Zoolander, and videogames like No One Lives Forever, MODELS is a campy fun game where super spy sleuthing comes second to looking good and and staying fabulous. I first thought of having this kind of a game way back in 2003 and even created a Geocities website (does anyone out there still remember that service) to house the Character Creation guide. Back then, I was thinking of combining the Storyteller System of White Wolf with the Knacks used in Adventure and the Stunt systems used in Exalted. This time, however, I realize I like the simplicity of how John Wick's games are designed, and tailored some ideas to follow the patterns he has used in his games.
A friend of mine named Dennis contacted me today (November 6) with a simple request: Run me a game before you leave for Singapore. He had been going through a lot of stress as of the late and wanted a game to break the monotony and brain drain he has been enduring the last few weeks. At first, I was considering running either a DC Heroes session (which already has loads of pre-generated characters in sites such as writeups.org, making gaming a heck of a lot easier) or a crazy wacky one using Big Eyes, Small Mouth. But when Dennis explained further he wanted a game where he could just stumble into things and work it out... I realized neither might have worked to that effect.
Then he said the magic word: "If the game could be campy, it would be perfect."
And that's when I realized, it was finally time.
The premise is simple: Every player is a super spy secret agent the likes of James Bond, Nikita (Le Femme Nikita), Sydney Bristow (Alias) with one major twist - they are all international super models. In fact, they are international super models first, then secret agents second. This allows them virtually unhindered access to any country, with fashion shows and guestings as easy cover stories in order to achieve top secret missions for National Security. Genre samples in the game include support characters who provide intel, equipment and reprimand the agents when need be. All super spy technology must be fashionable first, utilitarian second. If it ain't stylish, it ain't meant to be in this game.
Character Creation Guide:
Decide on what your Agent's field of expertise is. Realize, the easiest is to be an all-around super model. Niche roles such as hand-model or face of the brand are possible, but do greatly limit your ability to enter practically any country. But given that, decide on what you deem is your Key Modelling Aspect.
For some, it can be the eyes. For others, the specific expression ("Blue Steel"). For some, the androgynous form. Be sure to give this KMA a name. If Tyra Banks has Smizing, consider what your Agent is known for.
Decide on what makes your Agent stand out in the fashion industry and be sure you are different from the other players, or you're likely to already be passe.
Yes. We now jump into stats. Name and other details can WAIT.
Each player has nine Attributes that define their character. The player can allocate points to map out their attributes. You have fifteen points to allocate.
All characters start at Presence 4.
All characters start at Intelligence 0. (It costs 2 points for every dots beyond the first).
Yes, most of you Agents are not that smart. But you are all damned effective in social scenarios.
2) The Skills
There are only six skills that matter in this game. Each player will have four of them, and be totally absolutely pathetically useless in one of them. The last one, they can use, but not without... cost. The skills are as follows.
Mimicking any appearance. Disguises. Intimidation. Blending in. Reading intentions. Understanding body language. Gaining trust. Matching a look. Body chameleon.
Using any firearm. Shooting things. Killing people. Making A hit B. Knowing how to use weapons. The right way. Lovechild of Chuck Norris and Riddick.
Intel. Contingency plans. Code breaking. Hacking. Driving any vehicle. Mathematics. Accounting. Fine, quantum physics too. All your ideas are mine.
Connections. Knowing someone from any location. Black market. Underground ties. The world is my bathtub.
Handling any display of prowess and strength. Climbing. Jumping. Fist fights. Muscles on my muscles.
Speaking any language. Expression. Seduction. Kissing without using lips. Or touching. Verbal orgasms.
Players choose one skill as their Weakness. They will NEVER succeed in anything related to this skill.
Players choose two skills that are given a rating of 4.
They choose one at a rating of 3.
And one at a rating of 2.
The last skill is their Fake It.
How does Fake It work?
For all rolls, except for those applying your Weakness, you can enhance them using two ways: you either Will it to happen, or you accomplish it through Sass. The system for those two can be seen below.
For the Fake it skill, however, you will always be rolling ONLY the Attribute unless you Will it or Sass it up. So read carefully.
Players have Will Power tokens. The number of tokens they have is equal to the total of their Intelligence + Resolve + Composure (+ The Brain)
Will Power tokens can be spent to give yourself an automatic success (one per point you spend) which makes them useful for certain challenges. You can only spend a maximum equal to your Intelligence in a turn, however. Yes, not being smart means you don't realize you can put more effort into this.
