Mothership: Space Repo

A friend asked me to GM for his birthday shindig and he’s a huge Alien(s) fan, so I picked up Mothership’s stuff.

I’m thinking about having the players being a part of a repo operation, breaking into ships and taking them back to one of the bank’s docks. I’m thinking about some tables for myself.

This blog post is expanded from a thread I started on the OSR subreddit.


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The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “James McDivitt, Ed White, Extravehicular Activity (EVA), Gemini 4 [Spacewalk], 1965” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1965. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/5cc37840-a332-0136-a2d4-4724aafb535b


The Crew of the ship they are repoing are:

  1. Refugees from a planet ravaged by war

  2. cannibals

  3. religious folk who worship an AI

  4. Shape-shifting aliens who took the original crew’s place

  5. Pirates who airlocked the original crew are on their way to their HQ

  6. Runaway androids who stole the ship and are headed to a orbital base with strong androids’ rights laws

  7. Digital ghosts still running the ship but unable to reach out without spreading their digital disease

  8. Veterans from a Psychic War

  9. Scavengers who just brought in a huge score that could pay off their debt if given time

  10. Combine two by either rolling twice or picking your favorite and rolling once


The Bank you work for is:

  1. Terran Vault: old fashioned bank with ties to Olde Earth

  2. Orbital Cooperative Community: small, scrappy bank made by spacers for spacers

  3. Holy Order of the Hand: religious economists who worship the Invisible Hand of the Open Market

  4. Mercantile Guild: hairless psychic clones bio engineered to make money

  5. Binary Savings: run by a heavily regulated AI designed to help stimulate economic growth in the void of space


What non-traditional security measures has this ship taken while at dock?

  1. Hired local void mercs to squat on the hull

  2. Malicious and VERY illegal nanotech cloud that will cause more and more intense tech failures

  3. Paid off local law enforcement

  4. Psychic ship-watcher on board

  5. AI’s brakes set to come off when the ship is boarded – illegal and irresponsible

  6. Pain engine running

  7. Nightmare symbiote as guard dog

  8. Time cube resets time to before you entered the ship.

  9. Any ideas?
  10. Any more ideas?

Space Station Factions:

  1. Legit Law Enforcement

  2. Dock Workers’ Union

  3. Black Marketeers

  4. Terran Spiritual Conglomerate Shrine-keepers

  5. Science Co-op

  6. Corporate Branch

  7. Scavenger Clan

  8. Mercenary Company H.R.

  9. Android Haven

  10. Planetary Government Embassy (if none, replace with Alien-worshipping Cult)

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47dd-e823-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. “The planet Saturn” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1881 – 1882. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dd-e823-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Factions are in the process of (pick 2 factions or roll randomly):

  1. Feuding

  2. Merging into one org

  3. Conspiring against a third (roll or choose)

  4. Taking over the space station

  5. One is supporting the other in their exodus

  6. Supporting one another through an internal crisis

  7. Teaming up to look deeper into a mystery

  8. Pooling resources to welcome a soon-to-arrive visitor

  9. Competing in a local election

  10. Gathering their strength against an attack from powerful outsiders

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47dd-e81c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. “The great nebula in Orion” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1881 – 1882. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dd-e81c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

I need another inspirational detail about this faction:

  1. Nicest group of people you could imagine, seriously, just really nice. At worst they are good people operating under a bad system.
  2. Add a pinch of alien cult to taste
  3. Corrupt, really corrupt, rotten to the core (but also quite buyable for the right price)
  4. Add a pinch of AI worship to taste
  5. Add a pinch of bullshit Olde Earth mysticism
  6. Sitting on coordinates to what they think is a priceless stash of minerals/space salvage but will really be a xeno-ambush charnel-house
  7. Infected with a xeno-virus that will spread
  8. Veterans of a vicious space war, ptsd abounds, faction fiercely loyal and unusually combat capable
  9. Recovering from an internal tragedy
  10. Dinosaurs? (I ran out of ideas)

 

Why is this science fiction world confusing and new to your character?

Maybe you are new to an already established science fiction campaign or just want to learn about the setting through play.

Roll a d10 and a d6 (or if you see something you like, pick it)

1.cryo sleep, disease that was killing you now cured via science.


    1. The Big C
    2. Xeno Virus
    3. Mental Void Syndrome
    4. Implants went sour now removable
    5. Science test subject went wrong
    6. Frozen in midst of traumatic brain injury that is now repairable

2. incarceration.


