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After reading about how Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez were co-directing a big screen version of Miller's Sin City, I went out and bought some trade paperbacks to referesh my memory on why I liked these books. Inevitably this leads to thoughts of a Dark Champions setting using Sin City as a backdrop.

 

Problem is, I'm not sure I can come up with enough plot points to keep a setting like this interesting for very long. I'll have no problem stealing certain plots from the books (Like the potential crime war in old town between the mafia, cops, and the "girls" from The Big Fat Kill) but I'm not sure I'll have enough to take it beyond a few sessions and keep things interesting.

 

Has anyone used Miller's Sin City as a backdrop? Did you have success? Any suggestions for plotlines?

 

If I don't think of enough things I may let this one drop in favor of one of the other settings I have in mind.

 

Thanks.

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Re: Sin City

 

You can use real world crime as an ispiration for DC. Just do a little research, read some papers, etc. You dont need the overblown plots of a 4 Color comic for DC -- plain and simple profit and vice work just fine.

 

 

You can also watch some Urban Crime flicks. Heres a list thats a decent start:

 

http://movieweb.com/dvd/genres.php?id=202835

 

Most of these types of movies totally suck, but you can cherry pick some of them for ideas and NPCs.

 

Along the same lines you could play "7 Degrees of Ice-T" and work your way thru his filmography ( http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001384/ ) which is studded with such Urban Crime "Gems" as the terrible travesty "Mean Guns" (1), "Surviving the Game" (2), Johnny Mnemonic (3), Richochet (4), Tresspass (5), 3000 Miles to Graceland (6), and Who's the Man (7) among many many others. Just id the other actors in the movies and then thread thru their filmographys as well for topical hits.

 

Following links from the seven movies I listed for example you get:

 

 

(1) Christopher Lambert (Highlander, Hunted, etc -- leads to Mario Van Peebles via H3)

 

(2) Rutger Hauer (need I say more? Lots of DC mining to do here)

 

Charles Dutton (big one here -- leads to Arnie (and Carl Weathers, which leads to Stallone via Rocky 1 - 3, which leads to Kurt "Snake" Russel via Tango & Cash, who leads to John Carpenter via about dozen movies, who leads to a lot of other Urban Crime) via Predator, Gibson via Payback (and thus directly into "Mad Max", "Lethal Weapon" land. Gibson leads to Pesci, which taps into almost every mafia movie ever made in the modern era)

 

Gary Busey (:D Gary Busey; poster boy of urban crime flicks. Also leads to Gibson via Lethal Weapon 1, and of course W. Snipes via Drop Zone)

 

John C. McGinley (another Stallone tie invia Get Carter)

 

F. Murray Abraham (another tie to Arnie via Last Action Hero). FMA was also in the spoof Loaded Weapon 1, as was Samuel L Jackson giving a Tarantino link, and a Bruce Willis link as well. Emilio "Young Guns" Estevez was also in Loaded Weapon 1, and he links to Lou Diamond Philips who has been in a number of Urban oriented flicks though nothing really important -- The First Power could be a useful source for some DC type campaigns though.

 

(3) Big one here:

 

Keanu, who sets off such a huge wave of connections that he gets a breakout list:

 

  • leads to the Matrix collection
    • Lawrence "Hoodlum" Fishbourne, who ties to Ben Kingsly via "Searching for Bobby Fischer", Tim Roth via Hoodlum (and thus another lead in to Tarantino), and Andy Garcia via Hoodlum (tying into the Godfather franchise). Roth also leads to Tupac Shakur via Gridlock'd
    • Joe "Cypher/Cosmo/Ralph Ciphrato" Pantoliano whose another one of those character actors that spawns a suprising number of ties, including GTA 3 (voice of Luigi Goterelli), the Sopranos for a nest of additional links, plus is in Memento (along w/ Matrix co-star Carrie-Ann Moss), which ties to Guy Pearce, who ties to Kevin Spacey, Russel Crowe, James Cromwel, Kim Basinger, and Danny DeVito via LA Confidential.

