On 29 Dec 2015, I had the opportunity to play this very interesting game. What follows is my review of the game and my thoughts on the play experience.
“Lasers & Feelings is a quick-play roleplaying game, based on the songs of The Doubleclicks.” The open text describes the game quite well “You are the crew of the interstellar scout ship Raptor. Your mission is to explore uncharted regions of space, deal with aliens both friendly and deadly, and defend the Consortium worlds against space dangers. Captain Darcy has been overcome by the strange psychic entity known as Something Else, leaving you to fend for yourselves while he recovers in a medical pod. What happens next? Play to find out!”
This is a one page PDF; all the necessary rules are contained on a single side of paper. Aesthetically it is very 1960s Sci-Fi in feel and appearance.
Mechanically, the game is very straight forward. There is no need for a character sheet or any heavy note taking. In fact, an index card is all a player really needs to get into the action. Character creation, if you can call it that, is a breeze. There are four simple steps – Choose a style, choose a role, choose a number from 2-5 (more in a moment) and give your character a name. Lastly, you will determine a character goal for your space hero. Once character creation is done, the players, as a group, will choose a few descriptive options that will define their ship, the Raptor, and one problem that plagues the ship. At this point, play is ready to begin.
The Gamemaster’s preparation process is as simple as the player’s character creation process. A GM has to decide (by choice or by dice rolls) the structure of the game. the structure is comprised of “a threat”, a “wants to”, a “the” and finally a “which will”. When these elements are defined you end up with something like — The Hive Armada wants to destroy the Void crystals which will destroy a solar system. The remainder of the Gamemaster’s rules consists of “good to remember” type things. For example, play to find out what happens or tips like asking your players questions so they can help further define their environment.
Previously, I mentioned players had to choose a number from 2-5. This single number is the basis for all die rolls in the game. The GM could call for either a Lasers roll (situations of technical nature) or a Feelings roll (situations that are more personal, wild or intuitive). A lower number represents feelings and a higher number represents lasers. In my game, I selected 2 as my number. When I needed to make Feelings rolls, I was required to roll above my number and when I was required to make Lasers rolls, I had to roll under that number.
Situations are resolved by simply rolling 1d6 which could change based on several factors. Plus 1d6 for an aptitude for whatever you are attempting, plus 1d6 if you took the time to prepare and plus 1d6 if you were aided by an another player. All dice are rolled and compared to the number you choose during character creation and the type of roll requested. The measure of success if based on how many of your dice beat your number. Tieing your number is called Laser Feelings and allows you to ask the GM a question which gives you special insight into the situation. Failures propel the story forward with a negative twist while successes propel it forward with more favorable situations and developments.
I enjoyed the very free-wheeling nature of how our story unfolded. The game allows for limitless variations in how the game elements are structured and how the players interact with that structure. The resolution mechanic is simple and fun to justify your argument when you want to obtain additional dice to roll. The game is fast playing and just super easy!
I really don’t have anything negative to say about the game except to say that GMs should pay attention to ensure that every player/role has a way to interact and be involved. Think of the 1960s Star Trek series, if you were an engineer (role) not every episode included or involved the engineer; the same could happen in Lasers & Feelings. GMs could inadvertently isolate particular roles. Just a word of caution.
Lasers & Feelings was fun to play and our space cowboy-ish story was fun as well. The GM and all the players except for one were first timers and we all had great fun. The mechanics were very easy to learn and allowed us to give more attention to the fiction and less to the rules. This is one of those games that I think would be particularly well suited for conventions or filler at game clubs or other such events. We played in just under two hours and that was really a sweet spot. The fiction was able to naturally come to close within the two window.
The game is free at the designer’s website so, why not go download it, read it and get it to the table. I was honestly skeptical about the theme, but I am glad I played the game and would gladly play it again!