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DoubleZero System

Hardboiled Follies: A DoubleZero Sourcebook

In Hardboiled Follies, you take on the role of a completely unqualified amateur detective. You and your friends avoid your real problems by taking on cases and going undercover to solve mysteries. Opposing you are the trained and licensed professionals of the Columbia Detective Agency. They who urge you to please stop what you’re doing before you get hurt. You know the truth is that they just hate having competition. You’ll show them.

Hardboiled Follies is inspired by every story where an ordinary person gets swept up in some nefarious plot. It’s an homage to all of those comedic fish-out-of-water thrillers where people are suddenly in over their heads, and all of those cozy mysteries where amateur detectives somehow prevail over trained police investigators. Part Murder She Wrote, part The Big Lebowski, it’s a more lighthearted take on the genres covered by the DoubleZero system.

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Why I Wrote Hardboiled Follies

There were three major inspirations for this sourcebook. The first was the vastly underappreciated HBO series Bored to Death. Jason Schwartzman plays a literary fiction author with writer’s block, who becomes an unlicensed private investigator (he advertises of Craigslist) to alleviate his boredom. Joining him on his adventures are his friend Ray (Zach Galifianakis), a comic book artist who creates a superhero with a very unusual and specific power, and George (Ted Danson), the effete and intellectual editor of a New Yorker-type magazine and unabashed stoner.

The next inspiration is an unlikely one: the television show Orphan Black. Specifically, the characters of Alison and Donnie Hendrix. Alison is a high-strung soccer mom equipped with a pepper spray, an emergency whistle, and a big handgun. Donnie is her harried husband. In the midst of international intrigue, the two are ordinary people who rise to the challenges before them, while still providing a degree of comic relief to the series.

My final major inspiration was the Coen Brother film The Big Lebowski. It’s a plot right out of Raymond Chandler story, except the people swept up in a nefarious ransom scheme are a clueless stoner and his bowling buddies. There’s a reason it’s a cult classic, and it’s even spawned its own religion (as a matter of full disclosure, I am an officially ordained Dudeist).

Other inspirations include the novels of Jonathan Ames, creator of Bored to Death and the real-life person Schwartzman’s character is named for. Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, three stand-alone novels that take a postmodern and philosophical look at detective fiction, put a lot of weird ideas into my head. O Henry’s novel Cabbages and Kings, in which he invented the term “banana republic”, is where I blatantly stole the Columbia Detective Agency from.

About the Setting

In Hardboiled Follies, you take on the role of a completely unqualified amateur detective. You and your friends avoid your real problems by taking on cases and going undercover to solve mysteries. Opposing you are the trained and licensed professionals of the Columbia Detective Agency. They who urge you to please stop what you’re doing before you get hurt. You know the truth is that they just hate having competition. You’ll show them.

Hardboiled Follies was designed to be used with Easy Mode.

This sourcebook contains the following chapters:

  • The City Proper – A lot of people say they’re from the City, but they’re actually from the suburbs or the boroughs or even a town that’s, like, an hour away. It’s not the same as being in the City Proper.
  • Amateur Detectives – An overview of the player character types available in Hardboiled Follies. This includes new options, restricted abilities, and other changes from the Core Book.
  • Columbia Detective Agency – The primary antagonists of Hardboiled Follies, this section covers their origins, what their goal is, and how they pursue those aims. It also includes notable members of the organization.
  • Rules Changes – Hardboiled Follies uses Easy Mode, so there is a recap of that rules option here. Professions that are not recommended for the setting, and skills that need to be considered.
  • New Equipment: Spy Gear – A word about weapons available to civilians, and notes on the acquisition and use of commercially available spy gear like listening devices, cameras, and night vision goggles.
  • Allies and Enemies – Full statistics for characters described in the Amateur Detectives and Columbia Detective Agency chapters. This includes a selection of supporting characters.
  • Creating a Mystery – Advice on setting up a simple mystery story for the player characters to solve. A breakdown of preparation, handling clues, and setting up the beginning, middle, and end.
  • Bibliography – Inspirations for this sourcebook, and recommended media to help establish the overall tone and intention of the setting. Use this section as fodder for adventure ideas and possible characters.

About DoubleZero

DoubleZero is a percentile based, skill-driven modern action thriller tabletop roleplaying game. All manner of suspense and intrigue are possible. This sourcebook requires the use of the DoubleZero Core Book.