This article originally appeared in Valkyrie magazine

Let's Rumble

by John Tynes

Art by Dan Smith

[Editor's Note: This article originally ran in Valkyrie magazine in 1996.]

"It's going down tonight, Ringo. Big Trousers Garcia and the boys from Capture Squad Capybara are gonna be there. They've gotta be stopped!"

"We'll be there with bells on, don't worry. But where's it happening?"

"That's the thing. You'll never believe this . . ."

Where is it happening? Is it a public place? A private residence? Are there enough doors and windows for hordes of mooks to come blazing through? Could hordes of mooks even be there in the first place? What cool stuff is available for the big fight scene that is bound to happen as soon as Garcia lights his cigar and says "Teach 'em a lesson, boys!"?

In Feng Shui, big honking fight scenes are the mayonnaise that binds the double-pastrami-on-rye of your scenario together. How many cool places to stage a big fight scene can you come up with on the fly? In case your creative juices are all squeezed out, here's ten quick suggestions for excellent situations just begging for excessive gunfire and a squad of roaring abominations to shake things up. These locales are all set in the contemporary juncture, but most could easily be converted to the other time periods in the game. Use 'em, abuse 'em, and make up more on your own. When the feng shui hits the fan, you'll be ready to craft the things-blowing-uppest scene your players have seen since . . . well, since the last time they played Feng Shui. Lock and load, secret warriors!

One: The Island Refuge

The evil Dr. (fill in the blank) has a secret island retreat. A big mansion, a warren of secret tunnels and control rooms, little jeeps to zip through the muddy roads, and a bunch of big, wild predators stalking the jungle -- these are the elements you'll have at hand when the PCs show up and set off the plastique. After all, five hundred mooks in orange jumpsuits can't be wrong!

The PCs will probably arrive in one of two ways: either as guests or as intruders. If they're there as guests, they may be undercover or they may be "guests" brought there at gunpoint. Regardless, Dr. Whatsisname has a lavish dinner for them just before he turns on the death traps and has Hit Squad #13 (collect them all!) line up outside the front door for the big hunt -- with the guests as the prey. If the PCs are there as intruders, they get to do all that cool commando stuff: slipping up to the beach in inflatable rafts, defeating the security system, avoiding the tigers, taking out the sentries, and so on. Of course, they might just nuke it from orbit -- but where's the fun in that?

Cool Stuff

Lee Marvin city! Jump from palm trees, leap out of bushes, stand in the back of a jeep firing away while your buddy drives, or just throw someone into the electric fence.

There's gotta be a big pit of venomous snakes in the jungle fight scene. Toss someone in, or grab a big handful of snakes and toss them into a passing jeep full of mooks.

Blow the generators. The secret warren of tunnels is guaranteed to have some sort of big power system that can be quickly rigged to blow up the whole island. Even better, there could be an active volcano that powers the facility (don't ask how) and that can be set off with some chewing gum and a paper clip.

Two: The Museum

A classic place for mooks to use as a drop point. They've got a gym bag full of heroin or arcanotech gear or the latest issue of Guns & Ammo to swap in exchange for a briefcase full of cash. The PCs are there to blow the deal. Bystanders are everywhere, and all those glass display cases -- well, you know!

Museums are also great places to add a little Thematic Unity. Is it a Lotus meet? Stage it in a room with treasures from the early dynasties of China. Are Buro agents present? Presto, it's a po-mo virtual reality kinetic sculpture altered environment interactive video gallery. Ascended? A collection of subversive political art that rages against the Powers That Be.

Cool Stuff

Ancient weapons. You've gotta have a display case full of ancient weapons. Swords, maces, nunchakus, whatever. Somebody (probably a chump mook) is going to smash that sucker and think he's Mister Cool. Put him in his place. Or, if you're a PC or named GMC, this is when you get to whip the weapon around and show just how much you know.

Museums are very popular with all sorts of people, but especially -- school kids! When you set up the scene, mention the school buses parked outside. It's a field trip! Dozens of screaming kids and their teachers just happen to waltz in as the guns come out, and next thing you know you've gotta be careful that you aren't blowing away Little Bobby instead of Big Brother Tsien.

Glass cases, glass cases, glass cases. Great for throwing people into, especially if they fly through the glass and are impaled on the collection of ancient weapons inside.

Dinosaur skeletons are just ripe for toppling over.

The old suitcase-full-of-money-dumped-over-the-balcony scene is de rigeur for a museum. They've got those big atriums full of tourists and everything.

Three: The Parade

Oh, crowds! Big tacky floats with stupid things made of paper flowers on them! A marching band! I tell you, parades have it all. If it's in China, you even get dancing dragons and lots of firecrackers! Don't forget to check out that next float -- hey, wait, who are those guys dressed as Vikings with the AK-47s?

Parades offer the kind of big, public, crowded spectacle that can't be beat. Rent the movie Animal House for a perfect example of a parade that goes way wrong. Out-of-control floats, screaming bystanders, collapsing band formations, and so forth.

