Baby, it's cold outside. Before we hare off to go Lazer-tagging, +Michelle Lyons-McFarland and I are making Blue Rose characters. Her son Al is tagging along.
The Game: Blue Rose
The Publisher: Green Ronin
Degree of Familiarity: None. I think I may have played it once at a con, but I honestly don't remember.
Books Required: Just the one, though I have a Companion book that I may open, too.
Blue Rose bills itself as "romantic fantasy," taking inspiration from Duane, Lackey, Pierce, and other fantasy authors I've not read (seriously, though, you could put the fantasy fiction I've read in a matchbook and still have room to do jumping jacks). But the book states that while high-fantasy tends to focus on loners and single heroes, romantic fantasy focuses more on groups and community. That right there is appealing to me. This game is also True20, so while it's not as good as some systems, it's a sight better than others.
First we get explanation of how the game works, and then a history complete with gods and creation and so forth. After you've read a couple of these, you start to know the lyrics. Exarchs, Primordials, and Shadow Wars. But lo! Some interesting stuff.
The land of Aldis (the country in which a young girl has just ascended to the throne, being chosen by a magic stag) has intelligent magical animals called Rhydan, also sea-folk and vata (which are kind of like elves). I wonder if these are playable? Ooh, they are!
The World of Aldis chapter is actually pretty readable, which considering the people writing the book (some of whom have actually worked on books I've developed - oh, and vice versa, since John Snead developed Intruders). I don't have time to read it all right now.
Well, skipping ahead to character creation, we're told to start with abilities (the standard d20 spread, only like Mutants and Masterminds we only concern ourselves with bonuses, not scores). But we also need to consider Background (which includes race). Al is going to play a sea-folk. Michelle is going to play a human (islander). Well, heck, I'll be a frickin' dolphin, then.
No, really. One of the types of Rhydan you can play is a dolphin. Eek-eek!
I'll take a -1 in Strength, but I'll put +1 into Dexterity and Constitution, +1 into Intelligence and Wisdom, and +0 in Charisma. I may rejigger that if I need to. I only get 4 points, not 6 like humans, but I get a bunch of other things to make up. To wit: I get low-light vision, Psychic Talent, and I have a bunch limitations related to the fact that I haven't got hands or human speech. I get +3 Dexterity and +1 Constitution, +8 to Swim, +4 to Notice, and I have Dance as a favored Skill. OK, then.
Moving on, I pick a Role. Animist appeals, but my mental abilities are kind of weak. I think I'll go with Expert. I note my saves and bonuses and numbers of skills I get, and move along.
Now, before I go doing Skills, I need to do alignment. Far from the annoying "Lawful Good" shit that classic D&D does, Blue Rose has Light and Shadow natures (not too far off from the Virtue and Vice of later WoD games, really) and a Twilight for the characters that shift between them. Calling, your character's overarching, long-term goal, is based on a Major Arcana, and the Natures are based on the minors. I pick Star as my Calling (artistic mastery - not sure how that works for a dolphin, but I'll figure it out). We all choose to be Light-aligned. For the Natures, we grab a Tarot deck and draw for some Minor Arcana. I draw the Knight of Swords for Light, which makes me Bold, and the Seven of Rods, which makes me Reckless. Well, that dovetails nicely, don't it?
Now Skills. As an Expert, I get 12 freaking Favored Skills, and 7 Known skills. I won't bother taking Swim as a Known Skill because I get a freaking +8 anyway, but I will take Notice (which gives me +9; I am one perceptive dolphin). I'll take Survival and Perform (Dance) as Known Skills, but I'll skip Craft because it's hard to imagine what I'd be crafting that wouldn't fall foul of the -20 that I'd take. I'll take Acrobatics and Jump for all that leaping out of the water stuff I'll need to do, Concentration since I'm sure it'll help, and Knowledge (Sea Lore). And that's my Skills.
Now Feats, I suppose. I have Psychic Talent for free, but here's a thing. I get Armor Training from my role, but because I'm a freaking dolphin, I don't get armor. Do I consider Psychic Talent to have replaced that? Or do I have dolphin armor? Hrm. I guess I'll just take Feat and not worry about it. I get 3 more, in any case. I'll take Canny Defense (I add to my dodge when I'm not wearing armor, and since I can't wear armor that makes sense), Fascinate (I dance, you stare. Flippers don't lie), and Improved Initiative (I'm bold!).
I don't get points to put into my Arcana, because I'm not an Adept, so I think that's me done. Apart from a name, anyway. I'll call my dolphin Aminipha.
So, our little trio, here: Gaian, the sea-folk warrior; Ceta, the islander shaper; and me, the dolphin dancer, we live in the southern isles, grew up together, and go on adventures! Our Light/Shadow Natures actually work pretty nicely together.