Roleplayer
Roleplayer #27, February 1992

Robin Hood Across Time and Space

Theme and Variations

by Robert and Peggy Schroeck

You can't go anywhere these days and not see Robin Hood – a visit to Sherwood Forest may be a cultural imperative. More than any other character in myth and folklore, Robin Hood has undergone transformation after transformation. Each generation and each author has revised, recast and rebuilt Robin from the ground up, yet retaining an unchanging central core. In GURPS Robin Hood, we have attempted to join this long-standing tradition.

This book is a new concept for GURPS: a sourcebook in which variations on a basic roleplaying theme are explored in many different settings. We have transplanted the spirit of the outlaw into many of GURPS' most popular genres. In the initial plan, six genres were to be presented along with the classic Robin of legend: Swashbucklers, Old West, Cliffhangers, Supers, Cyberpunk and Space. But one chapter wouldn't fit. In the following pages you will find the "missing" chapter of GURPS Robin Hood, along with optional detailed rules for archery. Set in the American Midwest during the Dust Bowl disaster of the 1930s, this scenario for GURPS Cliffhangers can start an adventure or a whole campaign.

Along with its companion scenarios it is a testament to the universality of Robin Hood, his ideals and his image. After all, the legend of Robin is eternal – we and the others are only the current tellers of the tales. Who knows who will tell them next, and what shape they may take tomorrow?

The Benefactor Bandit

The year: 1934. The place: the American Midwest. The Dust Bowl disaster is striking farms across the heart of the nation. Under the great black clouds of grit, farms collapse, towns disintegrate, people die.

Tonomawtaw County has so far been spared the brunt of the dust storms. But still, farmers suffer mysterious, ruinous crop failures. Unbeknownst to them, these are the work of a corrupt banker. Sabotaging the fields of its mortgage-holders, the Barnsdale National Bank forced them into bankruptcy, then seized their land.

One man, ruined by the bank, discovers the plot. Penniless, ignored by the police, he strikes back in the only way he can – he robs the bank and gives the stolen money to the bank's other victims. The robber is canny. He hides his face behind a series of disguises. He heralds his cause to the newspapers in the hopes that someone will care enough to stop the bank permanently.

He becomes an anonymous celebrity, as the news-hungry papers seize upon him. His exploits boost the papers' flagging circulations. His fame grows.

But with that fame comes danger. The FBI now tracks him. And the bank, afraid of his headline-grabbing accusations, has hired its own investigator to flush out the "benefactor bandit."

Wanted, Dead or Alive!

There is a reward of $15,000 for the arrest or death of the mysterious bank robber. The government and the Barnsdale National Bank have pooled resources to make this offer. It would be easier to claim the reward with a living robber; the bank and government will require a great deal of proof that a given dead body really is the bank robber.

Randall Taylor

The man behind the mystery is an ex-farmer named Randall Taylor. His history is detailed on pp. 12-13. In short, he was a farmer whose healthy crops died overnight. Randall had to default on his loan, and lost his land.

Shortly afterward, while drowning his sorrows in alcohol, he overheard two unsavory drifters boasting of the easy night's work they had just done – spraying a farm with a chemical. Randall put two and two together, but was unable to get the police to listen to his accusations.

In his desperation, he turned to crime. He robbed a branch of the BNB, then in a fit of conscience gave most of the money to another farmer about to lose his shirt. This spawned an idea. Within a few weeks he began systematically robbing branches of the Barnsdale National Bank and turning over the proceeds to farmers about to lose their land. Some returned the money to the bank; others admitted where they'd got it, and were forced to give it up . . . but many accepted the gift and used it to save themselves.

His exploits, the farmers' tales, and his letters accusing the BNB of causing the crop failures . . . all these made a sensational news story. In particular, the Alford Crier, a newspaper near death, discovered that tales of this unusual bank robber were a guaranteed boost to its circulation. Now it has a stringer in every town, just waiting for a bank job.

And this news coverage has brought Taylor unexpected allies. One by one, other destitute and homeless farmers came to him, some even by leaping in spon-taneously during robberies to help the mysterious bandit. Two years after his first half-hearted and desperate bank job, Randall Taylor is wanted by the FBI, the local authorities, and most of all, by the bank. But because of his generosity and selflessness, he is lauded and aided by the farmers remaining in the area – even those who won't accept his ill-gotten largesse.

