Friday, December 16, 2016

The RPG Character Library: Gangbusters

Gangbusters is a game from TSR that is set in the Roaring Twenties in Chicago Lakefront City, USA! You can play cops, private investigators, gangsters, and intrepid reporters. Will you be on the side of law and order, or will you be a bootlegger or a cop on the take? You decide.

This is a game that I have always wanted to play, in part because the time period fascinates me, and in part because I have big old nostalgia goggles for this game thanks to my friend Kevin. He and his brother used to play the game when they were kids and Kevin kept careful notes about their adventures. He would regale me with tales of bank shootouts, smokey gin joints, and of the one time his gangster died in a 40 mph car chase on the mean streets of the city.

ME:  It feels like you'd have to create a really good city map in order to play this game.
KEVIN:  Or you could just use a map of Chicago?
ME:  Oh yeah!

I have the first and third edition rule books of this game, but wound up using the third edition rules to create my character. The system is similar to the one used in Top Secret. Well, let me take that back--the dice mechanics are identical, but the names of the stats and how you configure your secondary stats are totally different. 

Gangbusters has an interesting method of skill selection which is vaguely reminiscent of, but not identical to, Top Secret. You get all general skills at 20%. At first level, you get to pick a low-cost skill and roll to see how good it is (I lucked out with Fingerprinting at 92%). As you go up in level, you gain points that you can use to improve skills that you already have or buy new skills. Quick and simple!

I was ready to roll up a gangster character, but decided at the last minute that I wanted to be a private investigator, instead. Something-something Geoff always winds up playing mostly good guys so he can sleep better at night.

Characters start off with $50 in pocket money, an upkeep cost (which must be paid weekly) that covers food and housing and similar, and some clothes. Private investigators must spend money to buy their license, and that license costs exactly $50, so I start the game with no money. Thematically appropriate!

As with most of the games of this period, all stats and skills must be randomly rolled. In a way, I kind of hate this, because if I don't roll well, I can't make the character that I want to make. On the other hand, I kind of like this, because my writer brain tries to make logical sense of the rolls that I've made. As a result, I have an idea that my character was a lab guy who worked for the Lakefront City PD, until he got wind of just how corrupt the force was. He then quit his job to become a PI and clean up the streets.

Yeah, that's the ticket. 

Haroldo Navidad
Harry Christmas
Private Investigator
Highly Variable

Fingerprinting: 92%
General Skills: 20%

Vital Statistics
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 180 lbs
Age: 25
Features, Marks, and Scars:  Handsome, heterochromia (green eye, blue eye), badly set nose
Ethnicity: Spanish

Cash: $0

Two suits of clothes
Any items normally obtained from employer
Investigator license ($50)

Basic expenses: $20 per week.

No comments:

Post a Comment