Showing posts with label DC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DC. Show all posts

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.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Little Geek Girls: Don't Say Superheroes are "Just for Boys"

On Tuesday, Kirk Hamilton at Kotaku shared a music video by The Doubleclicks entitled "Nothing to Prove."  I'll be honest and say that the song itself doesn't do much for me and sounds a bit like a song that would be performed by Carrie Brownstein on an episode of Portlandia, though I guess comparing a song to a song by a member of Sleater-Kinney isn't exactly an excoriating review. The aesthetics of the song notwithstanding, it was the visual content of the music video that really resonated with me. In particular the woman holding the "Don't tell my daughters that Lego, Robots, and Superheroes are for boys."

That sentence struck me like lightning and with almost perfect timing. As regular readers of this blog know, I am the father of two young girls I call History and Mystery in my blog posts and who are the two "Twin Princess Superheroes" referred to in the right sidebar. To give you a picture, this is them on a "Fancy Day."

As you can see, they are wearing Fancy Nancy-esque clothing with sunglasses, domino masks, and History is holding forth a Captain America shield. This is them at their "Princess Superheroiest," well accepting when they where their Bell and Aurora dresses kitted with Merrida bow and arrow and Iron Man masks and "Boomers." All of which is to say that they have acquired many of their mom and dad's geek obsessions. I cannot express how much fun it is imagining playing D&D with the twins when they get older. I'm giddy right now thinking about it.

As you might guess, my daughters live a pretty happy life. They have parents who share their interests and who play are willing to play any game or support any interest. But that's not to say that these young innocents haven't already faced the dreaded "you aren't allowed to be interested in that" assertion by some of their peers. There was one student at their school - a student that History had a crush on no less - who saw that History and Mystery were wearing superhero tennis shoes (Cap and Iron Man) and who took it upon himself to point out to my daughters that "Superheroes" are for boys. What's more, the boy also pointed out the "Blue" is for boys too.



Are you kidding me?! This kid tried to lay claim to a color? Ugh.

Back to the story. This young boy's attack upon their preferences was the first time that my daughters had been told that something was outside their purview. Sure, Jody and I have told the girls that we cannot afford certain things or that they have to wait until they are "bigger kids" to play Advanced Squad Leader with dad, but we've never told them that any given entertainment was reserved for a particular subset of society. Jody and I find that concept to be absurd on its face. No one is going to stop me from DVRing REAL HOUSEWIVES (OC and Jersey only), and certainly no one is going to tell Jody she cannot watch JUSTIFIED or THE AVENGERS because she's a woman.

So after this boy attacked my daughter's love for superheroes Mystery comes home weeping. She's upset that she's no longer allowed to like Captain America - who has fought off more Closet Monsters than I care to imagine - because he's for boys. Needless to say, it didn't take me long to inform my daughter that Captain America is for everyone and to give Mystery several real world examples of the women in my and Jody's life who are fans of "Steve." After which we watched a couple episodes of EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES and called it good. My daughters seemed satisfied. Heck, History started wearing blue (Mystery's favorite color) in solidarity with her sister.

But the story doesn't end with having a supportive mom and dad who have supportive friends. Sadly, this little punk has already sown the seed of a mental weed that must be constantly pursued and extracted as quickly as possible. I've already had History ask me if there REALLY are any female race car drivers and heaven knows what the next moment will be. One thing I do know, I'll have to be vigilant. It's no longer enough to just share the things I'm passionate about with my daughters. I now have to be prepared to help my daughters defend their enjoyment.

I'm happy to do it, but it's something that shouldn't have to be done. Stop attacking "Fake Geek Girls." Some of the kindest, warmest, and giving people I know are Geek Girls (yes I'm talking about you Jody, Susan, Shawna, and America...and many others). There is nothing fake about them.

And for those of you who spend the time "vetting" to see if a "Fake Geek Girl" is actually a real geek. You know that vetting time would be far more enjoyable if it was just a normal conversation where you both geek out right? Sure, you might end up fighting about whether Alan Scott or Hal Jordan are the better GL or how big a jerk Dan Didio is, but I guarantee that you will be more likely to leave that conversation with a friend than you will if you begin your "conversation" with an oral exam in which you scrutinize even the slightest error.