Weird Detective Mystery Adventures


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Weird Detective Mystery Adventures is designed to simulate the characters and events involved in the Modern Thrills genre. Cataloged in this manual are every plot device and ability described in the literature. For the most part, we have stuck to describing such in the way in which they have typically worked out in this form of fiction. In a way, this game is a kind of fictional physics manual. The game is not about reality. It is about fiction and its mechanics are based solely upon compliance to fictional conventions.

Our game deals with the imposition of the fantastic upon the seemingly normal world. It is the genre of comic books, horror movies and newspaper tabloids.The events in this genre happen to a select few at a given time in a set place--and then real world snaps back into place. There’s no world building here, per se. All good horror novels are set in the seemingly normal world. The more normal, the better. Comic book heroes with their loud outfits and celebrity status are all essentially tooling around in the here and now. Unlike fantasy or space opera or even cyber punk, the fantastic events that take place here seem to be victims of non support. The fantastic just floats around a bit, like a soap bubble—reflecting, transparent, defiant and inevitably temporary. All you really need to know about the normal world is that it’s pretty gosh darn robust. Either it’s in denial or there is some hidden force that makes the status quo heal itself.

Role Playing games themselves are also a genre of fiction. It isn’t just an interactive fantasy or an acting exercise, but also a game with points scored and rewards gained for risks taken. Unlike a well plotted fiction, a happy ending is not always assured. Knives are brought to gun fights. Tac nukes are dropped on hopscotch games. Your average fiction character wouldn’t tolerate this sort of abuse! Moreover, they don’t. The Chosen of The Gods Barbarian Prince NEVER accidentally decapitated his trusty man at arms. Joe Zoom master spy didn’t have to work his way up to double zero clearance by spending the majority of his early adventures tracking suspicious cab drivers. And then there’s those well dressed costumed crime fighters who EARNED their abilities by being born rich, born an alien, having a mutant trait or by having a vat of chemicals dumped on their heads. NONE OF THESE PEOPLE WERE EVER FIRST LEVEL.

Even the ones who got to be first level didn’t seem to like it much. The protagonist of our favorite horror movie series, should she make it to the sequel, isn’t really looking at her situation as a learning experience through which she can hone her survival skills—she wants the heck out, again. Let’s face it: a steady diet of horror is enough to make anyone want to quit. Maybe if she had spent the interim between the two movies warmingup with a few routine UFO encounters or broken up a bank heist or two, she may have felt up to the challenge.

Being starting level is a challenge in any game. It’s worse here. There are no guilds, droid repair shops or really anything to help you along your way. Your character is a victim of non support—the world is not set up for them. The heroes are very unusual people who have very little in common with the average person in their world. Just to make matters more complicated, the majority of people who are actually somewhat like your character—perhaps by a factor of 1,000 to 1—have flat out joined the bad guys. That’s the bad news. The good news is, you’re one tough cookie. The average starting hero in this game can throw a car, fly and do something else. Or something like that…

Starting characters in this game have already been the protagonist of the first horror movie and survived. More good news is that, unlike characters in conventional fiction, heroes in role playing games NETWORK. They have co-workers of almost equal ability to themselves. So maybe this time out the rest of the cast members hopefully aren’t zombies.They too, have also survived their first movie—although it may not have been the exactly same type of one you were in. Teams have a tendency to be mixed media experiences: Ninjas with Cowboys and Robots and Displaced Fantasy heroes. It’s like the Wizard of Oz, only armed. Yes, your co-workers, like co-workers everywhere, have issues and agendas. Yes, like co-workers everywhere, they are annoying scene stealers. But by the time your sequel starts, you have both experience and back-up on your side. And you get to be in co-worker’s sequels, too!

Come to think of it, maybe that isn’t such good news. At any rate, role playing games are a team sport.

In this edition of Weird Detective Mystery Adventures, we have included two methods of character creation, which are mutually exclusive. All of the characters have to use one or the other and it is up to the judge to determine which. Included in the PDF edition is Union City, a campaign setting which is for the Judge’s use and reference.

