Posted on December 6, 2011 by Matt-M-McElroy
Streets of Bedlam is a pen-and-paper roleplaying game in which you play characters with histories, who’ve done bad things, who may do a few more, but who have a code they stick to, fuzzy though it may be, that guides them through life and allows them to make a difference. Everybody in this town wants something but your characters are aiming higher than most and maybe, just maybe, they’ll do some good. At the very least, maybe they’ll stop some bad from happening.
Written and designed by critically-acclaimed game writer Jason L Blair, the man behind Little Fears, Streets of Bedlam will be built around the award-winning Savage Worlds ruleset published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group.
In this interview I ask Jason for details about the inspirations he drew from and the characters that you play in Streets of Bedlam.
What is this game about?
Ultimately, Streets of Bedlam is about desperation. It’s about what people do when they’re backed into a corner, how they fight their way out, how they overcome the impulse to sin in a world where everything is permitted (at least implicitly). It’s about crime and corruption.
It’s also about big dudes ramming their fists through some punk’s face, and S&M vigilantes who keep the citizens safe from scumbags.
What were your sources of inspiration?
Frank Miller’s Sin City graphic novels, definitely. The Boondock Saints films, Pulp Fiction, Miller’s Crossing, the Max Payne video games, every film noir I’ve ever seen. I’m pulling from a lot but not to make this a kitchen sink-setting. I’m editing to make sure things are cohesive.
What makes it a good fit for Savage Worlds?
Looking through what was available, I didn’t see anything like Streets of Bedlam available for Savage Worlds. That, and my personal affection for the system, pushed me to see what I could do with the Savage Worlds system to make it fit an ultraviolent neo-noir setting.
The two came together very well. I like Savage Worlds’ level of abstraction, the quick and easy flow of gameplay. Also, the system is very inspiring so it’s easy to write for. I love it.
One big thing though was finding ways to inject more story-focused bits into Savage Worlds, which was designed around combat. I wanted a system that could handle a street fight or highway shoot-out easily but also a system perfect for interrogation, following a trail of clues, and other detective/crime-focused systems. Savage Worlds Deluxe touches on those systems and Streets of Bedlam adds to them.
What types of characters will be in this game?
This is a neo-noir crime setting about people who do bad things. What makes the player characters different from the bad guys is the PCs do bad things for good reasons. Well, at least with good intentions.
You play criminals, ex-criminals, cops, ex-cops, ex-cops who are currently criminals. You play those marginalized by society: veterans who come home only good at war; streetwalkers who have to do whatever they can to survive; people who have been thrown out and have to carve their own way. But you also play people in power, people honestly trying to do good even if they work for a corrupt and unjust system.
Are there any heroes in this setting?
Absolutely, though they’re not your typical heroes. I’m hesitant to use the term “anti-hero” but those trying to do good in Streets of Bedlam are far from Boy Scouts. Everybody in Streets of Bedlam has a past, some darker than others, and part of the drama comes from overcoming that past.
The way I like to explain it is, the good guys and bad guys have different goals but use a lot of the same methods.
What can you tell us about the new character types?
The archetypes each explore some facet of crime and/or corruption. You have Monsters who are just brutal justice-getting machines. These are the guys who walk through doors and a storm of bullets to get their man or rescue a child from the clutches of her heinous kidnapper. Vigilantes patrol the streets, watching out for murderers, rapists, muggers, and all the other scum who prey on the innocent. Dogfaces are fixers, know-it-alls, who are go-tos if you need to find out about deals going down or some two-bit jagoff who just made bail and is walking free on the streets. You can play as cops, private dicks, reporters, anyone who is sets out on a trail to unearth corruption and expose the city’s dark underbelly.
What can you tell us about Four-Story Drop?
Four-Story Drop is the first supplement for Streets of Bedlam and it’ll include four standalone episodes that groups can use to get up and running through the setting right away. They’ll be structured similar to the Campfire Tales supplements for Little Fears Nightmare Edition. Each will be broken into scenes and will include all the major NPCs for that story.
Now that the Kickstarter is funded, why should people back this project?
Exclusives! Everyone who pledges gets thanked in the corebook and those who pledge $5 or more get turned into NPCs as well. I have a whole city to populate!
Backers at certain levels can influence future episodes, get turned into a major player in the world, get character archetypes exclusive to Kickstarter pledges, get some free dice, and more.
If the Kickstarter continues to do well, I have ideas for more backer exclusives as well so the more funds that are raised, the more things get unlocked.
Where can people find out more?
I have the basics up on the Kickstarter page along with ways gamers can secure their own copies of Streets of Bedlam, get some exclusive goods, and even help shape the world. They can also check out StreetsOfBedlam.com for updates, previews, and more as we get closer to the April 2012 release date.