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Rust Hulks
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Rust Hulks

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Rust Hulks is a tabletop roleplaying game about playing space truckers in a grimy science-fiction future. 

In Rust Hulks, you will play as the crew of a large, derelict spaceship. You will fly around the solar system picking up jobs, earning credits, scraping through hulks, improving your skills, and expanding your ship. On its face, it's simple; in practice, it gets messy fast: You're aboard a flying scrapheap halfway to Mars and three of your fuel canisters blow; the crew, while tentative friends, are mostly here for money—when things go real south, what will you do?

The game is, at its core, about going through highly tense and stressful situations as a group, and examining the relationships that form and break because of it.

Rust Hulks is like Alien. Or Firefly. Or some parts of Star Wars. Everything is used, rusty, and worn-down. Your ship is cannibalized from a dozen other ships and tweaked or patched with every piece of junk and scrap you can find. It's really less a singular ship than it is a collection of individual rooms, held together with shoestrings and chewing gum. There are no laser blasters, no energy shields, and no gleaming computers. Instead, there are wooden crates, canned rations, and radar scanners. Your computers are little more than fancy calculators, your ship is armored with scrap metal, and your guns spit hot lead.

The world is always dirty, usually decrepit, and often desperate.

As you play, you'll build and break relationships, run dangerous and risky jobs, modify and upgrade your ship, and slowly build up your supply of credits. The game is built to be fast and straightforward to run: after a quick character and ship creation, there are moves to get you into the action immediately. The focus is on a fluid, intense narrative rather than number-crunching or optimization. You can sit down to play Rust Hulks for the first time, and by the end of the session, you'll have characters, a ship, some messy relationships, and your first job under your belt. 

Good luck out there, among the hulks. You'll need it.

Rust Hulks is a Powered by the Apocalypse game; to play, you'll need playbooks and movesheets, which you can download for free here: Rust Hulks Playbooks.

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Discussions (6)
Customer avatar
Charles M June 25, 2020 10:24 pm UTC
GAH! PDF has no TOC, Outline, Hyperlinks, or Bookmarks.

On the plus side, the pages in the PDF are the actual page numbers.

Looks fun, though. Think I’m going to try to run this in a couple of weeks.
Customer avatar
Jason W June 19, 2020 2:00 pm UTC
Just heard your interview on the +1 Forward podcast. You had me at "homemade cocaine"! :D
Customer avatar
Gary A June 08, 2020 12:05 am UTC
Will there be a softcover version available?
Customer avatar
Lukasz L April 12, 2020 7:19 pm UTC
I love the genre, and would like to see what makes this different from the proven choice of "Scum and Villainy" or even the recent "Alien the RPG". Unfortunately, the description is so basic it could be applied to at least two other games I know of, and the preview is not available. Why would a publisher make finding out about their game harder for a potential customer?
Customer avatar
Rune H April 13, 2020 2:57 pm UTC
That's a fair question. I concur.
Customer avatar
Sam S April 13, 2020 7:36 pm UTC
Thank you for the feedback—a preview's been added and I've updated the description.

To answer your question: while I haven't played the new Alien game, I have played a fair bit of Scum. Scum's focus is on action-adventure, heists & scores, and on generally being the heroes (or antiheroes) of your own story. Rust Hulks is a lot lower-down, a lot grimier, a lot junkier. You won't be pulling big bank heists or leading a rebellion, you'll be hauling freight and trying to keep your ship in one piece. It's a more tangled, intimate, character-centric kind of game, one that focuses more on the day-to-day difficulties of being a space trucker than being hero of the galaxy.

I hope that sheds some light, please don't hesitate to ask if you have more questions.
Customer avatar
Alexander M April 27, 2020 9:11 pm UTC
re: buy this vs Scum

TL;DR: because of the ship design system.

I just skimmed the free playbooks, and while the other playbooks looked reasonable, it's the ship sheet that just slammed the needle into "buy it _now_" territory -- just having the mechanics / ship design system that's baked into the two pages of ship sheet means that I'm jettisoning the ship design rules from Scum in favor of using this, immediately, in my ongoing Scum campaign.

In other contrastable elements: based on the sheets, this system starts from Apoc and has overhauled at least the Hz system... while Scum (having run several sessions) is extremely mechanically close to its Blades parent.
Customer avatar
Nathaniel B April 10, 2020 8:12 pm UTC
I'm curious about this game but it covers ground that's been covered before + expensive + no preview.
Customer avatar
River R April 11, 2020 12:27 pm UTC
The playsheets might act as a preview, at least?
Customer avatar
Sam S April 13, 2020 7:41 pm UTC
Thank you for the feedback—a preview's been added, and I've updated the description.

The primary difference between Rust Hulks and some of the other PbtA/FitD sci-fi games (like Scum or UW) is that Rust Hulks is much lower, grittier, and narrower in focus. You won't be exploring the galaxy or saving the rebellion or pulling the heist of the century, you're just trying to make enough credits to get to next week. The focus is on the characters and their ship, their relationships, and the day-to-day difficulties of being a rusty space trucker.

Mechanically, it should feel relatively familiar if you've played other PbtA games; the big shifts are that the ship is composed of lots of individual rooms that operate semi-independently, relationships can change across multiple axes and in different ways, and that there's a single Captain among the players, which adds a different kind of dynamic across the story. As someone below suggested, you could look through the playbooks to get a sense...See more
Customer avatar
Stephen G April 09, 2020 2:19 am UTC
missing link to Apocalypse game playbooks and movesheets?
Customer avatar
Sam S April 13, 2020 7:37 pm UTC
It's been added! Sorry for the delay.
Customer avatar
Stephen G April 13, 2020 10:36 pm UTC
Thank You.
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