Our first method of character creation is called Social Convention. This is a two stage process. First, the player must come up with an idea for their character.Once the character concept has been invented by the player, he and the judge work together to define that character within the rules and the adventure setting. The Judge has to determine what power levels are suitable to a given setting. Roughly speaking, player and judge translate the character into the game’s rules. You don’t have to worry about point awards or game balance or anything.

If everyone is happy with the character, there is no problem. If the character is a bit of a wimp compared to others currently playing, the Judge will modify it upwards, generally by raising the levels of the character’s basic statistics. If the character is overwhelming his teammates or is just walking through situations without batting an eyelash or breaking a nail, the Judge will modify the character downward, usually by taking away certain disruptive abilities or other obnoxious toys.

This is our original system and it works fine. You wind up with heroes who very much match the literature this game was based off and it frees all parties from the nightmare of attempting to make all characters absolutely equal.

What this system does not do is rationally allow for character innovation or improvement. Once set, the character is static. That’s it. That’s what he does. That’s as good as he gets. The heroes are not equal and never will be.

Our second system is called Progressive Character Developmentand is new to this edition. It is the reason that this edition is 1/3rd accounting rules. It is a typical role playing progression system, wherein the characters start off equal and wimpy and eventually progress evenly through the deployment of development point awards. It is slightly less dependant upon everyone involved being a serene Zen Master and it meets the expectations of the general consumer of role playing games.

This new system has been tested extensively. The number one convention in the system is that you cannot use one of the wishes in your ring of three wishes to wish for more wishes. The second convention is that disadvantages and modifications to an ability are here to help you illustrate how your character performs a task, not to create an accounting disparity between characters of equal point values. As long as these two conventions are abided by, all characters should progress at roughly the same rate. The general rules of this system are:

1. Come up with a Character Concept.The concept should fit in a Modern Setting. It should explain what the character does and how.

2. Ignore the Character Concept and never think of it again.You start off with 250 Development Points which you can use to buy the character’s BASESTATS and Abilities Arsenal. The completely average normal person has about 60 points just in BASESTATS and may overall rate out at 100 points. You have 250 points, which is enough to make a character who can throw a car, fly and have a job as a reporter.

3. There are no levels or classes in this game.Everything is scalable and ala carte. Each power is a class in and of itself. Your character can have a decent career just on BASESTATS alone if he wants to. On the other hand, do not be afraid of having Average as a BASESTAT, at least to start.

4. Buy the Assigned BASESTATS first. Assigned BASESTATS will give you bonus points which you can use interchangeably with either the Background or Equipment Abilities. Take a look at the Abilities Arsenal page and look up those listings that catch your eye. After that, it’s all making the numbers fit.

5. Experience in this game is awarded with Development Points. Awards of 5 to 10 points are given for attendance at the game session. Other point awards in various denominations are given to players for achieving objectives. Point totals of bad guys are used to determine game balance, not to determine award totals.

6. You get a car and a gun for free.You also get some free skills. If skills and guns are not the focus of your character, spend all of your points on BASESTATS and Abilities. A Heavy Machinegun is your best friend. If you don’t have an offense, get one. They cost 20 free skill points also. Get the Trademark BASESTAT as opposed to STEALTH if you intend to be a world authority on something.

Social Convention is for Zen Masters and casual users. Progressive Character Development is designed for use in a continuing campaign. The two systems are really not compatible. Both systems require the Judge to know the game, or at least to have read the entire text. Both systems use the same general game mechanics and rules.

WDMA characters are defined by two groups of attributes:basic statistics (BASESTATS) and Abilities Arsenal (POWERS, SKILLS and EQUIPMENT).Each of these are covered separately.

BASESTATS:Each character has twenty-five basic statistics.The first thirteen are purchased directly by spending Development Points.The other statistics are derived from the first thirteen.A brief description of each statistical value follows.

Assigned Basestats

Intelligence (IQ):A measure of the character's mental quickness and ability to process information.This is not a measure of how much the character knows.

Charm (CHAR):A measure of the character's leadership ability, persuasiveness, and the overall magnetism of his personality.

Willpower (WILL): A measure of the character's determination, overall sanity, strength of character and basic guts.

Perception (PERC):A measure of the character's awareness andability to use his senses.It is also a measure of how good the character's senses are.

