Bliss: the Stagening

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Bliss Stage

Bliss: the Stagening

Alright, so, Bliss Stage. Let's start, before we get into the .PDF itself, by taking a poke at what the author has said about it. The author, for the record, is also the creator of Polaris.

That Guy posted:

Bliss Stage is a role-playing game about teenage pilots fighting back against alien invaders with giant robots made of weaponized love. It’s about love and war and the future of humanity. It has a lot of sex parts in it.


I wrote Bliss Stage because I wanted to play a game where sex wasn’t a big taboo.


Bliss Stage has sex in it. If you’re skeeved out by the idea of sex in a role-playing game, don’t play Bliss Stage.

Let's get this straight: According to the author, it is about the sex , the reason it exists and he's not just playing Adeptus Evangelion, Heavy Gear or some horrible Gundam RPG is because they didn't have sex in them. And we're told that if we don't want sex in our RPG, we can fuck right off.

So to anyone who's arguing that we can just cut out the sex and it'll be a great game, that's kind of within the approach of arguing that we can cut the bullshit out of Valley of Dust & Fire or the creepy out of CTech: If you need to houserule it to not suck, it still sucks. But, who knows? Maybe the author is just heavy-handed in his marketing. Maybe the actual game is less aggressive about it than that and, as some people argue, the sex is really just a footnote.

(Also, there's apparently a 2nd edition of BS coming out some time later this year, so maybe everything will be fixed then!)

And because I'm a terrible person I will be interspersing these posts with some of the atrocious "concept art" for the Bliss Stage Visual Novel.


The game starts with the usual little foreword which I actually have to give the author credit for one part of: He says that if we break our necks trying to understand the rules, we can email him and he'll happily help us out with them. That's a level of personal service I've never seen attached to any other RPG. Whether anyone ever needed it or whether he was any good at giving this advice, I have no damn idea, but I appreciate the concept nonetheless.

There's the usual "what is roleplaying?"-bit which is nicely written if a bit effusive in its praise for roleplaying in general. And then we get to the Example Players! Four of them, who will be recurring for all examples-of-play, apparently. We can only hope they have a nicer time of it than the poor, fictional bastards Ettin put through CthulhuTech.

Fictional Maria posted:

So, since I’m the GM, I guess it falls to me to introduce us. We’re the example players of the the game. Throughout the book, you’ll be seeing little segments of our play, and we’ll also be offering commentary in the text. Some of us are fictional people that Ben totally made up, others of us are based on real playtesters of the game.

Maria's the GM, Damien is our Clueless Newbie, Chris is our beard-stroking Grognard here to "explain the subtleties of the rules" and Phoebe is there to round out the gender ratio with another girl.

Then we're unceremoniously dumped into the Background section.


OH SHIT, THE STORY STARTS RIGHT NOW. And by right now I mean right now . Whenever, whereever we are, is when The Bliss strikes. The Bliss basically puts every adult into a coma. After a few nights of ice cream binging and stealing their dad's pornos, the kids and teenagers then realize that it's time to start rioting and looting. Oh and there's an Arbitrary Age Point beyond which anyone who grows too old gets afflicted by the Bliss as well, so there's no new generation of adults to take over.

We get two years of this and then the aliens fuckstomp us with robots that exist partially in the world of dreams, wherein the aliens wholly exist. And then five years of running and hiding for the survivors. How the world's disorganized and uneducated kids manage to survive this, I have no fucking clue, but they do.

There's apparently one or two adults still awake and alive, though, and they must be smart as fuck because they manage to grab a bunch of teenage rioters, slap them together, and teach them how to reverse-engineer ALIEN DREAMBOT TECHNOLOGY into "ANIMA" bots, which they craft out of "the spirits of her friends, lovers, and enemies."


With this weapon, she can fight the aliens on their own terms, striking at the very heart of their occupation. Now, after seven years of despair, this brave group of soldiers are striking the first blows of a war that will determine the fate of humanity, earth, and their own hearts.

Well, alright. I guess I've heard more implausible game setups(albeit not many.).

The Robots


The pilot must be dressed in a special suit, plugged into a startling array of monitoring technology, suspended into a vat of motion resistant goo (else he will sleepwalk) and then fed induced brainwaves on an alien frequency that is not well understood or easily controlled.

You may notice that there isn't really any subtlety with the aggressive ripoffs here.

