This is the eighty-second entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.
a space fantasy adventure game
Do you fantasize about adventures in space, reader? Then you are in luck, because that’s exactly what Galaxy Goons is about.
Galaxy Goons is a tabletop role-playing game, more specifically a hack of a different tabletop role-playing game, Tunnel Goons, made for the Goon Jam that ran from August 8th until September 5th, 2019. Tunnel Goons itself is not included in the bundle, but is offered for free (or whatever price you think it’s worth) and is published under the Creative Commons 4.0 International License, meaning that other creators are free to adapt it in their own projects. Hence the Goon Jam. In fact, Galaxy Goons is not the first game from the Goon Jam to appear in this series. That honor belongs to the thirty-first entry, Space Goblins! Like that game, Galaxy Goons requires multiple human players, so I cannot play it myself, but I can read the book and tell you what I think.
That book is a concise six pages, including the cover. The intent is clearly for a fast and simple roleplaying experience. In fact, the rules are relegated to a single page at the end, with the rest of the book dedicated to a brief summary of the setting and intended tone, and how to create and play characters. These characters are the titular “goons”, down on their luck but highly ambitious and willing to embark on risky adventures if there’s a chance of a big payout. But the author is quick to point out that goons are not extraordinary, like the heroes in many role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. They’re just regular people, with no special skills beyond their specific backgrounds, and they are very much mortal. I gleaned that player characters are meant to die more often than in other games.
But that’s not a huge setback when creating characters is so easy. Simply choose or roll for three aspects, which include things like species, profession, augmentation, or even a powerful patron who can offer help but also makes inconvenient demands. Tables are provided such that a few six-sided dice are all that’s needed to randomly select aspects if desired. Then do the same thing for three starting items, which similarly fall into several categories. Then just name your character, meet the rest of the group, and get adventuring. The simplicity of character creation makes Galaxy Goons easy to pick up for new players.
Not so much for a new GM, though. Unlike Space Goblins!, Galaxy Goons requires that one player act as GM and run the adventure for the others, and there is almost no guidance for this in the book. There are some brief descriptions about the intended flavor of the universe, full of all manner of cultures, technology and magic that mix in strange ways, with plenty of stuff happening at all times. There’s also always the promise of riches, of secret locations or other treasure to find. The galaxy is ripe for adventure, in other words, but what those adventures are is left entirely up to the players. I’d recommend this for experienced GMs only.
The rules for play are simple, and I believe largely unchanged from Tunnel Goons. Any situation with uncertain outcome is modeled as a challenge with a certain difficulty score. Players attempting the challenge (hacking a computer, crossing a dangerous chasm, shooting someone, etc.) roll two six-sided dice, and add bonuses for any appropriate aspects or items. If the final number is higher than the difficulty score, the action is successful, and the difficulty score is reduced. When the difficulty score reaches zero, the players have bested the challenge. That’s pretty much the extent of the mechanical rules, the rest of the game is left up to players’ imaginations (especially the GM). Galaxy Goons is certainly less fleshed out than Space Goblins!, but John Erwin later used this version from the Goon Jam as the basis for an expanded game, A Goon’s Guide To the Galaxy. That’s not included in the bundle, but may be a better place to look if you want something more substantial. As is, Galaxy Goons is more of a hint of a game than anything else, some ideas for a science fiction space-traveling setting using the Tunnel Goons rules.
Having said that, Galaxy Goons is offered for free (or any price you wish), so even those who don’t own the bundle can take a look, and decide if they want to shell out a minimum of $7.50 for A Goons’ Guide To the Galaxy (although at the time of writing it’s on sale, bringing that minimum down to $5.02). So if you’re in the mood for a light space adventure, Galaxy Goons is worth a look, and you’ll be able to read through it in no time flat and decide if you want to look further.
That’s 82 down, and only 1659 to go!