They took over your government, sent you to war, and now they want you DEAD! It's time to make these fuckers pay...THE HARD WAY!The Hard Way
is a freeware 80s action movie inspired tabletop RPG by Kobayashi that takes place in a dystopian setting inspired by Escape from New York
and other movies. It uses parts of Rafael Chandler's Disciple 12 rules from the Books of Pandemonium
The setting is straight out of a corporate-fascist America nightmare: the US, China and the Soviet Union are in a three-way conflict for the last remaining natural resources of the world. 90% of the population is poor, and the 10% that aren't are in charge. MICOM (the M
plex) and the Yuppies have taken over the government and suppressed political dissent under the "Freedom Act
." HOMSEC goons are black-bagging people and sending them to FEMA camps. Manhattan has become a giant state penitentiary. Chinese-Americans are being interned because of the current war against China. Survivalists, death cults and racial supremacists thrive outside the big cities. And pretty much everyone has slave wages, potato chips and TV sets. Meanwhile, the rest of the world isn't much better than America — Europe has become a fortress that will shoot you if you try to come in, the Soviet Union will shoot you if you try to come out, China shoots everyone who tries to come in or out, and the rest of the world takes sides or gets glassed with tacnukes, and outside of Soviet, MICOM or Chinese influence, have regressed to a medieval level of technology (if CNN is to be believed, that is). In space, the Soviets have Mars, which is currently a growing collectivist nightmare; the US has the moon, which is a research facility run by MICOM with several colonies still being built around it; and the Chinese have sabotage. Travel in space is mainly limited to those who can afford it (the moon) and Soviet supply ships (Mars).
You play a Shell-Shocked Veteran
who's returned from one of the many wars the U.S. was involved in. The horrors of the war have marked you in some way and given you a Nightmare that keeps you up at night. Though you've tried to fit back into normal society, you have found yourself unable to, and recently, you have suffered a Trauma that has put you on the warpath. With the help of the other members of your old squad, you intend to make those responsible for ruining your life pay. The hard way
This game provides examples of:
- Action Hero: Pretty much all your characters, male or female. Especially if they pick the Badass main background.
- Alternate History: The game, being based on 80s action cinema, posits a scenario where the Soviet Union never fell and things are deadlocked between the US, the USSR and Red China.
- Badass: One of the main backgrounds for your character, which allows you the use of all weapons features.
- Blackmail: One of the Traumas.
- Cloning Blues: Some characters in The Hard Way are clones. Clones are not treated well in the Crapsack World of this game — they're used as slaves on the moon by their military masters, they're harvested for organs, and Yuppies and MICOM officials use them as sex-toys.
- Con Artist: One of the main backgrounds for your character.
- Crapsack World: The world of The Hard Way is one of these in spades, as mentioned in the description.
- Cyborg: Created through use of dead soldiers by MICOM (see Zombies).
- Dark and Troubled Past: Every character has one, both from their experiences in the war (Nightmare) and from trying to reintegrate into society (Trauma).
- Dead Sidekick: One of the Nightmares involves having to watch a friend die during the war.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The "Freedom Act," which draws some pretty nice parallels with the Patriot Act of the turn of the millennium.
- Gang Bangers/The Mafia: One of the many enemies you'll face.
- He Knows Too Much: A possible Trauma, either from witnessing something you shouldn't or from discovering that you're a clone.
- Hunter of His Own Kind: Scandogs, MICOM-sponsored psis who hunt their own kind.
- Identity Amnesia: One of the Traumas.
- I Know Kung-Fu: The Martial Artist secondary background, which allows you to ignore enemy armor when fighting barehanded and use the features of melee weapons.
- Left for Dead: One of the possible Traumas.
- Love Hurts: One of the Traumas involves having a character's spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend leave them for a Yuppie or MICOM official. This makes them a Yandere or Woman Scorned, of course.
- Manchurian Agent: Used by the Chinese and the Soviets.
- Master of Disguise: The "Ghost" background; though you can't disguise yourself as a specific person, you can blend in anywhere.
- The Medic: One of the secondary backgrounds.
- The Men in Black: HOMSEC goons in general, one of the many enemies you'll face.
- Ms. Fanservice: Every female character is a "foxy lady," and gets benefits for using their appearance to their advantage.
- No One Gets Left Behind: One of the possible Nightmares involves having to leave behind a squadmate, with his or her cries for help still ringing in your ears.
- Oppressive States of America: The US in The Hard Way is nowhere near the bastion of democracy that it once was.
- Prison: A source of both Nightmares (from having to serve on prison duty or being a prisoner of war) and Trauma (from being locked up) for characters, and what Manhattan has been turned into.
- Psychic Block Defense: A minor background, "Get Out of My Head!", allows you to block out enemy psychic powers.
- Psychic Powers: The Freak main background is used for characters who were experimented on by the military and developed psionic abilities. They get to use their Attitude stat rather than the regular Violence stat used for combat. Psionic attacks ignore armor, and those who are taken out by them frequently have their heads go boom, Scanners style.
- Rape as Drama: One of the Traumas a character can face, either happening to them or someone they loved.
- Rape and Revenge: What many characters with the "Raped" Trauma will likely be seeking. "Your therapy involves the use of a shotgun. At short distance."
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Chances are you are going to be on one of these.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One of the Nightmares involves going AWOL from your squad.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Your player character.
- Soul Brotha: A character from the Ghetto origin is guaranteed to have an above-average Attitude stat. Attitude is the stat that determines how cool and impressive you are.
- The Squad: Your Player Characters all belonged to the same squad during the war.
- Those Wacky Nazis: HOMSEC's leader is a clone of a Nazi counter-terrorism operative, and he's trained the Brunehilde Commandos in his methods.
- The Triads and the Tongs: One of the many enemies you'll face.
- Unfriendly Fire: One of the Nightmares involves having to frag a superior officer to save your squad.
- Your Head A Splode: The typical end-result of being taken out with a Freak's psionic abilities.
- Zombies: Undead GI's, dead soldiers brought back by MICOM scientists.