Reading Run Robot Red(ux) – A Funny Little Game About Funny Little Robots by Annie Rush

Before SävCon I stocked up on games to sell, and since I was ordering stuff from Lulu anyway I put some games for myself in the basket as well. One of those games was a little black book with red and yellow print on the cover – Run Robot Red(ux) by Annie Rush. It is not unheard of that I buy a game only to put it on my shelf, but in the foreword Annie writes:

As the writer and designer of Run Robot Red, I don’t want to tell you what to play so much as I want to offer you new suggestions on how to play.

The game promises Form, this must be investigated!

The book itself
Like most other small games on Lulu RRR is a 6×9 book with soft covers. It has 104 pages with double column text and a few very nice pictures of Robots drawn by Reagan Lodge. The double column layout and small pages combined make pretty short lines of text, reading the game took longer than I had expected. But it was a nice read.

I think the first edition was called Run Robot Red and this is the second edition.

The setting
In RRR the players play robots. These robots live in a strange dictatorship aboard a spaceship called Widenet YT. The spaceship is on a never ending journey through space and since there are no humans around the robots are left to their own devices. Directed by their mysterious leader Cel Tron Stroma the robots live on a fixed work 12 hours/rest 12 hours schedule.

The laws that the robots live under gives me vibes of Animal Farm and stories of dystopia:

Nobot is better than any other bot.

Nobot shall make his fellow bots feel inadequate.

Nobot shall do more than asked of him.

Allbots are equal! Allbots are brothers! Allbots are the same!

But naturally some bots are more equal than others and all bots are not the same, but must act like that is the case. Hilarity ensues when the bots must make sure not to do anything TOO well, else they are taken away for reprogramming.

The rules
The rules are simple, but make a good job of supporting the setting. Roll a number of d10s, adding them to hit a target number. Hitting, not exceeding. If you exceed the target you do something too well and may attract unwanted attention of the authorities. There is a bit more to it than that, but that is the basics.

There are no less than five different character generation systems in the chapter on bot building. A few basic styles of bots are available, but by adding different options they can be customized to the player’s desires. Also bots are given different personalities depending on which factory they were made in.

The form
Annie recommends that the game is used to run short stories, with a clear beginning, middle and end. There is a section with advice to the GM on how to run the game (or really any game that is not about going into a dungeon, killing for XP and looting for gold). It is not a very deep or detailed chapter, but considering the game’s short length it must be seen as adequate.

Also there are lots of adventure seeds in the end of the book. Nothing that is ready to run, but with some work each of them can be fleshed out into full blown adventures.

Conclusion
The setting is good. I think you will get bored with the game before exhausting the adventure seeds in the book, and there is a list of different factories and some goodies in the GM’s section for those that want to write their own.

The rules are good, they match the setting and the short story style suggested by Annie. I don’t think anyone would want to extend the game into campaign play anyway, so the lack of such support is not really a problem.

I am torn over what to say about the form. On one hand it does not give the “new suggestions” that I was hoping for. On the other hand, the first edition came in 2004, same year that we got The Shadow Of Yesterday and Cat RPG, perhaps the stuff I take for granted was all shiny and new back then. But since the stuff that we actually do get on how to play the game looks like it fits the setting and rules and forms a distinct way of playing I’ll say that the form is good too.

It is a very focused game – you play robots on a ship, and the game does not support much of anything else. But I think you’ll have great fun for a few sessions with a regular group or if you do some pre-gens and write a proper adventure for playing it as a pickup game at cons,

Had it contained some more examples from actual play it would have made a pretty good beginner’s first game.

Will I play it?
Yes, I think so. If I ever get around to doing those pre-gens and writing that adventure I’ll bring it with me for short stories about robots, on a ship.

www.lulu.com/product/paperback/run-robot-red/418563 – Lulu entry for Run Robot Red(ux)

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