This new blog series is going to detail my new Mothership RPG campaign, where I intend to share the stories and resources used to make my sessions. The last playtest group I had for my upcoming adventure, Chen Ting’s Revenge (tentative title) went so well that they wanted to keep playing. I was happy to oblige!
This first session was a mixture of establishing the campaign setting and starting the popular (in the Mothership community) adventure pamphlet, The Haunting of Ypsilon-14.
Before getting to the session action, here’s a list of resources I used to run the game:
- The Mothership RPG Discord, where you can find the Work-in-Progress first edition (WIP 1E) to the Player’s Survival Guide (PSG), and loads of helpful community members and resources.
- You can also play using the 0e PSG on DriveThruRPG as Pay-What-You-Want, but I would recommend using 1E to play.
- Hive Mind, Vol. 1 (free) for the Suit class among many other useful d10 tables.
- Archteuthida‘s Rimward Classes (pay-what-you-want) for the Psychic class and abilities.
- Ashen Victor‘s Sci-Fi Character Portraits Phase I (pay-what-you-want) and Phase II (currently 50% off!) for the Gelida Crew Manifest.
- Lone Archivist‘s Graphic Archive 02 ($10) for use on the Gelida Crew Manifest.
- My Sleeper Crew pamphlet and setting.
- The Haunting of Ypsilon-14 (Y14) adventure pamphlet ($2 PDF/$5 Physical).
- Awesome Roster cards for Y14 NPCs for the Crew Manifest by @A_NelDur.
- Sick illustration of the Y14 Monster by @artgubbin.
- An interactive Y14 Terminal (free) to screen share or send to your players…
- …which, if you like, you can edit using Twine (free).
- A Mothership Discord member created a map of the Heracles using the free resources from Starship Geomorphs.
- And a bunch of ambient music links, which I’ll pepper through the After Action Report.
Terrence Syntax is a Suit class from the community zine, Hive Mind (I adapted the class from 0e to 1E), taking over as temporary operations leader. Terrence is a Company man seeking to mentor fellow crewmates. We opted for Android Loadouts in the 1E WIP PSG, and the player rolled Loadout 4: Standard Battle Armor (AP 7), Tranq Pistol (3 shots), and Paracord (100m).
Luther Clark is a Psychic from Rimward Classes, who has dangerously chosen to trust his crew with the secret of his special abilities. Luther seeks opportunity to use his gift to save lives. Rimward Classes comes with Loadouts for each class, and the player rolled Loadout 5: Vaccsuit (AP 3), Mag Boots, Patch Kit, Chemlight (x5).
Daniel McKay, a former Marine Captain who went AWOL to join Sleeper Crew. In an effort to conceal his identity, his dog Kirk was put into his cryopod (as Kirk is a big dog, this also pleased the life support specialist). This PC is the sole PC from the playtest sessions; the other players opted to roll new characters. I offered the player a new Loadout roll, since he used Kirk as a means to RP some character development. He rolled Marine Loadout 1: Advanced Battle Armor (AP 10), Flamethrower, Boarding Axe.
They’re playing in my Sleeper Crew setting, working directly under Freezer Operations after their (sort of) botched mission. Freezer Ops is a Company branch whose operatives focus on unique asset acquisition and disaster response on the Rim, in addition to their usual recruitment and agent pick-up work.
The PCs work on the Gelida, a massive Nostromo-like vessel with more space for cargo than for people. Gelida has two shuttles for Freezer Operatives to keep all the danger away from the main ship; the captain’s main responsibility is ensuring the safety of the Gelida. While the operatives do their thing, Gelida’s crew keep busy hauling and acquiring raw materials during the operatives’ work for “extra” income. Though the Union crew would argue this is the real work of the Gelida.
Gelida Mood Track:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BywH0lkdd0
Instead of introducing the whole crew of NPCs—especially since The Haunting of Ypsilon-14 has 10 NPCs—I gave them the Crew Manifest (below) ahead of session. I made this manifest in GIMP using a public domain background, Ashen Victor’s Sci-Fi Character Portraits, and Lone Archivist’s Graphic Archive 02. They’re doing great work over on itch (and elsewhere); I heartily recommend you follow them!
The lower half of the manifest are the Freezer Operatives. As we continue our campaign, the NPCs—either Active or in Cryostasis—will be replaced by new PCs. The idea is for the players to have roster of characters to choose from as their original PCs eventually become too stressed, wounded, or dead.
Start of Session: Onboard Gelida
We began the session with the Gelida already inbound for Ypsilon-14, with the players called to meet with the XO. She chewed them out for missing the Mission Vote Meeting for their next contract, and told them to sort it out before they left for Ypsilon-14.
