As I have mentioned before, last year I had a couple of friends give me their extra RPG books for various reasons. One set of books that I had never seen before was titled “Blue Rose: The Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy”. What the heck is that? I had heard of various companies trying to differentiate itself from a crowded RPG market. My previous entry on the Fantasy Imperium game the publisher called it an “Interactive Storytelling Game of Historical Fantasy”, but the authors could never clearly define what “Interactive Storytelling” was and how it differed from regular roleplaying games. Since I wanted to create a character for the 2022 Character Creation Challenge using the Blue Rose system (this is first edition based on the True20 rules, not the new Blue Rose 2nd edition using the AGE RPG rules) I read through some of the parts of the book even before the challenge began. I wanted to make sure I understood what “Romantic Fantasy” is just in case it was relevant to character creation. There were two sections that touched on this topic. The first made it sound like it was based of a series of fantasy authors, some I had heard of, others I had not. Characters are different? Magic is also different, somehow? I’m still scratching my head. So I sought out the second section on this topic. OK, characters are supposed to be emotional. OK, good roleplayers can already do that since they know their character. And romances are a big factor of the game, either between player characters (whoa, red flag, red flag) or between PCs and NPCs. Yea…
Ya know what? Screw it. I’ve been wanting to tip my toe into a True20 system and since I don’t have the main book, I’ll use this entry as a learning experience to see what this is all about. Since I doubt I’ll ever be able to use this character in an actual campaign, I’ll just make a basic character just to see how it works.
So from the looks of things, the True20 system is a D20 variant. It has the same abilities, skills and feats that we’ve seen in Dungeons and Dragons v3.5. There is also something called Arcana, which appear to be some type of mystical powers. In combat characters also have Conviction, which can be spent to improve a situation (re-roll a die, recover from injury, etc.)
For Blue Rose, you play a character in the world of Aldea. There are several Human cultures within Aldea and they all have different stats and abilities. There are also several non-human cultures (no dwarves, halflings or officially elves). These include animal-people, sea-people, a race called Vata (they sound like elves without the pointed ears), night people (orcs? I think?).
Ability scores range from -5 to +5. Your new character has 6 points to place in any of the standard abilities which are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution (the physical scores), Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma (the mental scores). You cannot place more than 5 in any starting ability. A negative score can be selected with the positive score used in another ability. I’m not one for taking a negative score, so I placed my five points in three different abilities that I thought would be good for the character.
Next you choose your background. This is very similar to selecting your race in other games. However the same race can have different backgrounds. If you play a human in Blue Rose, you select from one of the cultures such as Aldins (from the heartland), Forest Folk (from the northern forests), Islanders (from the southern islands), Jarzoni (religious people from the flatlands), Kerns (humans living in a kingdom ruled by a lich king), Rezeans (people from the plains, think Native Americans) and Roamers (think nomads). While they all have the same stats, the different backgrounds have different favored skills and feats. While you are not locked into these favored items, you have access to them despite your role (class). I looked over the non-human backgrounds as well, but none of them really sounded interesting. I selected a Forest Folk.
After this are your Roles. These are basically classes in other games. There are four roles each with different paths (sub-classes?) and these are Adepts (magical scholars), Expert (specialists), Warriors and Mixed-Role (multi-class). If you are familiar with most fantasy games, you’ll find a role in here that you’ll find in other games. You want to play a barbarian, there’s a roll for that. Same with thief, bard, etc. For this character, I’m selecting the Warrior with the path of Ranger. I selected the favored skills, the known skills (the bonus for a known skill is not as high as a favored skill)
The alignments are light (good), shadow (evil) or twilight (no not the vampire movies, neutral). I selected light. There was also something called a calling, which could have been selected or drawn randomly from some deck of cards. I had already decided that the character was going to protect nature so when I saw it on the list, I already knew that is what he would do. There was also a list of Natures both light and drak that you needed to select from. I think this was just to give you some ideas on what type of character you have. I’m glad there was a list as most games just expect you to pick one out of the air. However I had already selected “dedicated” to protecting the forest for light and “standoffish” for dark as he dosen’t trust humans after seeing how the wilds have been treated. As a starting character, his reputation is 0.