Taylor's Tactics

Although each bank job goes differently, Taylor always follows the same basic pattern. He always disguises himself before entering the town where the branch can be found. The disguise usually includes some prominent but misleading detail – a large bandage on the forehead or wrapped around one arm, a distinctive limp, or even a stutter. Occasionally he will use nose putty to alter the shape of his face.

He almost always wears a trench coat or range coat, under which he hides his tommygun. The gun is hung on a wire hook (made from a coathanger) inside the coat where he can reach for it at ease. He will normally wait until some major cash transfer is about to take place, such as the movement of the day's receipts into the safe, before making his move.

Taylor orders everyone to lie down on the floor, and waves the gun around. (He has never actually had to use the gun in a robbery – which has earned him the sobriquet of the Bloodless Bandit – but he would use it if he had to. Many of his supporters would be shocked.)

Using a sack he keeps ready in his coat, he takes as much cash as he can load in 30 seconds (how much in dollars varies by the denominations handy, of course).

He then drops his trademark blood-stained dollar bill (always kept prepared in the coat's left pocket) on the floor and dashes out the door to his waiting car. If all has gone well, the police still don't know anything is amiss as he drives out of town.

Behind The Scenes . . .

John Bridges, the president of the Barnsdale National Bank, has several friends on Wall Street. He learned from them that Marilee Products, a large food-processing and marketing corporation, plans to purchase its own farms in order to cut out the middleman and undersell the competition. Several different regions are being considered, among them Tonomawtaw County.

During the Great War, Bridges was a colonel in a chemical-warfare laboratory. One of their developments was a defoliant in an aerosol vector (that is, a spray or mist). It was remarkably effective, killing most plant life within 24 hours, and as a side benefit was undetectable (at TL6) without an extensive laboratory analysis.

Bridges has recreated the defoliant, and is using it to force farmers into bankruptcy. The bank forecloses on their land and sells it at auction, where most of the time a representative of one of Bridges' dummy companies will succeed in buying it at a ridiculously low price. Bridges' ultimate plan is to convince Marilee to locate in Tonomawtaw County by offering them land cheaper than they can get anywhere else, and still make a substantial profit on the sale.

Bridges has not hidden his network of companies very well. Access to official records and a Research roll will reveal the five different dummy firms that he uses to buy the farmland; an additional Research roll for each company at -3 will point suggestively towards Bridges. On a critical success, hard evidence acceptable in a court of law will be found.

Friends and Foes

Taylor has both loyal friends and powerful enemies in his struggle.

Lydia Romney

Although she married another when she believed Randall dead in the Great War, the two have never ceased to love each other. Lydia lives in Barnsdale, where she is one of the local aristocracy, known for her extravagant dinner parties. At these affairs she uses her feminine wiles to extract information that might prove useful to Taylor. She alone knows the identity of the "benefactor bandit." She is described on p. 13.

The Common People

The sole recipients of Randall's weal are the poor farmers of Tonomawtaw County. Most of these people know someone whom Taylor has tried to help. Even those who would never take stolen money, even to save their farms, find it hard to condemn a man who leads such a desperate life only to help others.

It is not surprising then that when Taylor needs help, he can usually count on finding a new-met friend at the closest farmhouse. Almost every farmer in the county will hide or help him. And after the first few recipients of his aid spoke to the papers, a wall of silence has fallen over the farmfolk of Tonomawtaw County, at least as far as his description and whereabouts are concerned.

Not all the farmers in the county are well-disposed to him. Several rich landowners would immediately call the police – they see him as a criminal and a threat to their comfort. A handful of moralists think he's a dangerous lunatic. But in general, Taylor can stop at nearly any farm without fear of betrayal or rejection.

John Bridges

President of the Barnsdale National Bank, John Bridges is the mind behind the scheme. Ruthless and quite wealthy, he is described on p. 14.

Bryant Haverford, P.I.

Even though Bridges had most of the local police in his hip pocket, he wanted to make sure the "benefactor bandit" was silenced – before he was arrested, if at all possible. Bryant Haverford is the banker's ace in the hole. The obnoxious but competent investigator is described on p. 14.

Special Agent Peter Macavoy of the FBI

The apparent vendetta nature of the serial robberies prompted the FBI to assign a special agent to investigate them. This agent was 29-year-old Peter Macavoy. Idealistic and forward-looking, Macavoy works with Haverford even though he dislikes him intensely, and has come to admire the bandit he's hunting. He is described on p. 15.

