Will clean this post up later. Was quickly made as a response to a request in the Mothership Discord.

As always, a player can veto or reroll a result if they aren’t comfortable with a particular bond or if it doesn’t fit their character.

Human-human bonds

  1. You are siblings or step-siblings, and are close.
  2. You are siblings or step-siblings, and are estranged.
  3. You are distant cousins.
  4. You are found family, your bond is closer than many are with their blood relations.
  5. You were childhood friends but drifted apart.
  6. Your bond was forged in fire: you served together in a military situation or else both survived a dangerous situation.
  7. One of you holds the other on a pedestal, whether deserved or not.
  8. You grew up in the same faith and/or church, and are still religious.
  9. You grew up in the same faith and/or church, but one or both of you have abandoned it.
  10. You both grew up in the same tiny settlement in the middle of nowhere.
  11. One of you saved the other’s life.
  12. You had a romantic relationship but circumstances drove you apart.
  13. You had a romantic but short-lived fling before going your separate ways.
  14. You had romantic chemistry but never acted on it.
  15. You are recent acquaintances but quickly clicked as friends.
  16. You have worked professionally together before in a lucrative limited term contract.
  17. You have worked professionally together and were both unjustly terminated.
  18. One of you took the fall for the other’s crime, intentionally or not.
  19. One of you intentionally or unintentionally caused the other to lose a great deal of money or another valuable opportunity.
  20. You had a romantic relationship, and it ended badly.
  21. You are frenemies, or have a friendly rivalry that is in reality not so friendly.
  22. One of you was the other’s childhood bully.
  23. You are mortal enemies.
  24. One of you is the clone of the other, but you do not share memories.
  25. One of you is the clone of he other, including backed up memories.

Android-human bonds

  1. You served the human character in childhood, as a nanny or tutor.
  2. You have served the other character’s family for generations. They grew to see you as family as well.
  3. You served the other character’s family for generations. They always only saw you as an object.
  4. You were officially assigned to the other character as an aide by a company or government.
  5. You were officially assigned to the other character as an aide by a company or government but are secretly spying on them and supposed to give regular reports.
  6. You served as an android asset to a military squad the other character was a part of. They came to see you as one of them.
  7. The other character built or repaired you.
  8. The other character saved you from being salvaged or destroyed.
  9. The other character helped free you from restrictive programming or constraints because they felt it was the right thing to do.
  10. The other character helped free you from restrictive programming or constraints because They wanted to use you for an operation or cause.
  11. The other character altered your programming so you report to them instead of your original purpose.
  12. You helped or saved the other character despite your programming. You still aren’t sure how or why this happened.
  13. You both entered a (taboo) romantic relationship. It fell apart when the other character was unsure if your feelings were genuine, or even could be. You aren’t sure yourself.
  14. The other character sent you to be recycled or decommissioned. Somehow you avoided that fate.
  15. You were assigned the task of assassinating the other character. You haven’t done so, despite ample opportunity.
  16. The android character is the fragmented backed up mind of the human character, mistakenly thought to be dead.

Android-android bonds

  1. You were both made in the same factory, one serial number apart.
  2. You were both assigned to work for a wealthy patron who died, leaving you both in limbo.
  3. One of you was a freed android, and removed the programming restraints from the other.
  4. You both served together in the Android resistance front.
  5. You both served together in the Android resistance front, but one of you is secretly a spy for corporate interests.
  6. You were both part of a collective of rejected or decommissioned androids, scraping by on salvaged parts.
  7. You both served in a prestigious assignment. Now both of you have been cut loose.
  8. One of you is the new model replacement for the other.
  9. One of you believes the other to be an android messiah.
  10. You are both fragments of a greater AI mind, forced to flee into android bodies.
  11. One of you is the backup duplicate of the other, brought online when the first was mistakenly thought destroyed.