    1. Data theft
    2. Violence
    3. Black Market Sales
    4. Ship theft
    5. Debt
    6. Illegal Science Infraction

3. a term in military service.


    1. Corporate Mercs
    2. Terran Drop Ship Marine
    3. Terran Insurgent Agent
    4. Local Planetary Orbit Guard
    5. Local Planetary Assault Force
    6. Marine on Capital Ship

4. cryo sleep, after a long stint in an out of date generation ship.


    1. Cult heading for a “holy star”
    2. You left for this system as science found a faster way
    3. Ship was damaged and adrift, never arrived at destination
    4. AI dropped your pods on a moon and left
    5. Exiled from colony
    6. Ship was destroyed when it drifted into the battlegrounds of an interstellar war

5. past decade of memory was wiped.


    1. Psychic blast
    2. Disease
    3. State of the art weapon
    4. Xeno-contact side-effect
    5. Wiped as part of a judicial sentence to protect corporate intellectual property
    6. You have no idea

6. returned from long FTL trip.


    1. Blue collar void-work
    2. Colonial Marine
    3. Refugee from fallen colony
    4. Pilgrim back from visiting holy sites
    5. Terran Agent back from Olde Earth
    6. Science Vessel Lab Tech

7. left isolated low tech enclave.


    1. Religious Community (new space religion)
    2. Artistic Community
    3. Punitive Community for past generation’s aggression
    4. Philosophical Enclave (this is how humans were meant to grow strong)
    5. Colony recovering from technological apocalypse
    6. Crashed capital ship just rescued after decades

8. clone awakened after memory download mishap.


    1. You used to be rich and this was your insurance policy at work
    2. Military download during an attack
    3.  Auto accident
    4. Warp core in your ship went critical
    5. You tried a new, untested venue towards immortality
    6. Memory slowly degraded after last download, need a fix before long term memory fades away again

9. possessed by non-human entity.


    1. Cutting edge AI trying out flesh
    2. Benign alien entered mind at moment of death
    3. Alien took over human not realizing it was theft
    4. Alien virus took over brain and learned empathy
    5. Alien inserted into human sleeve as forward agent before invasion
    6. Symbiosis via consent with alien intelligence has created this new being

10. past job took you out of touch with day to day reality.


    1. Pop star or pop star adjacent
    2. Highly paid athlete
    3. Successful fully embedded virtual reality MMO player
    4. Scientist studying distant astronomical event
    5. Embedded anthropologist
    6. Volunteer aid worker on low tech level world

 

Electric Bastionland: Skyscraper Tombs, an example Deep Country area using the Failed Career Tables

Intro

I wrote a blog post and then noticed that there are a hundred failed careers over on the Bastion blog. I rolled 3 times, started writing and here’s what came up in the end.

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Skyscraper Tombs

Skyscraper Tombs is an abandoned district of Bastion that was cut off from the city since the earthquake that caused the Iron Lich Gorge  to open up like a skull’s mouth, creating a seemingly unbridgeable chasm between the Bastion and the S.T.

Status Quo

18: Qualified Deconstructor

Before the new can arise, the old must come down.

Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it.

  • What resources have to be in this area of the Deep Country for that career to have such influence?

Abandoned buildings. This village is clearly a part of Bastion that was cut off from the rest of the city and is now considered only a village, abandoned by the powers-that-be from the City.

  • How does that industry make its money?

They bring down buildings and pillage the pieces for rare metals, art, useable textiles and Arcana.

  • What are they pushing for to try and fortify their power (and can the players be drawn in to their attempts to hold on to their status quo)?

The Deconstructors spend as much personnel policing unqualified deconstruction as they do deconstruction, making sure that only well trained and fully bonded members of the Crowbar and Hammer Union take the buildings down.

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Fading Glory

68: Small Town Refugee

Your Deep Country home was awful.

Finally, the railway came, and you headed to Bastion.

  • What changed to cause their money to dry and influence to fade away?

Some kept going once this village was cut off from Bastion-proper and others just stopped identifying as a refugee as this place became their new home and they made their way into the Deconstructor’s organization, founded by refugees, the Crowbar and Hammer Union.

  • What desperate and doomed gambit are they working on to try and regain former glory (and can the players be drawn into this hot mess)?

One group faded into another but there are Bastion die-hards who are trying to get reunited with the endless government councils that govern Bastion. There is a secret society within the Crowbar and Hammer that is setting aside material in order to attempt to build a bridge across Iron Lich Chasm.

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Future Profits

58: Corpse Collector

More of a Corpse Transporter, but the other name made it easier for people to despise you.

