Lets Create: Urban Jungle Characters In Action

And now for a brief look at the previously crated Urban Jungle characters in action.

(But first a note of warning – I am not an expert on the system. Any and all errors made are unintentional. But then again, I still make errors in games I know well. So it all evens out in the end.)

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Felicia Flair’s childhood friend, Kitty Sullivan, now a fearless reporter, has gone missing while investigating the dealings of a notorious badger bootlegger, Big Bad Barry Bodrov. Fearing for her friend and not getting much help from the police, she approaches a Private Eye, Douglas Danger, to help find Kitty. Douglas brings along an acquaintance, Bruno Brown, thinking the big bear may be of some help.

Douglas decides that the best place to start digging for information is The Jiving Hive, a notorious drinking spot that Big Bad Barry is known to frequent. The problem is that Felicia is determined to come along as well, but she is too famous to visit such a lowlife location and not be recognised. Felicia decides that a disguise is in order and that her acting ability will help facilitate the disguise.

The GM decides on a Will + Deceit check for this. Felicia asks to use her Performance gift as well, as she will be putting on a show, which the GM allows. Felicia rolls D6+2D8+D12, getting 4, 3, 4 & 9. 3 successes. Even Douglas, as suspicious as he is, is impressed at how well she slips into her role.

(To see through the disguise requires a contest, in this case it would be a Mind+Observation roll, comparing successes, highest roll vs highest roll. The person with the highest roll wins, and it can result in multiple successes. If Felicia walked into a room with Douglas in it, he would roll D4+D6+D8, which means he wouldn’t be able to roll high enough to beat Felicia. If, however, he was suspicious and got his bonus D12 for his personality, he might be able to see through her disguise.)

As they enter The Jiving Hive, there is not much response from the patrons. Douglas and Bruno blend right in – it is their kind of place. Felicia, the flamboyant actress she is, does attract a couple of looks. After all, she is a good-looking fox, but she doesn’t look out of place, especially not with the company she keeps. While Douglas and Bruno begin to ask around, seeking out news, she settles in for a drink.

Douglas and Bruno both make Will+Questioning checks. Both get their Streetwise bonuses due to gathering information about criminals and Douglas also gets his Gossip bonus. Douglas rolls 1D4+1D6+2D12 getting 3, 5, 10, 10. 3 successes. Bruno rolls D6+D12 getting 5, 8. 2 successes.

Two successes is something a professional could do, getting information that only people in ‘the know’ could supply, while three is at the level of a master and would dig up some serious secrets.

That is more than enough to find out what they need to know, that Big Bad Barry has a factory on the outskirts of town, and in addition it is where he is known to interrogate – and then dispose of – rivals and those who cause him trouble. Given that, it is imperative they get there, and soon, before anything happens to Kitty.

But before they make to leave, their is trouble.

A tipsy cat customer swaggers over to where Felicia sits. “Say, doll, you look like you could use some company.”

Felicia looks him up and down. “I am here with friends,” she states sternly, “I suggest you leave.” As if on queue, Bruno looms large, cracking his knuckles.

Felicia is trying to make the drunk back down, which is a Body+Will+Presence check vs his Body+Will+Presence. Bruno is trying to provide an assist. For an assist, they make the same check and if they get at least one success, the person they are assisting gets a bonus 1D8 (or 1D12 if they have the Team Player gift.)

Bruno rolls 2D6+2D8 getting 2, 1, 5, 3. One success.

Felicia rolls 1D4+1D6+3D8 (including the bonus assist dice), getting 3, 3, 1, 8, 8.

The drunk, being a minor NPC, gets only D6s to his traits. They don’t get a type, just species and career – in this case a Cat Burglar. Neither of these give him presence so gets just 2D6 for his roll, getting 3, 2.

The Cat got no successes, while Felicia got two. Normally you would compare dice to see who did better but there is no need in this case, so Felicia ends up with Two Successes. Between her and Bruno’s assist, they really scare the Cat.

The Cat turns white and backs away, hastily stammering out apologies, all but tripping over a chair as he does, much to the amusement of all in the drinking hole.

