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Old 06-26-2012, 07:00 AM   #1
Lex_BR
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Default Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

Hello all.

While looking for a concept for a new modern campaign for me and my players i came up with the following, i´d like to know your thoughts and tips about it, especially from anyone who may have done or played something similar before.


Campaign Title : Shadows of a Jade Dragon

Concept :

A young and promissing police officer with little to lose is tasked with infiltrating one of Hong Kong´s most influential and dangerous criminal organizations by any means necessary in midst of internal uprisings and a growing territory war to control the trade of the new superdrug called "Jade" between three major families (triads)

in order to survive, he will have to form bonds of friendship and blood with people from the other side of the law and for the first time see the world from their perspective. With each passing day he will delve deeper and deeper into a hidden underworld of sex, money and intrigue in the shadows of one of the worlds busiest urban landscapes. He will have to challenge his skills, his physical limits and his very notion of right and wrong to discover just how far he is willing to go to accomplish his mission and how much of himself will have to be lost in order to do so.

Inspitations :

Sleeping Dogs (upcoming videogame)
Kiss of the Dragon (jet li movie)
Almost everything influenced by John Woo

Recommended Books :
Gurps Action
Gurps Martial Arts (?)

Player characters :
- Player 1 ; Undercover Cop
- Player 2 ;Triad Liutenant in charge of and responsable for group of newbies and their actions
- Player 3 ; ??

-------------------

so here are my questions and wonderings

I have never done any sort of game not centered on skills and special powers, i´ve only ever ran medieval medium to high fantasy and a few low-powered supers cenarios. Both myself and my group would love to do something modern and the above is what i came up with that kind of stirred my blood a bit.

I´d like to know what you guys think about it, if you´ve ever played something similar and even if you havent, what kind of characters would you like to have or see in the game world and what sort of things would you most enjoy about the setting?

Also, any tips on the following would be great :

- Running the game where one of the players is clearly the "main character" of the "movie" being that he will be the undercover cop and the rest of the group wont know about his true motives for rising the triad corporate ladder without making the others feel like they are left out or put aside.

- (edit) if you guys can think of any way to run a game similar to the above where the whole group is more involved as the main character i´d love to hear it as well

- How much detail to put into the battle system? in other words, should i enforce martial arts rules with bits of cinematic combat and gunplay for that john woo feeling or just flat out action rules simplified combat?

- do you know of any gurps resources for Hong Kong crime campaign or anything of the sort that could be usefull?

- Any tips for adding a bit of magic and supernatural mysticism in the game without loosing the gritty martial arts and criminal underworld feel?

as always, i thank you guys for any contribution and wish ye a great day

- Lex

Last edited by Lex_BR; 06-26-2012 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:14 AM   #2
robkelk
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Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lex_BR View Post
Also, any tips on the following would be great :

- Running the game where one of the players is clearly the "main character" of the "movie" being that he will be the undercover cop and the rest of the group wont know about his true motives for rising the triad corporate ladder without making the others feel like they are left out or put aside.

- (edit) if you guys can think of any way to run a game similar to the above where the whole group is more involved as the main character i´d love to hear it as well
Subplots are your friend.

When every character has a motivation and a reason to be where he is, then he has a story to live through. It may not be the main story, but he gets some of the "spotlight time" anyway.

If you do this well, you can even pretend the main character's story is just another subplot, until it becomes the focus of the ongoing adventures... but you have to work at tying the other characters' subplots into the main plot to do this well.


Oh, and you might want to mine the Action! series of PDFs for more tips. Not all of the ideas and concepts will be applicable, but some of them may help...
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:20 AM   #3
Aneirin
 
Join Date: May 2012
Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

It sounds like a good story, however, you would need to PC's to be on board with it. They may not want to play a young promising officer with nothing to lose, he may want to play a grizzled old vet who has become dispondant, or if he does want to play a promising young officer, he may want to find other ways to going about things other than forming bonds of friendship, or worse, he may want to play a corrupt person who wants to rise to the top ^_^

Plus, it seems like the other PC will also need to play as you want him to as well, as a triad lieutenant. When you need two characters to play a certain way for your idea to work...well...it only takes one for them to want to play as something different, especially when the triad may not want to play as a supporting character. Each individual PC will usually see a game as their story, from their view point, not many want to play as a supporting character for another character.

Plus...the group dynamic could very easily break apart if the main PC doesn't do as you want. maybe he decides to form a bond of friendship and trust a triad PC...and making the other PC's triad gives them an incentive to be dastardly backstabbing individuals, especially if they are from different families.

My advice, the setting sounds good, gritty hong kong undeworld is soemthing I haven't seen much of and does lend itself towards a cinematic feel. Have you discussed with your players what they would like? Would they prefer cinematic or gritty realism, do they want magic? If so I think something along the lines of voodoo of thamautology would work well (even though vodoo is 3rd edition)

Main part though, is I would give the setting, and a few plot hooks, as those dastardly PC's will always have their own ideas, and if you build the campaign on the premise that certain things should happen, it may break apart quickly.

