Sep 182016
 

Girls Gone Rogue (OSR)

177326

This massive expansion-book for the sleazy space opera RPG Alpha Blue clocks in at 80 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 72 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

All right, before we dive in: This is designated as Mature Content. It is the expansion book for a rules-light RPG that reproduces the aesthetics of scifi-porn-satires, so if you have a problem with sexuality, dick/vagina/boob-jokes and gender stereotyping for men and women, this may not be for you. While the males and females I played this with considered it hilarious, that must not necessarily hold true for you or your game. Artwork-wise, this book’s artwork contains full-frontal drawn nudity and also features artworks of orgies that involve tentacle-aliens that look like gricks – the artwork is significantly more explicit than in Alpha Blue – where Alpha Blue was softcore, this one’s artwork is hardcore.

And the artwork and content includes…vagina sandwhales. That says it all right there. This book is not for people who take themselves too seriously and can’t take a dirty joke. If your impulse to such behavior is “unbecoming” or “puerile”, this may not be for you.

 

All right, this out of the way, we begin with the author’s signature array of extensive tables to provide dressing and random features, beginning with general scifi-aesthetics, a total of 30 unique alien features…and then things become interesting: Relative experience in space with 6 entries actually has significant influence regarding mechanics, netting you unique benefits. 8 alternative careers are also included. Finally, there would be Zedi – yep, Jedi-parody. Their abilities are usually rolled with 2d6, but when a character only very rarely uses his powers, it’s 4d6, which is a nice idea. However, the respective powers are severely lacking in precision. Stopping an energy weapon in mid air is cool…but can it affect ship weapons? What range does it have? What does “Boosts a zedi’s luck in games of chance.” actually do? No idea. This is basically not functional and requires copious amounts of GM-fiat. And no, just because it’s supposed to be rules-light, this does not get a pass for this one. Not good. Also problematic: The dark templar’s death curse, while a cool idea, nets a target only a 2 in 6 chance of survival, which pretty much begs to be abused, but can at least not be spammed or the like.

 

A total of 30 archetypes (basically tropes sans mechanical repercussions) can help customize the character and the book contains a hilarious “And now for something completely different Monty Python”-event table. A table to determine what happens to PCs between games is neat and we also get a table for sexual vibes and a massive 5 column, 20 row weird sexual fantasies and fetish creator: You could end up with ” Pineapple, pom-poms, ferns, mazes and severed toes” – yeah, not kidding about weirdness. Reactions of females to unsolicited advances, random clothing articles, hair and body, physical beauty, profession and names, 100 peculiarities of women (and 20 of men – hey, we’re simple critters!) an random “O”-face-generator, a random table to determine orgasms, Stockholm Syndrome, random pawn shop items, and a hangover “What the fuck did I do last night?” table add a lot of weirdness to the game.

 

Sample Alpha Blue NPCs, Noir-ish sample characters, small talk topics, using Spaghetti Western Tropes in space (*cough* Firefly */cough*), blaster duel rules, technology glitches, planet generators, ship to ship combat (that actually runs smooth and is pretty deadly) and additional fuel sources are included.

 

Okay, but this also contains adventures – or rather, adventure-set-ups. Basically, the pdf walks you through the process pretty well, but do not expect read-aloud texts galore, cartography of the locations and the like – however, even more of the copious tables are included in the book’s modules.

 

Note: The following takes a look at the module section, so potential players should jump to the conclusion to avoid SPOILERS.

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All right, still here?

 

The first module is basically a parody of a combination of Blade Runner and a twist on the exploitation classic; hence the module is all about Ilsa of the SS – basically a Slut Series sex-replicant that has lived too long and developed sentience. By means of contracting a bio-engineered STD, the PCs are press-ganged into hunting her down, but not all is as it seems. And yes, the hunt for her will lead the PCs to a planet that contains aforementioned vagina-whale sandworms as well as washed up legend Bubba Fatt. Oh, and killer sex-bot moves.

 

The second module treats the PCs after the Ilsa-incident as basically loose ends and involves the PCs in a political set-up between a power-struggle in another planet’s monarchy/an escort mission with a princess in disguise. Can you picture how that’ll go. Yep. Similarly, winning the lottery may see a whole galaxy snuffed out. There is also the plot of amazonian slavers, a sex-enhancing drug…and then there would be the titanic colony ship, captained by Black Helmet, aka Moranis…or the space-sheikh’s harem…or the escape from the penal planet destructo…and have I mentioned the outline that is an homage of the genius Life of Brian? Saving a space-cheerleader from a slaver is also a pretty nice one.

 

The book concludes with excellent maps – the Barstar D and no less than three ships (one with strange tentacle-studded organic components, all in full-color and spanning two maps, provided testament of cartographer Glynn Seal’s talent.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-level, the book oscillates between great and some instances where it is lacking. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks throughout are glorious. The pdf contains the glyph-font that you can translate to lewd sentences. The cartography is stellar and the pdf is fully bookmarked. I do not have the print version, so I can’t comment on that aspect.

 

One of the issues I had with Alpha Blue as a base book was that it didn’t go the whole way – to use an appropriate terminology, it got stuck in the heavy-petting phase. This one goes all out – so kudos for that! For the most part, this book contains an excellent array of awesomeness regarding the supplemental material for Alpha Blue, but there are some serious hiccups in here as well: The non-functional Zedi are disappointing and regarding the “modules”…I don’t know. Less would have been more here. Don’t get me wrong, the two long “modules” here are pretty cool, fun and evocative.

