Hong Kong Action: Final Fight, Mike Holmes‘ Rollenspiel

Vor einigen Jahren hatte Mike seinen Entwurf mal in einem Forum gepostet, aber leider ging er irgendwie verloren. Zum Glück habe ich ihn auf Festplatte gespeichert. Deshalb freut es mich um so mehr, heute mit Stolz präsentieren zu können (Trommelwirbel):

Mike Holmes

Final Fight is an attempt to create a very narrativist game that does well at emulating Action Films of all types. Each game will last exactly one adventure, or movie if you will. Character creation has been shortened to background creation and a single type selection. These characters can return in „sequels“, but it is recommended that you switch up characters fairly often.

Character Creation
This will depend heavily on the number of players in the game. As opposed to other RPGs this game will usually play much better with fewer characters, although there are some genera exceptions (Magnificent Seven, Dirty Dozen, etc. ). The GM must decide if he wants to play a specific genera or not. If so he should relate this to the players and they should create character backgrounds appropriate to the genera. For example, if the GM wants to do a cop film like Dirty Harry, then at least some of the players should pick cops. Also valid, however, is letting the players decide on action characters and then comming up with a plot that fits the characters. The players should discuss amongst themselves who will play which types of roles to avoid an unbalanced cast of characters.

After deciding on a general concept and background for a character pick one of the following Types of Roles for the character. Each Type has its own set of rules regarding play.

Hero – this is the main protagonist type, the one that saves the day and wins the fight. He follows the rules and gets the job done. A hero must choose a flaw that can be anything that might cause him to fail occasionally, even if it is something like compassion. Ex. Most Jackie Chan roles.

Anti-hero – this is also a main protagonist, who wins in the end, but he doesn’t follow the rules. Ex. Most Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson roles.

Straight Man – this is the hero or anti-hero’s buddy. He is almost as talented as the hero or anti-hero, but has more of the common touch. Ex. Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon.

Comic Relief – this guy is not really as talented but hangs out with the talented sorts. He serves as a source of comedy during the game. Ex. Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon, Chris Tucker in Rush Hour.

Each character starts with 0 Success points.

Action Resolution
As Final Fight emulates action films, there are few things that the characters cannot do. They will win if it is dramatic to do so and fail when that is more appropriate.

Whenever a character attempts a serious action, chasing a thug, shooting something, punching out the bad guys, they must use success points to be successful. Play rotates around the table starting with the Hero or Anti-Hero to the GM’s left. The player decides what he is trying to do in the current scene. The GM decides how many Success points that the action requires to succeed. Sometimes the players will be unaware that they have to make an attempt (perception checks, for example). In this case the GM announces that there is some task (just what it is he keeps to himself) and its difficulty. The player may then either pay the points (assuming he has enough) or decide to fail. The GM should dissallow successes if it really doesn’t fit the character’s background, but, in general, if a player can concoct an entertaining description of why their character should succeed, then they should. Below is a chart of typical costs for typical acctions. Anything easier should be automatic for Action Heroes.

Typical actions – Success Point Cost
Defeat a typical thug – 1
Defeat a more important or talented henchman – 2
Defeat the chief antagonist – 3
Make a long jump – 1
Chase somebody quick down – 1
Chase a car down on foot – 2
Break a tough door down – 1
Notice a clue – 1
Notice a really subtle or obscure clue – 2
Figure out where the bad guys‘ secondary hideout is – 1
Figure out where the primary hideout is – 2
Arriving in the scene just in time – 1

These difficulties should be scaled to the genera. If it is a Wuxia Fu film, then one success will defeat several thugs and a long jump takes on a whole different meaning. The GM will have to decide how to make these adjustments accordingly although this shouldn’t be too difficult. Many (like arriving just in time) are the same in most generas.

Characters who fail in fights will be either hurt a little or possibly captured if alone. Failing to jump a chasm will most likely result in grabbing a small tree on the way down and requiring other characters to spend successes to save you.

Successes should be acompanied by suitable description of the action. In general, if a player spends exactly what he needs to get the job done, then the description should be somewhat workmanlike (still as entertaining as possible) but effective. An extra point can be spent to perform an action extremely well. Again the description should match this expenditure. Failures should be described as well if it is obvious.

Success Points
Each Type of Role can acquire success points through a number of methods. The GM should not limit these awards to only the below; he should give success points at any time to any character he feels is deserving. Usually only one point is given unless noted below. Exceptionally good descriptions or Role-Playing of the event may merit a further point.