Players will have Sass tokens equal to the number of branded items they wear to the game session. Additional tokens can be earned if they appear appropriately fashionable for the game. If, however, it does NOT look good on the player, the tokens may be withheld.
Otherwise, a character starts with Sass tokens equal to 40 minus their player's age. Yes, it isn't easy to be sassy if you're too old to be in the industry.
Sass tokens can be spent to gain an extra die in any roll. You can only spent one Sass token in a roll, unless you find a way to declare the action in an appropriately sassy manner. "I shoot the guard with my pistol" gets only one token at most. "I aim my Jimmy Choos stilleto boot with the built-in sleeping dart launcher at the guard and blow him a good night kiss" can probably use five Sass tokens. Extra dice gained using Sass tokens must be dice of a different color from the dice you use for easy identification. Every successful die rolled from the Sass dice is returned to the character as Sass tokens. So yes, using Sass and succeeding at it means you get it back. Ain't that special?
The Fake it skill, when Sassed, always recovers a minimum of one Sass token. You get rewarded for just doing it. Yes, we're not always evil.
All characters have Health Ranks equal to their Strength+Stamina + The Muscle.
Clearly, if you don't have The Muscle, you're much more prone to dying. Don't worry, we all die sometime.
If you have taken damage equal to half your Strength+Stamina, you must succeed in a Resolve roll each turn or fall unconscious.
Once your Health Ranks hit zero, you're on the verge of dying. Any one wanting to kill you, who is in the scene, can spent a Sass point to do so. And once you're dead, you're dead. No, this game doesn't have vampires and the like. Even international model super secret agents hate Twilight.
7) Defense and Initiative
Your Defense rating is the lowest of your Wits and Dexterity.
This is subtracted from any rolls that attempt to attack you.
Your Initiative rating is the highest of your Wits, Dexterity and Intelligence.
You roll a die and add this to get your initiative for the round. Highest acts first.
8) Dice pool
Dice pool is basically Attribute + Skill (+ equipment) (+Sass)
Target number for each die is 8.
Rolling 8, 9 or 10 is a success. Some actions may require more than one success.
9) You are allowed to carry two signature Equipment at the start of the game.
Equipment are as follows:
Name | Brand | Purpose | Utility
Jimmy Choo Stilleto Boot | Jimmy Choo | Stylish Boots (The Muscle +1) | Sleeping Dart
Good Night Darling | Covergirl | Vibrant Red (The Face+1) | Truth Serum
10) Bonus Skill
You can activate the bonus skill of your Rank 4 skill once per game session. Activating a Bonus Skill costs three Sass. Your Weakness can never be activated. The Fake it costs double to activate.
I Read You: You perfectly read the body language of someone. You can now "read" that person even without him talking to you and win Initiative automatically against that person for the remainder of the game.
I'm Never Unarmed: You can hide one specific weapon perfectly upon your person, and draw it as a free action. This weapon cannot be found unless you cancel this Skill (and refund the Sass). Size limits do apply.
I Knew You Were Thinking That: You anticipate an event so well, you can point to another player and declare how that person has something ready to counteract it. Must be reasonable and fashionable.
Best Friends For Ever: You can choose one NPC or mook in the scene and declare him or her an old friend of yours. This is established as a truth from this point on.
What can I say, I am Perfect: One roll that uses a Physical Attribute is considered to have a perfect success (all dice come out a success).
Love Conquers All: Initiate a love-making scene between your character and others (maximum equal to your Stamina+1) and all involved gain Sass equal to their Maximum Health Ranks.
EDIT (For games with younger players, you can use this instead)
Love Conquers War: Halt any conflict scene with either a passionate speech about love, or a physical display of affection towards the enemy. The conflict is halted for that scene alone. (The conflict may still be restarted but only if the person reinitiating it pays the Agent four Sass.)
11) Name and Code Name
Come up with a Name. You have two names.
Your real name (which usually is drab and mundane)
Your model name (which can earn you bonus Sass if it really sounds good)
Now come up with your Code Name.
Your Code Name should relate with the other players. Take the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad from Kill Bill as an example. Or James Bond's 007 code name. If you guys don't sound cool together, then you ain't being Sassy enough for Models.
Pictures are necessary.
Share your own if you're brave enough. They will be posted in the blog record.
Or grab someone from online. Just avoid too familiar faces. Or you lose Sass.
So there you go.
Lemme know if you ever try running this!
I'm doing so this Friday.