Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Game Findings: Bad Attitudes

These are sad times for our gaming group. We're losing a core member to corporate relocation, and while we're all glad for him that he gets to move to a city he's always dreamed of living in and gets his moving costs covered, the table will just not be the same without him.

The show will go on, and the next campaign is already in the planning stages (run by someone else other than yours truly; I needed a little time off to deal with other things), but we collectively decided that it would be best not to start until our departing member actually finished packing and left the state. So in the meantime, I've been running some lighthearted, simple stuff. Extreme Vengeance, which I talked about earlier, was one of these forays. Last game, we tested out a different action movie system: Bad Attitudes.

Bad Attitudes is a quick game. Everything about it is fast. Character generation involves rolling for a single stat, then buying some broad skills with your points. And then you're done. Action resolution is a simple 1d6 roll under your skill, and damage is xd6 where x is your skill.

That's it.

No equipment lists. No advantages/disadvantages. No combat tactics. No modifiers. No nothing. It's as simple and as fast as you could ever ask for. For our game, we wound up with an odd collection of dateless losers who took out their frustration with violence, and Glitterpony Sweetcream, this time an unholy synthesis of Dolemite, Queen Bee, and Foxy Cleopatra.

Early in the night the game became a blacksploitation film that followed the explosion rules of the 80s (meaning cars had to roll down a hill and stop completely before exploding, not to be confused with the post-Michael Bay rules in which everything explodes immediately and for no reason). And no, there are no explosion rules in the game; we made those up on the fly.

The real reason I wanted to try out Bad Attitudes was that it has a completely random adventure generator that you continue to roll on to configure the next event until you arrive at the bad guy and have your final climactic battle. How'd it work? Well...

Action was indeed fast, and I think this may have been the only game in recent history where I had to explain the rules once to everyone and then there were no questions on anything for the rest of the night. Ours is a group with a lot of different backgrounds. Some, like me, have tried many different kinds of games and examined things outside the norm with some regularity. Most are like Gfen, with a base broad enough that if the rules are anything like the d20 system, some die pool variant, or something like Chaosium's BRP, they'll pick it up in minutes if they don't already know it. Go outside of that, like I occasionally try to do with some of my designs, and the learning curve steepens a tad. And then we've got one player who knows old school gaming better than all of us and has been playing the elder editions of D&D for nigh on 30 years. Die pools were new to him when he joined us. So, as you might imagine, people ramp up at different speeds when we try something new. With Bad Attitudes, everyone went from 0 to 120 in about 30 seconds. I believe the only question I got was "That's it?"

That said, this is clearly a rough game. What I downloaded looked like a draft document, and it showed. Your skill points are equal to your single stat: attitude, which you roll 3d6 to generate. We had scores ranging from 15 to 9; the guy with 9 didn't succeed on a single roll all night. He had 6 skill points less than the top roller, and that means a lot.

The other thing that people noticed is that there's no mook rules. There are rules for making cannon fodder NPCs; they have less attitude and thus lower scores, and can't deal as much damage on a successful hit. Since your damage capacity is your attitude score, this makes them easy to put down. But people were looking for ways to take 'em down en masse, because we just came out of 7th Sea, and let's face it, mowing down faceless hordes is just satisfying in a way nothing else is. Still, the mooks went down with a single hit easy enough, and since a few players were having problems landing hits, they were happy enough.

In fact, the party so dominated the opposition that they never took a point of damage from the enemy. The only damage anyone took was entirely self inflicted. The opposition simply couldn't tag them and dropped so fast that they didn't get much of a chance to even try. They were unstoppable. Queen Bee was a kung-fu monster that dominated every fight.

As for that random adventure generator... it was random for sure. But given the mood we were all in, it made for some tremendous fun. Between many digressions ("And here’s a picture of a man being sounded. And here’s a picture of a badger’s cock. G-ddamn the Internet freaks me out sometimes.") we got things up and running as follows:

The group arrived at a mutual friend's (named Arnold Palmer) house to have an intervention because he was on drugs. They arrived and his wife wouldn't let them in, saying it was a bad time. There was a little back and forth, and a group of thugs show up and say she wasn't supposed to talk to anyone. A fight ensued, and here's where the group learned how to roll skills (1d6 roll under your skill). There was a lot of "crap, these 1 skills are useless!" and then we got to the fighting. Most the party punched drywall a lot, but the thugs dropped within two rounds with no one bearing even a scratch. They then talked their way into the apartment, and Queen Bee used her Seduce Hunk/Babe skill to score a three way with Arnold and his wife to get information. Apparently the couple was in debt to a drug pusher named Chocolatate, known to be the pimpenest mofo in the city. We decided at that moment that Choc had hurt Bee in the past. She hated him, but still loved him.

