Violence was one fo the games released by Hogshead in their “New Style” line, best known for the “barely a roleplaying game at all” release, the Amazing Adventures of Baron Munchausen (which made it onto my Top 5 Surreal RPGs list). It’s by Greg Costikyan, designer of the Star Wars RPG as well as Toon and a number of other games – except that throughout the volume (including on the cover), he is refered to instead as “Designer X”.
The game itself is a parody of classic dungeoncrawling games, but set in the modern era. Instead of brave adventurers kicking down doors, killing the dungeon inhabitants and taking their loot, the players take on the roll of violent hoodlums kicking down doors, killing the arpartment inhabitants and taking their loot.
The author has also made the game available to download under a Creative Commons license from his website. I haven’t checked to see if the download version is any different from the print version.
Overall, Violence reminds me a lot of the more recent (and also free) AssassinX from E.N. Publishing. Except the art is way better, and AssassinX doesn’t make fun of the premise as it describes it.
The basic mechanic of the game is to roll under your skill level to succeed at a task. The difficulty of the task determines what die you get to roll.
As this game uses random character statistic generation, before coming up with a character concept I’ll roll up some basic ability scores (3d6, in order, for 5 stats – Strength, Threshold of Pain, Constitution, Intimidation and Everything Else). We get someone with a low threshold of pain, average Strength and Intimidation and a high Constitution and Everything Else.
An interesting touch with the ability score generation system is the reroll number. If your stats are under a certain number, then you get to reroll one stat at a time until your total is over the reroll number. The starting number is 40, but goes up… by 1 for every $1 you bribe the GM, by 2 for every $1 you bribe the author of the game, by 3 if you give your character a bad drug addiction, by 1 for having an outstanding warrant, and a bunch of other options including by 10 if you lick the GM’s shoes clean. With the good rolls I got making Hans here, I don’t need to spend anything to increase my reroll number.
I’m going to go with a teacher. Someone you just don’t expect to go on a killing spree. A guy in his mid twenties, who’s managed to channel his energy into helping the disadvantaged youth instead of becoming one himself. Hans has worked for a few years as a teaching assistant for developmentally challenged students, doing everything he can to help. He’s also met just the right girl and is getting ready to pop the big question.
Except that the stress of all this is getting to him – trying to set up the perfect romantic occasion to ask the question, while dealing day in and day out with not only the developmentally challenged, but with the politics that surrounds them from both sides of the political spectrum. It was only a matter of time before Hans snapped and went looking for a better way to impress his girlfriend as well as to blow off steam after a hard day in the classroom. At first he took out his aggression by playing with knives… and sometimes with small animals. Then, in a rare moment of lucidity, he bought a gun and started going to the gun range – a publically acceptable way to blow off steam and shoot the shit out of human-shaped targets. But that didn’t help…
He’s a killer now. And I can’t wait to play through the scene where he finally proposes to his girlfriend, blood spattered and on the run from the heat.
Hans gets 100 points to spend on skills. Every skill starts at 3, and goes up one point for every point spent, with most combat skills having a max of 15 unless you have a good excuse for it to be higher. Most of Hans’ skill points go into Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (as a teacher), but he also picks up some good torture tricks (after all, he is a teacher), a chunk of drug lore (not really mostly street drugs – he knows a lot about prescription drugs though), and a smattering of other skills.
Hit points and pain points are determined by rolling a die found on a table by cross-referencing your Con or Pain stat. Then hiding that roll and rolling again, and even a third time if needed, and then proudly lifting your hand that you’ve been hiding your rolls behind and announcing how awesome that roll was. With a constitution of 13 and a threshold of pain of 6, Hans get 1d8 hit points and 1d3 pain points. His first d8 roll is a 5, then a 3, then a 7! 7 Hit Points. His first d3 roll is a 3, and I get to brag about how I didn’t cheat at that AT ALL!
Hans starts with 1d6x$100 worth of shit. A roll of $100 sucks, so a second roll gives him $500. Much better. That lets him pick up a nine, a couple of mags, a mean knife, baggy pants and jacket and a nice shirt. In the end he’s got $15 left, and a hide value of -1, which means he doesn’t attract any attention from the cops or taxi drivers yet.
Now it’s time to roll up a few of his special ed students and have them all swarm little old ladies in the retirement apartment complex on 4th street.
Snapped Teaching Assistant
Threshold of Pain: 6
Everything Else: 17
Hit Points: 7
Pain Points: 3
Unarmed Combat: 3
Machine Weapons: 3
Knife Throwing: 10
The Cosh: 3
Gang Lore: 5
Underworld Lore: 3
Drug Lore: 13
Sports Lore: 5
Music Lore: 3
Other Languages: 3
Goofy Woowoo Shit: 3
Other Sport: 3
Stuff (Hide Value: -1)
Nine (9mm Detonics automatic) (Hide 3)
3 magazines of 9mm ammo (Hide 3)
Mean-looking Knife (Hide 2)
Wool Army Coat from the Salvation Army (Hide -4)
Baseball Cap (Hide -1)
Baggy pants with loads of pockets and buttons and shit (Hide -3)
Nice white shirt
Hiking Boots (Hide -1)