BLUE ROSE Returns, Championing Diversity & Inclusiveness

Back in 2005, Green Ronin published a roleplaying game called Blue Rose. It was designed by Jeremy Crawford (yep, him who works at WotC on D&D 5E), Steve "Mutants & Masterminds" Kenson (that's his actual middle name), Dawn Elliot, and John Snead, and was billed as a "romantic fantasy" game, of the genre for whom Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, and Jacqueline Carey are known. It used the True20 System, which was a slimmed-down, modified version of the d20 System, and won multiple ENnies. And now it's back!

This time round, the game will be using the Adventure Game Engine, which powers the Dragon Age RPG, and will be funded via a Kickstarter launching in April. One of Green Ronin's reasons for bringing it back is that the game tackled a number of diversity and inclusiveness related issues, and those issues are very much the subject of intense - and often unpleasant - debate and conflict today.

You can click on the cover image below for the full announcement from Green Ronin's Chris Pramas.

BlueRoseCover.jpg

What's Romantic Fantasy? It's "a subgenre of fantasy fiction, describing a fantasy story using many of the elements and conventions of the romance genre". According to Wikipedia, the genre's focus is on social, political, and romantic relationships.
 

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Grimstaff

Explorer
Does every book come with a cup of Starbucks "race together" coffee? :/

Seriously, as someone who's gamed with different races and lifestyles for decades, and appreciates the setting in question, this comes across as pandering weaksauce. Inclusiveness should be a given, not a sales point.
 

That's cool that Blue Rose gets to come back into print under the AGE Engine but if this was the big announce on their setting that would be the talk of the year then I am a sad panda.

EDIT: Finished reading Chris's post. I feel like maybe it's a bit heavy handed. We're in a hobby that's already highly inclusive and open right now....I don't think that there's nearly the "tearing apart" going on here that he implies. Maybe I'm just hanging in the wrong crowds though.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Does every book come with a cup of Starbucks "race together" coffee? :/

Seriously, as someone who's gamed with different races and lifestyles for decades, and appreciates the setting in question, this comes across as pandering weaksauce. Inclusiveness should be a given, not a sales point.

I really enjoy 5e, but can you do me a favor an look at the amount of _game mechanics_ covering "social, political, and romantic relationship"? Just contrast a page count vs. something like combat.

You absolutely can run those in any RPG. But that doesn't mean that all other game systems mechanically cover those concepts as well. I'll run and play in different systems that support the feel and theme I'm looking for in a campaign, why should this be any different?

With Gamergate, maybe something explicitly inclusive is a good thing.
 

nomotog

Explorer
Does every book come with a cup of Starbucks "race together" coffee? :/

Seriously, as someone who's gamed with different races and lifestyles for decades, and appreciates the setting in question, this comes across as pandering weaksauce. Inclusiveness should be a given, not a sales point.

Should be a given, but it isn't always a given unfortunately.

I don't know what to make of and that is kind of fun. Never played a romantic fantasy RPG before.
 

vongarr

First Post
D&D5 is inclusive, and it doesn't pat itself on the back about it. The more we treat these things as normal, the more normal they become. Just like chainmail bikinis. If we come to accept them, they become acceptable -- if we made a big deal about it, it becomes aberrant and stands out for reasons other than the strength of its work.

It does look interesting. I've never heard of it, until now.
 

nomotog

Explorer
I really enjoy 5e, but can you do me a favor an look at the amount of _game mechanics_ covering "social, political, and romantic relationship"? Just contrast a page count vs. something like combat.

I don't think there is a page. (At least I can't think of it off hand.) It's a aspect that you just don't see in a lot of RPGs. Combat is virtually a given, but social mechanics are often token or non existent. (Outside of some more out there RPGs anyway.)
 

lyle.spade

Adventurer
Does every book come with a cup of Starbucks "race together" coffee? :/

Seriously, as someone who's gamed with different races and lifestyles for decades, and appreciates the setting in question, this comes across as pandering weaksauce. Inclusiveness should be a given, not a sales point.