It's all fuelled by the "brain of an alien drone," again, we're never told how one or two adults and a bunch of teenagers without anything in the way of education or training(seeing as how the Bliss attacks anyone older than 17, assuming that 18 is what the book considers "adult," they'd all have been 10 or younger when it struck). But fuck it, let's pretend they just mobbed it with hammers or something and then dug its smoking hulk out of the pile of kids' corpses.

A Timeline

Nothing we haven't seen so far, 'cept that we're reminded that the kids got up to "murdering, looting and raping" after society went down the shitter.

And that's really all we get for background. The entire remainder of the books is rules and roleplaying guides, including a section called "Pregnancy and Birth." I'm absolutely looking forward to when we get there. It will be special.

The First Engagement

"This is a general guide for the first time you’re sitting down to play Bliss Stage: how to go about setting up the game. If you’re starting a new game (either because you’re playing with a different group or you’ve finished another one), you’ll want to refer back to this section, too."

Let's have a poke at the actual crunch and gameplay before I finish this post up.

"You'll need people for this! Don't forget to socialize with them!"


Before you start playing, take time to socialize a bit with each other. Catch up on your ordinary lives. If there’s anyone who doesn’t know everyone, make sure that they get introduced. I like to cook, so I always cook a big fancy meal for my Bliss Stage players. I know people who do some theater warm-ups. You could do anything that helps you relax and get comfortable with each other, but make sure that you don’t skip it. Every engagement, you should have something to do as people outside of the game. Bliss Stage engagements are primarily social engagements, and you should take time to relate to each other as people and not just fellow players.

I've frankly never encountered an RPG that suspected the player of being this socially/emotionally crippled before.

Fictional Chris posted:

Here’s a shout to old-hands at table-top roleplaying games: a GM in Bliss Stage isn’t the same as a GM in a lot of other games. For example, the primary job of the GM in Bliss Stage is to facilitate consensus amongst the players, rather than to throw out their own ideas.

Alright, so we're essentially playing something like Polaris with a referee. Not really a huge surprise considering that Polaris worked in a reasonably similar way, we can roll with it.

Step one is to pick a GM, and step two is to design our Resistance Group. The PDF runs us through a few simple questions to help us with it: Where is it located? Do you have a lot of resources to work with? Are there any other survivors in the area? What do the members of the group who aren't Pilots/Anchors do? What are the aliens like?

(We've had no description of the aliens so far, so apparently we get to just decide what the hell they look like and work like. I can't decide if this is the author leaving us with narrative power or just him being a lazy fucker)

What's the dream world like?

(Yep, this one is ALSO left up to us)

What dream emanations are present?

(This one hasn't been introduced yet, but apparently the dream world is now affecting the waking world and turning it into something out of STALKER. Presumably there are monsters, anomalies and weirdnesses all over but, again, hooray, we're left to figure this one out for ourselves!)

We get an Example of Genuine Social Interaction from the Fictional Group as they work this out, complete with them all throwing a screaming gross-out fit at the idea that they(being adults), will have gone comatose and something will have to be done about their bodies(it's never actually specified, at least not yet, whether the comatose adults die of thirst and hunger in their sleep, one paragraph mentions that they don't seem to care about it while asleep, but that's it) and decide that they'll be operating out of the apartment building they're currently in because they're a bunch of unimaginative punks.

Their exciting idea for the aliens is that they're people, who're made out of even tinier people.

It's a spectacularly unhelpful interlude.

Character Generation

The chapter spontaneously fades over into character generation.


Now you’re going to make up the people that compose your resistance group: the leaders and soldiers in humanity’s war against the dream aliens. When you’re doing this, you should make time to note possibly important relationships between the characters as you come up with them. In particular keep track of which characters, if any, have an immediate blood relationship (brother or sister, son or daughter, mother or father.)

Instead of everyone making up a character, everyone pitches in to create the resistance group in general. We need An Authority Figure(The Surviving Adult), some pilots(at least two), some anchors(one for each pilot) and some secondary characters to lounge around and provide Social Interaction Stuff. In THE FUTURE(by which I mean farther along in the book, some 20 pages or so further ahead), we're told that we'll be debating Character Ownership.

In the meantime, we're just told to distribute it as follows: GM owns the Authority Figure and no pilots or anchors, each player owns maximally one Anchor and one Pilot. If two characters are related, close, or fucking, they shouldn't be controlled by the same player.

