The galaxy is a dynamic, dangerous place filled with wonder and conflict. Hegemonic empires clash violently. Fragile economies swell and collapse, fuelled by greedy corporations and oligarchs. Hungry criminal organizations take advantage of the gaps created by the failings of these vast and unloving powers. Struggling to find a place in this violent melee of colliding powers, there’s your Ship and its Crew.
Impulse Drive is a tabletop roleplaying game about a crew of bombastic, volatile misfits, their fraught relationships with each other, and the adventures they have flying their spaceship around a dangerous, dynamic interstellar setting working jobs, raiding other ships, or completing missions.
Impulse Drive draws inspiration from many space opera settings in books like Santiagio: a myth of the far future by Mike Resnick, The Culture novels by Iain M Banks, The Expanse novels and TV series by James A Corey, other TV series like Farscape, Killjoys, Andromeda, Firefly, and the Mass Effect videogames.
Impulse Drive focuses the motivations and behaviors of space opera protagonists, and the consequences they typically face. To get straight to these tense, exciting moments Impulse Drive uses the Powered by the Apocalypse system, popularized by Apocalypse World by Vincent and Meguey Baker.
At the core of Impulse Drive are the eight Archetypes. Each Archetype expresses a thematic character found in space opera adventures with rules and fictional cues suited to what makes those characters exciting. All but one of the players will choose an Archetype to make their character. The player who doesn’t make a character is the Space Master. The Space Master has their own rules to follow that will help them play everything that isn’t a player character or their spaceship.
Your Crew has a spaceship. The ship has its own sheet that not only describes the ships capabilities, but your Crews role in the galaxy. Each Ship has its own rules to determine its areas of effectiveness, the kinds of upgrades you can acquire, the kinds of missions or contracts you will engage in, and the likely fallout of those engagements.
Impulse Drive is a conversation. A player, usually the space Master, describes a scene and sets some clear stakes. A player says what their character does, and the Space Master describes how the world reacts to the characters actions. All through this there’s one other voice in the conversation, the rules. The rules step in to direct the action. To do this, the rules are broken up into distinct chunks that describe specific situations and their likely outcomes that are common in space adventure fiction.
Each PC has 3 Hooks that describe something complicated or dangerous about how they relate to themselves, another Crew member, an NPC, a Group, or the universe in general. Hooks are all about trouble, and makes the things your character does more fraught and likely to result in complicated situations.
The consequences for the actions the PCs take have thematic consequences based on the situations they find themselves in, but there are some common themes that build a story for the character as you play.
Your character can't take a lot of Harm, and any Harm you take has significant consequences that makes their life more challenging. Harm is easy to come by and always serious. But don't become risk averse, you have ways to deal with it as a player!
Players may choose to convert any Harm they take into Stress. Stress by itself doesn't have any fictional or mechanical drawbacks, but Stress is hard to get rid of, and when you take a total of 5 Stress you reset it and take a Calamity. Calamities add new fictional and mechanical elements to the characters situation.
Each character has 7 unique Calamities, but the final Calamity means the character stops being a PC - either because they retire, find another calling, or die. Taking a Calamity does earn you an XP though so that's nice!
While the rules of Impulse Drive have something to say about the places and pressures in the galaxy your group plays in, it is your galaxy. Your choices and descriptions shape it, set its scope, the factions and characters that fill it. There is no source book to read. Everyone at the table contributes to build the setting explores it as you play.
Thank you for helping to turn Impulse Drive into a professional product! For your contribution, you get your name in the thanks section of the book as a backer.
For your contribution, your name will be immortalized in the book, and you will receive codes to download the PDFs of the completed book from Drivethru RPG.
For your contribution, your name will be immortalized in the book, and you will receive codes to download the PDFs of the completed book from Drivethru RPG, plus digital version of any stretch goals unlocked.
For your contribution, your name will be immortalized in the book, and you will receive a code to download the PDFs of the completed book from Drivethru RPG, plus a code to print a softcover copy of the book from Drivethru RPG at cost. This backer reward also comes with all digital stretch goals that get unlocked.
For your contribution, your name will be immortalized in the book, and you will receive a code to download the PDFs of the completed book from Drivethru RPG, plus a code to print a hardcover copy of the book from Drivethru RPG at cost. You also receive all digital stretch goal rewards and all physical stretch goal rewards.
Project Backed! + Pioneer for Stretch Goal Backers $8000 WAYPOINT REACHED!
We have reached our first waypoint. It has been a long and fraught journey, but there is no time to rest. There are many far way destinations ahead of us, with more wonders to behold.
Updated: As thanks to our contributors at a $20 or higher tier, Those who have backed for digital stretch goals get the Pioneer when the project hits its funding level of $8000!
The Pioneer is a Ship playbook about a colony ship on a generations-long pilgrimage to a new home. This playbook establishes a lot of new and unique stakes for your crew to explore with a community lost in the starry void.
The Outpost $9000 WAYPOINT REACHED!