Grim, I couldn't agree more. No need to wave a flag around for attention...want something to be a certain way? Then you go ahead and be that way. And keep being that way.
 

nomotog

Explorer
D&D5 is inclusive, and it doesn't pat itself on the back about it. The more we treat these things as normal, the more normal they become. Just like chainmail bikinis. If we come to accept them, they become acceptable -- if we made a big deal about it, it becomes aberrant and stands out for reasons other than the strength of its work.

It does look interesting. I've never heard of it, until now.

Ya they did. They they even blew up a glove and tied it to the end of a stick. I know because after I read it, I got to read a bunch of people basically saying what you are. I honestly didn't mind the backpating. I mean, how are you going to know if they don't mention it.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
One man's "backpatting" is another man's "raising awareness". It's easy enough to ignore and move on if you feel you've heard it before. Yes, the world should be like that. It isn't, though.
 

Zaran

Adventurer
I really enjoy 5e, but can you do me a favor an look at the amount of _game mechanics_ covering "social, political, and romantic relationship"? Just contrast a page count vs. something like combat.

You absolutely can run those in any RPG. But that doesn't mean that all other game systems mechanically cover those concepts as well. I'll run and play in different systems that support the feel and theme I'm looking for in a campaign, why should this be any different?

With Gamergate, maybe something explicitly inclusive is a good thing.

P 121. Inspiration. Basically, if your GM thinks you roleplayed your character well you get an Inspiration. You can use that Inspiration to reward other players' roleplaying, or you use it yourself by gaining advantage to any d20 roll .

If I do say so myself, this single mechanic handles "social, poltical, and romantic relationships" just fine as it encourages role-play.
 

nomotog

Explorer
P 121. Inspiration. Basically, if your GM thinks you roleplayed your character well you get an Inspiration. You can use that Inspiration to reward other players' roleplaying, or you use it yourself by gaining advantage to any d20 roll .

If I do say so myself, this single mechanic handles "social, poltical, and romantic relationships" just fine as it encourages role-play.

Can you handle SPRR entirely through roleplay and if you do dose that make it better or worse then something handled thought game mechanics? It's one of those things I like to ponder about. I mean on one hand it's like the game is washing it's hands of the idea basically saying don't know don't care. On the other hand it means the game isn't going to get in your way.
 

Eirikrautha

First Post
You know, I'm trying to think of a way to marry romance/relationships and game mechanics and I just can't make those ideas fit together. It almost defeats the purpose of a roleplaying game to me. Hear me out...

When I think of game mechanics and romance, immediately I think of video games like Mass Effect or The Witcher. Because, unless you leave the mechanics so vague as to be almost useless, what you are doing is simplifying the process of relationships down to a numerical score, a mechanical process. Talk about trivializing love (and don't let the Anita Sarkeesians of the world hear that you've reduced a woman's love to something you roll dice for... their heads would explode)!

Relationships aren't mechanical... they are organic. If you accurately represent the organic nature, then any mechanical effect will be so negligible as to be irrelevant. If you create strong mechanics, then you reduce relationships to a hollow shell of what they are. Neither seem satisfactory.

I will admit that I don't even like the "diplomacy" style rolls in PF/D&D, because they illustrate the problem perfectly. If you reward the good roleplay with high bonuses, then why roll at all? If even good roleplay only gets you a small bonus and leaves you at the mercy of the dice, then why roleplay? I don't think starting a motorcycle, picking a lock, and convincing a friend to trust me are analogous operations.

This entire concept (strong mechanics of relationships) seems a step backwards to me. CRPGs are limited to these because of their nature; let's not drag our hobby down to artificial limits when it is not necessary...
 

nomotog

Explorer
You know, I'm trying to think of a way to marry romance/relationships and game mechanics and I just can't make those ideas fit together. It almost defeats the purpose of a roleplaying game to me. Hear me out...

When I think of game mechanics and romance, immediately I think of video games like Mass Effect or The Witcher. Because, unless you leave the mechanics so vague as to be almost useless, what you are doing is simplifying the process of relationships down to a numerical score, a mechanical process. Talk about trivializing love (and don't let the Anita Sarkeesians of the world hear that you've reduced a woman's love to something you roll dice for... their heads would explode)!

