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Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
by Howard B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2018 02:47:12

This does for OSR Sci-Fi what Into The Odd and Lamentations do for OSR Fantasy. Within about 3 minutes of picking it up, you want to run it. Your mind starts to buzz with ideas for adventures and images of PCs cast into the dark void or dying lonely pointless deaths on a forgotten hostile planet. The artwork is very evocative and who wouldn't want to roll on a table during character generation that gives your character a manual on how to make moonshine from Gun Oil and Fuel plus a Vacc Suit patch that reads "I'm Not A Rocket Scientist, But You're An Idiot".

One of the difficulties of Sci-Fi roleplaying is the danger of getting sucked into the scientific integrity and physics of the setting. Mothership neatly sidesteps this and focuses on things at the human level, especially the effects of trauma and stress. It also paints a picture of a universe of dark and unfathomable entities and phenomena.

Although it will be great for one-shots, there are rules for character development, XP and levelling up, but the lethality of the game makes the DCC 0-level character funnel look like a trip to Centerparcs.

Even if you don't use the rules as written there are some great concepts that you can port to other games. There's a wonderful module/adventure Dead Planet that takes the darkness and weirdness up to 11.

In terms of deep space roleplaying this is definitely Patrick Stuart rather than Patrick Stewart.

It's PWYW, but bung Sean some £ or $ because it's money well spent.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
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Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
by BRUCE C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2018 20:51:07

Beautiful layout and design make this game really stand out. The rules are elegant and well presented and the implied setting and style makes me excited to run Mothership in 2019.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
by Gaaron G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/15/2018 10:38:14

This is a very cool little game. I say little because 1) The rules are very straight forward and easy to pick up and 2) The book is physically little (similiar to LOTFP books.) I like that approach because who always wants to lug a bunch of hardcovers around all the time? One thing to keep in mind is that this is a player's guide so you are not going to get setting material, monsters, etc. I think the publisher has plans to release a Warden's (GM) book in the future. That being said, I would suggest picking up the companion adventure called Dead Planet which can get you up and playing quickly. My sense is that the author designed this for easy and quick play. All spaces on the book are used, including the back cover. Dice: All you need are D10's. It feels a bit like CoC light in that you roll under skills for successes using percentile rolls, combat uses contested rolls, PCs can panic, etc. There are many cool, unique goodies: A D100 patch & trinkets tables, & easy ship design. The ship combat is quick and intuitive which I appreciate - this is a lesson that other publishers of SF games should learn. Compare this to ST Adventures where the ship combat is pretty much unplayable per the rules as written - just way too complicated. The system includes the ability to hire Mercenaries, which are basically the Hirelings/Retainers of D&D BX/EX. Mercenaries have simplified stats and give the party a ready pool of NPCs that can be converted to PCs when PCs start to die (yes, I say WHEN, not IF. This is SF Horror/Survival after all!) I plan on running this soon. First thing will be to have the players watch Aliens and Event Horizon. Then we'll create PC's that are the senior officers of a small rescue or scout vessel. For example: Captain, Science Officer, Engineer, Sergeant of the onboard Marine squad. Then we'll have a crew of NPCs to fill out the crew (5 or 6 Marine grunts, technicians, crewmembers, etc.) When the PC's die, their subordinate underlings can take over and save the day! :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
by Seraphim D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2018 10:26:48

This rulebook is surprisingly well composed. It's very short as far as rulebooks go, but it packs a lot into its 48 pages. I found myself frequently asking "Why doesn't every rulebook do this!?" One example of this is the quick reference "cheat sheet" on the back cover.

All chargen elements and ship building elements are presented in nice flow diagrams that efficiently communicate the process. This makes the rules incredibly easy and fast to pick up.

I only have two real complaints. One, I don't like how they handle contested rolls by having whoever rolls bellow their skill, but still higher than their opponent, win the contest. I prefer Dark Heresy 2e's method of degrees of success/failure. Second, I wish the had more crunch with the skills. They only describe roughly what they are and don't give players/GM's much else to work with. I suppose that will have to be handled by house rules.

Still, 5/5. Excellent system portrayed in an elegant way.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
by Piers N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2018 16:41:10

NB - I have not played the game - I've just read the rules.

I bought this game based on the review on Questing Beast and it's a very mixed bag. What stands out is the Character Creation and elements of design around this. This appears to have taken its cue from a number of Indie RPGs where the character sheet contains all the information a player needs for chargen and play. ALL RPGs should be doing this and these design elements in this game are excellent. However, the game itself has a number of features which I find problematic. I might be being picky and other players may love the game for these reasons.

Skills and Combat - The skill tree is a lovely idea but I'm not sure how many of the skills are necessary for a Horror game. There is a tension in the design between offering a "complete" skill set so that a character has the potential to deal with any given situation and a stripped down set of skills that focus the game in on what it proposes to do, namely offering an experience to the player of survival horror. Combat appears to be a significant part of the rules, suggesting that they way to deal with the Horror is to shoot it. That's great if you want to play 'Aliens' but I'm more into 'Alien', 'Event Horizon' or even Tarkovsky's 'Stalker.' It is less clear how the game can handle this.

Maths - with a D100 system things can get mathy quickly (for me, anyway). A pet peeve is adding 7% to something, which you have to do with a certain Armor save. Elsewhere it appears you add or subtract multiples of 5 which then makes me wonder why not use a D20 system. While some may be fine with the maths others might struggle to calculate, slowing the game down and detracting from potentially tense scenes.

Hirelings and Ships - I get that some might want to have their own ship in an extended campaign and hire redshirts to be chomped or turned mad by the Horror but these rules could well have been put out in a supplement and I couldn't see how they would have been relevant at least whn the character are lower level.

Art - The art is inconsistent and at times looks incomplete. I appreciate this might be a design choice, such as the weapons on pages 13 and 14 but this design is not followed through and some of the art (pages 5, 11 and 35) looks as if it has been put in purely for the purposes of testing the layout and then upgrading the art in a later version. The game is in Beta, which is fine for me but I don't understand why it is being offered in print at this point. I'd advise just getting the pdf at present.

Running the Game - There is no information for running the game and it's not clear whether there is a forthcoming Warden's (Referee's) Guide or whether you are meant to buy the Dark Planet adventure. What stats should I use if the Horror is a swarm of rat-like creatures? How should I handle a non-corporeal Ghost-like creature? A telepathic entity that reads the minds of the players and exploits their guilt or weaknesses? How indestructible should the Horror be? I guess I could work this out for myself but it's additional legwork.

I'm sorry if this review comes across as overly negative. I'm keen to try playing the game but am reticent to run it. I want to make clear that a great deal of effort has been put into making this game and in a sense that's why I'm disappointed. I wanted to love this game because of the genre and the hard work put in.

Instead I just like it.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2018 18:40:07

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...

  • Alien
  • Galaxy of Terror
  • Event Horizon
  • Dead Space
  • Outland
  • Sunshine
  • Planet Of The Vampires
  • Prometheus

...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


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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