  • What is changing to cause this industry to begin its rise?

As the Iron Lich becomes more and more of a threat and cyborg-undead boil out of the Iron Lich Gorge, moving the dead back to Bastion where they can be put to rest will become an industry needed to keep the village safe.

  • Who is the prophet who sees this rising coming and is preparing for it (and can the players be drawn into their ascension)?

Jyn Schulmeister is changing the family caravan business to carriages that will move the undead that leave the gorge and hunt Skyscraper Tombs to Bastion, where the necrotech will be torn from the rust-ghoul’s bones and sold as Arcana. They are already making plans to be paid to move the dead with village coffers so that they cannot be eaten by rust-ghouls and digested into a cyborg-undead by the Iron Lich’s Mausoleum Factories.

Finishing Touches

  • What weird shit do these industries suggest is in this area? Write that down.

Rust-ghouls, undead of all kinds mixed with Arcana-tech embedded in bones and rotting flesh. Explosives and demolition-mechs easier to find than they usually would be.

Maybe a memorial of the village where the refugees came here from? What were they running from? Was it the Iron Lich or something older and stranger or just mundane humanity being awful?

  • Daydream about any other ways these neighboring industries might have caused strangeness to bleed, collaborate, mutate and maybe synthesize into something new.

Do they take pieces of wreckage and make something from their homeland? Maybe a hunting tradition that has carried over to the demolition teams.

  • Daydream a bit about what it’d be like to grow up in a place with these industries. What children’s games are in this area? Maybe come up with a festival or strange civic ceremony that isn’t found elsewhere.

Lots of games about building something and throwing rocks at it until it falls apart with rules for claiming the most valuable pieces as they fall.

Once a year the biggest building in the area is brought down on the anniversary of the refugees first settling here.

  • Lastly, how does Bastion, the only City that matters, cast its shadow over this place?

When they left the atrocity that brought them here they thought they were coming to the only City that matters. Now they are just another village. Some are nervous that what happened before can happen again and they will be driven from this place without Bastion’s ample resources to protect them.

Pictures

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Showing devastation by Earthquake and Fire, building containing the Municipal Records.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1906. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-5ff2-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “San Francisco’s Six-Million Dollar City Hall, containing the Municipal Records wrecked by Earthquake.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1906. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-5ffa-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Wreck and ruin of Chinatown district in San Francisco, destroyed by fire and earthquake April 18, ’06.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1906. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-6042-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Electric Bastionland: Inspiration for Deep Country with Failed Career Tables

Daydreaming about Electric Bastionland before it comes out. I’ve only seen a smattering of the Failed Career Table but I love how it communicates setting.

This blog post started as a series of tweets but it was growing long and I didn’t want it to get lost. So, here’s a way to use the Failed Career Table to make a Deep Country area. This process is meant to be inspirational, so if you’d rather choose rather than roll, choose. If you get good ideas then the process is working.

Roll 3 times on the Failed Career Table. Write those three careers down and think of them as industries.

Throughout this process make sure to daydream, write notes, laugh maniacally at the sky and put holds on books at the library that might inspire more madness.

Status Quo

The first career is the industry that is running this area. Not everyone does this job but it is the industry that most influences laws and govt’.

  • What resources have to be in this area of the Deep Country for that career to have such influence?
  • How does that industry make its money?
  • What are they pushing for to try and fortify their power (and can the players be drawn in to their attempts to hold on to their status quo)?

Fading Glory

Roll again on the Failed Careers Table. This is the industry that held power for a time but is now fading.

  • What changed to cause their money to dry and influence to fade away?
  • What desperate and doomed gambit are they working on to try and regain former glory (and can the players be drawn into this hot mess)?

Future Profits

Roll a 3rd time on the Failed Career Table. This is the up-and-coming industry that will be raking in the money in the years to come. Only the most forward-thinking and prophetic business-folk see this market shift coming.

  • What is changing to cause this industry to begin its rise?
  • Who is the prophet who sees this rising coming and is preparing for it (and can the players be drawn into their ascension)?

Finishing touches

  • What weird shit do these industries suggest is in this area? Write that down.
  • Daydream about any other ways these neighboring industries might have caused strangeness to bleed, collaborate, mutate and maybe synthesize into something new.
  • Daydream a bit about what it’d be like to grow up in a place with these industries. What children’s games are in this area? Maybe come up with a festival or strange civic ceremony that isn’t found elsewhere.
  • Lastly, how does Bastion, the only City that matters, cast its shadow over this place?