The Police

Why have Randall's repeated accusations never been investigated? The police have been bought off. Bridges has bribed Police Chief Dan Waters and selected officers. He frequently employs them to forestall any possible investigations. Also, these officers are often used to serve foreclosure notices, as they are guaranteed to be unsy-pathetic towards the victimized farmers.

In general, these officers are very much the picture of the stereotypical crooked rural cop. They have a good thing going, and Randall's efforts threaten that arrangement and make them look like fools. Some would gladly gun down Randall if they got the chance. However, Bridges does not know this, and probably would not trust their performance if he did.

The presence of an apparently unbribeable FBI agent in town has had Bridges and Chief Waters very worried for some time now.

Typical Police Officer

ST 12, DX 12, IQ 10, HT 10.

Basic Speed 5.5; Move 6.

Advantages: Alertness +1, Legal Enforcement Powers (5-point level; 10 points if corrupt and getting away with it), Reputation +2 from residents on his usual "beat."

Disadvantages: Duty to Police Department on 15 or less, Enemies: minor criminals on 6 or less, Honesty or if corrupt, Greed.

Skills: Area Knowledge ("Beat")-13, Brawling-14, Criminology/TL6-13, Guns (Pistol)-14, Interrogation- 10, Law-11, Running-9.

Police officers and deputies of all kinds can be based on this template. Corrupt cops may have a Patron (such as John Bridges in Barnsdale) and a Duty to that patron; others may simply be out for themselves, with the attitude "I'm sheriff (or police chief, or deputy m charge) and I can do what I want."

Honest cops will often have a Sense of Duty to citizens, and a truly exceptional officer can have Patron: The Community – the entire town will turn out to help him if he is in trouble.

Since this is the 1930s, female police will be rare. Any female officer will have to be truly exceptional in her abilities, possess an Unusual Background, or both.

Locations of Note

Tonomawtaw County can be dropped into any Midwestern state. There are two major towns: the relatively wealthy Barnesdale (population 9,347, founded in 1839, county seat of Tonomawtaw County and home to the Barnsdale National Bank) and the struggling Alford (founded 1851, population 7,500).

Alford is notable primarily as the home of the Alford Crier, the newspaper which broke the story of the "benefactor bandit." The Crier was about to go under, but Randall's flashy criminal career has revived it. From a small-town rag printing about 500 copies a day, it has grown to statewide circulation, simply by covering the robber and his angry letters.

Thomas P. Howell, the editor and owner of the Crier, considers himself in debt to the mysterious bandit. He fears for the financial health of his paper (and himself!) if the robber should ever be caught; it would be in his interests to keep Taylor free for as long as possible. If approached properly, this could make him a powerful ally to any party sympathetic to Taylor.

The publicity has brought prosperity to both towns as well – especially Alford, which found itself the new home of dozens of reporters from across the country. Following them came the simply curious, and afterward, the tourists. More than a few of the town's leading citizens secretly thank the bandit.

Taylor's Hideouts

Taylor has relied on multiple hideouts in order to escape capture. To date, he has made use of at least four, two of which have recently been uncovered and torched by Bryant Haverford.

A typical hideout is not a very elaborate structure. Usually it is a back building on an abandoned or foreclosed farm; in one case it was actually the farmhouse. Furnishings are spare, unless the hideout comes pre-furnished by its former owners. Usually Taylor requires only a cot, a stove and a kerosene lantern. If the hideout (or another nearby building) is not large enough to conceal his car, he will park it nearby and cover it, first with a tarpaulin, then with enough hay or straw to hide its shape. Occasionally he leaves it in a dry wash or small patch of woods. He has also been known to camp out with hoboes in the local railroad yards.

Even though it's been over 15 years since he served in the Army, Taylor has never forgotten the lessons of Spartan living he learned as a soldier, and is content with his quarters. Between bank jobs he practices with his bow, composes letters to the newspapers, and frequently repaints his car different colors. Every few days he changes locations, just to be on the safe side.

Campaign Hooks

This scenario can be used to start a campaign, but is perhaps better as an adjunct to an existing campaign, as an adventure or as a source of continuing adventures. Here are some ideas:

The Investigation. The PCs are out-of-town reporters, private eyes, police, or some other group who are investigating the series of bank robberies. They only see the "Robin Hood" aspect of the crimes after they begin their researches. Will they continue their efforts to trace and capture Taylor, or will they want to cover for him or even join him? If the latter, how will they find him and convince him of their sincerity?

