Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Unpacking The Alpha Blue Rpg System Book With Commentary and Random Encounter Tables For Campaign Development

Background and Rpg Setting Philosophy

So today was a good mail day when Alpha Blue showed up in the mail box from Venger Satanis,
the book is nice and thick for a self enclosed OSR style sleazy space opera cum space brothel game rpg system. Now I've seen various reviews and press on the game. Alpha Blue chronicles the deeply disturbing and awesome adventures of your PC's against the space brothel Alpha Blue. A massive floating pleasure palace roving the bounds of space and time. Alpha Blue is deeply rooted in the traditions of sci fi comedy and horror, specifically with references to sleazy Eighties VHS sci fi, sword & sorcery, and more B films and television shows. 
Lurking below all of the T&A, dick jokes and weird sexual baggage is something more to the palette of the Alpha Blue rpg system.


 Because of the nature of the game and the adult nature of Alpha Blue, Venger's game pays attention to a particular type of horror lurking in its DNA, that is cosmic horror or Cosmicism. Wiki has a really nice definition of the term;"
The philosophy of cosmicism states that there is no recognizable divine presence, such as a god, in the universe, and that humans are particularly insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence, and perhaps are just a small species projecting their own mental idolatries onto the vast cosmos. This also suggests that the majority of undiscerning humanity are creatures with the relative significance of insects and plants, when compared to the universe.
Perhaps the most prominent theme in cosmicism is the insignificance of humanity. Lovecraft postulated "the human race will disappear. Other races will appear and disappear in turn. The sky will become icy and void, pierced by the feeble light of half-dead stars. Which will also disappear. Everything will disappear. And what human beings do is just as free of sense as the free motion of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, feelings? Pure 'Victorian fictions'. Only egotism exists."[2] Cosmicism shares many characteristics with nihilism, though one important difference is that cosmicism tends to emphasize the insignificance of humanity and its doings, rather than summarily rejecting the possible existence of some higher purpose (or purposes). For example, in Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories, it is not the absence of meaning that causes terror for the protagonists, as it is their discovery that they have absolutely no power to change anything in the vast, indifferent universe that surrounds them. In Lovecraft's stories, whatever meaning or purpose may be invested in the actions of the cosmic beings is completely inaccessible to the human characters."
Alpha Blue's background and setting make use of this in the extreme through the lens of sleazy and a weird Mad magazine crazy parody filter with an interstellar pornographic adventure wrap around.

Alpha Blue takes the usual space opera heroes and makes them into working stiffs trying to survive against the background of a space brothel while the greater meta universe doesn't care about the PC's and get's on with its business. Interstellar and inter-dimensional factions are all trying to use one another and each other while dealing with the cosmic stage that is Alpha Blue.

 Because of the very nature of the writer's beliefs and ideals the egotism that is often present in other space opera rpg's like Star Frontiers, Star Trek, and others is replaced with Cosmic Indifferentism. This is expressed by Lovecraft and others of the Lovecraft circle of writers as follows according to Wiki:"Though cosmicism appears deeply pessimistic, H.P. Lovecraft thought of himself as neither a pessimist nor an optimist but rather a "scientific" or "cosmic" indifferentist,[6] a theme expressed in his fiction. In Lovecraft's work, human beings are often subject to powerful beings and other cosmic forces, but these forces are not so much malevolent as they are indifferent toward humanity.[7] This indifference is an important theme in cosmicism. The noted Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi asserts that "Lovecraft constantly engaged in (more or less) genial debates on religion with several colleagues, notably the pious writer and teacher Maurice W. Moe. Lovecraft made no bones about being a strong and antireligious atheist; he considered religion not merely false but dangerous to social and political progress."[8] As such, Lovecraft's cosmicism is not religious at all, but rather a version of his mechanistic materialism." Lovecraft thus embraced a philosophy of cosmic indifferentism. He believed in a meaningless, mechanical, and uncaring universe that human beings, with their naturally limited faculties, could never fully understand. His viewpoint made no allowance for religious beliefs which could not be supported scientifically. The incomprehensible, cosmic forces of his tales have as little regard for humanity as humans have for insects."
All of this is set against the weird former Federation space station for the study of sexual addiction and rehabilitation of its clientele that has become Alpha Blue. Those illustrations of the Great Old Ones and weird alien gods make perfect sense. This is a theme that has been repeated again and again throughout Venger's rpg products.
 But what's really going with Alpha Blue its as an adventure setting? We're given a Love Boat like setting where just about anyone could come blundering into the adventure hook.
"Alpha Blue was a Federation space station for the study of sexual addiction and rehabilitation of its clientele.  That was back in the good old days when enjoying sex was for deviants.  Behavioral psychologists believed that stimulus overload would cure addictive personality disorder.  Simply, give those hopeless degenerates what they crave... seven-fold!  And pretty soon, their obsession will burn itself out.
It was years before those kinds of theories were debunked and said behavioral psychologists were rounded up with the rest of humanity's failures and blasted into the nearest star.  
Now decommissioned, Alpha Blue is something akin to an interstellar whore house or "love boat", drifting from planet to planet, acquiring new talent, clients, and security.  It's as big as a city, so there's no shortage of wild escapades, interesting characters, lucrative opportunities, and naked throbbing pleasure.  Plus, there will be plenty of scenario seeds fleshed out for planet-side shenanigans. "

