Rules modifications for a punk game

“We all enter this world in the same way: naked; screaming; soaked in blood. But if you live your life right, that kind of thing doesn’t have to stop there.”  —Dana Gould

Punk, as I have said, is about nihlism, desperation, and self-destruction. As evidence I invite you to see how many famous punks from the early days are alive today; Not many, even fewer then rock or metal from similar eras. Therefore the standard XP system most games use, or even the advance-with-use system of the Basic Roleplay System isn’t a good fit for a true punk game, as it has character getting stronger over time, rather then burning out in a drug induced blaze of glory. Therefore I’m going to roughly sketch a modification of a standard RPG system to make it more punk.

The main and most important point is that characters should live fast, die young, and leave an ugly, tattoo, shocking corpse. Therefore while you get XP as normal for your game system, you can only cash in on that when you die, with their new character starting at the higher level or getting the XP. So you build up character points, levels, etc, but you can’t actually use them until you die. There should also be a reward for having a particularly brutal, ugly or otherwise ‘punk’ death, to encourage interesting deaths, instead of characters quietly overdosing at home, which, while realistic wouldn’t be very interesting in a game.

I recommend coupling this with something like BRP or GURPs critical hit, major wound type tables, also the mental disorders you pick up over time in Call of Cthulhu or GURPS on a failed sanity/horror check. This way characters actually get worse over time, leading to a race to do things worthy of experience, before they are too damaged from their lifestyle of constant violence and drug use to continue being playable.

Well, there is my main idea: Give the players a motivation to have their characters live fast and die young. I know this goes against my traditional gaming advice and style, but hey, punk is a hard genre to emulate, as it is inherently self-defeating, which is something I think most people ignore.

Anyway, until next time, stay geeky.

Published in: on July 15, 2013 at 8:54 am  Comments (5)  
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More BRP Advantages

I’ve realized that it would be very easy to churn out some more advantages for BRP by looking over what sorts of things other rules systems offer. I think this will also help me when it comes time to convert monsters and such from those systems (Mainly D&D) into BRP for my dimensional travelling campaign.

Also it should be noted that I say BRP, but we don’t use a lot of the tables and such and generally follow the version in CoC much more closely: Our initiative system is also generally counterclockwise around the table. Therefore if I miss anything please let me know and I will try and fix it.

My previous two posts are here, and here. However, I have collected all of the advantages into one place for convenience, including the ones below.

If a character successfully completes an adventure without managing to raise any skills they may choose an advantage. A player may forgo attempting to raise skills to choose an advantage. The advantage gained must (if possible) be related to something the did in the adventure or in the past.

Note: I’ve changed this to ‘or the player is unhappy with the result’ as there were a time when the player only raised 1 skill (out of 10 or so they rolled for) and another when another player raised 3 skills…by one point each.

I have also given one these out in a case of exceptional roleplaying (The player acted out a fear of zombies without missing an opportunity for 4+ adventures over 2 years. This wasn’t a required phobia or anything, they just decided that after that many close calls and that much sanity loss they had one. So I have them “I know it’s weakness” vs zombies after they rolled a series of exceptionally good shots against several zombies.) Experience for RP is a long tradition in D&D, so I figure this works just as well.

Athletic:

“Practice as if you are the worst, perform as if you are the best.”

You gain +10% to perform feats of athletics; Jumps, running, climbing, vaulting and so on.

Deceptively Small:

But Pete is 6’2″! How did he fit through that little hole?

You ignore 20% of penalties for working or fighting in a confined space. You also gain a 20% bonus when attempting to fit through narrow spaces, and can fit through any space a small, though normal, member of your race could, regardless of your actual size. (For example a 260 lb, 6’2″ human with this feat could fit through any space that the 5’0″, 120 lb scout can).

At home in the dark:

The light! IT BURRRNNNNSSSSS

You can ignore 20% of penalties that stem from operating in insufficient light (Twilight, emergency lighting, torchlight). You can ignore 10% of penalties stemming from total darkness.

Island of Tranquility:

Keep it down out there, I am trying to operate!

When performing complex actions you may ignore 20% of any penalties due to distractions (Nearby combats, ongoing artillery barrage, younger siblings)

Hard as Nails:

Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mister Cowboy?”Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.”

You gain 1 hitpoint.

I am a bush:

Don’t move or they will find you, don’t move or they will find you…

You gain a +10% bonus to Hide checks while completely immobile.

Sensor? What sensor?