Cool Stuff

Big balloons of cartoon characters. Oh, yes! Flying characters will have a field day with those. But flying characters who get too close to one that is (for no good reason) filled with flammable hydrogen gas had better watch out. Plus, a PC can snag one of the ground lines just as the ground crew takes off and be yanked up into the air where every mook in sight can get a clear shot.

Silly floats. Mooks in disguise, goofy scenery you can jump on, and best of all there is a high-speed performance automobile underneath every one! (No, really!) Punch your way through those cheesy paper flowers, get in the driver's seat, and you can send The Miracle of Seaweed float charging against that big demon.

Celebrity commentators. Has-been actors often get tapped to host parades, and are just ripe to be thrown into the situation.

Four: The Factory

This is so elemental that you should have already used it, but just in case . . .

Cool Stuff

Conveyer belts help PCs take the trash out. Toss a mook on there, and bingo -- exit, stage left. Plus, PCs can ride the conveyer belt into the next room, guns at the ready, and surprise the fools inside.

Heavy equipment. Power loaders, grinding machines, big tanks full of molten metal or boiling water, and the ever-popular Spray of Scalding Latex that scars the named GMC and leaves him a hideous, deformed freak who will harass the players for the rest of the campaign.

Chains, hooks, tools, and other improvised weapons are everywhere.

Five: The High Society Party

Ah, veddy refined. Have you seen that ring that Princess Schmendrick is wearing? And oh, that twelve-foot horned chap with acid for blood -- what's he drinking? I'll have one of those.

It's a swank joint, full of rich idiots in tuxedos and designer gowns snorting cocaine and eating caviar. Of course, burly doormen run everyone through a metal detector since terrorists and criminals like to whack rich folks. And it's awful hard to hide that Helix Ripper inside your Italian-tailored jacket. On the other hand, you never know who you might meet. The retired Special Operations Agent might still be quick with a life-saving knee to the groin if your back's against the wall and that named GMC is all over you. And there is an endless supply of society women with mace in their handbags who can turn the battleground into a hazy, blinding hell!

Cool Stuff

All waiters are mooks and they're all carrying uzis. Just assume it.

The swimming pool is ready for a good hand-to-hand fight. Time to improvise some drowning rules!

A fight in the kitchen gets you big pots hanging on hooks from the ceiling that you can knock off onto the head of the mook below. Plus, someone's face gets seared on the grill.

Society types are bound to have good security. Guards with guns, rapid police response, and all sorts of alarms, sensors, and cameras can make things tricky.

Great opportunities for gags with haughty old society matrons (wailing about their poodle some supernatural creature just ate) getting shoved into the pool and sputtering something ludicrous.

Six: The Airplane

Feeling a little pressure? How about knowing that a gunfight is a really bad idea unless you want to send everyone on this flight -- including yourself -- on a one-way ticket to 'round-the-clock coverage on CNN following your fiery deaths in a massive crash? Put that gun away. It's time for knuckle-to-knuckle, down-and-dirty, pull-his-hair-poke-her-eye fighting! (Passenger 57 has some good examples.)

Cool Stuff

Hostages, baby! They're everywhere, traveling with their families, so the heroes get the teary-eyed kid bawling "Save my daddy!" just before the twitchy mook cuts papa's throat. Aww! Better get some revenge for that poor kid.

Carts full of hot meals. Steaming rice-with-orange-meat, anyone? How about in the face? Oh, yeah. You've also got a drawer full of soda cans, too, which you can pitch like crazy.

Emergency exit doors. Screw the pressurized cabin -- that bad guy has got a one-way ticket to street pizza city!

Mad bombers. Just when you think you've got enough problems with the 12 hopping vampires posing as a basketball team, some lunatic from the Leftist People's Rightest Front jumps up with a shoebox and an alarm clock and demands that the plane be diverted to Leeds.

Five words: Netherworld portal in the bathroom.

Seven: The Church

If you've seen The Killer, you know that a church full of candles and doves is a heck of a place to blow up. But that just scratches the surface! What about being there during a service? You've got crowds (can you tell I'm fond of crowds?), plus priests, altar boys, offering trays full of bucks, and (if it's a big American church at least) a TV camera broadcasting the whole thing live for the sucker invalids watching at home and begging for an end to their hemorrhoids.

Cool Stuff

Flying PCs or GMCs that come smashing through the plate glass windows are always a good way to start things off.

It's a Roman Catholic church, there's a wedding, and guess what -- the groom's in the Mafia! Completely independent of the PCs and their opponents, there are a bunch of spaghetti-sucking gangsters there with weapons. Better yet, turn it into Romeo and Juliet: two warring crime families are making the peace and their kids are getting married. When the shooting starts, each assumes the other is ambushing them.

Quiet assassinations in the confession booths. There's nothing like seeing the trickle of blood from the booth that starts first titters, then screams, in the crowd.

A thick slab of irony, cooked bloody rare. Religious icons everywhere, the preacher talking about the lion laying down with the lamb, and next thing you know it's a freaking bloodbath and the entire Youth Fellowship Peace League of pre-teens is taking gunshots to the head! How ironic!

