Skip to main content

Tomorrow's Sky

Let me begin by saying thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read the posts prior to this one about Drier Deserts, Hotter Suns, as well as all of you who have taken the time to read the early version of the game. So before I get into rambling, I would like to announce that DD/HS is now available to all on, I'm so very excited to get this game onto people's tables. So please, reach out if you haven't already if you have any thoughts on the game.


This is part 3 of a series detailing Drier Deserts, Hotter Suns, a space western rpg. Click here for part 2

This game has gone through a lot. Having always been a fan of Star Wars and Sci-fi in general, I've always yearned for a RPG system about flying fast spaceships. I'm sure there are many, but during my brief anime phase in high-school, Cowboy Bebop become the catylist that finally convinced me, an already new TRPG fan, to write a Space Western RPG.

That went about as well as you could have imagined, and my first version of the game, once called "Tomorrow's Sky", was little more than a D&D clone with some extra spacefaring skills attached. Later, another version of the game inspired by my budding love for everything GURPS was a generic system, where levelling up meant buying dice into your skill's dice pool. This turned out to be a terrible idea of messy DCs and a lackluster combat system.

These early versions have a shared design DNA with today's version. Luck granted by the referee, a "Toughness" score to survive in space with, ship sizes and systems. All ideas I deemed good enough to include in the latest version.

At multiple points in the past number of years I have picked things up and looked at it from different angles, taking notes on whatever fitting media I was consuming to incorporate ideas from it. While I wasn't working on it constantly, the game went through a number of small revisions and attempted re-writes.

It wasn't until I started heavily reading RPG books, and in particular OSR inspired systems, did I start making any notable progress. The "less is more" philosophy of ruling over rules inspired a simple freedom that I begin to peruse. A couple of key innovations (practical ship roles rather than derived "skills" is a major one) later and I begin to get a framework I could work with.

That was about 2 years ago.

The game still needs work. I have a number of planned additions that I'm excited to write and implement. The current play-test version contains a very sparse referee section, so more of that and an official adventure or supplement should keep me busy for at least another while. But as of now I'm happy with where things are at.

Even happier am I that now feels like the perfect time for a game like this to exist. Pending a global pandemic, there seems a real acceptance of smaller games as well as a real need for something rules light and sci-fi. So I'm truly happy to be able to put out the culmination of years of work.


If for some reason you aren't sure what this has all been about, or need some extra selling-to, here is a rundown:

Drier Deserts, Hotter Suns contains very little setting info and is designed to be a neutral space western framework, with gunslinging space piloting action. The game is lightly asymetrical, with one player taking the role of a "Captain". It is suited best to open-world play and doesn't hold back from killing off characters. Progress is made through upgrading your scrappy little space-ship, which you might find yourself running around to repair as you blast your opponents into the vacuum of space. Combat on the ground is light and closer on the spectrum to a wargame than full fledged tactical rpg combat. You are failures trying to make it in hostile space. Space is the Driest Desert. Burning up to death in a tin can bathed in the light of a hotter sun than you've ever known is a risk that you must be willing to take.

So go on, die in space.


  1. This is really interesting! What is the mechanical effect of hard vs. soft armor?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

2 Years of Drier Deserts, Hotter Suns

Two years ago today I released the first public version of Drier Deserts, Hotter Suns. Immediately after that, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Vancouver, where I was living at the time. As I had been working on the project on and off for about eight years at that point (making 2022 now year ten!), it was awful timing. It really killed my motivation to work on games. A bit of playtesting has happened, but not nearly as much as I had hoped. You see, I came to learn very early on during those days that I absolutely hated running games online. As a referee, I am very active . I love to stand up, walk around the table, make big gestures etc. That really doesn't work online. It was also hard gauging people's reactions to the new awesome rules I had just written. These might sound like excuses but there's no denying the fact that I was having a whole lot less fun playing RPGs and making them. It really hurt the project and my playtesting efforts. It's not all bad though! The playtes

Enter the Robotic Topologist

Announcement time! I'm rebranding. Shocking, I know. I had originally wanted to just release everything I made under my own name, but I've realized that that's not the best idea. For starters, I have a pretty generic name. More relevant is the fact that any collaboration just shouldn't be released under my name. I want to share things I think are cool, and don't want to imply that someone else's creative work is totally mine, especially as I reach out to artists and get help on things like layout and promotion. With that said, welcome to Surface Level , the Robotic Topologist Blog. Previously Wodan Gaming by Daniel Harris. Robotic Topologist is my new name to put on any and all gaming content I'm going to release. I think it's a pretty good name, especially the topologist part. I'm fascinated by the study of topology and like the implication of table-top-ology. The robot part is there since I'll mostly be focusing on sci-fi stuff, but robots

Starship in a bottle episode

In sci-fi games, it's pretty easy to forget that the player's ship is their literal home. I'm always a fan of it being their "home base", but that can often be overshadowed by it's utility as a people mover. To make it feel more lived in and homely, I'm experimenting with the bottle episode . Essentially, trying to set an entire session aboard the ship.   The easiest way to accomplish this to set the session during the time it takes to travel between two locations. This works great for a lot of reasons. You can easily lead into it from the session before (ending that session just as you are departing), and it can lead into the next session easily (the session ends when you arrive at your destination). Like a filler episode, it nicely slows down the pace of the game and gives a sense of scale on a temporal level. The other benefit is that if the session doesn't go well, you can fast forward to the destination. Alternatively, they can be set onboard the