Treasure Hunters. An ancient artifact or treasure is located in Tonomawtaw County, according to the party's best information. But when they get there, they find their map or clues point to land owned by one of Bridges' dummy companies. Or, even more interesting, it's on the site of one of Randall's hideouts. Can they get to their goal? Whose toes will they have to step on? And what happens when they get caught in a crossfire between Randall and the bank?

Just Passin' Through. The party doesn't even know Tonomawtaw County exists, until they have to stop for a flat tire, or a track problem, or any of a dozen reasons. They find themselves in a little town that seems strangely tense, surrounded by dozens of fallow farms. When a daring bank robbery occurs under their noses, the news-papers all but praise it and the townsfolk seem almost pleased. What in the Sam Hill is going on in this town?

The Madman

An alternative idea: what if banker Bridges is not a criminal mastermind, but simply an opportunistic skinflint? if the GM chooses this option, Randall Taylor is simply insane. Mentally unbalanced by the loss of his farm, drinking heavily, he overheard a couple of crop-dusters talking about their work . . . and turned it into a paranoid fantasy of monumental proportions. He's a hero to many of the townspeople, but he's as mad as a hatter, and who knows what form his madness will take next?

In this case, give Taylor the appropriate Delusion and one or more disadvantages such as Megalomania, and add a good helping of Charisma to help him sell his crazy program to the farmers. He'll start his career by doing all the same things, but his reasons will be different. Lydia Romney may be deceived, or she may share his madness.

GMs can use this to throw a curve at the PCs. if they sympathize too much with the Bloodless Bandit, they'll mistake his megalomania for inspired leadership, and believe all his ravings . . – and wind up in deep trouble.


Bows and Bow Use

The optional rules below will bring a greater realism and flavor to archery in any genre.

Bow Strength

Each bow has a constant strength, expressed in terms of the minimum ST required to use it effectively. A bow will normally do damage by its ST, not its user's. It is assumed that the ST of a character's usual bow is equal to his own ST, but there may be times when an unknown bow must be used. If the bowman's ST is equal to or greater than the bow's, there is no problem. A bow stronger than its user, though, has a range and damage appropriate to his ST, and the user suffers a -l penalty to hit for every point of ST difference. When using a bow too strong for him, an archer must make a ST roll at the same penalty for every shot. On a failure he cannot draw the bow at all, while on a critical failure, he has pulled a muscle: one of the archer's arms (usually that drawing the bowstring) is crippled (p. B 127) for 20-HT hours. At the end of that time a HT roll must be made; on a success the arm is usable again, while a failure indicates that the arm is actually injured and must heal as though the arm had taken 1/2 HT points of damage. The archer does not actually suffer this damage – except for shock effect (p. B 126) – but the arm will not function until healed for that many points.

Stringing and Unstringing

A bow is normally kept unstrung, so that it does not bend permanently in its strung shape and thus lose its strength. If the bowman and his bow are of the same ST, stringing the bow takes 2 seconds. If the bowman has a greater ST than the bow, it only takes 1 second. Archers weaker than their bows take 2 seconds, plus 1 second for every point of ST difference, but must make a ST roll at a penalty equal to that difference in order to succeed.

Arrow Speed

Arrows do not strike instantaneously. They have a Move score, equal to 5 times the bow's ST. But note that you can only step out of the way of an arrow if you know exactly when and where it's coming!


Personalities

Randall Taylor

35 years old, 6', 165 lbs., red hair, gray eyes.

ST 13 (30 points) IQ 12 (20 points) Speed: 5.25
DX 10 (0 points) HT 11 (10 points) Move: 5
Damage: Thrust 1d; Swing 2d-1
150 points

Advantages:

Acute Hearing +4 (8 points)
Danger Sense (15 points)
Empathy (15 points)
Luck (15 points)
Reputation +4: "Good-hearted bank robber," in the Midwest, all the time. (10 points)
Strong Will +3 (12 points)

Disadvantages:

Code of Honor: Strike only at Barnsdale National Bank; Keep only what you need to survive, give the rest to those in greater need; Protect those who protect you. (-10 points)
Enemy: Various law enforcement agents on 9 or less (-30 points)
Sense of Duty: Exploited farmers (-10 points)
Stubbornness (-5 points)

Skills:

Agronomy/TL6-14 (6 points); Animal Handling-12 (4 points); Area Knowledge (County)-14 (4 points); Area Knowledge (State)-13 (2 points); Bow-13 (8 points); Brawling-12 (4 points); Carousing-11 (2 points); Carpentry-11 (½ point); Disguise-12 (2 points); Driving (Stock Car)-12 (8 points); First Aid/TL6-11 (½ point); Guns/TL6 (Rifle)-14 (4 points); Guns/TL6 (Shotgun)-14 (4 points); Guns/TL6 (SMG)-14 (4 points); Knife- 10 (1 point); Merchant-13 (4 points); Riding (Horse)-10 (1 point); Scrounging-12 (1 point); Swimming-11 (2 points); Tactics-12 (4 points); Teamster (Horses)-12 (2 points); Two-Handed Axe/Mace-11 (4 points) Veterinary/TL6-9 (½ point); Woodworking-9 (½ point).

