Here’s a silly idea: a review of a game that’s almost as long as the game text itself. Lasers and Feelings (aka Star Trek Fan Fiction: The Game) fits all its rules, character creation and GM advice onto one A4 page, with space remaining for a spaceship picture and a couple of love hearts. Its short and sweet and consistently enjoyable… for about two hours.
Every character gets a number between 2 and 5. When you use Lasers (science, rationality, Spock), you want to roll under your number; when you use Feelings (passion, impulse, Kirk) you want to roll over it. The game text advises that “If you roll your number exactly, you have LASER FEELINGS.” You ask the GM a question, whereupon “You can change your action if you want to, then roll again.” You get one D6 by default, but improving your circumstances gets you more.
For a game with about three rules, it’s amazing how little I understand them. Do all the dice have to hit your number for LASER FEELINGS, or just some of them? If just some, do you ask multiple questions when you get multiple ties? Do have to change your action to qualify for a re-roll? If not, is re-rolling mandatory? I suspect the answer is probably “work it out at your table!” which is a pretty unsatisfying response – not every gamer is a qualified designer who can make that call, that’s kind of why we pay professional game designers to design games for us. But since this game is free, and insubstantial enough that most people could design something equivalent, that’s not much of an argument. Perhaps I should quit my whining.
John Harper has been hailed as the messiah of indie game design, but I’m more of a casual observer than a devotee. I don’t really “get” Lady Blackbird (I like it fine), and won’t be trying Blades in the Dark until the hard copy release. In the meantime, Lasers and Feelings is in line with my quiet respect for his work. It’s thin enough to be delightfully pick-up-and-playable, helped by an excellent random plot table, but also shallow enough to turn boring quickly. Give it a try whilst waiting for Harper to deliver on something meatier.
(I never review a game I haven’t played or run. Check out https://michaelduxbury.com/category/reviews/ for more RPG reviews.)