Assemble a rag-tag crew and stave off cosmic corruption with Death in Space, a new rules-light RPG on Kickstarter that boasts a grungy aesthetic, chunky technology and a soundtrack to match its ‘80s sci-fi influence.
Designed by Christian Plogfors and Carl Niblaeus of Swedish studio Stockholm Kartell, Death in Space marries the simplicity and quick entry of OSR (Old School Revival) tabletop games with a setting that prioritises desperate maneuvers, dirty jobs and survival earned at the end of a weapon.
Players take on the role of crew members aboard a spaceship or station doing menial but necessary day labour in the Tenebris System while taking dangerous contracts from amoral corporations in the hope of pulling themselves up the brutal ladder and into a life not constantly imperiled by a universe folks say is rapidly collapsing in on itself.
The system uses a modified d20 roll-over mechanic, four core abilities and a failure system that awards void points players can use to affect the outcome of future rolls or power the cosmic mutations accrued as a consequence of their work. Though this resource can be pooled for incredible feats, holding too much can apparently cause “some nasty consequences”, according to the Kickstarter description.
Gradually improving the life and conditions of the ship and station seem to be more important than advancing as an individual. The designers have streamlined character creation to a quick, randomised activity because death or forced retirement is an eventuality, not a possibility.
Life among the planets of the Tenebris system means dealing with the machinations and conflict of greedy powers that have stripped-mined and processed nearly every natural resource available. Technology is recycled out of necessity, and everything - from guns and ships to toasters and life support systems - are constructed from salvaged wrecks and ruined cities.
Death in Space will be detailed in a 128-page hardcover book containing everything needed to begin hunting that big score, including random character and base-generating rules. The setting will be broadly described but left intentionally full of holes for the group to fill in or ignore at their pleasure. An introductory scenario will outline how sessions might run and provide a launchpad for longer campaigns.
Plogfors and Niblaeus announced after the campaign rocketed through its initial ask of SEK 50,000 (£4,200) that a full-length soundtrack by Helium Kid Kanon will be included and composed as background music for groups to use during play.
The Kickstarter campaign for Death in Space will run through April 19th. Backers can pick up a digital or physical copy of the sourcebook for SEK 100 (£8) and SEK 280 (£23), respectively. Shipping is expected to begin in January of next year.