Wednesday 15 December 2021


Wow, these two posts were like 18 months ago.

Since then I've tested the game a handful of times, and spent a lot of time wondering why I hadn't gone much further with it. The overall state of things was:

  • The core system (in essence, a stripped-back Blades in the Dark) is simple enough to use in play and generates some interesting moments without intruding on play.
  • Sometimes there are a few too many Gauges being tracked for my liking, as some of them feel a little inconsequential.
  • The setting is well-linked into the characters and the hooks that they'll be dealing with, but it's a little safe and generic for me at the moment. Archetypes are extremely useful in RPGs, but it all needs seasoning. 
  • The starting characters all get something cool, but some of the skills feel a bit too useful (Software), while others are hard to bring to use in certain scenarios (Science, Authority, and even Weaponry).
  • There isn't a clear hook as to why the characters are doing these dangerous jobs other than "get rich quick".
  • Running heists is fun, but I feel like the shitty-sci-fi setting begs for a wider range of scenarios within the existing job structure.

Now as we know, basically all of my game design comes down to:

  • Stealing bits from other games
  • Deleting large sections of rules
  • Find and Replace
  • Abandoning the document for a long period of time
  • Add more stuff that might make the table laugh
So I've been doing a lot of that to see if we can revive this game with a new lick of paint.

> Callsign BLIGHTY
> Massive Budget Failure
> Commencing Nano-Liquidation
> All crew released for contract work
> No job too big, small, or deadly
> Survival projection: poor
> Still, you’ve got to laugh

Hardcore fans might have heard me talk about the idea of Blighters before. A Red Dwarf inspired microgame that I didn't quite manage to get to grips with. Well we're already a bunch of space losers in a world of Androids and Genetically Engineered Organisms, so why not lean into this inspiration a little? Every game I write ends up having a touch of dark comedy, so it seems like these two projects could naturally become one. 

Now, get me my axe.
  • Print and Prep Gauges are condensed into Cost
  • Assisting rules are simplified to a nice easy bonus
  • I basically had the "Devil's Bargain" equivalent in two different places, so now it's present in its simpler form
  • Event Gauges in the sample jobs now just use the Heat gauge instead of creating two new Gauges to track

How about those Skills?

Well, I briefly moved back to having them phrased more as Actions or Approaches, similar to how Blades in the Dark does. It was a useful exercise, but really just affirmed to me that I think more concrete skills are a better fit here, so Software rather than Hack, and Hardware rather than Fix. It helped me look at the spread of Skills, though, and they've been broadened/tightened as needed to make sure that every skill can be used in every session if the player is smart about it, without allowing them to just always use their highest rated skill for every task. 

Data replaces Science and takes bits from Software's portfolio to cover all sorts of information harvesting and analysis.
Deception replaces Secrecy, because it's a little more active. It's a small change, but it allows the skill to cover things like creating a false identity or making counterfeit items.
Force and Movement share the remains of Weaponry and Athletics. Weaponry was a strange one. It did get used, but it was weirdly focused on a task that most of the time the players were actively trying to avoid. Now it's a little broader to allow for a range of high-impact actions. Similarly, Movement takes the rest of Athletics, but also gains a little bit of sneaking to replace the "punching people" that was lost to Force.
Influence replaces Authority, and while I liked the flavour of that Skill I found players would struggle to get to grips with it in play. For social actions it's more direct than Deception and more forceful than Empathy, and can even be thought of as a soft measure of their place in the social hierarchy. 

What Next?

I should have more of this to share in the New Year, but this is likely the final non-editorial post of 2021, so as always, thanks for reading the blog, click here if you've really enjoyed it, and here's to an even better 2022.


  1. Interesting stuff; I had a quick read through the PDF. I'm assuming you know of the ongoing Mothership kickstarter, they're mucking about with their system as well, but I don't know if it diverges from or converges towards your ideal. Anyways, it's going to be a great new year with both the Bastionland and Mothership kickstarters eventually making their way to my mailbox.

    1. Yeah I'm very excited about the new version of Mothership. Really interested to see what they change, but so far everything I've seen looks positive.