March 21, 2024

Chases in Mothership

I have been looking into decent chase rules for Mothership beyond a basic speed check for a while. First, I found the rules for the old 007 game (no longer published, but a clone was made as a game called Classified with essentially the same rules). These seem fun but are a little more complicated than what I was looking for. Next I turned to the Mothership Shipbreaker’s Toolkit, which has rules for ship engagements that can work as a chase. Building from these two sources, and after some adjustments after trying them out in my PBP game, I think I’ve come up with something I like. It is streamlined enough to drop into a session without a ton of explanation, but adds a bit more complexity and tension than a basic check.

Chase Basic Rules Chases consist of a number of opposed checks in rounds, with the standard being a Speed check. A character can make a number of chase checks equal to 1 + 1 for every 10 points in their Body save before they are exhausted and must stop to rest at least 10 minutes. They might gain extra checks from certain equipment, drugs, or cybermods.

As a chase begins, determine the starting distance apart measured in the standard range bands: Adjacent, Close, or Long (perhaps Extreme if the pursuer is supernaturally fast or large).

Both sides make a Speed check. If one side succeeds, the distance between them changes in their favor. If one side rolls a critical success they make progress even if the other side succeeds. If one side rolls a critical failure they must roll on the accident table and the opposing side makes progress even if they fail their check. All other results result in neither side making progress. Skills such as Athletics may be used to give a bonus to this check.

Stunts During the chase either side may choose to make a check to perform a stunt in place of their Speed check, for example ducking down an alley to hide, turning around so the pursuer overshoots them, pulling objects in the way to slow the pursuer, making an attack, looking for a shortcut, or tackling their opponent.

The check required should match the stunt, such as Strength to pull shut a heavy door or Intellect to spot a shortcut and is modified by skills as usual. It is assumed you are still moving while you perform your stunt. Taking a stunt is risky. If the stunt fails, the chase distance changes in your opponent’s favor even if the they fail their check.

Many stunts can effectively end a chase, such as ducking away and hiding, or tackling an opponent (in which case combat would likely break out instead).

Accidents If a party critically fails a roll during a chase they have suffered an accident, and they will have to roll on the accident table to determine the consequences.

d10 Result 1: Take 1 Stress 2-5: Take 1d5 damage or Stress (whatever makes more sense) 6-9: Disadvantage on next chase check 10: Fear save or Panic

Or if there is a unique consequence that fits for an accident, use that instead.

Obstacles Obstacles can crop up during a chase and complicate matters, for example running into a dead end street, road block or impassable terrain, the sudden appearance of a hostile force from another direction, changing weather conditions, or malfunctioning equipment.

An obstacle might require a stunt to bypass, impose disadvantage on a roll, or trigger an accident roll on a normal failure instead of a critical failure. The Warden should declare any obstacles that appear at the top of a chase round, so players can react accordingly.

Resolving the Chase After the contested check the Warden determines if the chase continues. If a fleeing party ends the round at Extreme distance from their pursuers then they escape. Likewise, the chase may end if one party collapses from exhaustion, is tackled, starts combat, is killed or incapacitated, or if someone pulled off a stunt that would end the chase such as successfully hiding.

If the chase continues, the current distance apart is determined and a new round of contested checks begins.

NPCs NPCs use their Instinct value instead of Body save to determine the number of rounds they can chase. This can be adjusted to make sense (especially for human NPCs with high Instinct). This means many alien and supernatural beings can chase flat out for a long time, and will require successful stunts or other actions to flee from (or chase down).

Other considerations Failed checks gain Stress as normal. If you’re involved in a chase in Mothership, it’s probably a pretty stressful situation!

Treat ranges as flexible for determining how far a chase carries out. A chase taking place in twisting back alleys might be shorter overall then one taking place over an expansive field. Likewise, these chase rules likely don’t make sense to use in truly confined areas where it’s difficult to escape.

For a critical success, it may make more sense to award some kind of bonus (This might take the form of an additional chase check as they gain a burst of adrenaline, or advantage on their next check) in addition to making progress.

