Last week I finally got a chance to run a game of the Leverage RPG based on the show of the same name.
For any of you unfamiliar with the show it’s a fairly light-hearted heist show along the lines of the Oceans 11 movies or a decidedly 2000s flavoured A-Team. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it, it’s not going to change the world but it’s completely enjoyable popcorn entertainment.
Anyway, back to the game. I must say I’m rather impressed with it. The most notable aspect of the game is that, in keeping with the heist genre, there really isn’t a definitive failure state. If one of the players fails at a given task one of the other teammates can usually pick up where they left off or,(the more fun option) it can later be revealed that the failure was actually all a Part Of The Plan.
This is done by the players establishing a flashback to something that occured earlier, influencing the present. Say the team thief is unable to evade the guards and gets caught, cue a flashback to establish that the guards are on the team payroll and are just there to help the thief get where she’s going. Failure almost always turns into a significantly cooler sucess than the original sucess would have been.
The other fun part of the game is Complications. The more involved the task the players are attempting, the more dice they’ll be rolling. If they roll any 1s that becomes a Complication, these have no bearing over whether they succeed or fail, but rather introduce something that didn’t go exactly According To Plan. This can range anywhere from “sprained ankle” to “they saw my face” to “the target has mob connections.”
For both the players and the gamemaster, this is a game that is best if you enjoy thinking on your feet and being willing to change plans at a moment’s notice. For the players, you should always be on the lookout for an opportune time to explain why everything that has seemingly gone wrong is all going exactly as planed. Conversely, for the gamemaster, it’s a blast to come up with a variety of wrenches to thow at the players plans.
The game I ran took place almost entirely at a retail warehouse during the Christmas rush. My favorite flashback involved one of the players establishing that he was in fact the trainer during orientation for all of the temporary workers so everybody there knew and trusted him. The most amusing Complication occured when the team hacker re-routed a phone call from the villain to go to one of the other players, this action was sucessfull but the complication ended up causing all calls in the building to then re-route to the same player. I then found every excuse possible to have the villain call someone new, and the player getting the calls had to keep fielding all of these calls without the villain catching on that he’s talking to the same guy.
Overall the game was a sucess, though I admittently did not give enough for the team Hitter to do. This will certainly be addressed if I run any subsequent games.
I would highly recommend this game to any role-players out there who are up for a game where the storyline has the potential to completely turn on a dime and are willing to just run with it. It requires minimal prep work from the GM, but be ready to think fast to keep things moving.