Wednesday 2 June 2021

Coming Apart v0.3

For a little while now I've been working on Coming Apart, a sci-fi PbtA game about scrappers in rust-bucket starships working their way to something better by doing high-stakes salvage missions nobody else will touch.

Mechanically, it's heavily inspired by The Regiment, which was John Harper's ashcan WWII game. Lots of lead flying at you (or in this case, shrapnel and fire) as you try to get your mission accomplished.

It's set in a 'post planet' era a few centuries after "Too Good to be True". Planet killing weapons have wrecked humanity's few good homes, but instantaneous interstellar travel has opened the universe. Now, a scattered humanity stretches across incredible distances, linked by delicate webs of trust.

Play wise, I was heavily inspired by the smash 'n' grab style of the Void Bastards video game, but with a base-building component: all the ships are modular (like the modern day ISS), so one of your options is to saw something off and weld it onto your own ship.

Before long, you get a shot at targets from higher danger classes, which opens up more modules, threats, but also new advancements.

Right now the game is at a very early stage; despite its length it's still very much in the middle of refinement. (When I design I seem to go through bloating/contracting phases as I explore a bit and then distill to the core of what I want.)

If any of this sounds like your thing, have a look at the v0.3 rules and playbooks.
There's only been a tiny bit of playtesting; there are marked holes but also undiscovered ones. If you squint a bit, it's playable, but not necessarily fun yet! All the numbers are uncalibrated, so death spirals, unwinnable missions and boring cake-walks are just as likely as thrilling action.

Still, happy to have feedback if you have any!


  1. This looks like fun.

    Two things that I noticed:

    p. 12: "The what the lead-in describes it depends on several things:" - Malformed sentence

    p. 26: "When you cut a module from its neighbors ... On a 10+, it’s quick: reduce the ticks taken by your lowest die." - I don't know if it has been considered that the player is likely to have rolled high in order to get 10+, unless they planned to use a bunch of ticks (to get the bonus). So if I use 3 ticks, I might very well end up using 0 ticks (2 Stubborn - 2 connections + 3 ticks + 3 + 4 dice).

    1. Editing is all to come, many sentences won't survive at all!

      Yep, I took the rolling high into account. My main concern with this mechanic is it might cause analysis paralysis, but I think the distribution of results is in line with what i wanted. The tradeoff is between time and failure not being an option. You can practically guarantee success by taking a long time, but you can't guarantee rolling high with your lowest die.

  2. Do you think you'll ever return to Too Good to Be True or just leave it be and move on?

    1. I don't have any short-term plans to return to it. Job pressures increased a lot over the last couple of years, so I just do this as an outlet when I have time. I'm definitely just following whatever inspiration I have in the moment, rather than having the 'get er shipped' attitude I did when I committed to the compendium project.