Next is the vaguely-described Intimacy aspect(the actual rules for which are some 30 pages ahead, I'll take a quick poke at their surface here), which jumps us into a paragraph talking about how fucking is requisite for very Intimate relationships, but that boning doesn't necessarily make a relationship particularly Intimate. That's great.


Characters with a direct blood relationship have an additional point of intimacy above and beyond what is listed above. They still have a maximum total intimacy of 5 (you are not rewarded for incest.)

I love it when the game has to point out things like this! Christ.

We'll get back to that later, but note that yes: Close friendships will never be as powerful as someone you're fucking, unless you're related to them. And even with relatives you have to either fight them or make out with them.

I pity anyone who contributed to the Kickstarter for this shit

Anyway, at this point we've named and vaguely-described a bunch of characters and we're told to establish their relationships. There's an Intimacy level(as the table shows), a Trust level and a Stress level. Intimacy only grows, Trust is basically the "health points" that the relationship has, and Stress is how much damage it's taken. That's how a quick reading presents it.

Then we're spirited away for another interlude where the Fictional Players create some very forgettable characters and then decide who they're romantically entwined with.

The next step is then to give our characters some Hopes, which are basically their motivations and what they're out to accomplish. Kick Alien Ass, Understand Alien Motivations, Save The World, etc. etc. they're all there.

Our Pilots come from one of six templates: Innocent Sweetheart, Eager Young Soldier, Devoted Lover, Rising Hero, Carefree Hedonist and Seasoned Veteran. Growing in age from 13 to 17. Each come with a selection of combinations of Trust/Intimacy for relationships.

And a quote! Here's the one for the Carefree Hedonist.


“Hi there, Sara. Oh, yeah, about last night -- don’t take it too seriously, okay? I mean, it was fun, but I don’t think we should let ourselves get too tied down, y’know? Oh, don’t start crying again...”

I really want to fucking know who the hell finds this as motivating to play this archetype.

The only other characters who have stats are our anchors. And by "stats" I mean a single ability to reroll some dice or something.


Don’t use the default anchor names! Anchors should be named after people you or the other players had unrequited crushes on in middle school or high school. Don’t use the names of people that you still know, though! That’s just creepy.

If the review seems a bit confused so far, that's because the game does so as well. It's throwing terms and numbers at us that aren't going to be explained for a good long while yet(at least by looking at the index and the page references) and the whole setting is basically an empty shell that we fill out ourselves. About half the text so far has been watching the Fictional Party creating their world in a wholly uninspiring way.

Next time we'll actually get to the damn mechanics, if the book's chapter titles are to be trusted.


posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Bliss Stage!


So, you know, just because I want to really step on the whole "we can house rule it to not be creepy!"-thing. You know how I mentioned the "what is roleplaying"/"what is an RPG"-intro? And how it was harmlessly generic for the most part? It's true, there's nothing in there we haven't seen before. But there's something missing which we usually see: Rule Zero. "Change it if you don't like it."

That's because the author doesn't believe in that.


I am a 28 year old guy from rural northern California. I’m been playing and designing role-playing games for most of my life. I’m currently a graduate student in China Studies at the University of Washington. I alternate living on the west coast of the US and China. My games come out of the Forge tradition of game design: they have rules which are fun to play, which I expect you to follow , and which are complete and give full instructions on how to play the game.

It's pretty unambiguous, he expects us to listen to him when he tells us how to have fun.

About the archetypes, somehow I missed this on my first skim, but the lone 14-year-old archetype, "Eager Young Soldier" starts with an Intimacy 4 relationship by default. Just so we're clear on it, this means this kid has either tried to kill someone in a fight, been involved in some weird blood ritual or is sexually active. And if you're playing a 15-year-old you're required to start off with a level 5(SEX - HAVE SEX) relationship.

The hell have I gotten myself into here?

Bad Touch Gundam

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Bliss Stage

Bad Touch Gundam

The Basics


You know how everyone chipped in to make the characters together and we told we were going to have "ownership" explained later like there was something special about it? There's not. This is just more of Bliss Stage's "explain the blatantly obvious"-gig where it tells us that, gasp, "owning" a character or "controlling" a character means deciding what that character does and says.

This is two pages of well-spaced, huge-font text and nonetheless they get a bullet-pointed summary at the end. Good design this is not. Also taking two pages to explain this concept means either this game is made for or by the mentally deficient.


