Sunday, December 14, 2014

B.A.T. Undercover -- A Gumshoe Setting

B.A.T. Undercover -- Gotham's Secret Weapon

Imagine if you will a world where a young Bruce Wayne, after seeing his parents murdered by a low level mob enforcer is saved from a similar fate by the Green Lantern (aka Alan Scott). The sympathetic Scott, and his friend Ted Grant, help Bruce to overcome his grief. While under the mentorship of Ted Grant, Bruce remembers a small detail that he shares with a sympathetic Detective James Gordon. Due to advancements in forensic investigative techniques, this clue allows Gotham P.D. to catch the man who murdered the Waynes. Young Bruce gets a glimpse of how effective police work can save his city and he embarks on a new career, but he also learns how even those with great power - like Green Lantern - cannot be everywhere at once. Superheroes need the aid of everyday citizens, like Ted Grant and James Gordon, who are willing to stand against injustice. 

Bruce Wayne uses his vast fortune to support anti-corruption political candidates (with a keen eye for discerning the deceptive), set up homeless shelters, supports education in hard hit communities, and scholarships for highly skilled people to enter law enforcement.

Early attempts to assassinate Young Bruce are thwarted by his Butler Alfred, a man of a particular set of skills, who trains the young man in Tradecraft. Bruce is trained in several martial arts by Ted Grant. As a teenager, Bruce uses his skills to aid police in investigations and to help Gordon root out corrupt police. By the time Bruce Wayne graduates from Gotham State University with several Masters degrees in Criminology, Chemistry, and Forensics, the Gotham PD is largely a clean law enforcement agency. There are still corrupt cops, politicians, and businessmen operating in the shadows, but many of the foes an older Bruce Wayne would battle against are his allies in this world. He'll need these allies because threats like the organized crime, Solomon Grundy, Killer Croc, the KGBeast, the Brotherhood of Evil, and the vampire lord Ra's Al Ghul's League of Assassins threaten Gotham and the world. It is in this setting that the Bureau of Advanced Tactics (B.A.T) fights the enemies of mankind.   

This setting is perfect for the GUMSHOE game system designed by Robin D Laws and expanded upon by Kenneth Hite and others. In addition to the OGL documents, a pile of DC Comics, and a stack of Man from U.N.C.L.E./NCIS/24 dvds, it is recommended that you purchase the Night's Black Agents and Mutant City Blues role playing games.

Key GUMSHOE rules for use in B.A.T. Undercover:

The MOS rule from Night's Black Agents. This rule is similar to the Area of Knowledge rule in the classic James Bond 007 role playing game published by Victory Games and allows for each of the Player Characters to have a moment where they really shine in each adventure.

Players choose one or more Backgrounds, and given the secretive nature of B.A.T. they all have Cover 10 and Network 5 at the beginning of character creation.

Players receive Health of 4 for free. Given the action orientation of the base "Shadows"  setting, Stability is not used. Though if you wish to play an "Arkham" mode, characters start with Stability 4 for free.

Depending on the number of players each player gets a number of build points to spend on investigative abilities (the numbers below are for a "Shadows" setting game and would be slightly lower in an "Arkham" game).

Players receive 70 points to spend on General Background abilities and should have at least one skill rated at an 8 signifying an area of specialty where the character is one of the best in the world.

The THRILLER Combat rules from Night's Black Agents are highly recommended as are the MASTERY rules from Double Tap.

Super Powers from Mutant City Blues should only be allowed for FOES of the Player Characters and reflect the types of foes the characters might face. These are threats that are too powerful for normal Gotham PD officers, but might also be beneath the notice of Cosmic Heroes like Green Lantern.

The B.A.T. Undercover Team:

Bruce Wayne (aka The B.A.T. Man) -- Bruce Wayne (35) is the founder of the B.A.T. team and has dedicated his life to following the legacy of his idols Alan Scott and Ted Grant. He will do whatever it takes to fight corruption in Gotham and provide hope to its residents. He understands that one of the keys to this endeavor is citizens being able to trust that their police department is there to protect them. That is why he partnered with Commissioner James Gordon to create a secret squad within the Gotham PD that fights the foes normal police officers cannot, and who work in the shadows allowing regular cops to take the credit for taking down corruption. He is highly skilled in Forensic investigative techniques, Tradecraft, and the Martial Arts.

Edward Nigma (aka The Cryptographer) -- Edward Nigma (35) almost became one of Gotham's greatest enemies. Having discovered that cheating could help him get ahead as a young man, he used his talent for mathematics and riddles to hack into the computers of the wealthy elite and those he believed thought too highly of themselves. His hacks would make the computers and finances of such individuals unavailable unless they could solve a puzzle and unlock their information. Edward's college roommate Bruce Wayne discovered what Nigma was doing and convinced him that Nigma could find more challenging puzzles fighting against criminal entities who used arcane ciphers to hide their communications. To Nigma's delight, he discovered a world of truly challenging puzzles and talented foes and agreed to turn himself into the authorities based on a plea negotiated by Wayne Enterprises attorneys which required him to aid Gotham P.D. as an alternative to prison time. It took a while to convince Nigma to make the deal, but then he encountered a H.I.V.E. cipher and his obsession with puzzles took over. Nigma is now the programming and computer expert for B.A.T.

Selena Kyle (aka The Cat) -- Selena Kyle (35) was a young girl living on the streets when she witnessed Bruce Wayne's parents being murdered by a mafia enforcer. She expected the situation to end like all other such situations; no witnesses, no real investigation of related crimes, and no justice. She was surprised when Detective James Gordon took on the case. She wasn't surprised that Gotham PD would investigate the murder of wealthy citizens. She expected that the PD would want to look good, but she never expected that the investigation would expand into the criminal underworld's engagement in human trafficking in the poorer neighborhoods. Gordon took the investigation where it led him and brought justice not only to Joe Chill - the Waynes' murderer and Falcone enforcer - but also brought light to the connection between the Falcone family and their human trafficking violations. Gordon became a father figure to the young Kyle and she has used her talents for Stealth and Observation to aid the team in fighting the threats that Gotham faces.

Jack Laffer (aka The Joker) -- Laffer (40) is the team's resident "class clown." A former chemical engineer who was in desperate straits when he discovered his wife was pregnant days after losing his job at ACE chemicals. Knowing how desperate he was, the Falcone family met with Laffer in an attempt to convince him to aid them in a raid on ACE chemicals. College Student Bruce Wayne had been observing Falcone activities and recognized the difficulty of Laffer's position. He had his friend Ted Grant - who was working with Gotham PD as an undercover muscle for the Falcones - visit Laffer and convince him to work with Organized Crime Task Force Commander James Gordon to stop the crime and bring some of the Falcone family to justice. Laffer agreed, but corrupt cops within Gotham PD informed the Falcones who sent hitmen to kill Laffer's family. Ted Grant overheard the assignment and was able to intervene saving Laffer's family. While the ACE chemicals raid was a bust, Laffer found that there those in the city who could be trusted. Thanks to a generous research grant from the Wayne Foundation, Gotham PD had a new secret position for a Forensic Chemist under the direct supervision of James Gordon open up and Laffer was offered the job. Ted Grant arranged for Laffer and his family to be "killed" and enter the witness protection program. Laffer ads his unique sense of humor to the team and expertise in Chemistry of all kinds.

Dick Grayson (aka The AcroBAT)

Helena Bertinelli (aka Huntress)

Stephanie Brown (aka The Robin)

Just an idea, but it's working its way into a campaign setting for my group.

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