Death in Space RPG, the review: a quick and easy Sci-Fi RPG

Death in Space RPG, the review: a quick and easy Sci-Fi RPG

Death in Space RPG, the review

Death in Space RPG is a pen and paper role-playing game created by Christian Plogfors and Carl Niblaeus, belonging to the Swedish game and art design studio Stockholm Kartell, the studio that was the creator of that gem that is the RPG MÖRK BORG. Death in Space RPG is published by the Swedish publisher Free League Publishing, through the sub-label Free League Workshop.

Death in Space RPG is an extremely dark and almost apocalyptic sci-fi RPG, full of despair. It is an extremely slender complete product, part of the OSR (Old School Renaissance) movement, that is, belonging to that movement that wants to revive the role-playing style typical of the 70s and 80s, that of the dawn of this playful world.

Death in Space RPG is currently only available in English, there is no news regarding its possible future translation into Italian.

Death in Space RPG , the setting

Death in Space RPG is a science fiction role-playing game that sees the players' characters move in a universe that is nearing its end, in which what cosmologists call Big Crunch is taking place, the theory about life cycle of the universe according to which, under the gravitational forces that pervade it, the universe will eventually stop expanding to withdraw more and more and collapse on itself, in a sort of event equal and opposite to that of the Big Bang. As if to announce this imminent end, a disturbing presence, the Void, seems to come from the confines of the universe itself, infecting and corrupting the minds and bodies of space travelers. A presence that closely reminded us of the Darkness among the Stars present in the Sci-Fi role-playing game Coriolis - The Third Horizon, also published by Free League Publishing.

Grimdark Space Survival RPG Death in Space Is Ready for Planetfall

Following a successful Kickstarter, the Death In Space tabletop roleplaying game is finally on its way. Free League announced a publishing partnership with Stockholm Kartell, aiming to bring Death in Space to a global audience. The PDF is available to purchase and the full physical game will be sent out in late April.

The world of Death in Space is a gritty future that is less space opera and more space survival. As you and your crew venture into the dark void of the unregulated universe, you have an opportunity to win big or lose everything. This game follows in the footsteps of work like Tuesday Night Games’ Mothership and even Free League’s own Alien RPG. There’s a horror element inherent in the premise that makes the idea of being trapped on a ship feel cosy compared to the unknown that surrounds you.

A lot of the tension in Death in Space will be based on salvaging, stealing, and building up your crew’s reputation within the war-torn Tenebris system. As a group of blue-collar wreckers rather than rebels or a military outfit, the crew is just trying to pull out enough copper to last until their next job. There’s also the added complication of the void that is constantly surrounding you — and, as voids tend to do, is perhaps changing you… mutating you one bad job at a time.

Free League is publishing and distributing this book through its Workshops arm–a sub-label for independently designed games. Death in Space was created by Christian Plogfors and Carl Niblaeus of Stockholm Kartell. Other works by the authors include Into the Jungle (Plogfors) and Through the Gate (Niblaeus), both published by Stockholm Cartel.

I’m a sucker for these kind of trapped-in-an-unending-universe games. I’ve read through and admired Soul Muppet’s retro-futurist space western, Orbital Blues, and I’ve played a couple rounds of Mousehole Presses’ Orbital, which both take on different aspects of a trapped-in-the-future scenario. Death in Space seems to set up the kind of classic space heists and adventures popularised in media like Cowboy Bebop, Space Sweepers, Firefly, and parts of the Riddick universe. (Cited inspirations include films such as Prospect, Outland, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Monsters, Firefly, Arrival, Blade Runner, and Titan AE.)

The core rule book includes lightweight rules and easy character creation in addition to over 60 different modules, making Death in Space a very quick setup. After creating your character and your team’s hub, you’re ready to go. I’m a big fan of accessible game additions, and the online character generator for Death in Space is a perfect example of how to create easy to understand player aids. There’s also a soundtrack, which is, frankly, always a wonderful bit of flavour to add to your gaming table.

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