Trauma: An HP/Sanity mix, 0 to 6. One way to die is to max out our trauma. If you die, you get to write your own death scene, but there's an arbitrary limit on exactly how many side-characters you can take with you to the grave, for some odd reason.

Terror: 0 to 7, if this goes higher than your trauma, drop it to zero and add one to your trauma.

Bliss: 13 to 108(what the fuck is with these numbers?), if your Bliss ever hits 108 then you die, but in a special way. Basically it's a "social" death, wherein your character either joins the aliens, leaves the crew, is actually killed, goes berserk or takes over the group. In the latter case he becomes the new Authority Figure and also the new GM.

Intimacy: We know what this is. Yuck.

Trust: Relationship HP, a relationship at 0 Trust is broken.

Stress: Like Terror, but for Trust, it uses the exact same mechanic to resolve whether Trust is adversely effected, except that Trust drops when it gets damaged, unlike Trauma, which rises.

Yes, this is a fucking stupid reversal of mechanic within less than two pages.


Because we needed a UNIQUE word for a scene or whatever, so we're calling it an action .

We're told that things happen because players do things. I'm not sure if that's somehow really profound or amazingly stupid, but I'm betting on amazingly stupid.

Mission Actions

Pilots control themselves, Anchors control "the environment" and GM's control everything nasty that's out to fuck you over. These actions are in the DREAM WORLD. By the sound of it there's only ever one pilot and anchor active at once, so fuck you if you have more than three people involved in the game, I guess. Whoever's sitting out can go make a sandwich or something.

Interlude Actions

Set in the real world, some players, possibly including the GM, sit down and do... whatever the hell they're doing in the real world. And one non-involved player is arbitrarily chosen to judge what the outcome is. There's no mechanic provided for deciding who judges, or how to judge. You just do it, apparently.

Fallout Action

If an Interlude results in lost Trust then whoever caused the lost Trust can call for another action.

Keep in mind, we still have no idea how or what the fuck causes Trust to drop. Is this part of arbitration from the randomly chosen arbitrator players? Do we use dice? Magic 8-Balls? Fucked if I know.

Briefing Action

The GM and whatever pilot and anchor aren't sitting out the next mission have a chat about what the next mission is.

Breakdown Action

If a relationship breaks, you have an action where you roleplay the breaking. One of the examples is, and I kid you not: "At the end, there’s nothing left to say." So I guess it consists of the two players involved just staring at each other for a few minutes.

(If you're curious, none of the examples for the others have been interesting, though, there's a "Scramble every ANIMA"-example for the Briefing Actions, which seems to jive oddly with "ONLY EVER ONE PILOT AND ANCHOR" for missions... and of course almost all of the Interludes are about teenage relationship drama.)

Final Action

108 Bliss or 6+ Trauma, describe what happens.

Resolution Action

If you get over 108 Bliss after a Final Action... which kills you or otherwise writes you out of the game, or if you're the last Pilot in the game(What if you're the only one? The game seems badly designed for large groups). Apparently they're like any other death(or sometimes not), but you get to resolve one of the game's Hopes.

Of course the actual examples provided have little or nothing to do with that.

For instance:


The enemy ace gets off a lucky shot, and she’s flatlined before she can react.



20 years later, assassins find him and execute him for his war crimes.

Is the Hope here "I hope my character dies so I can get away from this fucking game"?

The First Action

And that's it for the Basics. Note how the Basics haven't fucking told us anything about how the numbers in the game are changed . Despite these numbers deciding whether our characters live, die or succeed, and presumably also how capable they are.

But anyway, the book then tells us that every mission of Bliss Stage must start with THE BASE IS UNDER ATTACK, and then every pilot must be given the same mission. And then the game starts. Then everyone who isn't the active pilot and anchor, or the GM, goes to play cards while the mission actions resolve one by one.

But we still don't really know how Mission Actions work except extremely broadly.

Mission Actions

So first a recap. The anchor is only present as a voice, so she can sit there and yell at the pilot, while the pilot yells back to her what he's doing, and the GM tells them both that their 13-year-old dream mecha pilots are being molested by tentacle aliens or whatever the fuck goes down in a Bliss Stage game.

Most of the time the Anchor gets to decide everything that's around the pilot, unless the Anchor has lost control of the dream, which we're not yet told how happens. Also if the Anchor is describing everything that's going on with the dream, I'm not really sure what's left for the fucking GM to describe or for the pilot to do. Also the Anchor can lose control to the point where she can't describe anything and only the Pilot and GM are doing anything at all. Unless the other players also get allowed to chip in and describe how horrible the dream now is.


