Castalia House on Rimworld

Saturday , 10, June 2017 12 Comments

I was considering writing about my recent readings of the Broken Sword or Neutron Star, but I’ve just been having too much fun with Rimworld. So much fun that I had to share.

For those who may be unfamiliar with this one, Rimworld is a scifi colony sim/survival game inspired by the likes of FireflyDune, Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series, Warhammer 40k, Dwarf Fortress, FTL, and Prison Architect. The base concept of the game is the management of a group of people who have crash landed on a backwater “rim world” full of life both familiar and strange. These survivors become colonists who must harvest food, build shelter, craft weapons, research technology, fight off raiders, recruit allies, and maintain their sanity. If you’re lucky and skilled you may help them find a way off the rock they’ve been stranded on.

I’ve sunk many hours into this game over the past couple weeks, and I decided it was time for some Castalia House denizens to visit the Rimworld. For this game I decided to pump the difficulty all the way up and turn on permadeath. No going back.

Though I wish I could have included all our esteemed bloggers and staff, I was only able to include up to 10 initial survivors in my game. The good news for those who were a little too far down the list is that your pawns may still be out there, surviving…and waiting for the next adventure…

So here’s what went down.

Ten survivors of some dreadful accident in space scrambled into escape pods and awoke, mostly intact, upon a strange world. Their names – Alex, HP, Mollison, Jeffro, Morgan, Winkless, Pulsipher, Josh, Warpig, and Bushi. Men of assorted skills and crafts and fluent in the ways of science, combat, agriculture, engineering and more – they liked their odds. And so they went to work, building a barracks, planting crops and medicinal herbs, and preparing for the harsh life that had come upon them.

The colonists had landed with a small stash of pemmican, a preserved mash of meat and vegetable, but they would soon need their own supply of protein. They must hunt. The first meat came courtesy of Winkless, who bagged a wounded turtle that was already downed and bleeding out. No matter – it was meat! As the spring progressed, nutritious, life-giving vegetables sprouted forth from the alien ground. New structures, too, were raised to house men and later machines. A tortoise near the base camp, perhaps remembering Winkless’ killing of its kin, went bad and sought human blood. It was promptly dispatched by Alex, Jeffro, Warpig, and Bushi. 

Summer brought storms and heat. Fire raged and spread, but the colonists were able to fight the flames until the rains ended them. A single raider brandishing a steel shiv, perhaps hoping to take advantage of the chaos, or perhaps mad and senseless, charged into camp and was put down.

A nearby friendly tribe contacted the brave band with news of nearby bandits, requesting help and offering a reward in turn. Though courage coursed through their veins, the time was not yet right. There were still weapons to be forged and preparations to be made.

A short time later, a very strange man came seeking refuge. He went by the name “Kaiju” and claimed to be a friend of the Castalia House folk. He could be of use to them, he said. However he was being pursued by hostile tribals, and there was no time to deliberate. The colonists decided to aid him, and a difficult fight ensued. Bushi, Warpig, HP, and Pulsipher rushed to battle, wielding sword, club, spear, and javelin, while their allies showered their foes with deadly arrows. Warpig fell, grievously wounded, and was rescued by Josh. All but Mollison, Morgan, and Kaiju were hurt. Many of the tribals were stricken dead, and those that survived barely escaped.

Kaiju – a too smart, pyro misandrist. Surprise.

The battle was won, but at a price. Alex and Josh, the two most knowledgeable of medicine, tended to the wounded as best they could despite their own injuries. During this time, Kaiju helpfully tamed a wandering alpaca. It seemed as if everyone was going to recover, and celebration of the victory would ensue, when Bushi, Josh, and HP’s wounds became infected. Alex did all he could using the primitive medicines on hand and was able to save Josh and HP. Bushi, however, was unable to recover and died of the infection (fml).