“Saw my junk, missed 12″ razor blades”

You may conceal items in such a way as to negate the bonus to locate it granted by 1 form of technology.Under normal circumstances this will take 1 hour, though particularly sophisticated devices could take longer or they may only be partially negated (DM’s discretion.) Multiple methods may be guarded against, though there is a cumulative 5% chance per additional method guarded against that you will negate all your previous work. The DM rolls this in secret.

For example: Adam wants to conceal a sample of Fledge he is using to bribe an informant in his suitcase . Knowing that it will go through a chemical scanner, he places it with several masking agents, negating the bonus the scanner gives the agents searching for it. If his suitcase is x-rayed then this bonus will not help, though he could spend another hour packing it in with similar looking herbs and spices to negate this bonus.

Fast Reader:

I don’t see letters, just shapes. It saves time.

You count your intelligence score as being 1 higher when calculating the time it will take you to read a tome

Seeker of the Forbidden:

Madness takes its toll…

Requirement: Either: 10% in Cthulhu Mythos or Blasphemous Knowledge OR Sanity less than 40.

When reading a tome that drains sanity or that was written by someone insane you count your intelligence score as being 3 points higher when determining the time it will take you to read it. When determining the time it will take you to read a normal work your intelligence is counted as being 4 lower.

Special: If your sanity rises above 40 and you do not have at least 10% in Cthulhu Mythos or Blasphemous Knowledge the bonus from this feat drops to 1 point of intelligence, however the penalty to read normal works is removed. This lasts until your sanity drops below 50.

Special: If you have both a sanity score lower than 50 and 10% or more in Cthulhu Mythos or Blasphemous Knowledge then the bonus rises to 4 points of intelligence. However, the penalty rises to 5 points when reading normal works.

Nothing suits me like a suit

What? You are saying high heels are not practical monster hunting cloths?

You never take penalties for impractical clothing. You however still can take penalties for wearing inappropriate clothing in social situations, or the lack of some article of clothing

Limitation: This advantage will not let you breath in space without a spacesuit, or avoid mosquito bites without appropriate clothing. You could however survive in the arctic in a loincloth, if the time\expense were taken to prepare as normal then *fur lined* loincloth could ‘count as’ cold weather gear. in the same way as high heels can ‘count as’ appropriate footwear.

Authors Note: The purpose of this feat is to allow Swords & Sorcery or B-movie style ridicules outfits. Please use it to that end and not to try and get away with not outfitting your character or somesuch.

Advantages for BRP and Call of Cthulhu

So I’ve decided to do something I’ve never done before: Write crunch. Yes, I am going to write up some rules. Now BRP does not have advantages so I’m also going to add them as I want players who fail to raise a skill after an adventure to get something, also BRP characters need some chrome to keep them apart. Something one player can do that the others can’t.

If a character successfully completes an adventure without managing to raise any skills they may choose an advantage. A player may forgo attempting to raise skills to choose an advantage. The advantage gained must be related to something they did in the adventure.

I’ve been reading [setting riff] Voices From Below and the Long Stairs [Great work by the way, I’ve been drawing a lot of ideas from it, just depressing as heck. Expect a post based on it soon] and the news so these may have a military theme to them, also given the source material some of thee may have a touch of a …bitter flavour to them. Sorry about that.

Some of these are fairly unloriginal I admit, but others I think are pretty cool. I admit a number of them are to help players start off new skills, or to give them a broader skillset. Others I managed to stick to my chrome idea. If you have any ideas please post them up!

Protect Your Own

“He may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard” -some solider in Highlander TV show

Requirement: Have lied to protect someone from serious harm at least 3 times OR have been a member of an insular group (Military, British bordering school, gang) where one would have reasonably lied to protect ones mates.

Bonus: You’ve lied to cover your friends/comrades/etc so many times it is second nature to you now. You get +20% on checks made to lie to protect someone.

Should I limit this more? ‘to protect someone from the consequences of their actions’?

Inspiration: Players lying to cover eachother, the behind the back messages in The Voices From Below and the Long Stairs, ‘Buddy codes’ and ‘Bro codes’ from many movies.

Acceptable Casualties

You’ve got so much innocent blood on your hands that you can justify just a bit more.

Requirement: In the course of the characters career they must have taken san loss equal to the maximum amount for killing an innocent person due to innocents dying in the course of the PCs mission

Bonus: You no longer suffer sanity loss for killing people as long as you can justify it for ‘The greater good’ (Stopping Cthuhlhu, Demogorgon, etc)

Inspiration: The news.

