Police Procedural Game

A police procedural/legal dramaclassic-setup-fresh-spin

What do the players do?

* The D.A. player acts to direct the police, gather evidence, and make his case.

* The police player(s), if any, frame the initial scene and create the crime. They create the initial suspect, but shouldn’t make an arrest immediately in order to give everyone time to weigh in.

* The perp player creates interesting suspects, creates the crime if there is no police player. He also attempts to muddle the investigation enough that the D.A. is unable to find someone guilty.

The D.A. player may control a single character; if there’s more than one, each controls a single character. The police player(s), if there are more than one, may each control a single character; if there is exactly one, (s)he controls them all. The perp player may control a primary character (the one who actually did it), their accomplices, and one or more minor characters (witnesses). If there is more than one perp player, each controls one “major” primary character.

Not too sure about this bit: * The suspects: The perp player creates a list of names, professions, and potential reasons why the police would be interested in them as a suspect.

Idea: When the police (maybe any player?) are describing a suspect or a witness, they can create the people without having to spend any points, but whether or not they actually did it (or what they say is true) is determined by who spends what, when.

What do the characters do?

* Police characters investigate the crime, gather evidence, arrest suspects.

* D.A. characters investigate the crime and prosecute the suspects.

* Perp characters commit crimes, get arrested, and retain lawyers to defend them.


Three pools of points:

* Law. These are points spent when someone is using the law for some purpose. Police getting a search warrant, the D.A. subpoenaing somebody’s records, even the perp lawyering up. They can be used to quote laws or precedents, even made up out of whole cloth; they’re also used in arguments in court. The perp can’t spend law points until a suspect is in custody, and even then can only spend them on behalf of that particular character.

* Evidence. These are points spent when adding or describing a suspect, weapon, or any other piece of evidence (blood stains or samples, security footage, scratches on a door, a note, etc.). Also used when bringing an expert of some kind (the department’s shrink, the medical examiner, or any other expert).

* Crime. These are spent by the perp player to do criminal things, either to cover up the crime, silence witnesses; can be spent by anyone (including the police and D.A.) to have their side do shady things that can harm their case. Only the perp can spend crime until a suspect is in custody. The perp player can also spend crime points to have the police do shady things!

Nothing anybody says has any force behind it until/unless someone spends a point, in which case it becomes canon. It has to have a grain of truth to it (can’t directly contradict anything) unless the point spent was a crime point.


* At least two, in the following configurations:

* Exactly two. Either perp and D.A., police and D.A., or multiple police.

* Exactly three. One each perp, D.A., and police.

* Exactly four: One each perp and D.A., and two police

* Five or more: One or more perp, one or two D.A., and two or more police.

Here’s how it goes:

* The crime. If there are police player(s), they get together to determine the nature of the crime, and one of them frames the initial scene and describes the crime. The who is never known at this point; the crime should be described in terms of what a witness (and the viewer) sees.

Idea: Everyone goes around the table making their descriptions, discussing whether or not something should have happened, etc. Once everyone has had the opportunity to describe something (or has otherwise had their say), they then go around the table deciding whether or not to spend points to set statements in stone.

* The initial investigation. The police are working to locate a suspect, narrow down a list of suspects, and make an arrest. If there are no police players, the perp and D.A. players take turns controlling them (roleplaying individual cop characters between themselves). If there are two or more, they take turns creating facts (deciding or not to spend points to “set” them), but they do have to roleplay being the cops.

* Did they get the right guy? Probably not, unless a lot of law and evidence points have flown, good dice rolls to counter crime points, etc. The D.A. is spearheading the investigation at this point.

Who can spend what:

* Anyone can spend evidence points. The perp player can spend them to muddle the investigation, add equally plausible suspects, etc., or to bring in witnesses to weaken the D.A.’s case. The police player can spend them to create a murder weapon or any other evidence that the police could reasonably gather. The D.A. can spend them to bring in witnesses to strengthen his own case.

* The D.A. and police players can spend law points at any time.

* The perp player can spend crime points at any time, and law points once a suspect (any suspect) is in custody (only on behalf of that suspect).

* The perp player can only spend crime points on the police when an evidence point is spent on their behalf, or when a law point is spent on their behalf by the D.A. player When a crime point is spent for the police, roll one die per point and add the result to a running total. If this running total exceeds a certain threshhold, the case is in jeopardy because the police did something stupid like searching without a warrant, forgetting to read the suspect his rights, or something else. (The D.A. can potentially salvage it with a good enough dice roll or by spending enough law points, when the time comes.) When the running total is below this threshhold, whatever it was wasn’t big enough that the D.A. can’t beat it routinely.

* Idea: Points can’t be spent retroactively.

*** Note: Remember that the perp player doesn’t have to prove that a given suspect didn’t do it, only weaken the D.A.’s case enough that (s)he can’t prove it.


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