The colors of the ID tag borders in the manifest above refer to the NPC’s vote; the legend is on the middle-right. Basically, this is a way to have the players role-play (RP) their decision on which module I should run after Ypsilon-14. In the future, I plan to integrate plot hooks into Shore Leave, and build in a bit of social gaming for the PCs to convince the Gelida NPCs (and their various little cliques) to vote in their favor.
They reviewed the three options, and after a short talk, they voted to go to Tengliu-3. Their main rationale was the hazard pay inherent to working on an ice ball planet. Tengliu-3 is the planet in 500poundsofnothing’s For Queen and Company. (Check out her Patreon: a great deal to get monthly Mothership RPG pamphlets in the mail.)
With that bit of business finished, they headed to the shuttle docking bay to review their job on Ypsilon-14 (Y14): they needed to pick up Mike, a surviving Sleeper Crew agent. A simple job, like dozens the Gelida has performed without any issue. After Mike was brought out of Deep Freeze and survived, he was transferred to Y14. He’s underemployed at Y14 for the better part of a year, waiting for Freezer Ops to show up and deliver his payout. Due to the docile nature of the mission, McKay elected to leave behind his Flamethrower. (Good sport of a player, eh? Haha.)
To add a little extra suspense to the investigation, I made one of the Gelida crew members Ashraf’s older sister, Farah (I goofed though and made Ashraf into a surname). When they noticed this detail, they called her to the Shuttle Docking Bay. She begged the Crew to bring him onboard Gelida, and promised recompense if they did so. Her fancy cybernetics made them suspicious of her motives, and they convinced her to tell the whole sordid family story: they are the children of a bigwig Executive in the Coreworlds. The PCs made a promise to talk to Ashraf, but nothing more.
Before their shuttle departure, I also gave Terrence Syntax special High-Priority Company Orders to “acquire” Dr. Giovanni’s research before leaving Y14.
Arrival at Ypsilon-14
The PCs took the shuttle to board Y14 while Gelida left to pick up their raw material supply from Y14—caches left from previous asteroid mines.The PCs took the shuttle to board Y14 while Gelida left to pick up their raw material supply from Y14—caches left from previous asteroid mines.
Y14 Mood Track:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE39GeU2mrU
When they arrived, Sonya spilled the beans: Mike was missing. She asked the Crew to investigate because Y14 has quotas to keep. To make Y14 feel like a lived in, moving space, I made a shift schedule. Sonya had to leave to replace Mike as Mining Engineer.
Before she went down the Mine Shaft to rejoin Dana, Jerome and Morgan, they asked lots of questions about Mike. I made up a scene from the night before where Mike left abruptly after a table of miners laughed loudly at one of Kantaro’s jokes. This detail and the busted shower was how I seeded the first clues about his sound sensitivity and water aversion.
Terrence also asked about Dr. Giovanni. Sonya explained the discovery of the goo; it was Mike’s shift with Jerome, Kantaro, and Ashraf. Of Giovanni, Sonya said he keeps to himself, and has a weird sleep schedule, so they don’t often cross paths. Not unusual for Giovanni to keep locked up in his ship for a few days at a time, but she does mention he came up with a ton of sample equipment and a beaming smile before he went inside the other day.
Rosa was working at the terminal. They chatted with them:
”Yeah, Mike’s a great guy. Don’t see him terribly much, since we work opposite shifts, but…” I dropped a red herring with Rosa going into detail about Miner’s Ear, thinking the work could have messed him up medically.
Rosa also showed them how to use the Terminal. As mentioned in the caption above, I used quadra’s awesome Y14 terminal on Share Screen, and the players loved it. I changed the shuttle name and purpose, and also popped my shift schedule into this, using Twine. (It’s a fun tool, and I’ve also used this Twine template to make a Terminal for Chen Ting’s Revenge that I plan to share whenever the zine is done.)
The Investigation Continues…
From there, with map in hand, they went to Mike’s quarters. His room cleaned, and a packed foot locker was on its end with shoe scuffs on it. In the locker, they found Teamster Loadout 4 (Heavy Duty Work Clothes (AP 2), Explosive Charge & Detonator, Cigarettes) and a diary.
The diary alluded his horrible Sleeper Crew mission on the Blue Planet, his nightmares, the eventual calm he gained working on Y14, and his affair with Rie. (Following some advice in the Mothership Discord, I made Kantaro and Rie a couple, and Mike the interloper.)
Luther used the journal as a psychic locus to see Mike’s last actions before leaving this room. Successful (and taking 3 dmg), he heard deafening, painful noise all around him, and the itch and disgust of the spit in his own mouth, and saw Mike prop up the foot locker and climb into the vents. Luther jerked his arm towards the ceiling tile in the corner before collapsing in exhaustion.
Terrence stayed with Luther while McKay checked the crawlspace. He found Mike’s stash (Revolver, Spray Bottle), and saw an opened vent cover where he found the Yellow Cassette. On his way back out, he saw the various lumps of other Y14 crew members’ stashes.
