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Bleak and lonely tabletop RPG Death in Space now available through Free League Workshop

Hard work in the hard vacuum.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2021, upcoming tabletop RPG Death in Space has opened physical pre-orders through Swedish publisher Free League. The physical book will contain everything groups need to create a crew struggling to eke out a living on the edges of a dying universe that’s probably a little haunted.

Death in Space is the creation of Carl Niblaus and Christian Plogfors, two members of design outfit Stockholm Kartell of Mörk Borg and Cy_Borg fame. Its rules are lightweight and modular in the fashion of other OSR-inspired games, giving players plenty of tools without sacrificing narrative agility. Character creation is easy enough that the team developed an online generation tool so that the first session can move directly into the dark, dismal depths of space as soon as possible.

The setting takes place during a time of uncertain future and unreliable living conditions. War, resource expansion and wheels-off capitalism have left the Tenebris system stripped of nearly every available natural resource. The remnants of its frontier society constantly salvage scrap for the necessary repairs to their ships and life systems, jury-rigging outmoded, barely working tech together with ingenuity and threadbare hope.

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If that wasn’t bad enough, scientists claim the universe has entered a quickly accelerating contraction phase, collapsing in on itself and putting an expiration date on all of existence. With no hope for a future and little incentive to carry on a doomed society, players will only have the found family of their crew to rely on as they labour to survive just one more day. Shot through all of this are occult whispers of something out in the void, speaking through comms static and infecting anyone caught beyond the edges of charted space.

Players will create their own ship or space station located somewhere among the endless wreckage of the Tenebris system before accepting perilous jobs for the few shady companies still attempting to scrape profit off its bones. Scrap for repairs must be salvaged from debris, but every trip beyond the ostensible safety of the Iron Ring means chancing encounters with pirates, cutthroat contractors or something strange and unknowable.

Groups looking to adventure somewhere between the world of Alien and Sunshine will find Death in Space a good pick for gritty, sweaty stories about people who aren’t going to save the galaxy from some massive cosmic threat - they just want to survive until their next paycheck. The book is published under the Free League Workshop imprint meant to provide independent designers access to a wider distribution platform - the upcoming remastered printing of Into the Odd is another title taking advantage of this licence.

Pre-orders will remain open until the book’s official launch on April 26th, and a physical copy of the retail edition can be purchased for $31.56 (£24). The designers have said that Kickstarter copies will be prioritised for fulfilment - beginning around April 20th - and that books will show up in stores sometime in May.

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