spaceships in space


Dogfighting in the furious skies over a murdered planet.

A work in progress TTRPG
This document is mostly just a collection of design notes, intentions, and tone exploration.

 Table of contents


A vicious TTRPG about a brutal & angry squadron of experimental over-tuned fighter jets.
Cloned or simulated pilot brains strapped to an afterburner and a set of wings.
SAW-8 "Punisher" autocannons tearing through rolled tungsten armour.
The sour smell of burnt metal spreading through the air.

Revenge, served hot, poured straight into the gaping maw of the worldkillers, the exploiters and murderers of this once life-bearing planet.

Communities forged in the fires of war, sharing and caring for each other, hastily building foundations that should have been laid generations ago.

Cultural touchstones

  • Video games
     Ace Combat
    • “Ready to make metal bleed?”
    • Sci-fi over-the-top hyper-optimised fighter jets
    • Brinkmanship
     Armoured Core
    • Trailer on Youtube
    • “Let the last cinders burn”
    • Angry sci-fi combat in a hostile environment
    • Planet-scale destruction
     House of the Dying Sun
    • Trailer on Youtube
    • “Hunt the traitor lords and bring ruin to their people”
    • Multi-range dogfighting
    • Plan / execute cycle
  • Literature
     Novel: Oryx & Crake — Margaret Atwood
    • The elite live in isolated communities, preparing for the future while the rest are left to fend for themselves.
     Poem: Do not go gentle into that good night — Dylan Thomas
    • Poem on
    • “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
    • Refuse to accept death, and instead, stand defiantly against it


Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Do not go gentle into that good night — Dylan Thomas

Wolfpack is about death, but it is not about acceptance. Mortality is a curse. Fighting desperately to the last breath, even when there is no chance to win, is the only reasonable approach.

Wolfpack is about life, but it is not about beauty. Life is fire. It does not matter how or why it burns, it only seeks to spread further.

Wolfpack is about a doomed struggle. Victory has no meaning on a dying planet, but as long as we can still wield a knife, we must make the worldkillers bleed.

Narrative context

A life-bearing planet does not deplete naturally, not at this rate at least.

The worldkillers knew that their ventures would suck the marrow dry. They warned us. Endless appeals to minimise our impact, to reduce consumption. They never followed their own advice, of course. The warnings were simply a distraction, laying the responsibility at the feet of the powerless.

By the time that it became impossible to live within the bounds of ever tightening austerity measures, our fate was already sealed, the planet was doomed.

But what of the worldkillers? Were their lives not also tied to that of the planet?

Their arcologies shielded them from most of the collapse, and they continued to live in luxury.

They too were also adapting to the rising tides. For decades, from the foundations of their city-states, tendrils dug into the earth, extracting, devouring, growing. In secret, they turned the arcologies into rafts. Their last act on this planet will be to leave, taking with them the last, precious resources to carry them to other worlds so that they may continue to feed.

They turned us into machines, then they built their own.

They no longer need us, and they no longer need this planet.

But as long as we can still wield a knife, we must make the worldkillers bleed.

Core gameplay

Narrative play

Mostly free-form roleplay.

“Downtime actions” may be used to advance personal goal or attempt to gain resources.

Diplomacy with other groups, conversations, exposition & lore.

Community building, solidarity, outreach & care.

Mission planning

As the game progresses, the map is explored and updated.

Resources, allies, threats, and other elements will be revealed on the map.

The players decide what their mission objectives are.

  • Scout unexplored terrain
  • Assist allies
  • Destroy worldkiller assets

The players use information gleaned from previous sorties or via narrative play to guide their strategy.

The players equip their jets according to the mission profile and their available resources.


When they’re ready, the players launch.

Mission phases

At each phase of the mission, the players will be able to decide to…

  • … press on, continuing with their mission plan
  • … switch to Plan B, a pre-planned alternative / fallback
  • … return to base, abandoning the plan and escaping
  • … improvise, adapting to unexpected circumstances

There should be a tension between the need to press on, aiming for main mission objective, and the need to handle unexpected threats.

Deviating from the plan should be risky and desperate.

Some of the mission phases will involve combat, either as part of the plan, or due to enemy interception along the way.


Air combat is abstract.

Positions are not tracked, instead we rely on tags and profiles, such as:

  • Altitude: Nap of the earth / Ground-hugging / Low / Medium / High / Edge of space
  • Speed: Loitering / Cruising / Flanking / Supersonic / Hypersonic
  • Range: Mothball / Engaged / Visual / Sensor / Trace

Similarly, we do not track hitpoints. An aircraft will typically be immediately destroyed on hit. It’s possible to “damage” or “incapacitate” an aircraft, which leaves it vulnerable to being destroyed.

Combat is about manoeuvring, putting the opponent at a disadvantage, forcing them to deal with petty attacks, bleeding off speed and moving them into a vulnerable posture, before landing a killing blow that they will be unable to avoid.