Our Boys are the Good Guys

Your side is the good guys right? They must have needed to blow up that bridge with civilians on it.

Requirement: Not sure. None? All you need is the ability to ignore things which much of the public seems to have during any war.

Benefit: You don’t need to make sanity checks for acts that are committed by your team members that you don’t directly observe or participate in. Even if your allies torture people to death as long as you aren’t there you can pretend it didn’t happen.

Inspiration: Also the news.

For the public good

Some things are just to much for the public to know

Requirement: Have lied to authority about mythos related activities at least 3 times

Benefit: You have been protecting the public from knowledge for so long you have gotten good at it. You get +20% to lie to conceal mythos activities.

Inspiration: Every piece of conspiracy fiction ever written.

Shall not be killed by a bullet

You’ve been shot so much you barely feel it anymore

Requirement: You must have been knocked unconcise my the weapon you choose

Benefit: Pick a manmade category of weapons: Guns, Blades, etc. You take one less point of damage per attack when struck by such weapons.

Inspiration: There was a western where a minor character made the above claim, though I can’t remember the title.

Fast on the Draw

You know that he who draws last doesn’t get a chance to try again

Benefit: You get +1 initiative rank above what you would normally get.

Inspiration: Westerns.

Bat Out of Hell

You’ve learned to run like the devils on your heels, as last time it was

Benefit: Your move speed is one point above normal

New Learning

It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks

Benefit: Add 10% to 3 skills that were previously at default value.

Natural Prodigy:

“Why does one stop learning till he dies when it makes all lands and place his?”- Tiruvalluvar, Tirukkural: 397

Requirement: You must have succeeded on a check 3 times with a skill at default value

Benefit: Add 20% to that skill

I know it’s weakspot

“Hit them between the 2nd and 3rd set of arms, its armour is weak there!”

Requirement: You must have helped slay 3 of the target creature. You must have delivered at least one finishing blow yourself.

Bonus: You do 1 extra point of damage when attacking the target type of creature.

It’s my baby

Your baby won’t let you down when you need it

Pick one specific item. You gain +15% on roles using that item. If that item is destroyed or irretrievably lost you must spend 1 adventure familiarizing yourself  with a new item. The new item may be a different type then the original. (For example if an investigators silver-plated .45 is lost they may grow more attached to their car)

Inspiration: Various places: Dresden’s Blue Bug in The Dresden Files. Various characters that are attached to one item. Players that want custom items that give them bonuses.

Master of the Muses

“The blessing of the muses inspires you” – Natania Barron

Benefit: You gain +10% in all art skills that are at default value.

Science!

Stand Back, I’m going to try SCIENCE!

Benefit: You gain +10% in every science skill that is at default value.

Inspiration: Pulp, XKCD

Disturbing Insight

But if that is true then that means….Lord above have mercy on our souls….

Benefit: Gain +5% to Cthulhu Mythos or Blasphemous Knowledge along with all associated benefits and penalties.

Eternally Cheerful

For myself I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.  –Winston Churchill, November 9, 1954

Benefit: Gain 1 extra point of sanity at the end of every successful completed adventure. If every goal in the adventure is met gain an additional point of sanity. This benefit is not gained if player did not make an attempt to maintain an optimistic outlook.

I didn’t take nothing officer!

Wasn’t me govn’r, God’s truth!

Requirement: The character must have experience lying to such figures, either in backstory or play.

Benefit: You’ve lied to authorities so much it is now second nature. Gain +20% to checks to lie to people in significant position of authority over you. For example: Bosses, police, superior officers.

Inspiration: A number of books featuring thieves or streetkids.

Ladies Man/Seductress

“The names Bond, James Bond”

Benefit: Gain +15% to social roles when interacting with the opposite sex in a social setting or for other appropriate purposes at the DMs discretion.

Inspiration: Do I REALLY need to say?

Fast Learner

To look for something meaningful is the beginning of a life long search.

Benefit: Count all skills as 5% lower when rolling to increase them.

Blasphemous insight

Knowledge is power, power corrupts.

Requirement: At least 20% in Cthulhu Mythos/Blasphemous Knowledge

Benefit: At the end of any adventure you may sacrifice 5 sanity to attempt to raise one skill that you did not already attempt to raise.

So what does everyone think? Do you like the system? Are there any that you think are over/under powered? I am thinking of cross-posting this on RPG.net since I enjoy the discussion there, and would like more people to see it then the few who visit my blog. Heck, some might even visit my blog. Does anyone know rpg.net’s policy on such things?