What is Dusk City Outlaws?

The first game from Scratchpad Publishing will be Dusk City Outlaws, a tabletop roleplaying game set in the sprawling fantasy city of New Dunhaven. Dusk City Outlaws is an out-of-the-box game, designed to be pulled off of your game shelf and played on short notice, with little prep work and time required by the players. One player takes on the role of the Silver Judge (in the vein of the Gamemaster from traditional tabletop RPGs), while the rest create characters that are members of the city's criminal underworld, drawn together to pull off daring, dangerous, and lucrative heists and other crimes.

Each player makes a character by picking one of the city's eight cartels, and one specialty role on the team. These two aspects of the characters are represented by 4" x 8" cardboard player mats that, when placed next to each other on the table in front of you, give you everything you need to play your character. You'll also want a character sheet, which you can use to write down your character's name, aspects, and track resources, so that if you end up playing another session and want to continue with the same character you can pick up right where you left off.

Character concept art (The Circle) by Joy Ang

On the Judge's side of things, the game comes with 10 scenarios, some of which can be played in a single session and some of which are more complex and require the players to work over multiple sessions to complete them. Each scenario provides the basics of the job (the objective, the target, time limitations, etc.) and a wealth of information on the things that might stand in the path of a bunch of clever criminals trying to pull off an elaborate scheme.

Of course, only half of running a successful roleplaying game is having the information on the setting and the antagonists; the other half is knowing how and when to introduce new challenges and unexpected twists to heighten the dramatic tension. Instead of asking the Judge to simply know when and how to do this, Dusk City Outlaws provides a resource that the Judge can spend to introduce complications. This resource is Heat, and it represents in abstract the reaction of the law-abiding citizens of the city to the criminals' deeds. As the players generate more Heat through their actions, the Judge can spend that heat to ratchet up the tension and provide new challenges in the middle of the action, forcing the players to stay on their toes and improvise.

Dusk City Outlaws is a game drawing inspiration from lighthearted crime thrillers and the heist genre; if you've seen movies like Ocean's Eleven or The Sting, seen the TV shows Leverage or Firefly, or read books like The Lies of Locke Lamora or The Great Train Robbery, you should have a good idea of the game's tone. It's less about hard-edged crime drama, and more about outlandish confidence tricks, elaborate heists, and reckless risk-taking.

The game's setting is the city of New Dunhaven, a fantasy metropolis that sprawls across an area the size of modern-day New York City, but with a culture and technology more analogous to a combination of Renaissance Europe and 18th Century London. It's a dense urban world where thousands of stories are taking place all at once, a city of infinite possibilities for the enterprising thief. It is a city where alchemy makes wonders possible, and whispers of sorcery are used to frighten and tempt. It's a city where proud bravos strut about with swords at their hips and elite squads of the City Watch patrol the streets with flintlock firearms. 

New Dunhaven cityscape by Waclaw Wysocki

Most of all, Dusk City Outlaws is a game where the players are in control of the plan and executing it. There's no "correct" way to pull off the job. There's no "right" plan that the Judge leads the players to execute. Instead, the Judge merely lays out the facts before the players, and it is up to these fine, capable criminals to come up with a plan, do the legwork to put it into motion, and then execute the plan if they can. The game's environment and scenarios are an urban sandbox, giving the players both freedom and creative control over the nature of the setting.

Lastly, Dusk City Outlaws is a game meant to bring players together for fun, laughter, challenge, and excitement at the table. We sincerely hope that you find as much fun in playing it as we have had in making it.