So, not long after the Kickstarter has finished Free League has dropped the PDF files of the Core Rulebook and the Starter Set to the backers as promised. I am gluttonously reading the core rulebook first and will come up with a bigger review of the whole thing when I am done. I will say straight up that reading the first chapter caused me to dig in my boxes of Blu-Rays in the shed for my Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 movies. I sat there last night to watch them again until the wee hours of the morning. The game is evocative and forced me to. I am not going to go much into the system at the moment, in this post, I am just going to give an idea of character generation and share the character I made.
So, Free League won me as soon as I hit the “Your Blade Runner” Chapter. Character Generation can be driven by choice or totally random. You will not have to look far in this blog to find out I love randomness so what follows is the character I built, using the random generation technique. I will go through each step and list the rolls I made as we go. There is some cool stuff right here, but I will not elaborate too much on it until I know the full rules. The basic concept is when you make a test you add a die from your attribute, a die from the skill and make a roll. Anything 6+ is a success. This game exists in a time between the two movies, 2037 to be exact. 18 years after Blade Runner and 12 before Blade Runner 2049, thus you can play as a Replicant Blade Runner.
Step 1: Human or Replicant Blade Runner
Everyone is a Blade Runner. They touch on this and say in expansions they are going to offer different character options, but to me, it is a no-brainer. You are going to play Blade Runner to be a Blade Runner! Equal chance here (randomly speaking) to be a human or a replicant. I rolled a 2 and became a human blade runner. As this was just a run-through of rules I also made the “Am I a secret Replicant” roll and got a 5 meaning I am just a human. Sweet!
Step 2: Archetype for the Blade Runner Unit
There are seven different archetypes that are on offer in the core rulebook. One that is exclusively human, one exclusively replicant and five others. I rolled an 8 and so my character is an Inspector archetype. I like them already! UPDATE: I have read a bit more and it looks as though there is a roll for Chinyen Points (money, see Step 3 below) and a favoured bit of equipment, which I am assuming the character starts with. I rolled a D6 for Chinyen and got 3, so with the bonus from step 3 below I end up with 5 Chinyen in the bank. The favoured bit of kit is a PK-D M1887 20 Guage which I have added to step 10 below.
Step 3: Years on the Force
I like this table. Rookie through to Old Timer is on this list and it really affects the character. The longer you have been on the force the less attribute increase you will have but more skills. You get some more promotion points and specialities as your time on the force increases. I rolled a 12 making my character an Old Timer. Sixteen or more years on the force gives me only 1 attribute boost, 14 skill boosts, three specialities, D10 promotion points (I rolled a 5) and 2 Chinyen points. Chinyen is money in this system and is an abstract concept. At this point I am thinking the character is a jaded old-timer who remembers the times of the Nexus 6 and the Voight Kampff tests. Loving it.
Step 4: Attributes
There are 4 attributes (Strength, Agility, Intelligence and Empathy) and they are ranked in an alphabetic format. A being the best and D being the worst. The ranking determines the die you use when utilising this attribute. A is a D12, B a D10, C a D8 and D a D6. All stats start at C and you can boost as you want with your available boosts or you can get extra boost points by lowering a stat from C to D to get a boost. I checked the Inspector archetype for the first time to see that Agility is their preferred attribute so I set the following the concept of my out of shape jaded Blade Runner: Strength: D (D6); Agility: A (D12); Intelligence: C (D8); Empathy: C (D8)
Step 5: Derived statistics
Health and Resolve are two statistics derived from the statistic. The numbers in the following formula utilise the highest number on the die for the attribute and fractions are rounded up;
Health: ((Strength+Agility)/4) so for my character, this was 5.
Resolve: ((Intelligence+Empathy)/4) making it 4 for my character.
