DC Adventures Design Journal #6

A Knight in Gotham

In one of our recent Design Journals, we looked at a full DC Adventures character. This week, we take a look at characters in action, with the Dark Knight Detective himself, Batman!

The middle of the night in the industrial district of Gotham City. Shadowy figures load a truck backed into the loading dock of the chemical plant while steam wafts among the metal catwalks and beams overhead. A shadow passes across the dirty window, backlit by the nearly full moon outside.

“C’mon, hurry up!” one of the rough-looking men calls to the others. “We gotta get this stuff loaded before…”

He trails off as a shadow spreads out from the end of the truck, falling over the men hurrying to load it, a shadow that spreads dark wings out to encompass them.

“Aw, no…” one of them whispers.

Round 1

Investigating the Joker’s latest scheme, Batman has tracked the Clown Prince of Crime to a supposedly shut-down chemical plant, which now appears to be anything but. Knowing the Joker intends to poison the city, Batman wastes no time getting to the plant.

Taking the Dark Knight’s routine Stealth check value of 30 into account, compared to the routine Perception value of 11 for the men loading the truck, the Gamemaster allows him to approach undetected without the need for a die roll. She describes the scene of the men loading up an eighteen-wheeler.

Batman’s Player: I stand on top of the truck, casting a shadow down over the men to intimidate them.

GM: Roll your Initiative.

Player (rolls a 15): With my +11, that’s 26.

GM: (nods and rolls a 7) You beat them easily. You also surprise them, so you get a free standard action.

Player: I’ll make that a move action to jump down from the truck into their midst.

Batman’s routine Athletics check value of 24 is more than enough to jump down from the back of the truck as his move action, so the GM does not call for a die roll.

Round 2

GM: The thugs all gasp and you hear one of them mutter “Aw, no…” they reflexively step back a bit, but otherwise hardly move. Your turn again.

Player: I’m going to take out the closest one.

GM: You want to make a routine attack check?

Player (grins): Ah, minions! Yeah, I’m going to go for the Takedown, too, so I’ll Power Attack, full +5.

Since the thugs are minions, Batman gets to make attacks against them as routine checks. His routine check value with his unarmed attack is 30. Even with the -5 modifier from his Power Attack, more than enough to beat the thugs’ Parry defense value of 12. Since they are minions, a failed Toughness resistence check automatically takes them out of the fight, and since Batman has the Takedown advantage, he can follow a successful attack with another against an additional thug within reach.

GM (rolls 1 and 10, for Toughness 4 and 14, both failures): You easily take out the two guys nearest to the end of the truck. How do you do it?

Player: I land, then rise up, menacingly. I lunge into one guy, grabbing him in an arm-lock, and then twist to throw him into the other one, the two of them going down in a heap at the edge of the loading dock.

The player’s description is just for color, but the GM nods approvingly at the added detail.

GM: You’ve still got a move action.

Player: I’ll move towards the other guys.

GM: Now the four remaining thugs get to go. One reaches for a gun, but another guy yells, “Don’t, you might hit the gas!” and the other three rush you, swinging wildly.

The GM makes attack checks for the three thugs. Rather than make them all separately, she decides to give them a team check: two of the thugs roll their +2 attack bonus against DC 10; one gets a 16, the other an 11, for a total of three degrees of success. That’s enough to give the third thug a +5 circumstance bonus on his attack check. The GM rolls an 18! With his +2 attack and +5 circumstance bonus, the thug has a total of 25 … which just manages to beat Batman’s Parry defense class of 24!

GM: Two of the guys box you in and the third manages to connect with a sock to the jaw. Give me a Damage Resistance Check.

Player: (rolls a 9) I got a 17.

The GM compares this against the thug’s Strength 2 Damage. The resistance check is a success, right on the nose.

GM: It was little more than a graze. No damage.

Round 3

Player: HA! I turn and glare at the guy who just tagged me and demoralize them. I’m going to take a -5 on my Intimidation and do it as a move action. (rolls) I get a 27.

Compared against the thugs’ Will DC of 11, that’s four degrees of success, enough to disable them (-5 check penalty until the end of Batman’s next turn).

GM: They’re clearly rethinking the wisdom of their actions.

Player: Good. Now I take ’em down! Power Attack again!

Three of the thugs are within reach, and Batman’s routine attack check is enough to hit all of them. The GM rolls Toughness checks against DC 24: all failures.

GM: How do you do it?

Player: I duck under the guy’s next wild swing so he hits one of his friends and knocks him out cold. Then I kick that guy in the stomach, putting him down. When his other buddy comes up behind me, I do that thing where I bring my arm up and hit him without even looking back, keeping focused on the fourth guy who was going for his gun.

GM: (laughs) Okay, they go down. Just one guy left. He’s backed into a corner and looks scared out of his wits. What do you do?

Round 4

The GM has decided that the remaining thug is too scared to do anything and that it’s time to wrap this fight up, so she goes to the player’s turn again.

Player: I loom over the guy, knocking aside his gun, if he goes for it. Then I grab him by the lapels, holding him against the wall and say, “Where’s the Joker?”

GM: Sweat is pouring off the thug as he tries to swallow, eyes darting around, “He… he…” he stammers.

(in a different voice) “Yoo-hoo! Batsy!” a voice calls from the catwalk above. The Joker is up there! He has a gun out and leveled in your direction.

Player: I toss the thug aside. “It’s over, Joker!”

GM: The Clown Prince of Crime gives an exaggerated pout. “Oh, and we were going to have such fun! You need to lighten up, Bats, have a few laughs!” Then he points the gun and pulls the trigger…

Player: (grabs the die, prepared to take action)

GM: … and a flag with a big “BANG!” sign pops out of the gun.

Player: I draw a Batarang to take the Joker down.

GM: The Joker laughs maniacally. “Didn’t get the joke?” he asks. “Don’t worry, this one’ll kill you!” He pulls the trigger with both hands, and the little flag shoots out of the gun like an arrow! It misses you by a mile, but it hits one of the metal canisters sitting on the dock waiting to be loaded into the truck.

Player: Uh-oh…

GM: A cloud of white gas hisses out of the punctured canister, quickly engulfing you! I need a Fortitude resistance check!

Player: (rolls an 11) I got a 20.

The GM compares this result against the rank of the Joker venom in the canisters (10). That’s a DC of 20. Just enough!

GM: You manage to clap a hand over your mouth and nose just in time as you reach for the rebreather in your utility belt. The white cloud of mist covers the loading dock and you hear the sound of laughter and a truck engine starting up! You emerge from the cloud to see the truck pulling away, with the remaining thug at the wheel and the Joker hanging out of the passenger side of the cab, the open door swinging. He grins and waves at you. “Be sure to catch my encore act, Bat-breath! It’ll have everyone in stitches! HAHAHAHAHA!”

Player: I grab my grapple-gun and shoot it at the truck’s bumper!

GM: Make a ranged attack check. You can use your Batarang value.

Player: (rolls a 2) Um… 16?

Luckily for the player, only a roll of 1 would have missed a target as big as the truck.

GM: Good enough. The grapple drives into the edge of the metal just as the truck accelerates towards the highway on-ramp. It might be in there a little loosely, though. The cable spools out and snaps taunt.

Player: Oh boy.

GM: (grinning) Better hold on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Can Batman stop the Joker before he escapes with his cargo of deadly gas? What does the Clown of Chaos have planned for Gotham City? Only the Gamemaster knows for sure…

All characters, their distinctive likenesses, and related elements are trademarks of DC Comics © 2010. All rights reserved.

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.

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