A Roleplaying Game
This game is based on the FX Networks original series, The Shield.
The game system will be Fudge, which is very simple. Fudge is available free online, but you don't need to know anything more about Fudge than what's on this page, since I will be running the game mostly systemless. I do like to have some numbers for those occasional situations where I want to roll dice, but usually your character sheet will just be used as a guide to what you can or can't do.
Everything in Fudge is rated on the following scale:
- Terrible (-3)
- Poor (-2)
- Mediocre (-1)
- Fair (+0)
- Good (+1)
- Great (+2)
- Superb (+3)
There are six attributes in The Shield: Strength, Agility, Intelligence, Perception, Will, and Charm. The default for all of them is Fair. You get three free levels to raise attributes (i.e., you could raise three attributes to Good, or raise one attribute to Superb, etc.). You can get additional attribute levels by trading another one down on a one-for-one basis (e.g., if you have already raised three attributes to Good, you can raise a fourth to Good by lowering another attribute to Mediocre).
This is your overall physical toughness, including your ability to dish out damage and soak it up. A high Strength might mean you are big and muscular, but you could also be small, wiry, and tough.
This is your physical speed, nimbleness, and manual dexterity. If you are chasing someone, the person with the higher Agility can run faster, but the person with the higher Strength can run farther. Agility also determines how fast you can draw your gun...
This is raw intelligence, not education. Someone with Mediocre Intelligence is "slow," someone with Poor Intelligence is mildly retarded. Good Intelligence means you are "bright," Great Intelligence is near-genius, and Superb Intelligence is genius.
Ability to notice things -- clues, people's reactions, etc. Perception determines how likely you are to notice ambushes, find clues, spot concealed weapons, etc.
This is your courage and your willpower. Will determines your ability to resist torture, concentrate under fire, or continue to function while in pain (such as with a gunshot wound). Will would also be used when resisting the effects of drug addiction. It is far more difficult to intimidate or seduce someone with a high Will, while low-Will characters are easily intimidated and have a hard time resisting temptation.
This is your basic social "presence," which determines what someone's first impression of you will be. People with high Charm get strong reactions, while people with low Charm tend to be unimpressive and have to work to get a reaction. Exactly what sort of reaction you generate depends on the character -- high Charm might mean you are very friendly and inspire a feeling of trust in people, or you are intimidating and make people naturally want to start talking, or you are sexy and tend to get good reactions in social situations. Charm does not directly correlate to physical appearance -- you could be good-looking and have a low Charm score, or ugly as sin and still be able to captivate people.
Skills are moderately broad. The list below are only the most common skills likely to be useful in The Shield. You may feel free to suggest other skills not on this list. Rather than requiring you to add up skill points, we will use a much simpler system for choosing skills: you get to assign the following skill ratings:
- One skill at Superb
- Two skills at Great
- Six skills at Good
Any skills that you don't specifically assign, but which the GM believes would be appropriate to your character type and which you can be assumed to have had some training in, will default to Mediocre. (Cops should all know how to fire guns and drive, for example, so even if you don't put Driving on your character sheet, a police officer can be assumed to have at least Mediocre Driving skill.)
All your other skills are assumed to be Poor. You can trade skills up or down at a 2-for-1 rate to the next level (e.g., you could trade your one allowed Superb skill for two more Great skills, giving you four Great skill levels, or trade in your two free Great skills and have an extra Superb skill. One Good skill level can be traded for two at Fair, etc.)
Animal Handling Skills
- K9 officer -- you can train and work with dogs
- Horses -- you know how to ride and care for horses
Artistic and Craft Skills
Each specialty (Dancing, Singing, Painting, Musical Instrument, Choreography, Tailoring, Pottery, Cooking, etc.) is a separate skill. A professional would generally need a skill level of at least Good, and Great to be considered really talented.
Strength and Agility give you a basic ability with most athletic skills (anyone can run, jump, climb, etc.), but a track star can still outrun someone who is otherwise stronger and more agile than him.
