Here’s another Kickstarter that’s landing in backer’s hands but not yet out to the general public. So yeah, I’ve got my PDF of it. Yes, I’ve ranted about it before (here and here) when the Quick Start became available. Now that I’ve got the full PDF, it’s time for more rants.
As I said before, I like the Urban Fantasy genre and have ran a few campaigns of it. And I think it’s under served when it come to RPG’s that fit my own personal tastes and this is even more true when it comes to old-school games. Night Shift does a good job of blending old-school mechanics and making available the wide array of character possibilities in Urban Fantasy.
So if you’re an old hat at RPG’s and especially old school then the system isn’t that hard to grasp. You’ve got your standard array and range of attributes, classes, and “races”. The classes are broad and specific at the same time. There’s isn’t that much niche protection but relies more on the you can try anything, but what you are good at is really based on your character. For races, there’s only two. Mortal Human and “Supernatural”. Supernatural is just the catch all for anything weird that a player may want (with GM approval, of course). On the downside, Supernatural characters basically start off with a deficit of XP (about 3,000) before they can take a class. This add a little balance between the mortals and supernatural.
For the classes, you can see the DNA of the classes from standard fantasy versions. The Chosen One, The Survivor, Witch/Warlock, and Veteran lean towards the Monk, Thief, Magic-User and Fighter respectively. The other classes (Sage, Inventor, Psychic, and Theosophist) each have their own abilities and tricks that they bring to the table.
The basic game mechanics are something that most folks should be used to. Saving Throws are based on each ability (rather than type). Most actions including combat are basically handled with ability checks (d20+ability modifier+other modifiers). Now, specific class abilities are generally handled with a percentile roll. You know just like old-school Thief skills. Players are encouraged to have their characters try anything with an ability check. Characters with specific skills get to use their skill and try with an ability check; giving two chances to succeed. There’s also the Rule of 2 which is basically everybody has at least a 2 in 6 chance of doing something. As always it’s up the arbitration of the GM. And everything does a d6 damage like in really old school games.
There’s other cool stuff in there too. A few campaign ideas. Lots of options for setting the tone of the game (cinematic to gritty) plus optional rules. There’s also some great notes on converting your Night Shift game into a different old-school game. Like BX/Old School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry or White Box or whatever of retro-clone you like? It will take some work but you can convert it. Now, I know my players. And I know that at least one of them will say, “But what about 5E?” I would say that it is possible. It will take a lot more work than with an old-school game but yes it could be done. And you could even bend it around enough to use Basic Roleplaying percentile system with enough tweaking.
There a couple of things I did find a bit annoying. I do think the book could be organized a bit better. I found myself bouncing between different sections of the PDF to make sure I understood a specific concept, rule or ability. This is easier with a physical book, I just found it a pain with a PDF. Plus there are a few rules here and there that I personally think could have been written a little more clearly. But this is all my own personal preference and not a huge biggie.
So am I going to run this? I dunno. If you read the blog regularly, you know that I also like Dark Streets & Darker Secrets and it’s a tough call between these two but then since both have that old-school DNA there’s no reason that they can’t be kit bashed (as I tend to do). But then Night Shift has plenty of inspirational material that I could see myself taking some of the concepts and porting them into Savage Worlds. And of course if my players whine enough, I might try my hand at doing a 5E conversion. So we shall see.
In summary, glad I backed. Glad it’s out there. And I know I’m going to be seriously playing around with this game soon.
7 thoughts on “Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars”
Have you seen Esoteric Enterprises? It may be the game that scratches your itch if you like old-school mechanics meets dark urban occult. It’s on DriveThruRPG.
I haven’t. It looks pretty cool. Just added it to my Wish List. Thanks
Thank you for the awesome review!!!
If 5e is what you want, I’d recommend Amazing Adventures 5th Edition from Troll Lord Games. It will take your 5e game in any direction you want, from Renaissance to far future Sci-Fi to modern urban fantasy and horror, and it’s 100% compatible with D&D 5th edition.
Thanks Jason. I do like Troll Lord’s stuff. Been a fan for a while.
Full disclosure: I also wrote AA 5e 😉 .
Awesome review. Sorry I missed this one when it was posted.
I am pleased you like Night Shift so much. Hope to be doing a lot more for it.
Thanks. Campaign world outlined in the book provide lots of directions to go.