Bulletproof Blues

From: Kalos Comics
Reviewed by: Corey Spillis

A new Superhero RPG by Brandon Blackmoor, Bulletproof Blues is set in the Kalos Comics universe.

Bulletproof Blues is a self-published, “rules lite” RPG and setting book that seeks to emulate the superhero genre. The book itself was a pleasant surprise and was vibrant, easy to read, and conveyed the superhero genre on every page. From what I can tell a considerable effort was taken to make this book very friendly for potential new roleplayers. This effort does mean that some of the information is restated or duplicated at times to avoid the message being lost under all the rules. The good news is because it’s geared for newer roleplayers, the rules and a pair of 6 sided dice are all you really need to start your journey of truth and justice!

From page 168:

“On the surface, the Kalos Universe closely resembles our own. The outlines of the continents are the same, and the names of the nations that humans have created within those borders are familiar. Much as in our own world, extremes of good and evil exist, but the gulf between them is a murky area where those of good will can and do disagree.” 

The world of Kalos comics is just like our own but with many of the conventions and tropes very familiar to any fan of the superhero genre. Prime amongst these conventions is the multiverse component of the setting with close to two hundred thousand additional Earths, each with their own quirks. The details of the multiple worlds is briefly discussed with most of the details left to the Gamemaster’s discretion. The multiverse component allows for a fair number of standard tropes to be explored within the setting and mention is made of evil versions of the Kalos Universe’s heroes.

Additionally, humans aren’t alone on Earth, and Atlantis and Lemuria both exist in a way that should be familiar to any comic book fan in both their description and the feel and attitudes of their inhabitants. Both species are extraterrestrial in origin, however, and seem content to simply live under the oceans ignoring the surface dwellers and each other. Bulletproof Blues doesn’t stop there and the underwater inhabitants aren’t the only extraterrestrials in the Kalos Universe. Earth has been invaded at least once by an alien race according to the provided history.

Of course, super powered beings ( termed “Post Humans” in the Kalos Universe, which I really like) exist, but their impact on the world is minimalized. In keeping with comic convention most Post Humans end up living in the United States of America even if their country of birth is elsewhere, though no one knows why. There is a general outline of the setting, but little other detail of the world is provided, instead leaving those decisions to the GM. Corporations do seem to play an important role in the Kalos universe as they are given additional attention. The top five are given enough detail for the GM to use them in their campaign almost as is. The really good news is that tucked under the Corporation header is also an overview for the governments of the Kalos Universe. I personally don’t mind this as the meat and potatoes of any superhero game are the organizations. All you need is one corporation trying to impose their will upon the world at large through whatever means is at their disposal for either good or ill to square off again. The Kalos Universe is no exception and delivers just such an organization with the shadowy Aegis who is working counterpoint to groups like GORGON unbeknownst to the average man on the street.

While the setting can feel a bit incomplete to a gamer who loves a lot more detail, I think there’s just enough here to get you started without telling you how to play.

From page 5:

“We wanted a superhero game that was quick to learn, quick to play, and yet reasonably complete. We also wanted a game that lent itself to more serious superhero fiction, like Planetary and the first two years of The Authority.”

I’ll admit I’m a huge fan of comic books and superhero role-playing games and have been for the last thirty odd years. When someone says “Classic X-Men,” my mind goes to Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and Marvel Girl. I have followed writers and artists from book to book because I loved their work, never mind if the new book was something just outside my tastes. This means I walk around with some pretty heavy expectations for the rules and am not easily impressed. Despite some initial misgivings, Bulletproof Blues surprised me in how easy it was to not only create my character but also in the way play scaled better than I initially expected. There’s not a lot of number crunching to do here, so you can slip into your tights and get down to the business of saving the world, or perhaps conquering it!

Character generation is accomplished by picking a starting power level to determine the base attribute range and points available for purchasing powers. To start – you write down a value based on the power level of the game and adjust it, within reason, based on the concept. Skills are also chosen based on your character’s background and written on the character sheet as appropriate. The only time you have to start actually making choices based on limited resources for character choices is Advantages and Powers. A solid concept still serves wonders and there are some handy power sets available to help guide your choices. I was able to generate my test character in about ten minutes, from start to finish, making this an excellent choice for groups that prefer getting into the action quickly.

It took a few practice runs but the combat test does play significantly smoother than some of the other superhero games out there. In this respect the game delivers exactly what it promises, and I can easily see a group playing an authority-style game with combat taking a backdrop to the story. I was able to clone every iconic comic book character I could think of, and a few non-iconic as well, with little effort.

In conclusion, the Kalos Universe feels very four-color in rules, while the setting itself tries to maintain a veneer of being set in something approximately like the real world. There are a few places this works to good effect, and there is enough material to help create a good backdrop for campaign. Perhaps a Kalos Universe book might flesh out some of the details and help solidify the campaign world. The rules themselves are solid and do what is advertised. Overall, it’s a good product for superhero gamers who want rules that are easy to pick up. It will definitely be added to my shelf even if I prefer a crunchier system.

Codex Rating: 12

Bulletproof Blues
From: Kalos Comics
Type of Game:</strong> RPG
Written by: Brandon Blackmoor
Contributing Authors: Doug Sims, Greg Stolze, Sean Weir
Cover Art by: Storn Cook
Additional Art by: Dan House, Matt Baker, L.B. Cole, Paul Gustavson, Bob Powell, Alex Schomburg, Basil Wolverton
Number of Pages: 255
Game Components Included: rulebook
Retail Price: $ Type Dollar Value (US)
IBSN: Type IBSN-Number
Website: www.kaloscomics.com