Knowledge (KNOW):This is a measure of how much the character knows.It represents the level of training and overall exposure to learning that the character has experienced.

Muscle Power (STR):A measure of how strong the character is.

Attractiveness (ATT):

This is does not have to be a measure of how pretty the character is, but could rather be a measure of the character's visual impact.This statistic represents how well the character is able to visibly draw attention. Or it could just be a measure of how cute the character is and his/her overall curb appeal.

Constitution (CON):A measure of the character's health.This represents how well the character's body can deal with damage done to it.

Agility (AGIL): A measure of the character's coordination.

Size (SIZE):A measure of the character's overall mass.

Speed (SPEED):A measure of how fast the character is.

Power (POWER): This is a measure of how much supernatural energy a character has at his disposal.It’s how tough his magic stuff or alien stuff is. You only need it if you have this stuff. Most normal people have a Below Average Power BASESTAT. You must have at least an Average in this BASESTAT.

Luck (LUCK): Dumb luck -- nothing more, nothing less.If you think about it, there are plenty of characters in popular fiction who have survived on this statistic alone.

Derived Basestats

Stealth (STL) or Trademark (TM):A measure of how well the character can avoid detection. Alternatively, when taken as TRADEMARK it denotes a special skill, talent, background detail or profession that the character possesses.

Dodge (DODGE):A measure of how hard the character is to hit with physical attacks during combat.

Accuracy (ACC):A measure of how well the character can land physical attacks during combat.

Deflection (DEFL):A numeric value which is subtracted from any physical damage the character receives.

Recovery (REC):The number of HTK points a character may add to his current total at the end of each action.This is a numeric value which represents the character's ability to heal.Recovery only applies when the character's HTK total has been reduced due to damage he has received.Once the character's HTK point total is at its original assigned number, he may not recover further.Recovery is an automatic process.The character may proceed with whatever he chooses to do while he is recovering.A character whose HTK total has been reduced to below zero may do nothing other than recover.

Move (MPS): The number of meters a character may traverse during an action. Literally it is a measure of the character’s movement in meters per second.

Special Movement (*MPS):Movement in meters per second when using a POWER to travel.In game terms, one game action or combat round is more or less equal to one second.

Hand‑to‑Hand Damage (HTH):The amount of damage the character may inflict with his limbs and appendages. This is usually recorded in dice and points of damage.

Lift (LIFT):A worded description of the heaviest object that the character can lift above his head.

Hits‑to‑Kill (HTK): The number of damage points it takes to knock the character totally senseless.This total is reduced every time the character receives damage.Once the total has been reduced to zero or below, the character may take no action other than to recover.

Stun (STUN): The number of damage points a character may receive in one attack without being stunned.If the amount of damage a character receives on one attack exceeds this number, then the character does not get his next action.He also forfeits any action yet to be taken in the action segment in which he received the damage.

Initiative Bonus (IB):The number of points that the player may add to his character’s initiative roll during each segment of combat. Used for determining who goes first during a combat round.

Free Skill and Equipment Points: Beyond getting a free car and a free gun, characters also get a pool of points that they may use to buy skills and equipment with.

Assigned Basestats

Only STR and CON are really powers unto themselves. PERC, SIZE and STL can act like minor abilities when not plugged into a power, but their effects are very limited. Avoid assigning levels greater than Heroic into a BASESTAT, unless you are going to plug an Ability into it. A high level in a BASESTAT is the reason you have the power, it is not the power itself. The descriptions beyond Heroic level assume that powers are plugged into them and are giving excuses for doing so. For a detailed explanation, see the EXTRANORMAL BASESTATS BASICS section of the GAME MECHANICSunit.

Intelligence (IQ):

Question: "How smart is this character?"

A character with a Heroic level IQ would be considered a genius.Characters with IQ levels above Heroic would be smarter than the average doctor, engineer or scientist.A person with an Extreme IQ would be smarter than the smartest doctor, engineer or scientist.IQs of Ultra, Demonic, Legendary or Omega indicate that the character is a walking super computer.

Your character receives points in equal to his IQ level’s ACT as a bonus to the Free Skill and Equipment Points total.

