Press Kit: Return to the Stars

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Return to the Stars!

Return to the Stars was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter, achieving 660% of its goal. Return was nominated for a Indie Groundbreaker Award for best setting in 2020. The game launched in March 2019 and is available now.


Return to the Stars is a narrative tabletop role playing game designed to make it easy to tell stories of exploration and adventure in an optimistic space opera setting. It is a game where you can paint a better future in bold primary colors. A free quickstart edition of the game is available for download. Adventures for the game are published on an ongoing basis in the Stellar Beacon ‘zine.

Return is part of the emerging hopepunk subgenre of speculative fiction that explores stories of resistance, community, and caring in the face of oppression.  The novelist Alexandra Rowland coined the term, and later defined it in an essay we published. This essay and the game have been mentioned in articles on the hopepunk in Vox, the Washington Post, America: the Jesuit Review,  and a reading list by Kat Rambo, current president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.


The setting of Return to the Stars is designed to allow the creation of characters that evoke the best elements of geek culture. In the far future hyperspace travel gave easy access to countless worlds, and humanity sorted itself into like-minded communities.  One such society was the Convention Authority, founded to celebrate the classical arts of science fiction, fantasy, and gaming. One day, without warning, the stellar beacon that illuminated hyperspace went silent rendering galactic travel impossible. The systems of the Convention Authority stayed connected thanks to a replica fleet of early starships. Now, after more than a century of effort, a long-range exploration craft has been built. Its purpose: to return to the stars and reconnect with lost civilizations of humanity.

Easy to Learn, Simple to Play

Return to the Stars is powered by the popular Fate Core SRD, an indie game system that helps you tell rich stories without a lot of preparation or calculation.

Return to the Stars comes with an adventure specially designed to teach the core concepts of the game. In play at many different conventions, new players have been up and running and having a good time after ten minutes of explanation.

Key New Features

For players who already love games powered by Fate, we’ve added some fun new subsystems.

Character Arcs
Often in fiction a protagonist has a problematic way of interacting with the world. It kinda works for them, but its shadow side takes a cost. Eventually, they learn they need to change and grow. Character arcs are a structured way to spotlight how someone grows past their Trouble.

Competitions are a type of contest in which the drama comes as much from trying to perform at the limits of your ability as it does from overcoming the opposition.

Downtime Tinkering
Creative options that players can have fun with between sessions to make the game richer for everyone, getting minor in-game benefits. Equally inspired by the Amber and Pendragon RPGs

Return to the Stars is a game about who people are not about the stuff they carry.  Still, loot makes players happy.  Props are gear that you can have fun collecting but which are only used a single for a dramatic effect. Like an intriguing prop in a well-made science fiction movie it provides a moment of cool that shakes thing up and advances the story, and then you don’t see it again.

Space Opera Skills and Stunts
Skills tailored to tell science fiction stories—play as a scientist or an academic rather than someone with “lore”. Hack into computer systems, change your genetics on the fly. Skills can be varied with over 100 fun stunts, including many novel templates you can repurpose for other settings.

About the publisher: Festive Ninja

Festive Ninja is based in Somerville, MA.  We create innovative indie games that make is easy for you to tell amazing stories.

Science fiction stories work best when people understand the worlds the characters inhabit. Players of Return to the Stars can follow a twitter microfiction feed of the latest galactic news. Energetic gamemasters can remix this with their own content to create an ongoing experience between game sessions.

Illustrations and Logos

itch Core Game cover
ship_bridge (1)
Return to the Stars Logo_transp
Festive Ninja Logo_transp
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