Eight: The Nudist Colony

Hubba hubba! Hilarity ensues as our heroes get to learn just how buff they really are when they're in the buff. Supernatural creatures who can normally pass for human in a big overcoat have some serious problems. Martial artists have little to fear, but anyone relying on guns is going to have a real concealment problem. Unless, you know, it's a real small gun and, well, never mind.

Nudist colonies are good places for rich Ascended bad guys to be relaxing. They get to luxuriate in their human skins, all the while hearing the roar of the beast within. Plus their martial arts abilities work even if they're au naturel.

Cool Stuff

Acid in the bottle of suntan lotion. Ouch!

Look closely and count all the Ascended wheel tattoos.

Innocent sporting endeavors (volleyball, aerobics, etc.) that somehow end in inexplicable and fatal accidents.

Crotch kick, crotch kick, crotch kick.

Nine: Political Convention

For he's a jolly good Jammer, for he's a jolly good Jammer . . . It's election time, and the white male power structure is in drunken-sailor mode! Endless buffet tables of chow are devoured by starving, pasty-faced journalists while ruddy-faced politicos smoke cigars, suck down brandy, and fondle whores. There's nothing like politics, is there?

But something's wrong. It's not all innocent back-room deals and sweet-natured character assassination. There are sneaky guys with guns, a loony with a bomb, and protesters with strange bulges in their clothing who misspell "ethical" on their protest signs. Political conventions are vortices of power and money, and they draw the criminal element like flies to -- well, like flies.

Cool Stuff

Big crowds. You know what to do with them.

Rent The Manchurian Candidate. Brainwashed ordinary people are descending on the convention with firearms to snuff out the lone voice of reason in an electorate gone mad.

Everyone's interested in politics! The Jammers would like to blow the place up. The Architects want to peddle their influence. The Lotus want to learn how the game is played in the modern day. The Hand want to save that little city park with the good feng shui. The Ascended -- oh, that's right. It's their convention.

Dramatic assassinations are always fun, but chases across the convention floor are better. Journalists with cameras mounted to their heads will be in hot pursuit, catching the whole thing live for CNN. Burly ex-military delegates will try to intervene. Convention security will disgorge teams of guys in black suits and sunglasses. It's chaos! It's politics!

Cool touch: a PC is standing in the crowd, watching himself on one of the big live-TV monitors. Then it cuts to another camera and he sees someone -- someone familiar! A lost love? An assassin? But where was that camera? Where's that special someone? Quick, start shoving people around and make a scene! (See Brazil for a good example of this trick.)

Ten: Seedy Pub

There's a tear in my beer . . . hey, that's not a tear! It's an ear! Better call the cops, there's trouble at the tavern. Whether it's Smoky Joe's, The Green Lantern, or The Ottery Tar Barrel, your local pub is ripe for some action. Burly working-class folks with short tempers and a high blood alcohol count will gladly clean your clock. Saucy waitresses pack .22 automatics in their garter belts. The bartender has a double-barrel 10-gauge shotgun (sawed-off, natch) behind the bar. And the owner is, of course, a master of several martial arts (known to the adept as kicking butt or can of whup ass) involving chains and meaty fists.

Cool Stuff

Pool tables to knock someone onto. Pool cues to knock them onto pool tables with. Bad guys like to sprawl a hero onto a pool table and then drive a knife through the hero's hand and into the table.

Hurl someone into the jukebox! Then chortle as it plays something ironic like "Express Yourself".

Glass pitchers, beer mugs, tables, chairs, stools -- so many things to throw, smash, trip over, or what have you.

A band should be playing. They might feature a beautiful, innocent lead singer who is blinded during the fight or the band might be a bunch of Harley-riding badasses who don't like music critics. For comic relief, have the whole band go diving for cover except for the piano player, who keeps playing no matter what.

The patrons will, of course, start a brawl at the drop of a hat. As soon as one punch is thrown, tables flip over and everyone starts slugging random people. (See numerous western movies for examples.)

Swing from the chandelier and kick some bad guy square in the face.

Someone simply must go flying over the bar, smash into the big dirty mirror, and collapse onto the dozens of liquor bottles. Big ouch. Just as they clear their head, their eyes focus through bloody tears and they see the bartender leveling the sawed-off in their direction.

Some psycho with too many firearms cleans out the whole place, so that the PCs innocently walk into a pub full of corpses, blood, and one very big killer with two very big guns. (See Desperado.)

A Few More

There are gobs of places that work great for Feng Shui fights. Here are a few more just to get that little squirrel running in the cage of your head: Halloween Party, Cemetery, Supermarket (see Raising Arizona), Cruise Ship, Amusement Park, Times Square on New Year's Eve (Strange Days is close), Deserted Warehouse, Porno Theater, Corporate Boardroom (see Robocop), Opera House, Playground, Inside a Bus, Indoor Mall (see Commando or Terminator 2), Bank (see Heat), On Top of a Blimp (see Black Sunday), Police Station (see Terminator) . . . gosh, the list just goes on and on.

All right, no more excuses. Get out there and do some property damage -- and don't spare the ammo!

Article publication date: February 26, 1999

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