By Christopher Helton
Tabletop roleplaying and hobby game publisher Green Ronin Publishing announced a new edition of their Blue Rose game. Blue Rose is a game that steps outside of the traditional Tolkien-esque high fantasy, or Howard-inspired Swords & Sorcery for a style of fantasy written by female authors such as Mercedes Lackey or Diane Duane instead.
The biggest reason is that a lot of the issues we tried to tackle in Blue Rose have come to the fore in the public debate, in society generally and in nerdom. Diversity and inclusivity are now common topics of conversation, which was not at all the case in 2005. The idea that gay marriage would be legal in so many states in ten years certainly would have been a surprise to me back then. With the progress that we've seen in our politics and our art, a roleplaying game that lets you defend an egalitarian society without fixed gender roles seems like just the thing for the current day.
Blue Rose was originally published in 2005 and erupted a firestorm within elements of the tabletop gaming community who were upset by the inclusive nature of the game (being female and LGBT friendly in setting and its approach to its audience) and the the use of fantasy influences outside of what they were reading. This was unfortunate for them because Blue Rose was a spectacular game that was ground-breaking in many ways. The first edition used a streamlined variant of the rules from the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons as its engine.
Ten years ago we published Blue Rose, the roleplaying game of Romantic Fantasy. The idea was pretty simple. While Dungeons & Dragons and many subsequent fantasy RPGs drew inspiration from authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Fritz Leiber, a different sort of fantasy fiction began to develop in the 80s—what we call Romantic Fantasy—and there wasn't a game built off its common themes and tropes. We thought there were a lot of fans who'd want an RPG inspired by writers like Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, and Jacqueline Carey. And we were right.
I am personally excited by this announcement. As someone who is not a huge fan of the more traditional styles of fantasy literature, I was happy to see a publisher who was tackling parts of the genre that we did not normally get to see in gaming. While the last 10 years have seen some designers and publishers looking outside of the boundaries of tradition (Monte Cook Games and their Numenera and The Strange RPGs are examples of genre risk-taking), we still do not see as many tries at this as many would like to see done.
This new edition will be powered by the AGE System, the generic version of the rules that Green Ronin created to power their licensed Dragon Age RPG. The Dragon Age RPG is based the world of the popular series of Dragon Age video games from BioWare.
There will be a Kickstarter campaign launching in April for the new game, followed by a general distribution release.
Christopher Helton is a blogger, podcaster and tabletop RPG publisher who talks about games and other forms of geekery at the long-running Dorkland! blog. He is also the co-publisher at the ENnie Award winning Battlefield Press, Inc. You can find him on Twitter at @dorkland and on G+ at https://plus.google.com/+ChristopherHelton/ where he will talk your ear off about gaming and comics.