"During the whole course of this, if the pilot wishes to add parts to his ANIMa, he does so simply be describing the relationship and the part that it forms. The pilot may add any part which is not presently in use, or did not suffer a malfunction earlier in the mission."

I keep assuming that at some point we'll be told how this fucking shit FUNCTIONS, but I keep being disappointed.

Dice only get involved at one point, apparently(finally telling us this, thank you!), which is at the Climax, which is the only point during the mission where the pilot can accomplish anything that matters. You pick up D6's equal to the amount of Intimacy your mech is made of, and they work like FATE's dice, which is to say that two sides are negative, two are neutral and two are positive.

And then I try to work out this BADLY WRITTEN mechanic...

For every point of Trauma a pilot has(WHICH WE STILL HAVE NO IDEA HOW THE PILOT GAINS, BECAUSE THERE IS YET NO MECHANIC FOR GAINING TERROR), the GM can "threaten a category," for every two points, he can "force a relationship" and for every three he can "endanger a category." Alternately if you have three or more trauma he can just say he wants to try to "total panic."

Then the pilot rolls two dice for every threatened category and three for every endangered, and assigns them to the various categories and stuff that are threatened or forced or whatever, then picks the lowest for each(unless you read a couple of paragraphs onwards, in which case you just roll them all in one big pile and assign them as you want to. And in that case you already know all of the results and just pile all the lowest ones on a single thing, since it says you read the lowest die.). If it's a total panic, all neutral results are scrapped and you get an extra + result.

The stuff the GM can threaten is your personal safety(getting you terror or trauma), the mission's success or any relationship deployed as part of the ANIMA. All dice not used for anything go on the Bliss counter, where extra +'s are +3 Bliss, neutral rolls are 0 Bliss and negative rolls are +1 Bliss.

If you're short any dice, their results default to a neutral.

There's still no description of what the fuck a "total panic" is or what categories we even assign to when one of those is forced by the GM. Possibly what it means is that all dice are rolled as Bliss dice instead. But, you know, it never fucking says!

Now, as you may have realized by this point, the only mechanic we have so far seen for gaining Terror/Trauma requires you to already have trauma . Also apparently we only get to roll for "mission success" if we have trauma and if the GM chooses to threaten it. What happens if he doesn't threaten it? Does it automatically succeed? Is the mission forever left in some sort of weird limbo?! Or maybe there are actually less shit mechanics for non-mission stuff! Ha ha, probably not. And that still wouldn't resolve the fact that if we enter a mission with no trauma, we're rolling no dice.

Also since you always check your LOWEST die(going by the first described mechanic), you'll always want less dice. I guess. Unless you want to flood-over with enough dice to quickly max out your Bliss, become the GM and declare that you're playing something more pleasant, like Racial Holy War.

Oh and there's Forcing a relationship, which lets the GM take a poke at a relationship that isn't part of your ANIMA. There's no real mechanical description for how or why that happens, like it's not there as a chunk of your robot to get shot at. So I guess you get stressed out and accidentally tell your Anchor you hate your girlfriend's hair and she blabs to everyone, or something?

Also if your relationship with your Anchor is broken, the GM can threaten her, too.

Fuck this game.

Still another 100 pages of shit to go

"I think my trust was broken"

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Bliss Stage

"I think my trust was broken"

Interlude Actions

We move from poorly-conceived-and-written mission mechanics to... everything else mechanics. From here on out we're on the cleanup phase, thank God.

(Also, just to be sure, I checked. None of the templates, which are how all the characters start, start with any Trauma. All games start with a Mission. The only point to take Trauma in a mission is at the Climax. If you have no Trauma at the Climax, the GM cannot roll any dice to give you more or to threaten the mission. Insert your favourite confused emoticon here.)

The GM, as we're used to, calls for interlude actions when they need to happen, and occasionally players can also do so(winning a mission or wrecking a relationship are about it). Interludes are largely social and involve one(1) pilot and any(???) number of non-Pilot characters, but there must always be one non-GM, non-Pilot-character who gets chosen to sit by and Judge . Usually whoever last was the focus of an Interlude with their Pilot, but not necessarily.