This gives the dungeon master plenty of latitude with with adventure design and just about anything can happen within the bounds of the game. I like the wide open sleazy Seventies space opera feel of Alpha Blue

Details On The Physical Book
The book itself is part of the Amazon's Create Space printing and the paper is of a far nicer stock then Drivethrurpg but on par with some of the better Lulu products and hardbacks.

The binding itself is nice and strong and really well put together paying special attention to the edges and ends I was pretty happy to see the fact that Create Space did a good job with the book.

 Internally I was much happier then I was with the pdf, this book is nice and feels good in a DM's hands. The artwork works as a well spaced out and awesome homage to its Seventies sleazy  sci fi roots.
 The system is a mix of The Outer Presence adventure and a healthy dose of  the Crimson Dragon Slayer rpg  which means that its an easy OSR pick up system. That also means that the font, writing, and graphic presentation is easy on the eyes.  That's a big plus for me as a DM and it also includes an index as well. That's a big plus for me during play. 
 So there is table after table of character options, equipment, and more in the Eighties Sci fi sort of a mode. There are tons of hidden gems and Easter eggs scattered throughout the book and its going to take me months of going over all of it to find them.

The layout is nice and the adventure sourcebook setting reminds me of one part Vegas and one part bad acid trip through the old cinema I used to work at on during some evenings in Boston. The only thing that's missing is a random  and dangerous space pimp table. Well I can easily fix that.