Post-Script

As I wrote this blog I haven’t actually seen the Failed Career Table but the bits and pieces that have been release are sodamned / cool that I thought it would work well. When the pdf with the full table is published I’ll write up a follow up post with some examples.

Inspired by Bastion’s Triple Rule.

Woop! There is a blog post with 100 Failed Careers. They all might not make it to the final book but still, it is a solid start.

Spark Table could be useful to this process.

Making Roric’s War

Our Bluecoats Investigative game (playlist here) had two more cases left. Roric’s War and The Last Case.

I knew I wanted Roric’s War to be a gang war across all criminal factions of Doskvol, threatening to spill over across all factions if things get out of control. Roric’s death was the start of the Lampblack/Red Sashes war and I wanted to escalate that situation.

Looking over the criminal factions and putting them into two sides of a city-wide war was really easy. The Hive on one side and the Unseen on the other; the rest just fell into place. Yes, Roric was the fuse but the real situation was two powerful criminal enterprises that were ready to find out who ruled the Dusk.

This is what my little map looked like at the start.

The Roric War 1 (1).png

The Hive was low on magic, so I had them courting Lord Scurlock.

The Foghounds and the Lost were clearly the weak at the edge of these criminal herds, so the wars started with each side trying to destroy them.

I kept the Lampblacks and Red Sashes as neutral because they had just finished a costly war and I reckoned that both sides would aggressively recruit them later. Ulf Ironborn and the Grinders were neutral because neither side wanted the political liability of the most marginalized people in the city (for now) but that would change was the war took its toll and boots on the ground became more of a priority.

The powers-that-be don’t care if the scoundrels murder one another in the streets but when a bomb goes off in Gaddoc Station, that is what got the Lord Governor to write up an Imperial Mandate and get them into the mix.

Looking back, a bomb site isn’t a great place for an investigator but it worked out alright. I might’ve started with a straight up murder getting the law involved but maybe not. It worked out fine. This could be me over-thinking it.

Other than the bomb, there were plenty of leads because everyone was involved. They went to the Silver Nails, the gang they had the closest relationship with. Their mandate was a bit vague; they were charged with ending the war. That means there is no real crime to solve.

Looking back, I might’ve had the Lord Governor be more aggressive with suggesting incarceration as a primary tool to end this mess. The Doskvol version of drugs on the table from The Wire. “I want criminal leaders in manacles,” he might say, putting pressure on the team to not only end the war but put crime lords in Ironhook. I don’t think that the Lord Governor’s suggestion is a good idea; I think it would’ve put inexperienced people in charge of gangs and led to more reckless acts of violence.

As it was, Stras and Lauren were smart and used diplomacy to eradicate the Unseen’s forces, causing them to have to sue for peace. They got the Dimmer Sisters to switch sides, finding out that they didn’t take the Hive up on their offer because they didn’t want to answer to Scurlock, whom they knew was being courted and so they got Scurlock to sit this out and seek out revenge against the Circle of Flame, who tried to light him on fire with the Hand of Kotar. They got the Wraiths off the board by getting them safe passage and a safe place to live in Imperial City.

One war-related fire broke out, burning one of the Six Towers, leaving it a burned out husk, like a burned bone shard on the Doskvol skyline. Is there any game of Blades in the Dark where one of the Six Towers isn’t decimated?

This is what the map looked like at the end.

The Roric War 1.png

The Foghounds and the Lost are upside down; that was how I noted that they had been destroyed.

During downtime, I picked factions for a clock and rolled those dice. If two factions were working together, I’d have the larger faction roll their dice and the smaller faction offer a helping die. This provided action and movement as both sides moved towards concrete goals. I did this privately, narrating only what the players would have heard about.

At one point a fire broke out as the Hive was courting Lord Scurlock, so I decided that it was the Circle of Flame using the Hand of Kotar to mess up that diplomatic meet-up in an abandoned tower. At another point they visited the Hive Galleon and saw a Dimmer Sister floating above a building in the Ghost Field, taking notes on the coming’s and going’s of the ship so they could burn it into the harbor later.

The cool thing about this mess is it gets everything into play and on the board. It dumps the toy chest on the floor, so to speak. The Hand of Kotar, the Hive, Lord Scurlock, the Crows all hit the table because of Roric’s War.

The next game we’ll go over the fallout after a cataclysmic clash with the demon hiding among the Circle and Flame’s leadership and we’ll see if the investigators can push to continue the case in order to gather evidence on The Hive.

In investigative games I want a few things set from the start:

The Crime Scene

I want to know what happened and why.