Next roll on the random encounter chart got us... 6: the party finds the bad guy's lair.

No, we all decided. That's too soon. Roll it again.


Still no. Try that again.


This caused one player to exclaim: "That's a 1 in 216 chance."

Gfen did a double take. "How do you know that?"

"Seriously? Am I the only one here who bothers to calculate the odds of various rolls?"

"No! What's wrong with you! Jesus you're a nerd! Why do I hang out with you people?"

I should note here that no one considers the game night complete unless Gfen has either told one of us he hates us (there's a contest to see who can get the hate first) or he questions his decision to associate with us. It's something of a game we play simultaneously with the RPG.

Anyway, at this point it looked like fate really wanted them to find Choc right away, so I gave them the location through a flashback to Queen Bee. Gfen wanted more than that though, since we'd only been playing for about 20 minutes at this point, so he insisted on another roll, and this time we came up with Meet the Kooky Contact.

Another roll determined the general nature of the contact: a cop in the police records department who is secretly in love with the hero. Since it was a secret, I kept that part to myself. Before I could establish who this contact was though, our statistician provided us the details:

"Nestor Luellen."

Another doubletake from Gfen. "Nestor fucking Luellen?"

"He's Welsh."


"Dear G-d you are the whitest person alive."

Now, I was assuming that Nestor was Queen Bee's contact, but said Welshman apparently was an old classmate of the statistician. So, it turned out Nestor was a closetted homosexual. Mine's a group that has no problems with this, though it did lead Queen Bee to urge the statistician to "show him your balls" and pantomime fellatio in character and repeatedly.

Another random roll showed that Nestor didn't know where Choc was, which was okay since they already knew that. What he did know, however, was that there was a plot against Choc by his right hand man, Soul Brother #1. Bee decided that this needed to be stopped, since she still cared about Choc, and if someone offed him she'd never have a chance to exact her own revenge.

They left the cop station, and another series of random rolls revealed that they were to meet a love interest and get into a car chase, so I had a car speed past them with police in pursuit. Our statistician was playing a driver, so he told everyone to get in and they took off.

I'll stop for a moment here and say that the group was really good about this kind of thing. They understood action movie logic, and jumped on everything that seemed active without asking why. Kudos to them.

So, while our driver wasn't impressive in a fight, he was hell on wheels, and the chase tables had them speeding down busy sidewalks, and eventually crashing through a display window and continuing the chace inside of a mall. They shed cops left and right (all failing their drive checks), and the chase came to an end when the fleeing vehicle lost control, went airborne, and landed sideways on an escalator. When a woman climbed out, they offered her a ride immediately and took off. She asked to be dropped at a car dealership after a little banter with the statistician, and he said she looked like a BMW lady.

Gfen: "She's a douchebag?"

They dropped her off; she stole a car and initiated a drag race with them. Both drivers failed their rolls at the same time, and the chase table said they were alongside a cliff when it happened. So, the cars go tumbling, everyone takes damage, and since she didn't survive (she didn't have nearly as much attitude as they did), I had her car explode.

With everyone beat up, they decided to go after Choc. They pull up to his warehouse and everyone gets out of the car except the statistician. Choc has more attitude than they do at this point, since he's not hurt, and his first action is to blow the head off one of the PCs. Bee then seduces him into putting down his gun. Then it's the statistician's turn.

"My Kick Butt skill's only a 3, but my drive is a 5. I'm running him over."

So as Choc is in the middle of saying that he still loves Queen Bee, a badly banged up beemer smashes him across the hood and bends him over backwards up the windshield and leaves him flopped like a broken rag doll on the ground. And because the collision did enough damage to kill him twice, I had the car back over him and rev the tires for good measure.

And with that the game was over. Choc was the big bad and he dropped in one hit.

That was the biggest complaint of the game. Very quickly we figured out that this was not a game with much campaign potential, but for a one shot, it was a lot of fun. You get going very quickly, there's almost nothing to learn, and once you embrace the ridiculousness of the random plot, it'smerry mayhem indeed. But there's no scaling at all. Even though it was a ridiculous game, people wanted a little more payoff at the end, and without a whole lot of cheating on my part, there was no way to deliver a drawn out fight with a major villain. Outside of that though, Bad Attitudes proved to be a remarkably successful little game for a spontaneous session. Given that it's available free, it's hard not to recommend it.

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