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Anyone ever run a game in the 1920s or 1930s gangster era?

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  • Anyone ever run a game in the 1920s or 1930s gangster era?

    Something struck me in that has anyone ever run a game in the 1920s or 1930s gangster era in the US? The more I think about it the more I like the idea of Kindred going into organized crime in order to make big money from bootlegging, bank robberies and the like in an era where police work was perhaps not as sophisticated as today and poverty was even more ever presence than in today's world.

  • #2
    Yes. I ran a one-shot based thematically on O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the results were amazing. The setup was a coterie of neonates stole a truckload of hooch from the Chicago Outfit, since Capone had just landed in jail, to run to Indianapolis for New Year's in 1932, since the end of Prohibition was in sight. It was a two-bit con man Ventrue, Brujah and Gangrel muscle, a Toreador wheelman, and a ludicrously racist Malkavian (derangement: paranoid) as the lookout. The Ventrue had set the booze heist up, and was the only person to actually know they were stealing Capone's hooch.

    They stole the liquor, and their truck overheated and broke down halfway to Indy; they hiked to a tent revival, stole a couple trucks, got into a car chase through a corn field featuring a Tommy gun-wielding preacher that resulted in a multiple car pileup thanks to an hilariously awful botch on the preacher's part. They loaded the hooch onto the new trucks, stopped at a gas station to steal fuel where the Malkavian got into a fight (and was losing, badly, until he frenzied) with the gas station attendant, ended up in a gun fight with the local sheriff because the attendant called the cops, and made their way to Indy. When they got to the speakeasy they were selling their hooch to, they found out it was being run by a Sabbat pack, and the Sabbat had set the whole thing up with the intent to snack on some Cammies. They took out the Sabbat pack, were hailed as heroes, Indy's Prince told them he'd smooth things over with the Chicago Outfit on their behalf, and offered the speakeasy as Domain to take legit once Prohibition was repealed.
    Last edited by Theodrim; 06-24-2018, 01:28 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
      Yes. I ran a one-shot based thematically on O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the results were amazing. The setup was a coterie of neonates stole a truckload of hooch from the Chicago Outfit, since Capone had just landed in jail, to run to Indianapolis for New Year's in 1932, since the end of Prohibition was in sight. It was a two-bit con man Ventrue, Brujah and Gangrel muscle, a Toreador wheelman, and a ludicrously racist Malkavian (derangement: paranoid) as the lookout. The Ventrue had set the booze heist up, and was the only person to actually know they were stealing Capone's hooch.

      They stole the liquor, and their truck overheated and broke down halfway to Indy; they hiked to a tent revival, stole a couple trucks, got into a car chase through a corn field featuring a Tommy gun-wielding preacher that resulted in a multiple car pileup thanks to an hilariously awful botch on the preacher's part. They loaded the hooch onto the new trucks, stopped at a gas station to steal fuel where the Malkavian got into a fight (and was losing, badly, until he frenzied) with the gas station attendant, ended up in a gun fight with the local sheriff because the attendant called the cops, and made their way to Indy. When they got to the speakeasy they were selling their hooch to, they found out it was being run by a Sabbat pack, and the Sabbat had set the whole thing up with the intent to snack on some Cammies. They took out the Sabbat pack, were hailed as heroes, Indy's Prince told them he'd smooth things over with the Chicago Outfit on their behalf, and offered the speakeasy as Domain to take legit once Prohibition was repealed.
      That sounds like a hilariously cool game. I definietly will count this as a major inspiration source for any games in the period that I might set up if I get my research done and my group interested.

      Again, thanks for sharing.

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      • #4
        Once I ran a Technocracy game where we time-traveled to the Dust Bowl in order to share our knowledge of the nitrogen cycle and save everyone.

        Not a Vampire game, but still relevant?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post

          That sounds like a hilariously cool game. I definietly will count this as a major inspiration source for any games in the period that I might set up if I get my research done and my group interested.

          Again, thanks for sharing.
          No problem. I'd take it with a grain of salt, since I was playing for laughs, thus I put my PC's through comically-exaggerated circumstances but trying to keep it grounded. Easily the funniest moment in the game was the gas station brawl. They had to turn the gas pumps on, so they sent the Malkie into the gas station figuring there was no way he could fuck it up.

          He got in there, got the pumps on, but screwed up his stealth roll to get out (and the Obfuscate roll to remain hidden). The (black) attendant was bordering in the station, woke up, and called the sheriff. He grabbed a broom and went to run the Malkie, who mind is racist and paranoid, out of the shop. Thus, the fight was on.

