Tabletop RPG Review: noir

Noir book cover

For all the other problems I have with the decade, the 90s were a great time for tabletop role playing.  So many fantastic games came out, and so many wonderful niche games hit the shelves.  Also, because I worked in a game store through almost the entire decade, I got first dibs on almost everything that came through.  One I grabbed without much thought was noir, from Archon Gaming Inc.  I skimmed it many times, and used the reference section in the back to track down some Film Noir I hadn’t seen.

However, as was often the case, the book went onto the shelf with the idea that I’d get around to it sometime.  20 years later, and it’s one in a long list of games I never got around to.  Still, I gave it a read this past week.  TCM has been airing Eddie Muller’s Noir Alley on Sunday mornings for much of this year, but it’s on a month long hiatus while I write this review.  I guess reading the book has been my fix for this week.

There’s not a lot of art, but what there is evokes the mood fairly well.  The game mechanics are not complicated, and there are lots of examples.  The game’s main focus is on getting the rules out of the way so that the story can progress, and the mood can settle in.  It’s very much a game about mood, about capturing the aesthetic of the genre.

I really like this game.  It seems like a good one for folks new to the hobby, because the system is loose, yet still has enough structure to build on.  And it’s all presented in an easy to follow, organized manner.  It even sticks to six sided dice, something almost every household has from any number of board games.

Like so many games of the time, it didn’t catch on.  But I’m glad I’ve got it, and one day, maybe I’ll get my act together and run a game.  Call of Cthulhu, without the cosmic horror.  


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