Leverage: The Quickstart Job
Neat introduction to the game system.
Publisher’s blurb: “Dennis Holland is not a good guy. He’s responsible for bank failures, collapsed mortgages, and dozens of innocent people being forced from their homes. He collects seventies memorabilia. He’s a bad man. And he’s hosting a party.
“Nathan Ford and his Crew are on the job, but it has to be done fast, and there’s not much time. Presented as a training exercise for newcomers and experienced gamers alike, The Quickstart Job lets you and your friends play Nate, Elliot, Parker, Hardison, and Sophie as they take down Holland and his corrupt schemes. Included are rules, characters, and all the twists and complications you need for a night of high-stakes Leverage action.”
I was puzzled when I first picked this up… you see, at the time the TV show Leverage had not made its way ‘across the pond’ to the UK. A little background about the nature of the show, its basic premise, would make what is intended as an introduction, a taster, for the role-playing game a lot more accessible.
That said, presentation is quite beautiful and you’re swept right into things, with talking heads (unfortunately unlabelled – I like to know who’s talking to me!) explaining the background of the task that is to be undertaken. This is followed by a single-page primer on how the rules work, laying out the basics extremely clearly, if in a rather casual tone. The core mechanic is a roll using dice based on the relevant attribute and skill for whatever you are undertaking, against a target or against a similar roll from someone opposing you. If the character fails, he not only does not succeed but some complication arises that will require him to rethink… and even if he succeeds but one of his dice rolls a 1, something else goes awry in that carefully thought-out plan! In a game based on the concept of con men competing against each other, that’s a neat twist. However, the character’s player gets a Plot Point which he can use either to add extra dice to a roll or to create an Asset – perhaps an improvised tool or event that proves advantageous – thus continuing the entertaining contest feel.
So, on to the plot itself. The scenario dives right into the thick of the action, moreover the way that the characters intend to carry out their tasks is predetermined. This can make for a dramatic and flying start to the game, but allows little time for players to get a handle on their characters – who are, of course, the ones from the TV show. If you know the show and the personalities of the lead characters well, it’s not so much of an issue.
Events are presented very clearly, with extensive notes for the GM explaining what checks are needed when and what the results mean in light of the ongoing plot. Whenever the characters have to decide how to approach a problem, the options available and how they should be resolved are given. Even a novice GM could run this with ease.
The whole style of the adventure has caught the spirit of the TV show well, the convoluted plot and counterplot nature of events in a typical Job (i.e. episode), and even if you do not watch the show it is not to hard to follow. The endgame, with a complex series of individual ‘flashbacks’ to introduce actions which go towards dealing with the final plot twist, is a bit hard to understand and might be difficult to introduce to your players without railroading them, but again fits with the overall look and feel of the show.
The pregenerated characters come next, the Leverage Crew in all their glory. Again, it’s better if you know them already from the show, but you can cope reasonably on these descriptions alone if you have at least grasped the concept of a bunch of crooks using their talents towards beneficial ends.
Overall, it’s a good introduction to the game but relies too much on knowledge of the TV show to make this something that anyone could pick up and enjoy. Watch a few episodes first, and if watching it makes you think it would be fun to role-play, pick this up and see if it works for your group. You’ll probably then be scampering off to purchase the full game, but at least you will not have wasted too much if you don’t like the rather structured style of play. Personally I feel ‘quickstarts’ ought to be free, at least in PDF, to promote the game proper and give people a chance to try before they buy the corebook, but if you know you like the TV show this is worth a look.
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