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Basic Information

Bootleg or bootlegging usually refers to making, transporting and/or selling illegal alcoholic liquor or copyrighted material; the term originates from concealing flasks of alcohol in the legging of boots. Bootleg may also refer to:

Bootleg is also the name of a couple books and films, a comic book character, several musical albums, and is another term for bell-bottoms. Here's two other uses of Bootleg that might possibly matter in the context of gaming:


1. The above list is edited down from the much longer one at Wikipedia

Game and Story Use

  • Wow. I had no idea that word had so many different meanings. That confusion can be put to work.
    • An NPC might have a reputation of being a bootlegger - a somewhat undeserved reputation because they do a different type of bootlegging than they've been accused of. The resulting confusion / frustration / complication could be the basis of a plotline, or just an element of characterization.
    • The PCs (or NPC police) overhear just a few words of a conversation between two criminals conspiring to bootleg. The authorities / investigators have some sort of crime to prevent, but not much of a lead to follow.
    • When botching the appropriate skills rolls for black or grey market access you may find yourself the wrong kind of bootlegger.
  • Any setting with borders is likely to have smugglers - some of whom might even be the PCs.
  • A PC Rockerboy in Cyberpunk 2020 might face reduced income if he doesn't figure out a way to stop bootleggers from undercutting his label.
    • Or, given the dubious ethics of most CP2020 characters, the PCs are probably the ones doing the bootlegging, and selling the music for dirt-cheap on the street. If the artist they're getting rich off has a contract with a megacorp, this is a dangerous game.
    • Generally in a cyberpunk type scenario, be fully prepared for sponsored police or corporate security with police powers to come down far harder on crimes which touch on profit (such as counterfeiting, smuggling and undercutting) than they might be on crimes which mainly harm people.
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