Next in line, Extreme Vengeance by Tony Lee. This 1997 RPG is an exercise both in simplicity & genre emulation of a sort. I say of a sort because it’s not exactly emulating the action movie genre; it’s emulating being the lead in a 1980s-90s action movie. The special abilities a character can call upon are framed as movie cliches, yes, but some are explicitly framed as meta-manipulation of the script, editing, or sets. Your character collects & uses Popularity to advance. The number of dice you get to roll to accomplish a task is influenced by how well the Director (GM) decides the action you narrate plays to the audience. It’s an exercise in simplicity because the PCs have two, count ’em two stats: Guts & Coincidence. Guts is the one you use most & it increases as the scenario goes along: every time you go through a dramatic scene – your partner is killed three days before retiring, your daughter is kidnapped, jerks kill your puppy & steal your car – your Guts increases. In fact, you can’t have the climactic confrontation with the Main Villain until your current Guts matches or exceeds the Villain’s! Coincidence, by contrast, is more rarely called upon & only decreases. It’s the number of times you can call upon dumb luck to save you from a situation there’s no reasonable way of escaping (Danny Aiello & the exploding limo in Hudson Hawk, anyone?).
Each cast member in an Extreme Vengeance pic is defined by their Typecast, which is a combination of Descriptor (one of seven adjectives) & Designator (one of seven nouns). Let’s choose randomly & see what happens. Descriptor is Maverick; Designator is Cop. The Maverick gets 2 Guts & 4 Coincidence, the Cop gets 3 Guts & 3 Coincidence. We add them together for 5 Guts & 7 Coincidence.
Descriptor & Designator each have associated Repertoire items. These are the abilities you’ll use to alter the flow of the story, steal the spotlight & otherwise grow your fan base. Each has a level that indicates how many times you can use it in one picture.
The Maverick gets Catch Phrase (2), Cue Card (1), Dramatic Slo-Mo (1), Flashback (1), Go Ballistic (1), Lethal Exchange (1), Multiple Angle (1), Re-Shoot (1), Soundtrack (1), plus one free level to assign to any Repertoire item. I put it in Soundtrack, making it 2. (That’s an ability that allows you to declare that your character’s theme starts banging, raising the Excitement Level of a scene & increasing the amount of Popularity you earn during it. Two levels means the Maverick gets one when it initially busts out, then a reprise later in the picture during the “back when you least expected me” sequence.) The Cop gets two levels to allocate in either or both of Background Specialty Guns or Melee – let’s split it evenly, so that’s BS-Guns (1) & BS-Melee (1), BS-Streetwise (2), Catch Phrase (1), Cue Card (1), Dramatic Slo-Mo (1), Dynamic Duo (2), Flashback (2), Gratuitous Violence (1), Multiple Angles (1), Re-Shoot (1), Soundtrack (1), plus one free level. Let’s go a little more Dolph Lundgren in Showdown In Little Tokyo than crazed Australian anti-Semite in Lethal Weapon & bump BS-Melee to 2 to make this more of a karate cop. All those Repertoire items get combined; if there are duplicates the levels are summed.
Descriptors & Designators each have at least one No-Good (NG). Those are the wrenches the Director gets to throw in the works of your hero’s plans. NGs also have levels & can be called upon [level] times per picture. A Maverick has either Defective Props (1) or Pray For A Miracle (2); let’s run with Defective Props, which the Director can use to declare you’re out of ammo, the car is out of gas, the 2×4 you were using as a bludgeon snaps, & so on. The Cop chooses Defective Props (2) or Distraction (1), & for the sake of variety we choose Distraction. Once per picture the Director can divert you from the main plotline by throwing in a side quest you must attend to. Let’s just hope you don’t spend half an hour faffing around a casino to find a minor character who won’t do anything to help your main quest in the end…
But I digress. Once those selections are complete, that’s it! There’s no equipping your character; they just have whatever a Maverick Cop or Grim Agent or Acrobatic Outlaw would have. Besides, the entire equipment chart consists of a What axis (Boom, Guns, Protection, Things) & a How Big axis (Normal, Big, Very Big, Friggin’ Big). Where are your hit points, you ask? No such thing in Extreme Vengeance. When you’ve taken Wounds equal to or in excess of your current Guts you drop, coming to chained to a chair or locked in a cage or some such in a later scene. Roll opening credits, we’re ready to start shooting – the mooks & the picture.
Guts 5, Coincidence 7
BS-Guns (1), BS-Melee (2), BS-Streetwise (2), Catch Phrase (3), Cue Card (2), Dramatic Slo-Mo (2), Dynamic Duo (2), Flashback (3), Go Ballistic (1), Gratuitous Violence (1), Lethal Exchange (1), Multiple Angle (2), Re-Shoot (2), Soundtrack (3)
Defective Props (1), Distraction (1)