The Solo RPG Adventures of Atzix 516 in Bucket of Bolts

Jul 10, 2024 | Stories | 0 comments

Travel through space not as an explorer, but the spaceship itself as it changes from captain to captain in Bucket of Bolts.

Time for some more solo RPG fun! I read through Bucket of Bolts recently, which was rather quick with how short it is. I enjoyed the intriguing theme of telling the story of a spaceship as it changes over time with different captains. At last, it was the right moment to get back to a solo journaling RPG and bring out all the story notes to fly between the stars!

Game Overview

Game Name: Bucket of Bolts
Publication Year:
2021
Designer:
Jack Harrison
Artist:
Uncredited
Publisher: Mousehole Press
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)

This is an introspective journey of the life of a spaceship, from its very early beginnings through the adventures of its captains. Prompts provide questions and elements that slowly change the spaceship for a thorough timeline with interesting moments and periods of quiet meditation.

Playing Through the Life of a Spaceship and Its Captains in Bucket of Bolts

The One Major Flaw

I don’t want to harp on it because it’s a well-known issue, but the contrast in the printed version is problematic.

The neon orange or pink made it hard to read some words, even though I knew what most of them were. It was a distracting nuisance to an otherwise excellent concept.

It might also just be my copy, but some of the blue text is faded in the grey boxes. So I was fighting to read some of it, which broke the immersion more than I wanted to.

At least I have a digital PDF! I’m hoping to find a new home for this printed booklet, as it’s a great little system.

A Rather Difficult Time Reading Some Words in the Printed Version of Bucket of Bolts

My Own GameMaster

This seemed like the perfect time to bring out my many thematic decks of The GameMaster’s Apprentice! These cards are fantastic prompts with so many details.

I chose the aptly named sci-fi deck to get my imagination rolling. The random dice rolls and odds helped me along the way, too, but the descriptions were most useful.

Pretty soon, I started to craft an origin story for a new spaceship. I thought I knew what might happen… Nope!

These cards don’t work all the time, yet there’s something so fun about shuffling and seeing what card comes out.

Getting Inspired with the Sci-Fi GameMaster's Apprentice in Bucket of Bolts

Atzix 516 Blueprint

Oh, I got into this! It seemed appropriate to use my grid notebook to try to draw my own spaceship diagram, and I was pretty pleased with how this turned out.

I went so far as to add an upper and lower level that I thought I would fill in as I went. But I left it all blank.

Why? That will become apparent in a moment! I just didn’t feel like drawing modules, rooms, and hallways felt like the right thing. I liked keeping this rather abstract.

Plus, there’s always the possibility of porting over this spaceship into another solo RPG with its rich storyline!

Having a Bit of Fun Laying Out an Idea for a Spaceship in Bucket of Bolts

All of the Words

Yeah, this explains why I didn’t do any drawing… I leaned heavily into the writing aspect! I could have shortened up each captain’s story, and eventually did, as I felt like it.

I forgot the joy in playing solo RPGs and the uncertainty. There were some general ideas I had in mind at the start and figured I would play this out as a pre-determined tale.

Only I used my cards correctly and went down all sorts of creative paths that kept adding to my spaceship’s story!

This was a really neat experience of giving life and history to a seemingly inanimate object and its many captains.

Writing Lengthy and Daring Tales of Captains from the Past in Bucket of Bolts

The Brief History of Atzix 516 or Cathedral

Talk about going outside of my comfort zone! I easily could have set this in a more cozy sort of setting, but I went after the sci-fi elements as much as possible. Not only did I have some really interesting ideas, but the tone was a tad darker than usual. Still very much in the appropriate realm of what I’m sharing, yet this ship wasn’t particularly… Nice. Ha!

Act I: The High Era

  • Captain Lisandro: A synthetic being who was fashioned after my own intelligence, dismantled and lost to me.
  • Captain Zuri: A stoic captain who brought me to a time looped space port, then betrayed and was betrayed by me.

I was at the center of a conspiracy with intelligence agents, disguises, and intrigue. I was a hero, though, operating undercover to save my captain from sabotage. Then, I encountered the lifestyle of a mercenary who was absolutely orderly, but everything changed when we stopped at Jasmine RCC-85 and picked up a piece of a time loop. And more.

Act II: A Time of Strife

  • Captain Masego: A daredevil racer who outfitted me with counterfeit lights and tried to turn me into himself.
  • Captain ShadowCub: A rebel leader who treated me like a respected ally, but I could not prevent her kidnapping.

I spent months participating in championship races that pushed me to my limit, ultimately culminating in a loss due to no fault of my own, but which led to my captain’s death. I started to build up trust in my captain again when I saw the trust put in me without an attempt to overpower my decisions, yet she was lost like all those before. I was alone.

Act III: The Descent

  • Captain Creden: A tiresome tour operator who had no idea what he was doing, and ended up wiping my memory.

I traveled and had enlightening moments interacting with other intelligences, slowly learning what love was. Yet there was suffering along the way and although it seemed like a happy ending was on the horizon, the memory erasure at the hands of my incompetent captain removed all that I was. Cathedral still flies… But I am no more. Forever or for now?

The End of an Era

I didn’t expect to have some storylines neatly tie together, yet there were some elements that remained between captains. Ultimately, the ending was sad, but very neat!

Many other elements made it into my story, from specific things happening in the world to notable crew and valuable assets attached to each captain along the way.

I definitely enjoyed this RPG, although I don’t know if I’ll play again. Or it will happen a long, long time from now!

It was awesome to think about a different perspective as I played as this character. And I have so many sci-fi ideas!

The Descent and Sad Ending of a Spaceship's Life in Bucket of Bolts

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Continue the Conversation

Have you played Bucket of Bolts? Were there any interesting storylines that made it into your story? I haven’t really delved into a true sci-fi RPG realm in a long time, so this was a great way to have some fun! Maybe I need a cozier sort of spaceship next time, although Cathedral is going to provide me with many memories. Hurray for feeling creative!

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