Kobayashi Maroon (OSR)
The first part of what once was supposedly the last Alpha Blue supplement, released on its own as this file, clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page kort’thalis glyph, 1 page blank, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
As always, the following disclaimer applies. Alpha Blue is a gleeful parody of 70’s/80’s scifi porn spoofs, and doesn’t take itself seriously; there is puerile humor, drawn nudity and the like herein. If you are offended by naked bodies or the like, then steer clear. This supplement makes use of Alpha Blue’s iteration of Venger’s rules-lite VSd6-dice pool system, which is based on d6s, so mechanically, there isn’t that much depth (unless you combine all the disparate optional rules spread throughout Alpha Blue’s catalogue), but since the main-draw here would be concepts anyhow, I don’t see why you couldn’t create stats of the like for systems like “Stars Without Number”, should you choose to do so. If beer-and-pretzels gaming is what you’re looking for, then stick to Alpha Blue, obviously. I assume familiarity with Alpha Blue in my review, so if you have no clue about the setting, I’d invite you to read my reviews of its supplements. I’ve covered all of them released up to this one, and if you read this in a couple of months/weeks after release, probably all of the,
The supplement does start with a couple of pieces of advice for roleplaying in Alpha Blue, easing them into the more explicit themes.
All right, that out of the way, let’s dive in! The following discussion contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only BDSMs (Bold Dungeon Space Masters) around? Great! The PCs start aboard the vessel “Get Woke Go Broke”, when they witness a distress signal by the space-luxury line “The Vanessa”, which is breaking apart due to proximity to a pink hole. The first set-piece lists a bullet-point suggestion of what may entail when the PCs do enter the rare space phenomenon. Some suggestions for strategies to save the folks will help – but in the aftermath, the PCs will witness a Great Old one oozing from the hole, asking them its favorite color – further exacerbating the situation, and potentially killing PCs for answering incorrectly. And yes, as the title suggests, this was a simulation – and the PCs get to roll on random tables if they shat their pants. But why? There are 6 random reasons for having subjected yourself to it. All of this fits on two pages, and as you make have noted, this is pretty much an adventure outline.
The second chapter, episode #2, starts as a solo-adventure, but may be quickly expanded to cater to a whole crew of PCs. This episode takes place during Pr0n Fa’ar – the Vulcan parody should be readily apparent for everyone. The module begins with read-aloud text that references a Hendrix song, as well as a wife wanting to take the space cardboard with you. I…could relate there. Minus space, obviously. XD As the PC returns, he finds himself cuckolded by an alien, and, to make things worse, the no-longer-BAE lady has actually been an agent in disguise all these years. Both the alien and the unfaithful wife are btw. fully stated, in case the first reaction of the PC has something to do with an itchy trigger-finger…or otherwise existent pseudopod. Going through Agent Spectra (true name of the wife)’s phone will yield a reference to a space station, where the agent is not there – his vorpal whoopee-cushion, though, is. (Including a d8 appendage severing table.) Random (and kinda funny): If the agent-contact is killed (stats provided), the PCs will be teleported by his failsafe device into the middle of a Mexican standoff between S’pock, two martians from Sesame Street (I meant, the Seza’ame System…), Fade Hardkockian, Clint Eastwood…and a Tron Girl, for a fat battle royale – for the price of the last female of an all but extinct species, including sexual encounter aftermath random table. Funnier than the first one (objective though that may be), I enjoyed this quick series of encounters more than the first scenario; it’s more of an adventure, and less of an outline.
Episode 3 is the longest of the 3 short modules and begins with a read-aloud message for zith lord try-outs, with a fortune and the right of the first night in the whole system. Thus, they are sent to a big VIP-laden party, which is supplemented by 8 sample, suspicious NPCs. This section also has notes on “safe language”, which translates to being penalized for blowing stuff out of proportions. Space muslims attack the party, and when a bonafide zith lord enters, things can become more dangerous…though the contest for the title may also be resolved via a vagina eating contest, which is resolved in a quick and dirty (haha) mini-game with the usual dice pool mechanics.
The pdf also has a rule for sneak attacks, a d100 table of “WTF are NPCs doing right now” (and a d6 table to determine how they take the interruption)…and, apart from the backstab rules, also a pretty interesting optional rule – for blue balls (or ovaries, I guess): Not having sex in Alpha Blue, with this system, will brutally penalize you, the less often you get off. 7 steps, from bonuses to brutal penalties, are provided, and the pdf comes with a Blue Ball tracker (also included as separate pdfs in color and mono). This brings me to one point: Right now, the best rules of Alpha Blue are spread out over x supplements. At one point, a second edition that collects a new array of core rules may be a smart move. Just sayin’, since this is a nice method to gamify and reward roleplaying in convention with the system’s lewd themes. It should also be noted that an 8-name table (with a column for male, female and non-binary entities) is provided, and we do get stats for none other than Venger Satanis himself, who btw. *does* come with full stats. He’s brutal.
As you could glean here and there, there are a few politically charged terms used herein, which may or may not annoy you. It is not my place as a reviewer of RPG products to comment on the lampooning of these terms in a product for a game that focuses on parody.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level; Venger’s (pardon, Zoltan’s) rules-fu precision has increased. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes with several nice full-color artworks, which of course feature nudity. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Venger’s (Pardon, I mean: Zoltar Khan Delgado’s) Kobayashi Maroon collection alternates in its usability somewhat. The great premise of the eponymous scenario, episode #1, is somewhat marred by being little more than a sketch; while the second episode does feel a bit random, it is also wild – the scene on the cover? That actually happens in the adventure! The third scenario is a bit more straight-forward. While they all have wild vignettes, they ultimately feel like brief sidetreks – which they are. The presence of proper stats for all involved is a plus, though, and the optional rules herein rank among the best in the whole series. Frankly, the blue-ball tracker mechanic is smart, and having a visual representation helps. Backstab rules are overdue as well – these rules should become core, should there ever be a second edition of Alpha Blue.
So yeah, within the confines of the rules-lite VSd6-system, the rules were my favorites here; simple, cleanly presented, easy to grasp, fun. This may actually be the first Alpha Blue supplement where I genuinely liked the rules presented and what they bring to the Alpha Blue table more than the modules/adventure outlines did. If you’re no fan of Alpha Blue, this will not change your mind. If you like what you’ve seen so far, this provides more of the same, with some cool vignettes, but ultimately, the variant rules will be the biggest drawing point…with the probably and notable exception of the scene on the cover. Which is pure, glorious madness.
That being said, while Venger, äh, Zoltar, has definitely improved the structure of his writing, I couldn’t help but wish that one of these scenarios had instead been extended to proper module length. As written, Alpha Blue has a metric ton of sketch-like vignettes, but not that much in the vein of longer modules – at least not without the GM extrapolating from Venger/Zoltar’s outlines. All in all, I found this to be an enjoyable addition to Alpha Blue’s canon, though the influx of politically-charged terms may irk some folks. It’s not the best supplement in the product line, but for the low price point, it represents a fair offering. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.
You can get this bonkers supplement here on OBS!