 

The other encounters/module-set-ups, in contrast, feel like afterthoughts and usually have this one cool idea, but don’t do too much with it. It may be just me, but I really would have preferred a more precise take on the big modules, more fodder, more details, maps or the like over these sketches. Why am I using quotation marks for “modules” here? Well…apart from the longer two, the others are basically what you’d read in an adventure-synopsis. They need you to fill in all the details and while I don’t mind too much, I still feel that their respective cool concepts could have been boiled down to a paragraph and replaced with more detailed material for the big ones – which are similarly a bit sketchy. This, as a whole, is pretty weird, for Venger As’Nas Satanis has shown that he can write more precise modules. On the plus-side, what is here tends to put a smile on your face and inspire, even if it does require some work on the Space DM’s side.

 

In the end, this is a good expansion, but one that falls a bit short of what it could have been. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

 

You can get this neat expansion for Alpha Blue here on OBS!

 

Liked the modules? There currently is a kickstarter to fund a module for Alpha Blue, one for Crimson Dragon Slayer and one for the Outer Presence here!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Comments

  2 Responses to “Girls Gone Rogue (OSR)”

  1. Thanks for the review, hoss! I really appreciate it.

    Many gamers share your perspective on a great many things, and I am no different. However, I see a divergence of RPG preference between us. In fact, our differences become clearer to me every day.

    Ideally, the GM is like a good King. His powers are granted to him by outer forces, God, if you will. His authority is absolute. However, a good King should always be open to suggestion and occasionally willing to take direction from his players. Players who have the option to revolt and kill the King, if need be.

    Rules light isn’t just a way to save time or memorize / look things up less. It’s a philosophy that opens up every aspect of the game to interpretation – on purpose. The GM orchestrates the entire world (or universe), so the less restrictions rules put upon him at the outset, the better.

    Obviously, not everyone will agree. They like a rule for everything and prefer that everything have a rule. Personally, I wouldn’t touch an RPG like Pathfinder with YOUR ten-foot pole. It’s the opposite of how I like my gaming, but many love it. So… to each his own.

    • Hej Venger!

      Thanks for commenting!

      I don’t think our disagreement here pertains playstyles or preference. I think you confuse playstyle with rules-precision here.

      I really like rules-heavy games. Yep. Guilty as charged.

      However, you imply that this makes it impossible for me to like your type of game, or rules-light games in general, which is patently false.
      See, I agree with a lot you say for certain games and I generally actually *LIKE* this playstyle. Not all the time, but I I don’t like rules-heavy all the time either. I enjoy playing OSR-systems, Diceless, GUMSHOE and many more indies that feature next to no rules. And yes, I actually enjoy playing your games. Quite a lot. It’s why they’re rated this high.

      Your agruement is that a GM’s interpretation should be the final arbiter; I agree. GMs should have the power. Where I absolutely disagree with is your conclusion.

      In my experience, rules-light games sans at least some general framework, in the *long* run, will impose some serious work on the GM as well – without at least general frames of reference like a “can see it”, “regular sized blaster shots”, sample ideas of what spells can do, etc. it’s easy to forget that a certain ability worked once in way a) in session 2 and now, 17 sessions later, is interpreted by the GM in a different way b). E.g. once 2d6, once 3d6, though situations are the same.

      Sure, one can justify these interpretations with circumstances, etc. – but they detract from the holistic sense of setting-cohesion and makes a GM’s job harder; if players remember a discrepancy, they may feel jilted and bs’d at worst, notice it as a glitch at best and that makes the GM’s job harder and the players less happy. Having at least a little frame of reference, at least some scale for the powers/spells, actually helps the GMs, particularly novice GMs who are not yet accustomed to the power of world-building. When that’s not here and everything is just “here’s an idea, determine yourself how strong it is supposed to be for you”, it’s not really game-design any more; it puts that responsibility on the GM’s shoulders…and the GM already has to do that for basically EVERYTHING. It is my contention that, no matter how rules-light or rules-heavy a game is, it is supposed to provide as much guidance as needed to just play. Sit down, know the rules, play. Not sit down, make a bunch of clarifications for rules before play OR stumble over a non-rule, determine on the fly how/whether it works in that situation and then live with the decision made spontaneously and under duress.

      Perhaps my players just have good memory; perhaps you’re only aiming for short campaigns…but what if someone wants to play a long campaign in your system?

      I *get* your arguement. I just don’t get why you insinuate that I don’t get your type of game and make it a matter of systems when you obviously have written more precise rules-light pieces of crunch that provide enough guidance and don’t leave this factor open. I think I may have struck a nerve with my harsh criticism of the Zedi class option. I stand by it. It is, from a game-design point of view non-functional as written. The ideas are cool, but I can’t rate them alone.

      Compared to other rules-light class options by your pen or those of others, the option falls flat to me. Take Diceless: It is all about interpretation; you can teach it in 5 minutes; it’s rules-light and yet its crunch, its rules-text, is VERY crisp and provides very clear guidelines for GMs and that helps keeping tabs of the vast powers of the PCs there.

      Anyways, thanks for the elaboration of your points, though I do hope you’ll think about my points.
      Cheers and all the best, I’m back on my way to the wilderness!

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