Breakdown - The Breaking Point

W Quinellipe Zorn
  • RPG
System: Breakdown
Date: Oct 28 2:00pm (4 hours)
Spaces: 4
Attendee/Player Age: 18+
Safety Tools: Other,Open Door Policy,Script Change
Characters: Created at the table
The game Breakdown features highly-stressed protagonists ("Pros," as we call these characters) trying to do some fundamental good amid a tide of inhumanity. Their emotional drive makes them powerful and vulnerable; the harder they push, the more they risk breaking down.

The Breaking Point setting is focused on civil servants in a big city. The stresses are personal and psychological. The setting is immediately recognizable to anyone who has seen or read character-driven legal, medical, firefighter, or other emergency and civil service worker dramas, including fictions such as...

  • Law and Order: SVU: Detective Stabler ("stabler" - get it?) struggles to keep it together as he confronts pedophiles and rapists while worrying about protecting his family and controlling his own inner rage, inevitably driving everyone away just as he so dearly wants to protect them;

  • Rescue Me: Denis Leary's protagonist is a committed firefighter, having survived the 9/11 terrorist strike in NYC, in which he lost his best friend, a fellow firefighter; he is driven to rescue others while not succumbing to his own demons of survivor guilt and loss, fearing his own insanity as he believes his dead partner has come back as a ghost

  • Law and Order: Criminal Intent: Detective Goren is part Sherlock Holmes and part brilliant empath, a profiler able to lay bare the truth of insane perpetrators and well-intended excuse-makers - but his own inner demons are his kryptonite

  • Monk: while often a lighter show, the tension between Monk's need to keep going after his wife's murder and his multiple severe phobias puts him in constant danger of lashing out, infuriating others, and breaking down

  • ER: doctors come and go, struggling with problems from addiction to abuse (as victim or perpetrator) while facing the power and responsibility of life and death

  • House: Dr. House's apparent misanthropy barely masks his pain and inner bleeding heart as he heals his patients at all costs to himself, his colleagues, and their relationships

  • 9-1-1: the shows characters have a bevy of noble intentions and tragic backstories, perhaps best exemplified by Captain Bobby Nash's battle with alcoholism and sense of responsibility for the death of his family


Some inspirations more specific to the world setting include: the TV show Homicide: Life on the Street or the book upon which it is based, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets; the movie Chinatown; the book Tourist Season; the TV show The Sopranos; the Spencer for Hire book series; the TV show Third Watch; the comic book Stray Bullets; and the old 1970s TV show Emergency, while too sedate for The Breaking Point, is a good example of weaving the relationships and stories of public servants of different professions.
Content Advisory!
Depends on the characters built, will be discussed at table
Tags: Comical Romance Alternate History Intrigue Mystery Provocative Horror GM-less Player antagonism Collaborative

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