Mutant Space Cowboys: A Time Travel Game

By John Frazer

Table of Contents

Introduction Page 2
Creating Your Cowboy Page 3
Resolving Actions Page 5
Combat Page 6
Chronoskimmers Page 7
Running the Game Page 10
Dealing with Time Travel Page 11
The Setting Page 11


Far above the planet Clymexia, a Behemoth class starship slides through the chronoluminiferous ether. The fabric of space and time distort around it, a miracle of technology, possessed by few, and understood by fewer still. Inside, a man paces, bothered by an unidentifiable something. In a previous century, they might have called it "conscience," but for Herr Grodz, "conscience" was an unfamiliar word. He was a cyborg, created to carry out the will of the Galactic Grand Emperor, and no force in this universe or any other, could stop him from doing his duty.

The planet of Clymexia was a peaceful world. Its people were primarily farmers and simple craftsmen. They obeyed the law, paid their taxes, and saluted the Emperor. Unfortunately for them, that wasn't enough. His Most High Celestial Eminence demanded absolute loyalty, and when the citizens of Clymexia refused to be relocated to another sector to make way for the Transdimensional Conduit, they ceased to have any value to the Empire. Herr Grodz would do his duty. He would eliminate them.

Dynamos deep within the bowels of the ship whirred to life. Driven by a fusion reaction, they would generate the massive amounts of electrical power necessary to activate the Oblititron. The citizens of Clymexia had precisely six minutes to live.

Time passes; T-minus 3:00. The generators thrum with an ominous power. More time passes; T-minus 1:30. Herr Grodz's aural filter kicks in, protecting him from the deafening noise coming from the ship's reactors. The sensor's tiny alarm was lost under the shrieking wail of the charging Oblititron, but its blinking red light was not. Some object, within one AU, was generating a chronetheric field. That could mean only one thing: company.

At that moment, T-minus 0:45, the Behemoth class starship shook and rattled. It didn't feel like a collision. It felt more like the ship's walls were collapsing from within. Herr Grodz spun around, and was stopped cold in his tracks. Somehow, the intruders have managed to materialize their ship in the middle of his bridge. With one well-aimed shot from his lazon pistol, the be-Stetsoned creature blasted the main control panel to smithereens. Then, with a tip of his hat, he stepped back into his improbably placed ship and vanished for parts unknown.

Deprived of control protocols, the Oblititron's dynamos took on a new sound. It was a sound all aboard recognized from their training. The generators have entered overload . . .

Meanwhile, the grateful citizens of Clymexia waited to welcome their savior, but for Duke Starseed, the deed was thanks enough.

Welcome to the world of Mutant Space Cowboys, where saving planets is all in a day's work. Within these pages, you'll not only find rules to create your own Mutant Space Cowboy, but also spaceships, time travel devices, weapons, sidekicks, and enemies. So strap yourself in, and get ready to defend the underdog from the forces of greed, tyranny, and injustice.

Creating Your Cowboy

Characters in Mutant Space Cowboys are painted in broad strokes. They don't have lots of subtle or unusual abilities. You won't see them lounging around old Earth, politicking and scheming in the center of the Galactic Empire. You won't see them hacking into computers or picking locks. You certainly won't see them hiding or sneaking around. Space Cowboys are an adventurous and straightforward breed, and Mutant Space Cowboys are doubly so. To them, the best solution is the most direct solution. Kick in the door, shoot the bad-guy, and tell those stuffed shirts exactly what you think of them and their rules. It's the cowboy way.

That's not to say that all Mutant Space Cowboy characters have to be exactly the same. Look to the variety of movie-western characters as inspiration: the callow youth, eager to prove himself, the drunken gunfighter whose seen too much bloodshed, and the adventurous soul, always wanting to see what's over the next hill (or on the next planet) - the differences between these characters are both obvious and significant, but the two traits they all share, an independent spirit and a compulsion to do the right thing, are what makes them cowboys.

So, the first thing to think about when you create your character is what sort of person you want your cowboy to be like. Does he love the itinerant life, or does he want nothing more than a homestead to call his own? Does he like to fight, or does he dread every time he has to pull his gun? Does he have any family? Any enemies? Any former lovers, partners, or rivals that he might run into? Does he crave attention, or prefer to work anonymously? Does he enjoy the solitude of deep space, or does he crave companionship on his long journey between the stars? Is he an idealist, or does he just to live day to day?