    [*] Patrick Swayze & the Red Hot Chilli Peppers via Point Break

    [*]Dangeous Liasons leads to

    • John "All the Presidents Men" Malkovich (taps into Clint "Dirty Harry" Eastwood there, which leads to a host of other actors, not to mention Clint's own body of work)
    • Glenn "Fatal Attraction" Close -- leads to Michael "Traffic" Douglas, Michael leads to Catherine Zeta Jones, who leads to a ton of people including Sean "the Rock/Bond" Connery via Entrapment, and Antonio "Assassins" Banderes via Zorro, who in turn makes another connection to Stallone. And dont forget John "Gross Point Blank" Cusak via High Fidelty and Americas Sweethearts, Tom "Mission Impossible" Cruise via Rene "Jerry Maguire" Zelweger via Chicago, and Bruce "Die Hard/The Jakal" Willis via Richard Gere via Chicago on the CZJ angle. CZJ ties a ridiculous number of actors and actresses together in fact; huge web of connections off of her.
       
    • Michelle "Married to the Mob/Tequila Sunrise" Pfeiffer who leads to Jack "Ultimate Likeable Bad Guy" Nicholson via Witches of Eastwick. On a side note Pfeiffer was in Amazon Women on the Moon, tying into Arsenio and thus Eddie "Harlem Nights" Murphy, and another Keanu link via Joe Pantoliano.
       
    • Uma "the Bride" Thurman who taps into the Tarantino collection of Urban Crime flicks

    [*]Dracula

    • Gary "Badass" Oldman, who leads to a ton of actors ranging from Jean Reno via Leon the Professional (and Jean leads to both Tom "I wish I could act" Cruise via MI and Robert "You Talkin To Me" DeNiro via Ronin), Bruce "Fifth Element" Willis, Kevin "The EGO" Costner (and a host of others, including Tommy Lee Jones -- but thats ok because Joe "Matrix Cypher" Pantoliano already tied us to him and Robert "the Addict" Downey via US Marshalls) via JFK, and Harrison "Box Office Titan" Ford via Air Force One (of course, we already got to HF via Kurt Russel and Glenn Close, both also in AFO). Doesnt have anything to do with Urban Crime, but Natalie "Princess Vader-Bait" Portman is also in Leon the Professional w/ Oldman, which also leads to Ewan "Only Good Thing In New Star Wars Trilogy" McGregor who was in Trainspotting and links to just about every Scottish, British, and Irish actor of his generation. And of course Leon also had Danny "generic mafia guy" Aiello, who is in a slew of crime flicks.
       
    • Monica Bellucci, who just ties back into the Matrix pile-o-links.
       
    • Anthony Hopkins. Yeah. You figure it out. He's been in more movies than just about anybody else I can think of, and some of the more recent have been DC worthy. More importantly, he's worked with so many actors that you can probably work your way to within two or three steps of anyone else in the industry.
       

    [*]Al "Looking a little hagard" Pacino via Devil's Advocate. Another smorgasborg of mafia related movies and connections. Donnie Brasco (and thus a link to Depp, but not that notable from an Urban Crime perspective)? Check. Carlito's Way? Check. Godfather? Check. Check. Check. Scarface? Check. Also in Heat. And one of my favorite movies, Glengarry Glen Ross, links up with Jack "The Legend" Lemmon, Ed "The Rock" Harris, our man Kevin "Usual Suspects" Spacey, and honorable mention Alec "The Shadow" Baldwin.

     

    [*]Delroy Lindo via Feeling Minnesota. Delroy leads us to Jet Li via The One and Romeo Must Die, Nicholas Cage, Giovanni Ribisi, Angelina "Tomb Babe" Jolie, Robert "Crusty" DuVall, and Chi McBride via Gone in Sixty Seconds, which also has Scott Caan son of James "Misery" Caan who is of course another mafia movie regular. He also leads us to John "Vince Vega" Travolta (who we already had via the copious Tarantino links), Rene Russo (who we already had via the Lethal Weapon links), and Gene "French Connection" Hackman, who was also Lex Luthor of course. Delroy is in a number of other Urban Crime flicks. On a tangent, I've always liked Delroy and think he represents a lot of squandered potential -- this guy belongs in a blockbuster.

