ORBITAL + Digital Assets

Jack Harrison

mousehole press

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ORBITAL gives us airlocks and control panels, pensive faces looking out into the cosmos, improvised fixes for critical systems, military-sponsored subterfuge, warm embraces in the cold vacuum, frantic struggles in zero-gravity and unknowable ancient technology, asking WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT?

Imagine an all-consuming interstellar war, spread across a vast galaxy and involving trillions of willing and conscripted participants. Then imagine a lone space station, floating in the cosmos, that is somehow set apart from this conflict.

Through significant effort and fortuitous circumstances, this place has remained unaffiliated and relatively peaceful, providing a sanctuary for the lovers and thinkers who refuse to side with the two warring powers.

ORBITAL employs the No Dice, No Masters system, utilizing the core structure & mechanics from the wonderful Dream Askew by Avery Alder. This means two main things:

  •  There are no dice —players use tokens when they want their characters to take action, making 'moves'Strong moves, which show the character at their best, require a token to be spentWeak moves, which show the character's flaws or worst impulses, earn you a token. These tokens help you to weave dramatic arcs for your characters with far more control and simplicity than capricious dice and make it easy for just about anyone to jump in and start playing.
  •  There are no masters—each player controls both a character and a share of the role of game master, taking responsibility for all of the NPCs and narrative pressures within one aspect of the setting (for example, THE INTERSTELLAR WAR or THE SCUM & VILLAINY). It's more like you're all taking turns playing the antagonists & introducing complications, rather than playing a game entirely without a GM.

Also drawing from Dream Askew, ORBITAL is a game of Belonging Outside Belonging. This means it focuses on stories on marginalized, precarious communities working to live independently from a dominant culture.

Like many of our favorite role-playing games, ORBITAL begins with everyone sitting down to make their characters. You’ll each choose from six CHARACTER ROLES—archetypes that help you create a distinctive main character. You’ll each also choose & personalize one of six SETTING ELEMENTS—aspects of the game world that can introduce challenges and complicate your character’s lives. Filling the two sheets out is quick, fun, and will generate a messy web of story threads to start mulling over.

Finally, you'll work together to create your STATION. This place, unique to your table, will be a hopeful space that is struggling against pressures both within and without. You'll think about what it looks like, how it's structured, and choose a few things that are frequent sources of strife within the community. You'll also choose one pressing threat — a perilous event that threatens to light a spark to all the powder built up within your ragtag, turbulent space station.

As you start to explore these threats, you’ll ask questions that will lead to scenes between characters, using your various moves to shape the narrative in material, concrete directions. You’ll bargain and gossip, analyze and manage, love and celebrate, struggle and fight, and all the rest.

Ultimately, through play, you’ll decide the fate of your community and the station as equal storytellers in your own unique tale.

You can play a satisfying one-shot in 3-4 hours, or play through a series of sessions to explore your station further and further complicate your character's relationships. It can be played with up to 6 players.

The book contains all the rules & guidance you’ll need to understand how to play. Digital assets, including character sheets, play aids, and soundtrack, are available to download alongside the book.

Writing, Layout: Jack Harrison
Illustration: Torben Bökemeyer
Consulting Designer: Luke Jordan
Editing: Jarrett Crader & Fiona Maeve Geist (MRC)
Soundtrack: Christopher Michael Roberts
Accessibility Design: Yubi

Orbital is based on Dream Askew by Avery Alder

28 pages, reduced A5 size (194x135mm) zine with white-thread, Singer-stitched binding. Riso-printed cover with metallic gold & white inks on Fedrigoni Savile Row Plain Blue. Interior pages are riso printed with federal blue & flat gold inks on Paperback Context Birch. Printed in Nottingham, UK by Dizzy Ink.

*Digital assets, including character sheets, play aids, and soundtrack will be emailed once the physical item ships.

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