Welcome to the first installment of RPG Backlog, the series that follows me tackling my ever-growing stacks of unread RPG books. Today we are going to be talking about Spirit of 77 from Monkeyfun Studios.
What is Spirit of 77?
Spirit of 77 brings a hyper-realistic version of 1970’s pop-culture to an RPG. Written by David Kizzia and Bob Richardson, the game runs using the Powered by the Apocalypse system. For those who are unfamiliar with Power by the Apocalypse, you roll two D6’s and add any modifiers when you need to make a check. If the roll and modifiers add up to 10 or above you succeed. On a 7-9 they achieve a partial success and on a 6 or below they fail.
In Spirit of 77 players build characters by choosing a Role, a Story, a Buzz and Hooks. Then, the DJ (GM) sets up an action-packed world that recreates the classic movies, TV shows, and other media of that decade. Play a former football star that solves mysteries. Or, search for aliens along America’s highways in your big rig. Save your neighborhood from evil real estate moguls using the power of glam rock. Spirit of 77 lets you do all of that and more.
How Did I Get Spirit of 77?
Monkeyfun Studios ran a very successful Kickstarter that ended back in October of 2014. The company raised $37,675 off of the campaign which was almost five times what they were looking for. Because of this, they were able to add on a whole bunch of stretch goals.
As a result, at the $50 pledge level I received a physical copy and a PDF of the Spirit of 77 core book and the expansion book Wide World of 77. In addition, I received a physical copy and a PDF of the Reference sheets. Furthermore, I got PDF copies of Double Feature #1 and Double Feature #2. Finally, this pledge included a sticker and these custom Spirit of 77 dice.
Monkeyfun Studios delivered on everything promised in the Kickstarter campaign very quickly and with zero drama.
What’s In the Books?
Spirit of 77 Core Book
The Spirit of 77 core book contains everything you need to play this game. First of all, it covers everything that the players will need to build their characters. It details all of the Roles, Stories, Buzzes and Hooks that players can choose from as well as weapons, vehicles and other gear.
Character creations follows a fairly straight and easy path in Spirit of 77. All of your character info gets entered on to a Rap Sheet. First, players pick a Role. Role defines who your character is and also determines some of the abilities, or Moves, that are available to them. Examples of Roles are Bopper or Vigilante. After choosing a Role, players decide what their Story is. Story colors what the character’s background is and also offers up additional Moves. Stories include War Vet and Ex-Con.
Next, the player needs to determine what their Buzz is. Buzz lets the DJ know what your character’s motivation is. This could be something like Looking for Adventure or Seeking Justice. Finally, players choose what their Hooks, or connections to the other players are. All that’s left is picking Gear and writing everything down on the Rap Sheet.
Also, the DJ can find everything they need to run a game in the core book. The book gives options for beginner or advanced DJ’s that let them run short games or build whole campaigns. Most importantly, this book gives the DJ a whole heaping helping of 1970’s flavor information to insert into the world. This include advice for picking the right music to play during game-play.
The Rest of the Books
The Wide World of 77 expansion book introduces five new Roles, five Specialty Roles and three new Stories into the game. Furthermore, the expansion book provides new settings for the DJ to use, the Roller Rink, the Racetrack and the Wrestling Ring. Best of all, Wide World of 77 includes three funky adventures for DJ’s to use.
Both of the Double Feature PDF’s contain two Spirit of 77 adventures as well as one new Role for characters. Therefore, I have everything that I need to jump right in to any number of great games in this world. All I need to do is fill up my Spotify playlist with all of the tracks that each adventure recommends for theme music.
What’s The Verdict?
Even though I haven’t actually played Spirit of 77, it’s clear to me that this is a great game. The tone and setting of the game resonate with me in a way that makes me desperate to run this system. The books and digital media that I have all look amazing. Ron Joseph’s art pops off the pages in these books.
Even more importantly, the books are designed in a way that ties in the entire feeling of the 1970’s. Look at the border around the pages and the page numbers:
Such a simple thing that drives home just how much thought and care has been put into the design of this product. Little flavor details fill the negative spaces within these books painting a picture of the 1970’s world your characters inhabit.
Along with newspaper stories and advertisements, there are fun facts about the more colorful characters of Spirit of 77 such as Good Old Boy Beau Dupree and El Fantasmo. Peppered in among the fiction are fun facts about the real 1977 such as the Top 20 songs of the year.
This game is fun and well designed. I’m glad that I finally took the time to go through it all. Spirit of 77 currently tops my list of games I MUST play. And, I recommend that you check it out too.
All of the Spirit of 77 products are currently available at DriveThruRPG.