Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Modern Day Violence in Whitehack

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo

I've been running a table through a Whitehack spycraft game set in an unclear time in the late 20th century. This is a far cry from the typical faux-medieval milieu, but only a couple of adjustments have been needed to transition from swords and spears to the semi-automatics and machine guns. Remember, keep it fast and nasty.

n.b Whitehack 3e has an optional rule section for "modern and futuristic weapons" already. I used this as a base and combined it with some additional considerations, but it works well enough on its own!

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo


During a frantic firefight, the last thing I want is to count the exact distance when the guns come out.

MV is removed. There are now five broad distance categories: close, short, medium, long, and distant.

  • Close is everything within a couple steps.
  • Short is how far a person can walk in ~10 seconds.
  • Medium is how far a person can run in that ~10 seconds.
  • Long is how far a person can run in a minute.
  • Distant is the distance a person could run in 10 minutes.

These are relative to people. Just replace "person" with "car" or "speedboat" if you need to scale up.

In combat, characters can move up to a short distance with a movement action. Two movement actions let characters move up to a medium distance. Moving within a close distance only needs a small action.

Stolen from Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo


In the vanilla game, equipment burden affects your Movement (MV). We don't have MV so the MV penalties for carrying a ton of junk need adapting. Now, equipment burden affects your ability to act effectively. Strength can still be used to overcome this, however.

Each character has 10 slots for equipment, but the tenth slot may be occupied by a 5-slot backpack or another suitable container, for a total of 14 usable slots. Having high Strength affects your ability to handle equipment beyond your number of slots. 

At the end of each time unit* when you are over-encumbered, you need to pass a Strength task roll or rest for one time unit before doing anything else. If you exceed your maximum load by more than one, you need to pass a Strength task roll to start moving at all, and then again every time unit

The amount you are allowed to exceed your limit by is increased by +1 at Strength 13 and another +1 at Strength 16.

Stolen from Suldokar's Wake.

*Here "time unit" simply refers to whether we're dealing with rounds, turns, days, etc.

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo


These John Woo gifs are no coincidence. Be sure to stretch the phrasing of the Strong's cleave ability to include ranged weapons and enemies adjacent to one another!

Weapons are grouped in large categories for ease of play.

  • Unarmed. 1d3 damage. Punching, kicking, etc.
  • Small. 1d6-1. Brass knuckles, knives, etc.
  • Medium. 1d6. Axes, bats, swords, etc.
  • Large. 1d6+1. Claymores, spears, halberds, etc.
Ranged weapons are grouped similarly.
  • Small. 1d6-1. Medium range. Revolvers, pistols, etc.
  • Medium. 1d6. Long range. Heavy pistols, semi-auto weapons, crossbows, etc.
  • Large. 1d6+1. Distant range. Rifles, shotguns, machine guns, longbows, etc.
For ranged weapons, the given range is its standard range. Weapons can be fired one distance category further away at a -4 AV penalty. Longer shots are nigh impossible.

Small weapons are easy to hide. Large weapons need two hands to wield and are extremely conspicuous. Medium ranged weapons can be used with one hand in a pinch (-2 AV), but often work much better with two.

n. b. Remember that weapons will have other benefits and drawbacks in different circumstances as well. The Referee should consider these and apply Combat Advantage, penalties, and other adjustments as appropriate (e.g. usable in a grapple, reach, armor-piercing, concealable, loud, etc.). Use common sense and discussion.

These make most weapons quite easy, but may not properly portray everything!

E.g. a shotgun could do 1d6+1, but would have a short range. A flamethrower could hit everyone in a cone up to short range for 1d6 if they fail a save. Crossbows can fire every other round. Black powder muskets may fire once every three rounds. Modify to fit whatever you're thinking of.

Stolen from Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo


Don't stand out in the open in a firefight. Take cover.

  • Cover stops bullets. Characters hiding behind cover cannot be hit by direct fire.

  • Partial Cover is when characters attack from behind cover. -4 AV to hit a target behind partial cover.

  • Concealment hides you from attackers. -2 AV to hit a target behind concealment.

Armor grants AC as normal, but we're not dealing with chainmail or plate suits.

  • Light. AC 2. Civilian-grade protective armor such as that provided by leathers or layers of heavy cloth.
  • Medium. AC 4. The more obvious type of body armor, like a security-grade tactical outfit or bulletproof vest.
  • Heavy. AC 6. Heavy-duty military-grade tactical body armor; impossible to hide and extremely protective.

Armor and cover may not always apply during all types of attacks. Use common sense and discussion.

Some other quick additions that have come up:

  • Explosives deal full damage to everyone in close range and half as much within short range. Those who can dive for cover can save to avoid damage.
  • Incendiaries catch a target on fire unless a save is made; 1d6 damage per round until put out.
  • Let the Strong's cleave ability include ranged weapons and enemies adjacent to one another.
  • Use the 3e rules for Burst and Full Auto for automatic weapons (pp.84-85).
  • Ammo isn't tracked exactly. Use the 3e rules for abstract ammo (pp.84-85).
  • Add the Suppressive Fire special combat option from 3e (pp.84-85).
  • Add the Spray Ability for the Strong to choose from in 3e (pp.84-85).