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52 Pick Up: Reshuffled. A New Game each, err... month or so

Cross-Country Crime Spree!

by Erik Lee, selected by Chris Czerniak
November 30, 2001
Ace of Clubs

Welcome to 52 Pick up Reshuffled. This column is an outlet for readers of rpg.net to publish their games as columns. I encourage everyone to write a game. Visit my submissions guidelines for more details!  


Let's face it, the pressures of modern society can be just too much to bear sometimes. Sometimes you just have to break away from your boring life and do something spontaneous.

All right, it's time for a crime spree.

This game is for 2-4 players. The idea is simple. Each player controls a PC (Player Criminal), going from state to state trying to rack up a criminal record without being caught. The winner is the one who finishes with the best list of atrocities to his-or-her name.

The players will need a map of the U.S. that has state outlines with the states labelled, to serve as a game board. Each player should have some scrap paper to write notes on, a writing utensil to make those notes with, a six-sided die and a twenty-sided die. Colored pencils or pens might make things easier, as well.

For simplicity's sake, this map should suffice. The states aren't labeled, but you can do that yourself. Or don't. It's not like I'm coming to your house and checking whether or not your game map is labeled or not. Unless you live in Denver. And only if I can get there by bus.

You'll find out what this is for when you read the rules.
  1. Dog
  2. Convenience Store
  3. Mother of Three
  4. Bank
  5. Nun
  6. High-ranking Government Official
  1. Inconvenienced
  2. Assaulted
  3. Robbed
  4. Kidnapped
  5. Shot Up
  6. Brutally Slain

ORDER OF PLAY Each player rolls his or her six-sided die. The highest roller wins. Players tied for highest roll against each other until one winner is established. That player goes first. Play continues in a clockwise fashion around the game board. Simple.

And now, at last... THE RULES Each player should start in an opposite corner of the U.S. For instance, if there are two players, one might start in Florida and the other in Washington. If there are three, one could be in Washington, one in Maine, and one in Texas. You get the idea.

Play is broken up into rounds. Each round is divided into turns. Each player gets one turn per round. Each player's turn is divided like this:

  1. Start crime spree (only at the beginning of the game)
  2. Roll on Felony Table or design crime OR change state
  3. Johnny Law roll
  4. Player is either tossed in jail or collects points for the crime
  5. Next player's turn

To begin the game, each player, in turn, rolls on the Felony Table to get their crime spree started. To roll on the Felony Table, roll a six-sided die once for "Who?" and once for "What?". This tells you what kind of crime you committed in a splashy headline-style format. (All right, "Shot Up" doesn't make its way into too many headlines, but I like the way it sounded. So there.) The first crime in your state is a freebie, there are no legal repercussions yet. Once everyone has had their first crime and is off to a good start, the REAL fun begins.

Each player can either roll on the Felony Table or design his-or-her own crime. Random crimes are less risky, but bring less reward. Planned crimes can score the PC more points, but there is a big risk of getting caught by the law. Each random crime that the PC gets away with gives the PC a number of points equal to their listing on the Felony Table. For instance, Dog Assaulted gives the PC three points while Mother of Three Shot Up gives the PC eight points. For a planned crime, take the base number of points for the crime and add two. Now Dog Assaulted is worth five points while Mother of Three Shot Up nets ten. Pattern crimes also make things a bit harder for the PC. Those will be explained later.

Some of you may now be asking just how it's possible to brutally slay a bank or a convenience store. It takes a lot of bullets. It just does, okay. And don't even talk to me about how hard it is to kidnap a bank.

Where was I? Oh yeah...


Of course, the authorities aren't going to just sit around scarfing down breakfast pastries while someone goes around kidnapping nuns and brutally slaying convenience stores. For that we have the Johnny Law roll. For the Johnny Law roll, the player whose turn is next rolls his-or-her twenty-sided die against each crime carried out by the current player's PC. If the roll is less than the number of points the crime is worth, then the authorities have caught up to the PC and ended their reign of terror. If the roll is more than the number of points the crime is worth, then the PC gets away scot-free. If the roll is equal, the PC still gets away, but only after a really exciting chase that leaves at least three police cruisers overturned on the freeway.

There are some exceptions to the Johnny Law roll. The first one is the PC's first crime, which is free. The second is when the PC goes into a new state. For the first crime in a new state, the Johnny Law roll is halved, rounding down. The state police have heard of you, but really don't expect you to be foolish enough to enter their jurisdiction. At least, not until their favorite bank gets kidnaped. Then the kid gloves come off and are replaced with more grown-up gloves. Probably leather ones. Another exception is with pattern crimes. A pattern crime means the PC has committed the same crime three times or more in a row. A pattern crime increases the Johnny Law roll by one point. It's also an extra point for the player whose PC gets away with it.

The last exception is when a PC tries a crime in a state where another PC has already committed two or more crimes and left. When that happens, the difficulty of the roll is still equal to the base points of the crime, but the player only gets half the number of points for committing it as he or she normally would. (The law is starting to pay attention to all these hoodlums racing across the U.S. inconveniencing their mothers of three and cracks down. Plus it's just not as fun when your victims have seen it all before.). CHANGING STATES

Now let's say that a player thinks the heat is coming down a little too heavy and wants to hightail it out of there to another state. Simple. For that player's turn, instead of committing a crime, that player announces a change of state. After a really exciting chase where at least three police cruisers have been left overturned on the freeway, the player then moves his-or-her PC into a neighboring state and the player's turn is over.

When two or more PC's are in a state at the same time, nothing special happens. There is plenty of honor amongst thieves, kidnappers, brutal slayers, etc. If more than one player commits the same crime in a round, they just happen to meet up at the same location, have a nice informal chat, then split up after an exciting chase where at least three police cruisers are left overturned on the freeway. If some PC's leave the state and some remain, give the remaining PC's half points for their crimes as explained above.

When a PC is finally caught by Johnny Law, the PC's player tallies up his-or-her points and does nothing for the rest of the game until all the players' PC's have been caught. When that happens, the winner is determined by which player has the most points. Simple.

ALTERNATE GOALS Instead of trying for points, you could try reaching another goal instead. Here are a couple of examples.

This is my first game design write-up. I apologize for any disorientation you may experience from trying to make sense of these rules. I never playtested this either. I love you. I'm really interested in your feedback and comments. I'm especially interested in how it came out for anyone who tries to play this game. Feel free to e-mail me at peckules@hotmail.com, preferably after an exciting chase which leaves at least police cruisers left overturned on the freeway. Thanks for your time!

Erik Lee
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What do you think?

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Reshuffled: 52 Pick Up, edited by Chris Czerniak

52 Pick Up original run, by Gareth-Michael Skarka

Other columns at RPGnet

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