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"To be honorable and just is our only defense against men without honor or justice." -Diogenes of Sinope
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[When asked if he would give a speech, Jinx said,] "Me, I'm a doer, not a talker." And when they asked him what it was he did, he said, "Sleep, mostly." -Walter R. Brooks
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This is a semi-review, meaning I've read the rules thoroughly - some sections multiple times - but have not actually played the game. Take my conclusions with whatever level of salt you judge appropriate.

Why Am I Reviewing This Obscure Game?

This game was an entry in a 24-Hour RPG contest. That means the entire game was conceived and written in a single 24-hour period, which also included any eating, sleeping, etc., the author wished to do.

I've read well over a hundred 24-Hour RPGs - that's no exaggeration. We've had two contests here on RPGG which produced 60 different games (all of which I've read - and two of which I've even written), and I've easily read at least that many which were written before RPGG came into existence.

And this one is my favorite. This is the Gold Standard I use when judging other 24-Hour RPGs. Some have come close, but so far none has dethroned Black Widows. And that's why I'm writing this review.

So, What Is It?

Black Widows is an RPG set in the espionage kick-ass fighting genre. The player characters are all beautiful, sexy women who have been jilted by the coolest, sexiest male spy in the world. And they're not happy about it. They also kick ass, and they're looking for revenge.

In essence, they're what are called Bond Girls, such as:




(As an aside, I think the term is inaccurate. When I think of "girls" I think of female children. Purely out of academic interest, I have studied many photos of the so-called "Bond Girls", and I'm quite certain these are actually women. Yes, quite certain.)



Um, So Where Was I?

Hmmm - this may be a difficult review to write, as of course I have to keep researching other potential Black Widows character types to make sure you have a good idea of exactly what type of character you are playing. Such as:



The Setting

So, okay, you're playing a woman who looks something like one of those - or others found in James Bond movies and other sexy spy movies, such as:



And you're really, really pissed off at Cobalt Gunn, who's played by the GM as the Bond substitute so the author wouldn't get sued. And you get contacted by The Spyder, a super-villain, also played by the GM.

The Spyder is recruiting Black Widows as his agents against Cobalt Gunn. Gunn is, of course, trying to foil The Spyder, and The Spyder is smart enough not to go after Gunn himself. After all, Gunn's made a lot of enemies in this world, and many of them Kick Ass. Why not use them as a weapon against Gunn?

And so the PCs all look something like this:



This is really not an easy review to write. I keep getting distracted.

Character Generation

So, I'd better get to the mechanics now before I forget.

Character generation is way cool. You have four traits: Attraction, Intelligence, Technology, and Violence. Split 21 points among them, max of 10 in any one trait, and min of 2.

You also need to write Why You Hate Cobalt Gunn, and In What Way You Especially Kick Ass. That's it. Oddly, the author doesn't tell you to illustrate your character. This is too bad, as it's easy to find images on the internet you could use, such as:



In-Game Mechanics

You'll need a standard deck of cards - leave the jokers in. Each player and the GM has a five-card hand, and the GM has an additional card for each player. Each of the four Character Traits is governed by a card suit, such as Hearts for Attraction and Clubs for Violence.

The game is heavily narrative based. The players take turns introducing scenes, which must include at least one antagonist, and can include other player characters, who are free to contribute to the story line.

When conflict arises, the player must play a card and announce their action. The action must match the suit of the card - if a Diamond (Intelligence) is played, for example, you would narrate how you're trying to outwit your opponent. If the card is a 2-10, add that number played to your Trait value. The GM now has to beat that value in the same suit - or, he can Trump you by playing a card in whichever suit trumps the one you played.

There's a circle of Trumps: Violence trumps Attraction, which trumps Intelligence (as you can tell by this review), which trumps Technology, which trumps Violence.

Face cards involve Gunn himself (Kings) or the Widows (Queens) or major lackeys (Jacks). An Ace ends the encounter, which you lose, but you get to add another reason you hate Cobalt Gunn! Jokers are wild cards - something really wild happens - narrate it.



There are rules for refilling your hand and other mundane things I find hard to think about with all these pictures in this review, sorry.

Why I Like This Game

You know, I've really lost my train of thought here, so I think I'd better end this review.

I like this game the best of all 24-Hour RPGs because:

* The whole setting - who the PCs are, the super-villain, the jilting super-spy - is brilliant. Wish I'd thought of it.
* The writing is entertaining - both witty and sexy.
* The mechanics are fine, which is not as common in 24-Hour RPGs as you might think.
* It's a great excuse for hunting up pictures of possible Widows, such as:



Note: No Bond Women (or even Girls) were harmed in the writing of this review.


[Note: this is part of my series of RPG Semi-Reviews by SOS of Indie game products]
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Nice review! Bond Girls! Yay!

Downloading as I type.

I didn't see a link so I'm adding it here:
http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/black-widows

Thanks!

--fudgebob
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Jeffry Willis
United States
Oakdale
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One of the best posts I've ever seen on RPG Geek!
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Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
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Wow, I just realized there were words in that review, too.
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