Hot on the heels of their “What’s in a book?” article on Fading Suns yesterday, Redbrick has released new information on another game that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time now: Blue Planet, the sci-fi game set in a planet composed of mostly water. With uplifted Orcas, corporate espionage and Xenosilicates that bestow remarkable longevity to those who can afford it, what’s not to love?
What’s in a book? As we approach Gen Con Indy 2012, this is the second preview of some of the game products that RedBrick will be releasing at the convention.
This article summarizes the major changes from Blue Planet Second Edition (BPv2) that you will find in the Blue Planet Player’s Guide (Revised Edition). A copy of the book’s comprehensive Table of Contents is attached to this post as a PDF to give you an idea of what’s in the Player’s Guide (and for comparison with earlier editions).
So what’s different in the revised edition of Blue Planet? The first thing to tell you is what’s not different. There are no changes to background, history, organizations, important people or anything directly related to the setting. However, you get more from the Player’s Guide. The Revised Player’s Guide combines material from the BPv2 Player’s Guide (PG) rulebook and Fluid Mechanics (FM) sourcebook. Virtually everything from those books has been retained, revised, and expanded upon.
The first big changes you’ll see are when you get to the character generation chapter. We moved the character profile to the beginning, so you can look over options and get a character concept in mind before any of the actual generation begins.
Once you get to the actual number crunching, you’ll see it’s been slimmed down quite a bit. The eight primary attributes were condensed into 4 attributes; Physique, Coordination, Cognition and Psyche. This may seem drastic, but you’ll see in play that they work well. Less numbers to keep track of means easier decisions when attribute checks are needed, and quicker play.
The derived attributes remain the same, except for Strength — Physique replaces Strength in attribute checks. So the current derived attributes are Endurance, Reflexes and Toughness. These three are unchanged from BPv2. Senses were removed completely. Playtesting showed that skills, Cognition, and Psyche covered situations where senses were used.
When you do create your character, you decide on attributes. The random attribute generation system was removed and the point buy system was retained as the standard attribute generation method. The BPv2 Power Levels of Everyday, Exceptional, and Elite were expanded. BPR has four Power Levels. The Average power levels are Everyday and Professional; the Exceptional power levels are Remarkable and Elite. This spaces out the power levels and gives you more options (as a player and GM) for creating characters. The power levels have been given specific examples so you can choose which power level your character fits into –- of course, ask your GM first!
Character species were not modified, although the attribute changes required us to tweak things. The species descriptions are the same, although we rewrote the bonus summaries for clarity. Pure humans and modified humans (modis) share the same base species, since both are unmodified at birth. The difference is that modi characters can have biomods later in life. Physical activities such as climbing, jumping, and throwing were homogenized a bit for simplicity.
Skills and Aptitude groups were condensed to speed both character generation and game play. Some skills, while realistic, were never used in a player character group, so they were folded into others. No skill was simply eliminated –- all of them ended up somewhere. BPv2 had 19 Aptitude groups with a total of 89 skills. BPR condenses those to 14 Aptitude groups with a total of 67 skills. Because there are fewer Aptitude groups, Aptitudes themselves were scaled back to compensate. The way Aptitudes work was not changed, however.
Training Packages were retained, but changed quite a bit. Origin and Background packages were condensed into just Background packages. Instead of picking one Origin and two Backgrounds, a player chooses three Background packages for his character. All Background and Professional packages were point-balanced to deliver approximately the same number of skill points. So a Novice Administration package and Novice Law Enforcement package grant different skills, but about the same number of skill points worth of skills. A cap of 8 was put on maximum skill level at character generation, to avoid min-maxing abuses.
Most of the base mechanics of the BPv2 Synergy system were not changed. Those that were changed were gleaned from online posts and fan feedback. More examples were added to clarify the mechanics.
Action Value was changed to a “roll high, but under” mechanic to simplify calculation. A successful (positive) AV is equal to the highest successful number rolled on a task roll. For example, if the Target Number is 7, and a 3 and 5 are rolled, the Action Value would be 5. The Action Value of a failed task roll is calculated the same as in BPv2 — the difference between the best roll and the Target Number.
An Extended Task resolution system was introduced, for long term projects such as research, repairing vehicles, or creating a new genie type. The Extended Task system sets a Target Number to be reached via multiple rolls, with a time interval for each roll. A successful roll adds the Action Value to the total, while a failed roll adds the negative Action Value (subtracts from the total). In this way, a failure can set someone back without messing up the whole effort. If the failure takes the total below zero though, then the whole task is shot and must be restarted. If the total reaches the Target Number, then the task is a success.
Determining initiative is unchanged. What is new is an action-based system of initiative for greater detail. Instead of reducing the count by 3 for each action, the type of action determines how much the count is reduced. To support this, weapons were given a Recoil value (for firearms) or a Delay value (for unarmed or melee weapons). This way slower weapons and attacks are more accurately represented. Non-weapon actions also have a Delay value, with examples given. The original Initiative system was retained as an Optional Rule, for those who prefer the BPv2 system.
The remainder of combat is unchanged from BPv2. Modifiers to combat, close combat maneuvers, damage resolution and recovery from damage were kept unaltered. We expanded the section by adding an optional rule for permanent disability from critical wounding, and a section on Radiation to Special Damage. The end of the Synergy chapter is devoted to Vehicle Combat. All the vehicle combat rules from the BPv2 PG and FM books were ported to this chapter, reorganized, and clarified. This places all the rules for man and vehicle combat in one chapter, instead of being spread throughout the book. Vehicle stats were still given a separate chapter, however.
The content of the Hardware, Weapons, and Biotech chapters were not radically changed. The stat block entries for equipment were altered to conform to the style presented in BPv2 Fluid Mechanics. When items from FM expanded on items in the BPv2 PG, the descriptions were rewritten or added to -– cybernetic limbs are the main example here. A couple of new biomods were added as well.
Weapons have a Delay or Recoil value to support the new Initiative system. Some of the personal armor types, notably Polyflex, were altered for balance reasons. New equipment and weapons were added. These items were given backgrounds to tie them to the setting and further immerse the players in the world. The Vehicle chapter received a large overhaul to fix stat block inconsistencies from the BPv2 PG and FM. Vehicle stat blocks now properly show all of the equipment the vehicle should have and presents them in a unified form. Any other changes were made only to support the new attributes and skills.
The Future History and On the Frontier chapters were not altered. The timeline was expanded with scientific accomplishments from 1997 to 2010. This was done to update and link the new edition with current events. Entries for cloning, dark energy, dark matter, artificial bacteria, and more were added as precursors of future technology.
If you have any specific questions related to this release, please feel free to post them in the Blue Planet Product Discussion forum and we’ll answer them as best as we can!
The Blue Planet Player’s Guide (Revised Edition) will be released at Gen Con Indy 2012 and is available only from the RedBrick/FASA booth #1935. The book is perfect-bound, 6.125×9.125″, 352 pages, b+w interior, MSRP$34.99. A PDF version will be available for purchase soon from OneBookShelf (details to come). Trade print and distribution to come after Gen Con (details to come). The Blue Planet Game Master’s Guide (Revised Edition) will be released in September 2012; pre-orders will be available for this title from the RedBrick/FASA booth at Gen Con.
So far the game sounds pretty good. With any luck I’ll be able to score a copy of the game and do a Let’s Study series on this game. Definitely looking forward to it!