Geek Girls Rule! #416 – Review: Blue Rose RPG

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way:  I’ve been running Blue Rose demos at local conventions and comic shops since October.

The cover of the latest edition of Blue Rose.

I agreed to run the demos never having played the game before, and spent a week or so studying the book and rules to get myself up to speed.

I like it a lot.  I enjoy running it and I enjoy reading it.  The index is pretty good.

First, the book is beautiful.  I don’t even have the super fancy, pretty version.  I have the normal hardbound edition, and the art and layout are gorgeous.

Second, in the pictures depicting groups of humans, people have different skin tones and body sizes.

Third, Night People (Orcs) and Vata’sha (Drow* analog) are dark-skinned, but are not considered intrinsically evil.  They have the same options to be good or bad people due to free will, as everyone else.

The mechanics are pretty simple.  Three d6, two of one color, and a third of another, are rolled and you add applicable stats and focuses to that roll.  You want to roll high.  If you roll doubles, the number on the odd-colored die informs how many stunt points you have.  There are stunts for various situations.  But at it’s core, it’s three D6, roll high.  Some tests are opposed, and the book gives you guidance, if it doesn’t say outright what the challenge number is.  Fight and social roles use the same mechanics, and it works well.

There is also a relationship mechanic that is meaningful and works well.  Sadly, a little difficult to bring into play in one-offs, but I have done it, and with the scale of success or failure, the one or two points of help one half of a relationship can give the other really make a difference in outcomes.  There is also a mechanic for advancing the relationships.

Now, as many of you know, I’m a fairly hardcore devotee of system lite systems.  But I do not find the Blue Rose system to be onerous at all.

For playable races, you have humans in varying skin tones and hair and eye color.  You also have the aforementioned Night People and Vata’sha, as well as their white skinned counterparts, the Vata’an.  There are the intelligent, sapient animals the Rhydan, which come in a variety of species.  And finally, the Sea People who are very mer-like.  I have not played with Sea People, since as a species they have to be immersed at least once per day in water or suffer penalties, and I did not plan on doing any adventures near the sea.

So, the Rhydan are super cool, and I am contemplating running a Rhydan Wolfpack game, so as to mitigate fighting over the Rhydan characters.  Seriously.  Just a few of the named species in the book are Rhy-Cats, cougar-sized siamese looking cats, Rhy-Wolves, Rhy-Bears, and for the Sea People, Rhy-Dolphins.

So far all my demo games, from short storyline, to just running a quick combat for people who didn’t have time to stick around for a full game, have gone over well.  The system is pretty intuitive, especially for me with my background in GURPS.

I really like it.  I’d gotten some lukewarm reviews from some other folks, but I think for many of them, that was in part influenced by a fondness for the initial True20 edition ten or so years ago.  I feel that this game includes enough indie-game elements (relationship mechanics) along with the more traditional elements to keep me satisfied, anyway.  Your mileage may vary.

*Seriously, things that live underground have pink, white, translucent, or vaguely purple-ish skin, not black.  Biology, how does it work?


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