Ask The Readers: What is your favorite “noir” RPG?

L.A. Noire Last weekend I have played L.A. Noire the latest video game created by Rockstar Games and Team Bondi. The game tells the story of LAPD detective and WW2 hero Cole Phelps. It’s set into the late 1940s and shares a lot of tropes with movies from the “film noir” genre.

And as it is often the case playing the video game made me think about the “noir” genre in RPGs. Of course there’s “Thrilling Noir Stories”, the rules-light game I wrote last year. But there are surely more games along those lines.

What would you consider a “noir” game and what are your favorite games of this genre? I also faintly remember that there is a game that combines the tropes of classic noir stories with urban fantasy, but alas I have forgotten the name. Could you guys help me out?

As with all the “Ask The Readers” posts I am very interested in your opinions. Please post your thoughts in the comments below. Please share your favorite “noir” games with us!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

10 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: What is your favorite “noir” RPG?”

  1. Edge of Midnight the game you're thinking of?

    I think Mean Streets (by Precis Intermedia Games) is the only explicitly Noir RPG I own…Edge of Midnight and A Dirty World both looked good, but I've yet to pick them up. I'm getting ready to review Sword Noir, actually, which at least sounds awesome in theory.
    My recent post Tommys Take on Tough Justice

    1. I fully aggree, Kristian. Especially a campaign set into the City of Towers, Sharn, has a strong film noir feeling. My only problem with Eberron is the fact that it's a D&D setting, but I have thought about using Savage Worlds or FATE instead. It's one of the thousands of pet projects. 😉

      1. Your sentiments echo my own. I didn't think D&D handled the pulp or noir elements of Eberron very well, but FATE and Savage Worlds do. I've got my own pet project for adapting Eberron to Savage Worlds, but I've had to put it on the back burner while I work on Life After Death.

  2. I’ve not had chance to play it yet, but White Wolf have published Mage Noir to complement their Mage: the Awakening line.

    I’d also give a Trail of Cthulhu a nod. Whilst It’s not strictly ‘noir’, there is absolutely no reason why it couldn’t be.

  3. Edge of Midnight is my favorite noir RPG. It's a bit different, in that it introduces some fantasy-esque elements. But, there are a lot of good bits in the system to reinforce the noir feel.

  4. Pretty simple mechanics

    Attributes are 1-10 scale
    Starting skills are of max 5

    I believe the standard action roll was two d10s (one for attribute and one for skill (attribute chosen as applicable in the situation not specifically tied to the skill). Add rolls to the attribute and the skill respectively (you’ll get two results on for att one for skill) compare against a Diff Number – if both are equal or higher = a success if only one = partial success, if both under = oops!

    Pretty neat.

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