Quirks:

Trademark: leaves behind a bloodstained dollar bill at every robbery; Seems not to notice the privations of his new career; Disguises himself for each bank job; Optimistic and cheerful; Always carries himself with a quiet dignity.

Equipment:

Tommygun (Thompson .45 SMG, 2d+1 Cr, 55 11, Acc 7, 1/2D 190, Max 1,750, RoF 20*, Rcl -3, 30 shots per clip. 12 lbs.)
Theatrical Makeup kit (+2 to Disguise skill, 20 lbs.)

Randall Taylor was a typical dirt farmer in Tonomawtaw County. He'd never be rich, but he had enough to live on and a little more, and was planning to marry his childhood sweetheart, the recently-widowed Lydia Romney.

In the meanwhile, Randall was betting his future on his crops; if all went well, he would be able to pay off the mortgage on his land and marry Lydia with a clear conscience. Everything seemed to be going perfectly – the crop was thriving and vigorous (even though the county had suffered an unusual number of unexplained crop failures in the last year). The weather was cooperating, the market was doing as well as could be expected, given the Depression – Randall was a happy man looking ahead.

Then disaster struck. Late in the season, much too late to replant, his crop inexplicably sickened and died. The Barnsdale National Bank foreclosed on the farm.

Randall's world fell apart. He was thrown onto the street with only the shirt on his back. His hopes of marrying Lydia vanished as her family and in-laws blocked him from seeing her. He turned to drink, spending his last few dollars on whiskey. As he sat in a bar, he overheard two unsavory types laughing over a job they had recently performed for the bank; with a shock, Randall realized they were boasting of destroying his crop with a chemical spray.

Stumbling out of the bar, he ran as best he could to the Barnsdale police station – and was summarily jailed as a drunkard and left to sleep it off. The next morning, sober and burning with a cold anger, he repeated his accusations. But the police brushed him off and escorted him out of the station. The promised investigation never materialized.

Cut off from Lydia, reduced to poverty, Randall haunted soup kitchens and flophouses until desperation forced him to crime. With what little cash he could scrape together he purchased a pawned shotgun (without ammunition – it cost too much) and robbed a branch of the Barnsdale National Bank. To his immense surprise, he got away before the cops could arrive, and netted almost $5,000.

But his conscience bothered him. The money wasn't his – he couldn't keep it, not rightfully. To salve the nagging voice, Randall took what little he needed to get off the streets, then gave the rest to several other ex-farmers who were down on their luck. Then he wondered . . . If the Barnsdale National Bank had arranged his own crop failure, why couldn't it have had something to do with the others? He talked to all the ex-farmers he could find. All who had suffered inexplicable crop failures had had mortgages or gotten seed money from the BNB.

Randall came to believe that the BNB was at the center of a massive conspiracy, and decided to do something about it. A month later, a bearded blond man with a limp and a shotgun robbed the Allandale branch of the BNB. Seven weeks after that, a brown-haired man with one eye took another branch for almost $10,000. And again, and again, each time with a different disguise to confuse the authorities. But at the site of each robbery, he always left a single one-dollar bill, marked with his own blood, to represent the "blood money" that the Barnsdale National Bank took from its customers. Simultaneously, down-on-their-luck farmers, those with mortgages about to be foreclosed, or those already dispossessed, found themselves the recipients of miraculous sums of money – enough to solve their problems, or at least make a dent in them. Some returned the money; others, grinning, concocted stories of inheritances, gambling winnings and even buried treasure.

But that wasn't all. After the second robbery, Randall began sending anonymous letters to the newspapers, detailing his accusations against the BNB. In plain terms he presented his investigations and conclusions, and demanded something be done. He also sent copies of his letters to John Bridges, the president of the BNB. Not by mail, but by arrow – he 'd been good with a bow since he was a child, and it satisfied his sense of the dramatic to lob his manifestoes into the president's office on the point of an arrow.

