Death in Space is a weird and wonderful sci-fi tabletop RPG from Free League Publishing. If like me you were brought up watching the likes of, Space Odyssey, Red Dwarf, and the Alien franchise then maybe you should check this out. So let’s delve a bit deeper.
One Iron Ring to rule them all
Death in Space takes place in the Tenebris System. This part of space has it all, war, lawlessness, and cults. You and your fellow players take on the role of the blue-collar grunts that keep the cogs of the space empire turning. They will scavenge and strip down old ships and long-forgotten colonies for parts and equipment.
They will do all of this just to carry their haul back to the Iron Ring. A giant space station that encircles Aurum 80, the most important planet in the system. There you will interact with miners that find the gems and the void mutated cultists that worship the darkness of space. It is also where you start your adventures in a starter mission called, Welcome to the Ring. It serves as an introduction to the Tenebris system, the Iron Ring, and general gameplay mechanics of Death in Space.
The beauty of space
The received the core book in PDF and at 136 pages I was kind of dreading the read. To my joy, it was really easy to navigate and very stylish to look at. The art and the layout were just perfect for this kind of RPG. It was dark and gloomy just like the intent of the game.
You will start off in the character-building section. Characters have four attributes, Body, Dexterity, Savvy, and Technology. You get these by rolling 2d4 and subtracting the second die from the first. At level one, characters’ hit points are 1d8, with no modifiers from the attributes. Your starting gear is also random unless told otherwise by the GM. The rest of your character is just the typical RPG stuff like origin, appearance, traits, etc… If you have played any other game this will be very familiar. The rules do also cover a lot of ground, allowing you to incorporate survival, encumbrance, reactions, breaking and fixing equipment, space combat, and more in the book. I found all of this really easy to follow and to do. It is something Free League RPGs are great at, being simplistic.
Dice rolls consist of rolling 1d20 and adding or subtracting the relevant attribute. If you play D&D 5E you will notice that Death in Space has borrowed their advantage/disadvantage mechanic. For those of you that aren’t, this allows you to roll two d20 and take the better or worse result, depending on which side of advance you are. The advantage/disadvantage system is great to encourage creativity in gameplay that doesn’t have lengthy bonuses or character options.
Tap into the Void
The other cool feature in Death in Space is the void and cosmic corruptions. Cosmic mutations are kind of level-ups. While void corruption can drive the players crazy. Void corruption effects are varied and taken from one of the tables in the core book. They can vary from having sticky skin to you growing a complete replica of yourself on your body. Cosmic mutations are a lot of fun some of these include cool power-ups like telekinesis, telepathy, or getting two hearts.
I cannot wait to start a campaign for Death in Space after we finish with Vaesen. It is easy to pick up and for novices like myself and friends, it’s a great gateway to Sci-Fi TTRPGs. Also, the PDF doesn’t do this justice, the artwork and computer-like data layout are spectacular.
You can pre-order Death in Space now on the Free League Publishing website here.