Saturday, March 26, 2016

Risus Bench-Test? Resounding Success.


Finally, finally got to play this.  How did it work out?  To make a long story short, pretty darned good—and not, as near as I can tell, by any virtue singular to the rules.  The rules work well enough.  They're functional.  They have their good points and their flaws.

But mostly, they're simple and straightforward enough to just get out of the way most of the time and let me ref the game.  That's their greatest virtue.  (Incidentally, I like OD&D for the same reason—but Risus does it better.)

My only criticism?  People call Risus a silly game, a comedy RPG, and boy-howdy does it ever fit that bill.  It's a very silly game.  (Thankfully, that happens to accord with my play-style; I'm a very silly referee.)  And making Risus work for a more serious or more long-term campaign is actually very easy: just clamp way, way down on the "inappropriate clichés cause triple damage in combat" rule (or make it resoundingly clear that the same inappropriate tactic can't be used more than once), and the game gets a whole lot grittier.

I ran three players through Escape from Zanzer Tem's Dungeon this evening.  Their characters?  (I love how Risus is so simple that one can pretty much stat them up from memory.)

Adrian
An acutely observant, logically deductive, grating, arrogant, high-functioning sociopath of a detective… being followed around by a malevolent dæmon cat from Niflheimr.
Clichés:
• Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone™ Edition (4)
• Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch™ Edition (4)
Sidekick: Lucky, the Malevolent Dæmon Cat (3) from the Realm of Loki (3)

Gertrude
A sexy swashbuckler in search of treasure, riches, treasure, gems, treasure, and coins.
Clichés:
• Sexy Swashbuckler Seeking Riches (4)
• Reckless Gunslinger (3)
• Foul-Mouthed Sailor Who's Been to Every Port (2)
• Believer in All Superstitions (1)

Homeless Dave
A hoarding hobo who keeps all of his finds in his old, smelly coat instead of a bindle.
Clichés:
Kleptomaniacal Hoarder (4)
• Smelly Hobo (3)
• Master of Drunken Fist (3)

And these characters were just about as effective as you can expect any party of Risus characters to be, even when you consider that their most effective magic-user was the detective's freaky-deaky talking cat.

Long story short, they escaped from Zanzer's dungeons with a wheelbarrow full of treasure, just as the game shop was closing.  So we didn't actually go through the process of spending the treasure on advancement rolls.  But the game itself played pitch-perfect, and I'm pretty sure that Risus is going to be my go-to game in the future for both short-shots and full campaigns.  It was pretty spectacular.

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