     

 

Theres a ton more of Keanu "Whoa" Reeves of course, but you get the idea.

 

 

Dolph "Punisher/Ivan Drago" Lungdren. Heh heh. Ties to Stallone via Rocky 4. Ties to Van Damme via Universal Soldier. Not even going to explore that branch. Also ties into Bond via A View to A Kill which leads to Grace Jones who is a tie to Arnie via Conan 2 and another tie to Stallone, but also leads to Christopher Walken which would be a goldmine of links if we didnt already have so many Tarantino lead ins, where we pick up Walken via the Bruce Willis Watch sub story in Pulp Fiction, which also graced the world with the concept of "the Gimp". Dolph also leads to the sadly departed Brandon Lee via Showdown in Little Tokyo, and Brandon led to Michael Wincott via the Crow, who leads to Guy "LA Confidential" Pearce in Count of Monte Cristo who leads to Kevin "Usual Suspects" Spacey, Wincott also leads to Meat "Bitch-tit Bob" Loaf in Gun Shy who leads to Edward "American X" Norton and Brad "Snatch" Pitt in my all tome favorite movie, Fight Club.

 

4) Ricochet links Ice-T to:

 

Denzel "King-Kong Aint Got Nothin On Me" Washington, which touches off a lot of links. Plus movies like Training Day, Out of Time, Man On Fire, The Siege, and one of my all time favorites Fallen are all of some use for DC mining.

 

John "Comic Genius" Lithgow, which links to Stallone via Cliffhanger

 

Kevin "I live in Queens" Pollak, another Usual Suspects allum

 

Lindsay "The Bionic Woman" Wagner, also queen of the tv miniseries

 

5) Bill Paxton is another character actor thats been in a lot of movies with a lot of people. Including Sigourney Weaver, Arnie (bit role in Terminator, again in True Lies), and Tom Hanks (Apollo 13). Not many Urban Crime connections, but Frailty would make a good background story for a DC character. :D Also, via Tombstone Paxton provides a lot of links including another Kurt Russel tie, Val Kilmer (but we already got him via Heat on the DeNiro and Pacino branches) and via Sam Elliot he ties into the awesome Big Lebowski and a host of links trail out from there, and also the craptastic Roadhouse to provide another Swayze link (like we wanted or needed another of those).

 

 

6) Ah, 3k Miles to Graceland. What a sucktackular flop. Anyway, this movie is a direct link to Kurt "Snake" Russel and, suprisingly, Kevin "What Happened To My Promising Career" Costner.

 

This movie also has Christian "I want to be Jack Nicholson" Slater, who links to Gary "See Above" Oldman via The Contender, and Jon Favreau via Very Bad Things (a funny movie btw) -- but we had Jon Favreau via Jeremy Piven who is John "Gross Point Blank" Cusack's oldtime roommate and general pall and has been in 9 Cusak movies (Bob Roberts (1992), Elvis Stories (1989), Floundering (1994), Grifters, The (1990), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), One Crazy Summer (1986), Player, The (1992), Say Anything... (1989), Serendipity (2001)) and is a huge bit part actor that has appeared in a laundry list of films with a ton of other actors, including that wellworn junction of a movie, Heat.

 

It also has Kevin "Suspects" Pollak, again.

 

It also oddly has Howie Long, which doesnt really go anywhere, but was an odd casting. Maybe he got in via Slater who he was in Broken Arrow in. Who knows.

 

(7) This one is kind of weak, but:

 

Dennis "Angry Smoker" Leary is also in Who's the Man. Dennis takes us to Natural Born Killers -- kind of -- its an uncredited bit part in the Directors Cut. NBK takes us to Woody who takes us to Snipes via a couple different movies, and Snipes takes us back around to U.S. Marshals for another Tommy Lee link -- but of course Tommy Lee is also in NBK, so you get it from both directions. And of course, lets not forget that while Oliver Stone directed NBK Quentin Tarentino wrote it. Julliete Lewis is also in NBK, and she leads to a list of of links out, including one of my favorite movies, the overlooked Strange Days (which also has Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, and Vincent D'Onofrio, and a great soundtrack).

