Gritty Cop Show Test Game Episode 4: Axel F’d

After I posted the last Gritty Cop Show test game recap author Jason Cordova asked me if I’d run one at LibertyCon. I thought that was a great idea, and since LibertyCon does so much for charity, I offered to run a game, and they could auction off each of the seats. I tagged LibertyCon’s chair, Brandy, and the next thing I knew we were having an auction.

When I found out that LibertyCon raised $1,300 for this game, my first thought was “Oh crap, I guess I can’t phone it in! I’m going to have to actually do a good job!”

If you want to know what Gritty Cop Show the Game is all about, click that link above and there’s links to the previous test games. Basically it is an RPG system I came up with in the style of TV cop shows and crime dramas. The players are running characters who are basically TV cops, and all the skills, advantages, and disadvantages are based on tropes from various movies and TV shows.

This time I stole the plot from Beverly Hills Cop 2.  Yes, 1 is the better movie, but 2 had a more easily stealable plot. Like last time I changed a few names and moved it to New York again, mostly to keep the players from catching on too fast which movie they were in. (Plus, I’ve got an NYPD hat from doing a book signing there, only I forgot my hat!)

Our LIbertyCon crew was:

Maureen, playing California surfer girl Detective Charity McGowan, who had the perks Nerd Stuff, Arson Murder and Jaywalking, and the disadvantage Trouble Magnet.

Conrad, playing country boy Detective Billy Jones, who had Crime Scene Savant, Best Served Cold, and Anger Issues.

Their partnership perk was Odd Couple, in that one of them was an action cop and the other was the brains.

Angus, playing  Detective Joseph Francis Xavier Dunbar, who had Brute Squad, Plausible Deniability, and was a Knuckle Dragger.

Scott D, as Kojack Colombo Koslowsky (his Dad really loved cop shows) who had Cut the Red Wire, Crime Scene Savant, and the disadvantage Doughnut Run.

Together they were Closers, meaning they got extra bonus evidence points at the end.

Jim was Lt. Cosmo Ivanov, who had Ice Water Veins, Gunslinger, and Good is Not Nice.

Scott A was Detective Steve McCandles, who had Gunslinger, Not Dirty But A Little Crooked, and Trouble Magnet.

That partnership was our Cowboy Cops.

When it came time for them to pick what kind of unit Major Crimes was, they decided to pick Cruel and Unusual Punishment, which meant they got a crap sack unit with a jerk of a boss. So I brought Captain Nails back to yell at everyone. (ONE MORE STUNT LIKE THAT AND I’LL HAVE YOUR BADGE!)  We decided this must have happened before Nails’ Russian mail order bride poisoned his coffee with antifreeze.

This time I remember exactly how it went down because McGowan took five pages of notes! (reminder to self, I’ve got to mail those back to her).

We started at noon on Tuesday June 24th, when Major Crimes needed to respond to the robbery of Adrianna’s jewelry store. Our intrepid investigators started out by piecing together what had happened. And if you remember the movie, Brigette Nielsen and crew totally wrecked the place while doing a 2 minute countdown. (and to my great dismay, one of the players immediately realized which movie it was as soon as I described how they’d even shot the chandelier until it had fallen out of the ceiling, but luckily he didn’t tell the others)

So the detectives start questioning witnesses, looking for clues, and they try to decipher the coded message the robbers left there in an envelope with a big red A on it (no luck yet)

Now the thing to remember about Gritty Cop Show is that I came up with an escalating stress mechanic for it. So you want to do lots of rolls to try and find clues to get evidence points, or successfully interrogate people, but each time you roll a 1, you get a point of stress. And once you’ve got stress, whenever you do anything from then on you roll a D20, and if you roll your stress or lower, you get a complication. And that’s where stuff gets really fun. (the players have to figure out what their complication is, not the GM, which leads to everything getting all convoluted and messed up in proper TV cop style)

So the cops are started to get a little stressed. This was a high profile robbery, and Captain Nails is already screaming at them about how the mayor wants this solved ASAP.

The crew get suspicious when they find out that even though this place had millions of dollars worth of jewelry, the security was pretty lax. Plus the bad guys seemed to know the layout super well. So they decide to check out who owns the place, thinking that they might be involved, or maybe it’s an insurance scam (which makes them way sharper than the Beverly Hills PD in the movie).

A little bit of research tells them that the owner of the store is a local businessman named Maxwell Dent (and of course when they Google him, the picture is him golfing with the mayor). However when they look into him, they find out that another detective has also been checking into Dent. So they call Lt. Andrew Bogart in Robbery Homicide to find out why (I had to change Bogemill to Bogart because Bogemill was just too distinctive). Only they can’t reach him.