(Fictional Player Chris here yells at us to check pages 108 and 109 for the LIMITS on how Interlude actions can affect stuff mechanically, but those two pages are actually the end of the MIssion Action chapter and are completely unrelated. Great editing!)

So you roleplay for a while, then you can insist that your character was GRIEVOUSLY HURT by someone else's and lost Trust, you can recover from Trauma, get more Trust in a relationship, lose Stress or build Intimacy. The Judge gets to decide what happens, and the only demand is that something happens. We also get a recap of the delightful Intimacy table. It's still as bad as ever.

And for once, let's pad this out with the Fictional Players' first Interlude Action! I bet you guys want to see how awesome these can be, right?

DRAMA posted:

Phoebe (as Megan): Sara, what’s wrong? Are you angry at me for something?

Damien (as Sara): I take her hands and then just hug her. “I’m sorry, it’s just that ... I’m sorry. Don’t go back in there. Stay with me.”

Phoebe: I... people will notice!

Damien: Who cares if people notice! I love you! I don’t care if anyone knows it. I start shouting “I love you!”

Phoebe: “Be quiet be ...” Megan storms off.

Maria (as judge): And let’s end the action there. I think that that was definitely stress relief.

Damien: I think my trust was broken.

So emotionally intense. And then we get ANOTHER ONE! We're just having the time of our lives here.

MORE DRAMA posted:

Maria (as GM): Okay, so we’re in the back of an old convenience store. It’s mostly been looted, but we’ve come across a huge flat of old cheap canned beer and have been laying into it. We’re both well past drunk already.

Chris (as Josh): Dude, what’s up between you and Sara, anyway?

Maria (as Keenan): Ahw, hell, I dunno, I mean, nothing really, she’s just gotten all weird and girly on me all of a sudden.

Chris: Uh ... what do you mean by that?

Maria: She’s pretty cute and all, but she’s really not all that. Lousy lay, and now she wants to talk about ‘our relationship’ all the time. Fuck her.

Chris: Oh, fuck that noise! I haul back and hit him.

Maria: What the hell man?!

Chris: I don’t listen, I just keep hitting him. “Don’t talk about her like that! You don’t get to talk about her like that!”

Maria: I’m not hitting back, I’m just trying to defend myself. “Jesus, dude, get a handle on yourself.”

Damien (as Judge): Okay, let’s cut there. You’re defintely fighting for real, so that’s intimacy building.

Maria: Was anyone’s trust broken?

Chris: Nah, not really. I trust Keenan about as far as I can throw him, anyway.

Apparently pummeling someone else for badmouthing his girlfriend makes you more intimate with him. "Love Is A Weapon" indeed. Also note how Trust and Intimacy are two completely separate factors, you can have a deep and abiding love for someone you've barely had any interaction with, or no trust whatsoever for someone you're at top-notch Intimacy with, neither limits the other.

Keenan here is, by the way, both the source of that delightful archetype quote in the first post, and also a "canon" character, in so far as Bliss Stage has any, from a one-shot adventure thing that was apparently packaged with one "edition" of Bliss Stage. He has an ass-load of high-Intimacy relationships despite obviously not being emotionally invested in any way in any of them, his description even straight-up states how he's just in it for fun and boning.

We're also introduced to Death & Harm for non-Pilot characters. A Pilot with three or more Trauma may "Harm" a non-Pilot character(or kill a Harmed character), a Pilot with five or more Trauma may straight-up kill non-Pilot characters.

(Still no way to cause Trauma to Pilot characters outside of missions, something which they're still only at threat of if they already have Trauma.)

Briefing Actions

In short, Authority Figure(GM) picks a pilot and tells him to go fuck off and fight some aliens. The pilot can say "NO, FUCK YOU, DAD, YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME" and pass it on, at the expense of gaining one Stress with his relationship to the Authority Figure and a point of Trauma.

So I guess you're only at danger if you act like a whiny teenager. Don't be Shinji.

Mission Planning

"Hey GM, plan some missions, give them some objectives, tell the players to go on them and complete the objectives."


The first thing to do for a mission is get a general sense of the theme of the mission. This is just a summary of the mission in general: where it takes place and what the pilot is trying to do. “Defend the base from attackers,” “scout enemy headquarters,” “test the new stealth array” and “come to the assistance of our allies in the west” are all perfectly reasonable mission themes.

Note that one. Your robots are in dreams , their equipment is made from relationships , all missions involve piloting the robots . How can you be testing any new equipment?! Rrrrrrgh. This is stupid. Well unless they're telling you to check out whether that girl you boned the other day makes for a good robot cannon.

