Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tommy's Take on Leverage Companions 1, 2 & 3

Though the show has ended, the game must go on. Margaret Weis Productions extends their support for Leverage with a new line of microsupplements!

Leverage Companion #1: Too Many Chefs

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: We thought the Leverage RPG line was finished...but Margaret Weis Productions comes firing back with a new set of microsupplements! Leverage, by its concept, is very niche protectiony, with PCs specializing in one of five roles. This supplement, in PDF for $2.99, addresses crews that have more than one of a given role...say two Hackers, two Hitters or two Grifters. Options are provided for the duplicated roles to combine their well as an option for one to swoop in in top of the other and steal their glory. A set of Talents are provided which are designed to build off of these situations, such as a Crew Member who lets themselves get taken captured to give their crewmate an opening. There's even one built around two Masterminds working together. The next session takes it to the extreme: A team consisting entirely one role, and how to diversify your crew of Grifters, Hitters or even Masterminds. An optional rule provides extra drama, having the fallout be worse if someone screws up in their secondary role. Again, new Talents are provided that play into this. Sample crews are provided, giving inspiration for All-Grifter, All-Hacker, All-Hitter, All-Thief and All-Mastermind crews.

WHAT WORKS: Leverage is a great idea if you have five players and they are all happy focusing on separate roles...if not, then you have Too Many Chefs. The options are great, with mechanical support to back up PCs otherwise stepping on each other's toes, rather than making the game more difficult.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Not a lot, here. These aren't situations that'll come up in every game, and this is a low cost extra that'll fill in those gaps for you if it happens.

CONCLUSION: Really good first Companion, starting the series off right. The most potentially frustrating aspect of Leverage is what to do if you have a "non-standard" group...good to see that MWP recognizes that and is here to help.

Leverage Companion #2: Leverage Noir

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Another $2.99 microsupplement, this one walks you back from modern day to the 20s-40s. Changing the time period does have a pretty big effect on your game, for two major reasons: 1) The omnipresent earbuds are no longer present, and 2) the Hacker needs a complete overhaul. New Talents include Hardboiled (you don't scare easily), Enforcer (your reputation now wins you as many fights as your fists do), Wireman (learning to manipulate the phone lines), Sandpapered Fingertips (your sense of touch is infallible), Working Stiff (your Grifter knows how to fit in with the "common" folk), The Name of the Game Isn't Chess - It's Poker (convincing someone you have a bigger advantage than you really do). A list of era specific distinctions are included, as well as a list of terminology. Some reference material is provided, as well as a couple of tips on either playing a Noir episode as a flashback in your ongoing game, or running a full series set in another time.

WHAT WORKS: A very helpful reworking of Talents, especially necessary for the Hacker. Many of the Talents twist the roles thematically, such as the Hitter becoming a much more violent member than what we normally see from Eliot.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Less useful overall than the first Companion. The GMing section might could have used some beefing up.

CONCLUSION: A good addition to the Companion line, in a very fitting alternate setting. Leverage certainly had some dark moments over the years, so this wouldn't be uncharted territory for the setting, though the darkness was rarely sustained. Highly recomended if you want a darker twist on your Leverage game.

Leverage Companion #3: The Foil

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This Companion introduces a seventh role, that of The Foil...essentially a PC adversary to the Crew. Unfortunately, they lose me right there with the first rule of being a Foil: You Lose. The rule in the Leverage Writer's Room regarding Jim Sterling, the Leverage crew's biggest foil, is Sterling Never Loses. Anywho, they provide the ten rules of playing a Foil (one of which essentially turns them into an assistant Fixer as well). One page even covers situations where the Foil might be forced to team with the Crew (which happens as well). Foil Talents are provided, like Body Double (meaning you have body doubles on site), I Am The Rogue's Gallery (where you can get in before the Crew's Thief) and Owning the Field, which you can use to prevent a specific Role from being used.  Sterling himself is statted up as a Foil, along with a few other sample ones.

WHAT WORKS: It's a good concept, the recurring nemesis in the Heist game. Providing mechanical support for a Sterling isn't a bad thing, especially as it makes their constant victories slightly less annoying than if it all came at the hands of an NPC.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: First and foremost? The Ur-Example completely violates the first rule of playing a Foil.

CONCLUSION: Sterling never loses. At best, the Leverage crew manages a win-win situation with him. Additionally, playing a Foil would be a bit of a drag, as the Foil is either not going to be in every Job, or it's a series of back and forth PC fights. I certainly applaud Margaret Weis Productions for providing options...I just don't this one really works.