Then later they get a call that Lt. Bogart is in the hospital in critical condition due to a shooting.

So some of our cops rush to the hospital, the rest rush to that new crime scene. The detective in charge of that case is Lt. Bolgeo (and anybody who has been to LibertyCon will know why).  Our players piece together that Bogart stopped to help someone broken down on the side of the road, got shot by a drive by, and then got shot by whoever he was trying to help. (and of course, he was found dramatically in the lawn sprinklers). They also find another letter with a B on it with another code.

Bogart has a rep as a good cop, but is a bit of a loose cannon. Some of our cops go to his house (and break in, just like the movie!). They discover that he’s been running an off the books investigation into Maxwell Dent, has an ad for a place called Club 385, and some good rolls notice that he’s got an odd red mud all over his jogging shoes that doesn’t match anything around where he lives.

Dunbar and Koslowsly decide to stake out Dent’s penthouse, but they bribe the doorman into telling them that he’s not home.

At this point McCandles, who isn’t dirty, but a little crooked, decides that the best way to break these codes is to leak them to the nerd community. He rolls a complication doing this, so even though the nerds figure it out eventually, this means that it also leaks to the press (who immediately call them the Alphabet Bandits) which causes Captain Nails to freak out, and he chews everyone’s ass.

It wouldn’t be a proper Gritty Cop show if there wasn’t a visit to a strip club, so late that night our people head over to Club 385. Of course, unlike Eddie Murphy, none of our people took Fast Talker, so they end up getting in through various ways. Charity just flirts her way through, but unfortunately for Jones, his redneck personality and anger management issues clashes with the bouncer, and we have our first fight. Jones ends up headbutting the poor sap and he walks right in.

It was funny, because later when Dunbar and Koslowsky show up, the poor bouncer has a bunch of tissues stuck up his bloody nose, and he just waves them in.

Half our team are made as cops, while the other 3 manage to actually look inconspicuous. The ones who are made get met by the manager, Chip Cain, a scuzzy little weasel of a man. (because of time, I removed the whole gun club angle, and just had the bad guys be employees of the fancy strip club). Cain denies knowing Bogart. When McCandles and Ivanov ask to see the security video to see if Bogart has been to the club, a complication means that they totally screw up the system and accidentally delete the footage.

Meanwhile, back in the club, the players note that Maxwell Dent is in the VIP lounge area (along with all the New York Yankees and other various sportsball players and rappers). So they try to discretely keep an eye on him. Unfortunately some of our guys are not subtle. As in, our cowboy cops manage to both complications, and they decided that meant they really screwed up. So one of them accidentally bumped into a waitress, who dropped and shattered the bottle of Pappy Van Winkle that she was bringing to Nick Searcy’s table (yes, he was in town filming a movie, I don’t know why, but that’s the only guy I know who drinks Pappy Van Winkle so it’s what I thought of at the time).

Knocking out a bouncer is one thing, but breaking a movie star’s bottle of Pappy was too much, and three of our cops got thrown out of the club.

However, the other three were able to stay discreet (McGowan by drinking half a dozen jello shots), and they’re able to see Dent have a meeting with a tall blonde woman who matches the description of one of the robbers. Koslowsky tails her outside, gets the license plate off her red BMW convertible, and they get an ID for Karla Fry.

I also made Karla Fry ex-Army with a dishonorable discharge, and she’s now a fitness model and MMA fighter. Why? Because I really wanted Red Sonya to kick the crap out of one of these guys at the finale. (and she would!)

Dunbar and Koslowsky decide to tail Dent back to his place, and stake it out. So I switched it up from the movie version, and this time the attempted murder/drive by happens to them while they are parked there. So at like 3:00 AM these two guys unmarked gets shot like a zillion times. Neither of them gets hit, but the engine is shot to hell and the bad guys are getting away.

So in Gritty Cop Show style, Dunbar asks to commander a vehicle. So I say the only thing available is a city garbage truck. 😀 So then we had a car chase with a garbage truck chasing down the drive by shooters. Dunbar hangs out the window and shoots the passenger dead and wounds the driver. At this point they’re smashing into parked cars knocking over parking meters. Then Koslowsky gets a good driving roll, and wants to know if he can use the lifter on the front of the garbage truck to flip the bad guys’ car. HELL YEAH! GRITTY COP SHOW!

So the bad guys car gets flipped into the river. McGowan and Jones have caught up now, so they dive into the river and dramatically swim after the sinking car. They get out the driver, but a failed first aid roll on dry land and he dies.

