This is a very specific story/adventure using the ‘ultra light’ version of the new 6d6 rules system. It acts as a sort of demo of the basics of the system and shoes off its framework and its adaptability, easing you into the system. A good way to pique your interest in it for the future.
Sleuths are a thorn in the side of both the criminal and the police establishments. They go after the former and show up the later, not taking bribes when they’re supposed to and making everyone else look like an idiot – on both sides of the law. A handful of the top sleuths in the world have been called into a trap at a manor (where else?) by a gangster determined to have his revenge. To survive they’ll have to sleuth what’s going on and defeat their personal nemesi who are masquerading as staff, waiting for the moment to strike…
There’s no character sheet, rather you have a deck of cards to represent your character – a small deck. Each card represents a capability, a skill, a physical attribute and so on (somewhat similar to FATE’s aspects, but a bit less flowery) and these are then ‘bid’ to build a rolling pool to use against the task difficulty or the opposition. This is similar to bidding traits in the old Mind’s Eye Theatre LARP or calling on descriptives in Neverwhere.
The game also allows for you to have blank cards which you can fill in as the game goes along, allowing you to spring surprise abilities and skills upon your enemies as and when you need them, something which is damned useful, particularly in one-off games such as Mince Pies and Murder as they can change things up and keep the game chuntering along when it might otherwise reach a dead end.
Skill combos do have to make sense of course, you can’t seduce and intimidate someone at the same time.
Mince Pies and Murder has some good suggestions on how to run the game and is quite tightly structured, giving it a strong narrative and atmospheric tone but limiting the space in which the players have to interpret their characters or step outside of the suggested run of the story. In some ways it’s more like a farce or a satirical play than a game per se, albeit one with a lot of improvisation. It works well as a convention game or as an introduction to 6d6 though and the gentile murder mystery hook is one that everyone should be able to pick up and run with. The manor house and the villains are nicely detailed and if you’ve had time to read up on the adventure and the various antagonists beforehand there’s more depth than there first appears to be.
Other than the cover there is none. The design is spartan but given the nature of the book that doesn’t really detract.
This is begging for a LARP conversion, though I’m not entirely sure how you would do that. At Indiecon the game had little cards on keyring holders and that struck me as a useful, portable way to move your character ‘sheet’ around without easily losing it. Mince Pies and Murder is an excellent introduction to the system and hints at greater complexity and depth that is to come with the fuller version of the game, one I’ll be curious to see.
On the Plus side
- Great introduction.
- Good satire/poke at the sleuth genre.
- Experimental and interesting.
On the Minus Side
- No art save the cover.
- Acknowledged formatting issues – no biggie.
- Assumes a certain amount of familiarity with the genre.
Substance 3 (It IS only an intro game, so you shouldn’t expect too much.
overall 3.5 (More like a 4)