«B7RPG (Super Heading) Roleplay in the Blake’s 7 universe Written by Simon Washbourne and David Sharrock Beta Version 1.5 (un-illustrated, ...»
B7RPG (Super Heading)
Roleplay in the Blake’s 7 universe
Written by Simon Washbourne and David Sharrock
Beta Version 1.5 (un-illustrated, unformatted fourth draft)
Based on an original idea by Simon Washbourne
From the BBC television series Blake’s 7
Cover Art (first draft) by David Sharrock
This material is not recognised as an official Blake’s 7 product.
This material is in no way related to the unofficial Blake's 7 roleplaying game as developed by
Horizon and the Blake’s 7 fan forum.
The right of Simon Washbourne and David Sharrock to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All content within this file, written and developed specifically by them, is subject to international copyright laws. All names and references to the Blake’s 7 universe are subject to respective copyright claimants and trademark proprietors as is deemed appropriate. Simon Washbourne and David Sharrock make no claim to be representative of any part of the Blake’s 7 product range.
This is the beta version. Strictly no unauthorised redistribution.
NOTES ON THE B7RPG SYSTEM
B7RPG Telekinesis, for example, might be a set of rules governing the use of psychic characters in the game, or at least specific to players who like to enact the role of a psychic character.
B7RPG Worlds might be a book exploring the many alien planets of the B7 universe.
***THESE ARE ROUGHLY THE AREAS COVERED BY THIS RULEBOOK
WE ENVISAGE ADDITIONAL SOURCEBOOKS AND ADVENTURES AT A LATER
DATE, PENDING FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE IDEA***
SECTION 1: THE BASICS
INTRODUCTION/WHAT IS ROLE PLAYING?
OVERVIEW/ROLE OF SCRIPTWRITER/ROLE OF DIRECTOR
THE ACTORS/EXPLORING CHARACTER/EXPLORING THEMES
EPISODES, SCENES, ACTIONS AND SERIES
SECTION 2: THE ACTORS
WOUNDS & DEATH
DESIGNING YOUR OWN SPACESHIPS
COMPUTERS, AI & ROBOTS
SECTION 3: THE DIRECTOR
THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
BACKGROUND OF THE BLAKE’S 7 UNIVERSE
EPISODE GUIDEBLAKE’S 7 CHARACTERS
REBEL STAR CHARACTERS
EPISODES/WRITING YOUR OWN EPISODESSECTION ONE (H1) THE BASICS (H2) “I plan to live forever, or die trying”.
*** “Welcome to the ‘third century of the second calendar’. They call me a revolutionary. But you can call me Blake. These are my... for want of a better word... crew. They would probably like you to think of them as reluctant rebels, insurgents battling against the forces of a totalitarian government. In their own merry way, they are. The Federation are our mutual enemy. A government now in charge of the Earth and far too much of the galaxy. They call themselves ‘The Federation’, unifying the galaxy under one central rule, for the good of the galaxy.
The Federation control us using every means at their disposal. Mass surveillance, brainwashing techniques, pacification through drugs which they pump into our food, our water, our air... and we... my crew and I, strike back. We are the silent majority my friend. The wrath of the oppressed personified. Or something like that. I may sound bitter. The truth is, I may be. I have my reasons.
They are none of your concern. What matters to me is whether or not you have what it takes to help me do what I need to do. If not, then you know where the teleporter is. I have no problem with putting you off my ship if you don't do as I say. Whether there’s a planet nearby at the time, well that's your lookout friend...” *** “...He’s not so bad. My name’s Vila. You can call me... well, I suppose you can call me Vila.
Heh. This is Blake’s ship, the Liberator. Not bad eh? She's far in advance of anything the Federation has. You won’t see one of their buckets outrun this little beauty. What’s a teleporter?
Heh. Are you in for a treat! The teleporter allows us to transport to the surface of a planet, without needing to land the ship. That’s what makes Liberator so fantastic, y’see. She never docks. Built in space, she was. Gravity would crush her. She’s light as a feather. And that’s why she’s so fast, of course. Did I mention the weaponry?” INTRODUCTION (H2) Blake’s 7 was a popular science fiction series produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation as a flagship weekend program for BBC1. The show aired for four seasons between 1978 and 1981, and was an instant hit, acclaimed for its dark, brooding atmosphere, ambiguous morals, and strong characters, all uncommon for a show of its kind. Blake’s 7 is still popular today, with many fanzines, websites and forums dedicated to discussing the show.
The series took place on Liberator, a spaceship from a future galaxy ruled by a tyrannical regime known as ‘The Terran Federation’, or more simply, ‘The Federation’. Roj Blake, a Robin Hood figure, led his band of freedom fighters in strikes against the evil of the Federation. The show was pessimistic in tone, and addressed many issues few writers at that time were willing to consider approaching in a ‘main stream’ medium, including the concepts of death, torture, oppression and anti-heroism. Blake’s diverse crew included a corrupt computer expert named Kerr Avon (played by Paul Darrow), a smuggler name Jenna Stanis (played by Sally Knyvette), the petty thief and comic relief, Vila Restal (played by Michael Keating), a convicted killer named Olag Gan (played by David Jackson) and a telepathic soldier named Cally (played by Jan Chappell). Other characters included Dayna, a weapons expert; Tarrant, a mercenary; and Soolin, a gunslinger.
