months in the history of Stories and Other Such Distractions.  Hopefully it never happens again short of author burnout, sickness or death.  I take great pride in what I do here and feel obligated to put out content on a regular basis.  So with that in mind here's an idea for a Campaign that's been kicking around in my head for a bit.

I've had a sort of love, hate relationship with GURPS ever since I discovered it.  On the one hand I loved the idea of a System that conceivably run any Campaign or Character I could cook up.  I also very much loved its Third Edition Sourcebooks which I found to be a great resource for numerous campaigns I've thought about running.  On the other hand though I wasn't too crazy about the System itself. It struck me as complex, almost Byzantine.  Requiring to look through the rule book time and time again to find specific rules to cover certain things.  Which for quite a bit of my Role-playing career was rather daunting considering I was mostly just starting out.  That aspect sort of scared me off of actually using the ruleset, instead restricting myself to running other more familiar ones.  While using the Fluff in various Third Edition Sourcebooks as reference material.  (Example: Using the Old West Sourcebook for a Western Campaign).  It wasn't until I grew older that I realized "You don't have to use all the rules.", which is kind of obvious in hindsight.  But honestly hindsight is the only part of my vision that is 20/20.  I still shied away from it due to a lack of familiarity with the actual mechanics and rules.  Over the past few weeks though I've been leafing through various Sourcebooks and it's gotten me excited to try it at least once.  But what would the subject matter be?  It was a question that had me wracking my brains out for quite some time.

Getting My Answer

Where my answer eventually came from.
Recently an acquaintance I know from over on YouTube and Discord turned me onto a TV show.  A show that I had heard off but honestly had had no real interest in.  Until this friend pushed me to watch it.  "You're into the Mafia and Organized Crime right, you'll love this show."  Is pretty much the words she used to convince me to watch it.  Once I did I was hooked, I'm still watching it whenever I can find the time.  The show I'm talking about is Sons of Anarchy.  Hamlet dressed up as Hell's Angels.  The show's been off the air for about six years now, which is ancient by TV time.  Why had I not seen it?  Number of reasons.  I'm not really into Motorcycle culture, honestly before watching SOA I probably couldn't have told you the difference between a Harley and a Kawasaki.  I also was put off by the exotic grunginess of Outlaw Bikers, it was a world very different from the Italian American Mafia.  That I was so used to reading about.  After a while of watching it though I began to see how this could be used for a very interesting and different Campaign.  

Choosing a System

This very nearly ended up being the campaign.
Now I knew I wanted to run an Outlaw Biker game, centred around the illegal activities of a Club.  The problem was coming up with a System that would support that kind of a game.  GURPS was on the table from the start, but it almost didn't end up being picked.  Other systems I considered my personal favourite Cyberpunk 2020 (modified for a Modern-Day setting of course) and Classic World of Darkness.  Cyberpunk was tempting because I am intimately familiar with the system.  But I ultimately didn't choose it because I feel I rely too much on it.  I wanted to use a new system for this. Classic World of Darkness was another tempting
This guy could very much have been an NPC if I'd stuck with the
World of Darkness idea.
choice, because the thirteen year old inside of my head loved the idea of Vampire Bikers!  Or Werewolf Bikers or Monster-Hunting Bikers depending on which lens I decided to put the WOD system through.  It very nearly ended up being the course that the game took.  An interesting piece I found while I did my research was this thread here.  Discussing a Vampire the Masquerade game about a Club of Sabbat Neonate Bikers.  A number of factors kept me from using Classic World of Darkness though.  One was the fact that I didn't want to run a 70s Exploitation Film, I wanted to run Goodfellas on Harley's.  The Second factor was an unfamiliarity with World of Darkness' Storytelling System.  So that put the kibosh on the idea that my inner thirteen year old was salivating over.  Ultimately it was back to GURPS, now it was just a matter of figuring out how to put it all together.

Figuring out Character Creation

Statting up guys like this is a lot harder than it
Now I know that GURPS is a little more free-form in terms of Character Creation when compared to D&D.  I personally like to have a little structure so my players have an idea what I expect for characters they create.  Which is why I love the Templates for GURPS, hell one of my favourite series of GURPS sourcebooks is the World War 2 line.  Which for Third Edition had the most Templates out of any of the one's I read.  Though I'm pretty sure that's changed with Fourth Edition.  So I set out in search of a Template to help inform character creation choices.  The closest I came to was the Nomad template from GURPS After the End: Wastelanders.  Which didn't quite work, since it focuses more on wasteland survival than being a criminal.  I was about to give up my search when I found this post by one Mook over at Game Geekery.  I can't thank him enough, while it's not quite what I'm looking for.  It was more of a baseline than I had when I started.  Be sure to go over there and show him some love.  With a base-line in place I could figure out how the hell I was going to go about creating something that resembled a guideline for character creation for this game.  I still needed a little something more though.  I needed to figure out what the players would get from being part of the club.  Thanks to one of the lesser known GURPS Sourcebooks Boardrooms and Curia I was able to do just that.  Basically it allowed me to work out a stat-block for the Outlaw Motorcycle Club I wanted the characters to be a part of.  Including their point cost as Patrons, Enemies, what Advantages their Members typically have.  All that good stuff.  It gave me a guideline that looked something like this.  

