• Justin Handlin

Capes & Crooks | DevSpeak: Public Opinion



Capes & Crooks | DevSpeak: Public Opinion


“As the Overseer in Capes & Crooks, it’s important to remember a few things when running missions. On Terra, the world is split on the vigilantes and their actions. Some support them and what they are doing, and others believe that vigilantes are dangerous and often make the situation worse. When the characters take action, keep this in mind. An aggressive move that causes a powerful explosion that causes property damage, or the injury or loss of life are huge talking points for those against the heroes to leverage. Keep a record of reckless actions, as well as specific heroic ones. After the events unfold, share with the players how the public perceives their actions. A short one or two-sentence news title is often more than enough to twist or reveal the actions of the characters. This is a constant reminder of the consequences of their actions.”

-Capes & Crooks-

In the world of Dungeons and Dragons and most other roleplaying games for that matter. The consequences of the character's actions aren’t always present. This lack of repercussions leads to the traditional term “murderhobo”. These characters just solve every issue with brute force and wanton destruction. In a relative lawless land of fantasy, this often is just accepted and the people of those worlds just kinda deal with it. This also extends to comic books and superhero shows as well. While many know the hero is out to do good. Oftentimes their battles cause damage to the world around them. Office buildings, houses, and shopping areas end up being destroyed. In many situations, there are bystanders caught in the crossfire. That’s why in Capes & Crooks I want a system that holds the characters responsible for their actions.


Enter the public opinion system. While not fully fleshed out yet. My goal with public opinion is to control how the non-player characters in the world react to the heroes when they are in public. A great example is comparing Marvel’s Hulk to DC’s Superman. When the brutish Hulk shows up, people run for their lives. The public perception is that Hulk is an uncontrolled walking natural disaster. Because of the public opinion based on his actions, their behavior is appropriate to that opinion. On the other side of the coin, we have Superman. While the governments may fear and work to find ways to defeat the man of steel. The public opinion is that he is a hero of justice, a defender of the weak, and doesn’t take lives. This perception that the public has leaves onlookers in awe and trust. Believing he will protect them, they are less likely to run in fear. Instead, after the battle may walk up and ask for a picture or autograph. It’s this that I want to capture in the world of Terra. I want the deviants to be aware of their actions and how it affects the world's view of them. This includes potential allies or enemies such as the police and other heroes or villains.

While I’ve come up with a number of different ways to achieve this. Currently, I am favoring a sliding scale. For this, I am taking inspiration from the Alignment system in D&D 5th Edition.


This gives us a nine-point scale from Lawful good to chaotic evil, with neutral at the center. Let’s take a look at what that may look like.



While not fully fleshed out. This gives us a great scale to start with. Unknown and new characters start at Neutral. Their exploits then drive public opinion. Some examples would be, attempting to stop a bank robbery with hostages. Some characters may choose to prioritize the robbers, while others will choose to get the hostages to safety. Or, the actions of a character set off a bomb blowing up a building and/or causing a loss of life. Each of these will be perceived in different ways. Using a modifier system we can then adjust the public's opinion of our heroes individually. This can lead to fantastic roleplay and even mechanical benefits. When the police or other heroes arrive, will they aid the hero, or try to arrest them...or worse?


We all want the characters' actions to matter. Not only to the current story but to others down the road. I believe a scaling system such as this can certainly do this. What are your thoughts on public opinion? Do you think it adds to the story? Or is it something you wouldn’t use in your games? Let us know. Leave a comment or email us @ www.critacademy@gmail.com.


Our Capes & Crooks Kickstarter launches on 6/29/21! Follow here at www.critacademy.com/capesandcrooks to get notified when it goes live. Your support will help bring the project to life.