The game was Gangbusters, and it brought many things that had not a look at Gangbusters and I’ll tell you why you should give this old TSR. QucsIiom about the GANGBUSTERS mln should be xnl Io: GANGBUSnRS Puntiam, TSR, Ins., FQB , Lake Geneva, Wr, h n c n must include a. From the back of the box GANGBUSTERS role-playing game is different from most other games. Instead of simply rolling dice and moving pieces around a.
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It was and the Golden Age of the Boxed Set. Inside each boxed set was usually one or two saddle-stapled books of 32 or 64 pages. Dice—many times with a crayon, though this gangbustes becoming less common. It was into this Golden Age that Gangbbusters explored something outside the normal fantasy and science fiction realms so popular in roleplaying at the fsr The game was Gangbusters, and it brought many things that had not yet been tried.
For one thing, it let you play the bad guys. Gangbusters can be found in two actual editions: Trouble Brewing and a bit from GB3: Death on the Docks. The game system itself is almost entirely unchanged between the two editions—which makes the 3 rd Edition book with an intact map in the back much sought after. The book opens with an introductory article from Robert Howell, whose grandfather was a member of the legendary Untouchables.
With Prohibition being nearly a century since its inception, many modern readers may not see what makes the s rife with opportunity for adventure. The Untouchables are a great touchstone of the era—prohibition agents who could not be bought, and worked to bring down perhaps the most notorious gangster of the era.
Prohibition, for those not in the know, was the nearly absolute ban on alcohol that began with the ratification of the 18 th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It remained in effect until its repeal on 5 December In the years during which Prohibition was the law of the land, the United States saw the rise of organized crime in the form of bootlegging and illicit drinking establishments—Speakeasies—and epitomized a post-war culture exploring its limits in many social areas.
Women, previously forbidden to drink in public by social convention, were able to drink, smoke, dance, and act in ways shocking to their elders.
The Flapper was the icon of these new social conventions, and the dark interiors of Speakeasies introduced white drinkers to black culture in the form of Jazz and Blues bands.
The rampant disregard for the alcohol laws began to breed contempt for law in general, as many knew crooked police or Prohibition agents who themselves drank. It is into this turbulent, heady, adventurous time ttsr the Gangbusters RPG takes the players. The fascinating thing about the way the game handles the central conflict of law versus scofflaw is to allow players to take either side in the issue, or ride the middle.
Gangbusters, like so many games from this era, is a class-level game. That is to say that each PC has a class that represents their profession, and a level of experience which in this case runs from one to about ten. Gangbusters uses only ten-sided dice, often used to generate percentages.
Creation of a character begins with rolling MuscleAgilityand Observation in order, gangbuster the percentage dice. Low rolls are modified upward, so that most scores tend to be at least in the 40s, though scores as low as 26 are possible with poor die rolls. Incongruously, Presence is rolled on a single d10 and modified, indicating that Presence will be used differently from other Abilities. Luck is then rolled as a percentage divided by two and rounded up.
Finally, Hit Points and Driving score are calculated and a Punching score is created by referencing Muscle on a table.
Characters are named at this ttsr, then all of these Abilities, scores, and other information are explained along with some of the mechanics that use them. On one hand, this keeps that sort of bookkeeping easy. Careersthe Gangbusters name for classes, is where things get really interesting. The available careers are broken up by the alignment of the career with law and order.
Some detail is given to the qualifications, procedures, resources, and pay of each type of Law Enforcement character. Modern readers might not be aware that FBI agents could not actually make arrests untilthat the Browning Automatic Rifle was commonly in use by Ganggbusters Enforcement, or that crime labs were almost unheard of until the establishment of the FBI headquarters lab.
Black & Green Games
One-way only, from the precinct to the car. Want to call back to the precinct? Use a call box. Law Enforcement are then presented with their Experience Point rules—these careers earn XP by arresting criminals, ensuring their conviction, recovering stolen goods, reward money, etc. This is important to know, because each type of career earns XP in a completely different way. The next type of career is are the Private Professions.
Options are given for partnerships, working for large detective agencies and more. Special Cases are what happen at the game table, and the rewards and rules for these are presented next.