Charm (CHAR):

Question: "Does this character get along well with people, especially people who share the same background, interests and vocation as the character?"

The person of Average Charm gets along with most people.A person with Above Average Charm would have a lot of friends. Characters with Skilled or Talented Charm levels would be considered leaders amongst those they are close to or share a common background with.Those endowed with Heroic level charm could become leaders in any organization they are affiliated with.Persons with Mutant, Super Human or Inhuman levels of charm would have little problem becoming successful televangelists.An individual with Extreme or Ultra levels of charm would be thought highly of, even by their enemies.A man or woman with Omega level charm could found their own religion.

Your character receives points in equal to his CHAR level’s ACT as a bonus to the Free Skill and EquipmentPoints total.

Willpower (WILL):

Question: "How much self confidence does this character have?How stubborn is he? Is your character basically sane?"

The average person has enough confidence to voice an opinion on subjects she/he knows something about.He also has enough confidence to avoid becoming mired in self doubt on a regular basis.Pro football linemen have Above Average or Skilled WILL levels.A person with a Talented WILL level could be considered brave or gutsy.Individuals having a Heroic level of Will are forceful.Persons with WILL levels of Mutant or better are various shades of bullheaded.

Your character receives points in equal to his WILL level’s ACT as a bonus to the Free Skill and EquipmentPoints total.

Perception (PERC):

Question: "How observant is this character?"

The average person will seldom run into locked doors, but may lose their car in a mall parking lot.People with Above Average PERC seldom lose their car keys or wallets.Men or women gifted with Skilled or Talented PERC levels never get lost on unfamiliar turnpikes.Persons with Champion PERC will know the license-plate number of the car that cuts them off.Someone with Heroic level PERC will note the license-plate number of a car driven at high speed.A Person with Mutant level PERC will note the license-plate number of the car that runs them over.An individual with Super Human or better PERC will see things other people would miss entirely.

Your character receives points in equal to his PERC level’s ACT as a bonus to the Free Skill and EquipmentPoints total.

Knowledge (KNOW):

Question: "How much schooling or specialized training has the character received?Does he have a Masters or P.H.D?Is he a doctor or a lawyer?How much time has he spent on his job?How good is he at his job?"

The average individual has graduated from high school.An Above Average KNOW would indicate that the character has graduated from college.A Heroic level KNOW would indicate that he attended some form of graduate school or attained a specialized degree.Schooling in and of itself does not constitute knowledge.Training of any type or involvement in a profession of some complexity can also contribute to the character's KNOW.If a character is near the top of his field in a specialized area, but knows only the norm about everything else, he would have a Champion KNOW.If a character is the absolute best in his field, but knows only the norm about everything else, his KNOW level would be Mutant.A person who knows quite a bit about many fields would have a KNOW of Extreme.Demonic level KNOW would indicate that the character was the absolute best in several fields.A man or woman with Omega level KNOW would be a walking encyclopedia.

Your character receives points in equal to his KNOW level’s ACT plus SAVE as a bonus to the Free Skill and EquipmentPoints total.

Muscle Power (STR):

Question: "How strong is this character? What is the largest object he can lift?"

Use the chart below to determine the character's STR level.

Attractiveness (ATT):

Question: "Do people immediately notice this character when he enters a room or comes upon the scene? Is he particularly unusual looking?"

Constitution (CON):

Question: "How fast does this character recover from being stunned?Do his wounds heal at an extraordinary rate?"

A young person in good condition would have an Above Average CON.An athlete or person who engages in rigorous physical training would have either Skilled, Talented or Champion level CON.An Olympic level athlete would have a Heroic level CON.Persons with CON levels of Mutant or greater would recover faster than any normal human being.Someone with an Extreme level CON would completely heal open wounds within seconds.

Agility (AGIL):

Question : "How coordinated is this character?"

The person with Average AGIL can run at full speed without tripping over his own feet.A person with Above Average AGIL can run for a ringing phone in his house without crashing into furniture.An athlete would have either Skilled, Talented or Champion AGIL.An Olympic level athlete would have Heroic AGIL.People with Mutant level AGIL or better would be so agile that it would show in their every move.

