Friday, December 9, 2022

Bucket of Bolts is a barrel of fun

Last month, I wrapped up my exploration of journaling games and my appreciation of NaNoWriMo with Bucket of Bolts by Jack Harrison.

In fact, it uses the same system as The Artefact by Harrison, which is the game that I started with when I decided to look into journaling games. Which is how I found out the system is called Lost & Found. Every game is about creating the history of an item.

In the case of Bucket of Bolts, you are creating the story of a space ship. Think the Millennium Falcon or Firefly.

Like Artefact, there are no random elements in Bucket of Bolts. You create the ship by filling out a questionnaire. You then work your way through tables of prompts, choosing captains and events.

An important part of the game is time passing. In between captains, you needs to pause and wait before writing. Preferably in a dark room. As the game goes on, more time can go by with each pause.

I have to say, I had a lot of fun with Bucket of Bolts. I know that the Lost & Found system is supposed to be melancholy but the life of a spaceship felt more upbeat to me than the life of a doom laden sword.

I particularly liked how the Shifts and Currents table (part of time passing) had a couple options that were actually global events that weren’t necessarily about your ship. Choosing those made the world you create feel bigger.

In general, the Lost & Found system does a good job both guiding you through the story you are creating but also gives you plenty of room to improvise. Bucket of Bolts gives you extra options beyond the base tables, which is appreciated. Honestly, I think it will work even if you aren’t a habitual writer like me.

I do have to admit that I had been having a lot of fun playing journaling games so I was really in the mood to play Bucket of Bolts. That did have a hand in how much fun I have.

Still, let’s be honest. There is more joy in the Millennium Falcon than Stormbringer.

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