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New Rules: ROLES

PreviewJason L Blair06 January 2012

Streets of Bedlam takes a lot of inspiration from cinematic sources. After playing the game, you’ll see how characters in your favorite movies can easily translate to Monsters, Dogfaces, Troubles, and other Streets of Bedlam archetypes. But aside from the character types and locations common to neo-noir and crime films, I’ve also ported over another common cinematic device: Roles.

Roles in Streets of Bedlam allow your character to spend Bennies in order to perform major (sometimes plot-altering) actions that you’re allowed to do simply because you’re the Hero, Sidekick, Love Interest, Plot Twist, or a Supporting Character in the story. These actions range from courageous feats of derring-do to sudden-but-inevitable betrayals to putting yourself in harm’s way in order to give the Hero focus (and a nice bonus).

Roles are optional but they’re also a lot of fun. As an independent system, you can lift them from Streets of Bedlam and drop them into any Savage Worlds setting—or any setting or system at all, if you like! For more details, check out the Streets of Bedlam corebook when it comes out in April. In the meantime, be sure to back the game to get some Kickstarter-exclusive perks and even put yourself in the game!

(Please note that the rules above are currently in playtest and subject to change.)


Week Three Round Up!

GeneralJason L Blair24 December 2011

The third full week of Streets of Bedlam comes to a close in fine style.

Here’s what’s been going on the past week:

The Kickstarter hit 200% funded this week! We’re less than $1.7k away from the $8k milestone! Hitting that unlocks a fifth standalone adventure “Eli Mendoza is a Dead Man” for the first supplement. This will change Four-Story Drop into Five-Story Drop!

This week on the site, we looked at the REGENT archetype as well as the Kickstarter-exclusive TROUBLE. Next week, I’ll post two new Character Types/Archetypes including the Kickstarter-exclusive Archetype SAWBONES which you unlocked for all $10+ backers when the pledges hit the $5k milestone.

I also talked a bit about the game’s Interrogation rules. Next week, I’ll dive into my main cinematic contribution to the Savage Worlds system: Roles.

Jodi Black from Beautiful Brains Books & Games gave me the honor of being a guest host on this past Thursday’s online chat. I talked about Streets of Bedlam, Little Fears, Kickstarter, and much more. It was great to sit down with everybody and I’d love to do it again. If you missed it, you can read the transcript when it goes live (I’ll post a link!).

The guys at the Out of Character podcast over at PulpGamer.com shined a light on the Streets of Bedlam Kickstarter. Thanks, guys!

Tyson from Apathy Games had some very nice things to say about the Streets of Bedlam Kickstarter. Thanks, Tyson!

The thread over at Pinnacle’s official SW Licensees forum is going strong. The Savage World community is a great group of folks. I encourage you to stop by and join the discussion.

Be sure to follow the official @StreetsOfBedlam Twitter account for early previews of what’s to come.

Thanks, everybody, for another great week!

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New Rules: Interrogation

PreviewJason L Blair23 December 2011

Sometimes, in Bedlam, the only people who talk are the ones you wish would just shut up. And the people you want to talk are locked up tight with no signs of budging. That’s when you have to bust out the tools and get to work. Time to interrogate.

You have two options when it comes to persuasive extraction: break the subject’s spirit or break his body. With the former, it’s about getting into his head, weakening him emotionally, and finding out what strings you need to snip to get him to sing. With the latter, it’s about pain. Deep-down and to the bone. The kind of pain that scars your soul. A good interrogator knows which is a subject’s weakness and goes right for it. Others have to dig around a while or try them both.

