Tuesday, August 1, 2017

RPGaDAY 2017 #1

From the #RPGaDAY2017 challenge (info here):

[as I'm starting this thing a little late, I shall be doubling up on my daily posts until I catch up. Early posts will be post-dated to the date they were originally supposed to appear]

What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?

Most long-time readers of this blog would probably expect me to say B/X, or some iteration thereof. The easiest answer would be "anything," because it's been such a struggle to find the time and space to game lately.

But I'm going to go off book a bit. Over the last few days of NOT posting my answer to this question I've had time to consider a number of different options. Fall of Magic is an absolutely beautiful game I've recently acquired and hope to play in the next couple weeks (while the wife and kids are out of town). Another GM-less game that I'd like to try my hand at is the old Ben Lehman Polaris game (no, not the French post-apocalyptic game...I own that one, too). And if someone else was going to run it, I'd be happy participating in a Heroes Unlimited game or Rifts: Wormwood (just don't make me have to cobble together comprehensible adventures).

BUT, if I'm going to take the question literally, I'd have to say the RPG I'd like to be playing right now, is the one that I picked up two days ago: SPIRIT OF 77, written by David Kizzia and Bob Richardson.

Dig on THIS, jive turkeys.
Spirit of 77 is a Powered by the Apocalypse, the first such PbtA RPG I've owned or read. It's quite well done...one of those games that's plenty fun just to read. But the game's simple system looks just about perfect for its chosen genre and cinematic setting.

"Cinematic" is the operative word here. This is a game made for over-the-top action and thrills, not bullet-counting. The first time I remember seeing such a term tossed around (cinematic role-playing) was probably Robin Laws's Feng Shui RPG. Here, the term isn't explicit in the text, and it doesn't need to be: anyone who remembers the television and film of the mid-70s to early-80s is going to "get it." A game of Spirit of 77 might be dark and gritty or light-hearted and campy, but it won't be dull. The cover leaf says it all with it's single sentence: To be played at maximum volume.

Spirit of 77 is a game of Bruce Lee chop-socky and gun-toting sociopaths...er, "vigilantes" out for justice (think Chuck Bronson, Clint Eastwood, and Pam Grier). It's a game of muscle cars and Evel Knievel. It's about fighting The Man and fighting The Streets. It's about sex and drugs and rock, platform shoes and sardonic, hard-boiled detectives. Dude...it's 1970s action!

No, it's not an all-encompassing 70's genre system: it would be pretty tough to scale it down to the level of Dazed & Confused or the Scooby-Doo mystery kids (you'd be better served running something like Risus if you wanted to play out the drama surrounding a high school keg party or busting the masked spook at the old amusement park). Likewise, it's missing most kinds of supernatural and psychic phenomenon (a la Steven King stories of the era: Firestarter, Dead Zone, etc.). There's no magic or voodoo or New Age-y stuff, and while the Wide World of 77 supplement gives us the new "Visitor" role/class (perfect for emulating The Man from Atlantis, Matthew Star, or The Phoenix), it would be pretty rough to do anything really "magical" with it. You could make a really wimpy vampire, I suppose...but who wants that?

Still there's plenty that Spirit of 77 CAN emulate.

  • Have you ever wanted to be "B.J. McKay and his best friend, Bear?" (who didn't?)
  • Are you a fan of Carter-era Wonder Woman mashups with the Bionic Woman? (I sure am)
  • Do you have a VHS copy of Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park sitting on some dusty shelf? (like the writer of this blog does)

If you can answer any of these questions (let alone all of them) in the affirmative, you might want to take a look at Spirit of 77. I can answer "Hell, yeah!" to all three, so you can see why I'm down to play.

It probably doesn't hurt that I spent most of the 1990's listening to music from the 70's.
; )


  1. Sounds awesome. How about a post about what the rules are like? I've never heard of "The Apocalypse " game you say these rules are "powered by." Not even sure what th at means. Like games that use GURPS?

    1. Apocalypse World is an indie, post-apocalyptic RPG published in 2010 by Vincent Baker. It is class-based and uses a 2D6 mechanic for task resolution that provides a range of interpretive results similar to the B/X reaction system (and I have heard that the idea for the system is based on B/X). It proved to be popular and easily adaptable to other genres, and multiple RPGs have been published using the basic system...these bear the “Powered by the Apocalypse” moniker.