 Random D20 Random  
Dangerous Space Pimp Encounter Table
  1. Phakrudd - This washed up space trucker and space caravan leader turned to hustling and has come into possession of seven android shape shifting pleasure bots. His species is partially an amoeba like humanoid with delusions of grandeur and an itchy blaster figure. He's been known to convert his bots into assassins for a few extra thousand credits.
  2. Steh- Reptilian horror and retired galactic peace keeper who uses a combination of guile and telepathic domination to move his 'girls' ( they're all girls it doesn't matter the species or sex) to clients. He has an affinity for vibro axes and eating those who don't pay for services. He deals in black market relics on the side.
  3. Zat-ol  A trout man from another dimension who hustles pieces of his own mind as his stable of ladies. Each one is actually a part of his spy net work and he uses Alpha Blue as his base. Very psychotic given his clients.
  4. Zha'abbbhu An alien thing that gives birth to the perfect lover for his clients, likes to be paid up front or he absorbs the john instead. Nothing is too perverse for it. Macro organismoid capable of creating forty two sex workers at a clip.
  5. Zhai Contraband weapons dealer and space pimp who dresses and talks like a Sevenities after shave commercial. He can create android mini pimps to hustle for him. Looks like an alien android from an extinct race of ancient reptiles.
  6. Zoruategu - Minor banished godling now pimp with a set of space nymphs who all bear a striking resemblance to this bastard to one degree or another. Capable of dismissing or creating these beings at will. Good with a vibro straight razor.
  7. Dhuazake - A hawkoid who has a flock of assassin/prostitutes specializing in beak play and rough trade. Her ladies are actually information brokers and thieves as well.
  8. Igndeghuatl - Former Aztec god from an alternative Earth who uses moisture to create his pleasure simulations. These things gather soul energy for their master as they exchange favors, often eats johns who don't pay.
  9. Kin-ehathat - A hive mind of sorts who uses a variety of biological construct bodies for sexual congress and makes a mean space pilot. This being is wanted in seven systems for smuggling but has moved over to prostitution to pay the bills.
  10. L'bbbokel - Alien dream thief and space pimp who constructs his 'ladies' from the dreams of his johns even as it mind copies the identities of its johns. Partially telepathic and a seventh level dream thief.
  11. Othogush - The Fetish Thing this being supplies his clients with their wildest fantasies while addicting them to the chemicals it creates by satisfying their fetishes. This all involves bone needles, neuroscience and alien absorption. Many clients are disappointed at how clean the process really is. Sells information and chemicals from his clients. 
  12. 'Phact A hawk being who uses a variety of trained androids to take care of his clients. He also uses some of his ladies for smuggling high end drugs and valuable cargoes.
  13. Mmephoggn The Memory Guide  this alien blob of purple flesh uses the memories of his clients to manufacture the most incredible sexual experience of a life time. This thing actually steals the precious memories of his victims while mind wiping them to the most incredible violation of their being. He sells the telepathic porn to the highest bidder.
  14. Phonibogug the spider thing uses his client's nervous system and physical bodies to create new alien pleasure organs. He is paid in DNA and RNA from his victim ermm clients.
  15. Ralogha The ghost of a space pilot who summons ancient dead alien ghosts to do his bidding. Clients are sometimes added to his roster of workers.
  16. Rtts An alien energy orgasm being that can service twelve clients at a time. Actually the reduced form of an exiled succubus/incubus who is masquerading as an alien.
  17. E'zaugog - Gaseous emission from a god whose body brings orgasms and pleasure to those who breath it in. Charges by the dose and is high demand at Federation parties. Gossip columnist and information broker.
  18. Gggg-phach Twin albino pimpoids who were created by an ancient god thing to gather information and evaluate humanoid sexual mores. Now works as a space pimp and terrorist on the side. Likes to kill people a bit too much. 
  19. Gggu-mmot assassin bot turned pimp whose interested in the brain chemicals of humans that it sells to the highest bidder. Uses telepathic cyber implant to recruit sex workers.
  20. Goliali - Former Space pixie princess now hard core madam with a roving band of sex workers on her payroll. Always after money and craves power. Seventh level wizard and very dangerous psychopathic killer
One section that really stands out in Alpha Blue is the robotic and cybernetic guidelines, these are very well thought out and have many uses for both OSR and other old school games. Adding these into a game adventure can hook PC's into the web that Alpha Blue spins.
 One of the things about Alpha Blue is that everyone and everything is trying to get ahead in the universe. There's a sense of those that do the exploiting and those who are the exploited all working against each other and that adds a bit more tension to the proceedings.

 There's also a sense of the darkness that lays right at the black heart of the comedy and parody of Alpha Blue something that was very evident in the Seventies and Eighties exploitation films and movies. There is a sense of the pulp about Alpha Blue but it tinged by the smut and sleazy of the proceedings.
 The various tables and references that are scattered throughout the book make coming up with adventures on the fly quick and easy. I have to say that overall I'm quite pleased with the book. There are several references throughout the book of Crimson Dragon Slayer and the Purple Haunted Islands of Putrescence. These are adventure hooks and bits that really need to be exploited. 
 One thing about having PC's aboard Alpha Blue is the fact that you never know if your going to run into NPC's from Thule or the Purple Haunted Islands. The station has a weird you might encounter anyone vibe in the hallways or setting vibe to it. So here's a Vengerverse NPC encounter table to really help get the over arching vibe going.
 1d20 Random Crimson Dragon Slayer
and Purple Haunted Islands NPC  Encounter Table
For Alpha Blue 

