A Dirty World: A Very Thorough Murder part 3

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The schemes of murderers and mice always seem to unravel, despite their best intentions. As crooked police and desperate criminals circle ever closer to our protagonists, they push for one last chance to right things or at least survive the upcoming chaos. Even though this is a dirty world, perhaps there’s a chance for a happy ending for these killers. Find out how it all ends in the finale of A Very Thorough Murder!

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  1. A fantastic end to a fantastic story. Excellent stuff, Caleb.

  2. This game got me to buy and run A Dirty World. As someone who doesn’t spend a lot of money on new systems, this is a serious accomplishment. Bravo to you all, this has been a blast, and I’d love to see even more of A Dirty World (in addition to the several games already on the site) in the future.

  3. I don’t know if I’ll ever play a Dirty World, but dang if this doesn’t interest me in Noir. Alas, Aaron who always seems to deserve Harry Dresden’s tombstone.

    Kudos for a lot of fun, Tom finally losing his cool was great. He’s usually playing the unflappable character, but finally at the end he lost it.

    I wish he would’ve gotten into the car with his sister, lit a cigarette and then dropped it intentionally to set the vehicle on fire with him, Aaron and his sister in it.

    I will miss this mini-campaign!

  4. This was an interesting game to listen to, but it leaves me with absolutely no desire to play Savage Worlds or any noir games in this style. It actually reminded me more of No Country for Old Men than other noir works on various lists. Of course, I hated No Country, so not surprising I wouldn’t want to reenact it at the gaming table.

  5. This isn’t the Savage World system. The system is called A Dirty World.

  6. A slip of the keyboard. My apologies, I actually knew that.

  7. mmm

    I was kind of disappointed this didn’t descend into #pccoronermedicaladvice. “don’t go to the diner! when they autopsy you, they can figure out where you ate your last meal!”

    man, being an NPC is a Dirty World game is just a bad idea. if Ross had been here there would have been no survivors.

    I meant to say this on episode two, but HOORAY for not just being able to chloroform people with no expertise or danger!

    ADW is pry my favorite game (until you monsters start playing Unknown Armies!). love the ethical stats, love ORE. it and Andrew Vachss are basically my only exposure to noir, and it does make me wanna consume moarrr.

  8. I thought it only fair to give a more detailed feedback on this post, since my last was rather scant and unfairly negative.


    All of the players were role-playing their asses off. I genuinely wish I had people like that to game with.

    In terms of emotional content, I could hardly imagine it being more effective. For example, the torture scene with Aaron made me feel very uncomfortable and helpless, because his character had no options and no way to win but the scene kept going on and on. I compare it to the way I felt playing through the latest Grand Theft Auto, where you were forced to torture some guy in order to continue on in the game. I really didn’t want to do it, but they don’t leave you an out, so you have to do it and it makes you feel very uncomfortable. Not everyone felt this way about GTA, of course. Some people were just like, “Well, this should be fun” I assume. Hopefully those people won’t be afforded opportunities to procreate.

    The plot itself was awesome in furthering the intended style. Caleb was clearly going for something that showed corruption that was legal or at least an undeniable part of society, and it was effective to this end (Although in my opinion such a scheme would actually be heinously illegal and could easily be prosecuted if it were really going on at such a scale, I accept it as “close enough” for narrative purposes. Federal law actually has a bunch of “blank checks” for prosecutors, such as the RICO Act.).

    I like mini-campaigns, around 5 sessions give or take. Gives you enough time to focus in on one story without being burdened by the necessity of building up an epic storyline, but without being artificially constrained to 4 hours or whatever.

    It was easily the grimmest, darkest thing that has been portrayed on RPPR to date. Which is kind of cool.


    It was easily the grimmest, darkest thing that has been portrayed on RPPR to date. This is the main reason I said above that I wouldn’t be able to handle actually playing in a game like this. I’d like to give it a shot, and it’s fun to listen to, but I really can’t imagine it being fun to play.

    It felt a little bit railroady. While it obviously wasn’t a railroad, because there was no way that anyone could predict the crazy shit that went down, it was a railroad in the sense that “no matter what you do, shit’s going to get worse and worse and you’ll never win.” This is an example of elevating the conceit of the genre above the concrete actions of the players. Doing smart things and having good dice rolls can’t get you anywhere when the universe has compensating thrusters that exactly counterbalance them. So it wasn’t that the plot was on a railroad, but the level of narrative success was on a railroad. As an example of the railroadiness from this last episode, while talking to the hillfolk, David was basically like, “Ok, can I roll something to figure out what’s going on here, because I just don’t know what you’re getting at.” This came about because Caleb had in mind something that they would want, but his reasoning wasn’t necessarily transparent to all the players because the world is his and it’s idiosyncratic to his mindset for this game (cynicism turned up to 11). If the antithesis of railroad is “Yes, and,” then this is just somewhere on the other side of the railroad axis.