Tell the PC's what the setting is, and let them build up their characters. You can tell the that the campaign is focused on triads and they should build gangster characters, and see what they build.

If you want to have one PC as an infiltrating cop, it will take a lot more work. What you would need to do is take him aside and ask him if he would be up for it, if he does, then give him the backstory or tell him the mission he has been given. he builds a triad and you secretly build his cop backstory with him and perhaps amend his skills.

This is why it takes more work. The only way I can see to make it fair 9unless other PC's are fine with it) is you will then need to come up with something similar for all other PC's. Not just one movie, but a number of movies each interacting with each other. Give each other PC an interesting backstory, discuss this with PC's, they may have suggested something to you, such as that family killed my brother, I want to kill the man responsible, and give focus to this, as much as the 'main' PC, if others haven't come up with a mission goal for themselves, suggest ones to them, your father is in debt and you are working to free him of that engaging in crimes you don't agree with but having no choice.

This will tkae a lot of work but make it more interesting as instead of one main character, you will have 3 or 4 main characters with complimentary and mutually exclusive goals...

But modern settings are awesome, and I need to do some! Now I want to run a hong kong setting >_<
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:45 AM   #4
Lex_BR
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneirin View Post
It sounds like a good story, however, you would need to PC's to be on board with it.
We´ve estabilished from experience over long period of time that our games usually work best when they give me a setting or general feel (in this cade, modern, guns and mellee) and i hand out different options for character templates for them to choose with pre-set motivations and subplots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneirin View Post
Plus...the group dynamic could very easily break apart if the main PC doesn't do as you want. maybe he decides to form a bond of friendship and trust a triad PC
I would not mind that at all. In fact, the most interesting thing about the initial premisse from my point of view is that i dont know how it´s going to turn out.

As the relationship between the undercover cop develops with his new family he may and probably will become conflicted about his mission.. especially if i add a few scenes where he gets to meet the family of his liutenant for example or find out about a few corrupt policemen and dirty details about his old friends.. There is also always the allure of money and luxury that the players will have access to as they rise the criminal underground ladder..
if we manage to pull it off right it may turn out almost like an rpg social experiment. i know my players very very well but i honestly dont know what they would do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneirin View Post
My advice, the setting sounds good, gritty hong kong undeworld is soemthing I haven't seen much of and does lend itself towards a cinematic feel. Have you discussed with your players what they would like? Would they prefer cinematic or gritty realism, do they want magic?
My players are great actors, but not the best writers lets say..
We´ve learned from experience that campaigns where we let each come up with his own "do what you want within the setting" character never add up to more than two or three sessions. what we usually do is they tell me tidbids about what they want and like, for example, this time it was : "Let´s do a modern campaign, i feel like playing with guns and a bit of tech."

i would actually love it if they were more involved in the planning so that i wouldnt have to come up with so much about the characters and plot, but alas, it´s not the case. the redeeming quality is that they really are great actors, i just try and hand them a very open role and they´ll do wonders with it and we end up having lots of fun.

We are friends and have been playing together for well over a decade now so i know their tastes quite well.. The idea for the undercover cop was actually specially tailored to one of them because in real life he thinks of himself as a "champion of justice and honor" with an intense sense of duty sort of guy and it would be incredibly interesting to see how far he would go and what his final decision would be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneirin View Post
Tell the PC's what the setting is, and let them build up their characters. You can tell the that the campaign is focused on triads and they should build gangster characters, and see what they build.
we would end up with an honest cop with no interesting background or flavor, a killer clown on the loose with an appetite for ponies and a talking alligator.. *sigh* like i said, great actors, terrible writers..
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:50 AM   #5
Aneirin
 
Join Date: May 2012
Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

Accursed PC's, interesting and with lots of ideas when you don't want them to, and stumped with no ideas when you want them to have them!

Sounds like you have a good dynamic though so it should work.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:53 AM   #6
Lex_BR
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

Quote:
Originally Posted by robkelk View Post
Subplots are your friend.

When every character has a motivation and a reason to be where he is, then he has a story to live through. It may not be the main story, but he gets some of the "spotlight time" anyway.

If you do this well, you can even pretend the main character's story is just another subplot, until it becomes the focus of the ongoing adventures... but you have to work at tying the other characters' subplots into the main plot to do this well.
That is a great point, thanks for that.

I can think of several subplots involving the liutenant.

