Spirit of 77
If you are like me then you are a huge fan of the grindhouse, blaxploitation, kung-fu and weird science movies of the seventies. I grew up on great shows like Shaft, the Dukes of Hazzard, and Get Smart. My Saturdays were filled with strange Chinese guys speaking English but with lips that were obviously saying something else. I loved the Seventies and now there is a game that allows me the chance to return to those roots.
The Spirit of 77 is a new RPG created by Monkeyfun Studios and it is the only game I have seen that truly captures the feel of the seventies. The game is full of huge afros, smoking hot dames, and cars with more horses under the hood than you can imagine. It is a Groovy game and for an indy project, it proved to be far better than I expected. I mean conceptually it was an easy 10 but then you get into the system and it works well to keep the feel alive.
The system seems familiar and easy to learn. Based upon D. Vincent Baker’s “Apocalypse World”, this game pushed that earlier work into overdrive with many new and innovative improvements. When I first looked at the game I started with the Module, “Cruise Ship of the Damned”. I gotta admit that the name was a bit corny but then I got into the meat and potatoes of it all and was truly impressed with the story. For an intro adventure, this module nails it on so many levels.
Lets take a closer look:
Attributes are a make or break thing for many games. This one uses a basic system of stats that are easy to understand. With only five stats you don’t have to worry much about figuring out which one is most important to your character design. The stats are rated on a -1 to +4. Much like Talislanta, this keeps it simple and makes it easy to see how you stack up to someone else.
Might = [Strength] – Uh! Take it! You got the strength to make it happen? You got the stones to outlast your opponent? Then you got the Might! Alllllright!
Hustle = [Agility] Whether its bopping your way through a Rumble or showing your stuff on the dance floor, Hustle makes it happen.
Smooth = [Charisma] Wanna know if you’re easy on the eyes? Or if you’re cooler than school? That’s how Smoothyou are.
Brains = [Intelligence] Don’t be the fool, take them to school! Show them how smart you are in knowledge, wisdom and street smarts by showing you’ve got the Brains.
Soul = [Spirituality] You won’t get anywhere if you don’t have the spirituality behind what you do to give meaning to how you do it. There’s peace, there’s love, and then there’s Soul.
Combat is fast and easy as well. Take wounds for example. They go from 0 which is unhurt and healthy to 8 deader than a doornail. How simple is that. The game allows for unique combat moves and martial arts styles as well as things like gunfu and crazy car stunts.
Unlike other games that give you huge lists of skills and/or feats. This game gives you moves. Here are some that were listed on the sample character Daryl “Big Duke” Dutchman:
Sweet Ride: All Good Old Boys start with a Sweet Ride at no cost. Big Duke has a custom stunt cycle stored in the hold of the ship. (2 power, 1 look, 0 armor, Mobile, Sturdy)
Hot Wheels: When in the driver’s seat…
• If you need to Deliver a beatdown, add your vehicle’s power to your roll.
• If you need to Keep your Cool, add your vehicle’s power to your roll.
• If you Get in Somebody’s Face add your vehicle’s power to your roll.
• If you try to seduce or manipulate someone, add your vehicle’s looks to your roll.
• If you Help a Brother Out add your vehicle’s power to the roll.
Damn the Double Nickel: When you charge straight into the thick of things without regard for your own safety you get +1 armor. If you happen to be leading a gang also on vehicles or a convoy, they get +1 armor too.
Power to the People: The Man doesn’t like you but the People do – When interacting with Civilians, gain +1 ongoing if you have any Heat.
Drink You Under The Table: When resisting the effects of alcohol, drugs.
As you can see from these moves, the game allows for some awesome creativity when making up a character. It reminded me of some of the best stuff from Big Eyes, Small Mouth but with this game it seems to flow better and to fit the genre which is why you are playing the game in the first place.
I play tested the game with a small group in two four hours sessions. Combat was fast and furious and was not bogged down with rules and minutia. The guys playing the game all got into their characters and I felt like I was living through a television version of Blacula mixed with Undercover Brother. I am not sure how the game will holdup to a long campaign but I can say that for an episodic campaign, this system is top notch and well worth a look. One other nice thing about this game is that it is easy to teach to others. This means it could be a good start-up game for new gamers.
If you are interested in the Spirit of 77 then you are in luck. There is a kickstarter going on right now. Go check it out and then go check out the website where you can download “Cruise Ship of the Damned” and get started playing today.
Also here is a list of links that can help you to stay on top of future developments with this groovy new game.
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