URBAN KNIGHTS: 1970s Crime TV Roleplaying!

My own delving into the fun and flavor of 80s/90s action cinema makes me giddily open to really cool stuff like this.

I mean, “Man, I can seriously dig it!”

Take back the streets in this action-packed “rules-lite” tabletop RPG inspired by everyone’s favorite 1970s crime TV shows!

When Joe Sharkey woke up, it was to a world turned black and stifling hot. There was something over his head. A pillowcase, maybe? His mind raced to make sense of his surroundings. He was lying on a floor, cold, rough concrete underneath him. Thick ropes were knotted tightly around his wrists and ankles. Wherever he was, it was obvious he wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon…if at all.

As the pounding in his ears lessened, he could hear low whispers nearby. He wasn’t alone. Sharkey cleared his throat. “Somebody wanna get this thing off me?” he rasped.

The sound of heels on concrete. A blinding light as the covering was yanked from his face. Even before his eyes adjusted, he knew it was her; the smell of her perfume was unmistakable.

“Well, well, Detective Sharkey,” Jasmine Kinkaid all but purred. “You don’t look so hot.”

He was in a warehouse. Jasmine, as severe as she was beautiful, towered over him, a handful of hired goons nearby, ready to rush to their boss’s side if needed. Sharkey ignored them and focused on Jasmine. He laughed. “A guy can’t be expected to look his best after getting worked over by your thugs, Jasmine. Y’know, if you wanted to get me alone, you could’ve just asked.” 

“Those diamonds are mine, Sharkey. You should’ve stayed away from this case.”

“My captain’s probably gonna say the same thing at my funeral.” Play for time, he thought to himself. Just play for time and wait for backup.

 As if reading his thoughts, Jasmine sighed audibly. “Your partner isn’t coming for you. My boys have already taken care of Detective Carter.” Her “boys” smiled at one another, nodding their mutual appreciation for one another’s handiwork.

Just then, Brock Carter’s metallic blue Challenger crashed through the warehouse’s corrugated metal doors amid a cacophony of twisted steel and squealing tires.

“Yeah, I don’t know about that,” Sharkey said, grinning.

URBAN KNIGHTS is a roleplaying game set in an action-packed world inspired by 1970s cop and detective television shows. It’s a “rules lite” game, which means that it has very few mechanics to master. URBAN KNIGHTS is a stripped-down, minimalist RPG designed to capture the gonzo action and bad one-liners of a very distinctive genre, and the mechanics of the game are as simple as the pleasures of the genre itself, engineered to facilitate over-the-top action with a minimum of muss and fuss. All you need to play are these rules, a handful of six-sided dice, poker chips or other counters, and a few friends (the game plays best with 2-4 players and a GM). A classic funk playlist is probably a good idea, too.

Now, to be totally honest, URBAN KNIGHTS isn’t a 100% “accurate” emulation of 1970s crime shows. Instead, it emulates how we remember such shows—how we still picture them in our imaginations—and how cool they could’ve been had they not been hampered by tight shooting schedules, limited budgets, and network censors. URBAN KNIGHTS is an awestruck kid’s perception of these shows filtered through years of memory and translated into a tabletop roleplaying game. The game certainly evokes the style of 1970s crime shows, but in the game, the action is bigger and bolder, the stunts more frequent and more fantastic, and the one-liners…well OK, the one-liners are pretty much the same.

Basically, URBAN KNIGHTS is completely awesome, and you know you want to play it.

THE BASIC MECHANICS

URBAN KNIGHTS is rules-lite, so it’s easy to learn and play. At the heart of the game’s mechanics is a simple task resolution system based on rolling a pool of six-sided dice and counting the number of fives and sixes rolled. Each five or six is a success; match or exceed the required number of successes, and your action succeeds. Roll too few successes, and your action fails. It’s as simple as that! There are some other variables to consider, of course–mostly situational modifiers–but those are the basics.

The dice do more than determine successes and failures. Along with every dice pool, players roll the Hassle die. If a one turns up on the Hassle die, it adds plot-thickening complications to the scenario! This can add nuance and depth to the players’ successes and additional challenges to their failures. 

Don’t think that players are totally at the mercy of the dice, though. They have pools of Luck they can use to front-load an action’s chances for success, or to take some control over the narrative. The game allows players a great deal of freedom in interpreting character traits during play, too, empowering creative players to stack bonuses to their advantage as long as they can justify it all in narrative terms.

The rules will feel intuitive and comfortably familiar to most veteran gamers, yet are simple enough to enable first-time roleplayers to dive right in with the vets and start bustin’ some perps.

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