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Old 12-11-2019, 12:12 AM   #1
transmetahuman
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Default Adventures in Journalism

Has anyone played a game where the PCs were a team of journalists? I'm thinking in terms of an alternate set of hypercompetent but basically mundane characters having their own "get the story" adventures for when too few players show up to play the main supers (well, people-with-powers) game, with both sets of characters in the same newly-Supers world.

Would you enjoy playing generally noncombatant investigative journalists? Would it be too boring or frustrating, especially in a world that has people with superpowers? Has anything like this been tried before?

I'm curious about all that, but my main reason for posting is to ask where I can find 4e templates for journalists and/or support personnel like cameramen, assuming any exist. Failing that, templates for vaguely similar professions. Failing that, would anyone (especially any of you with actual journalism experience) like to try their hand at coming up with some?
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Old 12-11-2019, 07:26 AM   #2
ravenfish
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

Horror has a journalist template, andSteampunk 3 has a reporter (two, in fact, so you have your choice of plausible journalist and cinematic adventuring journalist).
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Old 12-11-2019, 07:22 PM   #3
tshiggins
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

If you wanted to do this, I'd pick up Boardroom & Curia, to help you get a handle on the sorts of organizations journalists investigate (and work for...); and how well they'd respond to any investigation they learn is under way.

As for the day-to-day activities of journalists, Bill Stoddard's Social Engineering would prove invaluable.

Journalists engage in conflict, every single day. However, when it comes to violent conflict, reporters mostly act as observers.

Modeling non-violent conflict that, nonetheless, significantly impacts lives and livelihoods is really hard to model in a game system. Additionally, the development of a good reputation -- and its associated credibility -- is usually a bit below the granularity of a tabletop RPG.

However, that's the key to a successful career in journalism, really (at least, in a society that values news reporting enough that journalists can make a decent living, at all...).
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Old 12-11-2019, 08:01 PM   #4
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

Mystery would also be a good choice. After all, the most journalism involves solving mysteries.
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Old 12-11-2019, 09:07 PM   #5
dcarson
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

There was a thread on Code of Honor for a journalist a few years ago. http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=127083

I remember as post with a gaming quote I can't find that was something like. "I don't care if you have Code of Honor(reporter) the first thing you do in a zombie apocalypse is not publish retractions for all the obituaries."
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Old 12-11-2019, 09:36 PM   #6
transmetahuman
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
There was a thread on Code of Honor for a journalist a few years ago. http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=127083

I remember as post with a gaming quote I can't find that was something like. "I don't care if you have Code of Honor(reporter) the first thing you do in a zombie apocalypse is not publish retractions for all the obituaries."
LOL

Hey, thanks everyone. I wanted to have something tentatively set up before I looked for (more) players, but I'm thinking it would probably be more palatable to them to have some relatively low key powered characters for the sideline game - maybe more humor oriented. I'll run both ideas past everyone.
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Old 12-12-2019, 01:25 AM   #7
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
Horror has a journalist template, andSteampunk 3 has a reporter (two, in fact, so you have your choice of plausible journalist and cinematic adventuring journalist).
For the sake of completeness, here are a couple more from the template list in the GURPS Resources sub-forum:

Journalist (GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars, p. 151) [65]

Journalist (Discworld Roleplaying Game, p. 123) [50]
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:20 AM   #8
Culture20
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

Supers tend to be journalists in older media. Journalists are less "on the pulse of the city" these days for that trope to mean much, but there have been a few successful comics about journos investigating criminal enterprises in a supers world. The suggestion of Mystery above is probably the best option for a team of media investigators. It would probably work for Black Ops cover too.
Take a look at Marvel's "Pulse", "Front Line", or "Marvels" for some compelling stories of journalists among supers. Players may want contacts, an ally who is secretly a super, levels of serendipity, and/or enhanced dodge. Body armor when covering a building-buster fight.

Last edited by Culture20; 12-12-2019 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:06 AM   #9
SolemnGolem
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

From my own time in journalism, a lot of the material in GURPS Social Engineering would be spot-on. Also the recent Keeping In Contact supplement would be helpful.

Most journalism (as of early 00s) was still being done by phone, with a bit by email (social media not really existing back then, though NYT journalist Jennifer 8. Lee was briefly notable for posting requests on message boards essentially asking for tips, leads, etc. in an early form of crowdsourcing).

For stories with some degree of actual legal liability, we had to rely heavily on contacts and trust built over years. You'd try to attack a certain question from multiple angles - "who would know anything at all about this topic and what relationship do we have with them going back when?" - and like as not your first two or three calls would whiff (the nice ones would tell you they can't help you at all, others just wouldn't call you back).

Protecting your sources was important too, and not just in the Watergate Deep Throat sense, but also in the sense of maintaining plausible deniability about who they were and what they knew. Say one source gave you an exact dollar amount, but this information could potentially be used to reveal who the source was. You'd try to get a second source, perhaps blur the actual dollar amount somewhat so it could have come from a variety of places. (A similar wartime practice was used by the US intel codebreakers to mislead Japanese counterintel about their leaked sources for Admiral Yamamoto's assassination). Less dramatically, a source could be fired or potentially cut out of future information leaks if they became implicated in media reporting.

I never did any "cloak and dagger" style reporting - the most sensitive source I ever had was a North Korean defector, but he was safely in the USA by the time I spoke with him, and he was very happy to have his photo and name publicly associated with his family's story. But hopefully these could give some idea of the trade.
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Old 12-13-2019, 03:21 PM   #10
Agemegos
 
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Default Re: Adventures in Journalism

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmetahuman View Post
Has anyone played a game where the PCs were a team of journalists?
I have. It was a non-interstellar SF game set on Earth in 2100, but we played it in about 1990, which was before we had any inkling of the changes that were going to hit journalism. We worked for a "newspaper" that distributed stories over a ubiquitous data network, on a subscription/micropayment model with a paywall. We had an "editor" who assigned us to and authorised our investigating stories.

Quote:
Would you enjoy playing generally noncombatant investigative journalists?
I did, but the other players were mostly interested in the action/thriller aspect. The GM responded to their taste, I left the game, and very shortly afterwards it fell apart because no-one else would investigate.

____________

Heh!

(1) I still have the character sheet for the character I played in that.

(2) The character sheets in my character morgue seem to be sorted alphabetically by first name.
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Last edited by Agemegos; 12-13-2019 at 03:23 PM. Reason: typo in date
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