Advanced Techniques

Oh shit. Now we're playing Advanced Bliss Stage! Better get out my miniatures and photocopy some tables!

Really all that happens here is that we're told that, oh shit, missions can involve more than one pilot and anchor , so your entire group doesn't have to go play Poker or do something fun. Everyone gets to suffer equally! There's also the advanced technique of having mission success and failure have consequences. Holy shit I hope everyone's taking notes!

And then there's a big list of example missions, once again referencing the nebulous Alien Aces and otherwise being dull as fucking dirt.

Final and Resolution Actions

This is the part where you die.

But yeah, as said, if you die from an excess of Trauma, you get to do something dramatic with it, like possibly resolving a Hope or something. Their example is one pilot blowing up "the alien brain" inside "the alien base" and then resolving the Hope, "I Hope we can defeat the aliens." Which, I guess, should end the game or something? What's left if all the aliens are dead? Fucked if I know how this shit works.

We already had a giggle at the "Bliss Out" resolutions, and you win the game if all Hopes are either rendered impossible to complete(if someone DIES DRAMATICALLY without resolving any, mark one as impossible), completed or a mixture of the two, and there's still one pilot alive(the book assumes there will only be one survivor at this point.), then he or she gets to describe the ending scene.

Special Circumstances

Death : Despite having already explained death, trauma, final resolutions and final actions like five times by now, we get them mentioned again.

Birth & Pregnancy : In case your 13-year-old gets knocked up. Mothers have a 3-trust, 3-intimacy relationship with their unborn child, fathers have a 2-trust, 2-intimacy relationship with any of their unborn kids. Yes, this does mean that you could effectively farm as many 2-intimacy relationships as you can find ladies to knock up. "If the mother’s relationship with the child is broken, the pregnancy miscarries and the child is killed." It may not exactly be love that's a weapon, but hate is apparently a coathanger.

Advice For Play

I came into this chapter expecting it to be bad, and it turned out to be hilarious .


There is a temptation, when playing a role-playing game which gives numerical values to things like trauma and trust, to allow the numbers written down for your character and his relationships to dictate your portrayal of that character and those relationships. So, if a relationship has a low trust value, to portray that relationship as untrusting or, if a character has a high trauma value, to portray that character as the spitting image of the traumatized victim (infantilized, quiet, and crying.)

There are some role-playing games where this sort of play is expect, in the regular course of playing the game. However, Bliss Stage does not have this expectation. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The values given for the characters and the relationships should never dictate your portrayal of what those characters say and do except inasmuch as you make strategic decisions regarding them.


If anyone tries to use the mechanics of the game to limit your portrayal or say that you shouldn’t portray a character in some way, point them at this section and tell them to be quiet.

That's right guys. We're not actually meant to roleplay our relationships with any more emotion or detail than a D&D fighter's first +1 sword.

The Authority Figure posted:

So here you are, in charge for all you know the last humans on the whole planet, all alone in a group of people who need you and hate you, you haven’t slept in five years and studies show that, like, what, it’s 72 hours before the suicidal depression hits? Chances are you’re having sex with at least one of the kids , and chances are that you hate yourself for that and for everything else.

Play the Authority Figure if: You enjoy being a pedophile!

I have to sort of give the game a bit of credit for trying to get us into the mood of the game by writing a "what it's like"-section for each type of character(Pilot, Anchor, GM, Secondary), but they're just so badly executed that it's never going to be any better than damning with faint praise. Though it does address the fact that most 10-year-old kids(the only ones not Bliss'd out by this point) would have no fucking way to survive after their parents bit it... and then says that they survived anyway. Despite starvation and being hunted by robot drones and having to fight roving gangs of older kids.

And that's really what the book has for us except for some very, very bland social advice(don't argue about the game, kids!) and then a list of inspiration which somehow fails to include Aquarion. I'll provide the list of anime inspiration anyway, so people can see if their favourite series is partially to blame.


Anime and Manga

Macross Plus
Ghost in the Shell
Serial Experiments Lain


As a closing statement, I'd like to apologize to Chris Field for maligning him as badly as I did: Sorry Chris, there really is worse than you out there, and somehow Black Tokyo is a better implementation of "sex in games" than this tripe.

Next: Time for the Hollow World. I'm tired of bad indie RPG's...