Free Spacer is a sandbox science fiction roleplaying game about a crew of a commissioned starship performing contracts for a Patron faction in a quadrant wide cold war. There is exploration, trading, investigation, bounty hunting, space combat, science projects, infiltration, troubleshooting, and away missions. We play to find out how the crew completes contracts. The terms they complete, choices they make, the rules they break, and the lengths they will go for their Patrons.
What do you do?
In Free Spacer, you play a crewmember on a small flexible starship. You’re commissioned to complete contracts as agents, bounty hunters, couriers, mercenaries, scouts, or technicians. Completing contracts earns you cargo. Most significantly, Complex Material and Supply, which you use to maintain and advance you and your ship.
I designed Free Spacer for science fiction roleplaying. The game emphasises science with project mechanics and skills focusing on communications, operations, and engineering. It stresses technology through a set of high-tech tools and a flexible starship. The game model’s science fiction like depicted in your favourite shows and fiction. Inspired by Cowboy Bebop, Dark Matter, Farscape, Firefly, Killjoys, Switchblade Honey, or the works of Heinlein.
True Sci-fi// Free Spacer embodies sci-fi themes. At its core, the game has a theme of freedom vs power, but it involves your sci-fi themes as a series of tracked trends based on play. Likewise, the game depicts a future far from now, rather than a retro sci-fi. It is contemporary science fiction that leverages the newest space sciences, takes into account biotechnology, and brings the internet to the rim of the quadrant.
Custom Starship// Above all, you play the crew of a starship. The ship acts a group template, you choose the flag indicating the type of contracts you take. Together you operate the starship, each taking a ship station. The ship has a configurable Layout with systems and modules divided between four cardinal sections.
Sandbox play// Space is big. A vast sandbox of unlimited freedom. Free Spacer provides a series of streamlined and efficient tools to the Gamemaster to prepare the sandbox. Game preparation is frontloaded with tools to build the locations and characters. These are not just empty places and stat blocks, rather each includes faction interest, populations, and their agenda. Prep is further narrowed by faction undertakings and contract proposals.
Cold War Phase// The Cold War phase is a faction turn, the Gamemaster simulate the undertaking of the factions in their struggle to control the sector. The phase sets up current events and enables of a contract proposal preparation. You will use this proposal to negotiate contracts during play. This provides the group with an agreed upon direction for the game and lets your Gamemaster to know what to prepare.
Contract is law// Free Spacers are contractors; they live and die by contracts. Like the law, you may break the terms of your contract, but there is a price. The crew negotiates contracts to earn Residual Value – the value of Cargo, which acts as the in-game experience points. Like XP, use special cargo to maintain or advance your crewmember and your ship.
Procedural Sector// From the Sector and the great societies at the core of civilisation down to settlements and creatures, Free Spacer has tool to procedurally generate everything. Sit down and build out your own detailed setting or just what you need. Every world, system, and factions will be your own, all while emphasising a real sci-fi galaxy.
Free Spacer uses a unique set of core mechanics designed for science fiction. The system is player-centric and streamlined. Crewmembers perform a series of tasks to pursue their intentions. All tasks use this core system.
Tasks// The player rolls all the dice. They roll a ten-sided dice pool representing their crewmember’s skills, specialties, and an expenditure of resources. They roll these task dice against a pool of six-sided dice that represents the difficulty of the task as provided by the Gamemaster.
Results// The results of a roll are calculated by comparing hits to misses; more hits indicate a success, while more misses indicate a failure. The difference indicates the degree of success or failure.
Outcomes// The Gamemaster can interpret the task Outcome from two degrees of failure or four degrees of success. The two highest degrees of success are crits, which provide players with the charge resource. Likewise, the Gamemaster gathers their complications resource from other failure dice results.
Resource Management// During play, you have a variety of resources to manage. Spending resources confers useful benefits in play. While you will likely want to save your resources for more significant tasks, do not horde resources. Ensure that you keep the resource economy moving. Spend charge to increase your chance to earn more, trade cargo to earn profit, spend Supply to power gear, and spend Complex Materials to maintain or advance.
Projects// To emphasis science fiction, the game has a set of advanced mechanics known as projects. Projects use the core mechanic, but multiple tasks work together to complete it. Projects can’t fail, but If you fail a contributing task, the project may be interrupted with dangerous encounters or you may increase the Gamemaster’s Complications resource.