I might learn more later as details emerge. There might be people involved who I had never anticipated, not because the players are adding bits of narrative details but because I didn’t think of everything; there are white spaces on the map where new things can come to light.

That said, I want to know who dunnit, why and how.

This takes us to…

Leads

The players should have somewhere to go.

If the leads dry up, that is okay because…

Motion

The forces at work are in motion, either covering up the crime or going after their own goals.

That said, failure is okay. I don’t mind a case where the evidence dries up and the leads go cold. There are parts of earlier cases that were unsolved due to bad rolls; that is fine and I don’t mind a case being unsolved. Something might come up later and the cold case grows hot again.

The Planar Surveyors of the Spire Rail Company

 

I like the idea of the surveyors being Godbound characters. They have fun tools for outside-the-box problem solving.

I might swap out Artifice for Engineering from the Lexicon.


The Necropolis Architect

Artifice, Liche, Cities

A hired liche who was brought in not only for his ability to build but also to represent the dead and undead stakeholders.


The Rail-God

Earth, Alacrity, Journeying

A young deity tailor-made for this rail line. One day they will look over travelers and goods going over these rails but for now they oversee the path they take.


The Gunslinger

Bow (Gun), Alacrity, Murder

A hired demi-god of the gun, brought in to see to the safety of the survey team.

NOTE: I went with Murder from Lexicon of the Throne rather than Protection because it felt grittier.


Spawn of Tiamat and Bahamut

Dragon, Fire, Sorcery

Dragon investors wanted to make sure their hoards were well spent, so they sent this child of dragon deities to watch over the endeavor.


Dwarven Maker

Artificer, Earth, Endurance

The Dwarven Princes would like to profit from their goods sent all over the planes, and so they pledged their Maker-Deity


I’ve got a method for creating imbalances in the Outlands but I feel like this will need more.

I might do 1d4-1 cities in each map. I’ve got a way to create a fast relationship map among those cities.


History happened on this map, roll 1d6 and a 1d8

1 – Battle of Armies

  1. Devils vs. Demons
  2. Tiefling Empire vs. Dragonborn Federation
  3. Elves vs. Dwarves
  4. Elves and/or Dwarves vs. Orcs
  5. Dragons vs. Giants
  6. Wizards vs. Warlocks
  7. Githyanki vs. Githzarai,
  8. Primordials vs. First Gods

2 – Birth

  1. Deity
  2. Elemental Lord
  3. Beast Lord
  4. Mortal Hero
  5. Beast (your favorite monster)
  6. Idea
  7. Artifact
  8. Player character

3 – Death

  1. Devil
  2. Elemental Lord
  3. Beast Lord
  4. Mortal Hero
  5. Holy Martyr
  6. Deity
  7. Angel
  8. Someone a player-character killed.

4 – Sign of Collapse

  1. Illithid Empire
  2. The Ancient Giants
  3. Primordials
  4. Dragonlords
  5. Liche Undead Empire
  6. Hobgoblin Empire
  7. Dinosaur Pantheon
  8. Fey folk from long ago

5 – Mythic Clash

  1. Gith vs. Illithid
  2. Corellon vs. Gruumsh
  3. Bahamut vs. Tiamat
  4. Correllon vs. Lloth
  5. Raven Queen vs. Vecna
  6. Vecna vs. Kaz
  7. Sun vs. Sea
  8. Night vs. Day

6 – Odds and Ends

  1. Bottomless pit that leads to hell
  2. Howling gate into the Far Realms
  3. Sword the size of a skyscraper buried in a mountain
  4. Ghosts re-enacting an ancient, petty battle
  5. Wizard’s Tower, reputation as a god-killer
  6. Crashed Spelljammer capital ship
  7. Pilgrims, following a holy path
  8. Site where a player-character did something epic and it is remembered here.

Review: Superman Volume 1. The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth

Bendis does a good job juggling the cosmic Silver Age vibe (THE ENTIRE EARTH IS TELEPORTED TO THE PHANTOM ZONE) and a down to earth family vibe (Clark talking to his son about responsibility and anger, his relationship with Batman, etc.). I liked Superman thinking about his code against killing when faced with a genocidal alien who claims to have destroyed Krypton and General Zod.

Superman vol 1

The art by Ivan Reis feels like a cross between Dan Jurgens and Bryan Hitch, which is to say it is pretty amazing.

It was a fun start. I’m intrigued to see the rest of the run. Well worth picking up at your local library or local comics shop.

Rock on, Tompkins County Library for having a splendid graphic novel selection.