This statistic is something of a fiction of the genre. In reality, there is no difference between this and the SPEED BASESTAT. People who are very fast have to be very coordinated. However, there are characters in this genre of literature who are very agile without being super fast. If that is the case with your hero, put your points in this statistic. Conversely, if you are very fast, it also makes sense to be very agile.

Size (SIZE):

Question: " How tall is this character?How much does he weigh? "

Use the chart below to determine the character's size.If the character has more mass than they should (for their height) use a levelgreater than their height would indicate.

* Hand to Hand damage has SIZE active value (ACT) added to the number of six‑sided dice in damage that the character inflicts.

** Use the chart listed under STR (above).Substitute SIZE level for STR level.If the SIZE level is greater than the character's STR level, then assign the LIFT indicated by the SIZE level.See LIFT (listed in the Derived Basestat section of this unit).

*** People who are more than 15 feet tall cannot be stealthy.

@ The Active Value for SIZE is added to the character's Deflection (DEFL) total.

# Add the SIZE ACT to the character's MOVE total.

The effects listed apply to persons who are of the listed SIZE level or greater.

EXAMPLE: A person with an Omega level SIZE would have his SIZE Active Value added to their HTH and DEFL, have Below Average Level STL and would have the option of having a LIFT description derived from either their STR level or SIZE level.

Speed (SPEED):

Question: "How quick is this character?"

This statistic is something of a fiction of the genre. You only crank this statistic if your character is a bit of an athlete. It gives you speed comparable to a normal human. If you want to move faster, you will need Super Speed as a power. Speed adds to your DODGE, as does AGIL.It adds to a possible initiative bonus in combat.

Power (POWER):

This ability is used to explain powers which have no reason to be linked to the character's other statistics.

Luck (LUCK):

Question: "How much does this character depend upon his luck?"

Luck is a rather nebulous statistic.It only applies to situations which are beyond the character's ability to control.A person with Average LUCK might win a raffle once or twice in his life.A person with Champion Luck could survive a terrible car crash.Someone with Mutant level luck could consistently come out ahead playing the slot machines in Las Vegas.If a person with Extreme LUCK is pushed out of a tall building, he will inevitably land on something soft.A person with Omega LUCK could survive a jet liner crash against a mountain.

Your character receives points in equal to his LUCK level’s ACT as a bonus to the Free Skill and Equipment Points total.

Derived Basestats

Before moving on with Derived Basestats, you probably want to have an idea of what powers your character is going to have. For this reason, you may want to check out our Abilities Arsenal. Abilities can often affect Derived Basestats.

The following derived BASESTAT calculations will use this sample character as an example:

Stealth (STL):

Formula = Average AGIL, PERC and IQ Saving Values. Assign level closest to result.

In the case of Mr. Fun, his AGIL SAVE (35), PERC SAVE (45) and IQ SAVE (10) are added together and divided by three.The result is 30.A Saving Value of 30 equates to Heroic level.Thus, THE Mr. Fun’sSTL is Heroic.

Stealth when one is trying to be sneaky. If you want to be invisible or stealthy beyond this, it requires the abilities Shadow Power, Controlled Public Reaction, Mind Cloud, Mind Control or Cloak

Trademark (TM):The Trademark ability is a broad skill set or background detail. It can be their profession, such as Auto Mechanic, Parapsychologist, Medical Doctor or Astronaut. It can also be a condition, such as Daughter of Zeus, Mutant, Alien or Vampire. It can also denote a talent class, such a Juggling, Rock Star, Painter, Sculptor, Circus Clown or Ladies Man. The rule of thumb is that it can’t be any more useful than Stealth itself. It also has to be something whose general ability level isn’t likely to change too much. You take this ability at the cost of taking Stealth. This doesn’t prevent you from sneaking around, it just means that Stealth is really not your thing.

Formula = Average any three Assigned Basestats Saving Values. Assign level closest to result.