          The gas station attendant, I decided, wasn't a physical character -- I gave him a melee pool of three. Neither was the Malkie, who had all 2's in physicals and no combat abilities save one dot in Athletics. The Malkie player realized with his dot of Athletics, he'll get more mileage out of thrown weapons than trying to brawl the gas station attendant who was wielding a(n improvised) weapon. Of course, having no weapons of his own, the Malkie had to improvise too.

          The other characters heard a hell of a ruckus in the station, and looked inside to see this gas station attendant chasing the Malkie around with a broom, who was throwing canned food at the attendant, while they both screamed racial epithets at each other. The characters stopped to watch the Malkie get his ass kicked for being racist, and they were so enraptured they forgot to gas up the trucks. The attendant got a few good whacks in, causing the Malkie to frenzy. He finally got hold of the attendant, at which point the others decided to put a stop to it.

          Too little, too late, since the sheriff showed up in the meantime. So, they had to kill the sheriff; then and only then they thought to gas up the trucks, drag the frenzied Malkavian out, and go.
          Last edited by Theodrim; 06-24-2018, 02:19 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

            No problem. I'd take it with a grain of salt, since I was playing for laughs, thus I put my PC's through comically-exaggerated circumstances but trying to keep it grounded. Easily the funniest moment in the game was the gas station brawl. They had to turn the gas pumps on, so they sent the Malkie into the gas station figuring there was no way he could fuck it up.

            He got in there, got the pumps on, but screwed up his stealth roll to get out (and the Obfuscate roll to remain hidden). The (black) attendant was bordering in the station, woke up, and called the sheriff. He grabbed a broom and went to run the Malkie, who mind is racist and paranoid, out of the shop. Thus, the fight was on.

            The gas station attendant, I decided, wasn't a physical character -- I gave him a melee pool of three. Neither was the Malkie, who had all 2's in physicals and no combat abilities save one dot in Athletics. The Malkie player realized with his dot of Athletics, he'll get more mileage out of thrown weapons than trying to brawl the gas station attendant who was wielding a(n improvised) weapon. Of course, having no weapons of his own, the Malkie had to improvise too.

            The other characters heard a hell of a ruckus in the station, and looked inside to see this gas station attendant chasing the Malkie around with a broom, who was throwing canned food at the attendant, while they both screamed racial epithets at each other. The characters stopped to watch the Malkie get his ass kicked for being racist, and they were so enraptured they forgot to gas up the trucks. The attendant got a few good whacks in, causing the Malkie to frenzy. He finally got hold of the attendant, at which point the others decided to put a stop to it.

            Too little, too late, since the sheriff showed up in the meantime. So, they had to kill the sheriff; then and only then they thought to gas up the trucks, drag the frenzied Malkavian out, and go.
            That's freaking brilliant. A grain of salt may be needed, but my group is more into urban fantasy than angst anyway. In fact I can't recall a single character they've made that felt becoming a vampire was a loss in any way.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Froggo View Post
              Once I ran a Technocracy game where we time-traveled to the Dust Bowl in order to share our knowledge of the nitrogen cycle and save everyone.

              Not a Vampire game, but still relevant?
              I'd need a little more info on your actions before I can say if its relevant or not.

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              • #8
                If you are running Vampires in a Prohibition era game, I will give one cautionary notion. Remember that moonshine is usually on par with gasoline with how flammable it is, so fire based frenzy issues might be more common than you first think. Tommy guns spraying down a large distillery or a truck full of booze can have.....unfortunate results for kindred.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Thoth View Post
                  If you are running Vampires in a Prohibition era game, I will give one cautionary notion. Remember that moonshine is usually on par with gasoline with how flammable it is, so fire based frenzy issues might be more common than you first think. Tommy guns spraying down a large distillery or a truck full of booze can have.....unfortunate results for kindred.
                  I like the sound of that. Unlife as a gangster isn't and shouldn't be easy, but hard, fast and dangerous.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gurkhal View Post

                    That's freaking brilliant. A grain of salt may be needed, but my group is more into urban fantasy than angst anyway. In fact I can't recall a single character they've made that felt becoming a vampire was a loss in any way.
                    Not to toot my own horn, but a lot of the comedy was in the narration. I was narrating the fight between the Malkavian and the gas station attendant -- to the Malkie player -- with all the grandiosity and gravity I could muster, playing it up like it was a chronicle-ending climactic final battle straight out of Exalted or Scion, with nothing short of the fate of all creation at stake. To the other players, "some dude is chasing the Malkavian with a broom. The Malkavian's throwing cans at him."