Answering these questions can go a long way towards defining your character, and separating him or her from those of the other players. There are two additional things to keep in mind as well: 1)All Mutant Space Cowboys characters share the same five basic abilities, so, unlike many other roleplaying games, you can't count on a character's skills to make him or her unique. 2)All Mutant Space Cowboys characters should at least be somewhat heroic. You might play a bandit who refuses to kill unarmed men, a gruff old man that, despite wanting nothing more than to be left alone, finds himself dragged into helping people, or a person who fits the "hero" mold precisely, but any way you choose to make your character, he or she should always be willing to stare down evil in a pinch.

Now that you have an idea of what you want your cowboy to be like, it's time to decide what sort of mutations she has. It can be anything, but you should try to aim for something that makes for an evocative character description. Start with the cosmetic details like skin color, presence or absence of fur or scales, etc. If you want more substantial mutations, like legs that will allow you to jump higher, or antennae that allow you to see in the dark, you'll have to buy them with virtue points.

You get five virtue points to spend on you starting abilities and mutations. You can get extra virtue points by taking negative mutations. Consult the following table.

Virtue Cost Virtue Description
-4 Deafness -3 survival rating when avoiding ambushes. The character has difficulty communicating with other characters.
-3 Phobia Add an extra difficulty class to all contests in the presence of your phobia.
-2 Ability Penalty Add an extra difficulty class to all contests with a given ability.
-1 Night Blindness Add an extra difficulty class to Pistols contests in the dark.
-1 Vehicle Ineptitude Add one difficulty class to Pilot contests with a given class of vehicles (spacecraft, riding, cars, or planes).
-1 Weapon Ineptitude Add one difficulty class to Brawl contests when wielding melee weapons
-1 Ability Cap Your maximum rating in a given ability is decreased by one
-1 Small You have one less health level than normal
-1 Vulnerability The damage rating for a given type of weapon (plasma, lazon, particle, unarmed, or melee) is increased by one
0 Cosmetic Mutations Any number of changes to your appearance that have no concrete game effect
+1 Night Vision Any increase to Pistols difficulty class due to darkness is reduced by one
+1 Spring Legs The difficulty class for Stunts contests involving jumping is reduced one.
+1 Martial Artist Add one to your effective Brawl rating when fighting unarmed
+1 Claws Your damage rating in unarmed combat is increased by 1
+2 Increased Ability Increase the rating of one of your abilities by one
+2 Thick Skin Increase your effective survival rating by one when resisting damage.
+2 Large You have one extra health level. Tentacle
+2 Tentacle You have a dexterous tentacle. You can hold items, but it's not as effective as an extra arm.
+3 Ability Aptitude Decrease the difficulty rating for all contests involving a given ability.
+3 Sonar Difficulty classes are not increased by adverse vision conditions.
+3 Extra Arm You have one extra arm.
+3 Wings You can use your Stunts ability to fly.
+4 Vacuum Adaptation Your character can survive in the vacuum, by winning a contest against a difficulty class equal to the number of minutes you've been exposed to vacuum.
+5 Extraordinary Luck Once per game session, you can automatically win a single contest.
+5 Invulnerability You take no damage from one type of weapon (plasma, lazon, particle, melee, or unarmed).

You can take the same virtue more than once. In that case, the effects are cumulative.

Characters have five abilities, Pistols, Pilot, Stunts, Brawl, and Survival, that each start out at rating zero. The maximum rating for any ability is five.

Pistols: You use the pistols ability whenever your character fires a gun, shoots a bow and arrow, or throws a rock. You also use the pistols ability for quick draws.

Pilot: The Pilot ability governs the operation of all sorts of vehicles, not merely spaceships and airplanes, but also riding animals, sailing boats or submarines, and driving cars.

Stunts: This ability is a catchall for the wide variety of cool cowboy stuff you may want to do. Whether it's jumping from a second story balcony to tackle a person below, or hanging from the edge of a cliff, the stunts ability is used for all physical, non-combat related activities. It also covers the use of lassos, both rope and electromagnetic.

Brawl: This covers all close-quarters, hand-to-hand combat, both armed and unarmed. Boxing, wrestling, swords, spears, axes - all use the brawl ability.

