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Lighthouse System

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Average Rating:4.4 / 5
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Lighthouse System
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Lighthouse System
Publisher: Lightspress Media
by Daniel P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/18/2017 22:42:04

I picked up Lighthouse because I have found that my tastes in roleplaying game systems have drifted more towards the simple and narrative, rather than the complex and rules-laden. Everything I read about Lighthouse told me it would be along the same conceptual lines as other games with those qualities I already liked, so I went for it.

I like a lot what Kinsman has done in Lighthouse, a lot. This is a narrative-focused system that highlights descriptive devices, using dice mechanics sparingly and meaningfully to drive the story forward with an eye towards drama.

In Lighthouse, characters are built using descriptions with varying levels of importance/complexity--Big, Medium, and Small Things--each with its own numeric bonus. Rather than get bogged down in extensive skill lists and abilities, what a character can do is derived organically from each Thing description in conversation between the player and the Guide (Game Master).

The resolution mechanic is simple, using a d20 + modifiers to achieve either a low (1-10) or high (11-20), odd or even result. You then put forth a die bid, a die which determines how much you're investing into that particular roll, ranging from d4 (barely invested) to d12 (you're all in). A low result is a failure, high is a success, odd means Guide narrates, even means rolling player narrates, with the bid die determining the level of success/failure.

Threats to the characters are handled using narrative devices called Consequences, which are tied to the bid die. Characters have five slots of increasing degree of seriousness with which to absorb "damage" received during conflicts, from d4 (a very light consequence) to d12 (a potentially-permanent consequence). Consequences are dictated by the narrative, and are meant to evoke drama, not bad luck with the dice, so that no one bites the dust unless everyone playing agrees it is the proper, dramatic consequence.

The Lighthouse book includes a number of character examples drawn from easily-identifiable pop-culture stories, showcasing the versatility of the system, while the example of play helps the reader see how the pieces all fit together when in use. To this add that the book is only $3.00, and you have an easy-to-use, new-player friendly, storytelling-driven, affordable game that can power pretty much any story you and your friends want to play through at the table.

Dancing Lights Press has already published a couple of games powered by Lighthouse, and I can't wait to see how the system moves for each of those settings, as well as in what ways it can be hacked at home.

If you like Fate Accelerated Edition, or value dramatic storytelling over task simulation in your roleplaying games, pick up Lighthouse and give it a spin. Personally, I can't wait to do so.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lighthouse System
Publisher: Lightspress Media
by Chris P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 08:22:19

I have read, but not yet run, the game. I will update this review once I run a few sessions.

My initial impressions are positive. The game is narrative, but there's enough system here to handle task resolution with varying degrees off success. The character creation reminds me of Fate Core, you have three sizes of aspect/skill/talent (Big grants +5, Medium +3, Small +1), and when you resolve a task, if those aspects apply, you get that bonus (they don't stack, you take the largest applicable.)

Task resolution is 1d20 + aspect bonus + advantages + gear - penalties. Unopposed tasks need a high roll (11+) to succeed. Even number = player narrates the success, odd = target narrates success. There are suggested types of conflict (timed, contest, unopposed, etc), and examples of these.

Results are based on risk. Each player has 5 (to use Fate's term) consequence slots, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12. d4 sticks around for 1-turn (you drop your sword), and d12 is big, nasty, and narrative - hospitalized, in a coma. Similarly, if you succed with a d4, your success is only barely. Succeeding with a d12 is (sticking with Fate's terms) success with style - the best you can think of, with a narrative bonus.

There are a LOT of examples of characters, unusual, but incredibly helpful for an indie game. Wizards, Jedi, Spys, the basics are covered. It should take a player (who has a character concept in their head) less than 5 minutes to create a character. GM characters are of the "take only what you need" variety. In other words, this is a low prep, high improv game - right up my alley!

Now, for the things I didn't like.

There's no art in the book, which is not a big deal. The price was so low that I can't criticize the lack of art, but it could bother some.

The game could use an example of play / actual play, which is common in most games. There ARE examples in the book, but they are spread out.

The game could use some game aids: character sheet, reference cards stating the types of contests, what the different die size success / failure look like, etc.

The combat bothered me slightly in that most conflicts have the PC and the Target (usually the GM) rolling dice to see the higher margin of success. Combat, however, is only rolled by the attacker, there's no defense roll. I'll need to test this in play, but my gut says that any of the target's applicable skills would act as a penalty to the attack. Ex: Badass Fighter (+5), attacks Shaolin Monk (+5), and rolls d20 hoping for 11+. Badass Fighter (+5) attacks Goblin Soldier (+1), and rolls d20 + 4, hoping for an 11+.

All said - I was very impressed with this system, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on some of the other titles by Dancing Lights Press!

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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