Blue Planet (role-playing game)
|Designer(s)||Jeff Barber, Greg Benage, Jim Heivilin, and Jason Werner|
|Publisher(s)||Biohazard Games (BPv1)
Fantasy Flight Games (BPv2)
RedBrick LLC and FASA Games, Inc. (BPR)
|Publication date||1997 (BPv1)
Custom "Synergy System" (BPv2)
Custom "Synergy System Revised" (BPR)
The rulebook, weighing in at just under 350 pages, is almost a worldbook, with about five-sixths of its length dedicated to the alien setting. In keeping with its environmentalist theme, the game was dedicated to Jacques Cousteau.
The game received criticism for its overly involved character generation system and extremely lethal combat system. A second edition of the game (BPv2) was published in 2000 by Fantasy Flight Games. This used a new role-playing game system, referred to as the Synergy System. The rules and modules were released in several books.
The intellectual property of Blue Planet passed back from Fantasy Flight Games to Biohazard Games in 2004.
On 7 May 2008, RedBrick LLC announced they had licensed the Blue Planet property from Biohazard Games. They subsequently republished "Ancient Echoes", the cetacean sourcebook for Blue Planet, which was originally printed in very small numbers by Fantasy Flight Games. After GenCon 2012, RedBrick LLC announced they were ceasing operations, with the newly formed FASA Games, Inc. publishing RedBrick LLC's Blue Planet Revised Edition (BPR), an updated version of Blue Planet Second Edition.
Blue Planet is fairly unusual among sci-fi RPGs in that its setting is exhaustively researched and scientifically accurate. It is set on an alien water planet, with believable climate, geography, ecology and political situations.
200 years from now, the human race has irreparably damaged its environment. Uncountable plant and animal species have gone extinct, and humanity has just begun rebuilding in the wake of a 75-year worldwide famine. Just before the disaster, a mysterious artificial wormhole was discovered a fair distance out beyond the edge of the solar system. Expeditions discovered that the wormhole led to another star system around Lambda Serpentis, 35 light years away. The second planet of the system was covered with a single vast ocean and was suitable for human life, and was named Poseidon. One major colony ship was sent there before civilization collapsed on Earth, and the colonists were given up for as lost.
The GEO (Global Ecology Organization) and various Incorporates (read: Megacorporations) then rebuilt the Earth's economies (but not ecology) and recontacted Poseidon, only to discover that the colonists have gone "native," abandoning their run-down technology for simple, tribal life as fisherfolk. When the discovery of a "xenosilicate" ore revolutionizes genetic engineering, a new gold rush brings new settlers, greed and Incorporate warfare to the planet, threatening to destabilize the ecology of Poseidon. Some natives start ecoterrorist groups to protect their oceans from being despoiled, while the GEO tries to maintain law and order with genetically engineered soldiers. Meanwhile, the rarely glimpsed and enigmatic aborigines which dwell beneath the ocean surface begin reacting to the human presence.
The native colonists of Poseidon are genetically engineered to be able to function underwater, either breathing through gills or possessing a high-capacity diving lung, as well as small fins to aid in swimming and saltwater-resistant skin. Additionally, the game includes genetically "uplifted" dolphins and orcas as playable characters on either side of the native/immigrant dichotomy.
Due to their proximity in story and themes, the French comic Aquablue can make a good graphical support for inspiration.
The first edition of Blue Planet (BPv1) and the second edition (BPv2) use similar mechanics. BPv2 uses the Synergy System, a streamlined version of BPv1's mechanics. While BP1 uses a percentile (d100) system, BP2 uses one to three ten-sided dice (D10s). The combat mechanics in the Synergy System were completely rewritten, avoiding the use of hit locations, introducing a new initiative system, and using more abstract armor and damage modeling, instead of the complex damage tables and more detailed armor types of BPv1.
In Synergy, the average Attribute is 0 and the human range is from -3 to +3, while skills may range from 1 to 10. The higher the number, the better the attribute or skill. Aptitudes can be bought for skill groups, which implies natural talent with the given group. Depending on the Aptitude level, it increases the number of dice rolled for tasks. Synergy uses a roll-under system -- you add your attribute and skill together and roll below that number. Depending on one's Aptitude with the given skill, one may roll 1, 2, or 3 dice, keeping one of the results.