As one of the Cortex Plus
games, I picked up the rules around the time of backing the Cortex Hacker's Guide
... but never really understood why it'd be fun to play. Now I think I get it.
Enter the Heist
As genre's go, the Heist is a time-honoured one. You know, the "caper"... the "hustle"... the "con". What it's all about is smart plans, cool gizmos and high action. We were hooked.
In roleplaying terms, this is the realm of action heroes with sassy lines and cool schticks. One of my groups' longest and most successful campaigns used a lot of the elements of the Heist, so although I'd never played in or run a specifically Leverage-style game, I felt at home with a lot of the tropes.
What's this got to do with anything?
Gamers Like Things Cool
As gamers, we like our games cool. We like slick heroes with cool gadgets and sassy attitudes.
When talking to my co-developer, Scott, in video chat yesterday - all on the topic of our SF campaign setting - it was important to remember that gamers likes things cool. Later that day, watching Leverage, was a neat example of how to do so. Whilst TV and RPGs are very different mediums, it was good to take a few notes.
Three Things Leveraged
Firstly, I liked how the Leverage team features five operatives who don't like to play nice with others. Each is very talented at one thing - whether the Hacker or the Grifter - but, as the boss says, while each of them knows what they can do, only one person knows what all of them can do. How like roleplaying is it to conceptualise characters with very clearly defined expertise and seek to bring them together as a team?
Secondly, I was struck by how cool tech and tools were used but were not the focus of the action. Tools were just that - tools. The focus is on how the characters use those tools in the process of delivering their plan. While cool toys and effects are... well, cool... let's not get over-focused on them. The real joy in the game (as in the story) will be in what the characters do with them.
Lastly, I was pleased with how planning and backstory was accessed by use of flashbacks. This kept the focus on the action part of the story, and dripped in the stuff you needed to know to understand the plan. This is harder to do with RPGs, but one idea that came to mind (especially for a demo or first mission) was creating a plan and having the players execute it... and then forcing them to solve the problems that arise when the plan doesn't work as expected. The focus would be on the action and the decisions players make to compensate for the unforeseen. It'd be a nice change from the usual long set-up necessary with many caper-orientated missions.