Art of the Genre

What can I say about TSR’s Gangbusters Boxed Set that isn’t apparent from the outstanding cover? Well, I can say that for many years I’d wrongly assumed that the two color cover pieces for the game were done by artist Jim Holloway when in fact it was his partner in crime [yes, pun intended] Harry Quinn who actually produced these two brilliant pieces for this little loved yet classic RPG.

The game takes place in the heart of the prohibition era 1920s with gangs and cops vying for control of Chicago as they try drive Duesenbergs and fire Thompson submachine guns at one another. It is a percentile based system and only contains a single rulebook that keeps the mechanics to a minimum. The real driving force here is the setting, and people are encouraged to play up there Boardwalk Empire dreams on the shores of Lake Michigan.

When I played it, I enjoyed placing my game in L.A, although I’m sure I’d have a much better time of getting the setting exact today since I’ve lived there, but nonetheless the glitz and glamour of Hollywood made for a nice backdrop.

Artistically, Harry Quinn is the master or ceremony, although the aforementioned Holloway does get the goods in making some rather humorous visions in black and white interiors. There are too few here, I’m afraid, and with limited manuals, the content lacks artistic focus and force to actually give players and GMs a core feeling of playability.

In all, it seems a game with greater potential than what it actually mustered.

Artistic Rating: 3 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — February 24, 2014

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