Blade Runner Starter Set Review

1673319201228.png


Props are one of the things that set apart tabletop role-playing games apart from other entertainments. I truly enjoy seeing a players face light up when I hand them a prop to study rather than describe an item they’ve found. Call of Cthulhu is the master in this area thanks to all the newspaper clippings and mad diary rambling that lead investigators from the real world into the supernatural. Free League Publishing’s Blade Runner RPG also casts itself as an investigative experience. Players are cast in the role of the titular investigators on the trail of wayward androids and the technology that made them. The company sent along a review copy of Blade Runner Starter Set as an illustration of how they’ve structured their mysteries. Does the mystery pass the test? Let’s play to find out.

Free League boxed sets are stuffed to the seams and this one is no different. In addition to a shortened rulebook and the case file book, there are four Blade Runners (two human, two Replicant), a time sheet for recording shifts that’s vital to the timing of the game, a poster sized map of future Los Angeles, a deck of cards covering initiative and chases, a set of dice and a big folder chock full of props for the case. I highly recommend getting the physical release for anyone interested because the props for “Electric Dreams” range from newspapers to mugshots and more. These props reminded me of the “murder by mail” experiences where people subscribe to get a bunch of clues that tell a story through a variety of media.

“Electric Dreams”, written by lead designer Tomas Harenstam focuses on a Replicant Blade Runner that’s gone rogue. I’m going to avoid any major spoilers but I will say that the case visits some iconic Blade Runner locations and ties back into the storyline of the films. The philosophy on the investigation focuses on the countdown and multiple ways for the players to get their hands on clues. I like the redundancies built into the clue loop as well as the countdown structure. The case illustrates how Blade Runners need to use their time wisely or else what could be an easy solution could turn into a bloody shootout in a public area. It makes sense to hand out as many of the props as possible. They are very neat to hold and there’s always the chance that players might get frustrated if they don’t collect the set.

Herein lies my main issue with the set. The props are very well done and the investigation hints at a larger storyline called “The Immortal Game” that has some interesting ideas about how Replicant technology might be used. There’s no part 2 announced, though I suspect we’ll see one this year. Even so, I can see how Game Runners might feel the pressure to suddenly have to learn how to make cool props for every case they put together. It can be done but I would love to see some guidance in an upcoming book on how to make your own mugshots and documents. Perhaps a digital product like the old H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society Props and Fonts discs. There are some resources for this on the web and hopefully, folks that make their own props for futuristic games will share their tips and tricks below.

Blade Runner Starter Set offers a glimpse into the neo noir world of the RPG though it might set the standards a little too high for follow up investigations for new GMs.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland



Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
Even before the current wave of AI art, AI has been pretty good at creating human-ish portraits for a while now.

If I were looking for photos, etc., of NPCs to hand out in Blade Runner games, I'd use the very aptly named This Person Does Not Exist. The uncanny valley effects (look at the teeth) are a feature in this case, not a bug.

EDIT: Actually, the teeth are pretty good now. We really are going to need Blade Runners soon.
 

I think Free League hinted that there will be more scenarios, but as you say, no concrete announcements yet. Given they managed to get out the three cinematic scenarios for Alien, there's at least hope they'll manage to complete the larger story.
I have no doubt they'll finish the storyline but given that they seem to produce one or two products per year for each line, it may be a while before they do.
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
I have no doubt they'll finish the storyline but given that they seem to produce one or two products per year for each line, it may be a while before they do.
Yeah, the Alien line still has several announced sourcebooks and accompanying adventure box sets to go, despite appearing to be quite commercially successful so far.

No one should be in a hurry to burn through the Blade Runner campaign right now.
 

Psikosis

Explorer
Free League has just been killing it lately and this box set is no exception. Completely worth the money and props are great. I love CoCs props and am hoping we'll see some goodies similar to what the HPLHS has been dropping. I'm really excited to see where Free League goes with the Blade Runner IP! (And also, in case someone from FL is reading this, more Twilight 2000, please.)
 



Fenhorn

Explorer
Yeah, the Alien line still has several announced sourcebooks and accompanying adventure box sets to go, despite appearing to be quite commercially successful so far.

No one should be in a hurry to burn through the Blade Runner campaign right now.
Alien RPG CMOM sourcebook is very thick though and contains 6+1 missions. This will come down to what they want to do with the game. If they want to focus on case files, they could easily do a lot of those, but if they go with their Alien approach, there will be a thick sourcebook with x number of cases in it. Personally I would like that they focused on cases this year and then go with a sourcebook (with themed cases in it) next year.
 
Last edited:

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
Alien RPG CMOM sourcebook is very though and contains 6+1 missions. This will come down to what they want to do with the game. If they want to focus on case files, they could easily do a lot of those, but if they go with their Alien approach, there will be a thick sourcebook with x number of cases in it. Personally I would like that they focused on cases this year and then go with a sourcebook (with themed cases in it) next year.
Alien lends itself more to sourcebooks -- Colonial Marines, space truckers, colonists and Earth -- than Blade Runner does, I think. I'm not even sure they have comparable "splats" that would merit those sort of deep dives. I could see a more in-depth Los Angeles sourcebook, maybe, or some information about the off-world colonies, but neither of those seem as key as more adventures with more props does.
 

Related Articles

Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top