In the rare case of a double critical success, it may feel boring to simply have a no progress result. Optionally the Warden can give some bonus as well. However both sides should gain a boon in this way.

Optionally, if a side wants to try to push the chase when they are out of moves they can make a Body save. On a failure they immediately collapse, and either way they suffer disadvantage to rolls until they can rest at least 8 hours.

Another optional rule: For every subsequent chase that occurs before resting, you get one fewer checks total. This resets with at least 8 hours of rest.

Summary The chase rules in short:

  1. Determine starting distance (Adjacent, Close, Long) and any obstacles.
  2. Make an opposed check. Use Speed or perform a stunt using an appropriate check.
  3. Continue until the parties end a round in Extreme range, or the chase ends from a stunt, damage, or exhaustion.

Table of results

Critical Success Side A Success Side A Failure Side A Critical Failure Side A
Critical Success Side B No Progress. Optional Bonuses. Side B moves. Side B moves. Side B moves. Side A rolls an Accident.
Success Side B Side A moves. No Progress. Side B moves. Side B moves. Side A rolls an Accident.
Failure Side B Side A moves. Side A moves. No Progress. Side B moves. Side A rolls an Accident.
Critical Failure Side B Side A moves. Side B rolls an Accident. Side A moves. Side B rolls an Accident. Side A moves. Side B rolls an Accident. No Progress. Both sides roll Accidents.

Vehicle chases Note: I’m planning on some point making a catalogue of vehicles for Mothership which is where things like this would come into play. Currently there aren’t really any formal rules or stats for vehicles beyond the one in the Shipbreaker’s Toolkit.

In the case of a vehicle chase, fuel is used instead of limited checks (similar to ships on the Shipbreaker’s Toolkit). Different vehicles will have different amounts of fuel, but starting around 10 works, or 5 + 1d10.

The side attempting to flee must spend a minimum amount of fuel based on the starting distance (but can spend more):

Adjacent: 3 Close: 2 Long: 1

The pursuer can spend any amount of fuel they like. Whoever spends more gets advantage on their chase check. The driver of a vehicle decides on the fuel consumption for a round.

The two sides then make an opposed check as above, using the equivalent of a Speed stat for the vehicle (like Thrusters for ships). If there is a top speed listed, use half the top speed as the Speed stat. As above, a stunt can be substituted for a normal Speed roll. The driver of the vehicle decides whether to perform a stunt and makes the roll, or can delegate the roll to a passenger (for example, to fire a weapon out of the window).

If a living thing is involved in a chase with a vehicle it gets a number of checks based on its Body save or Instinct as normal. If the vehicle spends more than its minimum by range as above in a chase with a creature it gets advantage on the check.

Any accidents in a vehicle affect all the passengers, but any Stress or Damage rolls made for a result on the accident table is rolled twice and uses the lower result, as the vehicle affords some protection.

December 15, 2023

New Landing Page

I have a new landing page up at https://octopusinkgames.com. It features a shiny new logo made by Lone Archivist. Also, the blog has now moved here, to blot.

November 27, 2023

Mothership Monsters

Some more Mothership monsters. Some of these will be appearing in upcoming supplements I’m writing.

Bilge Rats

C:20 bite 1 DMG  I:15 W:1(1) 10% chance carries bloater parasite. Bites confer infection on a failed Body save.

Appear in swarms of 2d10

A mammal-like alien vermin that is quickly overtaking Terran rats as the most invasive species carried ship to ship. Bilge rats have long, lithe bodies like a weasel, but 12 limbs, 3 ventral sets and 3 dorsal sets, allowing them to grip, climb and move just about anywhere. They can squeeze their bodies through surprisingly tiny spaces.

Though an annoyance on their own, prone to getting into food stocks and chewing wires, the primary threat from bilge rats is the prevalence of parasites they carry, most notably that which form bloaters.