- Acrobatics (useful for jumping fences, diving for cover, squeezing through tight spaces, etc.)
- Sports -- each one is a separate skill. Professional athletes should be at least Good, Great for the big leagues.
- Unarmed Combat -- you can call this "streetfighting" or "Karate" or whatever martial arts style you like. The GM may take into account advantages for certain styles (someone who knows jujutsu is much better at groundfighting, for example, while "Police HTH training" would include use of nightsticks, handcuffing someone who is struggling, etc.) All street cops should have at least Fair skill. Most black belts would have Fair or Good skill (depending on how realistic their "combat" training is.)
- Melee Weapons -- Not that there is a lot of swordfighting going on on the streets of L.A., but this skill includes knife-fighting, and also covers use of improvised weapons like boards, trash can lids, bottles, pipes, and defending yourself against same.
- Handguns -- pistols and revolvers. All cops (except long-time desk jockeys) should have at least Fair skill.
- Rifles & Shotguns -- most street cops should have at least Fair skill.
- Tactics -- Knowing how to move and predict what the enemy is going to do during a firefight.
- Ambush -- Knowing how to set up an ambush (and also knowing how to avoid one!)
- Demolitions -- Making and setting bombs, starting fires, etc.
- Acting -- ability to fake emotions and tell believable lies.
- Disguise -- includes pretending to be a different profession or social class (e.g., a cop trying to pass herself off as a hooker).
- Breaking & Entering -- bypassing alarms, finding open windows, breaking windows without cutting yourself, etc.
- Lockpicking -- getting into places without using B&E, also getting out of handcuffs, into locked cars, etc.
- Holdout -- being able to hide things on your person (like guns or drugs), or palming things without being noticed. Also governs the ability to search someone.
- Stealth -- Hiding in shadows and moving silently.
- Shadowing -- following someone (on foot or in a car) without being noticed.
Sciences and anything else you might be get a degree in are separate knowledge skills. You can also have knowledge of other things not taught in schools. Area Knowledge, for example (a cop should have at least Fair Area Knowledge of his city). Some other knowledge skills that might be useful include Gangs, Drugs, Underworld Personalities, City Politics, etc.
Everyone gets their native language for free. Other languages are separate skills. You are assumed to have no ability (besides maybe a few words) unless you list a language as a skill. Mediocre means you can stumble through a very simple conversation. Fair means you have conversational fluency, but will miss details. Good means you are fluent, though you still have a detectable accent. Great means you can pass yourself off as a native. Superb means you are a highly educated and flawless speaker, and could write novels or compose songs in that language.
Note that besides medical skills, an M.D. must have the Physician professional skill and several medical knowledge skills.
- First Aid -- being able to treat wounds, shock, detect obvious injuries and the like. Doctors and EMTs should have at least Good skill.
- Surgery -- a more advanced medical skill for the operating room.
- Autopsy -- important skill for Medical Examiners. Determining cause of death, detecting poisons and drugs in a body, etc.
- Survival -- staying alive in a hostile environment with little or no equipment
Each profession is its own skill, and covers basic knowledge of how to function in that profession, professional standards, etc. Many professions may require other Knowledge skills to be really competent (you can't be a doctor just by having the Physician professional skill, and Lawyers need both the Lawyer professional skill and one or more legal Knowledge skills). You are assumed to have this skill for your current profession at Fair. Street cops don't need a high Cop Professional skill level, but if you want to climb the ranks, you probably should get a higher level, since it includes knowledge of police procedures and standards, who's who in the local department, etc.
The Charm attribute governs first impressions. Social skills help you do specific things.
- Conversation -- pumping people for information in a social setting.
- Intimidation -- using threats (don't always have to be physical -- you could threaten someone's career or reputation, for example) to make someone do what you want. This skill determines how good you are at convincing someone you can and will carry out your threats.
- Leadership -- your ability to inspire groups and get them to follow your commands.
- Negotiating -- good for both business and political transactions, helps you get the better end of a deal.