Artificial Intelligence also played a major role in the show with the initial presence of Zen, a monosyllabic manifestation of the Liberator’s own computer mind, Slave the equivalent computer on the crew’s later ship Scorpio and Orac, an independent computer which could be moved around and even taken off-ship.
Blake’s 7 was widely influenced by a mixture of different genres and themes. There were elements of The Dirty Dozen in the origins of Blake’s ragtag crew, the majority of whom were escaped convicts and reluctant heroes, just like the tumbledown cast of Robert Aldrich’s 1967 film. The computer elements of the show, conceived during a time when computers were still little more than glorified calculators, owed a great deal to Ridley Scott’s Alien and the concept of ‘Mother’, a computer brain locked intrinsically to the mechanics of a spaceship. There were also undeniable parallels between Blake and Robin Hood, though his own ‘men’ were far from merry.
While Blake wished to use the Liberator to strike against the heart of his enemy, the omnipotent Federation, his crew were more interested in surviving and escaping from the clutches of their former incarcerators, none more so than Avon who was more interested in chasing his own cynical dreams of wealth and using the Liberator to realise his dreams than seeking revenge on the Federation. Thus, Blake and Avon would often clash over leadership of the vessel and the crew, reflecting themes of ideology versus self-serving cynicism. But even Avon’s near-nihilistic attitude could not compare with the very obvious manifestations of evil and corruption in the form of the psychotic Federation Commander, Travis and his superior, the visually spectacular but internally ruthless Supreme Commander Servalan. Beneath these main characters were a cast of protagonists in whom series writer Terry Nation revealed other controversial human aspects, including the outright cowardice of Vila, the cynicism and internal rebellion of Jenna and the unquestioning loyalty of Gan. Throughout the show, however, one theme remained prevalent, that of the ambiguity of good versus the unwholesome certainty of evil and the destruction wrought by corruption and disloyalty.
This role-playing game attempts to emulate not only the Blake's 7 universe, creating an environment in which to explore the Federation ruled galaxy, fly side by side with Blake and his crew and explore those themes raised in the original TV show and described above, but also to emulate the process of production itself. In this respect B7RPG attempts to imitate the feel of the television show in conceptual stage, with low budget special effects and script writing, development of characterization and discussion of ideas as they emerge.
WHAT IS ROLE-PLAYING? (H3) Roj Blake is the crass but determined captain of a space vessel called the Liberator. He purports to command a ragtag crew of rebels and with their help exacts a private war against the oppressive regime of the Federation.
Vila Restal is a cowardly ex-convict, escaped from the horrors of a Federation secure unit and now a member of Roj Blake’s rebel crew. Vila projects an air of nervous humour and reluctant loyalty. Under pressure he usually aims to save his own neck before risking his own safety for the sake of his friends.
Kerr Avon is a tall, dark and brooding character, slightly villainous, but ultimately battling against a greater evil. He is also a member of Roj Blake’s crew, though he is perhaps the least loyal and would sooner be commander himself.
These are no flesh and blood characters. They are merely imagined personalities in a TV show and exist only as personified by those actors who portray them on screen, and maybe as a collection of scribbled notes in the director’s files.
In a roleplaying game, the same principles apply. The characters exist only as imagined personas in the minds of those players who portray them within the game, and as a collection of numbers and notes on a ‘character sheet’. This latter is the equivalent of the director’s notes, giving players something solid to which they can refer throughout the game, providing both consistency and an element of logic to the way the game is played.
A TV show relies on studio sets, expensive special effects, paid actors and prepared scripts in order to generate a story. The whole serves to entertain viewers, and is ultimately a visual form of media, enhanced by sound and, of course, the story itself.
A roleplaying game relies only on the imaginations of players. The ‘show’ takes place around a table, or around a comfortable room, the ‘actors’ being merely players of the game. There are no viewers - only the players themselves. The game serves to entertain those who participate, rather than those who watch; although observing a roleplaying game in progress can be a most enjoyable experience.
One player takes on the role of gamesmaster (a sort of referee) and effectively directs the action.
The gamesmaster will describe a scene, situation or event and players, assuming the role of the imaginary character they have chosen to portray, will describe how their character reacts, what they think, what they intend to do and how they intend to do it. In this way, an entirely imagined show evolves, seen only in the mind’s eye of the players and gamesmaster. The better the gamesmaster is at describing the imagined world and the better the players are at reacting in a believable way, the more lucid the game experience will be.
B7RPG provides a basic framework within which the imagination can turn lifeless numbers and notes into characters and gives them a world in which to live. Using the B7RPG ruleset, players will create imaginary characters within the Blake’s 7 universe, defining them in terms of randomly generated physical and mental attributes. Other required details will include the name of the character, their sex, their age and other personal details. A background story may also be useful, giving substance to the otherwise two dimensional aspect of the newly created character idea. When all this is done the player should have a fairly good description of the character he or she intends to play. Yet the character remains lifeless. This is where the role-playing begins. The player assumes the personality of the character in much the same way as an actor or actress assumes the persona of their character, and directs its actions. On his own, a character can do nothing. But with the direction of the player, the character can live and adventure in a world far removed from that of everyday life. Roleplay, then, allows a player to immerse themselves in another life, in another universe, surrounded by situations the player themselves would never encounter in the course of their own life.