Mysteries and Mayhem - a Lasers and Feelings hack

Lasers & Feelings is a quick-play roleplaying game, based on the songs of The Doubleclicks.

You are the crew of the interstellar scout ship Raptor. Your mission is to explore uncharted regions of space, deal with aliens both friendly and deadly, and defend the Consortium worlds against space dangers. Captain Darcy has been overcome by the strange psychic entity known as Something Else, leaving you to fend for yourselves while he recovers in a medical pod.

What happens next? Play to find out!

It's a really simple game with a catchy mechanic, one of my favourites in the Beer&Pretzels folder of my RPG collection. It's based on a fictional dichotomy on how to solve a problem in a space opera - with Lasers or Feelings. I'm currently running a Mystery Inc. style game with my current group using a homebrew abomination of World of Darkness 5th edition meets FATE accellerated meets Teenagers from Outer Space. Late night brain neurons demanded a mashup, and who am I to argue?

Mysteries & Mayhem

You are part of a gang of travelling teens, possibly with a mascot animal or vehicle. You just want to cruise around and eat food, chill with tunes, but everywhere you go Things happen. Mostly for tax purposes.

Players: Create Characters

  1. Choose a style for your character: Bookish, Fashionista, Sporty, Slacker, Professional, Detective, Mascot or Musician
  2. Choose a role: Solver, Bait, Distraction, Trapsmith, Comic Relief, Leader, Brute
  3. Choose your number, from 2 to 5. A high number means you're better at MYSTERIES (finding clues, interrogation, logic). A low number means you're better at MAYHEM (distractions, running, quick costume changes).
  4. Give your character a teen-appropriate-name. Like Jeff.

You have: one Style appropriate accountramant (e.g. Instrument for Musician, or Glasses for Bookish), the clothes on your back, and an unknown method of funding your travelling lifestyle.

Player goal: Get your character involved in crazy mystery shenanigans and try to make the best of them.

Character goal: Choose one or create your own: Solve a specific mystery, Overthrow capitalism, Get food, Hang with your friends, Get into a good college, Show your parents what you can do, Make new friends, Become the best at your profession.

Players: Create your Squad

As a group, pick two strengths for your team squad: Reputation, Library, Not poor, Kitchen, Ties to law enforcement, Own vehicle

Also, pick one problem: Haunted, Criminally adjacent, Just kids, Annoying member, Untrusted.

Rolling the Dice

When you do something risky, roll 1d6 to find out how it goes. Roll +1d if you're prepared and +1d if you're an expert. Roll your dice and compare each die result to your number.

  • If you're using MYSTERIES, you want to roll under your number.
  • If you're using MAYHEM, you want to roll over your number.
  1. If none of your dice succeed it goes wrong. The GM says how things get worse somehow.
  2. If one die succeeds you barely manage it. The GM inflicts a complication, harm, or cost.
  3. If two dice succeed you do it well. Good job!
  4. If three dice succeed you get a critical success! The GM tells you some extra effect you get.

! If you roll your number exactly you have a SIGNATURE MOMENT. Describe it - is it a mystery montage of cluesolving, or is it running away from a monster through a hall of multiple doors, or an implausible disguise, or you stumble onto something, or you've split up? You get a special insight into what's going on. Ask the GM a question and they'll answer you honestly. Some good questions:

  • Where's the fridge?
  • Who's behind this?
  • What's the best place for a trap?
  • Seriously, where's the fridge?
  • What's really going on?

(A roll of A MOMENT counts as a success.)

HELPING: If you want to help someone else who's rolling, say how you try to help and make a roll. If you succeed, give them a +1d.

GM: Create a Case

Roll or choose on the tables below.

A Wants To The Which is important due to
1. Caretaker 1. Redevelop 1. Local school 1. Hidden treasure
2. Businessman 2. Scare people from 2. A Forest 2. Tax purposes
3. Mayor 3. Exploit 3. Amusement park 3. Inheritance
4. Corporate Sponsorship 4. Ruin 4. Cemetary 4. Kids enjoying themselves
5. Crazy old man 5. Raid 5. Mine 5. Historical reasons
6. Ghost 6. Own 6. Theatre 6. Political

GM: Run the Game

Play to find out how they uncover the mystery. Introduce a mystery by clues, hints, rumours and messages. Telegraph actions before they impact the gang, and let them prepare/ react as appropriate.

Call for a roll when the situation is uncertain. Don't pre-plan outcomes - even the mystery itself - let the chips fall where they may. Use failures to push the action forward. Let the gang discover things and figure out what they want the mystery to be. Bring puzzles and props to play with.


Because I can't resist tinkering, I used the above in markdown with pandoc to create a PDF version for download