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Streets of Bedlam: A Savage World of Crime + Corruption

Streets of Bedlam - Jason L. Blair The good:

A game for when you feel like sitting around with friends and playing through a decent neo-noir or crime movie, instead of sitting down to watch one. What's not to like?

The writing's very evocative; snappy and slick, it's really suited to the dirty setting. Do bad things for good reasons; it's a good summary and a great character motivation, and everything seems set up to let you do exactly that. On top of the Savage Worlds system (which I'm a longtime fan of), Streets of Bedlam builds some really lovely setting-specific rules on top of it--I'd consider cribbing the crime scene rules for nearly any investigative setting. There's a very well-detailed starting adventure, a handful of adventure seeds, and dozens of characters--highly detailed archetypes, decently outlined major players, and a ton of quicker NPCs.

It's also very user-friendly for someone looking to run the game, with advice on how to set up an adventure, what to aim for in a scene, how to trim unnecessary details, how to balance player involvement for different patterns of scene-running, card-based ways to whip up a crime story... seriously, I would loan this book to nearly anyone looking for advice on running a dynamic game.

I want to play, dammit.

The bad:

Glitchy editing. I can forgive a few typos, and I'm not getting snippy about turns of phrase--I'm still grinning a bit over "Thomas takes off like a bat out of similes". But there are sudden name changes for characters, sentences that don't make sense although you can figure them out from context ("Florence knows anything about anyone or anything else"), some punctuation sneezes...

Streets of Bedlam is a cinematic game, and it's a good one. But these lines are like catching a scene where the actor playing a down-and-out guy living in a cardboard box checks his smartphone in between answering questions.

The verdict:

With everything else this book has going for it, it's not quite enough to knock it down to three stars--but it was close. Hope the next edition tidies up a bit.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna go put Five-Story Drop on my wishlist. I hear it's coming out soon.