View Full Version : Riot/Protest RPG?

Mr. Mask
2015-11-20, 05:02 PM
Inspired by the game Riot: Civil Unrest, I wondered if you could make an interesting RPG about participating on either side of a protest (which may become a riot). I expect there's nothing to this nature already existing. Is there anything which might simulate this?

Note: We can't discuss the ethicacy of riot police or protesting or rioting, due to board rules. Keep things politically neutral, where if need be the protests are related to the state policy on whether ninjas or pirates are better.

In essence, such a simulator would have a lot of focus on maintaining public sympathy, diplomacy, and strategic use of force. Neither side would want things to devolve into a bloody battle, as that means both sides failed. Still, combat effectiveness would have some importance in the system, as that does effect whether your strategic use of force causes the other side to retreat, or whether it does nothing except antagonize them.

The nature of protests makes it unlikely you'll want small group tactical combat like in most RPGs. You either need grouped tactical combat, or to simulate the whole clash as one line, or one centre and two flanks, etc.. The latter approach sounds the best, as normally protests aren't organized into squads.

The game could be played with both sides competitively. The protesters would decide how extreme their demands or protest will be (whether they block off major roads or such, and whether they prepare weapons), and the riot squad commander will have to decide the best way to pacify them. If the game features multiple protests, ignoring peaceful rioters would be a good move. There'd be an interesting bluffing mechanic there. If the protest players were planning on having a peaceful protest, and the riot squad looking like villains when they came in with tear-gas and clubs, then if the riot squad doesn't even show up then it ruins the effectiveness of their bid for sympathy. In which case, they might want to try to psych up the crowd to start a riot while there's no police presence, and the riot squad will have to mobilize quickly before the players accomplish this.

Psyching up the crowd would probably be an important element for the protester side. Depending on the scenario, they won't be looking for any hard or prolonged fight, but the players psyching them up and the riot squad antagonizing them will start to make them more violent. The riot squad's goals would be to use strategic force to pacify the crowd, either by counteracting the psyching up through intimidation, or just breaking up their formation enough that even psyched up they won't be a threat.

Those are my current thoughts on the matter. Not sure if there's any good RPG to simulate this currently.

2015-11-20, 05:45 PM
First off, may I suggest US Army Field Manual 3-19.15, Civil Disturbance Operations. You can find it here (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjFnLnaiKDJAhUFaz4KHYriCJsQFggeMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffas.org%2Firp%2Fdoddir%2Farmy%2F fm3-19-15.pdf&usg=AFQjCNG8zo9blyVKpnP_m442a9mcrFoMVA&sig2=PHQ3F2mpxLcKvNP7qJd0Cg). It's a nice primer on the way 'The Man' is trained to react to such things.

I'm not sure of any good systems to do it; I know in 3.5e the rules can actually end up making a sufficiently large riot into a single entity that behaves similarly to a gargantuan gelatinous cube. Interesting way to make relatively high-level PCs still afraid of a huge rush of angry peasants, but rather abstract nonetheless. The one time I ran heated protests in my 3.5 campaign (PCs were all city watchmen) I had it set up to where there was the protest and counter-protest, with a thin line of riot officers strung between them. There were provocateurs planted, and the PCs not in the line were having to hunt them down before someone did something like put a crossbow bolt through an officer's skull. Eventually, the party cleric and civil activist managed to disperse them via negotiation, but he did have to play around with magic to amplify his voice enough.

2015-11-20, 06:04 PM
I have heard of games along this theme, but none matching your idea.

Honestly, it sounds like one of the d20 mass combat systems would work fine. What you're describing seems more like a single encounter than a full game.

2015-11-20, 06:06 PM
Riots tend not to last very long; anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days at most. That could make for an interesting event in a game, but if you're talking about making the basis of a campaign, I don't see how that would work. Maybe if it escalated into a full-blown civil war.

Mr. Mask
2015-11-20, 06:22 PM
Milodiah: Thanks, I'll need to read through that if I ever decide to try and working out a campaign/game like this. A massive gelatinous creature representing the rioters sounds like a lot of fun.

Campaign: For a full-fledged campaign, you'd probably be looking at Shadowrun esque seedy underbelly adventuring. Trying to gather the support needed to just get a major protest going, possibly uncovering government/protester secrets, getting different factions to support your cause, etc.. It would also probably involve several protests and riots that take place over months in-game, and may even break out into a civil war by the end of the campaign.

Though, this RPG would be quite well suited to running single games in a board-game style, or a series of competitive/group games.