 

And Leary even gives us the de riguer Stallone connection in Demolition Man. The Ref garners another Kevin "Usual Suspects" Spacey link. He's also in Loaded Weapon 1 with Samual "Bad MFkr" Jackson, but F. Murray already took us there. He's also in the entertaining "Suicide Kings" alongside Christopher Walken, Henry "Elliot Grew Up" Thomas, Jay "Funny Guy" Mohr, and Sean Patrick "Boondock" Flanery which brings us to Boondock Saints.

 

Boondock Saints is goofy, has a weak ending, and has some really strange scenes with Willem Defoe crossing gender lines, but it is a quintissential Dark Champions movie. It's a bad movie, but it's so bad it's good. And the rope gag is hilarious. Just see it. You'll laugh, shake your head at how bad it is, and then sit down with Dark Champions to stat it. :hex:

 

 

 

 

Less traditionally, you could become a street criminal for a while, and if you avoid capture and untimely death you can use your experience to improve your DC games. Not a recommended approach, but there you go :D

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Re: Sin City

 

I didn't even realize Surbrook had writeups. Thanks for the tip! I'm looking through them right now.

 

And you have a good point about using real world crime drama, KS, and that's quite an elaborate piece of info there! I may have to reread it a couple of times to make sure I caught everything :)

 

One of my concerns with this type of setting (which I've never run before) is that it seems difficult to keep all the characters involved if you have a group. Sounds easy to do with only 1 or 2, because then it tends to unfold like a Raymond Chandler/Mickey Spillane affair.

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Re: Sin City

 

You bring up an interesting point, Blue... about the viability of long term DC campaigns.

 

After years of running this style, as well as more "realistic" Danger International campaigns... I've come to the following conclusion... typical, weekly, serialized campaigns (that work well for Supers) do NOT support DC/DI type campaigns (unless it is a Nightwing like DC... which, IMO, is really supers, just street level.)

 

To have that crime movie/thriller novel/even Sin City feel... there has to be closure. There needs to be a defined arc that the main character moves through... and there is an end of some kind. Likely not a happy ending... but definitely a sense of finality.

 

DC characters tend to be more literary. By this I mean, they aren't serialized, return to the status quo after every adventure, kind of stuff. It may be local, even just personal, but every DC adventure needs to be profound. Changes should happen, life and death changes, and often a main character (read PC) is done at the end. Maybe dead, maybe retired... maybe it's just that their story is told, and anything more would be anti-climatic.

 

A good example is the Die Hard movies. The first movie worked wonderfully, as John McClain became a hero, resolved his issues with his wife, and limped into the limo relieved to be alive. The second movie was lame, only working on the level of making fun of the fact it was a sequal... and the third movie was just tired... with the audience going "Yeah, yeah... whatever..."

 

John McClane's story was over after the first movie. It was told. Further adventures were just not significant, as his character had reached apotheosis.

 

DC campaigns should be like that. Six to eight episodes, leading to a climax, where the characters should achieve closure of some kind.

 

Now, maybe only one character achieves closure, and the next campaign focuses on another PC, as the first story wasn't really about her as much. This could lend itself to an ongoing campaign, but with slowly revolving characters. That has worked for me in Danger International, as many PCs were only used for one adventure, and only a few repeated over time.

 

Just an idea, but that is how I approach my games... from a literary/story telling POV. YMMV

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Re: Sin City

 

Interesting input Neil. When I picked up Spycraft the gal at the counter said when they played it they use it for short stories too. We just started some Spycraft characters and we'll see where it goes. Interesting insight though it explains why sequels to many spy/thriller novels/movies seem to fall a bit flat.

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Re: Sin City

 

To have that crime movie/thriller novel/even Sin City feel... there has to be closure. There needs to be a defined arc that the main character moves through... and there is an end of some kind. Likely not a happy ending... but definitely a sense of finality.