Following Bushi’s death, tensions rose and relationships became strained. Kaiju lost his grip (despite apparently being slightly happy due to Bushi’s death – what the crap, man?) and went on an eating binge. Pulsipher, saddened by the death of Bushi, his friend, suffered a mental break and began setting barracks on fire. Luckily he was detained by Josh before he could do any serious damage.

A wanderer named Cole joined the group, and by this time the men had been able to craft two firearms – an LMG and an assault rifle. Given the declining spirits of the camp and the fact that I hadn’t expected them to survive for so long on the highest difficulty, it was judged time to venture forth to the bandit outpost. This world was full of evil men awaiting punishment, which would now be visited upon them.


A caravan was prepared, food and weapons packed, and the band set off. Things were about to end in tragedy.

The colonists arrived at the bandit camp to find a small compound of well-armed men and women. Simultaneously, two tribals had decided to raid the now unprotected base camp. In the end, several bandits were slain, but their firepower was too overwhelming. None of our heroes survived. And that’s just as well, for meanwhile back at the ranch one of the raiders had slain a domesticated boomrat – genetically altered creatures native to this strange world. These animals possess chemical sacs that explode and ignite upon their death. The boomrat happened to die and flame on right next to a wooden wall and a generator. The other bandit was killed by a protective, automatic turret. So it was all worth it in the end.

Ok, so this particular story wasn’t as exciting or crazy as I had hoped, but it gives you an idea of the kinds of scenarios and situations you can run into in Rimworld. It’s a fascinating little scifi sim game where a lot of ridiculous, strange, sometimes sad, often funny things can happen. If you enjoy games that generate great stories, this one is for you.

PCBushi can also be found on Twitter or at the PCBushi blog, where he ruminates on scifi/fantasy, games, and other spheres of nerd culture.

  • Jon Mollison says:

    Hilariois. Sounds a lot like Dwarf Fortress without the autistic micro details and better UI.

    • PC Bushi says:

      Yup, DF was one of the inspirations for Rimworld. Always wanted to play that game, but I just couldn’t get past the ASCII visuals. Rimworld’s got a lot of ridiculous detail (like pawns can have their fingers or toes blown off and all other manner of granular injuries) but not to the crazy extent of DF, from what I’ve read.

      • JonM says:

        I’ll have to check this out. I played a lot of DF a few years back, and loved every aggravating minute of it. But after a while it just gets to be too much – you get so bogged down repeating solutions to problems you’ve already solved that you can’t move on to new problems.

        Rimworld sounds like a great fix.

        • PCBushi says:

          That can happen in Ringworld, too, but at least there’s a lot of variation within that set of problems.

          Most of the time I find myself concerned with being able to fend off raids and feed my pawns, but you also have to worry about disease, hostile animals, temperature, making sure your people don’t break under stress and go nuts, etc..

  • Hooc Ott says:

    I played the heck out that game a couple of years ago before it was on steam.

    Before it was cool.


    No but more seriously it was great. With the added bonus is that it worked on Linux.

    One thing i don’t think PC mentions is the Traveller/Firefly/Dumberest vibe it gives off.

    Most of that vibe comes from the various classes there are. There is Royalty and slaves and tribes (barbarians) and pirates etc. People come from various worlds and have different levels of tech and come from different societies. Classes doesn’t effect all that much aside from the characters starter stats still it is fun and gives the game its flavor.

    As PC mentions it is inspired by Dwarf Fortress but with the distinct intention of keeping the colony small so you specialize your classes and get to know your characters.

    It is a dreadfully good time sink that I highly recommend.

    • PCBushi says:

      I did mention Firefly as an inspiration, but this is a good point to emphasize, thanks Hooc. You’re right about the vibe, and it’s kind of amazing how the devs have build a universe and a cool scifi feel without any plot.

  • Jed says:

    One of the best sci-fi games to come out in many a moon.

  • H.P. says:

    I’m just glad I got a cool hat.

  • Kevyn Winkless says:


    But did I survive!? I can’t tell, man! The tension is killing me!

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