Blue Planet V2.0 [Player's Guide and Moderator's Handbook]
Okay, I have decided to review Blue Planet today because of two reasons: a. I like Blue Planet's premise. b. The Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook, Third Edition has been reviewed to death. And, I own a copy of both games. Oh, by the way, I won't be reviewing the other two D&D 3E books as they will be beaten to death by Reviewers on this site.
This review is aimed towards those who are curious about Blue Planet the roleplaying game. I will provide my perspective on it's world, it's system, and what's good about it.
So, What Is Blue Planet . . .You ask? It is a game that has been specifically designed for one activity in our hobby, roleplaying. It is a game where you roleplay characters in real life situations in an alien environment. It has also been designed for the Mature roleplayer.
Now let the record state that I don't know what that means at this time, as I find out that our hobby attracts creative, intelligent people. It doesn't include the Power Gamer, but does it include somebody who roleplays for the theatric, artistic experience? Like me. Or does it include those who are looking towards the hobby as a means for escape? After all, in this game, you roleplay characters who are facing real world situations.
Without experiencing the original Blue Planet's game system, I will have to say that V2.0's gaming system is streamlined. This is compared to other gaming systems like the Palladium Game System, and sadly, Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying System/Spacemaster Roleplaying (my favorite system still). The Synergy game system is streamlined to be easier to understand compared to more complex systems.
It is also a game system where a punch, a nick, and a sword thrust can be lethal. It is very streamlined in this regard, it's the severity and not the location of the wound that counts in lethality. So, instead of playing Heroes of Legend and Romance in a game of Cinematic proportions, you are playing in game where avoiding combat is a vital part of the game.
Skill resolution is superficially handled like that in D&D 3rd Edition or Legend of the Five Rings. You make tests, and that is based on a desired result.
Character creation is handled with more detail than in other games, so you get to really know your character and his/her personality. You build his background through various packages, which includes origin, education, and profession of your character. As examples, archetypes are also presented: from the Dolphin Engineer to the Native Eco-Terrorist, to the Transhuman Crime Boss. Thus, this provides you with more opportunities to really play your character.
Besides that, you can load your character with modifications from the artificial
Besides that, the species you can play are from a normal human, to a modified one, to a genetic redesign, to a genlifted dolphin or killer whale. Since the former would be hard to play, I would not recommend playing a dolphin or killer whale, but the possibility is there.
Blue Planet's world system is greatly detailed. Information from Archipelago has been included in the Moderator's Handbook. All the information you need to play a game set in Blue Planet, and much much more, is in that book.
but there is more. If you are an opponent of Environmentalism, then this game maybe disturbing to you. In the future, Mankind has unlocked the secrets of Biotechnology, genetic engineering. Unfortunately, mankind misuses these tools: not for management and control of Nature, but for miscalculated destruction.
Mankind releases a Frankenstein into the environment to combat a plant fungus. But the monster was mis-genetically designed. It attacked the fungus, but it also attacked plants, killing them. Thus came the blight.
In an effort to save themselves, all the governments in the world gave their political powers to a UN organization that is, infact, environmentalist in nature. This is GEO, an organization that is commited to rebuilding the ecology of the planet Earth.
Why people would give up their freedom to the GEO, is something I would never know. Is our Progeny of the Future doomed to become cave men again in an attempt to prevent distruction of the Environment? Apparently not.
Sometime before the Blight was released, a new world was discovered, via a worm hole. Located in the Lambda Serpentis System, Lambda Serpentis II, christened Posiedon, is a world that is covered by water: except for a few small islands and archipelagoes. Earth sent a colony of Genetic Modified and Redesigned humans (Genies) to Posiedon. During the outbreak of the Blight, communication with the colony had been lost.
This colony and survived and thrived through the Blight Years, populating the planet in a regressed cultural state. So, when Earth got back on it's feet and sent another colony, they were suprised that the original colony had survived. Now humankind is being populated by a post industrial culture of colonists and industrialists.
There is more than what I can name, but everything in the book provides an excellent background to game in. Some industrialists have turned their companies into Corporate City States and their relentless search for resources has put them at odds with GEO, which protects the Environment.
If that isn't enough, the Natives aren't too pleased with the newcomers from Earth. They are a little bitter about them coming in and taking Posiedon's resources and the government that came with them. Some natives are fighting against the Incorporate States for stripping their home of certain resources, like Long John, a zeno-substance that greatly enhances human biotechnology and gene therapy.
And finally, the Natives are also resentful against GEO. And then there are the aborigines. The aborigines form the mysterious element of the game. Everyone from National Geographic to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service wants to know about them. Who are they? What are their motives? What do they want? Why are they here? The Aborigines, it seems, are against these strange new visitors to their planet. Or are they? You decide.
OVERALLWith a new streamlined system, a great background, and loads of adventure ideas, Blue Planet is a very good game produced for the gamer who wants to roleplay for the experience, and not to escape in the role of being a hero of legend and romance. I highly recommend the game, especially if you: a. can get past the Eco-politics. b. Want to play in a Science Fiction world that has a lot of detail. c. Feel that you want to play a game that challenges your actual ability (or skill) in roleplaying.
I give this game a 5 for Substance, and a 4 in style. After all, the Art might not have been the quality of art in the D&D 3E's Player's Handbook, but at least it was evocative enough. For future editions of this game, I would like to see more color, though.Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)