While Streets of Bedlam introduces some new systems to Savage Worlds, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel if I didn’t have to. I knew I wanted to spotlight investigation and interrogation in the rules so I looked for systems already in Savage Worlds that might handle those. In a film, when some guy is strapped to a chair, duct tape over his eyes, sweating under a bare-bulb lamp while some heavy hovers over a car battery with a sadistic grin on his face, that’s a pretty dramatic moment. So to replicate those types of moments in Streets of Bedlam, I decided to use a system Savage Worlds already had: Dramatic Tasks. But I wanted to tailor it a bit, so instead of needing five successes in five rounds, the interrogator needs a number of successes equal to or greater than the subject’s Spirit (if the interrogator is playing mind games) or his Vigor (if the interrogator is going the physical route). If successful, information comes out. If he’s very successful, it may even be the right information.

Thing is, the subject is dealt in as well so while the interrogator is looking for weaknesses, the subject’s probably planning something of his own. What matters here is not who succeeds best but who succeeds first.

(Please note that the rules above are currently in playtest and subject to change. Full, final rules will appear in the Streets of Bedlam corebook, due out April 2012.)

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New Rules: Investigation

PreviewJason L Blair16 December 2011

Crime is an everyday part of Streets of Bedlam. The city is filled with folks who commit it, those who are victims of it, and bystanders who look the other way. Of course, there are also people who have to stick their heads right into the lion’s mouth—which is probably what you’ll end up doing when you play it. Some of these people are professionals, Badges for instance, but anybody can get dragged into an investigation, especially when something personal is involved somehow.

Instead of making investigations a simple roll in Streets of Bedlam, I wanted to give important crime scenes and criminal trails some heft, to make the process of figuring out a crime as engaging, and with as much dramatic back and forth, as combat. In books and movies, a well-done investigation adds emotional heft to the story. Through it, we learn about the criminal, the victim, the investigator, and how they all fit together.

Using the Savage Worlds system as the core, I wanted to give players new options so they can adjust the granularity of the game for their group, to tweak the focus to better fit the types of stories you might tell with Streets of Bedlam. While an investigation could be resolved by a single die roll, some investigations are more important, and have more to say, than a simple “I know who did it.” That’s where Streets of Bedlam‘s Investigation rules come into play.

When it comes to a crime scene, especially the scene of a murder, two sides come into conflict: the criminal and the investigator. Those two are the forces butting heads and this is where the good drama comes from.

As with combat encounters, crime scenes in Streets of Bedlam are set up beforehand by the game master*. The GM determines the criminals Intent, constructs a list of important clues, a list of secondary clues, and then rolls to see how successful the criminal was at fulfilling his Intent. Success and failure on this roll modifies the difficulty for whoever later comes along to investigate. These details are recorded on a brief Crime Sheet.

A criminal’s Intent is either to leave Zero Evidence or Set a Stage. When the criminal is attempting to leave Zero Evidence, he is trying to remove anything that could implicate him. When a criminal tries to Set a Stage, he is delivering a message which may be trying to point the finger at someone else (a frame job) or tell a story (as is often the case with serial killers). So the GM notes the criminal’s Intent and marks the level of success on the Crime Sheet.

(If the GM desires an even more granular level of investigation, she can roll for Intent for every major clue or “stage setting” as well.)

Throughout the examination of the crime scene, the investigator’s actions will be helped or hindered by the success of the criminal. Clues will be revealed through this back-and-forth where the player characters will have to butt heads with actions that took place minutes, hours, days, possible years beforehand. Time, area, and weather are among the other modifiers that could come into play—either against the investigator or against the perpetrator. A rainy day could wash away key evidence but it could also provide a nice wet patch to capture the criminal’s bootprint.

Failing to find the clues doesn’t dead end the investigation though. Instead, it may end up leading you somewhere else, along the wrong trail, but, hey, sometimes it’s not important that the person responsible is taken down—just that someone is.

This system will be detailed completely** in the Streets of Bedlam corebook but I wanted to give you all a look into the thought process behind the game. I hope this preview piqued your interest for what’s in store. Come back next week for a look at the game’s take on information extraction with a breakdown of the new Interrogation rules.

*Also as with combat encounters, the corebook will include sample crime scenes for impromptu investigations.

**As it’s still in playtest, some details may also change prior to release.


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      Copyright 2011-12 Jason L Blair dba FunSizedGames