JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
2016, Mattia Salvetti
The world is a bizarre place, especially that of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, a massively popular and highly recommended manga (and anime) series. Due to the craziness of the fights, mind-busting strategies and “unique” style of the characters, Risus stands up as the system of choice for such an adventure. This document contains explanations for the strange powers used throughout the series, sample Clichés and many suggestions to truly make your adventure unique and bizarre. It also contains many iterations of the word “bizarre”, so be warned. Beware that this setting also makes use of shield-mates and double-pumping rules.
Narration and tone
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure features compelling and unique characters and is a rather serious story… at times. The series excels in alternating funny and light-hearted moments to grim, viscerally violent and sad ones. The tone of the narrative should respect this style as closely as possible: some villains will be ugly, fat cowards taunting the players (ending up with some broken bones at most), others will be cunning masterminds, surgically attacking the characters’ beliefs and performing some truly heinous acts. Luckily, Risus works wonders in both occasions: the fights are in fact more strategy than brute force either way and the heroes usually win by coming up with a bizarre and bombastic plan.
The world of JoJo
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure takes place in the modern world, but nothing really stops you from setting your campaign in ancient times or the far future. What distinguishes JoJo’s world from our own is a strong supernatural element. More specifically, Jojo’s world includes various “powers” and creatures, but they usually appear in very specific story arcs. They can be divided into:
Vampires: born for donning a cursed stone mask, vampires suck the blood of their victims to gain power. Vampiric powers are mostly based on a fine control over one’s own cells, thus allowing for the rapid evaporation of water (and consequent freezing), shooting of high pressure fluids from the eyes etc.
Pillar Men: one step above vampires, these hellish creatures can control their own metabolism to a perfect degree and can freely change consistency and shape. They can even burrow into living things and “digest” them in a matter of seconds. Incredibly intelligent, they are weak only to sunlight, like vampires.
Hamon: also known as the “ripple”, Hamon is a martial art used by the “good guys” in the first two arcs of the series. it consists in channeling the energy of the sun trough one’s own breathing. This energy takes the form of yellow shockwaves and can pass through living matter, acting like a magnet and causing a plethora of effects. Vampires and Pillar Men are weak to Hamon and disintegrate if struck.
Part 3 onwards:
Stand: present from arc 3 onwards, the Stand is a power unique for each individual. It’s represented as a ghostly figure that “stands” by its user and can interact with the physical world. These Stands usually have strange powers, like pyrokinesis, mind control, turning into a gelatin etc. Being the most famous power of the series, it’s also the one I’ll spend the most time rambling about.
Spin: present in the seventh and eight arcs of the series, the Spin is a martial art that involves impressing a rotation to an object (usually a spherical steel ball) and exploiting the Magnus effect to one’s own advantage. A properly “spinning” object will transfer its rotation to anything it touches, with either damaging or strategic effect.
Rock humans: similar to humans, these creatures undergo extended periods of lethargy by literally turning into stone. They can also do so consciously as a form of self-defense. 95% of them are stand users.
All Clichés applicable to a modern-world setting can be used: it’s not uncommon in JoJo for an expert chief to use his skills in a Stand fight. What distinguishes this setting from others are the following Cliché templates:
Disciple of the Spin technique: tossing stuff that really hurts, stimulating muscles, deflecting projectiles, squeezing one’s skin to make it bulletproof, creating rifts in dimensional barriers.
Disciple of the Hamon arts: healing one’s wounds, not getting old, making vampires explode, walking on water, harden organic materials, stick to organic materials like a magnet.
Vampire: Shooting ocular fluid like a sniper rifle, freezing flesh, being immortal, super-strength, posing.
Pillar Man: Burrowing into living matter, super strength, super-intelligence, complete body control.
Note that Vampire and Pillar Man should be used by villains only.
Stand name: […]: using one’s Stand to fight, attracting other users, using the Stand’s bizarre power. The name of the Stand should be a musical reference of some sort.
Most characters will be Stand users, which makes a section regarding Stands mandatory.
A stand user is blessed with a unique ability, like time manipulation, teleportation, repairing touched objects etc., just remember to make the power of your stand clear and write it under the Cliché!
