*Third Blog post this week!? Crazy stuff folks, I know. However, I just noticed today that Matt Fuller over at Monkey in the Cage finally put up the Actual Play recording of the Spirit of ’77 game he ran for us so I just knew I needed to give folks a heads up on what I got out of the game, so here we go!*
If you run over to the Monkey in the Cage website right now you’ll have a chance to treat yourself to an Actual Play recorded gaming session I was a part of. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of an Actual Play it is where a group of Tabletop Role-players sit down with a game and record themselves as they play the game and later edit the material so it runs somewhat like a Radio Play. You have folks who do it in an amazing fashion, like the Gamerstable Podcast who to date has the best Actual Plays I’ve ever heard, and then you have folks like us. Now, Matt did a fine job with what he was working with so it is fully enjoyable, we just ain’t Gamerstable quality yet.
The game we are playing is a one shot adventure named Cruise Ship of the Damned, based in a game setting called Spirit of ’77. Spirit of ’77 is a setting based in the 70’s with all the tropes and power figures you recall from those days. If you’ve ever wanted to fight vampires as the Bionic Woman or perhaps wondered how Shaft would handle a brawl with Sasquatch, here’s your system folks. It is everything about the 70’s that made it great, horrible, and goofy all at the same time.
The rules system that provides the backbone for Spirit of ’77 is the relationships driven game engine known as Powered by the Apocalypse most notably known for being the system used for such games as Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, and Monsterhearts. Powered by the Apocalypse has a seemingly simple dice mechanic to it where the players only need roll two six sided die with three potential outcomes. A roll that nets 10 or more equates an automatic success at whatever they were attempting, a 7-9 is considered a partial success with possible consequences, and anything 6 or lower is considered a failure that could result in just about anything the Game Master decides which can even be damage to the character. The system gets more complicated by having certain “moves” character can employ and by putting a strong emphasis on role-play, sometimes coerced by the GM to the players. This is a scaled down explanation but I found I was droning on and on so I’ll leave it as thus. The system is overall very simplistic when compared to some of the stat heavy constructs out there so it is certainly worth a deeper look into if you wish.
Spirit of ’77, created by Bob and Dave from Monkeyfun Studios, is in playtest mode at the moment, and the game we ran is freely available on their site. They reached out to Matt Fuller, one of our fellow Vagabond Gamers and asked him if he’d run the game for us in order to get feedback. He did them one better by recording our session. I won’t go too in depth on the story of our game that night, because you can easily listen in, but I can certainly say it was a treat. Matt ran the game and three of us made up the Player Characters.
Brent chose Sammy Summers, leader of the Texas Tornados Cheerleading team (a play on the Dallas Cheerleaders, popular in the ‘70’s) who besides being capable herself was also the head of a gang of cheerleaders at her beck and call.
Jason picked the character Gemini, a glam rocker to the extreme (essentially David Bowie only Jason’s David Bowie might be my favorite ever) he even had a magic flute, that isn’t a euphemism either it’s the real deal.
For my character I played to my strengths and chose Colonel Rosco W. Colgrove and if his military rank isn’t a giveaway I’ll fill you in, this guy was Colonel Sanders. I got to play as a version of KFC’s Colonel Sanders, who also happened to pack a pair of .45’s, in this game and I couldn’t have been happier for it.
There were other character choice concepts out there from a Daredevil Stuntman, a British Intelligence Special Agent, to a Criminologist Author. All the character choices touched upon some of the tropes surrounding book, T.V., and film characters from the ‘70’s. They were all smooth in some manner, hard hitting, and fully capable. It was a real treat to play mine and certainly a lot of fun to see the other guys play out theirs. Not to mention how fun it was to see Matt try and keep up with our shenanigans. Also, though Brent and I played our characters well, the real treat of the evening (and the main reason to listen to the recording) had to be Jason playing up his character to the extreme. It was both hilarious and awe inspiring. Seriously, listen for Gemini.
Spirit of ’77 played well and quickly. Combat was less about crunching numbers and more about crafting great ideas and resolving them through a few rolls of the die, sometimes with better failure outcomes than successes. Matt remarked on an earlier podcast that he wondered whether the Powered by the Apocalypse rule set really was the best backbone for this system, but I spent a little time with the rules post session and really got a good feel for how it might run if some folks more familiar with the Powered by the Apocalypse could really give it a better go than us. None of us had much experience with the system, and though that did allow for some really fun Role-play I feel if we’d had more time to better prep ourselves with the rules we’d see that Powered by the Apocalypse really is a great system for this crazy little project. I say crazy with all love too, I mean they suggest you use a ’70’s music playlist with this game for heaven’s sake!
Bottom line, I loved it and look forward to playing more if I can sometime. Of course all that means is it joins my list of a legion of games I’d like to play again which rests under my legion of game systems I’ve yet to try and want to. In any event, you can’t beat free and right now a great look at this future game system is available on their site. I urge you to check it out. I understand a Kickstarter is coming down the pipe in September and I’ll certainly be giving it some lip service, and likely a bit of my own precious coin. Have a good day and some good gaming folks! If you listen to the recording, give me your thoughts either below or on the Monkey in the Cage site!
P.S. I realize that this may be the first time I mentioned the Vagabond Gamers on this site, this is a bizarre oversight on my part. I need to write a blog piece about online gaming and the Vagabond Gamers sometime…