Monday, August 3, 2009

Secrets and Lies: A Review

Secrets and Lies: A Hardboiled Detective Game is a new offering from Daniel Bayn. I've discussed another one of Bayn's games before - the super fun, rules lite, Wushu (also recommended). 

I'm a fan of noir and this game has some great genre enforcing rules. To start with, character attributes are labeled: savy, moxie, nerve, guts, and mojo as opposed to more traditional attributes. The way these work is also interesting. As opposed to making roles immediately players take hits to these stats depending on what they're doing. Eventually the character is asked to boil one of these stats which can result in game changing failure. 

One problem our group had was that there were five players and this made it too easy to spread hits to attributes out. For a one shot story this made it very easy to pass the boiling of stats. 

Speaking of problems, only one player in our group had ever seen a film noir before. Because of this general ignorance of the genre a lot of the tropes went unused, and character types didn't necessarily match the tone. This wasn't a fault of the game, however, we still had a good time playing a more gentle inquisitive game of mobsters. 

For GMs I love the gordian knot style of npc relationships. Everyone has something to hide, and this can be exploited by the players to reach whatever conclusion they're after. This is also great for more improvised styled games. Our game involved the players being hired to investigate a blackmailed gangster and turned into an investigation of his death. The answers the players received largely hinged on who they chose to interact with the most and what leads they chose to follow. The style of gameplay S&L promotes is one of the least railroading systems I've encountered. 

Overall, I thought this was an innovative and fun genre game. It comes with my strongest recommendation to all fans of mystery, or those just looking to explore creative rules for their games. 

I'll try and get another post summing up our session and specific examples of some of the mechanics in action, but I make no promises. I leave for Navy bootcamp in a week so time is a bit precious. 

1 comment:

Addicting Games said...

Secrets & Lies knows exactly what kind of game it is and goes about giving you just that experience without any frills or digressions. It comes out, tells you what you want to hear, and then gets the hell out of the way.

Melvin, Download Games website