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Action Scenes!

Action Scene: Kicking Holly Jolly Ass!

by Dan Bayn
Dec 03,2003


Action Scene: Kicking Holly Jolly Ass!

The Blind Man has traced an epidemic of homicidal children to the local shopping mall. All of the murderers had recently been to see Santa. What they didn't know is that Santa has planted a post-hypnotic suggestion in their minds while they sat on his knee. The Blind Man stands on the mall's roof, looking looking down on Santa's Workshop with his sightless eyes. That fake beard can't fool him; it was Override in that red suit.

Too late, the Blind Man senses a whirlwind tearing through the rooftop's feng shui. A tiny scream shatters the night as one of Santa's elves launches himself at our hero. They topple backwards, crashing through the skylight and landing in a plastic sleigh suspended high above the rotunda. The elf, driven mad by weeks of Override's mind control, snarls and leaps at the Blind Man once more...

'Tis the season to be violent! Fa la-la la-la, kick-kick, shoot, die! I've always been attracted to the idea of setting action scenes in suburban locations. Maybe it's the juxtaposition of sanitized Americana with visceral reality. Or maybe I just harbor a seething resentment towards the artificiality of the suburban lifestyle in which I was raised. In either case, the Xmas season only heightens these feelings, thus leading me inexorably to set a fight scene at the mall.

Specifically, at that little rotunda that all American shopping malls set aside for Santa between the 25th days of November and December. Lots of open space surrounded by breakable storefront display windows, prop presents and plastic reindeer scattered all over the place, lots of innocent bystanders just waiting to be taken hostage... it's action sequence gold! If you can find some cheery Xmas music to play in the background, even better.

Holly Jolly Level One - Stage your regularly scheduled gunfight at Santa's Workshop. Getting there can be half the fun. Most of these rotundas will have multi-story overlooks that characters can dive over, fall off of, or repel down from on bungie cords. Many will even have skylights to crash through and shoot out. You can segue into Santa's Workshop from a furniture store or art gallery, as describe in last month's Showroom Showdown.

Once you're on the scene, there's plenty of cover to take advantage of: Dive behind those eight tiny reindeer. Jump on top of Santa's Workshop (there's usually a small building on the set, used for storage). Santa might also have an enormous, throne-like chair you can stand behind while reloading. Oh, and don't forget that gigantic Xmas tree! It's great for hiding behind, throwing mooks into, and knocking over on top of people.

Finally, I should note that many malls invest in parade-like props that have to be suspended by cables from the ceiling. I've seen swans, flying sleighs, presents the size of SUVs, and even some freaky cherubs that looked like they flew straight out of Norman Rockwell's worst nightmare. You can climb on them, swing from them, and cut them loose to crush your foes.

Holly Jolly Level Two - Ditch the guns and explore the exciting world of Xmas-themed improv weapons! Pick up a prop present for all your blocking and bludgeoning needs. Tear off Rudolph's antlers and use them to parry, poke, and pummel. Plastic candy canes make great clubs and quarterstaves. Head back to that Xmas tree and pluck some schrapnelicious Xmas decorations from its branches. There's probably some tinsel on there that you can use as a whip, too.

The dirty tricks department of Santa's Workshop is also fully stocked. There are piles and piles of plastic snow all over the place, just waiting to be thrown or kicked into someone's eyes. You can also blind enemies with that camera they're using to take pictures of all the little children. (Plus, you'll get a great reaction shot to put your Xmas cards!)

Holly Jolly Level Three - Get Santa in on the action by working that right jolly old elf into the plot. Last year, I ran an Unknown Armies game inspired by the Xmas episodes of Futurama. The villain was an insane Santa Claus clockwork and the underworld snitch who was playing his elf in order to put his enemies on the "Naughty List." Clockwork Santa had all kinds of nifty toys in his sack: exploding jacks-in-the-box, tinsel garrote wires, and a chainsaw made to look like a candy cane. I called it "the candysaw."

This last idea might be going too far, but I just can't resist the idea of a car chase featuring a reindeer-driven sleigh! Put your Nemesis Santa in the driver's seat and load the back with his Army of Bloodthirsty Elves (tm). If you don't go for the Evil Santa bit, put your players in the driver's seat (maybe the sleigh is a parade float?) and throw wave after wave of enemy vehicles at them. It's the Road Warrior meets Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

The Genre Mash

I gave it some thought, and I think you'd better stick to modern settings on this one. Malls plus Santa does not equal Fantasy.

