Saturday marked my first exposure to Green Ronin’s Blue Rose RPG
My friend Felicia Olson decided to run a game set in Aldea, the default world of Blue Rose. Four people make up our gaming group, myself, Felicia’s husband Scott, and our friends Matt and Shelly.
Most of the first day together was spent looking at rules and puzzling out how the character creation rules work.
First off, the game is d20, but it has major differences from the usual d20 line. For one thing, the stats are much coarser than the usual 3-18 range seen in the D&D line. In BR, the stats run from -5 to +5, and basically it is the stat which is used for various modifiers (saving throws, skill checks, etc). I can see how this makes a sort of sense, instead of having to look up what the bonus for a 13 intelligence gives you, a 1 intelligence means that its always going to be +1. On the other hand, increasing these abilities is a lot harder than in 3rd Edition D&D.
The world is definitely highly influenced by Lackey. The major nation seems like a Valdemar clone, and its neighbors seem influenced by that milieu as well. The races, too, seem Lackeyish. One of the major races are Rhydan, basically sentient horses and other creatures. None of us went for that option, and in point of fact, I was the only one who played a non-human. I chose to play a vata’sha, which is basically a dark elf.
Our party is unbalanced, however, because we did not coordinate ourselves to create a “balanced party”. Instead, Scott went with a warrior (basic fighter) type, and Matt, Shelly and I went for the arcane route. “Adepts”. Adepts are a broad category with a lot of specialties. Mine own character, Nodonn, I took a little bit from the Psychic categories, and some from the Shaper (element manipulation) categories.
Feats and Skills are much like D20, with a few differences.
There are classes of Feats: General, Arcane, Martial, etc. Different classes have access to different feats. Adepts, for example can get General and Arcane feats.
The differences in feats themselves is markedly seen when it comes to the arcane. Understanding how to use those took a little debate and re-reading on our part. There is a feat called Talents, which allows you access to actual “arcanum”. To actually get these arcanum, you have to take a feat called arcane training, which allows you to choose two arcanum from Talents you already have.
Thus, Nodonn took Psychic Talent and Shaping Talent as two of his five feats. (Characters usually start as four, as a vata’sha, he got a free arcane talent).
Then, out of the other three feats, he took two “Arcane training” feats, allowing him four arcanum (which have to be either Shaping or Psychic–so I went with Psychic Shield, Illusion, Earth Shaping and Water Shaping).
(His last feat I went with psychic weapon).
So, if he wanted to learn healing, Nodonn would first need to get another feat and use it on Healing Talent, and then a second feat which he could use on Arcane Training to get more arcanum.
Skills work a lot like D&D, although there is what are called “Favored skills”. Favored skills are skills that, when and if you take them, you have a bonus to, permanently. As an Adept, for example, Nodonn has any craft and any knowledge skill as favored. So while I didn’t actually pick a Craft skill for him, whenever I get around to doing so, it will operate with the bonus.
Rather than dealing with amounts of money, every character has a wealth score, and every item for sale has a wealth rating. Within reason, characters who buy things which cost below their wealth score can obtain them easily. Items which cost at or above their score depletes their wealth, and sometimes rolling to see if the item is available is necessary. Wealth scores do fluctuate and can increase and decrease. Characters can even use professional skills to make money and bump up their wealth score.
I admit that it does take away some of the micromanagement (we only have 13 gp left!) out of D&D
There aren’t any HP in the game per se, although I don’t have a copy yet to look up how the damage track actually works. However, there aren’t ranges of damage for weapons, from what I saw, everything does a single amount of damage, with modifiers (daggers do 1, short swords do 2, etc). Similarly, the modifiers for armor are relatively small.
Alignment and Social Issues
The game is biased strongly toward “Good” (Light) characters. In fact, using the wrong kind of arcane art in the wrong way (sorcery) can lead to Corruption, which has all sorts of nasty effects, and can eventually change one’s alignment to “Shadow”.
Every PC, too, has a light nature and a shadow nature. I think of this in terms of Everway, virtues and faults. You can change them, but it is difficult.
The game also spends space promoting tolerance of alternate sexualities, to the point of giving terms for those who prefer same sex and those who prefer other-sex relationships. Again, this is very Valdemarish.
More observations about how the game actually works will have to wait, until there is opportunity to play some more.