Relationships aren't mechanical... they are organic. If you accurately represent the organic nature, then any mechanical effect will be so negligible as to be irrelevant. If you create strong mechanics, then you reduce relationships to a hollow shell of what they are. Neither seem satisfactory.

I will admit that I don't even like the "diplomacy" style rolls in PF/D&D, because they illustrate the problem perfectly. If you reward the good roleplay with high bonuses, then why roll at all? If even good roleplay only gets you a small bonus and leaves you at the mercy of the dice, then why roleplay? I don't think starting a motorcycle, picking a lock, and convincing a friend to trust me are analogous operations.

This entire concept (strong mechanics of relationships) seems a step backwards to me. CRPGs are limited to these because of their nature; let's not drag our hobby down to artificial limits when it is not necessary...

Yes someone took the bate. :p I rather like talking about this stuff.

Well one of the big things is all the problems and everything else you mention also applies to combat, but RPGs have no problem with that. It's also not like we do combat right, we just kind of fudge it and it just kind of works. Love is organic, but so is combat. I mean simulating massively complex systems with crazy simple systems is 99% of RPGs

The Anita comment is a tad funny, because when you go looking for games that include relationships mechanics and such, you find them among the Anita Sarkeesians of the world. Feminist tumblers are where I find this stuff.

I like diplomacy style roles, but I think the our big difference in view is that I don't really see a big gulf between something like convincing someone and picking a lock. I see everything as mix of Roleplay and Rollplay. You roleplay for fun and then you roll because you want a chance to fail. The big difference between an RPG and something like pure RP is that the dice flub up your plans.
 

Ace

Adventurer
Does every book come with a cup of Starbucks "race together" coffee? :/

Seriously, as someone who's gamed with different races and lifestyles for decades, and appreciates the setting in question, this comes across as pandering weaksauce. Inclusiveness should be a given, not a sales point.

Nice.

I've games with all kinds myself and I tend to regard all good minded TTRPG gamers as part of my quasi tribe and race, creed, gender preference and such don't even come into consideration when to use one of Gary's (rip Gary, rest in play) favorite quotes " Alea iacta est" the die is cast

However neither diversity nor inclusiveness are especially relevant to the RPG hobby, its not even an a priori assumption that these are inherent good things when applied to the typical gaming group. RPG's are not struggle sessions or efforts at political correctness or diversity training but an opportunity for friends to hang out . At its roots this hobby a form of war gaming where you play the hero instead of a squad. Its pretty Right Wing power is truth in its roots and this hasn't really changed even with the introduction of more story focused games like Fate or even outright Indie story games. Its still mostly about the adventure, and power and conquest and glory.

As such if you want pseudo Europe with not a non White in sight or or something multi-cultural or about relationships or whatever go for it. Do what's right by you and your friends whoever they are, whatever it is and if you don't like what you see and somehow end up invited, say thanks but no and move on.

I see the sales reasoning Green Ronin uses as just well pander-tastic though it might appeal to the groups core market. I dunno. That said I own every book for Blue Rose in print form and delighted to see it return. Its a cool system, a neat world and well written I am big fan of the genre as well

Now alas for GR I won't be investing in this version as I don't use the AGE system but adding the amazing magic system to AGE is a huge plus to the players of that game as well so I wish GR much success and if a new True 20 adventure using the original system were to show up, heck my wallet would open pretty fast.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
I had sort of been expecting something like this because the game has gotten some discussion with its release anniversary coming up.

I have the True 20 edition of the game... I picked it up for the new True 20 rules back in the day, and I thought it was a nice implementation of some romance mechanics. I think the new edition will also have more than a few people picking it up for the AGE rules and to see what they've done with the mechanics.

There was a fair bit of controversy back at the game's release, and I expect we'll see a little of that once again, but it's likely to be far less.

