Sunday, April 19, 2015

Trying to Wrap My Head Around Bliss Stage

I recently purchased Bliss Stage and Polaris, two decidedly indie and unabashedly narrative-focused rpgs from Ben Lehman. I feel like this strips me of any scraps of OSR street cred I may have had at any point since I started blogging.

Anyway, they were both PWYW, so I paid one American dollar each, with the notion that if I like them, I will buy physical copies of them. (Yes, I love my PDFs, but physical books, I just can't quit you.)If I don't like them, I will simply delete them, effectively just having given a vending machine trip to Mr. Lehman for sharing his ideas with me.

I have no idea what to do with these games. Like, even though I have read through the rules of Bliss Stage one and a half times, I have really no idea how the game works beyond a very basic conceptual level. It uses Fudge dice, though, so that's hittin'. (I have some crusty old Fudge dice from back in the day, as well as some slick but overpriced Fate dice I bought with the core book.)

I'm not sure that anyone I game with presently would like this. I've had groups in other times and places that would've been all over this, but I'd be very surprised if I ever got the chance to run this. Even my players who assure me that they'll play anything that I run...

My brain is already thinking about ways to repurpose this game, much the way that Thou Art But a Warrior repurposed Polaris. This is presently not a good thing, because I'd like very much to finish BXWoD and think of a good Fate setting.

I'd be remiss if I didn't pay Bliss Stage this compliment, though: Just as Icons is the only superhero rpg I've ever encountered that feels like a comic book (or rather an animated series based on a comic book), Bliss Stage is the only rpg I've ever encountered that feels like the mecha anime I loved back in the day, whereas games like Mekton Z just felt like we were playing "Battletech with Purple Hair" or somesuch.

No real word on Polaris, yet, as I've naught but skimmed it. Bliss Stage has my attention.


  1. O Mekton Zeta: the game that I wanted to love so badly, and yet was designed for those folks who A) can (and love to) draw cool mecha pix, plus B) love the enormous crunch of design. Of which I am neither.

    Polaris is probably my favorite game that I've never played nor owned. I've been working with a lot of GM-less designs the last (one? two?) years and Polaris has been both an inspiration and a primer on the subject (well, as was Fiasco, though that's one I've actually played). It probably helps that I really dig the setting for Polaris.

    Hmmm...there goes MY street cred...

    1. [in case you were wondering how I can "work with" Polaris while not owning a copy, I've had one on "extended borrow" for about two years from a guy who also loves it but has never played. It can be tough to get exactly four players to commit to sitting down and learning something like Polaris]