The liutenant is the one that has to be convinced to take in the new guy, and if the new guy does anything wrong it is the liutenant´s fault, he is the one that gets punished, looses fingers etc. That level of responsability alone coupled with a family of wife and a couple of daughters would make for a preety decent character i think. i could always add a drug problem for one of his daughters or a family kidnapping for extra flavor.

the main problem i´m having is with the third character, i just dont know what to make of him and like i said before, it usually falls to me to develop an interesting character for my players to "act"

I was thinking maybe another new guy, but one who is not a police officer..

just a kid who never had a chance in life and finally sees opportunity for acceptance, money and glory in the Triads, but maybe thats a bit too bland..
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:07 AM   #7
Aneirin
 
Join Date: May 2012
Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

Coud always have him as a member of another family. Perhaps one of the three families sees the new Jade Drug as not traditional or feel they will not be able to get sufficient control of it and so best way to stay in power is to remove it.

As such they either use someone who has worked with them for a while or pluck someone from the street to infiltrate the group. Why he accepts? Perhaps a loved one has become addicted or died through the use of Jade giving him a reason to dislike it. If he has worked for them for a while you could have him very proud and proper of the families heritage, putting him in a lot of quandries, especially if he has to take action as part of infiltrating against his own family.

Maybe if he finds out the cops secret he will work with him, not letting on that he is from another family but eager to weaken the current one.
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:01 AM   #8
Daigoro
 
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Meifumado
Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

HK movies are full of these kinds of soap opera style characters.

Other characters could be-
- an ex-cop who's joined the triad, who might get info about an undercover cop from his old police contacts

- another undercover cop from a different division, or maybe from the mainland police

- the triad son of the undercover cop's boss, so there's a risk of them crossing paths at a social function

- a triad guy who's been tipped off about an undercover somewhere in the organisation, and who might get clues later that he's actually in the party

- a triad guy who knows the identity of the undercover cop, but is honour-bound from betraying him because he saved his life, gave him money for his sick wife, adopted his abandoned bastard son, or was a close childhood friend

Those are all-linked to the undercover PC somehow, which actually fits the HK style of plot-writing, but to get away from that, you could have-

- the son of the boss, who's just around to have fun but hasn't learnt the true meaning of loyalty or honour yet

- a hot blooded young gangster, who competes with the undercover PC to be the fastest to rise through the triad ranks. This causes tension for the undercover PC, who has to stay in competition with him yet avoid going over the top in killing innocents, shooting at cops or causing mayhem

- a stodgy, older triad guy who is still low rank, who is reliable and trustworthy and has survived for so long due to a lack of ambition. Sounds a bit dull as a PC, but a common trope in HK films, and he could be hiding some particularly juicy secret of his own, such as that he's the real boss of the triad, or even the elusive triad grandfather that the three triads mutually pay respect to
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:11 AM   #9
Lex_BR
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

Possibly, i´ll run that by the player..

I actually might be excited enough about this concept to try and turn it into a mini-setting book about the hong kong underground.. If it turns our to happen and start to become any good i´ll send it to whomever may be interested..

I mean, there´s a wealth of opportunities for campaigns and cinematic adventures in it.. But there´s also a lot of research to do.

For example, i´m preety sure that body art represents your status on your criminal organization but i´ve no idea how that works. it´ would be a nifty extra touch.. kind of like how medieval knights use heraldry to recognize a house´s banners or colors but Hong Kong´s criminals would recognize you, your status and rank from your tattoos.. might also give bonuses to intimidation for anyone who knows what they mean..

i dont think there is a gurps book or pyramid mag about this or anything similar already is there?
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:13 AM   #10
Lex_BR
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Default Re: Campaign Concept - Hong Kong underground

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daigoro View Post
HK movies are full of these kinds of soap opera style characters.

Other characters could be-
- an ex-cop who's joined the triad, who might get info about an undercover cop from his old police contacts

- another undercover cop from a different division, or maybe from the mainland police

- the triad son of the undercover cop's boss, so there's a risk of them crossing paths at a social function

- a triad guy who's been tipped off about an undercover somewhere in the organisation, and who might get clues later that he's actually in the party

- a triad guy who knows the identity of the undercover cop, but is honour-bound from betraying him because he saved his life, gave him money for his sick wife, adopted his abandoned bastard son, or was a close childhood friend

Those are all-linked to the undercover PC somehow, which actually fits the HK style of plot-writing, but to get away from that, you could have-

- the son of the boss, who's just around to have fun but hasn't learnt the true meaning of loyalty or honour yet

- a hot blooded young gangster, who competes with the undercover PC to be the fastest to rise through the triad ranks. This causes tension for the undercover PC, who has to stay in competition with him yet avoid going over the top in killing innocents, shooting at cops or causing mayhem

- a stodgy, older triad guy who is still low rank, who is reliable and trustworthy and has survived for so long due to a lack of ambition. Sounds a bit dull as a PC, but a common trope in HK films, and he could be hiding some particularly juicy secret of his own, such as that he's the real boss of the triad, or even the elusive triad grandfather that the three triads mutually pay respect to
ooohh, these are awesome, thanks a lot !
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