Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Show how bad your ass can really be in Badass Presidents by Orion Cooper

Badass Presidents is a bonkers pulp post-apocalyptic-supers roleplaying game where you play an American President from history who has reappeared to fight all manner of beaked, tentacled and suckered evil. Play Lincoln with a rocket launcher or Washington with a machete and kick some deity/space monster/mutant/evil historical figure's ass (or arse). Written by Orion in 24 hours as an entry into the 1KM1KT / Free RPG Blog 24 Hour Competition.

Making Mr. President

You begin by picking an American President (or King/Queen/Dictator if you're localising it to your homeland). Next, you work out how old your President is by subtracting the year of their birth from the current year, 2023. Multiply this by 10 to get your Power stat. Therefore, George Washington is likely to be one of the most powerful Presidents. Now you begin compiling a description of your character by picking three 'facts' (or assumed rumours or things you think are funny) about your President.

The sticky task of choosing whether the President is a Liberator or a Tyrant. You need to know your rulers quite well for this one. Orion has provided Lincoln, 'the master pugilist' as an example.


Power Points are the novel core to Badass Presidents. You spend them to do fantastic things, such as flying through the air or ploughing more dice into an attack or defense. When you run out of Power Points, your President is exhausted! Each President begins with a Humanity of 0. Being saintly raises your humanity towards 100 and being evil decreases your points toward -100. As you cross a boundary (say -30), your President increases in fame or infamy.

Combat is an ordered affair with foes facing off one-on-one. A Queensbury Rules affair, combat from a more elegant age (except with more spitting, headbutting and planting a foot in your sensitives). Starting from the left of the GM (called The Commander in Chief), the players take it in turns to face off against their foe in pugilist style. Depending on initiative, one becomes Aggressor and the other Defender. The Aggressor goes first and if they succeed, they retain the right of Aggressor and get to go again. Death is not impossible, neither is knock-out or abduction. Orion has included a handy example to sign post the way.

Plausible future this is not

An exercise in daft, this is. The setting is described such that it is fully aware of the cliches concerned with post-apocalypse. The Earth has fallen foul of every form of unspeakable evil you care to choose. Caused by the Large Hadron Collider, every manifestation of 'bad' flooded the world and in an unexplained balance of karma, so did those things required to stop it. The fate of the world is dealt with (emphasis being on the US, naturally). The brevity Asia's description still makes me laugh out loud:
"The land of Asia is as diverse as it is large. It got blown up. Nothing is there anymore."

For the GM, the are NPCs drawn from history. Death (who drives a white Pontiac, naturally), Evil Jesus, Bismark and a small bestiary of space monsters and assorted horrors.

To improve

[24 Hour Proviso] For character creation, I would like a list of popular Presidents. I can name a few but would like some help. Also, having all their birthdays to hand would be good. I would like to see a sample adventure and an improved layout. The pictures are great but I think the style could be toned. I would like to see history thoroughly plundered for its villains and more walking Gods from non-European cultures. I'd like some ideas on how to localise it: Badass Kings and Queens or Badass Dictators. I know I ask a lot but I want it in the same light hearted form as it is now.


Badass Presidents is silly. A delightful, quixotic, Monty Python silly. You start by thinking it is the work of a derranged mind but then, to your horror, can only begin empathising. You can see where Orion is coming from and to, a puzzled dotage eating beans out of a shoe with a copy of The Times. Furthermore, it's not written with a sense of "Ooooh, aren't we being funny? *wait for canned applause*" but a modest, genuine appreciation of the bizarre. Badass Presidents is a smashing little game that earns is place in the ranks of odd alongside Keeton Must Die and Asteroid 1618.

1 comment:

Orion said...

Thanks for the review! It makes me want to go back and give my hand again at reworking it a bit, and maybe adding some things. If only I had the time.