Survival: In addition to keeping you alive in the wilderness and allowing you to set and detect ambushes, this ability represents your character's skill in watching his back in combat. It also represents the ability to resist and avoid damage from weapons, poison, and disease.

Resolving Actions

For the characters to accomplish any action with a chance of failure, or any action that's opposed by another character, they must make ability contests. At its most basic, an ability contest is a game of rock-paper-scissors. If the player wins, his character succeeds at the action. There is one slight complication, however. A player can use his ability rating as "retries" or "tiebreakers." If the action is particularly difficult, or opposed by another character, the action will have a difficulty class. The difficulty class reduces the player's effective ability rating by its size.

Example1: Duke Starseed is a crack shot. He has a pistols rating of four. He also has a stunts rating of three. Wishing to impress the locals, he aims for a beer can on a nearby wall. This is an easy action, and the game master assigns a difficulty rating of one. Duke Starseed engages in a game of rock-paper-scissors with the GM, with an effective ability rating of three. If he wins, there's no problem. If he loses, he can use one of his three retries to play another game. If he ties, he can use one of his three retries to win the game. Effectively, Duke must fail four contests in a row (or fail three in a row, and then lose after a series of ties) to fail to hit the can.

Example2: Duke Starseed attempts to shoot Ace mcDrill, a notorious bandit with a survival rating of four. The two characters' players play a game of rock-paper-scissors, If Duke wins, he successfully shoots Ace. If Ace wins, he avoids getting shot. If Ace had a survival rating of five, Duke would have had to win two games to shoot Ace. If Ace had a rating of three, Duke would have had to lose two games to miss Ace.

Example3: Duke Starseed wishes to jump over a broad chasm. The GM decides that this is an incredibly difficult stunt, and assigns a difficulty class of five. Duke's stunts rating is three, so the GM has two retries. Duke must win three times to clear the chasm.


Combat is resolved in much the same way as any contested action. Characters attack with either their pistols or brawl ability, and they defend with the survival ability. If the attacker wins the contest, he tests for damage. Unarmed attacks have a damage rating of one. Other weapons have different damage ratings. Damage tests work a little differently than other tests. The attacker and the target play one game of paper-rock-scissors for each point of the damage rating. Every game the attacker wins counts as a health level of damage done to the target. Each game the target wins represents a level of damage the target avoids. Ties are resolved by comparing the target's survival rating with the weapon's damage. If the survival rating is higher than the damage rating, the target wins ties. If the survival rating is less than the damage rating, the attacker wins ties.

Example: Duke Starseed shoots Ace mcDrill, having won a game of rock-paper-scissors. Duke's weapon is a lazon pistol, which has a damage rating of three. Since Ace's survival rating is four, if there are any ties in the damage test, Ace will manage to avoid damage. Ace wins the first game, ties the second, and loses the third - taking one health level of damage.

Players' characters, and most major antagonists have six health levels. Once they take their seventh level of damage, they're dead. To represent the fact that most actions are more difficult when you're injured, the difficulty ratings of all actions are increased with increased damage: first by zero, second by one, third by two, forth by three, fifth by four, sixth by five, and then death. If a player has the "small" virtue, they lose the last health level. If the character has the "large" virtue, they gain an additional +0 health level.

Minor antagonists, called "extras," have fewer health levels. Main characters always seem to get shot in an arm or a leg. Nameless characters tend to get shot in the chest or head. Extras have two health levels +0, +1, and then death. As might be expected, players can be greatly outnumbered by extras and still fight free. Consider most extras to have rating one in brawl, pistols, and survival.

Armor works by reducing the damage rating of certain types of weapons and by adding "armor levels" which act as extra health levels that must be lost before the character starts to take damage. For instance, force fields have one armor level, provide three levels of protection against plasma weapons, and two levels of protection against lazon weapons. If a person wearing a force field is attacked by a plasma weapon that has a damage rating of five, the person and the attacker make a damage test for damage rating two. If armor loses all of its armor levels, it no longer reduces the damage rating of incoming attacks.

Weapon Damage Armor Armor levels Resistance
Plasma Pistol 4 Force Field 1 -3 Plasma -2 Lazon
Lazon Pistol 3 Photonic Baffler 2 -4 Lazon
Slugthrower 3 Kevlar Jacket 2 -2 Particle -1 Lazon
Sword 3 chain mail 2 -1 Particle -2 Melee -1 Lazon

Plasma Pistol: This weapon fires a bolt of superheated, electrically charged gas. It's loud, has horrific recoil, and possesses all the elegance of a brick to the head.

