space train space heist is a gmless game for one shots using a stripped down forged in the dark system where the premise is exactly what it sounds like. you’re on a train (in space). you’re pulling off a heist (in space). go get ’em, tiger.
literally that’s what it is
god, i love this game. the premise is so strong and it follows through on it with every single beat, constantly offering ways to up the ante. it’s full of prompts that are easy to jump on and run with. the writing is funny, friendly, and accessible. it’s so easy to play.
space train space heist uses a stripped down version of the forged in the dark system. in an article where the designer talks about making the game (linked at the bottom), he mentions that, as much as he loves forged in the dark, if you’re playing it for a one-shot, there are so many mechanics you’re not going to engage with and so trying to learn them just bogs you down. as such, space train space heist uses a simple die roll resolution mechanic: you state your goal, and the rest of the group decides what happens if you succeed. if you don’t like that, you can pick a different goal, but if you do, you can roll a bunch of d6. you get extra d6 for various effects, including giving cinematic details of your action, playing to your playbook, or accepting a definite consequence. a 6 is a full success, a 4-5 is a success with a cost, and a 1-3 is a fail. easy peasy! that’s it!
this game offers playbooks fitting classic tropes of the heist genre: the con artiste, who is smart enough to fool their adversaries; the hooligan, your brawler; the gadgeteer, the local gear-making genius. and then you have shit like SPACE WIZARD and SPACE COWBOY. all of them are incredibly flavorful, offer lots of ways to engage with a scene and the other characters, and give different exciting play experiences. each playbook has its own additional mechanic or two, which is a great way to introduce some new complexity without making everyone learn every single goddamn rule.
y’all, i love this goddamn game. it’s so good.
- amazing adaptation of the forged in the dark system to a quick, easy, and gmless format; it makes for a great introduction of the engine
- the writing is immaculate. the humor is hysterical. the playbooks are all out of this world fantastic, with each offering their own unique aspects and twists, and rich prompting that does a lot to set the tone
- fun prompts for settings, incidents, and npcs that also do plenty to support the intended tone of the game
- literally i’ve got nothing
would i play it again
i am absolutely BEGGING you to play space train space heist with me
get the game!
space train space heist is by sam dunnewold, and you can pay what you want for it on itch! the author has also done this really fun retrospective on designing the game, and you can read that on medium.