I’m no stranger to tabletop RPGs – I’ve played in a number of different systems, including Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and White Wolf’s World of Darkness. However, in all my years of gaming, I’ve never played anything quite like Blue Rose. For over a year, I’ve been part of a group that plays Blue Rose somewhat regularly, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.
What is Blue Rose?
Blue Rose is a tabletop RPG published by Green Ronin, and is labeled as a romantic fantasy game. It’s set in the world of Aldea, and players can play as a number of different humanoid races or as a rhydan (which encompasses many different types of psychic animals). Player characters have three classes to choose from: adept, which is your typical magic-using class; expert, which includes scholars, spies, tricksters, and negotiators; and warrior, which is your classic fighter class. There are plenty of other aspects that go into developing a character, including their background, goals, destiny/fate, and, of course, their relationships with others – including friends, family, and romantic relationships.
The main focus of the game is on developing relationships, but depending on the storyteller, there may be a fair bit of exploration and adventuring involved as well. The world of Aldea is definitely large enough to do plenty of exploring in, and the core book includes details about many countries outside of the Kingdom of the Blue Rose.
As I’ve mentioned a few times already, the game heavily focuses on developing relationships, and one of the things I especially appreciate about Blue Rose is the fact that the game is more inclusive than just about any game I’ve played. The book specifically defines a non-binary gender, laevvel, and the default sexual preference in the game is essentially no preference at all, although people may still experience attraction solely to the opposite or same sex – this line from the section of the book describing sexuality states it perfectly:
Most people in Aldis have no overriding preference; they recognize that the souls of the Eternal Dance were neither male nor female, and it is the heart and soul of a potential romantic interest that matters more than the form they currently wear.
The level of detail that goes into the elements that influence relationships, like sexuality and gender, makes sense for a game that focuses on building relationships. In addition to including a non-binary gender and a variety of sexual preferences, the creators incorporate relationship models that are different than the norm, such as star marriages (which involve three or more people), for one example. Inclusivity is important, and it’s one of the things that drew me to the game.
Getting into the game
Back in 2017, my friend J ended up getting to try out Blue Rose during Gen Con, and ended up liking it so much that he bought the core book. He mentioned the game to a couple of his friends (myself included, obviously) and asked if we were interested in giving it a try, and we were – now, roughly a year and two months later, we’re still playing and still very much enjoying the game. Heck, I think this is officially the longest a gaming group I’ve been in has been together, and there are no signs of us running out of things to do in game!
When we started playing, J’s original story had us spending two sessions going through the training to become envoys in the Sovereign’s Finest., a group of people dedicated to keeping Aldis safe. We ended up enjoying the academy storyline so much that it ended up stretching out from the original two games to an entire year’s worth of sessions, and our characters only recently went out into the world as envoys. Our group has really enjoyed the game so far – J has done a great job of storytelling in this world and making it come alive for the players. The group I play with is made up of three others besides me – Kasi, who plays Paroum, a rhy-cat adept; Katherine, who plays Yarrow, a human warrior; and Herb, who plays Kaimana, a sea-folk adept. Our group forms a cohort that’s named The Swans.
My character: Liana Masri
My Blue Rose character is Liana Masri, an expert whose goal is to eventually become a well-recognized bard, and she enjoys performing music and making use of her strong communication skills. She’s originally from the high ward of the city of Aldin, and until joining the Sovereign’s Finest, lived with her parents in the city. While she was in training as a cadet, she developed a deep fondness for her roommate, Kaimana, the laevvel sea-folk who won Liana over with a carpet. That’s right, folks – Kaimana went broke buying Liana a carpet, and that’s how she ended up developing feelings for them. (That’s how my gaming group rolls, apparently – carpets as a sign of affection.) It clearly worked, as Kaimana essentially asked Liana to marry them during last night’s game!
Liana’s a bit different than most characters I’ve played. Looking back on other characters I’ve played in RPGs and even games like Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, I tend to play magic users of some sort – I like to stand in the back and fling magic at people (quite literally in the case of Ëlinyr!). However, Liana’s a bard, and while I’ve played a bard in the past, I didn’t end up playing that character for very long. As a result, I didn’t really get a feel for how to play a bard until rather recently.
Another difference between Liana and the other characters I’ve played in the past is in her name. I’m not exactly the most imaginative when it comes to names, and pretty much all my tabletop characters have had some variation on the name Elin (pronounced like Ellen). Heck, even Ëlinyr is derived from Elin, although it’s pronounced differently. I’m not quite sure where I got the name Liana from – I might have come up with it from one of the many fantasy name generators available online. I like it, though, and I’m having fun playing her.
Curious about Blue Rose?
If you’re curious about Blue Rose, I strongly suggest you check it out – you can buy a copy of the core book in hardcover or PDF from Green Ronin, and there some other supplemental materials you can grab from Green Ronin if you end up deciding you want to run your own game. You can find everything on Green Ronin’s site related to Blue Rose here.
If you end up curious about the adventures my Blue Rose group gets into, I’m thinking of posting a short summary of what we’ve been up to every so often. This way, you can learn more about the adventures of Liana, Kaimana, Yarrow, and Paroum!