The GROGNARD Files

Table-top RPGs from back in the day and today.

In November, the GROGPOD will be featuring GangBusters, the TSR role-playing game of the roaring twenties.

In preparation, MOBTOBER is a short season of gangster films, a mini-film festival at my house, that you are invited to participate and follow online.

Elsewhere people with more stamina and stronger stomachs are participating in the October Horror Challenge, a more seasonal list. This is a similar challenge, but with a more leisurely pace. Instead of watching a film every day, I will be watching 10 films in 20 days and will write about them on the Dirk Malcolm world of film site.

Why have crime RPGs had such a continuing appeal from Lankhmar to Duskvol?

Heists are a standard adventure for most RPGs, but its difficult to find an RPG that reflects the daily paranoid grind of the fictional mobster: the moral descent into personal oblivion, the need to maintain networks, manage heat from rivals and settle scores. In the realm of genre emulation GangBusters and FGU Gangster! offer little to support this kind of play. The 1980s RPGs were more on the side of the authorities trying to break up organised crime. Of course, we had other ideas and were keen to play the mobsters. Recently, Blades in the Dark offered innovative mechanical features dealing with these matters. It will be interesting to explore some of the tropes of the genre more closely and consider how they might be brought to the table.

A couple of points to note as you study the list: this is not meant to be definitive. I’ve tried to avoid the obvious and focus on films that I haven’t seen before, or in the case of Miller’s Crossing and The Long Good Friday, films that I saw so long ago that I’ve forgotten about them.

Gangster films tend to gather cult status as they are not only ingrained in geek culture, the cliches and tropes appear in mainstream culture through advertisements and are referenced in music, television and every-day discourse.

The second criteria that I have adopted is related to gaming – what are the gameable elements of these films? What are the characters, situations, plots, structures and setting details that lend themselves to RPGs? How do they create the points of contact within the fiction and how can they be used in constructing scenarios?

As I have been pondering this list there have been a number of great suggestions made by the GROGSQUAD over on the discord server and twitter. There’s always the thorny genre issues to mull over, “is it a gangster film or a crime movie with gangsters in it?” In this list I have selected films that attracted my attention and seemed to fit into what I was looking for in a mobster movie. If you don’t think it qualifies as a mobster movie, that’s okay, because this is my list.

Here goes, this is when I’ll be watching the films and where you can find them online.

6th: Miller’s Crossing (1990) – Disney Plus (Star)

8th: Gotti (1996) – You Tube

10th Free Fire (2017) – Prime

12th Scarface (1932) – You Tube

14th New World (2013) – Prime

16th Underworld (1927) – You Tube

18th The Mission (1999) – You Tube

20th The Penalty (1920) – You Tube

22nd The Long Good Friday (1980) – You Tube

24th Boondock Saints (1999) – You Tube

Watching these films is going to be great, but it will be even better if you can take part in the discussion over at discord, on twitter or the Facebook group. If you need the details, then let me know and I’ll send them to you.

This should be a good exercise and will get us all in the mood ready for the trip to LakeFront City in November.

Dirk

One thought on “MOBTOBER – The Gangsterfest

  1. Sacha says:

    I’ve used Drama System for a Sopranos inspired game. It worked especially well for the human drama outside the typical gangster activities. The Sopranos was always most interesting when the focus shifted in that way.
    Great list of films, by the way.

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