Like Dice In Rain

The first releases in Free League’s Blade Runner RPG – the core rules and the starter set – are now out, and what’s immediately obvious when you look at the material is that they’ve really hit a high bar when it comes to the production values here. I’d been favourably impressed with their execution of the second edition of The One Ring, I’ve heard good stuff about their other games, and they’ve kept up the high standards here. The core rulebook and the starter set look gorgeous, fit the aesthetic of the movies nicely without being reliant on screenshots from the films (indeed, the illustrations all look to be original, bespoke art made for the game), and are also laid out very nicely and usefully for the purposes of actual play.

The concept of the game is simple: it’s an investigative RPG, you are either a human or a replicant working the Blade Runner beat in 2037 LA, your official task is to track down and “retire” renegade replicants and investigate other replicant-connected crimes, but of course the investigations you get into will throw up ethical quandaries and emotional entanglements which might force you to choose between the departmental rulebook and your personal morality.

This is the sort of thing which if executed thoughtlessly could end up being kind of distasteful – the sort of copaganda we really need less of. Both the original movie and Blade Runner 2049, however, avoided that fate by taking a specifically dystopian route, making it clear that the work of the bounty hunters is a dehumanising process, and the bounty hunters exist in a grim and corrupt system, and the violence unleashed by the replicants is a matter of self-defence against a world intent on destroying them.

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