Hero – failing an attempt to save somebody from harm including kidnapping and slander. Getting beat in a fight. Letting bad guys off easy after defeating them (no killing). Note, he must follow the rules and act honorably to get these points. Real heroes don’t need to resort to dirty tricks. Training, which should be described as a montage, can be worth several points. A description of flashbacks to moments where the hero learned honor or humility can be done once. All heroes have a flaw, even if it is something like compassion. Any hero who fails because of his flaw gets a success point. Also, if he finds a dramatic moment to overcome his flaw then he gets 3 points. This last should occur only once a game.

Anti-hero – failing to follow rules to get stuff done right (no points for crossing against the lights, only serious stuff, and only when it advances the story). Getting into a fight, whether or not successfull. This includes arguments with the character’s boss or any other authority figure as long as the argument is about methods or rules. Coming up with clever or devious ways to defeat a foe. Once per scene, the player of an anti-hero character can describe his characters anger at something which provides him with one success. Anti-heroes can have a declare a vendetta against a certain other character. He automatically has one free success on every attempt to thwart this individual.

Straight Man – failing to do something heroic because „it’s just too dangerous“ (adds to the drama by making the other character’s actions seem more heroic). Reminiscing about family or loved ones. Covering another character’s back while he does something dangerous. Failing an action because of some common foible like corns or just out of shape. In general any time he does something as a foil to the hero’s actions (fails to jump a fence with as much panache, etc.). Once per game this character can apply 2 successes to any action that is out of character if he explains it later with „I didn’t know I had it in me!“

Comic Relief – failing any action that would normally be automatic as long as the player gives an entertaining description. Any time the player makes a player or GM laugh hardily with his description of a character action. This may not amount to too many points, but the comic-relief is usually only good for taking out one or two of the bad guys by sneaking up on them or noticing some small clue.

Thingies – certain characters may come into possession of powerful items. In general these items provide one success toward accomplishing any task they are designed for. These should be fairly rare, usually no more that one per game. Examples include a magic bow, or a really big gun. Characters never start with these things, they aquire them along the way.

Injury and Dying
– once a scene any player may have his character fail and describe it as the result of an injury recieved earlier and get a success point. This shouldn’t be abused, though; most action film injuries are flesh wounds that don’t slow the hero one whit. If a player chooses to have a character die as a result of a failure and the death is dramatic enough, all of the other characters recieve 2 successes.

Scene Flow
When a scene is finished the players may decide where to go from there. If the players hem and haw even momentarily, the GM should end the scene and open a new one immediately. The scene can be just about anywhere, and any of the characters may be present. But the story should pick up again when the characters present notice a clue, are attacked out of the blue, or the players just decide to make it an exposition scene. One rule pervades, though, if it isn’t character development or part of the plot then interrupt it with something that is. And, if things slow down, move to a new scene.

The Final Fight
Eventually the characters will confront the bad guys in a final showdown. They may have to do a lot before being able to track them down or reach their lair or whatever, but eventually they will have to fight as always in action films. This should occur when the GM decides that the players have accumulated enough Success points to win. The Bad Guys recieve Villain points equal to the number of characters attacking times two. This number can be adjusted up or down a couple if the GM feels it makes more sense dramatically or just to keep the players guessing. These can be used to inflict setbacks on the characters in the Final Fight. When a player decides to have a success in the Final Fight, the GM can use a Villain point and declare a setback. The player should then begin to describe his action and the GM will interrupt at an appropriate moment and describe just how the villains set him back. The character expends no success points if he is setback.

Note this doesn’t have to all be fighting. The intial phases of the final fight can be dramatic sneaking around like James Bond or Bruce Lee in a hall of mirrors. Or maybe the villain will setback attempts to convinvce him to surrender with witty reparte. The last action after all of the setbacks might be a quickdraw shot through the heart. On the other hand, setbacks can represent injuries and worse. As with any injurious failure and if (usually after running out of success points) a player so chooses, he can declare a particular attack to be lethal with the attendant bonus to the other characters after a suitable dying quote while the villain gloats and taunts the remaining players.

After the Final Fight ask if the players want to do a denoument scene. If so, let them do a final scene with just a few lines each at most. Then, if necessary, describe the scene as the camera pans off into the distance or fades to black or whatever and say „roll credits“. The game is then over.


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