So, I’ve been posting a bit less than usual these past few months. This is thanks largely to some steep writing deadlines I’m struggling to meet, limiting me to about 1 post a week or so. My apologies for whatever regular readers I have, but it’s for a good cause, trust me. Hopefully I’ll pick up the pace again soon. In the meantime, I recently watched the pilot episode of the new Lethal Weapon television show, and I’ve been bitten by the bug to run another session of Danger Patrol: To Protect and Serve – a home-brewed hack of the Danger Patrol game. I’ve included more of the play materials here below. First, though, you might want to read the Game Introduction and you might be interested in a recap of our first session.
Let’s talk your role on this miserable squad. The roles are as follows:
You’re a fresh-faced kid straight out of the academy, all adorable and eager. It would be cute if you weren’t so goddamned talented. You spend most of your time embarrassing us older guys and we hate your guts. It’s not personal…well, maybe it is personal, but that’s not the point. The point is that you’re in your prime, kid, and that counts for something. Just don’t attempt to grow a brain, okay? Stick with the older heads and you’ll go far.
Suggested d12 Trait: Athletics
I don’t know who you pissed off, but somebody upstairs doesn’t like you very much. When you were in the academy, dinosaurs walked the earth. You are literally older than dirt and pretty close to retirement, yet here you are, in a room full of heroes and lunatics. I pity you, I really, truly do.
All that said, the rest of these kids are the lucky ones. You’ve served in every division in the department, from traffic to narcotics to the gang unit. You know everybody, you got tricks they don’t teach anymore, and then there’s the fact that you draw a big enough salary to own a house or maybe even a boat. That is, of course, if you live to enjoy it…
Suggested d12 trait: Knowledge or Driving
You are the guy we call when we need something resolved without bloodshed. Sometimes it even works. Succeed or fail, though, you know how to negotiate with scumbags, you know when people are lying, and you can get a confession out of anybody (assuming they’re still alive).
Your job with this crowd is going to be keeping these animals from eating every two-bit crook from here to Cincinnati alive. You need to get prisoners, talk to them, and learn their secrets. Good luck on this one, buddy. Try not to get dead.
Suggested d12 Trait: Interaction
I guess you’re some kind a braniac. If it were up to me, we’d still be using pencil and paper and walking the beat on our own two feet, but you’re a cop for the new millennium, I guess. You know computers, gadgets, and bombs like the rest of us know the contents of our underwear drawer. Christ, you’ve forgotten more about gizmos and high-tech widgets than the rest of us will ever learn. We need you, as annoying as you are. The only thing I ask is that, when you start to explain something, use plain fucking English, okay?
Suggested d12 Trait: Tech or Driving
The Weapon Specialist
I’m gonna level with you: assholes like you are my worst fucking nightmare. For some reason, you seem to think your job isn’t filling the jails with scumbags. Instead, you fill the fucking morgue with bodybags. I got no idea what they taught you in Nam or Iraq or SWAT or whatever hell-hole vomited you into my office, but I swear if you keep putting bullet holes in my city, I will be personally shitting on your head every fucking day. Could you leave the goddamned machine guns at home for once? You know what, forget it—why do I bother? You just better hope what goes around doesn’t come around, because Karma for a violent asshole like you is bound to be a bitch.
Suggested d12 Trait: Shooting
Oh, great—we’ve got help. Look, I don’t care if you’re from the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the DEA, the WWF, or whatever the fuck. I don’t care if you flew in from Hong Kong or if the guy you’ve been tracking all the way from Moscow owns a B&B in my own neighborhood—we here in Danger Patrol don’t need help. You know what I hate the most about you lousy Feds? I never really know what you’re up to. You’ve got secrets and special training and all kinds of covert directives and I don’t have the fucking time to keep my eyes on you. So, you want in? Fine—your funeral. I got news for you, Miss Quantico: this town will eat you alive. Stick close to my guys and don’t fuck things up, and you may just live long enough for us to trust you.
