Dust Bowl Galaxy is a space western tabletop roleplaying game of exploration, outlaws and frontier survival.
It is a rules-light low-prep game where you build your starship out of spare parts, crew it with custom made aliens, and go explore the galaxy one randomly (or not so randomly) generated sector at a time. When you blow something up, you weld the leftovers onto your ship, call them upgrades and keep on truckin’.
You are in a tin can with half a dozen other scoundrels and there is literally nothing outside for light years. You are tumbling through a bitter galaxy that used to have a lot more people. You are going where many others have gone before. The trick is surviving to come back.
You are looking for a new rock for your people to call home. And once you find it, the refugees can leave their overcrowded slums to become settlers so you get rich doing the right thing… just this once.
On an unrelated note, you are totally not pirates. “Not in this port, officer.”
Part of the charm of the game is player agency and ownership. Character and crew creation is fast and simple – with a group of total newbies you’ll be able to play within 40 minutes of sitting down. During this process, each player will create their own custom alien species to represent their character on the ship, as well as contribute a module or two to the ship’s chassis, collectively building their very own spaceship, as a team.
We accomplish this by providing a list of evolutionary traits, gadget parts and ship modules, each written on its own flash card. Similar rules are used to create galaxy sectors, populate them with stars, planets, nebulas and other objects ripe for exploration and discovery.
The fun part is that the game master can use the same card drafting technique to quickly whip out enemy ships and crews of appropriate difficulty to challenge (or parley with) the players. If you have an idea for space-borne adventure, you are ready to go, no math or further prep required.
This game heavily relies on playing cards to save time. You may use a couple regular poker decks (and deface them with sharpies), but it is faster to play it with a set of Dust Bowl Galaxy Cards. There are 237 of them in the set, covering all the ship components, gadgets, alien species and their abilities, as well as planets and stars for random galactic sector creation.
This game also requires six-sided dice. About thirty of them will suffice for the whole group. They do not come bundled with the game, but there are many hobby stores that will happily sell you these in a variety of colors and materials.
Read Q&A interview about the game’s setting and rules on IRC channel #randomworlds.
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