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Action Scenes!

Action Scene: Showroom Showdown

by Dan Bayn
Nov 12,2003


Action Scene: Showroom Showdown

Due to an unfortunate incident involving a Brazilian narco-terrorist and a pair of assault rifles, Saul "The Hammer" Hamilton finds himself shopping for a new dining room set. Unfortunately, the Brazilians anticipated his home furnishing needs and positioned a small army of gun-toting goons in the local Pier 2 to ambush him. Saul's taking a particularly comfortable chair and table set for a test drive when the place explodes in a whirlwind of lead and wicker!

As promised, this month's (belated) installment is dedicated to high-flying, Hong Kong style gunfights. It's all in honor of the Wushu Guide to Gun-Fu, which hit the web last month. The usual battle grounds include dance clubs, dark alleys, warehouses, and dock yards. These places are littered with furniture, boxes, crates, and other miscellaneous obstacles to dive over and/or take cover behind. Breakable materials are essential: glass, ceramic, wood, plaster... anything that erupts into a cloud of slow-motion debris when hit by a few hundred stray bullets. Interestingly, you can also find these things in a variety of commercial showrooms...

The Furniture Store - A big, open room full of desks, chairs, beds, and dressers, bookshelves, and glass. What more could you ask for? You can use the beds as trampolines, tip over the tables for cover, and crouch behind pretty much everything else while you reload. Breakables include ceramic lamps, dressing mirrors, kitchen sets, and anything that's made out of wood (which is pretty much everything). You can explode a few pillows and cushions to fill the air with clouds of downy feathers, too. Trust me, it's a cool visual effect.

The Auto Show - The natural inclination when faced with a gunfight in an automotive showroom is to segue into a car chase. That's certainly a good idea (more game sessions should incorporate car chases), but I implore you to stick around long enough to shoot the place up nice and good, first. As any police training manual will tell you, cars make serviceable bullet shields. They also contain plenty of easily shattered glass. With so many packed into a single space, you should be able to run, jump, and crawl around to your heart's content. Remember to throw in some of the more exotic models: sports cars, recreational vehicles, concept cars, limos, etc.

The Museum - Lots of fragile antiques, glass display cases, and velvet ropes with those heavy brass caps on the ends. For additional melee fun, put in an exhibit on medieval weaponry. Other common exhibit themes include the Pyramids (sarcophagi to use as cover, miniature monuments to climb on), the Dinosaurs (fake foliage to stalk enemies through, sauropod necks to hang upside-down from while you unload a clip), and Art (fragile vases, sculptures to hide behind or knock over, paintings to shoot through with reckless abandon).

The Genre Mash

The mechanics of the showroom showdown should not vary significantly across genres. It's the guns that vary. Sci-Fi guns work a lot like modern guns, but they tend to produce a lot more "pretty lights" (thanks to generous FX budgets). The auto showroom location will probably feature hovering cars, which makes them easy to push around as mobile cover or improvised ramrods. An amusing gimmick for any museum of the future is to feature an exhibit of "artifacts" from the present day: N'Sync lunch boxes, talking Picachu dolls, documentaries on "Friends" or "Survivor." Just toss in the reference, then blast those antiques back to Hell!

Fantasy games will suffer a marked lack of retail showrooms. However, rich people have devoted large rooms to the display of collector's items since the dawn of economic inequality. Trophy rooms cover a lot of ground, from big game (like the Dinosaur exhibit, but with large mammals) to melee-friendly weapons collections. There's also a lot of potential in the stereotypical Wizard's Laboratory: glass specimen jars, delicate alchemical apparatus, massive desks and tables piled high with books. However, you'll still need an actual gun for the showdown half of the showroom showdown. I'll recommend a limited use magic item I'm calling the Wand of Many Friggin Missiles (tm). It's basically the sci-fi gun, but without a trigger. Enjoy!

Hostile Tactics

Showrooms are great places to slap into the middle of a larger action sequence. You might just dash through them as part of a running gun battle. All you need to do is have an NPC duck inside in some foolish bid to escape the PCs. However, showrooms are also great places to stage huge ambushes: you could hide dozens upon dozens of armed goons in the cluttered expanse of your average furniture store. Your PCs run in after a suspect (or maybe they're just shopping for new furniture) and find themselves at the center of a hailstorm of hot lead! When that doesn't kill them, a particularly vile villain might just lock them inside and set the place on fire!

Lights, Camera...

Saul leaps into action, whipping his chair into the pair of goons behind him and flipping the table over to use as a shield. He crouches behind it and draws a pair of Magnums as the table vibrates with bullet impacts. When the hum is replaced by the click of spent ammo clips, he sprints to the left, strafing the goons as he emerges from cover. Four hit the floor almost instantly. The Hammer jumps onto an oak bed set as the gunmen on his flanks close in. He springs into a forward somersault, shoots backwards half way through the flip to pop two more thugs, and lands safely behind the cover of the oak headboard. The bed is ripped to shreds by gunfire; feathers fill the air and drift like snowflakes.

Wood chips whiz past Saul's ears as the headboard disintegrates around him. He flattens onto his stomach, aims under the bed, and blasts away at the legs of a shelf across the room. It pitches forward, spilling a mountain of ceramic plates onto the heads of his attackers. Back on his feet, The Hammer sprints in the other direction and hops onto an office chair. He rolls across the showroom floor towards the next group of assassins. Their bullets leave downy wakes in the air as they zip past his head.

When the chair hits the check-out counter, Saul sails up and over. He spreads his arms wide and pops off a few rounds at the mooks to either side, then crashes through the display windows and drops into his Mustang Convertible. He throws it into reverse and lays down a volley of wild cover fire as he rockets out of the parking lot, spins a tight 180, and heads for the freeway!

Now, let's try a fantasy firefight...

Deafening Silence runs sideways along the library wall, then cartwheels behind a stack of spell books as bolts of magical energy rain down around him. Hesitant to destroy his own property, the Thaumaturge pauses to mutter a telekinesis spell. The spellbooks part to expose the monk, who is already half way through spin kicking a jar of acid at his nemesis. The Thaumaturge screams in agony as the corrosive bites into his face and hands. Deafening Silence kicks off the bookshelf behind him and flips over the sorcerer, snatching the Wand of Many Friggin Missiles from his sizzling fingers.

Unfortunately, the black magician's cronies are not far behind. A fan of magic missiles follows Deafening Silence as he races into the next room. Specimen jars and glass vials explode at his heels, slickening the floor with a mix of potent chemicals. The monk opens fire when the guards rush in, choking the narrow doorway with their corpses.

An eerie chant echoes down the corridor... and the corpses lurch to unlife! Now, the wand's bolts just tear ineffectually through their dead flesh. Deafening Silence searches frantically for an escape route as the zombies advance. He vaults up into a ventilation shaft and aims the wand downwards, firing a flurry of bolts past his feet. They ignite the chemicals on the floor and transform the laboratory into a furnace, incinerating the zombies and launching the monk into the sky. The Thaumaturge's screams chase him into the night.

Next Month: Kicking Holly Jolly Ass!

Loath Your Fellow Man

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