Free League raised more than $1.5 m on Kickstarter when looking for funding for the Blade Runner RPG. It was voted the most anticipated RPG for 2022 by EnWorld.

Sometimes it seems that the Free League has found the perfect formula, for almost every Kickstarter they launch is more successful than the one before. Over fifteen thousand people backed the publisher’s campaign for the Blade Runner RPG, their second most successful Kickstarter campaign after their campaign for the second edition of the One Ring. It seems they are on a great run, having gained momentum, so even a game based on an old Swedish game (Drakar och Demoner), Dragonbane – a game not supported by a large brand like Blade Runner or The One Ring – has over 10 thousand backers!

Free League is easily starting to rival the big US and UK publishers, which for us in Northern Europe, is so great to see. The roleplaying scene is fast-growing, which applies to Scandinavia like the rest of the world. Free League recently published their release schedule for 2023, and it is safe to say that the fans of their games are in for a good year.

Blade runner, Blade Runner RPG – Review, Yawning Portal

Blade Runner RPG

Since the science-fiction cult film Blade Runner was released in 1982, it has amassed a great fan base. This great film, starring Harrison Ford, Sean Young, and Rutger Hauer, takes place in a dystopian version of Los Angeles, where synthetic humans known as replicants work on space colonies and a part of the police force is tasked with tracking rogue replicants down and retire them. The replicants are bio-engineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation. In 2017 a sequel, Blade Runner 2049, was released and received well. Of course, the plot of the films is too long to go into detail, but it is safe to say that both are more than a decent watch, and the setting is phenomenal. For those who like digging into things, looking into the continuity of Blade Runner and Prometheus is quite interesting…

In the Blade Runner RPG, the players take on the roles of Blade Runners, officers in the LAPD rep-detect unit tasked with hunting down replicas, flying spinners, and using Voight-Kampff machines. For most science-fiction rpg fans, more than enough should be needed to make you interested, and even though you aren’t deep in sci-fi, the film-noir setting is interesting enough to pull you in and make the game fun.

Blade runner, Blade Runner RPG – Review, Yawning Portal


Blade Runner RPG uses the Year Zero Engine (YZE) system like many other games from the Free League. Every character has four attributes, thirteen skills (one more than in a regular YZE game), and many specialties. As in other YZE games, you have certain tools to flesh out your character, and you can access them in-game. In Blade Runner, you have key memory, key relationship, and signature item. In character creation, choose your archetype and whether you are human or a replicant.

The dice system has been updated. Instead of building dice pools of d6s, you now have different levels of expertise, and A-level expertise awards a d12, while D-level expertise awards a d6. Your character starts with C-level expertise in all attributes, and the number of years spent on the force determines if you can promote any of these.

A similar method is used for skills. Your Archetype determines your key skills, and at character creation, all your key skills must be at least C-level, but your years on the force determine the number of promotions you get. You also get several specialties (determined by the number of years on the force) that flesh out your character.

When rolling dice, you get success when you roll a six or higher. To those familiar with YEZ, this is simple, even with the updated dice (similar to those in Forbidden Lands). You can score multiple successes when rolling higher dice, like a d10 or d12. The more successes you get, the better.

All characters earn Promotion Points and Humanity Points in the game. Promotion Points are used to learn new specialties and gain Chinyen Points (which represent income and money). Humanity points are used to improve skills.

Combat is resolved similarly to other YZE games, where you have your turn where you can perform one move and one action. Your character has both Health and Stress points; you can suffer damage from combat and pushing rolls. You can heal by using the Medicine skill, by spending Downtime, or, in the case of Resolve, by using your signature item or speaking to the other Blade Runners.

Blade runner, Blade Runner RPG – Review, Yawning Portal


Blade Runner is such a cool setting, and it is strange that until now, there hasn’t been such a roleplaying game before. Of course, there was the unofficial game released by Farsight Games (written by Jonathan Hicks). You take on the role of a Blade Runner of the LAPD in a unit devoted to hunting down rogue replicants. The setting perfectly blends sci-fi and film noir, where you meet dangerous but beautiful people in dire situations, powerful villains, and walk the streets of LA while dealing with your personal problems.

Scenarios are called Cases, and every time you are on duty, or it’s your shift, you work the case, thus slowly building your reputation as a Blade Runner in LAPD. You often need to split the party (Wait! But that goes against the universal law of everything in roleplaying games…!) to solve the case. Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty. Like all government agencies, the LAPD is a rigid system of rules and hierarchies on the surface but riddled with gaping loopholes for the resourceful and savvy to exploit. There are many ways to circumvent the system and keep things outside official channels, if not off the books entirely, for strategic or political reasons.

Ultimately, it is up to you and your fellow Blade Runners to solve the case.

One size fits all?

Reading through the book and trying the game out, I couldn’t help but think that maybe YZE isn’t a shoe that fits all kinds of settings. After playing Forbidden Lands and Tales from the Loop, I would have liked to see Blade Runner have its system, a game that represents the setting more than YZE does. Granted, there are some modifications to the system that I like, but the system for a setting like Blade Runner needs to have more personality, so to speak.


Blade Runner RPG is a great game for all fans of the film or sci-fi games in general. For anyone familiar with the Free League games, the game is easy to learn, and the setting is awesome. The core rulebook is beautifully laid-out and captures the film’s atmosphere. I would have liked to see the Free League stretch further to make the system more attuned to Blade Runner.

Score: 3.75/5 

A promotional copy of the game was provided by the Free League.