It wasn't long before the newspapers, particularly the Alford Crier, realized that the bank robber, the anonymous letter-writer, and the mysterious benefactor of stricken farmers were one and the same. The resulting uproar got an FBI agent assigned to the case, and the BNB immediately hired the Pinkerton agency to pursue Randall.

Although they knew they were after one man, they don't know exactly who he is, so Randall is relatively safe – for now. However, he remains on the run. Randall Taylor is a man filled with purpose. He knows he can't keep it up forever, but he's content to keep trying.

(Back to main text Randall Taylor)

Lydia Romney (neé Reid)

Age 34, 5'7", 130 lbs., strawberry blonde, blue eyes.

ST 10 (0 points) IQ 11 (10 points) Speed: 5.75
DX 13 (30 points) HT 10 (0 points) Move: 6
Damage: Thrust 1d-2; Swing 1d
75 points

Advantages:

Appearance: Very Beautiful (25 points)
Status 1 (Free from Wealth)
Strong Will +2 (8 points)
Wealth: Wealthy (20 points)

Disadvantages:

Enemies: In-laws/Family on 12 or less (see below, and main text; -20 points)
Phobia, Mild: Guns (-10 points)
Impulsiveness (-10 points)

Skills:

Agronomy/TL6-10 (½ point); Area Knowledge (Barnsdale)-12 (2 points); Area Knowledge (County)-12 (2 points); Artist (Watercolors)-11 (4 points); Bicycling-13 (1 point); Cooking-12 (2 points); Economics-9 (1 point); Intimidation-10 (1 point); Merchant-9 (½ point); Riding (Horse)-13 (2 points); Running-8 (1 point); Savoir-Faire-13 (0, default from Status); Sex Appeal-12 (4 points); Singing-11 (2 points); Swimming-14 (2 points); Writing-10 (1 point).

Quirks:

Believes anything Randall Taylor does is right; Still a farm girl at heart; Dislikes interference from her in-laws and parents; Mildly squeamish; Loves children.

As teenagers, Lydia Reid and Randall Taylor were sweethearts. But in 1914, Randall enlisted in the army and went off to fight in the Great War. Only a year later, Lydia's worst nightmares came to pass – the dreaded telegram to Randall's parents. He was dead, it said, killed in Europe. Lydia was stricken; for months she hardly spoke or ate. In the end she recovered, and in time, she was courted by Desmond Romney, son of one of the wealthier families in Tonomawtaw County. In the spring of 1917, she and Desmond were married.

But just a few weeks after the honeymoon, with the end of the war and the joyful return of the soldiers, a very alive Randall reappeared in Barnsdale. The news of his "death" shocked and dismayed him; even more shattering was Lydia's marriage.

Lydia and Desmond lived happily together for 13 years. Then, in early 1930, Desmond Romney died of pneumonia, leaving behind a confused young widow.

In 1931, almost a year after Desmond's death, she by chance encountered Randall; they spoke, and she felt a surge of life again. They began to see each other, at first infrequently, but soon two or three nights a week. Her families disapproved – he was only a dirt farmer, they said, below her. But they planned to marry as soon as Randall's mortgage was paid.

In the late summer of 1932, though, disaster struck and Randall vanished. From the servants she learned that he had tried to see her, but her families had thrown him out. Lydia began a frantic search, but to no avail – he seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth.

Unwilling to give up hope, Lydia continued to look, until one day she noticed an article about the "benefactor bandit," with one of his letters. She knew immediately who had written it, but still had no way to find Randall.

But late night, he came to her window and woke her. Lydia didn't mince words. She asked if he were the mysterious robber, and he admitted it. Her heart welling with love, she took him into her arms and offered him whatever help she could provide.

Today, although they meet only rarely, Lydia and Randall are keeping their love alive. She pretends to have given up looking for him; this has relaxed her parents' and in-laws' hold on her. She holds balls and banquets every month, inviting such worthies as bank president John Bridges and FBI agent Peter Macavoy. Her "idle chatter" has extracted a great deal of useful information from her guests.

(Back to main text Lydia Romney)

John Bridges, President, Barnsdale National Bank

50 years old, 5'10", 165 lbs., white hair, blue eyes.

