Blade Runner: The Next Million Dollar Kickstarter?

Free League's Blade Runner Kickstarter has just launched, and is tearing through stretch goals after funding in just 3 minutes. It looks very likely that this will be the company's second million dollar Kickstarter (following last year's The One Ring campaign, which raised over $2M). It will also be the third million dollar Kickstarter in the last month, following Matt Colville's Flee Mortals!, and Monte Cook Games' Old Gods of Appalachia.

Blade Runner was voted the Most Anticipated TTRPG of 2022 by readers of EN World right here.

Free League's other million dollar Kickstarter, The One Ring, did $521K on the first day and finished with $2M. Compared to the other million dollar campaigns in the last few weeks --
  • Flee Mortals! did $788K on the first day.
  • Old Gods of Appalachia did $679K on the first day.
  • Only one campaign has done $1M+ on day 1, and that was Avatar Legends with $1.15M on the first day.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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payn

Legend
I'lll be honest with you, I enjoyed Blade Runner a lot more than I enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I've always thought of the movie as a very loose adaptation of Dick's work that essentially borrowed some concepts and went its own direction. With Alien, Free League brought in a lot of information from the movies, but also from other sources including some things that appeared in the early draft of the Alien 3 script that didn't make it into the movie. I'm a bit curious what, if any, elements from DADOEC Free League might incorporate into the game.
I agree with the changes they decided on in the film. I think it was able to blend ambiance and story into just the right package for the run time. To really engage the psychological aspects of the novel you would need a lot more time for the setting and character changes to sink in and take effect.

I too am curious what extra elements the RPG might take!
 

There is an anime series, I think, and some other content based in Dennis movie.

I know I’m an outlier but I really liked Dennis movie.

They've said they're pulling from Black Lotus, among other things (comics, video games, etc.).

And I don't know if liking BR 2049 makes you an outlier, necessarily, but there are definitely lots of detractors. I'm not one of them. I think it's amazing, and as good as the first one!
 

So, uh, this is gonna make some folks mad. From the campaign FAQ:

Have you considered a solo mode?

Yes, we have considered it, but given the investigative nature of the Case Files, a solo mode would not just be a brief addition, but almost an entirely new game. For now, it is out of the scope for this Kickstarter.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I feel like there is a LOT more lore surrounding Alien. Not just multiple movies, but novels and comics and games. I can't recall any "expanded universe" Bladerunner stuff except the 90s PC adventure game and some recent comics from when 2047 came out.
The expanded universe of Alien is a lot bigger and a lot more popular, but there is some for BR. Three novels, the sequel film, the three short films, and the anime.
 

Mezuka

Hero
The expanded universe of Alien is a lot bigger and a lot more popular, but there is some for BR. Three novels, the sequel film, the three short films, and the anime.
Wasn't there a short-lived tv series (late 90, early 2000) based on Blade Runner? I recall watching episodes but can't find any info.
 


Mezuka

Hero
Wasn't there a short-lived tv series (late 90, early 2000) based on Blade Runner? I recall watching episodes but can't find any info.
It was the Total Recall 2070 series (1999).

 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Wasn't there a short-lived tv series (late 90, early 2000) based on Blade Runner? I recall watching episodes but can't find any info.
It was the Total Recall 2070 series (1999).

Yeah, pop culture is dirty with Philip K Dick adaptations. Blade Runner is the most popular of them, but there's not much there besides the novels and the movies.
 

It was the Total Recall 2070 series (1999).

That was actually one of the better Friday/Saturday Night syndicated sci-fi/adventure series from that era. Of all the ones made trying to capitalize on the Hercules/Xena/Highlander/Baywatch syndication boom and/or Canadian/New Zealand tax incentives, I think I like it the best (Beastmaster and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World being competitive). That it died and is all but forgotten but Andromeda succeeded enough to at least still be remembered by many is kinda sad.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Free League has put out a Q&A video about the game and posted a few rules snippets as an update on the Kickstarter. The more I hear about it the more excited I am. I hope they hit the design out of the park and it sounds like they have.