    There was almost a complete lack of catharsis in the ending. I think this is why it felt like No Country for Old Men to me. Noir that ends provides a satisfying cathartic ending, not with everything being good but with there being some amount of satisfaction, is more appealing to me. Obviously you can’t control exactly what happens in a roleplaying game the way an author can in a story, and part of this is probably bias from being a viewer rather than a participant, but it still niggles at me.

    I think that’s pretty much it. So, in summary, Caleb is an awesome GM, and I will continue to buy all the books, and listening to these three episodes was valuable entertainment, but I don’t think I would be able to enjoy myself actually playing in this game.

    Goodbye everybody!

  9. It was IMMEDIATELY apparent to me what they needed to offer to the hillfolk. In fact, I would’ve taken back the offer of the money. I would’ve been like OK, tell you what, the money’s off the table. You come help us or we tell them where Coyote Heart is.

    Of course, if I were running the game, they would’ve answered: OK, we’ll go help out with Reese’s boys to protect Coyote Heart. Then you’ll give us the money if you want to leave with your lives.

  10. Man, what a great session, but what a downer ending. David was amazing in playing out his backstory, and I love how he got all fatalistic. The one good thing that panned out was that they managed to save Jimmy.

    But my MVP for this session is Tom, for playing out his character losing his shit after the beating, biking around with a headwound and raving about murdering the cops. I was really, legitimately torn up that he couldn’t save his sister in the end.

    Overall, what really struck me is that the PCs would have had such a better time if they had just been straightforward and honest about the situation instead of trying to keep secrets. The Scanlins killed Aaron and the sister because the PCs never mentioned any hostages. Jimmy didn’t get out of town quick enough because David didn’t impress upon him how literally everyone with power in the town was out for blood. None of them ever told anybody about Bilby’s murder, even when it would have been the best way to gain their trust.

    The other thing was that they kept going back to their homes, even after it was obviously clear that their houses were no longer safe. They should have hid out in the desert somewhere. The doc should have just driven straight for the state line after he bailed out on the shooting range massacre.

    Both of those things make this a strong session. Basically, Caleb turns around the conventions of player behavior, to punish crazy PC logic rather than rewarding it like most games do. That gives it a true noir feel.

  11. To be fair, the characters were fucked from moment one, because they’d all just collectively murdered a man (very thoroughly) and conspired to cover it up. I mean, at that point there was little to no hope of simultaneously exposing the shady goings-on and avoiding prison, and despite the murder everyone was too basically decent and pure of motive to try and get in on things for themselves, or even just placate some of the forces working against them and bail.

    Also, I think David did tell Pappy about murdering Bilby and it didn’t really register.

  12. Whoops. Forgot to finish my thought. They were basically fucked from word go, but things could have gone a lot better for them (not well, but better than they did) if they’d made certain critical rolls or approached some situations a little more calculatedly. But would that have made for as good a story? I dunno.

  13. aw, I kinda like unhappy endings. I wouldn’t’ve minded if Aaron got away with the sister, but it’s…a dirty world. Aaron behaved stupidly, as always (love you, Aaron!), and suffered for it. his escape went badly, totally just a roll-of-the-dice thing AND dependent on David and Tom NOT EVEN SAYING there was a hostage to rescue. that just happened. it’s the best thing about Dirty World games: the horrible thing doesn’t HAVE to happen. it just TENDS to.

    I was glad Jimmie survived. he was cute. I think Tom’s sister could’ve done with more on-screen time, but I did feel for her in the end. “I’m tired” being her response after she was beaten was fucking. brutal.

    what I really want Caleb to do is to run Andrew’s Fortune again with this much patience. it’s sofuckinggood just being a first-ever-attempt two-session job. it could be absolutely brilliant run today.

  14. I think Caleb wanted to have Aaron kidnapped so he dangled the “you can get out” to him. Because that’s kind of silly. There was a time when someone could have run to the feds and made deals to only spend ten or twenty years in prison, and it was a long time ago.

  15. I squealed with delight when I saw that you were posting another Dirty Worlds game. I love all the scenarios of this game you guys have posted, and this one is no different. The way this game progressed was amazing, and I absolutely loved how it started. The concept that had them all starting at the very center of things, and then burying themselves further into the situation with each sentence, was an awesome thing to hear. I do wish that the sister’s story would have been different, but I understood the reasoning behind it. This episode was a joy to listen to.