ST 11 (10 points) IQ 13 (30 points) Speed: 5.75
DX 11 (10 points) HT 12 (20 points) Move: 5
Damage: Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+2
150 points

Advantages:

Appearance: Attractive (5 points)
Contacts (Business, effective skill 18, usually reliable. 30 points)
Status 2 (10 points)
Wealth: Very Wealthy (30 points)

Disadvantages:

Enemy: Randall Taylor on 6 or less (-5 points)
Greed (-15 points)
Secret: He sabotages bank customers' farms so he can buy them cheap for later profitable sale. (-20 points)

Skills:

Accounting-15 (8 points); Administration-14 (4 points); Area Knowledge (County)-15 (4 points); Area Knowledge (Barnsdale)-14 (2 points); Botany/TL6 (Hobby skill)-13 (2 points); Dancing-10 (1 point); Diplomacy-14 (6 points); Fast-Talk-15 (6 points); Guns/TL6 (Shotgun)-13 (1 point); Intimidation-13 (2 points); Merchant-15 (6 points); Politics-12 (1 point); Research-14 (4 points); Savoir-Faire-15 (0, default from Status); Sex Appeal-12 (2 points); Writing-12 (1 point).

Quirks:

Increasingly worried about the mysterious bandit; Interested in the widow Romney; Former Army colonel who keeps a military outlook on life; Possesses a firm faith in the basic corruptibility of man; Hates Frank Capra movies.

John Bridges was a colonel during the Great War, working in a chemical-weapons lab. After the War, Bridges returned to his home town of Barnsdale and took over the family business: the Barnsdale National Bank. He built a small, one-location bank into five branches, financially strong enough to weather the crash of '29. By 1932, BNB was poised to expand statewide.

In the meantime, Bridges had established connections on Wall Street, primarily through old military companions. This connection served him well – early in 1931 he learned that Marilee Products, a major food distribution firm, was looking to purchase its own farms in order to cut out intermediate distributors and undersell its competition. Gradually he evolved his scheme to drive farmers out of business and take over their land. Through an intermediary, he hires transients to spray fields with his herbicide – often, they think they're doing legitimate work.

His plans went well until the bandit appeared, with his accusing letters and publicity. So far he's been able to laugh off the accusations, but he's becoming more and more rattled.

Bridges is a frequent guest at the parties thrown by the widow Lydia Romney. So often has he been invited that he suspects that Mrs. Romney is attracted to him. Himself a widower for five years, he has given serious thought to courting her.

(Back to main text John Bridges)

Bryant Haverford, Private Investigator

Age 40, 5'9", 160 lbs., brown hair (balding), green eyes.

ST 11(10 points) IQ 13 (30 points) Speed: 5.5
DX 12 (20 points) HT 10 (0 points) Move: 6
Damage: Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+1
100 points

Advantages:

Alertness +2 (10 points)
Combat Reflexes (15 points)
Legal Enforcement Powers (S points)
Patron: Pinkerton Agency on 12 or less (20 points)

Disadvantages:

Addiction: Cigarettes (-5 points)
Appearance: Unattractive (-5 points)
Duty to Agency and customers on 12 or less (-10 points)
Odious Personal Habit: General obnoxiousness (-10 points)
Overconfidence (-10 points)

Skills:

Acting-12 (1 point); Brawling-12 (1 point); Criminology/TL6-13 (2 points); Detect Lies-12 (2 points); Disguise-12 (1 point); Driving (Stock car)-11 (1 point); Fast-Talk-12 (1 point); Guns/TL6 (Pistol)-16 (4 points); Guns/TL6 (SMG)-16 (4 points); Holdout-12 (1 point) Intimidation-12 (1 point); Knife-11 (½ point); Law-13 (4 points); Lockpicking/TL6-11 (½ point); Research-12 (1 point); Running-8 (1 point); Shadowing-13 (2 points); Stealth-12 (2 points); Streetwise-12 (1 point); Tracking-15 (4 points).

Quirks:

Considers all criminals to be alike – scum; Does not suffer fools gladly; Doggedly persistent; Reads pulp fiction whenever he can; Dislikes and competes with FBI agent Peter Macavoy.

Equipment:

Smith and Wesson M10 .38 Special Revolver (2d-1 Cr, SS 10, Acc 2, 1/2D 120, Max 1,934, RoF 3, Rcl -1.2 lbs.)
Spare Ammunition (1 lb.)

An employee of the famed Pinkerton's agency, Haverford has been hired by Bridges to conduct an independent investigation. Bridges asked for, and got, a skilled and ruthless manhunter. Privately, he assured the P.I. that if something "accidental" were to happen to the bandit, BNB would be very generous. To aid the investigator in his efforts, Bridges arranged for him to be deputized by the county sheriff.