Newspaper Reporters are the other type of Private Profession. Quite a bit of background is given about what a reporter can do with their stories, and how stories can be leveraged and slanted. Reporters gain XP by scooping the competition, that is, getting a story out before any other news outlet, and also for giving information that leads to the arrest and conviction of criminals and politicians.
So far the book has given the reader mini-games for each type of PC, or at least specific rules for what each career can and cannot do.
This kicks into higher gear for the crime careers. Independent Criminals and members of gangs and syndicates are possible. Background info is given on being a specialist—like a safe cracker or cat burglar. Players can join or start their own gangs and syndicates.
TSR’s Gangbusters & Noir – Interview with Mark Hunt — Black & Green Games
Criminals earn XP for profit, plain and simple. Money makes for XP. How to make money? Want to know what the take is from robbing a bank, or mail truck, or store? Want to see how much burglary nets? Want to be a fence? Want to run a speakeasy? Rules are here for profit and loss of various sized speaks. How about gangubsters the numbers racket in your neighborhood? You can run it clean or dirty. The horses more your speed?
Rules for being a bookie are present. The possibilities for criminal professions are wider and more detailed than any of the other careers.
Gangbusters: Core Rules
After figuring out how our heroes and anti-heroes? Surprisingly, the advancement table is unified. In an age gajgbusters leveling up required different tables in most games, in Gangbusters everyone goes to 2 nd Level at 10, XP. Leveling has several possible effects — increase in Ability Scoresincrease in skillspurchase of new skillspicking up the special benefits each career has listed in its description, and more.
The list of Skills comes later, and what gangbushers list of skills it is. All PCs start the game with one of the first 9 skills, which gangbsters only 5, XP to acquire. Skill descriptions follow, with examples on how they would be used by PCs. All that remains is to purchase equipment, which immediately follows the skills.
The next section of Gangbusters covers the rules of the game. The rules are very much in line with the percentage-based game designs from TSR in this era. One interesting thing is the use of an Observation roll to determine if a group is surprised, and if so, for how long. Also like many games of the era, there is a grid to represent line of sight and how to handle obstacles on the map.
Gangbusters, much like Star Frontiers, comes with a large map of a typical city area upon which cardboard chits can be used to illustrate encounters and gun battles. These sorts of options play into the genre quite well, as fisticuffs and car chases are staples of gangster films and novels. A fair amount of space is spent on automotive-related rules to support the car chase.
There are both basic and expert rules for Fist fighting, and plenty of rules about guns. Most rules are percentage modifiers which are rolled against on percentile dice. This is where the two versions of Gangbusters vary greatly.
The 3 rd Edition book has a lot of information about Lakefront City that is absent in the original boxed set. For that info, as discussed above, boxed set owners should purchase GB1: Both versions offer advice to the Judge for running campaigns where the PCs might be in competition—some cops, come crooks, some in between.
This is a novel opportunity that only a few games capture, but it is potentially a very difficult proposition for the Tst. Does the Judge require the cops, G-Men, and the like to leave the room when the gangsters are planning their bootlegging operations?
How long can the PI pursue their special case while the rest of the players sit and wait? Can the Judge integrate the special case into whatever the reporter is doing this week? It is advisable to set up character requirements before play begins and limit the PCs to all one side of the law or the other, give or take PIs and reporters. For the first few games, the party should all be able to get along with one another to make things easier on both the players and GM, but the idea of ganvbusters competitive campaign is certainly an interesting one, if the logistics can be managed.
For a review of the mini-campaign and Lakefront City information, please see the review of GB1: It is not covered here since the original boxed set did not contain this information. In tdr to the rule book, the boxed set contains counters, maps of Lakefront City, and a module, Mad Dog Johnny Drake, which includes pre-generated characters. Boxed sets in pristine condition will include gangbuusters pair of sided dice.
The 3 rd Edition book was printed with the Lakefront City map attached inside the back cover, but copies with this map intact are becoming more difficult to find. The rules show the age in which they were written, but the mini-systems for the various character careers and the sheer uniqueness of the setting compared with the big genres—fantasy and sci-fi—make for a great game. The system is simple to understand given the percentage-based mechanics.
Bootleggers, G-Men, and hard-boiled Private Dicks.