With the Cat gone, Felicia, Douglas and Bruno make their way to factory on the outskirts of town, a big place surrounded by high walls, just as night is arriving. The problem isn’t as much getting over as it is in getting over unseen. Big Bad Barry has goons patrolling the compound and it will take some skill, and not a little luck, to slip by them and into the factory without raising an alarm.

Climbing is an Body+Athletics check but in this case the GM says it is an easy task that they can complete by rote. Except in cases of contests, on fairly mundane tasks and to speed up play, you can take 1/2 a success per dice. Felicia and Douglas both have two dice plus a bonus dice from Bruno assisting them due to his Giant gift meaning they have 1 1/2 successes, enough to climb the wall. Bruno only has 1 dice from his Body, but he gains a bonus dice from his Giant gift, as the GM says he can just reach up and pull himself over, giving him two dice, or 1 success, enough to get over.

Dropping down over the wall, they find themselves behind piles of crates, but to get to the factory will require leaving cover and making their way across fairly open ground, with goons keeping an eye out and lights shining about. Trying to judge the best time, they make a dash for it, hoping to avoid detection.

In this case, the GM announces they need to make a Speed + Evasion roll to sneak to the factory without being spotted, but it is more difficult than normal, because of the goons, meaning they need 2 successes to make it. Which cause problems.

Douglas volunteers to go first. He doesn’t have Evasion but asks to use his Suspicious personality trait for its daily use, saying that he will be extra wary and alert for trouble. The GM allows it, so he rolls 1D8+1D12, getting 4 & 10. 2 Successes. Douglas makes it safely to the factory.

Bruno follows. He has 2D6 for his roll, a risky endeavour, but manages a 6 and a 4. 2 successes. A close thing, but he reaches Douglas safely.

Quickly and quietly, the dog and the bear dash across the open ground between the crates and the factory and reach cover unseen. There they wait for Felicia to join them.

That leaves Felicia, who only has her Speed dice, which isn’t enough to get two successes.

Douglas and Bruno say they want to assist her. The GM asks how they mean to do so without attracting attention. They say they will do it with hand signs, motioning where to go and when to stop. The GM allows that, but says they need to make a Mind+Evasion check.

Douglas has 1D6 for his mind and rolls a 3. No success. Bruno rolls 2D6 for a 2 and a 5. 1 success, which is enough, just, to give Felicia a bonus 1D8 to her roll.

Felicia watches as the other two makes motions with their hands, trying to direct her movements. She can’t make much headway with what Douglas is doing, but Bruno’s makes more sense. Psyching her self up, she prepares to cross.

Felicia makes her attempt, with 1D6 for Mind plus the bonus 1D8 for an assist. She rolls a 1 and a 4. Just barely 1 success and not the 2 required.

Felicia scurries across the open ground and reaches Douglas and Bruno, but something caught the attention of one of the goons and he comes to investigate.

And that is when their trouble begins…

Lets Create: Urban Jungle Characters – Douglas ‘Digger’ Danger

Before having a quick look at the mechanics in action, I thought I would add a third character to the mix, as the previous two, Felicia Flair and Bruno Brown, were not suited towards fighting should matters turn physical. Though in Bruno’s case that was more because of his pacifism.

So to fix that I am building another character to aid them should the need arise.

Douglas “Digger” Danger – Hard-boiled Dog Detective

Douglas “Digger” Danger is a dog with a nose for trouble – and the dames. Even though he is new to the Private Eye game, he has seen and done much in the seedy underbelly of the big city.

There is little that is more quintessentially noir than a hard-boiled private eye, the tough-as-nails type who has seen the worst of the city and doesn’t get easily spooked or surprised anymore. So the choice of Hard-Boiled for Type and Detective for Career. And for species, it is hard to go passed a Dog both for the alliteration and the fact they are good at tracking and sniffing out things.

Dog gives him the skills of Athletics, Observation and Tactics and the gifts of Brawling and Tracking.

Hard-Boiled gives him the skills of Endurance, Presence and Shooting and the Soaks of Winded-Soak and Hurt Soak.

