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Blade Runner RPG Starter Set €18,43 €14,74
Average Rating:4.9 / 5
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Blade Runner RPG Starter Set
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Blade Runner RPG Starter Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/28/2023 12:56:00
On the hunt for replicants - a Mephisto review

Blade Runner Starter Set

Blade Runner is one of the outstanding science fiction films of the 1980s. Still, unlike other films of the genre at the time, which focused on action, Blade Runner presents itself as visually powerful and rather thoughtful and philosophical. The story revolves around the Blade Runner Deckard, who hunts down the manufactured replicants that returned illegally to Earth. It also deals with the question of what constitutes humanity and how it relates to artificial life forms. After almost forty years, the sequel Blade Runner 2049 continues the plot, builds on the themes, and continues certain concepts, like the Blade Runner at the center of the story himself being a replicant.

In the case of the Blade Runner role-playing game, Fria Ligan uses two of its typical concepts: on the one hand, the role-playing version of another science fiction classic (after the Alien role-playing game), and on the other hand, the release of a Starter Set with abbreviated rules, an adventure, and various other game materials to get you started. In the case of Blade Runner, the box includes a short rule book that summarizes essential rules on 84 pages to allow playing the adventure Electric Dreams. Additionally, the box (or its digital counterpart) contains blank sheets for case notes, time logs, character sheets, and several ready-made characters for the adventure. Furthermore, there are handouts consisting of newspaper pages, magazine covers, printouts from the police database, photos of surveillance, etc. For visualization, there are mug shots of the characters in the adventure. Furthermore, there are initiative cards used to determine the order in combat, cards for various maneuvers and obstacles in chases, a large map of Los Angeles in the future, and plans of the locations in the adventure rounding out the material. Thus, in addition to rules and adventure, the box contains a lot of material, although for the digital version, you have to print it out yourself, which is not ideal due to the design, which uses black pages.

The setting of the Blade Runner role-playing game builts on the second movie, Blade Runner 2049. Humanity has left for the stars, and in their colonization efforts, they used the so-called replicants: artificially created, human-like beings that are more powerful than their creators but also have a shorter life span. Some of these replicants illegally returned to Earth to demand an extended life from their creators. In continuity with the second film, the problems with the replicants led to their production being banned, and the Tyrell Corporation, which initially invented them, went bankrupt. Years later, the Wallace Corporation picked up the concept and began reintroducing it with a new replicant series. Both films revolve around Blade Runners, a special police unit that hunts down renegade replicants. The replicants are indistinguishable from humans to the naked eye and usually have to be “retired” by force of arms.

In the Blade Runner role-playing game, players take on the role of Blade Runners, hunting down replicants, so they are part of an elite police force. The rules use several concepts familiar from other Fria Ligan role-playing games. Again, there are four primary attributes as well as corresponding skills. Each of these is rated at levels from A to D, with D corresponding to a d6, while the maximum of A gives a d12. 

In addition to skills, essential characteristics of the characters are the Health and Resolve stats as well as Promotion Points and Humanity Points. Promotion Points indicate the character's standing in the police hierarchy and are used to learn new skill specializations or utilize connections in the police force. Humanity Points measure how in tune a character is with their human nature. These points can be used to increase skills. Promotion Points and Humanity Points are sometimes at odds with each other because actions can increase Promotion Points if you follow the rules. In contrast, Humanity Points can increase if you act humanely.

Importantly, as in Blade Runner 2049, characters can be replicants themselves, which causes some rules to work differently for them, similar to the androids in Alien. The game offers 15 skills, covering relatively broad areas, from driving skills to firearms and stealth to observation. 

Tests always involve rolling on one attribute and one skill, and the goal is to roll at least a 6 on one die. If you get two or more successes (which is unlikely with the standard two dice), you achieve a critical success that gives you another bonus.

You can also push to roll again and hope for a better result. However, this can have additional negative consequences in the event of failure. The rules also account for advantages and disadvantages. A good part of the book then deals with applying these rules to the two essential concepts in which they are used: fights and chases.

The game considers damage in two ways: Damage and Stress. When you push a test or suffer an attack, you lose Health accordingly. If this causes your Health to drop to 0, you are out of action. More brutal hits also cause critical damage, which is rolled on random tables and can lead to either unpleasant side effects or, in the worst case, instant death. Stress, on the other hand, concerns the mental state. Stress is accumulated when a roll is pushed unsuccessfully, when the character gets into a stressful situation, or when they work on their investigation without taking breaks. The chase rules are also detailed and handled dynamically, with random obstacles and other complications.