 

I agree, sort of. I agree DC games should play more like movies or short novels. A lot of detective novels work well like this. The detective gets hired for lots of jobs, but most are mundane stuff and happen before the book starts or off screen. But then along comes a serious case. It pushes the detective to his limits, very well may get him killed, and could change his life or the life of the people around him forever. That case is the story that gets told.

 

I think DC should work the same way. If your PCs are a SWAT team, you don't need to worry about playing the 6 months between dangerous missions. Maybe have an off session where players talk about what they do over those 6 months (spending their experience?), then right back into another "big" mission, 6 months later.

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Re: Sin City

 

I agree, sort of. I agree DC games should play more like movies or short novels. A lot of detective novels work well like this. The detective gets hired for lots of jobs, but most are mundane stuff and happen before the book starts or off screen. But then along comes a serious case. It pushes the detective to his limits, very well may get him killed, and could change his life or the life of the people around him forever. That case is the story that gets told.

 

I think DC should work the same way. If your PCs are a SWAT team, you don't need to worry about playing the 6 months between dangerous missions. Maybe have an off session where players talk about what they do over those 6 months (spending their experience?), then right back into another "big" mission, 6 months later.

 

Very true, Sbarron. I should have mentioned this as well. Often a character can return to the game, after significant time off, in a fresh manner that provides a new story for that character. I've done that many times, in many genres.

 

I also think the DC type games drive home another literary or film metaphor. While many RPGs treat all PCs as equal protagonists, this really doesn't work from a literary/film/story POV. Most stories focus on one, maybe two protagonists whose arc is being told, though there may be many great characters around them. To this end, many DC style story arcs will probably focus on one or two PCs and their stories, with the others playing supporting roles for that arc.

 

Example... an arc of stories focuses on Johnny Fingers and his war against the crime lord who has his sister strung out on drugs and working as a prostitute... with Val Stunning and Mickey The Fist helping out their pal. It can be a very satisfying story, with Johnny coming to his apotheosis as a man turning from the selfish gambling life to help his family.

 

Next storyline can be about Val Stunning finding out that the man who slaughtered her family and drove her to the life of a mercenary vigilante is being released from prison, and Johnny and Mickey are involved in helping her along in whatever she decides to do... reaching her own apotheosis in a variety of ways (dies trying to get vengeance, realizing it's pointless... achieves vengeance and loses all hope of redemption, fully becoming the ruthless killer she was always meant to be, whatever)

 

Next arc, it is Mickey's turn... assuming all these folks survive long enough.

 

That kind of arc storytelling can stretch out a campaign quite a long time... but it is a distinctive kind of storytelling, and players need to be conscious of their role (either protagonist or supporting) for that arc. It can get messy if Johnny Finger's player keeps trying to do his own thing, and Val doesn't get her story told. It definitely requires mature, companionable players, as it is not like most typcial RPG campaigns.

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Re: Sin City

 

Interesting idea, I never thought about it but most of my "espionage" type games were based around an organization such as the CIA, FBI or fictional organizations such as Bureau 13 or Black Eagle. Characters came and went and came back based on players wanting to try a differant character or bring back an earlier character.

 

From what you are talking about I think of TV shows like CSI or Hill Street Blues where the episodes will focus on one character or another not always revolving around one even though some are clearly more "important" than others compared to a series like Magnum PI, Simon & Simon or CSI Miami where the series is obviously following 1 or 2 characters and the others are strictly supporting roles.

 

Hey KS if you're bored you might try a 7 degrees of Simon & Simon I never could watch that without saying hey its that guy from such and such. :bounce:

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Re: Sin City

 

I've never run a long-term DC game (lots of short ones), but having played in one, I'd agree with some of what is posted here. To get some longevity, but keep the "grim and gritty" atmosphere, you need shorter episodes, but also an overall link.

 

To give you an idea (this is just off the top of my head) - assuming you have a bunch of characters who are not out and out criminals, the starting adventure is likely to be some sort of a get-the-thing/person story. The original Sin City works in this context: someone is killing hookers (and maybe one of the players has seen something they shouldn't, others have lost someone near, etc). Marv's character dies at the conclusion of that novel, but it doesn't have to end like that. The simple fact that a major, major NPC has been removed is going to have a dramatic effect on the campaign and provides both satisfying closure and a plot hook for further links. Working your way up the food chain to get to him could provide enough material for a couple of month's play.

