MOTHERSHIP is exactly the kind of system you want if you desire to play gritty and/or weird sci-fi/horror, with characters and events like you'd find in...
- Galaxy of Terror
- Event Horizon
- Dead Space
- Planet Of The Vampires
...and more. It'll make you wish the folks behind this game were the ones in charge of Alien: Covenant, that's certain. Sean McCoy is an incredible talent and he's put together a team for this and the supplement "Dead Planet" that taps into this particular genre better than any other game I've seen.
Whether you want to use the Mothership system as-is, or usethe material as inspiration for other systems like Traveller, SWN, Cold & Dark and so on, you can't go wrong by adding this to your library and at least looking it over. I think you'll find that the system is so compelling and easily accessible that you won't be able to resist creating some characters and designing a ship.
The game feels old school and lends itself extremely well to "sandbox" style play (best illustrated in the fantastic 5-star "Dead Planet" supplement, get it!), but the system itself feels modern and straightforward. D10s are used for everything, but in three different ways based on the task; usually a % roll under system. Characters have 4 stats, 4 "saves", and a skill system covering most everything you'd want for characters from the 4 classes: Teamsters, Scientists, Androids and Marines. Again, everything you'd want (for now!) focused on this particular genre. Rules for crisis checks, stress, panic, sanity and fear help capture and enable the atmosphere for SF/horror better than a generic system could. A comprehensive collection of gear, weapons and "trinkets" are provided, as is an impressive starship design system and rules for beefing up your team with mercenaries.
In fact, one of the most impressive things about Mothership is how much material is squeezed into its 44 pages (including sheets), and how well it's presented. Both the print and PDF version are very readable, and the design/layout work is beautiful and the tables are easy to find and reference. Big kudos to all of the talents behind the look, feel and utility of this book.
I think it says a lot when a set of rules are so well-written and presented that they inspire you to play something you weren't necessarily expecting to delve into. As I write this, I'm very much in an old-school fantasy game mindset. But I've found it nearly impossible to resist the urge to make time at my FLGS and put together an evening or two of "Prometheus done right", or to let players explore the extremely disturbing vistas of "Dead Planet" (which itself feels wholly original).
Although you could play this genre with another system, I've yet to see any other system that could do it better or so elegantly. I can't wait to see what comes next from Tuesday Knight Games for Mothership.
- Review by Robert Saint John