Updated: A new "Ship" playbook - The Outpost is a playbook that focuses your Crew on an outpost station that oversees a bountiful resource for your recently liberated world. Balance building up your prominence in the galactic community and fending off the encroaching return of the civilization that originally conquered your world.
The Outpost is a Digital stretch goal rewards. Anyone who backs at the $20 or higher reward levels will gain access to the Outpost.
Cards $10000 WAYPOINT REACHED!
Decks of cards for Archetype moves and Gear. This is a convenient way to track what gear you have, and what status it's in, along with the signature Moves of your Archetype playbook. The digital version is print and play A4 pages and the physical version is print on demand cards from DrivethruRPG. At $10,000 the deck of cards will be added to digital and physical stretch goals.
More Art $11500 WAYPOINT REACHED!
The first pack of more illustrations for the book, adding more character and visual elements. An injured starfarer tending to their wound in a moment of brief respite.
A scientist working on their pet project, a walking death machine. A mighty warrior in the midst of battle, weathering a barrage of enemy fire. A hotheaded wildcard, sitting atop something dangerous and unstable.
Even More Art $13000 WAYPOINT REACHED!
The second pack of extra illustrations for the book.
A mechanical fist clenched in desperate anger. A lonely figure, drowning their hurts in liquor. A well worn vehicle of war, the prize of any crew of misfits - if they can keep it. A rusty home for travelling the black abyss, having upgrades installed to increase its chances.
Even Even More Art $14500
The third pack of extra illustrations for the book.
ancient tools of wise and devious purpose. A shadowy figure studies its dark ledger, calling on debts of life and death owed. An ancient artifact, its mysteries begging to be pursued.
New Archetype Art $16000
8 new pieces of art to replace the images I have drawn for the book, showing each the Archetypes in their environments, to inspire and excite.
Impulse Drive as a game is complete, and has been in stable playtesting for over 2 years. You can download and play the preview version of the rules from Drivethru RPG right now to see if it is a game for you. Regardless of the outcome of the kickstarter, there will always be a pay what you want option for the latest version of Impulse Drive so that anyone who can access a PDF can play.
Whilst the rules are complete, there is very little art for the book (and what art it has is either public domain or drawn by me), and the layout isn’t print ready. The writing also needs to be edited by a professional editor. The money from this Kickstarter goes into paying professionals to make this book the best it can be.
Since delivery for both physical and digital rewards will be handled by DrivethruRPG, the funds from the kickstarter will be going towards the talent of an editor, illustrator, and layout artist I am excited to work with to make Impulse Drive an effective and beautiful book.
Andri Erlingsson as Editor
Andri is an Icelandic writer with experience in working with tabletop games, from editing to writing to publishing, including books like the kickstarter-funded 100 Dungeons Deluxe and Mounted Combat for Dungeon World. He enjoys story games, dungeon crawlers and cats.
Claudia Cangini as Illustrator
Claudia has provided crisp, evocative art for RPGs The Watch, Uncharted Worlds, and is a regular illustrator for The Gauntlet's Codex magazine. She has an incredible portfolio of work you can check out at the links below.
Paolo Bosi as Layout artist
Paolo has 6 years of experience as a designer and layout artist. His passion for games of any kind brought him to work with many well-known names in the tabletop RPG scene. He loves art in any form, and himself performs theater, improv, music, and design.
Adrian Thoen, the Designer
It's me! I started creating as a designer in 2013, writing 3rd party character playbooks for Dungeon World. I have designed and released The Spellslinger, The Fae, The Fool, The Giant, and the Sorcerer - all available on DrivethruRPG. Along with these, I have content in Grim World and Pirate World, supplements for Dungeon World. I started writing Impulse Drive in 2014 as an attempt to make a PBTA hack inspired by Masseffect. The game has changed a lot from that initial draft, and I have learned a lot along the way.
MY Drivethru publisher page
Impulse Drive Community on Google+
The Impulse Drive discord server
Want to hear and see more about Impulse Drive? Here are some podcasts and videos of the game being discussed and played. I want to take this moment to give Rich Rogers a shout out. He has been an incredible ambassador for the game in so many ways. Thank you Rich!
I talk with Rich about Impulse Drive on his fantastic Podcast, +1 Forward.
Rich runs Impulse Drive for Jeff Stormer on Jeff's podcast Party of One.
Rich runs a 4 session game of Impulse Drive set in a familiar galaxy far, far away.
Adam Koebel, designer of Dungeon world takes a first look at Impulse Drives mechanics:
5 or so questions with Brie Beau Sheldon on their great RPG blog Thoughty:
The Merely Roleplayers podcast, where they have started a short campaign using Impulse Drive:
Risks and challenges
This is my first kickstarter and published book. To offset the challenges of delivery, printing and fulfillment of digital and physical rewards is handled through Drivethru RPG print on demand.
To ensure Impulse Drive is the best game it can be and is delivered in a timely manner I have secured the talents of professionals who have experience in working on RPGs and delivering kickstarter projects. I have a timeline set out for milestones, aiming for completion and deliver by June 2019.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)