RPG playtest: Raging Keanus

My friend Scott McKinley is one imaginative GM. The first game of his that I participated in was Scooby Doo and the Ghost of Vault 74 (Savage Worlds) at Virtual GaryCon during the COVID epidemic. It was a fun pastiche of Scooby Doo cartoons and the Fallout video game. For Gary Con this year (live, not virtual) Scott has made a game where the players each play a character created by Keanu Reeves through various movie universes. The game is officially named REAVERS OF KE’ANU (not Raging Keanus). Characters play John Wick Keanu, Ted Logan Keanu, Neo Keanu, John Constantine Keanu, and Johnny Utah Keanu, all banded together on a mission to investigate the mystery of a renegade time machine, multiple universes, vampires, robots, robber gangs wearing president masks, and what’s going down at the Circle K quick stop.

Scott McKinley (l) reacts to another bad move by our players!

Does it all sound complex? Yeah, kind of, but the game play is in the journey, you might say. I played Constantine, which I was a bit dubious about, figuring everyone would want Neo or Ted Logan. It turned out Ted was kind of useless in a scrap, Neo was helpful in a very specific cyber context, but John Wick was a deadly shooter, and Constatine turned out to be a pretty good utility player– he had the supernatural element more or less (often less) handled, he could heal (sometimes) and had spells (sometimes). I was not unhappy with this choice, as I like Constatine from the comics and the movie– ehhh, not my favorite Keanu Reeves flick by a long shot, but it’s still pretty engaging. This was Constatine after the events of the movie, btw, so no cancer, no sin from committing suicide.

The game played pretty well. I have played Savage Worlds in the past (run by Scott) and it makes sense– I like that it is a good utilitarian system that adapts to almost anything. The highlights were the gunfight at the Circle K quickstop, where strange things were once again afoot (and only one of us had a gun), and my character (Constantine) started the game by bum rushing a guy with a shotgun and dodging a shotgun blast to the chest. It’s that death wish thing, you know? There were all sorts of clues and Easter Eggs from various Keanu movies– the robbers at the convenience store wore president masks (some of which we couldn’t recognize by virtue of being from other time periods). When unmasked, they weren’t surfers but Russian Mafia from the John Wick movies. Rufus from the Bill and Ted movies showed up and steered us in the direction of a real mission– given time constraints we could only hope to pursue one thread, and that was rescuing “Bill S. Preston Esquire”.. by dialing his number in the time machine. That took us to a future date where we encountered an avatar of Bill’s that looked familiar — Milo from Lost Boys (a vampire). I managed to vanquish ONE Vampire and damage Milo. And I tried to defend Ted Logan who was kind of hopeless, stats-wise (but very entertaining).

Dude! You’re not Bill!

I ended up getting jumped on by vampires and killed, but Scott had a Bill and Ted inspired thematic way of bringing characters back to life. Can you guess what it was?

This came in handy for Mohan’s Neo Keanu, who got riddled with bullets from Jennifer’s John Wick Keanu (46 points! that’s a lot of exploding sixes). It was so bad it was funny.

Sometimes, you just HAVE to laugh when your party colleague sprays you with hot lead overkill.

The game broke up at 10PM as it was a school night. We provided some hopefully good feedback. I thought the mechanics were just right with a couple of exceptions, but it was really clear there would only be enough time to pursue one character based “mission” the way we pursued rescuing “Bill” from Bill and Ted. So the game will build on that critical decision about “whose companion are we all going to save?” Scott showed us some results from the other choices, which I won’t reveal here but are very amusing. Great game, I had fun, it showed a lot of creativity!