In the vast expanse of the interwebs, a roleplaying game titled Alpha Blue was successfully funded October 2015 via Kickstarter for $4.5K internet bucks. The book was up for general sale in the adult section with Onebookshelf (OBS: drivethrurpg & rpgnow) in December the same year. In March 2016, the title was pulled from OBS for “potentially offensive” content (customer complaint), but after an in-house review, the title was back up for purchase two days later.
The origin of the controversy, what most of the RPG community picked up on, was the use of a fictional Muslim terrorist organization the “Interstellar Caliphate” and descriptive text of a plot device, the “Rape Machine.”
Despite the above, Venger’s Alpha Blue roleplaying game isn’t quite the campy, oversexualized space station hive of scum and villainy that I might have been looking for.
Alpha Blue might be cult campy, if there is such category. If by oversexualized, I refine the word to mostly male, metrosexual fantasy tropes. But, then again what else is there (insert sarcasm)? Hive of scum and villainy? Okay, we give it Dirk Diggler points for that. It’s a brothel, in space! Sort of. But wait, there’s more!
Once upon a wishing well, Alpha Blue was the Terran Federation’s (earth’s) repository for sexual deviants, derelicts and nymphomaniacs. Now embarking upon the 23rd century, this space station drifts about, never in one place… It roams around, around, around, around, around. The sleaze of Alpha Blue’s half a million many, out-sleazes the needs of the galactic stew (promise that’s almost the last bad pun).
The setting material (or where Alpha Blue will roam) is presented with a basic outline of the galaxy. A number of brief plot hooks are seeded throughout the writing, and chapters for Scenario Seeds and NPCs do a good job of helping the reader to potentially run the material. I’m in favor of writing which directly engages the Space Dungeon Master’s (SDM) desire to run said material, and it’s not always a given with a setting treatment.
System-wise, Alpha Blue utilizes a unique and light d6 dice pool. Most conflict resolution involves a character rolling 2d6 against a target number of 4 or better, 3d6 if the character has an advantage or 1d6 for situations in which they have the opposite. The highest die total of the pool is taken. Success or failure is rated on a sliding scale: 4 being a partial success, 5 a success, 6 a critical success. There is a short section on converting the material to OSR, and even a couple of interesting ideas for doing so, but it will need a few more hours to be properly configured on the navi-computer. Instead of using the system, converting the setting material to the space opera-themed RPG of your preference is simple enough, be it Stars Without Number, Traveler, or even Starfinder.
Character creation is just as light as the system. No traits, attributes or modifiers. Players will pick their poison rolling twice on the Respectable Careers Table and/or Scoundrel Career Table; or roll once on either of the prior mentioned tables and instead roll for their characters to have a mutation, be an alien, or be “something special,” which I’ll leave to the reader’s imagination.
Speaking of tables, Alpha Blue has a heaping handful of them. It’s certainly enough to sprain your dice wrist, if you’re not careful. There are tables for: alien creatures, creating character backgrounds, fashion (really fashion…? Yes.). Also, more tables such as character astrology, sexual fantasies & fetishes, wealth, and whole bunch of other stuff, including elements which should assist the SDM in regard to fleshing in some of the details of their adventures.
The portable document format (PDF) of Alpha Blue is 114 pages cover to cover including a basic unspecified map of the station, finishing with character sheets and a lined notes section. The Table of Contents is hyperlinked, which is a nice feature. The color cover does an adequate job of portraying the source material and sleazy theme. The interior illustrations are black and white, ranging from semi-raunchy (partial nudity, sexual overtones), to interesting, to mundane.
As far as the sexual elements go, Alpha Blue doesn’t go near the level I thought it might. In fact, the writing of these elements are just that, elements (more optional than not) and not a requirement of using the setting. The Interstellar Caliphate is a religious group of bad folks doing bad things, and the Rape Machine is a plot device used by bad guys. Subjectively speaking, could these elements been pulled off with a little more class, yeah… But, I doubt the author of an RPG who coins his own title as “sleazy, gonzo science-fantasy,” had interest in doing such…
For certain, if you consider yourself sensitive to sexual-themed material, then Alpha Blue probably isn’t your cup of coffee (if you’re still reading). If you’re mostly indifferent, then this is a product that certainly has a respectable amount of material, whether you decide to run it as is, or mine it for ideas for that space opera-themed RPG of your choice.
Published By: Kort’thalis Publishing
Author: Venger As’Nas Satanis
Editor’s note: If this is your style of gaming (or you’re just curious) Alpha Blue normally retails for $10.00 (now on sale for $7.50), and there’s also a softcover available.