 

You spin off that into (just staying with the books) by (for example) taking a plot similar to the Big Fat Kill. Somebody in Wallenquist's organization knows that it wuz the players that did in the Cardinal and threatens to turn the evidence over to the cops unless the players do what they want - the players have to get their hands on it, make a deal or simply kill enough of Wallenquist's people to make it clear that messing with them will be a painful option. That leaves Wallenquist in play as an adversary or even later on, potential collaborator. The players should get the sense that they are getting "deeper in" to the underworld.

 

For a change of pace, here you can segue into A Dame to Kill For, as someone (doesn't have to be a woman) from one of the player's past comes back needing help. It could be a lover, an old partner, even an old foe with a common enemy. Of course it's a set-up. After several months play, it is very likely that the rest of the PCs will willingly pile in to help: getting out of the setup and getting revenge on the instigator should keep them going for a while.

 

Whatever the players did to get themselves in trouble could pop up later, as the injured group/person takes it personal and sends a hitman. Th eplayers - or most of them - should survive, but now they have to figure out, who and why (cue the plot from Family Business)

 

Obviously if your players have read these, you are going to need to mess the plots around a bit, but if you do that, then it doesn't matter if they recognise specific elements - in fact it will deepen the feel of the game.

 

To keep the game rolling past this point, you're going to need an over-arching plot. It could be that an FBI agent contacts the players and tries to recruit them for a a deep cover, unofficial squad to bring down the big untouchable criminals, who are major NPCs. That could be for real, or it could be another setup, in which the agent is a plant or a dupe being used by one criminal to take down his rivals. Either way it sets up an easy way to link up a number of missions. It might be funny if the agent was a cover for the Harbinger of Justice. What's he going to do when the players blow his cover? What are THEY going to do?

 

Intersperse the grimmer high violence stories with things like finding a disappeared child, mundane issues like getting enough money to live on, an gang of drug dealers moving into the neighbourhood or a dispute between madams in Old Town that threatens to blow up into a gang war, and you could keep this going for a long time.

 

If you stick with noir conventions (everybody's got an agenda, nothing is exactly what it looks like, the good guys don't always wear badges, life is cheap and fast) you should have no problems.

 

cheers, Mark

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Re: Sin City

 

If you are wanting an ongoing series feel from your DC game I'd suggest using Crime Drama from TV or novels as a guide. Usually the PCs have an open ended job that leads to several similar but can still be distinct.

 

Good examples are the Spencer for Hire series from Robert B. Parker, or The Stephanie Plum novels from Janet Evanovich. You could mix these with the usual Usual Sin City plots to have a Private Eye/Federal Marshal/Cop/Bounty hunter etc..etc... get caught up in the mix as these professions have a good excuse to get neck deep in trouble on a regular basis.

 

It seems a key to serialized crime drama is that the characters have a mix of professional and personal reasons to complete the "adventure" and you can have several real life subplots running through the characters "real lives". This can give the adventures continunity, and keep the plots fresh.

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Re: Sin City

 

I think DC should work the same way. If your PCs are a SWAT team' date=' you don't need to worry about playing the 6 months between dangerous missions. Maybe have an off session where players talk about what they do over those 6 months (spending their experience?), then right back into another "big" mission, 6 months later.[/quote']

 

 

IMNSHO the main issue with trying to run things like SWAT teams is that the players can't/won't play the part. It's pretty hard to get players to act as a real team. It's even harder when the way to succeed is to carry out very carefully planned tactics and drills that require very close cooperation, take very little time and don't lend themselves to player creativity. Very few will even have a clue as to how a team clears a building effeciently and most won't really care. At least at first.

 

Without this you will tend to get exciting results, as gunfights at 6 feet are exciting. It really gets the players attention when they start with a PC getting shot in the back of the head by a bad guy because the players have no clue how to cover each other.

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