With Kick-Ass in theaters and Marvel’s Daredevil-driven Shadowland event on the horizon, it’s a good time to be a street-level vigilante hero. Now you can be one in the privacy of your own home, thanks to blogger Jon Hasting’s DIY RPG Street Level.
Hastings says he drew inspiration for designing his homemade game in large part from the ’70s & ’80s Marvel characters who will be throwing down in Shadowland — Moon Knight, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Punisher, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist and so on — as well as indie takes on the concept from Mike Baron’s Badger to Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass. Now, what I don’t know about role-playing games could almost fit into the Grand Canyon, but it looks to me like Hastings captured the spirit of what makes these characters fun: The skills your character can develop include “finding shit out,” “taking a beating,” “doing violence,” “telling people what’s what,” and “keeping your shit together” (for those interested in doing a Daredevil: Born Again-style campaign, I guess), while the amount of “Heat” you’ve drawn to yourself from either traditional law enforcement or the criminal underworld is a major factor in your success or failure. Actual superpowers are optional; if you want your character to be able to light his fists on fire thanks to some experimental drug/martial-arts mojo, that’s fine, but it’s also fine to just have him roll out of bed, put on a jumpsuit, and beat up some muggers.
Hastings is concerned that he may have overdesigned the game, but he needs to have it playtested to be sure. Why not give it a spin yourself?