Free League Publishing’s Blade Runner: The Roleplaying Game, which launched in December, provides players with an immersive experience through a starter set packed with mugshots, newspaper clippings, crime scene photos and other handouts that make you feel like you’re really cracking a case as a member of the futuristic LAPD. For its first two expansions, the publisher is taking the game down very different tracks, providing a new case file for investigators to dive into while also releasing a book that lets you switch sides and play as a member of the Replicant underground hiding from authorities while trying to pursue their own agenda.
“Replicant Rebellion will feel more like cyberpunk where you’re attacking or infiltrating some corporation,” lead game designer Tomas Härenstam told Polygon. “We wanted to give the opportunity for more improvised gameplay that requires less preparation because the case file format kind of requires a lot of work ahead of time and that can be a hurdle for preparing your own game session.”
Given that all the character archetypes in the Blade Runner core rulebook are types of cops, Replicant Rebellion required crafting all new roles. The replicant underground is less hierarchical than the LAPD, so players won’t be tracking promotion points. Rather than being tortured tech-noir protagonists, characters will feel a bit more like traditional good guys. But the game will still keep some core mechanics like combat, chase scenes and downtime.
“I think downtime is a really cool way to give individual characters the spotlight and not just focus on the group doing their thing, so that’s something we want to expand upon in Replicant Rebellion,” Härenstam said. “You have to do these undercover missions without jeopardizing your normal life and friends and that kind of balance can be really interesting to explore.”
Releasing sometime in 2024, Replicant Rebellion will include half a dozen operations designed to be played as a one-shot, though they can be strung together into a longer campaign. While the original game works particularly well with two players and caps out at four, Replicant Rebellion will have space for five to six.
Those who enjoyed “Electric Dreams,” the case file included in the Blade Runner starter set, can continue the adventure with “Fiery Angels.” The box set expected to release at the end of 2023 will require either the starter set or the Blade Runner: The Roleplaying Game core rulebook to play, but it will include a new set of a half a dozen maps and about 20 handouts to go with the new scenario. Härenstam said it can be played over three fairly long and focused sessions, but game masters will probably want to stretch it longer so they have the opportunity to further develop the world and its characters.
The Fiery Angels case begins with a break-in at the Wallace Corporation Memory Vaults — a key plot element of the film Blade Runner 2049. You don’t need to have played “Electric Dreams” to follow this story, but there will be some elements connecting the two.
“We have rough ideas for case files three through five and we want to create a longer narrative that will make you feel like you’re part of something that’s not just a standalone, completely open and shut case file,” Härenstam said. “Hopefully it will be a pretty epic thing when it’s all over.”
Case File #2: Fiery Angels is expected to release in the fourth quarter of 2023 and will cost $34.99. Replicant Rebellion will launch in 2024 for $49.99. Follow the news on both projects at bladerunner-rpg.com.