Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tommy's Take on BADASS

I was gonna do this last night, but had a nice storm roll in that knocked me offline. BADASS is the free RPG by Stargazer Games, this one by Jay Steven Anyong, who has his own gaming blog over here.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: BADASS is completely free, and only 28 pages, although the author does do a really good job of putting a lot into those pages. The basic premise of BADASS is that the rule of cool trumps logic, meant to just be completely over the top and crazy.

Character creation is pretty basic: You name your character, give them a Defining Moment and pick the type of Badass you are: Kickass, Smartass or Wiseass, with each having a specialty (like kicking ass, being smart or being witty). From there, your characters are mostly defined by their two Flavas, like being a Robot and a Ninja or a Cinematic Disability (like being blind, except an asskicker). There are even Metagame Flavas, like being able to force an arm wrestling match instead of a die roll once per session, or being able to bribe the GM with snacks and the like.

The base mechanic entails rolling 2d6 against a Target Value: If you roll Snake Eyes, you fail badly...if you roll Boxcars (2 6's), you succeed spectacularly. You get a Badass point, extra damage on a successful attack roll, or turning a failed attack into a success. Badass Points can be used to add 1d6 to your die rolls, or power your Flavas. You can gain more Badass Points a few ways out of combat, like Flashbacks and Training Montages, and in combat you can use One liners, show off, trash talk, etc to get more Badass Points in a pinch (although you get less off of "Running on Fumes" - getting points in combat - than you do outside of combat). Running out of Badass points turns your Badass into an Average Joe.

You can also inflict Setbacks on yourself...forcing bad stuff to happen to you in one scene, so you can then trigger the Badass Points you "lost" as automatic sixes in the next scene.

Initiative uses a bidding system, where all Badasses (PCs and NPCs) get to bid Badass Points to determine who goes first. Combat is a a matter of comparing die rolls for attack and defense, with each four points of difference in Attack and Defense rolls being a level of damage.

As you spend Badass Points, you build toward Awesomeness...every 30 Awesomeness you hit, you get a new Flava.

The GM section does toss in a few, paragraph long variants outside of the standard modern setting, like Fantasy Badass and Scary Badass.

A sample setting, Central City, is also given...basically two pages of rough and tumble modern city stuff.

Four standard mook types are also given, to give you an idea about how to do some mook modeling.

WHAT WORKS: It reminds me a little of WUSHU, but better, in the sense that there is more of a "game" to it, and I oddly like my games to have "game" to them. A good amount of text in the 28 pages, so this doesn't feel at all just thrown together. I could definitely see supplements detailing Flavas, Mooks and so on for Fantasy and Scary type games.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The term "Flava" really bugs me, but that's just a personal thing. On one hand, it's a tad too "meta" at parts for me to take seriously, but then, it also explicitly says it's not a serious game. Providing advancement rules for what seems to be a pick-up game seems odd, but I also realize that advancement rules would have been the first thing brought up if they hadn't been included.

CONCLUSION: BADASS certainly isn't the first attempt at modeling crazy, action movie stuff, and it won't be the last, although the "Average Joe" stuff is certainly unique, as far as I can recall. I don't like it quite as much as I do WRM or RAG, as I like at least a bit more detail in my games than this, but a couple of swell supplements like WRM had (and this is released under a Creative Commons license) and I could easily change my tune. This is one of those games I'd like to try, but I'm worried about, because I think the bits used to trigger more Badass Points could get old, fast, although the fact that they are all limited to once per fight or once per session certainly helps. Good effort, but from reading it feels both like it could be a bit tighter and a bit beefier...then, I think, it would really shine.