 

aramis erak

Legend
Free League has put out a Q&A video about the game and posted a few rules snippets as an update on the Kickstarter. The more I hear about it the more excited I am. I hope they hit the design out of the park and it sounds like they have.
notiing that it is the same core mechanics as T2K 4E, I'm really looking forward to it. T2K 4E was great. I was hoping for closer to Alien, but the T2K flavor works fine, so it will be interesting to see the details on damage taking and pushing rolls.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
notiing that it is the same core mechanics as T2K 4E, I'm really looking forward to it. T2K 4E was great. I was hoping for closer to Alien, but the T2K flavor works fine, so it will be interesting to see the details on damage taking and pushing rolls.
From the sounds of things, the mechanics for humans and replicants work slightly differently. Which is too bad. I kinda hoped that you wouldn't be able to tell that it could always be in question whether your character was human or a replicant. Seems like a missed opportunity. Though a minor one.
 

From the sounds of things, the mechanics for humans and replicants work slightly differently. Which is too bad. I kinda hoped that you wouldn't be able to tell that it could always be in question whether your character was human or a replicant. Seems like a missed opportunity. Though a minor one.
There was an interview some months back where the lead designer said they specifically wanted to avoid that trope, because the movies had already explored it enough, and also they didn’t want players to be obsessing over that instead of other themes and possible twists.

But also in the fiction it doesn’t make much sense by 2037. New Replicants have identifying tags in their eyes. So you’d have to be a much older model, and in that case you’d get outed when you joined, by the LAPD’s baseline and/or VK tests.

And if you wanted to do the secret Replicant thing you could just do a version of what Alien does, where normally Synthetics follow different rules from humans (no pushing), but a secret Synth just uses the regular mechanics until they’re outed.
 

payn

Legend
I thought I heard something about if you dont want to know if the character is human or replicant, the GM can roll in secret?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
There was an interview some months back where the lead designer said they specifically wanted to avoid that trope, because the movies had already explored it enough, and also they didn’t want players to be obsessing over that instead of other themes and possible twists.

But also in the fiction it doesn’t make much sense by 2037. New Replicants have identifying tags in their eyes. So you’d have to be a much older model, and in that case you’d get outed when you joined, by the LAPD’s baseline and/or VK tests.

And if you wanted to do the secret Replicant thing you could just do a version of what Alien does, where normally Synthetics follow different rules from humans (no pushing), but a secret Synth just uses the regular mechanics until they’re outed.
Weird. So the game designers are intentionally avoiding one of the major themes of the franchise. That seems…huh. Good thing they like noir and investigation. Otherwise they might decide to avoid those themes, too. At least I found my first thing to house rule.

ETA: Also, doesn’t that whole line of reasoning make the entire premise of the game pointless? You play replicant hunting Blade Runners who are tasked with discovering and retiring rogue replicants…and all you have to do is look at their right eye and you know who’s who. Wow. How exciting.
 
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Weird. So the game designers are intentionally avoiding one of the major themes of the franchise. That seems…huh. Good thing they like noir and investigation. Otherwise they might decide to avoid those themes, too. At least I found my first thing to house rule.

ETA: Also, doesn’t that whole line of reasoning make the entire premise of the game pointless? You play replicant hunting Blade Runners who are tasked with discovering and retiring rogue replicants…and all you have to do is look at their right eye and you know who’s who. Wow. How exciting.
I hear you, but I think they’re doing the right thing. The idea is not to rehash the original movie entirely, since that’s such a specific and contained story. So instead you’re dealing with cases that involve Replicants, but that aren’t always (or even usually, it seems) runaways. Maybe a Rep was killed. Maybe they’re a suspect. Maybe the victim is a Rep. It’s something different from the first movie, but drawing from similar themes and a similar—but different, given the later chronology—setting.

Which, again, I think makes it a potentially more functional RPG. Otherwise all you’re doing is replaying Blade Runner in a way that would makes no sense in the setting, since it’s not like they’re going to have tons of Deckard-like unknowing Reps doing this work, especially given how his last case ended. And this approach also makes things a bit less icky to embody as a player—sure you’re sometimes a futuristic slave catcher, but not always, and sometimes you’re avenging a slave’s murder, while also grappling with being a slave yourself.

In that sense it’s maybe closer to BR 2049. I can see how that could limit the appeal. But to me it’s awesome, in part because I thought BR 2049 was awesome.
 

