Thursday, December 6, 2012

What's My Crime? The Lucky Roll as Background in DCC

Rolled an 8.
When I first got my grubby hands on DCC, I was struck by how flavorful the Birth Augur (or Lucky Roll) table was. It gave an in-game effect tied to a story based event and seemed like a great idea. The problem is that -- at least at my game tables -- the results of this roll are often quickly forgotten and rarely come into play (although the game effect normally does). Rather than force folks to "play your augur," I let the sleeping dog lie. When I started thinking about the Lost Continent/Dreamtime game, I wanted a way to define what each PC's crime was that got them shipped out to the penal colony but was really afraid of introducing too many new random rolls into character creation (it already takes long enough to generate 4 random PCs who stand a strong chance of not surviving the first contact with opposition; not too long, long enough), so I thought "why not replace the d30 Lucky Roll table with a d30 What's My Crime? table that does the same thing but tells us something substantive about the characters that the players can use?" And so, the following post was born.

What's My Crime?

Roll 1d30
  1. Unlicensed Mercenary: I didn't know that you needed a license to kill for a living, either. All attack rolls. 
  2. Murder: You didn't see it as "murder" so much as "targeted annoyance removal." The gendarmes did not agree. Melee attack rolls.
  3. Poaching: Hunting where you shouldn't lands you in the slammer. Missile fire attack rolls. 
  4. Disorderly Conduct: How many fights do you have to start before you get deported from your own country? Unarmed attack rolls.
  5. Horse Theft: You stole the wrong person's horse and tried to sell it to the wrong person. Mounted attack rolls.
  6. Vandalism: Forget about the entering part, it's the breaking that's fun. Damage rolls,
  7. Battery: Your penchant for practicing violent behavior has finally caught up with you. Melee damage rolls.
  8. Profiteering: There's a lot of money in exploiting misery. Also, lots of death threats. Missile fire damage rolls.
  9. Armed Robbery: You made a living threatening violence for money; who'd have thought that would ever attract the wrong kind of attention? Attack and damage rolls for 0-level starting weapon.
  10. Fraud: "Let's play pretend" is a way of life for you; if only those people you conned had understood that. Skill checks (including thief skills).
  11. Breaking and Entering: Wrong house, wrong time. Find/disable traps.
  12. Sedition: You didn't so much act against the regime as speak against it. The finer points of this distinction are, of course, lost on the fascist authoritarian bastards. Find secret doors.
  13. Unlicensed Wizardry: As a back-alley summoner, enchanter or other spell-slinger, the gendarmes hauled you in when you couldn't provide them with a license. Spell checks.
  14. Diabolism: Your rejection of the gods and embrace of demon-worship was all just metaphorical, right? Too bad the magistrate didn't buy that and good thing you stole a lock of his hair. Spell damage.
  15. Animal Cruelty: Your unhealthy concepts of appropriate treatment of animals eventually landed you en route to Zoology Bay. Let's hope it's misnamed. Turn unholy checks.
  16. Practicing Medicine Without A License. The fact that you don't have a medical degree never slowed you down, but the gendarmes did. Magical healing.
  17. Smuggling: From one tight squeeze to another, you've made a living staying one step ahead of the law. See how well that turned out? Saving throws.
  18. Theft: You specialize in making what doesn't belong to you belong to you, particularly when the previous owners didn't want you to. Saving throws to escape traps. 
  19. Mercy Killing: You prefer to look on it as "assisted suicide;" the state prefers to look at you behind bars. Saving throws against poison.
  20. Arson: If only fires weren't so damned pretty, you might not have set so many. Or stopped to watch as that building burned to ash when the gendarmes caught you. Reflex saving throws.
  21. Prostitution: Hope none of your fellow colonists discover what you're here for unless you're looking for new clientele. Fortitude saving throws.
  22. Possession of Controlled Substances: You made your living off of selling forbidden drugs; apparently "forbidden" means "don't sell to gendarmes." Willpower saving throws.
  23. Blackmail: You thought the dirt you had over the right people made you untouchable. You were proven very, very wrong. Armor Class.
  24. Criminal Contempt: While most criminals tend to be contemptuous, but you make a habit of drawing the contempt of the wrong people. Hit points (applies at each level). 
  25. Hijacking: You specialize in commandeering merchant vessels and caravans, not in "not getting caught when you try to fence stolen goods." Initiative.
  26. Criminal Malpractice: Yes, you were a trained professional and no you did not realize that would happen. Those why say otherwise are liars. Critical hit tables.** 
  27. Embezzlement: You got caught with your hand in the company cookie jar one time too many.  Corruption rolls.
  28. Sexual Misconduct: Don't talk about it polite company, okay? I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen, but don't shove it in our faces, either. Fumbles.** 
  29. Extortion: You're practiced in the fine art of convincing people to give you money in return for not removing their knee caps with blunt instruments. You know the words for "pay" and "break" in every language you've ever heard. Number of languages. 
  30. Evading Arrest: Of course you ran. They always run, don't they? Speed (each +1/-2 = +5'/-5' speed).

Some Notes

Rolled a 19.
First, I want to talk about terminology. I've purposefully avoided the terms "police" and "guards" and the like in favor of the term "gendarmes." I'm betting that, for most of my readers, the word "gendarmes" is familiar enough that it's understood to mean "official of the state with the power to detain criminals" but alien enough that it doesn't conjure up any associations too strong to be overlooked. I, personally, picture the scenes from A Shot in the Dark where Clouseau is following Maria Gambrelli undercover but keeps getting arrested for not having a license to do any of the things he's doing to maintain his cover, but that's me. I'm banking on the dis/familiarity of the term to see me through, here. More familiar is the term "magistrate," which I'm using with some reservation but, I feel, it conjures an anachronistic, pre-modern feel that "judge" would just ruin. As of right now, I'm planning on continuing to use these terms for these reasons but they're subject to change at whim. 

Guess what my wizard van & I rolled.
Second, let me mention that while the table discusses the crime that the player committed, it doesn't say anything about how good the character was at committing this particular crime. Now, it's obvious that the character got caught committing this crime (after all, "that's my crime") and therefore wasn't a perfect criminal, so there's a bunch of room for interpretation. Guide that interpretation by taking a look at the character's Luck score; the magnitude of the bonus or penalty describing the degree to which the character was a success or a failure. The end result of this logic could be to take that character who's completely average except for his Luck score and turn him into, say, a completely average guy who just happens to be a mastermind extortionist. By the same token, the guy with more than a few exceptional stats but with a Luck penalty might be super-strong and able to dodge any crossbow bolt but was a terrifically unsuccessful poacher might be the laughingstock of the colony as a result.

Finally, none of the flavor text should be taken to mean anything. I wrote it to give you something to read between the crime and the effect. Interpret your crime however you see fit, just like you're already interpreting your career.

Well, that's it for me for now. I'm not sure what the next piece of the hexcrawl puzzle will be for me, so shoot some ideas my way and we'll see what sticks.