Put your neck on the line to fill both your empty tank and stomach in upcoming tabletop RPG Orbital Blues, an homage to “sad space cowboys” that will ship with its own cassette tape soundtrack.
SoulMuppet Publishing’s latest title wears its inspirations proudly on the sleeve - Orbital Blues is equal parts Cowboy Bebop and Guardians of the Galaxy, with a design that leans towards rules-light storytelling. Players form a crew of outlaws in the Frontier Galaxy desperately working to make anything of themselves under a system designed to wring space-faring gig-workers for every drop of possible labor.
Shining cities exist on the many terraformed planets in the galaxy, but those are not worlds the players can afford. Instead, their work will often take them to the lawless, blasted-out stretches in between - places barely holding on and plastered with naive pseudo-Americana gone to rust.
Written by Sam Sleney & Zachary Cox, Orbital Blues builds on Soulmuppet’s Best Left Buried system of d6 rolls and three main stats - Muscle, Grit and Savvy - to handle conflict and uncertainty. Instead of choosing classes, players personalize characters by choosing unique sets of Gambits and Troubles to indicate the pasts they can’t escape and the hard-won lessons that have kept them alive, so far.
The crew formed by a group of outlaws will design a ship they call home while traveling between jobs - it certainly won’t be pretty or particularly well functioning. Each crew will also have to wrangle their accounts, keeping track of who owes them credits and who they need to pay, in turn. Managing this system of debts is one of the main narrative drivers of Orbital Blues - the crew seems to constantly live one job between destitution and making it out of this way of life.
The Orbital Blues book will contain all the rules and setting information needed to create a crew and ship out towards some adventure, including hooks, random tables and resources for building a homebrewed galaxy. The 120-page hardcover sourcebook features illustrations from Josh Clark and layout from Lone Archivist.
In order to fully immerse players in their world, the creators have collaborated with musician and indie tabletop developer Chris Bissette (The Wretched) to perform as the in-universe band The Deltas and create a cassette tape soundtrack in a vintage red case. Inside will be an Orbital Blues adventure not included in the core book.
The Orbital Blues Kickstarter campaign will run through May 11th and has already surpassed its initial funding goal of £10,000 ($13,766). Prospective players can grab a digital or physical copy of the sourcebook for £10 and £25, respectively. Shipping on the physical book is expected to begin in August of this year.