The Freezer Ops Link
Next, they found Ashraf in his room playing a Gameboy. He took the PCs into the Mess Hall to talk. From another table, Kantaro and Rie gave them all the stink eye.
Ashraf answers everything he can about Mike, saying he was a great guy, really smart. Gave him some ambition to do more than stay on this rock. About the Yellow Goo discovery, he didn’t see much. It looked like oil seeping out of the walls, and they quickly changed locations after reporting it to Sonya. He posits that Mike was depressed, hence the lack of personal hygiene, and says Kantaro is the same—probably both because of Rie.
He tells them Rie and Kantaro are a couple, but have been fighting recently. There’s also some substance abuse in the mix, with Rie knowing “Space Pirates” who manage to supply her—but that’s through the lens of a naïve coreworlder.
They ended Ashraf’s questioning with the Yellow Cassette. He said there’s a load laying around, and went to pick up Sonya’s blue cassette on a table nearby. They asked where to find a player, and he took Terrence to Bunk 10.
In bunk 10, Terrence took the player-recorder, and then told Ashraf about Farah. This spooked Ashraf, who doesn’t much trust his sister and shared this with Terrence. At Ashraf’s absurd fear that Space Pirates will kidnap him for a rich Company family’s ransom money, Terrence insisted they aren’t there to take him away. They’ll take him to the Gelida if he wants. If not, no big deal. Ashraf flat out toldTerrence he planned to run.
Meanwhile, Luther and McKay questioned Rie and Kantaro. As high-grade Company boys, they didn’t receive much cooperation. Luther mentioned the lack of personal hygiene, and Kantaro says something in the water doesn’t agree well with his skin. McKay hinted at the affair ordeal, and both took it poorly. Thinking they’d get nothing more out of them, they left to rejoin Terrence.
A Turn for the Worst
So. All this time, I’m doing the Monster rolls. By this point, both Jerome and Dana have been devoured by the Monster in the Mines. And finally, I rolled that sweet sweet 3 as McKay and Luther come into the Quarters (Area 3).
Creature Attacks Mood Music:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UitmHXXaj2Q&t=620s
McKay’s Advanced Battle Dress picked up a noise in the vents above. He advanced to the corner where Bunk 4 is located, and heard the scraping of a ceiling tile being pushed aside. He waited, Mike’s Revolver at the ready. Seeing and hearing nothing, he turned around to tell Luther to get Terrence. That’s when the Monster pounced on his back. Luther saw McKay being pushed forward by nothing and sparks flying off his armor as the Monster Clawed uselessly at the Advanced Battle Armor. In his fear, he screamed for Terrence.
The Monster stopped a moment, and McKay tried to elbow the beast off of him, but failed and lost grip on his revolver which went clattering. Then the Monster started to Devour McKay.
Terrence arrived to see McKay’s helmet and shoulders disappearing, being pulled into nothing. Luther ran into the Workspace. Thinking quick, Terrence, able to hold back his panic, pulled a fire extinguisher from the wall and sprayed. Between the armor being difficult to devour (failed combat roll), the loud noise and chemical contact, the Monster regurgitated McKay and fled—but not before Ashraf and Terrence got a good look at its form.
Luther has split for the Workspace, and was running towards Rosa as gunshots rang out behind him—McKay took some pot shots at the Monster fleeing in the vents. Rosa asked wtf was going on, and Luther word-vomits Monster, alarm, set off the alarm. Rosa went to do that at the Terminal, but was then lifted into the air, being devoured before Luther’s eyes. More failed fear but a Panic pass, he hits “Enter” for the alarm and grabs a nailgun from the workspace tables and pings a few shots, but the Monster disappears in the vents.
The others from the Mess and Quarters arrived soon after the alarm went off. And they heard the clatter of the Mine Shaft elevator come to life.
Post-attack Y14 Mood Music:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b0QACI-WOw
When Sonya and Morgan arrive up top, they tell their side of the story. Jerome disappeared, and while searching for him, they witness Dana disappearing as she was devoured. Sonya and Morgan hid in the mines until the alarm went off.
The PCs ask a few questions about how to get to Giovanni, and learn about all the scientific equipment he took down into the Mines. Kantaro, feeling a little more cooperative, mentions they can bust into the airlock to the Heracles—Dr. Giovanni’s ship—with Hand Welders, too. They equip themselves accordingly.
McKay suggests the best course of action is to lock up the Y14 crew in their shuttle while they handle the Monster… and Giovanni.
With everyone else secured away, their final action is to put the Yellow Cassette into the player-recorder (audio by Nobody Wake the Bugbear)… After which, I drew the curtain on the session, haha.
I expect we’ll finish next week, so tune in then for the conclusion of The Haunting of Ypsilon-14.
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