Lazon Pistol: This weapon fires a slender beam of high-energy light. It's quite and has no recoil to speak of.

Slugthrower: A catchall term for the wide variety of pistol-sized weapons that work by pushing a bullet with expanding gas from an internal explosion. Shotguns, rifles, and machine guns do more damage, but are basically the same.

These weapons are only a starting point. If you want your character to wield something not on the list, all you have to do is come to some sort of agreement with the GM about its damage and effects.


Space travel is cheap. Reliable space travel is expensive. Revolutions in energy production and manufacturing have put the first generation of FTL drives within the reach of the average consumer. Unfortunately, the nature of faster-than-light travel is such that ships going faster than light are very sensitive to quantum level variances and positional uncertainty.

This means that whenever a ship travels between the stars, there's always a chance of it missing its destination and arriving at a more or less random place and time. Advanced vessels, like those in the Grand Imperial Navy, have things like subdimensional etheric gyroscopes and chronoluminiferous shielding that allow them to work more or less as they should.

Space Cowboys are not so lucky. Every time they venture across the void between the stars, they run the risk of being catapulted to an alien time. Of course, people being the clever creatures that they are, someone eventually figured out a way to do it on purpose, and time travel has since become ubiquitous.

Successful interstellar navigation requires a pilot contest. The default assumption is that the difficulty class is one per 100 light years traveled. Outside factors can modify this for good or ill. Things that make travel easier include etheric beacons and the presence of cosmic superstrings running parallel to the direction of travel. Things that make travel more difficult include black holes, nebulae, and quasars (though, you're not likely to run into any of those in this galaxy).

If the player wins the pilot contest, the ship arrives more or less where the character wanted to go. FTL is still a relatively new technology, and even when everything goes right, it doesn't do exactly what it's supposed to. If the GM wins the pilot contest, the cowboy suffers some sort of navigational mishap. It could be as simple as arriving a few light years away from where he wanted, or it could be as severe as traveling back in time 65 million years. The main factor in determining the severity is the mishap is the needs of the story (and whether or not the GM wants the players to run into dinosaurs).

Any ship capable of making interstellar voyages is also capable of traveling through time. The "distance" of the trip isn't really a factor - if the players wanted to, they could travel back to the Big Bang, though of course they'd be instantly killed upon their arrival. The difficulty in traveling through time lies in arriving at the destination time with any sort of precision. If the player makes a pilot test against a difficulty class of one, the ship arrives within one million years, before or after, the target time. Every increase in difficulty increases the accuracy by a factor of ten, so if the player wants to reach a specific year, she'll have to test pilot against difficulty six. If she wants to arrive on a specific day, she'll have to win against difficulty nine (1/1000 of a year, she'll arrive within +/- 9 hours of her target time). If the player fails the pilot test, it's up to the GM's discretion to decide what happens. It might be a good idea to track how many games of rock-paper-scissors the player wins before finally losing contest, then act as if the player won a pilot test against a difficulty one less than that number.

Example: Duke Starseed has always wanted to see the Roman Empire, so he decides to power up his chronoskimmer, Silver Centurion, and travel back in time. He doesn't want to run the risk of missing out on the time period entirely, so he tries for a fairly high level of accuracy, attempting to arrive withing one year of AD 1. This requires a difficulty class of six. Duke has a pilot rating of three, so he must win four games of rock-paper-scissors to arrive when he wants (because the GM has three "retries," which she'll use if Duke wins a game). Duke wins three games in a row, but loses the fourth. Now, if Duke had tried to arrive within ten years of his target destination, he would have won this contest, so the GM decides that he arrives in the year 5 BC.

One important thing to remember: time travel is a fickle technology, and when it fails, it does always (or even often) fail predictably. Even if a player wins nine contests out of ten, the GM is perfectly within her rights to assert that the ship misses its target by a billion years (to take an extreme case).

There will likely come time when the cowboys want to fight something with their spaceships. This is handled like normal combat except that all tests are resolved by the pilot ability, modified by the ship's characteristic rating. Ships have abilities, just as players do. The five ship abilities are speed, stunts, shields, systems, and weapons.

