Moonshine Fires: Four-color gangland fantasy

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Moonshine Fires: Four-color gangland fantasy
« on: March 26, 2013, 02:38:28 PM »
Hi-hoy, folks. I'm working on a game which I may or may not end up publishing, if I can figure out the business and art angles.

Moonshine Fires is a period piece about 20s-style gangsters with an urban fantasy spritzer. The original goal was to produce a new system for a game based on the anime series Baccano!, which is about what happens when 14th century alchemy meets 20s gangland, but I think it can fit in the general genre of heists gone bad, like Snatch.

There are four stats, they aren't that unusual:
Sharp is how far-thinking and intelligent you are.
Slick is how collected, cunning and tricky.
Strong is a measure of violence and power.
Swank is attractiveness, style and charisma.

There's one more S.
Sway is a social currency; it represents dirt or leverage you have on somebody. You start with sway over two people and sway held over you by one, as instructed by your playbook. You can spend it against someone to tweak your rolls against them or theirs against you, take an automatic success on the Manipulate move after rolling, or put a tag on them. Sway exchanges hands when spent. Sometimes you're paying it out to the guy it was hanging over to do something, in which case it evaporates, but sometimes you pay it out to a third party, which case they have it over that guy now.

There are tags. Gear has tags, like in Apocalypse World, but players get tags put on them too by various moves. You get a bonus to exploit somebody's tag or a penalty if somebody's tag gets in your way.

There are seasons. After every session, you get to advance if you have enough experience, and the group picks an antagonist they liked from that session. The MC marks it down. After enough advances have been purchased, the MC can start the season finale, which means everything smashes together in a mess of coincidences: the plans of the selected antagonists all converge with the PCs in the center.

Experience is gathered primarily when things go wrong. It picks up when you get new sway over somebody, too, but also when you roll a miss. Each playbook has a dilemma, which is a situation where you put yourself in a hole and screw up. You get experience for falling into your dilemma.

There are nine core playbooks.
The Alchemist is the unaging legacy of some tradition of occult internal medicine.
The Brain is a planner and a schemer.
The Eye is a spy, a lookout, and a courier.
The Firebug is a crazy person who blows shit up.
The Magician is the inheritor of a sigil of otherworldly powers.
The Monster is a force of nature. They're not a literal monster, but they're violent and larger than life.
The Reader is clairvoyant. They can read fortunes.
The Scrapper is a skilled street fighter or hired gun.
The Trick is a face: a professional con or a socialite.

The first item on the agenda is to make gangland come to life. Gangland is a place where there's a thriving underworld, a healthy smuggling business, opposition from the police, and mystery at the edges. Beyond that, gangland is largely created by asking the players and using their answers to flesh it out. It could be someplace far away where it always rains except under the domes, or it could be the Big Apple under Prohibition.

I'm going to be starting the first test game soon, but the rules are complete enough to run, so if anybody is interested, I'd be happy to share what I have.

Re: Moonshine Fires: Four-color gangland fantasy
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 02:42:51 PM »
Here's a sample playbook, the Brain.

Names:
Arnold, Bonnie, Carmine, Dee, Helen, Joe, Judith, Mae, Meyer, Vincent
A calculating name, a discreet name, a reserved name, a refined name

Look:
No-nonsense, busy, quiet, suspicious, sharp-eyed, well-dressed

Stats:
Sharp +2, Slick +1, Strong -2, Swank +1

Sway:
You're somebody's only link to ambition and greater things. Decide who and take a sway over them.
You've cultivated a useful contact in a legit line of work, and they're in too deep now. Decide who and take a sway over them.
Somebody knows where you live and how to get to you. Decide who and give them a sway over you.

Choose two Brain moves:

Foresight
When you retroactively declare that you've prepared something or someone for this event, spend an appropriate sway and roll sharp. On a 10+, it's as you say. On a 7-9, a coincidence threatens the utility of what you prepared. On a 6-, outside factors derail your plan entirely.

Working Backstage
At the beginning of each session, you can retroactively declare how events you've set in motion have influenced a figure in play. Put a tag on them.

Here's the Plan
When you lay out a plan of action to achieve a specific goal, roll sharp. On a 10+, take 2 fallback. On a 7-9, take 1. You can spend fallback when somebody rolls to carry out the plan as concocted, adding +2 to the result after rolling. Explain how your plan accounted for this scenario.

Case the Joint
When you spend some time scoping out a place, roll slick. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9, choose 2.
• You know all the ways in and out, even unorthodox ones.
• You know good hiding places where you won't be seen.
• You know who's dangerous.
• You know who'll be looking at something at any given time.
• You don't look suspicious.
• No distractions occur.

Slow and Steady
When you do something that you have time to mull over first, you can ask the Director before you do it what the result will be on a 6-.

Know the Inventory
You can find valuables with sharp instead of slick. On a 7+, if you spend an extra sway, pick one:
• The transaction is scrubbed clean; no hostile parties notice or can trace it
• You notice something unexpected and immediately useful on sale with it
• The seller will put in a good word for you with someone influential

Dilemma:
Once per session, when everything falls to pieces and you lose your cool, mark experience.