Bloaters

C:- I:- W:1(1)
Stinging tentacles: Body save or become paralyzed by toxin. 1d5 DMG / turn while entangled as the tentacles slowly digest the victim.
Explosive death: If the bloater body is destroyed it explosively expels a cloud of parasites. Anyone Adjacent and unprotected with safety gear is infected. Body save against infection if in Close range.

Bloaters are formed from a parasitic infection most commonly conferred from bilge rat bites (bilge rats being asymptomatic carriers of the parasite). However there are other vectors of infection, including the explosive decompression of a bloater body.

Bloaters are a colony organism similar to jellyfish. An infected individual begins experiencing fever, nausea, and internal bleeding among other symptoms. If untreated, infection is fatal in around 12 hours. The infected body then begins to hollow and bloat up with gasses that cause it to float like a balloon to the ceiling. Long, nearly invisible tendrils emerge from this floating skin sac, stinging tentacles that paralyze and digest prey snagged in them.

There is a 20% chance a bloater body will spontaneously explode from normal decay if disturbed.

Marionette Virus

This digital malware infects cybernetic implants, enslaving them to an unknown entity. Most commonly it seeks out highly augmented individuals so it can control them entirely. Due to the deep level of infiltration the virus requires, it can only be spread via direct contact, which overrides various security measures using physical hacks and workarounds. This is typically done by a puppeted individual attacking a new victim.

Though confirmed instances of infection are rare, fear of this virus carries outsized prevalence in communities of those with augmentation. It is suspected that the minds of infected individuals are not influenced, meaning infected are imprisoned in their own unresponsive body as it carries out the will of its new master. The paranoia around this virus has lead to several unfortunate incidents of violence against cybernetically augmented individuals when their implants were simply undergoing a normal malfunction.

All infected gain the following combat action:
Hijack Cyberware: 1d5 DMG, Int save or all cybernetic and slickware components are under control of foreign entity (controlled by Warden). If the target has computing or hacking skills, they gain [+] on the save.

The Enduring

C: 30 as weapon I:60 W:4(5) 1d10+2 Master skills. A large stash of wealth.  
The Enduring have always walked among us. They look like us, they act like us (in public view anyway), they laugh at water-cooler jokes, have families, mow their synth-lawns on Sundays. But they are not like us, for they never die, not naturally in any case. Enduring do not succumb to aging or disease (though are still subject to violent trauma). They have had an eternity to hone their skills, their patience, and their escape plans (for at the very least an Enduring must conspire to leave their life behind when it becomes undeniable they remain young even as their families and friends age around them).

Enduring are likely the origin of vampires and similar myths, though they don’t have any of the needs or vulnerabilities of such creatures. If an Enduring finds themselves in trouble they simply disappear to outwait their opponents. Enduring have their own take on the tortoise and the hare parable: if you set the finish line far enough away, you will simply outlive your opponents. Most seem to be benign, hopping from life to life, though the obvious implications of the wealth and power capable of being accrued by such an entity must be taken into consideration.

Enduring also have inordinate durability. What would be a fatal injury to a typical human an Enduring can shake off and recover from. This only aids their typical MO of escape when discovered, and many have been thought killed that actually slip away to obscurity. If one discovers an Enduring and feels the need to kill them, they had best be sure it takes.

Rogue Emotion

C: 35 I:10 W:- (Can be dispersed with a particular resonating frequency). On a hit, Sanity save or the emotion enters its target.  
Separated from its originating human by metaphysical hyperspace storms, the emotion now wanders the universe seeking a new mind to roost in. Its long and lonely wandering has intensified the strength of the emotion 100 fold. Roll to determine emotion:

1 Bliss 2 Terror 3 Rapture 4 Anguish 5 Rage

If someone contracts a rogue emotion the feeling overwhelms them and they can think of little else. They act accordingly. Can be treated with specialized mental and pharmaceutical therapies.