I thought I heard something about if you dont want to know if the character is human or replicant, the GM can roll in secret?
Don’t think that would really work. GM would have to keep track of the PCs actual mental damage in secret, since Replicants take mental damage from pushing physical tests, instead of physical damage. Once it hit the point where you’re pushed over the edge from taking too much mental damage, the player would realize their own damage numbers don’t match reality. Plus Replicants roll on a different table when broken by stress.

Only way to do it would be to either treat them as humans in every way till they find out, or let that first time they take tons of mental damage be the reveal.

But the game is very focused, premise-wise, so unwitting Rep PCs just don’t make sense. You’re on the LAPD’s Rep-related squad. All the archetypes reflect that. You handle case files and have Promotion pts. And there are rules for failing your Baseline test (if you’re a Rep member of the squad) with mechanical consequences, but also in the setting Reps in that unit are constantly tested. Maybe in future supplements they could get into secret Rep PCs, but for better or worse this first book is really zoomed in on one kind of setup.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I hear you, but I think they’re doing the right thing.
How can gutting a core theme of the franchise and neutering the investigation pillar of the game be the right thing? If all you have to do is look in the eye of a replicant to tell they're not human...there's no investigation to be had. They talked a fair amount in that hour-long interview about various ways to detect replicants. If it were as easy as looking in the eye, I doubt they'd not mention it. I don't remember that being in Blade Runner 2049. It was in two of the short films that bridge the original and 2049. Here's to hoping they exclude that.
The idea is not to rehash the original movie entirely, since that’s such a specific and contained story.
If that's their thinking then they don't understand doing a nostalgia product. I mean, they didn't eschew the horror in Aliens, so clearly they're smart enough to not mangle the franchise they're trying to capitalize on. No idea why they'd suddenly shy away from the franchise they're trying to capitalize on.
So instead you’re dealing with cases that involve Replicants, but that aren’t always (or even usually, it seems) runaways. Maybe a Rep was killed. Maybe they’re a suspect. Maybe the victim is a Rep. It’s something different from the first movie, but drawing from similar themes and a similar—but different, given the later chronology—setting.
Then I need to cancel my pledge. I'm not buying a Blade Runner game so I can not do Blade Runner the game.
Which, again, I think makes it a potentially more functional RPG. Otherwise all you’re doing is replaying Blade Runner in a way that would makes no sense in the setting, since it’s not like they’re going to have tons of Deckard-like unknowing Reps doing this work, especially given how his last case ended.
Add don't subtract. You can easily do Blade Runner plus all the related things you mention without subtracting doing actual Blade Runner.
And this approach also makes things a bit less icky to embody as a player—sure you’re sometimes a futuristic slave catcher, but not always, and sometimes you’re avenging a slave’s murder, while also grappling with being a slave yourself.
Yeah...less icky is not what this franchise or game is about. They're even upfront about it on the Kickstarter.

"Content Warning! The Blade Runner franchise deals with dark and existential themes, and this roleplaying game is no different. The stories told in this game can be violent, distressing, and raise issues relating to personal morals. This is not a game for children."
In that sense it’s maybe closer to BR 2049.
I really hope not.
I can see how that could limit the appeal.
Yeah. Absolutely.
But to me it’s awesome, in part because I thought BR 2049 was awesome.
It sure was pretty to look at.
 

If that's their thinking then they don't understand doing a nostalgia product. I mean, they didn't eschew the horror in Aliens, so clearly they're smart enough to not mangle the franchise they're trying to capitalize on. No idea why they'd suddenly shy away from the franchise they're trying to capitalize on.

Then I need to cancel my pledge. I'm not buying a Blade Runner game so I can not do Blade Runner the game.

Yeah, man, cancel away, if that’s what you want. But no need to shoot the messenger with this snipped up response to me. I’m just sharing what the project really is—all you have to do is read what they’ve released.

I do think some amount of people are engaged in magical thinking with this game, and not accepting just how BR 2049 derived it is. But…I think that’s really on them. FL isn’t hiding any of that at all, and if anything the bulk of the lore and setting details they’ve presented in the campaign are dearly pulled from that movie, not the original. Back if you want, don’t if you don’t.
 

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