PBF: Orbital: Reticular Observation Node Lamba-11

Hi all

I am tempted to have a go at Orbital as a PBF roleplay/journalling experiment.

Its my first go at doing anything like this and I am fully aware that a lot of these just stop as people run out of steam. Orbital has a distinctly limited scope and structured approach to play - there are three threats which need to be countered and when they all are, the game has ended.

Ideally it would be three or four of us who would play, and obviously I will have to adapt a few rules to make it work. There is an online whiteboard for the game on Miro but frankly it frightens me. Players would need a bit of patience and, as the game is player led, the desire to roll with what happens.

So if you are interested let me know.

Premise below:


A beautiful mess.


Imagine an all-consuming interstellar war, spread across a vast galaxy and involving
trillions of willing and conscripted participants. Then imagine a lone space station,
ancient and strange, somehow set apart from this conflict. Through significant effort
and fortuitous circumstance it has remained unaffiliated and relatively peaceful,
providing a sanctuary for the lovers and thinkers refusing to side with the warring

But this hard-won neutrality is not even slightly secure. There’s always someone
offering vital resources for a little influence, plotting to displace our leaders or
smuggling military equipment into the station’s forgotten corners.


Holding back these myriad threats is an informal network of dependable sorts, each
with a stake in the station’s continuing vitality. These characters—politicos, artisans,
brokers and so on—aren’t (necessarily) officially recognised leaders, but their
influence is felt strongly across the community.

They might not get along—they might even dislike each other.

But they are united by their belief that the station is a cherished place that must be
protected. The question is: when the pressure rises, can they put aside their
differences & personal motivations for our community’s greater good?


I’m tempted. I have a copy of Orbital that I’ve only flicked through, so it would be good to have a proper play.

Well that makes 2. Probably need at least 1 more, preferably 2 to make a go of it.

Exactly the same as Scribbs. Have it, just flicked.

That was the same as me until i had a sick day on Tuesday. It was lying unread in a pile and i picked it up!

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So @Scribbs and @RossM do you want to give it a try? Or is the curiosity or headspace not enough just now? No worries either way. If we do go ahead there would be room for one or two more as well if there is further interest.

I’m doing very little at the moment. So sure!

Yeah, I’d be up for it.

Cool. I’ll aim to lay out the first choices tomorrow.


So the first element to be agreed are the parameters of safe play.


Human after all.


Orbital has the following explicit content warnings, based on the game text’s
prompts and descriptions:

Violence, war, refugees and displacement, criminal enterprise, social
manipulation, resource scarcity, undercover identities.

Beyond these explicit flags, you can use these safety tools to help navigate the
game, ensuring everyone at the table is supported and having fun. Introduce them
before you play.


As a table, agree upon a film rating (e.g. ‘PG’, ‘R’, ‘18’) as shorthand for the sort of
content you want to see. Discuss what that rating means in terms of violence, drugs,
language and sexual content. You can also raise specific content that people might
want to avoid entirely, like depicting alcoholism or memory loss.


The X-Card removes content from a game. If something happens in the story that
makes you uncomfortable, you can tap a physical card you’ve prepared or type an X
in the chat online. You don’t have to explain why, though you can if you want.
The group can work collectively to edit, retry, or skip the content. If you’d rather talk
it through, take a break and have a discussion.
Don’t shy away from using the card for smaller issues, especially if you’re the
Facilitator. The less special it feels, the easier it is to use

Playing: @RossM and @Scribbs and @DJCT . Still time for one or two more to join in.

I am not sure @RogerBW 's bounds on film classification for the board but I would suggest unless strong feelings otherwise we treat it as a 12. Which should allow us to deal with most things just excluding the graphic - ness.

In addition, just posting or DMing an X - with our without explanation - should be the catalyst for us to rewind the conversation.

Hopefully this is fine.

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As you both have the rules do you want me to elaborate more on them now, or are you happy to work through them as we play?

I don’t really work that way, but remember that this is viewable by the world (unless you want me to move it to a private area).

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Happy to work under any context.

I can modify my fracking language as required.


Ditto what he said

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Now we must create the station.


[A figure holding a watercan stares out the big glass windows as spaceships fly by.
Their back is turned to the viewer and there’s a spiky cactus to the left, and some
small bots on the floor. Everything looks a little decrepit and falling apart.]

A home in the cosmos.

Every community in Orbital starts with these six points as a foundation.

• We are a neutral station, widely recognised as unaffiliated with either side of the
ongoing war.
• The station is much older than our little community and much of it is unexplored.
• We have sufficient resources to ensure we meet all our residents’ basic needs.
• We celebrate and value difference in many forms, both personal and cultural.
• We operate open borders, accepting new arrivals with compassion and providing
for them as equal residents.
• The world outside is hostile and treacherous, so we avoid leaving our station
wherever possible.

Any of these truths can be challenged or threatened during play.

Do you want to accept these truths, or challenge any of them?

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white plasteel, yellow handrails, modular bulkheads, integrated compartments,
hexagonal blast doors, fractal architecture, observation windows, artificial sky, padded
bulkheads, metal grating, rusted steel, rough stone, stained glass, light bridges,
nuclear reactor, smouldering furnace, swirling nebula, asteroid field, wrecked
spaceships, strand aurora.


abandoned militaria, defunct corporate branding, battle damage, garbled warning
, levers and buttons, neat touchscreens, monochrome CRTs, holograms,
fluorescent lighting, bioluminescence, mould and spores, moss and lichen, grasping
vines, sprawling roots, crystal growths, winding corridors, flooded pools, glowing
sigils, burning braziers.


habitation modules, makeshift homes, community gardens, shared kitchens, paste
dispensers, maps and signs, hand-painted banners, neon lights, soft fabrics, tropical
plants, painted routes, piles of trash.

We should choose visuals in each area. We should each choose one in each area. Mine are in bold.

We also need to choose a name.

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And we need to choose three impending threats that will be the core of the game. When these are defeated, the game ends. Mine in bold.


• hundreds of military starships are using a nearby moon as a staging area
• a critically-damaged military cruiser is requesting docking privledges and
emergency support
the scion of a powerful aristocratic family was just shot dead on our station and
nobody knows why

• star-crossed lovers from either side of the war are hiding out here while hunted
by their superiors
• rowdy soldiers from both sides of the war have simultaneously taken shore
leave here
• military scientists established a secret research base somewhere on our station
• we cut a deal with outside forces to fix a critical system and now they’re calling
their debt
• a powerful crime-lord plans to seize control of this station in a dramatic, violent
• a weaver of the strand with incredible abilities and a long list of enemies is
joining our community
• one of our major suppliers has just been taken over by a predatory interstellar
• prospectors discovered an asteroid belt rich with valuable di-hydrogen fuel
• a rare, valuable artefact was just discovered in our station’s vaults, and
everyone wants it
• something deep and ancient in the station stirs, and things are getting weird
• residents have been disappearing, emerging days later as new members of a
strange cult

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My visual picks- Observation Windows, Defunt Corporate Branding, Neon Lights

Threat - a critically-damaged military cruiser is requesting docking privledges and
emergency support

Happy to accept the initial truths as stated.

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Ok. Wrecked space ships. Monochrome crt’s and maps and signs.

• military scientists established a secret research base somewhere on our station

Happy with truths

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