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Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Classic Rant: There IS More Than One Way to Play Blue Rose!

I Was Wrong! There IS More Than One Way to Play Blue Rose.

So yesterday I posted a classic rant about Blue Rose, and this led to a few comments. I wasn't honestly expecting anything to come of it, only sometimes it seems people post  more comments when a blog is reposted than they did back in the original article.  Maybe I'm ahead of my time. Or people have had more time to think of their opinions.

Anyways, someone commented to me that if I'm arguing Aldis (the Blue Rose setting) is a totalitarian state and the new edition of Blue Rose unashamedly presents the default gameplay of the PCs not as individualist adventure-seekers but as agents of that totalitarian state enforcing conformity, then surely I had to have the same condemnation for the Dark Heresy book for WH40K, where you play brutal agents of a totalitarian state repressing any non-conformity. Right?

Well, I certainly have no special love for Dark Heresy.  As a specific game, DH RPG is badly done. It reduces the WH40K world into a micro-game.

As to the WH40K world as a whole, the setting in its modern incarnation is ridiculously stupid, infantile, and the sort of thing that is appealing to violence-obsessed adolescents (most adolescent boys like big guns and explosions and killing, it's the hormones), and emotionally-stunted man-children.

That said, I don't really think Games Workshop is pushing an ideology they actually believe in through their setting. The authors of BR definitely are.  The authors of Dark Heresy are not, to my knowledge, people who hang around on Fascist websites and call for the deaths of the unbelievers. The authors of Blue Rose are people who self-identify as radical progressives, "activists", members of "the resistance" and who organized a campaign to try to force/shame/intimidate gamers and game designers into signing an "#Gamers4Her" pledge to vote Hillary.  They want a world like Aldis.

One more thought, however, about WH40K: it wasn't always like this. The early era, the original Rogue Trader, it was funny. It was obviously written highly tongue-in-cheek. It presented a ridiculous sort of universe, a dystopia of black comedy. 

And this made me realize I was wrong about one of my most frequent talking points about Blue Rose.

You see, I'd already stated that I thought the only way to viably run Blue Rose would be as a counter-setting game, where the PCs are heroic individualists fighting against the oppressive thought-control regime.  That Blue Rose fails even as a progressivist romantic-fantasy genre setting, because it is too perfect, too propagandistic beyond the wildest dreams of Soviet state artists, so that the standard romantic fantasy trope of "plucky young heroine fights against prejudice, injustice and/or oppression with a rag-tag group of social rejects and save the kingdom while changing people's opinions" is impossible to achieve. The only "plucky young heroes" that could face culturally-approved "prejudice, injustice and/or oppression" in the world of Blue Rose would be a teenage version of Ayn Rand or Milo Yiannopoulos.   The only heroic campaign (rather than agents of oppression) that could be played in Blue Rose would be the Heralds of Breitbart campaign.

But now I realize I was wrong.  There IS another way to do Blue Rose, as inspired by early WH40K: parody.  You could play a Blue Rose Campaign, as the designers suggest, with the PCs playing "agents of the queen's chosen guard", where the PCs are insufferably deluded "Social Justice Warriors" who just don't get how horribly dystopic their world is, or that they're actually fascists.

They run around persecuting micro-aggressions, and ultimately trying to out-virtue-signal each other by reporting on their fellow PCs.

It would be like a new fantasy version of Paranoia. Totalitarian black-comedy zaniness in the name of the Magic Deer.


Currently Smoking: Moretti Rhodesian + C&D's Pirate Kake

(Originally posted July 18, 2017)

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