That morning, Captain Nails is super pissed. They’ve got dead perps, an angry rich businessman wanting to know why cops are punching out his employees and smashing movie star’s fancy booze, thousands of dollars in property damage, and a wrecked squad car. (in a salute to the original source material, Dunbar and Koslowsky’s replacement car is a shitty sky blue Chevy Nova)

But McCandles leaking the codes to the internet has paid off, and someone has figured out that there is some GPS data in there, and that address is the City Deposit Bank. That’s a C!  Our guys roll!

Now this next scene was nuts. Our guys try to force their way into the City Depository, but Jimmy the minimum wage gate guard is having none of that! And since he’s talking to McGowan and Jones, who are still covered in blood and smell like the East River, he thinks they are crazy people and sounds the silent alarm—which cuts short the robbers plans, forcing them to flee! So next thing they know an armored car bursts through the front gate.

Another car chase ensues! One car gets clipped. The Chevy Nova crashes into a taco truck! The armored car is just smashing into quite literally everything. Fire hydrants get knocked over and spray (sure, they don’t do that in real life, but GRITTY COP SHOW!)

Some good team work and tire shooting moments later, the armored car spins out of control, flips, and slides on its side through the front wall of a convenience store (the clerk ran for his life). Our guys drive up, lights and sirens, and they jump out FREEZE SCUMBAGS! I rolled for each of the bad guy’s stress, and two of them immediately threw their hands up and surrendered. However, the other two were all YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE PIGS and got it on! Gun fight ensues!

Now this next part is hilarious. Some of our cops are extremely good shooters, and they’re just dropping bad guys… Except Billy rolls a complication. So the driver, who is getting out with his hands up, yelling “I surrender!” gets shot right in the forehead. The other surrendering guy is crawling away as his buddies are getting plugged and spraying the neighborhood. And in the next round, three or four of our cops roll complications AT THE SAME TIME. That’s too glorious to miss, so the gas tank of the armored car gets hit (and bullets totally make gas tanks explode on TV). MASSIVE FIREBALL!

The 7-11 explodes. All the bad guys are blown up. Then burning money rains down from the sky.

Back at the bank, Nails is apoplectic. THE MAYOR HAS HIS ASS! HE WILL HAVE YOURS! (and because of the massive destruction, I had to move up Chip Cain getting offed as a patsy bit up to the bank robbery instead of the race track) so Chip Cain was found shot by a security guard, and of course the C letter is super easily solved, like ha ha, you’ll never figure out my brilliant scheme, hugs and kisses, Chip.

Of course, our guys are too smart (and now about half of them have figured out which movie plot this is) so they know that Maxwell Dent has set Chip up as the fall guy, and he’s going to flee with all the stolen money and then get the insurance money too. So while Nails is telling the press that the Alphabet Bandits have been stopped, our cops are going off the reservation.

Our guys break into Karla’s apartment, but she’s not there, and it looks like she’s leaving town. On her computer they find she’s going to Costa Rica. Also they discover that she’s got a bunch of betting receipts from Doniger Fields race track recently, like she’s been casing the place. IT STARTS WITH A D!

Ivanov has a couple points in Command (that’s why he’s the Lt.) and part of that is you get a couple of low stat beat cops to serve as your lackeys. The GCS random character generator gave him two female uniforms (Storm and Zealot) but Officer Zealot actually wound up with a 2 in Research which is pretty good. So she calls Ivanov to tell him that she’s been looking into Dent, and that his finances aren’t doing well, but his insurance is paid up on a few of his businesses, including the jewelry store and a race track.

And it just so happens that there is a big race today at the track! And I couldn’t remember what the race track was actually named in the movie, so I called it Doniger because I’ve been watching season 1 of the Expanse.

Our guys rush to the race track and enter, playing it cool and quiet. Most of them make their Undercover or Infiltration rolls and get in without being spotted, but Lt. Cosmo doesn’t, so Karla Fry spots him. She gets the drop on him and sticks a gun in his back, and tells him to keep walking. Charity is the only cop who sees this, and she breaks off to follow them.

Most of the cops rush to the money room, to find that it’s already been robbed, and the employees have been gagged and tied up. Then they realize that they are missing two of them, and rush back out.

Cosmo is in a bad spot. Crazy Karla has a gun in his spine and they are headed down the stairs to the parking lot. Charity tries to sneak up and hit Karla, but Karla spots her reflection in the window and hits Charity first. Cosmo goes for his gun, but Karla kicked him in the chest and he falls down the stairs (and I made them long stairs!)