In the past year and a half, he has relentlessly pursued Randall Taylor. He shares information with FBI agent Peter Macavoy, and occasionally they team up in the field . . . but they dislike each other, and never socialize together.

His career aside, Bryant Haverford is an unlikeable man. He is rude when he can get away with it. He has no respect for any authority outside of Pinkerton, and can even be heard grumbling about the "pinheads" at the home office.

He is very much a classic private eye, given to legwork and the occasional fistfight. His Unattractive Appearance is the result of a multiply-broken nose and other marks of a frequent brawler.

(Back to main text Bryant Haverford, P.I.)

Special Agent Peter Macavoy

Age 29, 6', 170 lbs., black hair, gray eyes

ST 10 (0 points) IQ 14 (45 points) Speed: 5.75
DX 12 (20 points) HT 11(10 points) Move: 5
Damage: Thrust 1d-2; Swing 1d
125 points

Advantages:

Acute Hearing +1 (2 points)
Acute Vision +2 (4 points)
Legal Enforcement Powers (10 points)
Patron: FBI, available on 9 or less (25 points)
Status 1 (5 points)

Disadvantages:

Addiction: Cigarettes (-5 points)
Duty to FBI on 12 or less (-10 points)
Honesty (-10 points)
Intolerance: Criminals (-5 points)
Sense of Duty to U.S. Citizens (-10 points)

Skills:

Acting-13 (1 point); Administration-13 (1 point); Area Knowledge (State)-14 (1 point); Area Knowledge (County)-14 (1 point); Brawling-14 (4 points); Criminology/TL6-15 (4 points); Detect Lies-13 (2 points); Diplomacy-13 (2 points); Driving (Car)-12 (2 points); Fast Draw (Pistol)-14 (4 points); First Aid/TL6-13 (½ point); Forensics-14 (4 points); Guns/TL6 (Pistol)-15 (2 points); Guns/TL6 (SMG)-14 (1 point); Interrogation-14 (2 points); Intimidation-14 (2 points); Law-14 (4 points); Leadership-13 (1 point); Lockpicking/TL6-12 (½ point); Photography/TL6-14 (1 point); Research-13 (1 point); Savoir-Faire-16 (0 points, default from Status); Shadowing-14 (2 points); Stealth-12 (2 points); Strategy-12 (1 point); Streetwise-13 (1 point); Swimming-12 (1 point); Tactics-12 (1 point).

Quirks:

Has an aura of quiet confidence; Has come to like and sympathize with Randall Taylor; Never goes anywhere without his pistol; Has his own suspicions about BNB, and is investigating the bank; A bit of a "lady-killer."

Equipment:

Smith and Wesson M10 .38 Special Revolver (2d- 1 Cr, SS 10, Acc 2, 1/2D 120, Max 1,934, RoF 3, Rcl -1.2 lbs.)
Tommygun (Thompson .45 SMG, 2d+1 Cr, SS 11, Acc 7, 1/2D 190, Max 1,750, RoF 20*, Rcl -3, 30 shots per clip. 12 lbs.)
Spare Ammunition, Pistol (1 lb.)
Spare Clips, Tommygun, 2 (2 lbs.)
Fingerprint kit (2 lbs.)
Portable Lab (150 lbs.)

Peter Macavoy is the FBI agent assigned to the "benefactor bandit" case. Despite his relative youth, he has already established an impressive track record. Locally, he's a minor celebrity – the first FBI agent most people have ever met.

Though he can pound the streets when he has to, he is trained in the latest forensic techniques, and carries a small lab in a trunk whenever he is on assignment. He has studied every letter sent by the robber; he has examined and photographed each crime scene. He has come to believe that he understands the robber intimately; with that understanding comes sympathy. Intrigued by the accusations of arranged crop failures, he has tested soil from several of the farms. Although the tests were far from conclusive, Macavoy is convinced that the robber is correct – someone was poisoning crops and forcing failures. Although he is dedicated to capturing the "benefactor bandit," he has promised himself that if Taylor's accusations are true, he will bring the bank to justice as well.

He goes nowhere without his pistol, which is kept in a shoulder holster. He also carries a small fingerprint kit at all times. For the last year and a half, Peter has lived at FBI expense in the Barnsdale Arms Hotel.

(Back to main text Special Agent Peter Macavoy of the FBI)

(Back to Roleplayer #27 Table of Contents)


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