An essential concept in Blade Runner is that the day is divided into four shifts. Each of these shifts corresponds to a scene, so to speak, so that the timeline of an investigation can be clearly divided. In this regard, the game envisions characters devoting three shifts of the day to the investigation and resting or pursuing their personal lives during the fourth shift; otherwise, they accumulate stress. 

The rest of the book presents a brief introduction to police work and the resources of the LAPD. Here, individual characters such as informants are introduced, as are descriptions of police equipment, from service weapons to spinners (flying cars). Here, it is most obvious that, throughout the book, the layout takes up a lot of space for illustrations. For example, the few weapons are described and illustrated in detail, but the selection is also focused on the essentials. 

Thus, the gaming group gets a compact form of the rules, which, as usual with starter sets, excludes character creation. The appropriate pre-generated characters suffice to solve the first case, Electric Dreams.

The concept for Blade Runner is that the game will be flanked by a comprehensive campaign, with individual cases building on each other and revealing a larger story arc. Electric Dreams is just the first case in this campaign where players must follow the trail of a missing Blade Runner. Along the way, they come into contact with both the android underground, which smuggles replicants from Earth, and hate groups that campaign against the replicants. The powerful Wallace Corporation also plays a role.

The case is first introduced with the detailed background and characters and their motivations, and then the different locations that can be visited. Players are offered different approaches to solving this case and various places to visit before they dive into the bigger mystery. The scenes are described in detail, and there are also corresponding handout cards for all the locations to show them.

A noteworthy mechanism in the game is that there are pictures as handouts for some locations, on which the players have to find certain elements that will help them in their investigation. This concept is reminiscent of the image analysis scene from the first Blade Runner movie. The case itself is exciting and detailed but demanding and presents players with some interesting challenges, especially since time does not stand still.

As with previous Fria Ligan releases, the Blade Runner Starter Set offers an intricately designed first introduction to the game world. Thanks to pre-made characters and a complete adventure, you can also get started right away because the compact rules are quick to learn. However, the option to create your own characters is not offered here; for that, you need the core rule book. Similar to the Alien role-playing game, the books are impressively illustrated and give a lot of space to the illustrations. The adventure tries to put its scenes into words, reminiscent of the visually stunning movies. 

Fria Ligan offers a solidly crafted role-playing game here that is impressive in its presentation. Still, there is a catch in my opinion: The focus on a single profession, or more specifically, a single task, hunting replicants as Blade Runners, lends itself well to a single story, as it did with the films, to highlight particular themes. However, in a campaign game, it could potentially become repetitive and boring. In addition, the game master faces the great challenge of conjuring up the impressive settings of the films for the players' imaginations. The Blade Runner movies live predominantly on their images and mood, which is a challenge to capture. Playing Blade Runner as a simple action role-playing game would not do justice to the original. 

Finally, it depends on the gaming group here. Role-playing game collectors, fans of the films, and those who want to try Electric Dreams as a one-shot will definitely get a great introduction to the game with the Starter Set here. Gamemasters who wish to play the role-playing game as a campaign will either have to try to live up to the claim of the original in further adventures themselves, or rely on the epic campaign delivering what it promises and coming onto the market at a reasonable speed.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Blade Runner RPG Starter Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Lee M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/14/2023 02:32:44

Ran this game with my friends a few months ago. So much fun! felt like we lived in the world and the starter set was amazing!

Also my players invented noodle dogs put them in your games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Blade Runner RPG Starter Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Christopher B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2023 10:45:24

Un buen juego de rol, claro, para usuarios nuevos puede ser difícil agarrarle la onda, pero para jugadores fans de Blade Runner y del cuberpunk, es una opción basta y ampliA, cuenta con todo lo necesario para disfrutar de horas y horas de partidaspartidas.

Si quieres leer más sobre esta entrega, te invito a leer la reseña completa: https://arata.lat/blade-runner-rpg-aratareview-juego-de-mesa/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Blade Runner RPG Starter Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Jonathan S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/17/2023 13:24:27

Synopsis: The Blade Runner RPG Starter Set is another quality offering from Free League. The layout, art, and rules will all be familiar to Alien RPG enthusiasts. Packed with glossy color handouts, maps, cards, and dice, the Starter Set is a great value. The 56-page adventure/case file included is very well done, and since it's the only adventure available at this time, is truly a must-have.
For a more-detailed look at the contents and game mechanics, check out https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/19/19112.phtml



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Blade Runner RPG Starter Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by jonathan p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/13/2022 10:18:01

Free League's introductory case file for their Blade Runner RPG is a great investigative scenario that is chock-full of Blade Runner (1982) references while needing to tie the setting together with the "future" of Blade Runner 2049. It's a fantastic case file that hit a lot of the touchpoints that make Blade Runner a story I enjoy so much.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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