Speed: You add the ship's speed rating to the pilot's pilot rating in any contest in which speed would be important. Most of the time this will either be chasing or fleeing another ship, but there might be times when you absolutely, positively have to be somewhere within a certain amount of time. The speed rating only covers sub-light velocities. Most ships manage interstellar distances in about the same time.

Stunts: You add the ship's stunts rating whenever you try a maneuver that involves precision flying, like weaving through an asteroid field, or dodging another ship's weapons.

Shields: The shields rating of a ship is never added to a character's pilot rating to make tests. Instead, it subtracts from the damage rating of an attacker's weapons. A high rating in shields does not, however, make a ship invulnerable. Every shield system has weaknesses that can be exploited by knowledgeable opponents.

Systems: In space combat, people can target specific systems instead of trying to destroy the whole ship. If the pilot fails to dodge the enemy's weapons, the attackers must test their pilot ability against the ship's system rating to damage the system. Otherwise, they'll simply hit the hull and do damage as normal. Most ship systems have precisely one health level. If the attacker's weapons can't penetrate the ship's shields, they can't target the ship's systems. The only exception to this is the shield system itself, which can be targeted through the shields (due to inverse-square laws, most shield defects tend to cluster around the generator). If the shield generator is destroyed, the ship's shield rating is reduced to zero. If the ship has some sort of non-damaging weapon or tool that must be targeted to use, the pilot adds the systems rating to his pilot ability to see if he uses it successfully.

Weapons: Simply having weapons does not give the ship a weapons rating. This rating only applies if something about the ship's weapons make them especially easy to target. Examples include: an advanced targeting computer, a huge cannon that targets an area of space, or a large number of smaller weapons linked together. Because of this requirement, most ships have a weapons rating of zero.

An average sized ship has about ten health levels. A small starfighter has around five. An Imperial Behemoth class vessel could have as many as a hundred. Most ships' systems are designed with enough redundancy that performance doesn't decrease until the ship starts to actually fall apart. To represent this, all but the last three health levels of a ship are -0. The last three are -1, -2, and -3. When a ship suffers damage penalties, all of its ratings are reduced by the amount of the penalty (to a minimum of zero).

If ship weapons are used against an individual, multiply their damage ratings by 3 (it's never fun to get shot in the face with a cannon).

All spaceships are powered by Chronalium, an exotic form of matter that cannot be described fully in the standard four dimensions. On the highly industrialized worlds near the center of the Grand Galactic Empire, Chronalium is cheaper than gasoline. On the outermost colony worlds it's a rare and valuable commodity, worth more than its weight in platinum. Before the production process was discovered, about 1000 years before the default starting period, it was extremely rare, found only at the site of fantastically dangerous cosmological events.

Spaceships use one charge of Chronalium for every light year they travel. Strangely enough, the amount used in time travel is more or less constant (i.e. it's constant except for those instances when unknowable factors cause it to be different than usual) - 100 charges, regardless of the time traversed. Time travel does occasionally drain Chronalium batteries completely, stranding the would be travelers wherever they landed (it also occasionally recharges Chronalium batteries, though even the best scientific minds in the galaxy can't predict when it'll happen.) The larger imperial ships have onboard factories that allow them to produce their own Chronalium.

Example: Silver Centurion

The personal chronoskimmer of famed cowboy, Duke Starseed, the Silver Centurion is agile and quick, though its small size makes it vulnerable to heavy weapons.

Ratings The Silver Centurion has six health levels: -0, -0, -0, -1, -2, -3

Speed: +4 It boasts a single lazon cannon, which has a damage rating of 4

Stunts: +3 It has life support and accommodations for two human-sized creatures

Shields: +1 At full power, its Chronalium batteries have 1000 charges.

Systems: +0

Weapons: +1

Running the Game

Mutant Space Cowboys is primarily an action-based game. It's meant to be fast paced, over the top, and exciting. As a GM, you can do a variety of things to enhance the mood and theme of the game. One way to do this is through the difficulty ratings of various actions. If the players come up with some harebrained scheme that's exciting, dramatic, and heroic, don't be afraid to give them a break with the difficulty. They should still have to work for it, but instead of making them win an impossible contest, make them describe it in detail. If you can give the right amount of encouragement, without being heavy handed about it, you'll soon have your players swinging from chandeliers, jumping into raging rivers, and doing all the other sort of improbable stunts that make action stories great.

