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The Legerdemain Betrayers is a card-based, storytelling RPG with a modern fantasy setting. Its design is based on providing pregenerated characters and jumping in with both feet with only a handful of sentences to describe a scenario. It’s ultimately a story framework where the characters are required to fill in all the details. The system is rules light and based on a pretty cool method of resolving conflicts using a standard deck of cards. The setting is interesting enough with the basic premises being the characters can wield magic and they have to deal with how the world interacts with them. However, the setting mimics the “light” design of the mechanics and appears to be built around the pregenerated characters and their applicable background story.
The Legerdemain Betrayers is very interesting. I’m not opposed to the use of playing cards for conflict resolution, and have seen it done before. However, I really like how it’s done here and find the “light” design to be rather pleasing. The basics of the system are that you need to have enough cards of the appropriate color (character dependent) to successfully perform an action. The base is five of the given color, but there are ways to alter that given the character’s abilities. Pretty simple if you ask me. You don’t have to worry about a poker-style hand or any other random elements.
I also like the basic elements of the setting’s design. I truly wish there was more meat to it, but the groundwork is laid and I like the direction it takes. It’s a very simple implementation of modern fantasy using witchcraft (which they call urban fantasy).
There are a few things I don’t like though. First, the layout is a bit awkward at times. The book is landscape oriented, but some pages have an excessive amount of white space, the font is incredibly large, and there is a lot more illustrations than what is necessary given the word count. Second, there are no character creation mechanics and there are only four pregenerated characters. I have a gaming group of six, which means one player would be left out. That also seemed odd to me why there are no character creation mechanics (or at least guidance) and why only four pregenerated characters exist in the published book. Third, the scenarios are barely framed for game use. I’d prefer to see more information regarding each scenario, and more direction for the GM.
All in all, it’s a good RPG and has loads of potential. I’d love to see an expansion of the book to include character creation and more GM direction, but what’s there is definitely worth the time you would put into playing a handful of games.