I've been reading Venger Satanis' new RPG Alpha Blue over the last week, and I have to say, I really like it! It is a Sci-Fi game set in the future on a space station named Alpha Blue which is essentially one big party station; big on sex and prostitution as well as drink, drugs and crime. Sounds like a lot of fun right? The book is nicely produced and features some fantastic art work, some of which is a little naughty, so best to keep it away from any curious minors! I have not yet played it but I am inspired, so I hope to run it at the club soon. The following are my initial thoughts and impressions of Alpha Blue.
The book does a really good job of setting the scene which is sort of vintage sci-fi, completely gonzo with a whole lot of sex. The system is pretty simple to get your head round so I don't imagine the mechanics detracting from the story at all (it's a revised version of the Crimson Dragon Slayer system), if anything it gives players the opportunity to further develop their characters by expanding on their backgrounds (which in turn increases their dice pool). One thing I have not seen used before in terms of mechanics is the advantages of having sex, particularly kinky sex! In the game, sex (the kinkier the better) can boost your HP temporarily. So in other words, bang your way through the space station and you'll be able to take more of a beating than Rocky! This is going to be very interesting in play but I suspect will give a distinct advantage to the players most comfortable with their sexuality whereas the more reserved types may not be comfortable enough at first to really reap the benefits.
It's not just about sex though. There are several space age drugs in the game that have their effects described and you may find yourself using. Add to that the various entertainment venue's to while away an evening as well as the humanoid, robotic and alien characters wandering around and you have a lot to explore. Built into the game are ideas such as corporate espionage, crime syndicates, pirates, assassins, monsters, aliens, laser fights and death matches. There is much more to Alpha Blue then just a space brothel!
Character wise there are lots of interesting options. You can of course play a human, or an alien of some kind but you could also be a Zedi (attention Star Wars fans) or you could be Psionic which basically means cool psychic powers and even teleportation. You can also play a Noble which is aristocratic or be just plain Lucky! In addition to those you can roll to see if you have any mutations, some of which are awesome and would be great to have (some not so great to have), plus you roll to see what career you have. This looks like it will lead to some totally customised or random characters and should certainly keep things interesting. The mutations table is so much fun I'm going to have to try hard not to throw radiation at players constantly just to bring in more mutations!
There really is an abundance of awesome tables in the book so you can roll to choose a star sign (personality type), roll for prior sexual experiences, money, fetishes, what turns you on, your known associates, your clothing and much more. There is so much in here that if you are looking for a quick one-shot you may want to pick and choose what you use or just pre-gen all the players characters but if your group likes leaving it all up to chance but having really in depth characters then that is catered for. There are also lots of table's you can use throughout the game. Just burst into a room? Find out what kinky sex was going on by rolling dice. Investigating a weird asteroid? No worries, roll the dice and see what you find. It could potentially make things very easy on the 'Space Dungeon Master' (Alpha blue term) so long as you are comfortable rolling with the punches.
In addition to all the tables there is oodles of information on various factions and groups within the galaxy as well as all the places you might want to utilise inside Alpha Blue (which is basically a flying city). None of it feels overdone or repetitive, it just creates a very rich fabric so it is easy to let your imagination run away with you and come up with interesting plots and twists. But just in case it doesn't there are various scenario seeds suggested in the book to get you started.
There are a few things in the book however that I would personally not want to include in my game as they have too much potential to make people uncomfortable. As it is I think I should probably preface the game with a trigger warning or two and an over 18's only rule not to mention rules at the beginning as to what I am expecting of my players. Primarily that sexual partners must be consensual and over the age of consent - this of course means that I'll never include the contentious "Rape Machine", I find this too delicate a subject area to include in a game thats supposed to be enjoyable.
I am really excited to play this game. I love Sci-Fi as a genre and I really enjoy this gonzo silly fun style of play that lets me unleash my inner pun-loving cheesy-movie enthusiast with a flare for the dramatic and over the top action scenes. I can see anyone who like me has watched all the Stargates, Battlestar Galacticas, Star Treks, Fireflies and Star Wars (*stops listing as I'm getting carried away*) with enthusiasm will find lots of things they love about Alpha Blue. As long as it is played in the right way there is a lot of potential for some of the funniest, most epic roleplaying to come out! That said, if you are prudish about sex or offended by some of the nastier elements of the game to the point where you cannot ignore it, then this is probably not the game for you.
I will post again once I have played it to say how this works in practice and whether or not it lives up to my expectations. Hopefully you have enjoyed this review.