Detective gives him the skills of Deceit, Observation and Questioning and the gifts of Gossip and Streetwise.

Assigning the dice for him, I give him D8 for Species – he is a good dog, yes he is – and also Speed. Like many dogs he is always on the move and finds it hard to stay still for long. For his poor dice I stick that in Career. He is only just starting out in the P. I. game and beginning to make a name for himself.

Traits: Body D6, Speed D8, Mind D6, Will D6, Species D8, Type D6, Career D4

Most of the skills are already covered when creating the previous two characters, so the new skills and gifts work as follows;

Shooting is what it says on the tin – it is used for ranged weapons, like guns and bows. Unlike most other skills, it is only ever paired with Speed.

Questioning is the skill of gossiping to find our rumours, to seperate those rumours from facts, to interrogate people and to piece it all together.

Brawling gives Douglas bonus attack moves – Grapple, Pummel and Overbear – which are superior to simple unarmed attacks.

Tracking means Douglas gets a bonus D12 to Observation checks when trying to follow someone – or to Evasion to avoid being followed himself.

Gossip gives a bonus D12 to Questioning, but takes a lot of time and requires numerous people.

Winded Soak allows you to ignore 1 point of damage, and can be recharged by taking a recover action in combat.

Hurt Soak reduces damage by 3, and can be used one per scene, which is about once ever 5 minutes.

For his personality, Douglas is Suspicious – he suspects everyone and everything. Whenever he is in a situation where suspicions are up he gains a bonus D12.

He receives for his Gear a Hip Flask, a Rough Outfit, a Service Pistol and a Magnifying Glass.

His derived stats are; Initiative: D4+D6+D8, Dodge: D8 and Rally: D6+D8.

With that all done, we can get a picture of what Douglas is like, someone who is very good at finding things out and finding people, places and items, especially where the criminal underbelly is involved. And if all that sniffing around leads to trouble, he can take care of himself in a fight.

Douglas “Digger” Danger – Hard-Boiled Dog Detective

Traits: Body D6, Speed D8, Mind D6, Will D6, Species D8, Type D6, Career D4

Skills: Athletics (+D8), Observation (+D8+D4), Tactics (+D8), Endurance (+D6), Presence (+D6), Shooting (+D6), Deceit (+D4), Questioning (+D4).

Gifts: Brawling, Tracking, Gossip, Streetwise

Soaks: Winded Soak -1, Hurt Soak -3.

Gear: Hip Flask, Rough Outfit, Service Pistol, Magnifying Glass

Initiative: D4+D6+D8. Dodge: D8. Rally: D6+D8

Lets Create: Urban Jungle Characters – Bruno Brown and Felicia Flair

After a bit of time experimenting with character builds in Urban Jungle, I have come up with six I want to share, starting with two now. While the rules list character concepts as Species/Type/Career, I go with Type/Species/Career. I find that Broken Bear Vagrant and Famous Fox Actress sound better than Bear Broken Vagrant and Fox Famous Actress.

Speaking of, those are the two I shall be looking at first – Bruno Brown the Broken Bear Vagrant and Felicia Flair the Famous Fox Actress. You could compare all the various species, types and careers to work out the ‘best’ combo for the character you want, but for me I went with choices that sounded fun. Plus alliterations. All of the Urban Jungle characters I came up with have alliterations for no other reason than because I could.

Bruno Brown – Broken Bear Vagrant

Bruno Brown once had it all – a home, a good job, a loving family. But that it all gone now, fate having dealt him a cruel blow. With nothing but the clothes on his back, Bruno has lost everything but his sense of right and wrong.

Your first three choices are your species, type and career, which give you a good overview of what you’d like your character to be. In Bruno’s case that was a big bear who had been through the tough times of the depression and had yet to recover from it. A Bear is pretty obvious as to what it is; a big carnivore. A Broken character is one described as damaged goods but who still wants to do right – they have suffered some tragedy in the past. A Vagrant is the quintessential hobo, riding the rails, sleeping rough, doing what they can to make ends meet. In this case I felt that Broken and Vagrant went well together.