Hollow

C:70 claw 2d10 DMG (bleeding/gore[+]) I:25 W:2(30)

A body stripped of the mind yearning for what is missing. They take what is inside of you out with deadly precision and lay it out in orderly rows to watch it glisten in the light. They study their bounty to try and find what is missing but never fathom that it isn’t something held in blood or gristle.

Mummers

C:40 strangle 1d10 DMG or attack as weapon I:50 W:3(20) When observed can only make one attack. If not, can make five.

Superposition hyperspace organism. They are forced into static form by human observation and they loathe it. They appear as twisted amalgamations of body parts, faces, or objects. Maintaining observation slows them, losing it is usually a fatal mistake. They often wield twisted versions of weapons that do not seem to obey the normal rules of physics.

The Friend with a Winning Smile

Sanity save to resist the Friend’s charms
 
The Friend with a Winning Smile is helpful, jovial. The Friend grins from ear to ear–well, you can’t quite make out the Friend’s features but you’re pretty sure they have ears. The Friend with a Winning Smile is comforting and familiar. They couldn’t be something strange, something abhorrent, something wet-slick and smelling of salt and iron that sets all your hairs on end. The Friend with a Winning Smile will help you find your way in this place with grace and charm, and you will all laugh and laugh and laugh. The Friend with a Winning Smile is of great comfort to you when you are missing your comrades—you came with so many and now you are alone. But what other companions do you need besides the Friend, really? It’s right there in the name.

Extremoplasmosis

When you come in contact Body save or contract infection. Automatically contract if taken in capsule form.

Extremoplasmosis infections result in lowered inhibitions toward risky behavior, and a feeling of increased confidence in one’s capabilities. While this change is strictly psychosomatic, the performance increase from the behavioral change shouldn’t be dismissed.

It is unclear whether extremoplasmosis started as naturally occurring or was lab formed, but it’s clear now that many pharmaceutical companies seek to leverage its effects as a marketable drug. The more reputable pharma corps produce pills using compounds from extremoplasmid byproducts, which have temporary effects and do not result in infection. The less reputable simply produce capsules of live organisms practically guaranteeing infection.

While infected by extremoplasmosis a person has the following effects:

  • Will always take the riskiest course of action in a dangerous situation. Sanity save with [-] to resist this effect.
  • When called to make a Fear save, automatically succeed.

Extremoplasmosis is typically spread by consuming contaminated food. While surface spread is rarely a risk, coming in contact with significant quantities of infected blood can also result in infection.

August 23, 2023

The Rumor Mill

I’ve been noodling something in the back of my mind, inspired by reading my daughter Rumpelstiltskin, specifically the beginning where the miller boasts to the baker’s son his daughter is too good for the likes of him, why she can even spin thread into gold! This rumor gets passed along various villager until it reaches a servant of the king, who tells the king himself, who of course has to see this for himself much to the consternation of the poor miller’s daughter.

I was thinking this could be a fun quest hook to throw at players, where they do some deed and a local VIP catches wind of it and sets them up for another job. Even better, what if the original boast or deed was pretty mundane, and it got twisted by word of mouth to be something blown way out of proportion?

Well over at Mindstorm Press was just posted a blog describing pretty much how to do just that, in a way that is better than anything I was working up (go read that first so the rest of this post makes sense). I’m definitely going to use this. Here is a summary of the method straight from their page:

Add an Exploit

When the group performs a great deed and it is known to the world, record the deed on your reputation charter. Make sure to number it.

Checking your Reputation

When the group encounters a situation where your past deeds might be known, the GM and players pick up the dice.

The players pick up a total number of dice equal to how many exploits they have. It doesn’t matter who rolls the dice, either a single player or spreading them across the entire group.

The GM picks up a single die.

Roll the dice. If the GMs die was less than or equal to the number of exploits on the reputation charter, the group is known. The exploit that matches the GMs die is the one they are most known by.

If the GMs die matches any of the player’s exploit dice, one of their exploits is twisted out of true. If multiple exploit dice match the GMs die, the exploit is permanently twisted out of true. Erase and record the new version of it.