Suggested d12: Knowledge and Stealth (you get two)
The Beat Cop
You are from the school of hard knocks, so you have that going for you. Police work is a personal thing—you understand community policing (drinking at the local bars) and local outreach (gambling at the local bars). You understand that you can’t be a good cop behind a desk or a microscope. You’re also a stubborn, filthy, stupid moron who thinks your shit don’t stink. I’m here to tell you, flatfoot, that it stinks to high fucking heaven. This ain’t 1932, got it? Today’s criminals will run circles around you unless you learn how to use a fucking smartphone. Knowing the name of all the local bouncers only gets you so far. Still, street smarts and the basic skills you’ve got in spades are still essential to our business. There ain’t no app that makes perps cuff themselves.
Suggested d12 Trait: Fighting
You’re smart, I’ll give you that. You’re the guy who puts the clues together, figures out who did what to who and with what. You probably fancy yourself a pretty good judge of the human soul, too, huh? Well, fine, but don’t let it go to your head. Fact is I’ve buried more of you idiots than I care to mention, and you wanna know why? You tend to stick your nose where it don’t belong and never call for fucking backup. I had a dog like you once—used to chase every goddamned rabbit he saw. I put up a fence, tied him with a chain, bought one of them fancy electric gizmos, and the poor stupid mutt still wound up flattened by a car. You wanna know why? Because he didn’t know when to quit! Maybe that’s admirable—I dunno. Anyway, just keep your partner close and maybe, just once in a while, come up with a theory that will stick in court.
Suggested d12 Trait: Knowledge
Character Creation in a Danger Patrol-type game is super, super simple. You pick a role (above) and then select a style (below) – bingo, you’ve got a character.
So, there you have it – my own home-brew action-cop game. Can’t wait to run it again; can’t wait to let you folks know how it goes.
That’s it for me at the moment – back to writing!
I don’t usually write-up recaps of gaming sessions. I find it generally boring to summarize what was, essentially, something me and my friends did once and will probably never do again. It’s like going to an improv show and recounting the entire event to somebody who wasn’t there – it rarely winds up half as entertaining as it was in the flesh, and your friends start looking at you funny.
Today, though, I make an exception.
in modern-day San Diego in the style of a classic Cop Action movie. The session was, in a word, epic. Today I share the hilarity with you in what hope is terms that won’t bore you to tears.
We started out with the opening credits to a movie, set to James Brown’s “Livin’ in America”, showing scenes of sunny San Diego and also introducing our villain, Armando Corazon, Drug Lord of the Southwest and King of Tijuana (played by Jimmy Smits). He has been buying up real estate in San Diego. He had a cop killed. He was on the cover of Time magazine. I set all this up with some clever photoshop work and a basic working knowledge of Power Point. It was hilarious and set the mood perfectly. Everybody who played was given top billing in the credits and, given how player-driven Danger Patrol is, I gave them screenwriting credits, too. I can’t stress enough how much fun this was (both making it and watching the players react to it when I pulled it out) and I’m going to do this every time I run a one-shot of this game from here on out.
Credits over. Cut to a private storage facility on the outskirts of San Diego; cops engaged in a shootout with drug-crazed lunatics. Our heroes are on the scene: a Cocky Rookie (Officer Rufio), a Crooked Veteran (Nicco – James Woods cast as the actor to play him), and a Wise-Ass Beat Cop (whose name I don’t remember; played by Blake). Just then, Philipe Corazon, Armando’s little brother, dives an industrial drilling machine through the side of the storage facility and makes a break for it. Craziness ensues.
The guys had three threats to deal with in this scene: Philipe on his Drill, Drug-Crazed Lunatics, and What’s Inside the Building (which was set to ‘go off’ in 3 turns). Nikko requisitioned a fuel truck and drove it after Philipe, only to have it catch fire and almost explode, causing him to have to requisition an old lady’s Lincoln and drive her car (with her still in the driver’s seat since her seatbelt was stuck) after the fleeing drill as it drove through convenience stores, a used car lot, and so on. Meanwhile, Rufio and Blake drove *their* car into the storage facility, crushing things as they went. They found a bomb set to explode in a secret tunnel underneath the storage facility. Rufio tried to disarm it while Blake dragged an unconscious drug addict out of the building before it blew (he was joined by all the psycho druggies who fled with him). The bomb was successfully disarmed (druggies and cops clapped and hugged each other in relief…and then realized who each other were and began to chase after each other), and Philipe was shot in the leg by Nikko and arrested.