Step 6: Skills
This is pretty much the same as the Attributes section except all skills start at a rating of D. There are thirteen skills, three for each statistic and Driving which is derivative of the maneuverability of what you are driving from the looks of it. Here is what I did with my 14 boosts (you can’t get extra boosts here because all skills start at the lowest value):
- Close Combat: D (D6)
- Force: D (D6)
- Stamina: C (D8)
- Firearms: A (D12)
- Mobility: D (D6)
- Stealth: B (D10)
- Medical Aid: C (D8)
- Observation: A (D12)
- Tech: D (D6)
- Connections: A (D12)
- Insight: D (D6)
- Manipulation: D (D6)
- Driving: D (D6)
I am soooo loving this character…
Step 7: Specialties
So there are a bunch of specialities and you can choose what you want, but the archetypes have suggested specialities. I turned to my archetype as you get to roll for the specialities, but I see you roll a D3 and there are three options so as I get three specialities I write them all down. Hardened, Married to the Job and Smokes. I did not read what any of those do but they fit my concept perfectly. UPDATE: I found out that some specialities can be taken multiple times so have gone back and rolled this randomly. I got Hardened twice (which can be done multiple times) and Smokes. Hardened adds +1 to your Resolve so this makes the characters Resolve: 6 and Smokes enable the character to reduce stress once per shift by lighting up a smoke.
Step 8: Key Memory
This I was not expecting, and I love it. There are a bunch of random tables to roll on (and it is kind of suggested to do it that way) and you craft that key memory from the rolls. You use the key memory in-game to improve your chances (once a session) of succeeding if you can draw a parallel to it for the test. I was NOT expecting the rolls I got and so this key memory is surprising and cool. First, the rolls (in closed brackets), then the results and what I crafted from it.
When: (1) When you were a small child. The memory is now a fleeting vision.
Where: (9) On a distant farmstead, in the stillness of the rural countryside.
Who were there: (9) Masked killers.
What happened: (6) You were psychologically abused.
How did it make you feel: (6) Blessed
Crafted memory: When I was a child I lived with my grandparents. In the middle of the night, I awoke to the sound of a fight and tried to hide under my covers. Soon afterwards the covers were ripped back and there were many people, all in balaclavas, soaked in the blood of my grandparents. For the next few days I was downtrodden, forced to serve the murderers and deprived of food. Then one morning I awoke and they were gone. Blessed to be alive.
Step 9: Key Relationship
This is a nice addition. Seen it before in many games but it gives a brilliant feel to the game. It runs pretty much the same as the Key Memory except it is used in-game by the Game Runner (love that name) to build interactions that you can score Humanity Points from. First, the rolls (in closed brackets), the results and then what I crafted from it.
Who is it: (3) Child.
What’s your relationship like: (11) Distant.
What’s going on: (3) They want something from you.
Crafted Relationship: Cass Fielder is my daughter. I was never around when she grew up, a fleeting relationship with her father. But her father recently died and she is trying to build a relationship with me now.
Step 10: Grab my starting gear
Every Blade Runner starts with the same starting kit out (though you make a choice on the weapon). I wrote it all down, choosing the cooler-sounding gun – I have no idea of the mechanics yet. The starting gear is a Badge, PK-D Blaster, Knowledge Integration Assistant, and Detective Special Spinner. The Inspector’s favoured bit of Kit is a PK-D M1887 20 Guage which I add as well.
Step 11: Signature Item
Each Blade Runner has an item that can be used to calm them mechanically in-game. It is suggested that it is linked to memory or the relationship. On my roll (an 8) I got a SUPER Blade Runner flavoured item, an Origami Bird. Tying it to the memory I came up with: The only thing I have left of my grandparents. An origami bird that my Grandma gave me the week they were killed. It was in my jacket that the cops found me.
Step 12: Description
Hells yes! Random descriptions under your archetype – thank you very much. I got a 2 on my roll giving me the following description: A stare that stretches for miles. A clenched jaw that can take a punch. A clenched fist coiled and ready to give one back.
Step 13: Name
Woot! Random names, heck yeah. I rolled a 3 and got Chaya Hoff. It was here that I decided it was a female character. Up until this point, it was a sweating, fat old man with little care for hygiene, but this changed my mind. A devoted Asian woman that suffers no-nonsense was far more the style I wanted to portray.
Step 14: Home
A random description of your living standards. By default, the Blade Runner gets a home in a certain district but they encourage you to flesh it out or roll on a random table – hells yes! I got an 11 giving me this perfect option for my character: You don’t have a home, drifting around and spending every night in a different place.
Step 15: Play…
I had so much fun with this. I feel the character oozes the vibes from the movies. I can clearly picture her in my mind and I can see how all the pieces fit together. Took very little time to do it this way, though I can see that if new players want to craft by choice more reading would be needed to get what you want. I am super excited to read more so stay tuned for more updates on what I think of the game!