The choice of Bear gives him the skills of Endurance, Fighting and Presence, and the gifts of Giant and Wrestling.

The choice of Broken gives him the skills of Endurance, Evasion and Presence, the gift of Noncombatant and the soak of Frenzy Soak. I didn’t mention soaks previous, but they are ways of ‘soaking’ or reducing damage if you take it, and have limited uses.

The choice of Vagrant gives him the skills of Endurance, Negotiation and Observation, and the gifts of Streetwise and Survival.

You may notice all three unique traits give him access to the Endurance skill, so Bruno is very resilient. He needs to be after all that he has been through.

With his unique traits selected, it is time to assign dice. In Bruno’s case I decided to double down on just how big and tough he is by placing the D8s in Body and Species. He is an impressive specimen of a bear, as big and tough as they get. For his poor dice, I decide that will go in his Career. Bruno has only recently lost it all and been thrust into the life of a Vagrant, and he is still learning the tricks of the trade.

Traits: Body D8, Speed D6, Mind D6, Will D6, Species D8, Type D6, Career D4.

Just a few notes on the various skills and gifts so you can see what they do and get a better picture of what Bruno is like.

Endurance represents stamina, self-discipline and the ability to work through physical hardship. In combat everyone uses an endurance soak first, rolling body plus skill dice, with every success reducing damage by 1. If any damage remains, then they can use their gift soaks. In Bruno’s case he rolls 3D8 + 1D6, with 4 or higher being a success. Meaning he can take a lot of punishment.

Evasion is used for both sneaking about and also dodging attacks. The attacker rolls his fighting dice while the defender rolls his evasion dice. If the defender rolls higher, he is missed, otherwise he takes damage and has to ‘soak’ it.

Presence is used to make an impression of someone, which can range from trying to scare and intimidate someone or impress them in the forms of acting or making public speeches.

Fighting is all forms of hand-to-hand combat, whether it be fists, feet, knives or lumps of wood.

Negotiation is used to try and get people to do things for you, to give you things or to not do something. Basically when you are trying to get a minor advantage.

Observation is for spotting and hearing things, whether it be hidden clues or pick-pockets.

Noncombatant means that as long as Bruno doesn’t attack anyone he gets a bonus +D12 to all dodge rolls and to scramble (run away). If he does attack someone he looses the bonus for 24 hours.

Giant means that he has extra reach in combat and can claim a +D8 bonus to situations where being a giant would help, such as helping assist smaller teammates over tall walls or resisting intimidate attempts by smaller enemies, like mice.

Wrestling gives Bruno extra attacks he can use – Crush, Suplex, Throw and Wrestle – which are superior to simple fisticuffs.

Streetwise gives Bruno an understanding of the criminal element, resulting in a bonus +D12 to know and recognise criminals in the form of Academic and Observation checks, as well as gathering information through gossip. He can also buy illegal goods cheaper and sell them for more than regular people.

Survival is a bonus +D12 for dealing with the wilderness, for Academic, Observation and Endurance checks relating to foraging food, finding water and constructing shelters.

Frenzy Soak reduces damage by 2, and recharges when you hit an enemy with an attack.

The last choice we make is for his personality – Pacifist. Whenever he is in a situation where he is being a pacifist, he gains a bonus +D12 to rolls.

For his Gear we list what he receives from his unique traits; a keepsake from better times, a rough outfit and a bindle on a stick. Yeah, he doesn’t have much.

And lastly three key stats; initiative, dodge and rally. Initiative is Mind plus Observation; D6+D4. Dodge is Speed plus Evasion; D6+D6 (with bonus D12 for Noncombatant and Pacifist while not fighting back). Rally is Will plus Tactics (D6).

With all that we get an idea of what type of character Bruno is – a gentle giant despite all that has happened to him. Despite his size and strength and presence he doesn’t like to hurt people, and it takes a lot to provoke him, but if you poke a bear to much even he can snap. His people skills are limited, but he has started to get an understanding of them, especially the more criminal element. Being homeless and with little in the way of resources, he is also learning to survive it rough in the wilds.