During the investigation, it was discovered that there was a network of tunnels under San Diego dug by the Corazon Cartel that enabled them to smuggle drugs across the border with impunity. This complex system was devised and maintained with the supervision of Dr. Hammerschmidt of UC San Diego (played by JK Simmons). Interrogating Philipe (played by Freddie Prinze Jr) revealed that the good doctor was going to be assassinated by Corazon thugs at his gym.
Cut to gym. Giant shoot-out with the thugs. Nikko blows them all away and then calms the crowd (two threats: Corazon Hit Men and Panicky Bystanders) while Blake runs down the doctor (tripping him up with his Really Big Flashlight). They toss the doc in the car and bring him to a Mafia-run restaurant (Nikko is connected) and threaten to leave him there for the Italians to deal with unless he talks. He tells them a big shipment of drugs and money is coming in to seal an alliance with the Yakuza. He tells them it’s all going to go down at Sea World that night. The Mafia is also going to try to hit the scene. So, we’ve got three criminal syndicates, a stack of cash, Sea World, and, oh yeah, Blake’s family is there attending the last whale show of the night.
This is it, the big showdown. Blake fighting Yakuza ninjas in the penguin enclosure. Rufio getting in a wrestling match in the ice-cold waters of the polar bear tank. Nikko talking the mafia guys down from interfering. Armando Corazon trying to garrote Blake to death, only to be flipped into the (now electrified) waters of the penguin tank. The whole time, Darren, Sea World Employee, listens to his headphones and mops up penguin droppings without hearing a thing. Victory.
It was hilarious fun. It all took only 3 hours or so (including character creation time). It was the perfect one-shot experience, and I’m going to do it again. As Blake said: “I would totally watch this movie.”
Next time, though, I am going to need closing credits.
All right, all right—settle down you apes and listen up. I’m Captain Elroy Landry, and it seems as though I pissed in somebody’s lemonade down at City Hall, so they put me in command of you dumbasses. If it were up to me, you bunch of hotshots would have your badges taken away or else I’d have you picking up litter on the interstate where you’re unlikely to do much harm. That’s not how it’s going to be, though, and more’s the pity. Instead, you bozos are the inaugural members of the Danger Patrol.
See, it just so happens that the city is broke. So, rather than spend money preventing crime in the first place—which is expensive—they’d rather spend money cleaning it up after it happens, which is where you guys come in. You two-bit nutjobs are apparently the best the police department has to offer (God help us), and so it is your job to track down and haul in the most dangerous criminals the city has to offer.
So, when a bunch a guys with uzis break into a billionare’s penthouse and chuck him off the roof, we call you to scrape him off the pavement. If terrorists are putting bombs in lunchboxes, it’s you jerks in the cafeteria doing inspections. If Godzilla shows up down the docks, well, then it’s the Army’s problem. But if he starts selling coke to gang-bangers, then I want you to slap giant handcuffs on that reptilian scumbag and HAUL HIM IN!
Alive, understand? As you are all supposedly police officers, I shouldn’t have to say this, but I am anyway: Try not to kill every damn crook you catch! I want arrests and I want convictions and I ain’t gonna get ‘em if you dickheads are tossing them off cliffs, blowing them up in cars, or putting so many holes in their sorry asses we could use them to strain spaghetti. Oh, and if you could do it without blowing up entire city blocks or driving your patrol vehicles through the goddamned mall, I’d be real grateful.
Now, if you find yourself in need of additional wisdom apart from yours truly, you can also talk with Lieutenant O’Leary over here. He’s my second in command; he don’t take a shit without me knowing about it, so don’t get smart. We do shit by the book in here, understand? Or, so help me God, I will have your asses in a sling before you can say ‘Hamburglar!’
Christ, to think that this had to happen to me…
All right, dismissed!
The preceding is the introductory text to a hack of the RPG, Danger Patrol by John Harper with much thanks and credit to my friend John Perich and *his* hack of Danger Patrol, Star Wars: Never Tell Me the Odds. I’ve been spending entirely too much time putting this game together over the past week or so, and hopefully this will get it off my chest. Thanks!