Likewise, if the heros come up with a reasonable, rational plan that involves unheroic activities like sneaking or hiding, don't be afraid to throw complications their way in the form of increased difficulty. It may seem like screwing the players over, but often it's more enjoyable for everyone involved when things go wrong for the characters. Your players will have fonder memories of the time they tried to sneak past some sleeping guards, accidentally tripped an alarm, and wound up having to blast their way out than they will of that time when they avoided conflict through a successful stealth test ( "Stealth" isn't an actual ability the characters have for that very reason, though you might decide that the characters have stealth rating zero if they do decide to sneak. Or they could use the survival ability against a high difficulty rating. Whatever works for you and your group).

One thing you might have noticed is that there are no prices for any of the items in this game. That's not merely because I've only had 24 hours to work on this game. It's also because Mutant Space Cowboys is not really a game about managing resources or accumulating items. While it might be fun to have the players try and barter for spaceship parts on an isolated planet, in general, it's safe to assume the characters have whatever equipment they want. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. Encourage the players to choose their weapons based off their characters' personal style. Mechanically, I've tried to encourage that by making most weapons pretty much the same, but it's still important get the players to think in character.

Speaking of equipment, and its availability, there may be times when it's necessary to deprive the characters of their high tech toys, at least temporarily. It's no good for an engine malfunction to strand them on prehistoric Earth, amid tribes of hostile cavemen, if they can simply whip out the plasma pistol and start blasting away. One of the reasons for having readily available equipment is so the players will rely on their own wits and ingenuity instead of searching for technological solutions to their problems. This should be the case wherever, and whenever they happen to be, and fate (i.e. the GM) should conspire to force them to make do with the dominant local technology (be it Lazon pistols or bronze swords).

Dealing With Time Travel

Is it possible to change the past so you never came into being? Does the ability to travel to the future and see what's going to happen mean that human beings have no free will? Are there other universes besides ours - representing timelines that might have been? These are questions that keep a cowboy awake on those long, empty, lonely nights. They've also occupied writers, artists, and philosophers for as long as the idea of time travel has been around. Fortunately, you really don't have to worry about it. Nine times out of ten, time travel is merely an excuse to set the characters down among an interesting an unusual backdrop. The sort of fish out of water stories you'll get from stranding your starship jockeys in weird places like feudal Japan, America in the 1920s, or Roman times should provide more than enough entertainment to make your players forget about the absurdity of it all.

Remember, light-hearted fun doesn't have to be totally consistent. Think Back to The Future rather than Twelve Monkeys. Still, it couldn't hurt to dig a little deeper and play around with the time travel concept. Perhaps they travel 50 million years into the past, step on a butterfly, and find everything changed upon their return, like in the Ray Bradbury story. Maybe they run into their future (or past) selves. Given the prevalence of time travel in the game, things like that could be a regular occurrence - it all depends on how you want to play the game.

The Setting

The three biggest influences on the setting of Mutant Space Cowboys are as follows:

1)The Star Wars movies - The similarities between Star Wars and a western are definitely there if you look, and Han Solo is the Archetypal Space Cowboy.

2)The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series - Especially important is the way the characters seem to casually handle a serious physical impossibility like time travel. Your characters should try to capture that same sort of indifference to high technology.

3)Rock and Roll Babes from Outer Space by Linda Javin - though most of the action in this book takes place on Earth, it's nevertheless a fine example of a juxtaposition of science fiction elements with terrestrial cultural and social mores.

The "default" setting for Mutant Space Cowboys assumes the existence of a Galactic Empire centered on the planet Earth. Despite what the Introduction suggests, this does not necessarily have to be some sort of evil empire. Much like real world empires, it has its share of bad rulers, but it also has its share of good rulers. The main purpose of the Empire is to establish a sense of the frontier. You're playing characters that live at the very fringe of an expanding civilization, much like the cowboys in the real world. How you relate to that civilization can go a long way towards defining your character. Perhaps she was born in Wild Space, and can't relate to Earthers at all, or maybe she left Earth to pursue her fortune out among the stars. It's something to think about, at least.

The thing to remember about the setting for Mutant Space Cowboys is that it's not so important what you put in there as it is how you describe it, and how the characters react to it. It's a big galaxy, and there's plenty of room for some seriously weird stuff. So long as the places your characters visit are larger than life, and offer plenty of opportunities for action, adventure, and heroism, they're part of the Mutant Space Cowboy universe.