  16. Awww, no segue this time? Sadness…

    I love how gritty and…um, noir-y the ending was. Just like Andrew’s Fortune, despite the character’s best intentions (you know, aside from the whole murder thing), nothing good really comes of it in the end. Technically the win (as in, they survive the shootout and their enemies are all taken out), but calling it a phyric victory is being generous.

    I honestly expected Tom’s character to go postal at the end after what happened to his sister, going down in an insane rage of gunfire against the Skantlins since he essentially had nothing left to lose. Honestly, though, getting locked up for the rest of his life and living on as a broken man with nothing left is arguably MORE noir.

  17. Ah, yes, the dangers of existing in a Caleb story. πŸ™‚

    An interesting future character would probably be David’s bastard child there. Would his backstory be sufficiently noir?

  18. Alright, this was a wonderful way to wrap up a story. I can’t thank the RPPR crew enough for posting their games. My favorite bit had to be Aaron s kidnapping and escape. Tom’s characters reaction at the end was also perfect. Thank you guys again, this AP really brightened my day.

  19. This mini-campaign was absolutely a Coen-brothers’ style noir comedy/thriller. Great stuff, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  20. Good ending to the story, felt really bad for the sister.

    I doubt people would find a torture scene funny but I’m not often disturbed by game content, knowing it’s not real takes the edge of most of the time. I hope I’m still allowed to procreate πŸ˜‰

  21. Yeah, when the series starts like it did, with the PCs having murdered someone from minute one… probably not going to end well. And definitely in Coen Bros. fashion, it did not.

    Very grimdark, and gritty, and covered in fucking blood. It was almost mentally and physically draining. “Here’s some new, horrible wrinkle in the story, now what the fuck do you do?” happened a lot.

    Still, I enjoyed the shit out of it overall.

  22. Our protagonist should have switched out more than the gun barrel. I think you’ve also got to change the firing pin.

  23. I just love this. I love arron trying to make the dispatcher your allies.

  24. Finally got around to listen to this. All in all, I thought the mini-campaign was great, feeling like a CoC-scenario where the characters can’t really win, but I wasn’t digging much of this episode.

    I thought Tom and David’s killing-spree felt a bit out of character, especially for James, who in the episode before was just taking everything, and the following executions in absolute cold blood irked me a bit. Thought Tom had a great chance of exploring emotional depth in his role, but just went postal on anyone who crossed their path and capped people.

    David seems like a nice guy when I hear him out of game, but when he’s playing morally ambiguous characters, I’d hate to be a PC next to him. The amount of blame-shifting and at times sheer evil that man can pull forth is intimidating. Good job initially on the back-story-stuff, though.

    I thought Aaron was great this campaign, playing the hapless good guy in a noir flick, who of course ends up in shit creek and in this case died.

    Got to say I loved the ending: Very noir, and it felt pretty satisfying. Happy to see Jimmy survive, presumable helping out Gladys’ kid (unless she was wasted somehow, but I don’t remember that happening).

    You’ve finally convinced me to pick up the rulebook for this. Thinking of running an alternate viewpoint on this scenario, where the players are trying to figure out whet the balls is going on in Hareesi(?), maybe playing policemen not clued in on the deals, or maybe state police. Could be fun.

    Oh, and play more scenarios like this, if possible (doesn’t necessarily have to be this dark, but I’m a fan of it so go for it). ADW usually brings out some fantastic role-playing.

  25. This is certainly the best noir I’ve heard for a while. I was preparing to get back into tabletop with my old group (everyone went their separate ways for a long time) and thought I’d listen to some pros to get me in the mood. As I was also listening to the Jack Wakes Up audiobook series, noir was on my mind.

    I loved how everyone was so on-point with their characterisation. It was plain and easy to tell who everyone was, but they still made interesting twists in a way that made sense to their characters.

    Special congratulations go to the pacing of the whole campaign; there was nothing stopping me listening to the next immediately after finishing each. Every session had a great set piece at some point, but the ending was tremendous. I was worried because the epilogue of Andrew’s Fortune was lacking, but this was so noir and heart-wrenchingly satisfying (in a sadistic way).

    Congrats to you all on making such a great piece of entertainment – I hope you all enjoyed playing it and would love to hear more in the future!

    P.s. Are you never returning to Cyberpunk?

  26. This was an awesome mini-campaign. Never let it be said that Caleb pulls his punches when it comes to noir.

    I expected Haversham to drive the Scanlin guys to the silo, then shoot them and torch the money. Possibly himself as well. But just … breaking actually worked so well for the story.

    The image from episode 2 of Aaron’s character walking away from the burning silo across the frozen fields while the other two characters tend to the flaming wreckage of their lives – I think that will stick with me. Awesome stuff.

    Props to the players for really buying into their characters’ terrible situation. And props to Caleb for constructing another network of betrayal and greed.

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