Ok, so I’ve been taking a break from Bad Streets, though that doesn’t really mean I’ve quit working on it, I’ve just quit pressuring myself about it and trying to push for unrealistic deadlines to get it done so I could say it was done.
The time off has been very productive really and has lead to some very interesting developments in the game.
Characters in a Bad Streets game are the main characters, the stars, of the hot new 70’s crime drama, “Bad Streets.” Bad Streets isn’t about investigating crimes, it’s not a procedural show (game) it’s about the relationships between the characters, and their often messy lives. In a nutshell, characters in Bad Streets solve crimes in their own often rebellious manner and always look cool when they’re doing it.
So let’s talk about those developments a bit. First, let’s look at the play books themselves.
Bad Streets Play Books
The playbooks describe and inform who the detectives are, how they approach problems, and what they’re good at. A playbook is not intended to constrain the player’s creativity or imagination in any way. In many places on the playbooks there are lists of options. If none of those options make sense to the player, or they don’t fit the idea that the player has, write in something that does. This is your show and your character; make them who you want them to be.
The Rebel is the bad boy (or girl) with a good heart. Deep down they may believe in the law, but they certainly believe in justice, and justice often needs a hand from someone ready to brave the danger despite the risk to him or herself. A Rebel may not care about procedure, or they may care but believe that sometimes someone has to go against the system to get things done.
It is often their bad ass nature or their cool in the face of danger that gets the Rebel through when others might fail, and their reputation for getting things done helps to clear up those little problems that come up from time to time.
The Rookie is new to the detective force, but he’s smart and eager and sure he’s going to solve the next big crime. The rookie is sure he knows everything and has it all figured out, but he’s also bright and earnest and wants to be a good cop and help people. Maybe he’ll learn in time, maybe he’ll burn out like a moth in a flame. The Rookie tends to use their Heart and their Cool, sometimes to get things done, sometimes for bravado to convince others that they are more able than maybe they really are.
The Veteran may be nearing retirement, or maybe he’s that old dog who just can’t quit chasing the car, even if he wouldn’t know what to do with it if he caught it. He might be counting down the days with dreams of what he’s going to do after he wraps up that one last case, or he might be aiming to work until he drops. The veteran knows better than these youngsters and their new fangled computers and their hippy methods. Kinder gentler police force my ass. Back in the day they did things the right way, the hard way, and the crooks knew to fear the law.
The Straight Arrow
The Straight Arrow is the quintessential clean-cut good guy. He follows procedure, and does things the right way. He upholds the reputation of the department and believes that the law and the right way of doing things is the only way. Dotting the eyes and crossing the t’s ensures that the case sticks when it gets to court. Sure the Rebel gets things done but how many people have to get hurt in the process?
The Crusader is the worst possible scenario for the bad guys, the crusader fights with a righteous belief in what they’re doing. Committed possibly to the point of fanaticism, they will not stop and they will not let anything or anybody get in the way of bringing retribution (if not justice) to those who did / or do wrong. Unfortunately, in their crusade for justice sometimes other people get hurt. At what point does the quest for justice become a blind vendetta, and when does the cost outweigh the gains?
The Tormented carries a burden, a secret, that tortures them, gives them nightmares, and drives them, but to where is unknown. Maybe the tormented screwed up at some point and someone got hurt, maybe they did something horrible and now feel like they have to atone for it. Regardless of what it is, it drives you, compels you, and haunts you at the same time. It keeps you from resting and the strain of it shows sometimes. Maybe you self medicate with drink, or something stronger, maybe you seek diversion and distraction from it in the arms of an unhealthy lover, maybe you obsess about the work.
The Clown is the funny lighthearted guy who always has something funny to say and never seems to take anything seriously. But that ever-ready wit might just be the mask for some deeper hurt, or a way to keep the demons at bay. The Clown sees more than it might seem and usually right to the heart of the matter. They might seem fun loving and easy going but they are there when the bullets start flying.
The Outsider comes from somewhere else, another department, or possibly another agency altogether. Being an outsider they may have access to resources that the other detectives do not have. She may also have objectives or motivations that are not necessarily those of the department. The conflict between the motivations of the department and whatever brought them here, be it an assignment from their superiors in the other agency or some demon of their own could certainly make life interesting for the Outsider at some point. The Outsider’s, often, exotic background certainly makes them interesting to the audience and to the other detectives.
Recent changes to Bad Streets include:
- Added the concept of vices – Everyone has vices right? Vices are ways to reduce stress the problem is they almost always have a downside.
- Added the concept of solaces – A solace is something from which the detective takes comfort but they may not want their fellow detectives to know about it.
- I’ve refined how bonds work and given them mechanical impact in the game.
- I’ve refined how departments work and given them mechanical impact in the game.
- I’ve removed the concept of harm from the game (TV stars don’t actually take harm, they take stress and conditions instead.)
- I’ve split the game play into two phases, an on the clock phase when the detectives are solving crimes, and an off the clock phase when they are engaging in down time, socializing, making contacts and such. Some moves can only be made in one phase or the other, some can be made in either phase but failure can have different ramifications for the detective.
- I’ve added the concept of a breaking point to bonds. If the clock on a bond expires, the bond has reached a breaking point and must be resolved as it adversely impacts the detective and the other character involved in the bond negatively until it is resolved.
So, what’s ahead in Bad Streets?
I’m working on the text for the book and I’ve been talking with an editor and with a couple of artists. My hope at this point is to have a pdf version of the book available for purchase in the late spring.
I still need to run the game in a long form. I’ve run a number of one shot games but not a campaign. That’s pretty important to see how the game works in that format. I would also like to get other people running the game. It’s not quite ready yet to send out a beta version, but I’m working towards that.
More to come in the coming weeks, stay tuned for more information.