Monday, May 21, 2012

B20s historical background material

It is amazing the access to historical information for GangBusters that is easily available on the Web

Organized crime in ...        Index insert any year from 20's & 30s

St Valentine's Day massacre, Feb. 1929

Kansas City massacre, June 1933

Egans Rats, early 20's St Louis

Johnny Torrio

Al Capone, "Scarface"

The Purple Gang

"Bloody 20th Ward"

"Gangster Sites"

Joe Saltis

John Dillinger

"Dingbat" Oberta

Frank McErlane

Baby Face Nelson

Gangster Molls including Kiss of Death Girl

Machine Gun Jack McGurn

 The Gangs of Chicago: An Informal History of the Chicago Underworld. ; Herbert Asbury; New York: Alfred A. Knoff, 1940

The Dry and Lawless Years by John H Lyle; 1960; Prentice Hall, Inc

Barbarians in our Midst by Virgil Peterson

The Long Thirst: Prohibition in America by Thomas McCaffey; 1975; WW Norton & Company

Friday, May 18, 2012

Weapons Combat for B20s Designer's Notes #3A

Just 2 words here: "Bio One". Jim Muscala's "must have" 12 page rules set. That would be my base rules for any realistic gun fights. We used them for the majority of playtesting and also for Boot Hill games.

To me this TSR published rules book is the most under appreciated document that was ever published by TSR.

I certainly hope this document isn't lost to the Hasbro locked game vault. That would be a major loss.

Designer's Notes #3

When there were only a couple gamers around the store (Gamer's Guild), I let folks roll up some new characters using the various charts in the  Original rules . I always liked how "Traveller" provided rules for character generation and backstories. I had even started to do my own rules for D&D character generation and backgrounds, but I was never happy with them. But, it seemed a good approach to introduce players to a new game. It was easy as they were rolling, to provide them some commentary (snarky optional) on their characters and help flesh out their personalities. Nicknames came easy. Tatooes and scars were given backgrounds. Even a rival might be revealed or groundwork layed for future problems.  Before you knew it, there were lots of laughs and enough players to start up a "street adventure". Usually, the focus of these nights were unscripted and involved their first day in (if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere) or first day back in (for those who spent time in prison) Lakefront City.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Designer's Notes #2 A

                                                      Click on images to enlarge.

Designer's Notes #2

Contacts, expanded to Street and/or Political Contacts in later versions of Bloody 20s were a very important part of play in the Bloody 20s.

Contacts were the highest rewards for the players. They were exchangeable, sometimes reusable "get out of jail free" cards, or just about anything a creative player could devise. The only limits were that the Judge was the final authority on how far a player could go in using their Contact. If Luck checks were a form of "saving throw", using a contact was dependent on how well the player justified their desired effort to the Judge and/or their fellow players. Contacts were also transferable between players. Wasn't it Vito Corleone's refusal to provide the use of his political contacts that resulted in his being shot in "The Godfather" ? Or, they could be used to attempt to block another player's use of a contact. There's a guaranteed way to start a series of ingame vendettas.

Why not try and incorporate Street & Political contacts into your GangBusters game ? 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Designer's Notes #1

To view Marv's cleanup of the original B20s rules please go here . Just to get everyone on the same page at the start.

Thanks for your help Marv.

OK, a little background. This is going to be a free form and free flowing series. Don't expect many lists, but please feel free to jump in and ask questions and provide your comments.

First, I like simple rules. Second, I like simple rules.
The majority of design for Bloody 20's (GangBusters) was done while I owned and operated a game store in Pennsylvania named "Gamer's Guild". Playtesting was easy.

Now, about the playtesters, because they always influence design. A sizeable number were fans of Runequest. B20s was destined to be a Skills influenced game.

Now, about the Judge/designer. Did I mention I like simple rules ? For those who understand Myers-Briggs personality testing. I am in the 1% of 1% of Intuitives. I was born and made to be a story teller. Recently, I had a chance to read various accounts of the legendery "Braunstein"games. Dang, it was exactly like a B20s session. Though no player ever asked me what they needed to roll, they knew better 8-) If you keep your players busy enough and the action going, they automatically roll the dice and keep the story going.

The trick as GM/Judge is to get the players to forget they're playing a RP game.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

GangBusters News part 2

One of the wisest persons I have ever known had a favorite quote: "Life is choices". And, indeed it is. Due to family health issues, I am forced to acknowledge that I do NOT have sufficient time or energy to undertake a revision, reprint or manage a Kickstarter campaign for the RPG "GangBusters". I choose to be a cancer caregiver rather than a game publisher. No matter how I evaluated or reevaluated it, this was an either/or situation.

I appreciate  all the feedback, public & private, I have received over the past several weeks concerning "GangBusters". There are many interesting proposals for scenarios or modules for the game. I suggest and encourage you to pursue publishing these adventure ideas yourself.

An interesting suggestion, was to do a Designer's Edition. Well, providing Designer's Notes can be accomplished pretty simply and will be done, as time permits,  here, on this blog, and on the OD&D Discussion Board's Gangbusters Board, with Marv's permission and help. With hospital access to the Internet, it is much easier to discuss gaming than produce a game.

Further, at this time, I have no plans to sell my rights to "GangBusters". The game is available at between $10 -$20 on Ebay frequently, and a visit to a flea market this weekend turned up a copy with the first module for $3.00. If you want a copy of "GangBusters" and don't have it, you're not trying hard enough or asking the right people. I am NOT one of those right people.

 Don't let my decision discourage you from continuing efforts to revitalize interest in "GangBusters". You, the players & Judges, always have been the future of this game !