Point Total: 200 just between Heroes (or rather Villains) starting out and those that've established themselves.
Attributes: Maximum 14 in Any Stat, I'd encourage only spending a maximum of 130 points total for Stats.
Advantages: Claim to Hospitality (Any other Chapter) [10], Organized Crime Rank* [2 per level], Patron (The Club, appears almost all the time) [30], Signature Gear (Club Cutaway and Bike)** [2].  Combat Reflexes and High Pain Threshold would be wise investments as would any non-supernatural Advantage.  If the player wanted it I'd be willing to at least consider it.
Disadvantages: Duty (To the Club, on 12 or less) [-10], Enemy (Law Enforcement; FBI, ATF, Police you name it, 9 or less), Social Stigma -1 (Biker treat as Criminal) [-5].  Members are also expected to have Code of Honour (Biker same as Pirate's) [-5] though it's kind of hard to enforce what a person actually thinks.  Other than those the players are allowed to choose up to a total of 55 more points (if they took the Code of Honour it becomes 50)  of disadvantages.
Skills: Guns (Pistol, SMG, Shotgun and Rifle), Melee, an unarmed fighting Skill of some kind, Streetwise, Savoir-Faire (Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs), Drive (Motorcycle), Heraldry (Cuts) are all musts.  From there it's free-reign.  Though suggestions include Mechanic (Gasoline Engine), Area Knowledge (State), Merchant and some manner of Social Skill.  (Intimidate and Fast Talk being solid choices).  

 *Just for reference the Ranking for Motorcycle Clubs works out something like this.
0 = Prospect or Probate Member
1 = Fully Patched Member
2 = Chapter Officer (VP, Sergeant at Arms, Secretary/Treasurer or Road Captain)
3 = Chapter President or National Enforcer
4 = National/Regional Vice President
5 = National President

**Also a little explaining the Rulebook defines Signature Gear as being items that are part of your Legend.  For Han Solo it was the Millennium Falcon, for King Arthur it was Excalibur.  For Outlaw Bikers it's their Cutaway (the Leather or Denim vest that displays their Club's colours) and their Hogs or Bikes.  

Speaking of Cuts I have an idea of what I want the one for the Club in this Campaign to look like.  The name of the Club would be The Hellraisers (no relation to the patch pictured, which I found in a lucky Image search I came up with the name after the Ozzy Osbourne Song) using the Colour scheme from the patch with the matching name.  Though replacing the logo with some more resembling the Black Riders logo.  A skeleton dressed as a Biker, wreathed in hell-fire with a Whiskey Bottle in one hand, while he brandishes a sawed-off shotgun in the other.  (According to the dictionary a hell-raiser is "a person who causes trouble by drinking, being violent, or otherwise behaving outrageously" nothing says violent, drunken or outrageous to me more than a skeleton drinking whiskey, brandishing a shotgun, dressed as biker. The font would be changed a little to one called Fire-Starter which you can see an example of on the right.  Also the bottom Rocker wouldn't say San Andreas, it'd probably say something else.  Maybe California.

The Elevator Pitch

"You guys are members of the California Chapter of the Hellraisers Outlaw Motorcycle Club.  A group of violent, hard-drinking, drug-dealing and gun-running bikers.  Over the course of the game you'll deal with Law Enforcement crackdowns and other criminal groups encroaching on your turf."  That's roughly what the campaign pitch would be in general.  More would have to be worked out after the group sat down for a Session Zero where'd we'd create characters.  Figure out such specifics as whether they're just rank and file members, officers within their own chapter or the Mother Chapter of the whole Club.  I do have some ideas of what kind of illegal activities I'd want the Club to be involved in.  Where the characters would fit into those activities would be figured out during the Session 0.  Oh yeah I should probably have mentioned that there is a content-warning for this game.  
Warning this Campaign contains instances of:
- Violence
- Drug & Alcohol Abuse (that includes Tobacco) 
- Suggestive Sexual Situations
- Political Incorrectness & Foul Language (These are Bikers after all) 
If you are offended any of the content listed above, consider yourself warned.

I think that about wraps it up for me.  Considering that I'm kind of jonesing for a game, I might actually try to see if I could put it together over at Roll20.  If you're interested don't hesitate to show your interest in the comments, down below.  Be sure to +1, reshare and follow this Blog.  As always have a nice day and may the dice be ever in your favour.