Asphalt and Trouble - Futuristic Biker-punk


(Jacob Segal) #1

Hey! I’m working on a FitD game called Asphalt and Trouble. It incorporates a lot a genres that can be hard to summarize: cyberpunk, wild west, post-global-warming-apocalypse, biker-punk, etc.

Much of America has become unlivable due to climate change. People have congregated in major cities, protected from the elements and run by corporations, but that’s not where the story takes place. You are a biker gang, ruling the open roads between civilization, protecting or ruling the small, forgotten towns in rural America. The bikers have carved out the open spaces as their own, and struggle for power without attracting the notice of the corporations who have abandoned this land.

Touchstones: Full Throttle (Lucasarts), Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson), Mad Max Fury Road

I still have a long way to go, but I’m close to something I can post and early playtest.

A&T will have a similar amount of content to Blades (7 player playbooks, 6 crew playbooks currently), and many new and updated rules for the setting. I’m particularly expanding the Turf mechanics, as controlling the expansive land between cities is a greater challenge, with greater rewards. As it I have it planned, Turf maps aren’t specific to crew types, but are modular depending on the GM and crew’s goals. This is the largest section I still have to develop, but I have ideas down.

I’m also working through a few foundational challenges, so I’d be especially open to feedback on these problems and whether the “solutions” work:

  • Capturing land owned by others in the Wild West? A bit problematic. Instead, owning Turf is about having the trust of the people who live there, and being responsible for their safety and upkeep.

  • Current biker aesthetic is full of white machismo. In A&T, though, the corporations have focused on appealing to the majority as the best fiscal sense, oppressing or objectifying minorities, who often find ways to leave the cities and join the gangs. Machismo culture is fetishized within the city, but not a real representation of biker gangs.

I’m almost at a stage where I feel comfortable posting what I have, so I’ll post a link here soonish. I also have a placeholder twitter account I’ll be updating with developments as well. https://twitter.com/Asphalt_Trouble


(Ian Hart) #2

I’ve taken a similar approach to Turf in my western-themed fantasy game. Though so far “earning trust” has always meant explicitly defeating a threat to the people, rather than any roleplayed bridge building.
It is effective, but I’m hoping to experiment with a more diplomatic approach. Definitely let me know if you have playtested it that way!


(Michael Elliott) #3

Capturing land owned by others in the Wild West? A bit problematic. Instead, owning Turf is about having the trust of the people who live there, and being responsible for their safety and upkeep.

I’ll say that “being responsible for their safety and upkeep” doesn’t sound like you’ve fully addressed the possible colonialist problem. If you’re rolling up and taking control just because you want to or convince the residents that you could run it better, that’s colonialism. If you’re working to bring communities together at their behest to better share resources and avoid the corporate tyrants, all while not imposing the crew’s will or goals, that sounds more like the direction you’re trying to go.

Hard to say since I’m just going by the summary you’ve provided. There’s a lot to consider there with how crews are made and what you’re rewarded for doing. If you’re rewarded for expanding your turf or seizing a claim, that could be the source of your problem. But if you’re rewarded for securing resources or getting something the community wants you to get, that sounds like you’re actually being responsible for their safety and survival.

Current biker aesthetic is full of white machismo. In A&T, though, the corporations have focused on appealing to the majority as the best fiscal sense, oppressing or objectifying minorities, who often find ways to leave the cities and join the gangs. Machismo culture is fetishized within the city, but not a real representation of biker gangs.

Don’t have a lot of experience with bike culture so I’ll take your word for it. The summary you give seems to imply that the majority of survivors in this world are white dudes. Is that true? Or do white dudes simply have the most wealth and resources? If so, why is that still true? Might be worth addressing directly (assuming you haven’t) rather then just assuming the status quo persisted after the climate apocalypse.

I like that you’re tackling this, but I think that whether or not you’re successfully painting a different picture of bikers would depend on the mechanics rather than the fiction. Do the playbook special abilities reflect how biker culture really is, and contrast that with what is expected? Do the actions characters have access to subvert player expectations of machismo bikers, which could mirror wider assumptions about current biker aesthetic?

My two cents. Hope that helps!


(Jacob Segal) #4

I really appreciate the feedback!

I get what you mean about the first point. I’ll have to ponder that some more. I’m afraid some of it will boil down to the types of scores a GM puts in front of the players, but I can try to make the intent explicit with mechanics.

For the second point, it’s not that white men survived in greater numbers, but that corporations condensed power, and kept the status quo. A lot of what, IMO, makes my setting a bit different from other settings is that there is not one big apocalyptic event, just the slow decay as corporations stopped being reined in and the landscape became progressively less hospitable. This created a trend towards wealth being accumulated in majority populations.

The mechanics dictate that bikers are shunned or hunted by corporations (depending on Wanted Level), and are necessarily outsiders to city and corporate life. The fiction dictates that corporate life values straight white men more, as they have money to spend. But I don’t think I have any mechanics per se that show biker life as more diverse.


(Jacob Segal) #5

Hey, everyone, I’ve posted the first playtest version of Asphalt and Trouble! I’ve incorporated some of the comments and ideas I’ve seen here.

Download it here for free: asphaltandtrouble.com

Particular rules designed for A&T include rules badass bikes, and mechanics for social consequences in the form of Slights and Grudges. Wanted Level is replaced with Threat Level, representing corporate pressure on the entire area, and NPC gangs can increase heat, too. There is also no way to decrease heat or threat level. Eventually, the corporations will come for you, your friends, and your enemies. The rate of Threat Level growth determines the length of your crew’s adventures.

And please let me know if you have any thoughts or opinions! I’m in the middle of playtesting it with some friends for the first time, so it’s still undergoing updates, but I’ll gladly take other enthusiasts’ opinions!


#6

I really like what you have done. The setting itself is brilliant - it gives a lot of room to roam without constant harassment by corps or large police forces. Private armies, warlords, and small town sheriff can all exist and carve out space.

You are using hack in a similar manner as I am in adrenaline (crafting). I love “haunt” as your replacement for Vice. It fits the biker setting perfectly.

It is cool for a crew to pick a theme song, I wonder if you could push it further. What if they had to actually define reputation by creating a fictional song title.

Grudges seems like a good expansion of faction ratings to individuals.

It wasn’t clear how bikes work during gameplay.

I see our hacks as complementing each other quite well. We just have a few mechanical differences.


(Jacob Segal) #7

Thanks for checking it out!

I’m teasing around more ideas related to a theme song, too. Making your own sounds cool. I’m also thinking of tying it into the crew experience trigger more explicitly.

Mechanically, the characters can be on bikes when it’s fictionally appropriate, and they act as an additional harm track that’s easier to clear, so the risks of doing stunts on bikes is lower, so players can go hog wild (pun intended) while on bikes. It can also motivate players to pick scores in the open, so the biker gang theme is appropriate. Otherwise, I’m afraid most scores will end up indoors and bikes will never get mentioned.

I have plenty more text and explanation to add, so I’ll make sure that part is clearer. Thanks for the feedback!

It does look like we have compatible hacks. Congrats on the KS!