Friday, July 05, 2024

Longshot City Review Part 1

A while ago, I backed a Kickstarter for an RPG book called Longshot City. I am a sucker for supers RPGs especially if they stray away from the modular point buy mold that has been the established method for these sorts of games since Champions set the standard. Longshot City is one of those outliers.

There are a lot of superhero RPGs. As a huge RPG and superhero comic book fan, I own a lot of superhero RPGs, but I am always on the lookout for the perfect one for me. I don't feel like I have found that yet. Is Longshot City going to be that perfect superhero RPG? I don't know. Maybe?

What first attracted me to Longshot City was the clean simplicity of its character sheet. Superhero RPGs can get notoriously complex. That's something I tend to push against. I just wrote about being burned out on D&D. A big part of that is the game's upward trend in complexity. 

Superhero games have almost always been more complex than D&D. Asking for one that is less complex than current editions of D&D limits my choices quite a lot. They do exist. I wrote a review for Amazing Heroes awhile back, and there's also The Supercrew. I love both of these games a lot, but both may fall a bit too far into rules-lite territory for most.

Longshot City is designed and published by Melsonian Arts Council who published the RPG Troika. MAC is a British publisher, and in their part of the world, while I was playing D&D, those folks were reading Fighting Fantasy game books. (If you look into Fighting Fantasy, you will see that the books were written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston. Be aware that this is not the same Steve Jackson of Munchkin and Fantasy Trip fame, but a British author with the same name.)

Fighting Fantasy is a choose your own adventure style game book with dice driven conflict resolution elements. It is important to note that these were not designed to be played tactically with miniatures like D&D was. Fighting Fantasy was always designed to integrate with the telling of its story. It's a different beast. It is a game system designed around the reading of a book. (There is an Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG. I have read it, but never attempted to bring it to the table. Maybe I should change that.)

Troika's design was inspired by and based on Fighting Fantasy, the gamebooks and system that its authors enjoyed growing up. Longshot City, in turn, is based on Troika. I have not played or even read Troika. Its tagline is: The Science Fantasy RPG. I should probably check it out sometime, but it doesn't seem that familiarity with Troika is required to play and enjoy Longshot City.

The resolution mechanic in Longshot City looks very simple and straightforward. Roll 2d6 and hope to get a result that is equal to or less than your total skill value. So, it's a roll under system that uses six-sided dice. Opposed rolls are different. Here both parties roll, add their total skill values, and the high roll wins. Again, really simple. Combat uses opposed rolls. Most everything else is roll-under. 

Speaking of combat, attack and damage rolls are separate. Damage is rolled on 1d6 where a number is then selected from an array. A knife, for example, shows a damage array of 2,2,2,2,4,8,10. If you roll a three with a knife, you choose the third position from the array inflicting 2 damage. If you have bonuses to your damage roll, then it's possible to roll higher than a 6. If this happens, any value over 6 results in 10 damage with the knife. The rules feel pretty routine and grounded in the old-school, but one that stood out to me was the rules for inventory. 

Every player can carry 12 things. More than that and you start to suffer penalties. But, that's not the cool part. The cool part is that when you need to pull something from your pack or purse or pockets or whatever and you are under time constraints (like in combat) then you roll 2d6 and must roll equal to or higher than the object's position in your pack. This makes ordering positions in your inventory very important. Need to be a quick draw with your gun? Better list your gun first in your inventory. (I thought that this was cool.)

The rules for Longshot City look good. They look like they could be easily managed at my table, but they aren't the part of this book that stood out the most. What really grabbed my attention was the myriad of charts and tables used in character creation. All characters are meant to be created randomly and the variety and quirky charm of these selections promises to produce a game with a very different feel than anything that I have played before.

Speaking of charts and tables, I want to make special mention of the "Knockout Table." Most games in the old-school are pretty deadly with a strict "if you are out of HP, then you are dead" policy. I imagine this might be true of Fighting Fantasy as well, but that generally doesn't feel like the way it's done in the comics. Longshot City manages to walk this line by adding something called the Knockout Table.

The Knockout Table ensures that falling in combat has some kind of serious consequences, but death is not always (or even usually) one of them. These results are so true to the spirit of the genre of comic books that I might use this table even if I end up playing a different superhero RPG. It's such an awesome table, I'm just going to share it here.

My physical hardcover book is beautiful. Its dimensions are 7.25 x 10 inches, which is larger than a zine but smaller than most standard RPG books. It comes in at around 75 pages, and for presentation I give it a 10 out of 10. As for all the great character creation tables, I have decided that the best way to show those off is to create a character step by step, which I will do in part 2 of my review on Monday.

No comments:

Post a Comment