Grimdark Space Survival RPG Death in Space Is Ready for Planetfall

Grimdark Space Survival RPG Death in Space Is Ready for Planetfall
Death in Space (Image: Free League/Death in Space)

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.

The Void (Image: Free League/Death In Space)The Void (Image: Free League/Death In Space)

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 Ape (Image: Free League/Death In Space)The Ape (Image: Free League/Death In Space)

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.