Updated: Apr 15, 2021
Level 20 or Bust!
Who was Jon Dillinger, and what did he do that deserves out attention? Well, he was possibly the MC of his own LitRPG story. Why do I say this? To start with, he amassed a large gang of NPCs 1st edition Dnd henchmen style simply on the strength of his charisma. A charisma matched by sharp dress, tremendous style, and a tendency to flirt, hobnob, and trick those who would otherwise oppose him.
Sounds suspicious, doesn’t it. Obviously a bard, but in a more modern d20 system that borrows heavily from Dnd.
His life shows us a level-up progression. He first tried to be a sailor, but deserted because he couldn’t hack it. Deciding to change to the thief class, he robbed a local store that was owned by a man who was friend’s with his parents – and got his ass kicked horribly in the melee that followed.
But in prison he learned to hone his bardic skills, trading in a pure focus on thievery for a generalized slew of all skills. A jack of all trades and a master of none. This well suited him upon his release in 1933, when he swept together a gang and leadership role and went on a four month robbing spree. Each one a bit more showy than the last. Starting first with the standard holdup procedure, each robbery added something to his attire. First he donned a fashionable straw hat. Then he donned fashionable clothes. After another level up, the next robbery saw him leaping over the bank tellers counter, all the better to intimidate and coerce the man who held the keys to the vault.
These low-level quests, though, got to become tiresome and the Dillinger Gang moved on to a mid-level adventure called ‘Let’s Smuggle Weapons into a Prison”. Though he made his Charisma Checks and hired on a number of corrupt guards to his side, he didn’t make them all, and his leaked plan found him surrounded by police at his girlfriend’s house, rumored pants down, and it landed him in prison once again.
Not looking so low-level anymore
The thing about a mid-level bard, though, as any player can attest to, is that you can’t keep them locked up for long. Convicts from the prison he had tried to smuggle weapons into broke out, then came and broke him out. Following a boss battle with police, the gang walked free and hit Indiana, then Wisconsin, tearing through banks with ease. It was a life on the road, and they didn’t stay long in any of the quest areas, hitting Florida, then finally falling to police in Arizona after a local fire fighter recognized his face from a crime magazine, and proceeded to report him to the police. Soon officers from all over the state were converging on his location. One by one they nabbed up his gang, each relaxing and doing their own bit of vacationeering, then when his fellow party members were well-esconced within the clink, they grabbed him up as well.
Being imprisoned was no big thing to Dillinger. The nation was in awe of the man, known for his quick wit and wonderful sense of comedy, rather than for his murders in pursuit of profit. Every state wanted to preside over his trial, and Indiana won, having a large proceeding in which the bard charmed everyone, including the prosecution, and spent much of the time cracking jokes with all around him. The court even took a group photo with the man. A Charisma Bonus of +7 is apparently nothing to joke about. As a character Dillinger was probably level 10 at this point, as he proved when he escaped from the “escape-proof” prison known as Crown Point. Here he crafted a wooden pistol, colored it black, fashioned the colt logo upon it, and then used it alongside his famous CHR to bluff, evidently rolling a critical. He took ten guards and another ten trustees prisoner, liberating them of their weapons, including two machine guns. A skilled singer, he added bonuses to his escape with the song, “I’m heading for the last roundup,” then stole the sheriff’s car. No random encounters for the stealthy. Dillinger drove the sheriff’s car to Chicago, evading all patrols on the way through, and entered the highest level adventure of the criminal campaign. ‘Chased by the FBI – Manhunt’
So what happens when a player character heads into a high-level campaign while solo? Usually he gets an assortment of like-leveled NPC cohorts. Well, surprise surprise, there they came. Baby Face Nelson joined him, along with a myriad of high level underlings. Together they swept the nation, spending the year smashing through police, banks, and FBI then getting his face changed by a plastic surgeon in Chicago. It took a trap and a snitch to end him.
On the night of July 22nd, 1934, the bard extraordinaire met his girlfriend for a movie at the Biograph Theater, and someone told the police. When the couple headed out, arm in arm, Dillinger saw an army of FBI and police, weapons drawn. He ran, jumped, juked and swung into an alleyway, his AC insanely high and maybe a bit of 3.5 uncanny dodge in his step, but he never exited.
Who couldn’t love those bardish good looks?
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