  1. Egulo Ethmma former New York City school teacher whose now the head of an inter dimensional smuggling ring. This well muscled guy spots a cybernetic arm and an Iron Maiden tee shirt as well as ripped jeans and Converse style sneakers. He's slumming from Thule after getting picked up by a flying saucer. He's looking for warriors and adventurers for a dungeon coming up.
  2. Faimmol Elven prince of darkness and pain whose in search of decadent pleasure and ladies but he's also in desperate need of a job and he's got his resume with him. Very flighty but good with a vibroblade and energy shield.
  3. Fandegolangl - Mutated former pizza driver now Orc warrior whose looking for a certain facilitor whom he had business with on the Purple Island. The island has given him twenty four hours to find it or it yanks it back for a sacrifice. He's trying to find adventurers to help him. He's a bit drunk and high but otherwise can function.
  4. Grobaerthar - Dream goblin and complete sleazebag whose last master was dropped out of an air lock. Now looking for other adventurers to hang with instead. He has bad panty fetish but he's not actually sure what that means. He's a bit of a thief and actually is a cousin to a pixie fairy that works on the station. Don't ask about the family background.
  5. Gwegotunaim - Shape shifting wizard facilitator who works on the station while protecting a space prince whose working at one of the station bars. It has started to look for adventurers to work as bodyguards once they leave Alpha Blue for Thule.
  6. Hiatu - Highly strung purple green three foot tall warrior prince from the mushroom village on the Purple island whose looking for adventurers to help with a domestic invasive demon species problem back home but has been gambling, getting laid and getting high instead.
  7. Imorg - High end middle manager for an intergalactic warlord whose looking to get to Thule and another job offer. He's blue black and has highly dangerous energy weapons but is looking around Alpha for a possible position as a body guard. Or he could be recruited by the PC's.
  8. Ingorar Assistant to a Thule mad scientist whose looking for brains for his master's diabolical experiments.
  9. Kaitha Warrior princess looking for hench woman work between dungeon exploration jobs and her lesbian lover who run off to Alpha Blue.
  10. Kavaba - A mutant dog monster warrior from Thule whose looking for his mad scientist master whose gambling at the casino aboard the station.
  11.  Alabelin Arorgul - Crimson royalty whose part of a minor house looking for his former master to challenge to a battle to the death. His honor is at stake or should he fail he will be fed to a crimson dragon. He's looking for fellow brave men and women to stand by his side and be eaten.
  12. Babamormeguaim mutant scum from the purple island whose looking for victims for his volcano god master to eat. A simple creature with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man.
  13. Etua singer, song writer, complete and utter groupie for galactic rock bands whose been missing since the early galactic era on the purple island. He's now looking for a body guard to help him get his groove back. Dressed in an intergalactic pleasure suit and real gold chains. He's seen some alien stuff and suffers from hallucinations. These are not actually hallucinations but the great Old One whose hunting him breaking down reality as it comes for him. He needs help badly.
  14. Gothaung Former war lord and galactic criminal now full blown wash up. He needs adventurers to help him recover his hoard on Thule or Earth. He'll betray the party as soon as he gets the object of power.
  15. Irmallaririau warped god thing from the purple island that's looking for his bride on Alpha Blue, he needs to return to the purple island soon as his facade of humanoid is starting to break down. He's willing to pay in blue bucks.
  16. Labal record mogul from New York City whose star went missing on Alpha Blue, this mutant scumoid needs help but reeks of betrayal and cynicism. He's also a black sorcerer of epic proportions who sells his clients souls to Lovecraftian horrors.
  17. Mengi - Space gnome looking for his half brother and to get as high as he can. He'll attach himself to PC's and ask for drugs over and over again. He's also a pick pocket and generally an ass.
  18. Nglitugor Rorgorngwet - Foul mutant black wizard from the purple island whose looking for a facilitator who left him tied up and robbed of a relic for a special client. He's been beaten, blasted, and is really pissed off but looking at some of this glorious technology and weirdness. As a black wizard his patron is watching all of this greatly amused by his slave's predicament. His god might add in some adventurers to the mix.
  19. Rotugrg alien mutant fly with a gambling problem and a psychotic twitch whose looking to infect another with its curse before it dies. The thing has come to die after being on the purple island.
  20. Tulalkathau Crimson mummy prince from Thule whose slumming and looking for adventurers to take out his stupid nephew whose lost the family fortune back on Earth! This being wants to eat his nephew's soul

All in all I'm pretty damn stoked to have this copy of Alpha Blue and I don't think that its actually all that X rated per say and it does a damn fine job of bridging the gap between OSR games and more modern rpgs while evoking a nostalgia for another age in sleazy movies and sci fi books.

Finally let me say that I think for the quality of rpg your getting this is a solidly done and well rounded rpg system for the cash. Do yourself a favor and pick up Alpha Blue for a sleazy space opera porno adult rpg system.

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