This is the game that taught me the lesson that not every game has to be pitched at me to be perfectly fine. I wasn't that excited by the world of Blue Rose, but that was the point: it was targeted at people who were looking for something different than I was. I sincerely hope that people continue to learn that lesson: not every game is targeted at every gamer, and that's okay. Gaming contains multitudes and all.

So I wish them luck ... I'm sure their core audience will be excited, and there will be more than a few people who buy it for the AGE system and are pleasantly surprised.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Blue said:
I really enjoy 5e, but can you do me a favor an look at the amount of _game mechanics_ covering "social, political, and romantic relationship"? Just contrast a page count vs. something like combat.

You absolutely can run those in any RPG. But that doesn't mean that all other game systems mechanically cover those concepts as well. I'll run and play in different systems that support the feel and theme I'm looking for in a campaign, why should this be any different?

With Gamergate, maybe something explicitly inclusive is a good thing.
P 121. Inspiration. Basically, if your GM thinks you roleplayed your character well you get an Inspiration. You can use that Inspiration to reward other players' roleplaying, or you use it yourself by gaining advantage to any d20 roll .

If I do say so myself, this single mechanic handles "social, poltical, and romantic relationships" just fine as it encourages role-play.

Do you feel that the inspiration rule provides the same level of details and mechanical support for as 5e does for combat? Because that was the point of what you quoted from me.

Do you feel that characters involved in a romantic political solution will find that they have the same level of mechanical support from the rules that they would if they were attempting to resolve this from a combat solution? Not "can a GM do this", but "does the rules provide the level of detail and support for this to be a major and recurring method of resolution".

Personally, I find the answer to be no. We could definitely run it, but a low/no-combat system that provides other focuses can have it's own niche.
 

Celebrim

Legend
When Blue Rose first came out (seemingly) ages ago, I was really excited about a game with a system that made role-play as crunchy and interesting as combat.

Blue Rose is the game that convinced me just how terribly counter-productive that idea was.

I don't really care one way or another what setting the pitch for their game. I buy a game system for its mechanics, which rarely last more than 15 minutes before I'm changing those. Things as soft and fluffy as a setting don't stand a chance.
 

Hitdice

First Post
Do you feel that the inspiration rule provides the same level of details and mechanical support for as 5e does for combat? Because that was the point of what you quoted from me.

Do you feel that characters involved in a romantic political solution will find that they have the same level of mechanical support from the rules that they would if they were attempting to resolve this from a combat solution? Not "can a GM do this", but "does the rules provide the level of detail and support for this to be a major and recurring method of resolution".

Personally, I find the answer to be no. We could definitely run it, but a low/no-combat system that provides other focuses can have it's own niche.

I don't feel like the inspiration rule does, but the social interactions rules are bit more robust. Compared to the combat rules, social interaction seems to lack only a hit point/this how you die!! mechanic.
 

Riley37

First Post
With Gamergate, maybe something explicitly inclusive is a good thing.

The Social Justice Warrior class is overpowered compared to the Pick Up Artist class, but it balances out... meanwhile, I hope that the reviews of Blue Rose are ethical game journalism...

Social interactions in classic 5E are either directly played out, which can have higher resolution than ANY rules mechanics can ever have; or they are played out as Ability Checks, generally either Charisma to influence others (+Deception, Persuasion, etc.) or Wisdom to accurately understand others (+Insight). Stat checks get a few pages on their own; not nearly as many pages as are dedicated purely to combat.

And then there's other material. Consider the feat list; how many of the feats are combat-specific, and how many are useful for social goals? Consider the spell list. What percentage of the spell list is combat (Magic Missile), what percentage is social (Friends)? How do you measure things which affect both? For example, Plant Growth can be used in combat, but it can also be used to *double food production across 500 acres of farmland*, which is a HUGE factor if you want to inspire a peasant revolt, or to encourage peasant loyalty to their overlord, or turn a city into an exporter of food, which could in turn strengthen (or topple) an alliance of city-states.

If 5E D&D were a pure combat game, it would not have a CHA stat.

Speaking of character creation, the 5E rules for PC gender are a HUGE step towards inclusivity.
 

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