Bruno Brown (Broken Bear Vagrant)

Traits: Body D8, Speed D6, Mind D6, Will D6, Species D8, Type D6, Career D4.

Skills: Endurance (+D6+D8+D8), Evasion (+D6), Presence (+D6+D8), Fighting (+D8), Negotiation (+D4), Observation (+D4)

Gifts: Noncombatant, Giant, Wrestling, Streetwise, Survival

Soaks: Frenzy Soak -2

Gear; Keepsake, Rough Outfit, Bindle on a Stick

Initiative; D6+D4. Dodge; D6+D6. Rally; D6.

Felicia Flair – Famous Fox Actress

Felicia Flair always dreamed of making it as a big star of the silver screen and now she has. Her rise has been meteoric and now everyone knows her and her name.

In Felicia’s case, I wanted something rather different. From the lows of Bruno I wanted to go to the highs, and there isn’t much higher than an actress. Not just any Actress though, a Famous one. I could have chosen any species, but to keep up the alliteration theme I chose a Fox.

Fox gives her the skills of Athletics, Endurance and Observation and the gifts of Coward and Danger Sense.

Famous gives her the skills of Deceit, Presence and Tactics, the gift of Leadership and the soak of Injury Soak.

Actress givers her the skills of Deceit, Observation and Presence and the gifts of Performance and Team Player.

Assigning dice for her, I want her to be at the top of her field and so I place the D8s in Type and Career. She is one of the most famous and best actresses around. Her poor dice I stick in Body. She is used to an easy life and has grown soft, not used to any form of hardship.

Traits: Body D4, Speed D6, Mind D6, Will D6, Species D6, Type D8, Career D8.

Some of the skills are already covered under Bruno but the new skills and gifts work as follows;

Athletics covers all kinds of outdoor sports, like climbing, jumping, swimming and riding.

Deceit is used for lying, cheating, disguises, pilfering and anything that uses a falsehood to get what she wants.

Tactics covers fighting co-ordination with teammates and helping them out. Felicia can gain bonus dice when targeting an enemy a teammate is threatening. She can also try to rally teammates who are dazed or panicked.

Coward gives a bonus D12 to dodge rolls while panicked – and you can choose to be panicked at any time by using your panic soak.

Danger Sense gives a bonus D12 to initiative, and for any skill checks to spot and avoid traps and other hazards.

Leadership gives a bonus D12 to attempts to rally friends, and to any presence roll when you try to exhort a crowd to action through a public speech, like leading workers in a strike against factory owners.

Performance results in a D12 bonus to any rolls relating to impressing a crowd with acting, music or another public performance.

Team Player allows you to assist other characters better. You get a D12 in it compared to a D8 everyone else gets.

Injury Soak allows you to soak up to 4 points of damage, but it can only be used once per rest and doesn’t recharge until after you get 8 hours sleep and a decent meal.

For her personality, Felicia is Flamboyant. She likes to be dramatic and the centre of attention, and when she is, she gets a bonus +D12. She is the star, not the supporting actor after all.

Her Gear is better than Bruno’s, naturally. She has an item like a nice purse, comb or compact that defines her image. For her I’ll go with a hairclip in the form of a blue butterfly. That is her signature piece. She also has a fancy outfit, a pocket pistol and a copy of a Shakespeare play, bookmarked to her favourite soliloquy.

For her derived stats, she has Initiative of 2D6+D8+D12, her Dodge is D6 (with a bonus D12 is she is panicked) and her Rally is D6+D8+D12.

Now that Felicia is built, we can see what kind of person she is, and that is very much a people person. She understands them and can manipulate them, both in a good and a bad way, as she needs. And because she understands people, she can lead and inspire them. Just don’t expect her to do much in a fight – she would rather run.

Felicia Flair – Famous Fox Actress

Traits: Body D4, Speed D6, Mind D6, Will D6, Species D6, Type D8, Career D8.