There are, however, some rules:
the stronger a Stand is, the shorter its range.
damage inflicted on the Stand is reflected on the user (Cliché = 0 means you lose, as always)
only users can see Stands, only Stands can harm Stands.
Stand users tend to “attract” each other.
Each Stand has (usually) one ability.
That said, stands can be written as Clichés by dividing them in 3 types:
Short range stands: short range, powerful melee fighters. Their power is usually destructive but more “mundane” and it’s represented as a normal Cliché, for example “Stand name: [Killer Queen] (3)” Some short-range stands have unique and bombastic powers: in that case, see below.
Long range stands: lacking raw power, these stands have a medium to long range and, usually, game-changing powers. These are best suited for double-pump Clichès, like “Stand name: [Heaven’s Door] ”.
Automatic stands: once summoned, they act under their user’s verbal command. Their range is extremely vast but they are also very weak. They are best represented by “shield-mates”, that is, renouncing 1 point during character creation to obtain the ability to summon an automatic stand (3), like “Automatic Stand: [Highway Star] (3)”. This also fits the fact that damage inflicted on an automatic Stand is not reflected on the user.
Bound stands: some stands are one with an object. In this case, treat them like any ordinary Cliché, but consider the stand as a “tool of the trade” for said Cliché. If broken, no damage is inflicted on the user.
Fate versus JusticeThe main struggle in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is the one of Fate versus Justice, the latter being usually incarnated by the protagonists. In order to give the feel that the villains are favored by fate they should always be given 3 Lucky Dice. In order to simulate the fluctuating advantages of the typical fight I also suggest using the evens-up rule by D. Stahler.
Getting the team together
The easiest way to justify the PC’s working together is the fact that, probably, they are all Stand Users. Since users tend to attract each other, they are forced by “fate” to stick together to resist their enemies.
Many, many “fights” in JoJo are not fights at all. Card games, gambling, car races etc. can be all considered fights and, probably, are tied to a Stand user. One example is Terence T. D’Arby, whose stand collects the souls of those who lose to him… in a video game. Feel free to mix things up and your players will never be bored. The terrain is also extremely important.
JoJo is a character-based story. Sure, the fights are fun, the story is great, but the protagonists (and antagonists) are what really makes JoJo unique. Characters should be flamboyant stereotypes, highly overdesigned fashion models or, simply put, memorable. Stands should also be unique and bizarre, their powers never mundane nor boring. Reward your players for actually drawing their stands with a couple more points at character creation!
Name your Stand
Coming up with unique powers can be tricky, and so is coming up with a good name. My suggestion is choosing the name first by listening to your favorite songs and then create the Stand's powers based on the one you feel would fit your character best. The song title can be used as it is or be slightly changed to obtain a decent [Stand Name].
Last but not least, a few of the most well-known characters in the series. In order not to spoil the anime-only watchers I’ll limit myself to the currently animated parts.
Honorable Hamon master (3)
1.95 m high gentleman (3)
Would do anything for Erina (2)
3 lucky shots
Even Speedwagon is afraid! (3) (companion)
Joseph Joestar (old)
Cunning trickster with a golden heart (4)
Lady killer (2)
Stand name: [Hermit Purple]  - Spirit photography, manipulation of electric devices
Bastion of muscles and anger (2)
Intimidatingly cunning (3)
Stand name: [Star Platinum] (4) - Precision, limited time stop
3 lucky shots
Good-hearted scoundrel (4)
Fast-thinking but inept student (3)
Stand name: [Crazy Diamond] (3) - repairing broken objects, healing
Dio Brando (part 3)
Heartless scheming villain (2)
100-year old English Vampire (3)
Stand name: [The World] (4) - 5 seconds time stop, super-strength
3 lucky shots
Kars (ultimate lifeform)
Cleverest among the Pillar Men (3)
Last step in the evolutionary chain 
3 lucky shots
Kira Yoshikage (bites the dust)
Absolutely normal citizen of Morioh (3)
Stand name: [Killer Queen] (3) - turns stuff into bombs, can make time itself explode, turning back 1 hour
Stand name: [Stray Cat] (2) - Air manipulation, used in conjunction with Killer Queen
Automatic Stand: [Sheer Heart Attack] (3) - automatic stand, explodes when It detects heat, indestructible
3 lucky shots