- Persuasion -- using flattery or schmoozing or impassioned logic to get your way.
- Savoir Faire -- dealing with formal situations.
- Seduction -- manipulating people sexually to get your way (doesn't necessarily mean you actually engage in sexual activity).
- Streetwise -- Knowing how to deal with people on the streets, gang etiquette, etc.
- Torture -- not really a "social" skill, but used after intimidation or other social skills fail.
- Electronics -- putting together and repairing electronic devices, including computer hardware.
- Mechanic -- putting together and repairing mechanical devices (like car engines, and guns).
- Computer Programming -- includes hacking.
- Computer Operation -- includes researching information online
- Crime Lab Technician or CSI -- knowing how to dust for fingerprints, do ballistics matches, analyze blood spatters, etc.
- Driving -- cars, small trucks, etc.
- Trucks -- 18-wheelers, garbage trucks, and other big vehicles
- Pilot -- Airplanes and helicopters are seperate skills.
- Boating -- handling sailboats and small motorboats.
- Shiphandling -- piloting larger vessels.
A Gift is any character quality or ability that doesn't fit as an attribute or skill. Gifts are very open-ended, so the list below only provides a few examples. You can define any Gift you like, within reason. Everyone gets two free Gifts. To get an additional Gift, you must choose a matching Flaw (see below).
(Being a Cop is a sort of a Gift, since it comes with police powers, but it also means you have special duties, are subject to orders from your superiors, have to follow all kinds of regulations, etc., so it is not considered one of your Gifts.)
Police officers have ranks. The L.A.P.D. hierarchy is as follows:
- Officer (divided into Police Officer I, II, & III)
- Detective (divided into Police Detective I, II, & III)
- Sergeant (divided into Police Sergeant I & II)
- Lieutenant (divided into Police Lieutenant I & II)
- Captain (divided into Police Captain I, II & II)
- Deputy Chief
- Chief of Police
A rank of Lieutenant or Captain requires one Gift. A rank of Commander or Deputy Chief requires two Gifts. GM's permission is required if you want to play the Chief of Police....
Besides police ranks, the following gifts are particularly apropriate or even necessary for Shield characters.
- Good looking -- attractive enough that everyone notices you. Sometimes this can be a hassle.
- Famous -- an entertainer, professional athlete, notable public figure, or other celebrity.
- Wealthy -- millionaire or richer
- Political Influence -- You are a politician with some power (Mayor, State Senator, Congressman, etc.). This requires two Gifts.
- Federal Agent -- a member of the FBI, Secret Service, etc., able to (in some situations) commandeer local police resources
- Gang Leader -- you have a posse/crew who will fight and kill for you
- Street Contacts -- you have a lot of informants and contacts on the street and can usually get useful information if you work them. (Sometimes this may require bribery and/or intimidation.)
- Powerful Friends -- you have one or more friends in high places.
- Reputation -- you have a street rep that ensures people won't trifle with you lightly. This applies both to feared gang leaders and respected and/or feared cops.
Other Sample Gifts
- Bilingual (you grew up bilingual and can speak two languages natively, and are familiar with both cultures)
- Heals quickly
- High pain threshold
- Photographic memory
Flaws are disadvantages or handicaps. Like Gifts, they are open-ended and can be defined by the player. You can get extra Gifts by taking matching Flaws. You are not required to take a Flaw.
- Drug addict
- Compulsive Gambler -- you tend to find yourself owing bookies lots of money...
- Enemy -- someone has a deep personal hatred for you, and is devoted to either killing you or ruining your career, or putting you behind bars. This person must be formidable enough to be a credible threat, and there should be some reason why you can't casually eliminate him or her yourself.
- Minor (you are under 18)
- Handicapped (wheelchair-bound, deaf, blind, etc.)
- Suffers from a phobia
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Dark Secret -- you have a personal problem that, if exposed, could result in you being killed, sent to jail, losing your job and reputation, etc. This makes you a possible target for blackmail....