Each new character starts out with a wealth score of 5 (plus any CHA bonuses). If you spend wealth on expensive items, your score goes down (it can’t drop below 0) and as you gain levels (or by other methods) the score raises. If you want to buy something out of your wealth range, you have to make a roll against a wealth check to see if you can obtain it. Depending upon the cost of the item, your wealth score can go down. Buying anytihng above your wealth cost automatically makes your score go down. Roll a D20 + your wealth score and if you rolled higher than the cost, you’ve purchased the item. Items at or below your wealth score automatically succeed in purchases. You can even “take 10” or “take 20” to find the best deals, but it takes longer to aquire the item. Looking at the cost of some items, it seems like it would be better to obtain the items at or below your wealth score first then try to get some of the higher items. For example, that wealth score of 5 is not high enough to automatically get a longbow (cost 16), so get your dagger (cost 4) first. Masterwork items add +5 to the cost but give you bonuses to the use of the item. This is an interesting system, but I’m not certain if I like it. I wonder if the designers didn’t expect you to have a lot of equipment as the section on the character sheet is tiny. Just buying a basic thing like a standard sword is going to lower the wealth score of a new character, then buying leather armor is going to lower it even further. Yea I realized I’d had enough. I tried to fill in the blanks left on the sheet and threw it in the scanner.
First of all, thumbs up for some of the inclusivity seen in the book. Our gaming tables should be a safe welcome place for all. The art is also very well done, I wondered what the opinion of my college age kid studying art would have been? I would like to recommend to the publishers that they not use a shadowy text on a bright background as seen on the back of the book.
The worldbuilding looks very detailed and with the different cultures (and stats for members of that culture). The only down-side to this is that I didn’t feel like I could homebrew for this world. It seemed like the GM and players were locked into this setup. Personally, I’d rather have the freedom to utilize my own world where I have more control. While I might be tempted to play a game just to try out the system, I doubt I’d actually play Blue Rose as part of a campaign.
I really want to check out the True20 system now and see how it compares to Blue Rose. I did see some things that I liked in the system. Is the wealth score a standard in True20 or is it just for Blue Rose? The more I think about the wealth score concept, the more I don’t like it for starting characters. I could see a wealth score being useful in a sci-fi style game where they have access to replicators, but in a fantasy setting? I don’t know. This has been a bigger stumbling block than the “romance” thing.
I think I (might) have figured out this “romantic roleplaying” thing out. The impression that I’ve received from looking through the book, and I’ll admit that it could be a wrong impression, is that this is a game for fans of “shipping”. For those of you not familiar with the term, “shipping” is a sub-set of fandom where fans want to see a relationship (where the term “shipping” comes from) form between two characters seen on a show/movie/book/etc. A good example of this is a group of fans who wanted to see Captain Janeway and First Officer Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager start a relationship. They would make up memes, fan-fic, artwork, etc. with this train of thought and share them with like-minded individuals. While most “shippers” are not obsessive, it can be taken too far. Voyager is over 25 years old and just last week I saw a meme where someone was mad that Chakotay had dated Seven of Nine at the end of the series. Please note: Just because this sub-set of fandom is not my cup of Earl Grey tea doesn’t mean that it’s bad. I’m certain that other Star Trek fans would think my “Treknologist” habits of wanting to know starship minutia are just as weird. With roleplaying games, if the subject of romances is brought up in session zero, I’ll let my preferences known that I’d prefer not to participate in such activities in-game and that I really didn’t want to spend my limited gaming time watching others sim a romance at the table. If a romantic encounter unexpectedly pops up in the middle of an RPG session, my paranoid gamer mind will be internally screaming (in a perfect Admiral Ackbar accent) “It’s a trap!” I showed the Blue Rose core book to my geek wife, who has also been roleplaying for many years, to get her opinion. When she got to the romance sections she stated “like I need a book to tell me that my character can have a romance.” With the proper group prepared before hand, a romance themed game could work. I’m just not that target audience.
I mentioned in my post where I created a Classic Traveller character that this game was very popular, and still popular today. After posting the character the number of site visits from the post were very high and I had multiple people respond about the character posted. For the most part they said I had made the character correctly. High Psg is High Passage which is a free nice room on a passenger vessel (compared to the cyro-sleep chamber option that I could have ended up with). I still needed to buy equipment but I had plenty of cash to do so. There was a second page to the Personal Data and History (character sheet) that would have given me room for this info. I think after the challenge is over I’m going to have to take a deeper dive into the Classic Traveller system. Oh and they stated that the character creation was a mini-game and that dying in the mini-game was a common occurrence.
Coming Up Next:
Bubblegum Crisis: MegaTokyo 2033-The Roleplaying Game