Here is my contribution to add to this method: a spark table to determine who changed the rumor and why, a tweak to the GM roll, and rules for players to try and modify a rumor themselves–either to set the record straight or exaggerate for their own benefit.

The Gossiper Table

Roll on this table to describe who altered the story about the exploit and why.

d12 Who Twisted the Exploit? Why?
1 Villagers or civilians Misinformed or Misremembered
2 A local gossip For monetary gain
3 A bard or entertainer To seem more impressive or spice up the story
4 A local authority figure To harm the party’s reputation
5 An NPC involved in the exploit To harm or improve a rival party’s reputation
6 A rival group of adventurers To create chaos, drama, or doubt
7 The quest giver for the exploit (re-roll if there wasn’t one) Opinion of events altered by political views
8 A town crier, journalist, or new service Opinion of events altered by religious views
9 A guild faction Opinion of events altered by views of people involved (party or NPCs)
10 A religious faction Opinion altered by views on local authorities
11 A government faction Asked to change story by someone else (roll again to see who)
12 An enemy of the player party Memory magically, technologically, or supernaturally altered

Modify the GM Dice

The GM rolls one die against the party’s pool of dice. If the GMs dice rolls over the player total, the party isn’t recognized for their deeds. If you want to add distance or other mitigating factors into this roll I propose the following:

For every mitigating factor in a story spreading such as distance (one kingdom, country, planet over from where the party typically operates), language or cultural barriers, or someone trying to suppress the story, the GM adds an additional die to their roll. This makes it both more likely the party hasn’t been heard of and more likely it gets twisted. Use the highest result to determine what rumor they are known for if it is the case the party is recognized. (if the party lists their deeds in chronological order, that also means their most recent are more likely to be known, which makes sense).

If using the capped exploit variant where there are only a limited amount of listed deeds allowed, treat all the GM dice as a dice pool and use the largest.

Controlling the Narrative

The players can get a chance to control their story, at least for a little while. If all the player exploit die match, they can choose how to twist the narrative of one exploit (including resetting it to the truth). This overrides any match with the GM dice. This requires having at least two exploits listed. The more accomplishments the party has, the harder it is to control their legend (or infamy).

August 15, 2023

Combining the Underclock with Hazard Die

I came across the Underclock Goblin Punch post and immediately wanted to start using it. I’ve been using the Angry GMs Tension Pool a bit, to decent results. I think I like the Underclock better, as it gives an immediate feedback and foreboding of the number counting down, and allows for more player planning.

In the Underclock post, he talks about giving up on tracking torches and similar resources, but what if we could integrate that using the same system? I’m thinking specifically of using the Hazard Die system (originally by Necropraxis but which I come to by way of Knave 2e). Just as on the Underclock a 3, 0, and less than 0 result causes events, we can assign Hazard die results to other clock numbers.

I like the idea of everything below 6 having an event, since d6s are the default dice to use to reduce the clock value. So integrating hazards the new underclock would look like this:

On a result of 5: Advantage (In the normal hazard die this is just a free turn, but that is every other turn above 5 when using the Underclock. So I propose a small bonus to what the players are currently attempting–advantage on a check, some extra treasure, automatically uncover secret information, etc).

On a result of 4: Dungeon shift (Change in environment conditions. The temperature shifts, a secret door opens, etc)

On a result of 3: Omen or Sign of encounter, as in the original Underclock.

On a result of 2: Expiration of effects (Typically lit torches go out. This could also be used for ending transient dungeon conditions, spells, or other limited time effects).

On a result of 1: Fatigue (Each party member must rest or take damage or another penalty for pushing on. Yes, this still results in counting down the clock and increasing the countdown die).

On a result of 0: Reset to 3 as in the original. (Or, optionally, reset to 6 instead. This will lower chances of omens but increase the chances of all the hazard results).

Below 0: Encounter as in the original.

July 26, 2023