                    Toying with perception is always a fantastic trick, especially when the stakes are extremely low and/or one or more involved characters are comically inept. In the Vamp game I'm in now, I'm playing this high humanity, new age eco-hippie, Telyavelic Tremere, and I've told my ST if I want one thing out of the chronicle, I want it to be a car chase. She drives a Smart

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                    • #11
                      Fifteen years ago I think my group from that time tried this.
                      All players were italians in real life, and so inevitably most of the characters were italian-americans gangster stereotypes with funny accents. Except for the guy that wanted to play an assamite katana-wielding asian short girl, because he wanted to play his halfling female rogue even outside D&D or something like that.
                      I don't remember much of the game. It lasted just a few sessions. Funny accents are fun for a while but they become old fast, and making crimes for the sake of it too. We didn't have much motivated characters to jumpstart a proper campaign
                      Also in a little group having a player that doesn't jump on the collective fun-wagon isn't helpful, especially if the whole point of the campaign is that same fun-wagon


                      101 simple plot ideas for VtM

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                        Not to toot my own horn, but a lot of the comedy was in the narration. I was narrating the fight between the Malkavian and the gas station attendant -- to the Malkie player -- with all the grandiosity and gravity I could muster, playing it up like it was a chronicle-ending climactic final battle straight out of Exalted or Scion, with nothing short of the fate of all creation at stake. To the other players, "some dude is chasing the Malkavian with a broom. The Malkavian's throwing cans at him."

                        Toying with perception is always a fantastic trick, especially when the stakes are extremely low and/or one or more involved characters are comically inept. In the Vamp game I'm in now, I'm playing this high humanity, new age eco-hippie, Telyavelic Tremere, and I've told my ST if I want one thing out of the chronicle, I want it to be a car chase. She drives a Smart
                        True that and it sounds like an uncommon and fun Tremere character.

                        Originally posted by Ravnos View Post
                        Fifteen years ago I think my group from that time tried this.
                        All players were italians in real life, and so inevitably most of the characters were italian-americans gangster stereotypes with funny accents. Except for the guy that wanted to play an assamite katana-wielding asian short girl, because he wanted to play his halfling female rogue even outside D&D or something like that.
                        I don't remember much of the game. It lasted just a few sessions. Funny accents are fun for a while but they become old fast, and making crimes for the sake of it too. We didn't have much motivated characters to jumpstart a proper campaign
                        Also in a little group having a player that doesn't jump on the collective fun-wagon isn't helpful, especially if the whole point of the campaign is that same fun-wagon
                        True that, you need something to hook the players on but I feel that my group is pretty dedicated. Besides there's always the many comforts of unlife that lots of money can buy you and the sheer feeling of having people look to you with fear or respect should make it worth it for neonates used to being pushed around by elders and ancillae, older Kindred who in most cases are to stagnant to latch on to this, a bit over a decade, of big money for daring and clever gangsters.

                        If its going to be a longer campaign I feel that there are ways to tie success in the criminal world into improvements in the characters' unlives.

                        EDITED: Remove some needless parts.
                        Last edited by Gurkhal; 06-25-2018, 11:33 AM.

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                        • #13
                          I set one in LA, and one of the subplots was about various vampires meddling with the attempt to make a sequel to Universal's Dracula.


                          Craig Oxbrow
                          The Trinity Continuum freelancer

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Craig Oxbrow View Post
                            I set one in LA, and one of the subplots was about various vampires meddling with the attempt to make a sequel to Universal's Dracula.
                            Interesting. How did that go?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Craig Oxbrow View Post
                              I set one in LA, and one of the subplots was about various vampires meddling with the attempt to make a sequel to Universal's Dracula.
                              Honestly, I never quite understood that impulse as pertains to the Masquerade. While it was only named in the information age, the Streisand Effect's always been around in one form or another, and even elders must be well aware of the notion censorship draws attention, and the cover up is always worse than the crime. The only real argument one could make, is the Inquisition and Anarch Revolt was such a collective trauma on Cainites they overcorrected, forcing hunters to change tact and provoking the Sabbat to exploit said overcorrection as a glaring weakness on the Camarilla's part. But, the Inquisition was so wildly successful not because all vampires, everywhere, were acting like fools, but because of their modern investigative methods, diligent record-keeping, and strong bureaucracy.

                              What vampires would (well, should) have realized quickly with the publication of Dracula and Carmilla, is that popularization as fiction reinforces the Masquerade as opposed to breaks it. I mean, they were freakin' porn novels, the subtext and taboo of the subtext pretty much ensured they wouldn't be taken seriously as non-fictional works by any stretch of the imagination, even in the World of Darkness. People yammering on about vampires could be safely dismissed as nutters who can't tell the difference between reality and fiction. I can't imagine the panic -- which undoubtedly would have been a thing considering the impact of the Malleus Maleficarum -- over the novel(s) lasting any longer than vampires picking the novel up and reading it.

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