In the case of Mr. Fun, he is a professional sports writer. He could, of course, just take this as a Background Ability. His player has decided that this profession is so key, that he would like to designate it a Trademark. The three statistics that he has assigned are IQ SAVE (10), LUCK SAVE (30) and PERC SAVE (45). The overall average is 28, which makes his Trademark Sportswriter ability Heroic. We reference this whenever there is any question about his fame as a sportswriter, his connections or even his ability to do the job. He isn’t very stealthy, but he is one heck of a sportswriter. Trademarks must be approved by the Judge in advance.

Dodge (DODGE):

Formula = Average PERC, AGIL and SPEED Saving Values.Take the result and subtract half of SIZE Saving Value from it.Assign level closest to total.

Mr. Fun’s PERC SAVE (45), AGIL SAVE (35) and SPEED SAVE (30) are added together and divided by three.The result is 37 (rounded up).This total is then subtracted from one half of his SIZE SAVE (2.5).The result is 35 (rounded up).A Saving Value of 35 equates to Mutant level.This gives Mr. Fun Mutant level DODGE.

Accuracy (ACC):

Formula = Average PERC and AGIL Saving Values.Assign level closest to total.

Mr. Fun’s PERC SAVE (45) and his AGIL SAVE (35) are added together and divided by two.The result is 40.A SAVE of 40 matches the level Super Human.This gives Mr. Fun an ACC level of Super Human.

NOTE: The ACT and SAVE for ACC and DODGE do not need to be recorded.

Deflection (DEFL):

The only way to acquire a DEFL total is to have a SIZE level greater than Extreme or be endowed with a power that gives the character a DEFL total. DEFL does not work against mental or gas attacks.

Recovery (REC):

A character's Recovery total is equal to his CON level's Active Value (ACT).

Mr. Fun’sCON level is Super Human.The ACT is 12.This makes his REC total 12.

Move (MPS):

Formula =SPEED ACT in meters per second.

Mr. Fun's SPEED ACT is 8 (Heroic).His MOVE is thus 8 meters per action.

Hand‑to‑Hand Damage (HTH):

Formula = STR ACT.

Mr. Fun’s STR level is Omega.The ACT is 24.This makes his HTH 24 six‑sided dice.

NOTE: HTH, REC and MOVE may be boosted by powers.

Lift (LIFT):

Use the description found to match the character's STR value.

Mr. Fun’s STR is Omega.This makes his LIFT "Aircraft Carrier."

Hits‑to‑Kill (HTK):

Add SAVEs for STR, CON, SIZE, LUCK and POWER together.

Mr. Fun’s STR (70) + CON (40) + SIZE (5) + LUCK (30) + POWER (5) = HTK 150

HTK as a dumping ground for unspent Character Development Points. You may convert Character Development points into HTK points on a one to one basis.

Stun (STUN):

Add STR SAVE, CON SAVE and WILL ACT together.If STUN total is greater than the character's HTK total, then the STUN total should be reduced to what the HTK is.

Mr. Fun’s STR SAVE is 70, his CON SAVE is 40 and his WILL ACT is 8.This makes his STUN 118.

Special Movement (*MPS):

If the character has a movement power which does not contribute to his normal MPS, record it here.

Initiative Bonus (IB):

Assuming Mr. Fun has no powers, he gets +1 for his PERC being Mutant level or above, +1 for his AGIL being Skilled or above, +2 for his AGIL being at least Mutant level, + 1 for his SPEED being at least Skilled level and +1 for his LUCK being at least Skilled level. His total IB is 6.This is the number he may add to any Initiative roll.

Free Skill and Equipment Points:

Free Skill and Equipment Points = IQ ACT+ CHAR ACT + WILL ACT + PERC ACT+ KNOW ACT + KNOW SAVE + LUCK ACT

In the case of Mr. Fun, his total is IQ ACT (2) + CHAR ACT (3) + WILL ACT (8) + PERC ACT (14) + KNOW ACT (6) + KNOW SAVE (25) + LUCK ACT (8)= 66 Free Skill and Equipment Points.

Mind you, you get a free car and a free gun, over and above these points. It is strongly suggested that you use these free points to buy your highest level skill in Background. See the listing for Background in the Abilities Arsenal. The free points are good enough to round out a starting character or one who does not really use skills or equipment. For characters who are masters of special skills, connections or gadgets, it provides a nice bonus.