Skills: Athletics (+D6), Endurance (+D6), Observation (+D6+D8), Deceit (+D8+D8), Presence (+D8+D8), Tactics (+D8)

Gifts: Coward, Danger Sense, Leadership, Performance, Team Player

Soaks: Injury Soak -4

Gear: Hairclip, Fancy Outfit, Pocket Pistol, Shakespeare Play

Initiative: 2D6+D8+D12. Dodge: D6. Rally: D6+D8+D12.

That is, more or less, how you make a character. Next time we might take them out, put them through a couple of situations to see how they actually play.

Lets Create: Urban Jungle Characters

For the first of the Let’s Create series, I will be looking at a system I kickstarted a few years back; Urban Jungle.

Urban Jungle is described as an Anthropomorphic Noir Role-Play system. It is, as it basically says, a system in which you play a humanoid animal in the 1920s and 30s, between the wars, the period of prohibition and speak-easies, of gangsters and corrupt politicians, of hard-boiled detectives and femme fatales and all that jazz.

There are also two expansions for it – Occult Horror (think Lovecraft or Carnivale) and Astounding Science (think B-grade 1950s pulp sci-fi). I don’t have either yet but do plan to, though I was meant to get the Occult Horror one asa part of the kickstarter. For some reason it didn’t happen.

Before we get around to making characters, I am going to do a basic run through of the system and character creation.

To succeed at a task you generally need to roll a 4 or higher on a dice. The more times you succeed, the better. For more difficult tasks you might need more than 1 success. On the flip side, rolling all 1s means something bad happens to you. So the more dice you are able to roll, the better it is for you on both accounts.

With that in mind, how do you get dice? That is part of the character building process.

Everyone starts with seven traits. There are four basic traits that everyone has – body, speed, mind and will. These are common to all characters, and are pretty much what they sound like. Body represents your physical side, speed your quickness and co-ordination, mind your intelligence and perception and will your personality and willpower.

Then there are three unique traits – species, type and career. These differ for each character but serve the same purpose. Each of these unique traits gives you some three skills and two gifts. Skills are what allow you do accomplish stuff and yes, some unique traits can give you bonuses to the same skills. Gifts are unique talents that your character has, some of which are always active while others give you bonuses in specific situations.

Species represents what type of animal you are – are you a horse, an elephant, a weasel or a porcupine.

Type is what kind of noir person you are – you could be hard-boiled type, a rebel, have a heart-of-gold, be crooked or just be plain old.

Career is obviously what you do for a job – you could be a prize-fighter, a bootlegger, a detective, actor and more.

Once you have picked your species, type and career (say a Sparrow Drifter Biker), you assign your dice to your seven traits. Two are your good traits which get D8s, one is a bad trait which gets a D4 and the rest get D6s. Which traits you assign them are up to you – at D8 in species you maybe the foxiest fox that ever foxed, but a D4 in it might mean you don’t conform to the expected standards and tropes of a fox.

For your three unique traits (species, type and career) find your three corresponding skills and assign the dice value you gave to the trait to it. For example, a coyote gets the athletics, fighting and observation skills. If you assigned D6 to coyote, each of those skills gains a +D6 to skill roles.

List your gifts and gear you get from your unique traits and make note of what bonuses you get from the various gifts.

Lastly, work out your personality. Are you bold, lazy, sad, sneaky or something else? If you undertake an action where your personality is at play, you get a bonus +D12.

And that is pretty much it for how you make a character.

When you come to make a skill check, you get the dice value from your appropriate basic trait plus any dice from skills you may know and any bonuses from other sources, like gifts. Basic traits are not necessarily set for a given skill – they can vary depending on how you are undertaking the action. For example, the deceit skill. If you are just trying to out and out bluff someone, the Will trait would be used. Trying to be light-fingered and nick something without anyone noticing would use the Speed trait. Undertaking a clever deception would use the Mind trait. I really like this approach, where skills aren’t set in stone as to what trait they use. Often it can lead to the ‘one stat to rule them all‘ problem. (Warning, TVTropes link.) I especially like this when it is applied to combat.

With a brief look at the system done, next time we will show off a few character builds and what they can do.