Karla and Charity go hand to hand, but Karla is basically Rhonda Rousey and Charity’s perk is Nerd Stuff. 😀  Gun fire is exchanged and this causes everyone at the race track to panic stampede. But then Cosmo hits the bottom of the stairs, and shoots Karla. She’s wounded, and runs, vaulting over the turnstiles dramatically. But then the other cops have run out, and Koslowsky shoots her in the back. Karla goes down!

Billy manages to save her with first aid, and they question Karla in the parking lot.   Allow me to quote from Maureen’s notes here… “Interrogation (slight brutality involved)” 😀

Karla tells the crew that Dent is at his stables (and of course, there is the red mud from the jogging shoes).

A note here, at the beginning of this game I had to explain that in Gritty Cop Show certain things like law, physics, and geography don’t follow reality, they follow TV reality. So yes, there are horse pastures and oil derricks in front of a dramatic sundown right outside of a New York City race track. Run with it.

For our final scene, our cops roll up hot. There are a pile of bad guys there and a massive gun fight ensues.

There were only two complications this time… Things ended rather abruptly and unfortunately for a very expensive race horse.

Maxwell Dent fled into a nearby building, so Cosmo and McCandles gave chase.

One bad guy in particular (my random name generator said his name was Ray Murphy) was a BAD ASS, and this dude had hot dice. In Gritty Cop Show gunfights are fast and super lethal. So you both roll your gun dice, and then compare the two, the winner is whoever is higher, and the damage is the difference between the two. Plus I’d given him a shotgun so he was rolling three dice.

But on the bright side, if your cop has specified that they are wearing armor, when you get hit by a pistol or shotgun, you roll a d6, and evens mean you get hit in the vest, odds you get hit in the body and you’re taking all that damage.

Luckily for the THREE cops he beat, all of them got hit in the vest. Right before Ray Murphy could finish off Charity, he got his head blown off. But with hot dice like that, you totally know there’s more Murphy Brothers out there, and now they want revenge. Because Gritty Cop Show.

Back in the nearby building that Dent fled into (apparently it was a pigeon, chain, and slowly turning fan factory), Cosmo and McCandles squared off with the boss. He gets the jump on them, but Cosmo shoves his partner off to the side just as Dent fires but then the two Cobwoy Cops used their partnership perk to shoot him like twenty times. Riddled with bullets, Jurgen Prochow fell into a big industrial fan. SPLAT.

The loot is found. Most of the bad guys are dead.

However, remember in GCS, you get evidence points for all the clues you pick up along the way, and the goal is to put any of the remaining bad guys in jail. So they tallied up all their evidence points (and got a bonus because Dunbar and Koslowsky are Closers) then rolled a D12 (representing the jury) and added the two. It’s a slam dunk. Karla Fry goes to prison for robbery and shooting Lt. Bogart.

Then our brave cops went to Ox Knuckles for a drink.

This was a fun game. Everybody had a good time. We were in the regular con game room, so we had people coming up and listening in all night, but that still worked out really well.

People have been asking me about it, and yes, I do plan on kickstarting Gritty Cop Show once we get all the bugs worked out.

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19 thoughts on “Gritty Cop Show Test Game Episode 4: Axel F’d”

  1. Holy crap that was FUN! Thank you for running the game Larry!
    Can’t wait for the kickstarter.

    1. I’m still waiting for him to take my money from the previous kickstarter! I’m looking at this as an opportunity to set aside more for the next! (I HAVE FORWARNING! YAAAAY!)

  2. It was fun listening to it from a neighboring table. I got there to listen about the time of the drive-by & garbage truck commandeering, but had to leave between the takedowns of Karla and Dent. I probably would have waited had I known you were that close to the end.

  3. Am I the only one who keeps getting flickery visions of GCS in a fantasy setting?

    Like Waterdeep or Greyhawk or some other favorite locale?

      1. Ooooorrr… do it in Shadowrun.

        Don’t do it like you’re setting up a cop group to counter Shadowrunners and gangs.

        Do it like you’re making a GRITTY COP SHOW in the Shadowrun universe, for media consumption by Shadowrun universe ‘burbers with 2.3 meta-human children and a mortgage. Every misconception about guns every written into a GRITTY COP SHOW plot, stack that on top of all the misconceptions about magic and hacking and CGI dragons.

        1. Yes, Gurps put out a pair of Discworld supplements and a “Powered by Gurps” RPG as well about two decades back. The RPG is still in print, but the supplements aren’t.

  4. Have you ever considered Ari Marmell as a potential writer to contribute to one of your anthologies? He writes a pretty good yarn.

  5. I wonder what the chances would be of getting a character modeled on Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) from “Hot Fuzz”?

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