Film Noir Game


So, I've had a system idea bouncing about in my head for the last several months that I've decided to bring to you guys to see what you think of it. I've wanted to make a gaming system for running film noir (those old detective movies from the 40s, recently films such as The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential) for quite a while. I've a few ideas but nothing really complete. I have no intent to make a profit from this and anyone that wishes to use ideas we discuss in this forum in his/her own game is more than welcome to (if you have an idea you don't want used elsewhere, please say so in your post).

Anyway, let me first describe the gameplay I have in mind for this. Taking my cue from films like L.A. Confidential or the recent video game Heavy Rain, I see this game as for groups of players, numbering from one to four, each playing a different character with his/her own story. The players will not, unless they explicitly choose to, run as a party, like in D&D. Each player will carry his own story, each trying to resolve the mystery and finding their own clues along the way. However, when one person's story is being told, I don't expect the other players to keep quiet. In fact, I want everybody to fully participate, commenting on the action, offering advice, etc. The game would be run similar to Dogs in the Vineyard, with one mystery or storyline per session, maybe two sessions for longer, more involved stories. So I'm looking for a quick system, not a really complicated one like D&D.

I have a few basic system ideas. In case you didn't already know from my many gushes on the subject, I love the system for Dogs in the Vineyard. It's not only perfect for the western, which Dogs is, but also for film noir. So I'm really looking to that for inspiration, but if you all have any cool ideas throw them out, whether or not they work with that system. I envision this game having a core mechanic, similar to how the d20 system revolves around rolling a d20. This mechanic I call Corruption, and it's basically the central character stat around which all the others are based. This would influence all die rolls, with a high corruption giving you better success, as being able and willing to move in this world's social circles is how you are successful.

Anyway, that's my basic thoughts on this. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it and someday make a working system, mostly because I love film noir and would love to play games in it.

Personally, I think my favorite systems for social encounters is the world of darkness method. There's multiple levels of different approaches (intimidate and presence are my personal loves) Also, the "corruption" element could behave in certain ways simliar to humanity in vampire games. You lose too much of it, and you jsut stop functioning. If you lose your corruption, you go fanatical, and start tryng to peg everyone, because it's film noir--everyone's dirty.

Wickedly yours,

That's true. I was thinking of something along the lines of wod as far as the corruption mechanic, but I have to say that I personally prefer the way Dogs does it for a film noir type thing. The coolest thing about Dogs is the give and take that's so much a part of the game, and that fits in perfectly inside a noir setting, where you might need to grease some hands before you actually get anywhere. I admire WoD for the way it all fits together, and the way it gives off mood, though.

So perhaps what I'm looking for is an integration of something like the humanity mechanic in Vampire, with the poker-esque system of Dogs. A key part of the corruption mechanic is that it should be like humanity or morality in standard WoD, but upside down. The less moral you are as a person, the more capable and powerful you are. Goody two shoes basically can't function in this world less because they're playing paladin but because they refuse to play by it's rules, and so are kicked out of the game. Part of what would be fun with this idea is striking a careful balance between keeping your soul and being able to move and interact in such a world, where, as you said, everyone is dirty. So the scale, if replicated off of morality, would probably need to be smaller, like say with 5 steps, and also be very slippery. The character should be constantly moving up and down the scale. Also, I wanted to have a questionnaire thing to be a part of character creation, where the characters answers to the questions would determine where he or she lands on the corruption scale. Any ideas? There should, obviously, be benefits and penalties no matter where you stand, and the usefulness of having the scale be slippery is that it shows the flexibility of morality, and challenges the players to just use each rung when useful and suffer the consequences, mostly social.

So, yeah. lol this thing is really complicated, but I love film noir and would just love to go romping about in that universe.

What about a fate penalty? Most of the tiem in a film noir setting, your corruption doesn't create social connsequences, but it does create adverse circumstances. Maybe make it a Karma penalty to non-social rolls and checks?

Cosmically yours,

Perhaps both? The higher your corruption, the better you are in social situations, but the worse kind of person you are. I actually really like this idea, as it reflects the notion that the society portrayed in film noir is wholly unnatural, running directly counter to life as it should be. So, when corruption is really high, you get major bonuses in social situations, but major penalties in other situations, due to this conflict between the natural world and man-made society. When corruption is really low, you get major penalties in social situations, but major bonuses otherwise. I really like that notion, as it maps out the central conflict of the game, but also allows the mechanic to truly be the central mechanic, effecting every other mechanic.