This weekend was A Taste Of Leverage at Labyrinth Games in Washington, DC, and it was pretty awesome.
Labyrinth regularly runs "Taste of..." events where they dedicate an afternoon to running several tables of the game in question. They recently did Fiasco, for example, and in the near future will be doing the Founding Fathers boardgame (May first) and Savage Worlds (May 21st). For Leverage, there were four tables running, each with 4-5 players and a GM, running a game over the course of 3 or four hours. I was envious of the tables I wasn't at, since each of them sounded great, including the Pigskin Job (where I'm pretty sure the team stole the Redskins-with-serial-numbers-filed-off), the Tween Dream Job (which is what it sounds like, except withthe extra villainy of dog fighting) and a job who's name I never caught revolving around evil pharmaceuticals, a cruise ship and, by my understanding, no small amount of Halo.
As is my wont, I went in pretty much unprepared and we generated a scenario from scratch at the table. It ended up being a tricky one because the mark had a tricky strength - attractiveness. Wasn't 100% sure how to use that, especially with a team that was basically Charlie's Angels (Three Hot Chick badasses, a Grifter face man and an enigmatic Hacker who didn't like to show his face in public), until we got a nice dovetail between the twist (it's personal) and the background detail that one of the team members was a single mom. Turns out the mark had basically taken all the money from the day care that served as the after-school program for her kid, which lead to her needing to take him to the "office". After two days of his enthusiastic interest, the team decided that this job should move to the top of the list, and thus, The Latchkey Kid Job wads born (though by the end, the alternate title was probably "The El Gigante Action Hour Job").
The mark, a soap opera star, had used the money (plus a loan from the mob) to fund a new project which he would write, direct, executive produce and, of course, star in. The job ended up revolving around filming different scripts, convincing the mark that the show was going to be a loss and the real money was in his clothing line (which had some enthusiastic buyers, strange that) and getting him and the mob to sign off rights to the show while also stealing the Mark's secret reserve of cash. There was also a mexican wrestler (Luchador d12!), a team member with a fake leg, an L.A. Douchebag disguise, a fight scene on a sound stage, scriptwriting collaboration between the hacker and the twelve year old and the quick application of an allergen to keep the mark from playing through the love scene with one of the team members that he'd hastily written into the script the night before.
It was insane, and I loved it. I think everyone had fun too.
I did up handouts and cheatsheets beforehand, but as I did them very hastily, they're error-ridden, and I need to clean them up to re-post them. I also didn't hand out as many plot points as I should have (I often forget to do so when players roll 1's) so i did a cheat at the end that basically gave them the benefits of a coordinating flashback without needing to pay for it. It also reinforced my fondness for making Fixer created assets free for d6. And speaking of assets, it was wonderful when we reached the point where the table realized all the assets in play could potentially be leveraged. They totally took that ball and ran with it.
First experiment in emphasizing the mastermind's out-of-crime specialty was a bit bumpy. "The Captain" was ex military, and while that was a great mastermind model, it was a little bit of a mismatch with t he job the dice created. The player did a great job with it, and I think the idea is still a solid one, just trickier in a one-shot with an improv'd scenario.
I am also started to get tempted to just give all Masterminds the Archangel talent for free. It let's the team spend points on each others, which benefits everyone, without much special coolness for the Mastermind. Just a random thought.
Anyway, it was a fantastic time, and i want to give a special thank you to Labyrinth Games. For those unfamiliar with the DC area, it has a serious shortage of game stores. Since the Game Keeper chain shut down, there hasn't been a game store in DC proper - everything is out in the suburbs - so when Labyrinth opened up in DC and just off the Metro, I was excited but wary. It's not hard for a game store to be enthusiastic, well intentioned and totally suck. Thankfully, I had nothing to fear.
Labyrinth is a genuinely lovely store, clean and well lit with an array of lovely wooden puzzles and games up near the front, and a deep selection as you go towards the back. It is definitely more of a boardgame than RPG shop, but the RPG selection is diverse and thoughtfully selected, which counts for a lot. The boardgame selection is fantastic, and the staff is friendly, enthusiastic. It's basically the antithesis of every bad stereotype of a game store. I ended up leaving with one game I knew about, one I'd never heard of, and a carved wooden puzzle box for my wife. I hadn't _planned_ on picking anything up, I just couldn't help myself.
What's more, it's also in one of the neat areas of DC, between the Eastern Market Metro and capitol hill. Lots of other neat shops and excellent food. As the weather gets nicer, if you find yourself considering a trip into town, it's totally worth stopping by Labyrinth.