With quite some surprise I just saw that Green Ronin is planing a new version of their Blue Rose setting. There had been quite some talk about the original setting from ten years back on the RPG.net forum the last three weeks and some people brought up the idea of a new revised version. And apparently, people at Green Ronin had been pondering that idea themselves for a while, so now they are actually doing it.
Blue Rose is just old enough that I can say I remember the talk about it when it was originally released. (Or maybe it’s just me who’se getting old enough to say such things now.) While there was a good amount of praise and excitement for the game, a great deal of it was for the then new True 20 system, which was considered an interesting new take on the d20 system. The setting itself was something which lots of people just didn’t care for, and a good number of other people had some great interest in, but where rather disappointed with the actual realization. My own perception was that it was just another d20 game with an overly simplistic black and white setting that was disappointingly naive and didn’t really have much useful advice on how to run it.
Blue Rose is described as a Romantic Fantasy setting, as in the artistic period of the early 19th century, but based on more contemporary works like the books of Mercedes Lackey and Ursula Le Guin. While that would appear to be the entire opposite end of the spectrum from my prefered genre of Sword & Sorcery, there is actually some considerable overlapp, in that the two both are fundamentally about high emotions and personal drama. From the descriptions of popular works, I wouldn’t want to read them, but as a Sword & Sorcery GM I have a very great interest in how the genre ticks and what elements I can use to spice up my own Sword & Sorcery campaigns. As much as I love the Sword & Sorcery genre, it’s mostly about preposterous actions and crazy stunts. Which I really love a lot, but I also have plenty of friends who I think might really like RPGs, but for who slaying hordes of monsters and throwing sorcerers off the top of their towers just isn’t doing anything.
Romantic fantasy is neither clean nor pretty, and can get quite ugly and brutal, but it exists in a different context. It’s not about enjoying the thrill of battle and the lust for riches, but a struggle to save the people you care for and to repair your own broken life. It may be a genre about knights in shining armor and fair maidens held in a castle by a dragon, but you might just as well see the knight being mortally wounded or tortured in some terribly dungeon with the maiden having to put on the armor and slay the dragon herself in grueling battle, suffering grevious injuries and and the loss of her friends and allies.
The original Blue Rose game wasn’t really that good at presenting the world in such a way and explaining how it works to GMs and players, and even with the changes of the True 20 system the d20 system was just too fiddly and tactical to really work. Particularly people who are not already great fans of RPGs tend to have a quite difficult time to get into d20 games, and it’s a lot more problematic when it comes to GMs who havn’t run and perhaps even played any games before. (I’d link to Angry DM here, but he’s currently reworking his website.) But I still really like the idea behind the setting and from what I know about the AGE system from the Dragon Age RPG it seems to be a much better fit. So I am quite exited to see how this will turn out. Might even throw in a bit of money if the Kickstarter has difficulties reaching its goal.
2 thoughts on “Blue Rose returns”
“It’s not about enjoying the thrill of battle and the lust for riches, but a struggle to save the people you care for and to repair your own broken life.”
That is an excellent way to put it.
I thought True20 jettisoned nearly all of d20’s fiddly bits, but that might say more about the way I played it than the actual rules-as-written. I have a terrible habit of reducing all RPGs to being alternative rules for Moldvay/Cook Basic/Expert D&D.
I think True 20 was a step in the right direction towards a more rules-light game but still picked a poor choice as its starting point. It’s really been a long time since I looked at it and I only browsed through the rules chapter of Blue Rose very briefly when I took another look at its GM advice section earlier this month (which I found rather lacking). But it still has all this annoying Skill and Feat system, Encumbrance calculated in pounds, combat with multiple standard actions and full round actions, and all those frustrating +1s and -2s to attacks, AC, and saving throws depending on who is standing where. Going away from character classes and dumping that old magic system where the right ideas, but everything that makes the game annoying to run for GMs is still there. The new AGE system is much more consequent in being more rules-light.