Hostile Tactics

You may have noticed that those innocent bystanders were conspicuously absent from the Three Levels of Holly Jolly Ass Kicking. They're a great resource, but really more appropriate for the Black Hats than their bleached counterparts, the PCs. The classic ploy is to put said innocent bystanders in danger to cover their escape. Works on Batman every time. This could be as easy as tossing a grenade into the line of people waiting to see Santa, but knocking that Xmas tree over or cutting those big, hanging props loose might be a bit more creative.

Of course, your villains can also take hostages. Kids are a great choice because they're small and easy to carry (heheh). Personally, I'd take Santa hostage, just for the comedic potential. He can say things like, "Whoa! What do you want for Xmas?" or "You're on my naughty list now, buster!"

If you find yourself in need of more mooks, you can always count on the dedicated men and women of Mall Security. Rent-a-Cops can show up at any time in or around the mall, waving guns and/or night sticks, as the situation may warrant. Fake Bacon have an unerring ability to home in on the good guys, harassing them to no end while the Bad Guys make their getaway. Everybody wins!

Lights, Camera...

The Blind Man rolls backwards to escape the lunatic elf's wild lunge, coming to his feet on the edge of the sleigh. He draws his trusty wakizashi, but the elf grabs his sword arm. Surprisingly strong for his size, the elf manages to whip the short sword around in a wide arc, slicing through the sleigh's support cables. As it lurches sideways, the Blind Man twists his waki down and thrusts it through the elf's foot, pinning him to the sleigh. Then, he backflips off as the entire prop tears loose from its moorings and crashes to the ground, sending mall shoppers fleeing in every direction.

Mall Security is already on the scene by the time the Blind Man slides down the Xmas tree to the snow-covered rotunda floor. They yell "Freeze!" in Dolby Surround Sound, but then Override's mentalism takes hold and they open fire! The Blind Man sprints to the side and dives behind a tiny shed marked "Santa's Workshop." Bullets whiz past his heels, kicking up plumes of fake snow and plastic debris. When they pause to reload, the Blind Man leaps atop the shed, Desert Eagle drawn. Without looking, he fires four shots in four different directions, burying bullets in four femurs. The rent-a-cops fall to the floor, clutching their wounds.

The Blind Man turns his gun on Santa, but the jolly old elf has a gun of his own. It's already pressed against the temple of a toe-headed eight year old boy. "Drop the gun, ya blindfolded freak!" Santa screams. The Blind Man drops his gun into the snow. "This isn't the setting I would've picked for an event as auspicious as your horrible, violent death, "Override muses, "but it'll have to do. Hermy, do the honors."

A teenager in an elf costume pulls an over-sized candy cane from the depths of Santa's sack and advances on the Blind Man. He pulls a ripcord and the candysaw roars to life! The elf slices right through the Workshop's already blasted front wall, collapsing the whole shed. The Blind Man flips over his head, lands behind him, and ducks under a wild swing that sheers off Rudolph's antlers. He snatches them out of the air and parries another swing, turning the candysaw to the side and burying it in the back of Santa's big chair. The elf struggles to pull it free as the Blind Man lands a devastating side kick that sends the elf careening into the Xmas tree. A cloud of cheap decorations and tinsel streamers fills the air.

Four more mall elves rush the Blind Man. He kicks a prop present into the face of one, then blinds the rest with the supercharged flash on the mall camera. He picks up the camera's tripod and swings it baseball bat style into the first elf, knocking him out cold. He turns the back swing into a crouching leg sweep that sends two more into the snow. The last mook brings the red-and-white striped North Pole down in a crushing overhead strike. The Blind Man blocks with his tripod, but it breaks like a twig. He takes it hard on the shoulder, dislocating his arm. He rolls backwards onto his good hand and kicks upward into the elf's chin, snapping his head back at an unnatural angle.

Before he hits the floor, the Blind Man's back on his feet, a length of tinsel in his good hand. He whips it to the side, wrapping it around Override's neck. He jerks it back, yanking Santa away from his hostage. As the mentalist sails through the air, the Blind Man launches into an aerial spin kick that sends Override spiraling into sweet oblivion.

Next Month: Zero-G Martial Arts!

Loath Your Fellow Man

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