In which gaming friends from different corners of my life meet, we make characters and play for a bit. – getting the characters’ emotional cards on the table.
There should be no spoilers but if you want to play this adventure without any knowledge at all, details might slip.
Got a pair of friends who had a particular time-slot in their lives open to play some Mothership, knowing that they’d both be down with it and hoping that friends from different parts of my life would get along. So far so good. We’ve got a pair of scientists; the character sheet gave some guidance. We’re playing, What We Give to Alien Gods; I find running published adventures pretty challenging but I think the pamphlet-size will help and I’m glad I have another week to get some visuals together to share on our Jamboard moving forward.
Dr. Wren Navarroe, played by Jay (MadJay Zero Hustle and Play Fearless) and Dr. Nathan Anders, played by an old friend, Jim, were students under Dr. Grahm, who went into Galaer XII, the Amaranthine Nebula, to look at something known only as Project Cyclopean Temple. During chargen, Jim had mentioned that Nathan was jealous of Wren and the way Dr. Grahm favored them. Post-doc students with an unhealthy relationship to their professor? Yeah, after a few decades living in a university town, that scans. Jay described Wren as being inspired by Fox Mulder and I think we’re still figuring out what precisely that means at the table. I can’t wait to learn more. I hear the Truth is Out There.
We chatted a bunch during character creation and I used every bit of it I could. Good stuff. Jay had Dr. Navarroe get them through security measures around Project Cyclopean Temple when he realized Dr. Grahm had left his favorite student a back-door into the files when he used his sign-in. Everyone at the table is a GM, so we’re all listening to one another and using each other’s creative contributions. Love it.
Dr. Anders specializes in Sophontology and Dr. Navaroe specializes in Xenoesotericism. The character sheets really were a map, Daniel. We decided that they had been hired to take a science boat out to look at a dark matter anomaly but changed course to go find their lost professor. The Bradfield Company had also supplied Mendel, an Android with some piloting skills when they are plugged into the ship’s computer and the ability to support the science team with their own training in Exobiology.
Naming things is so important in these first games and one of the things I really like about Mothership is it offers a vibe but no history, no background, just, a kind of…eh, it is a bit like Alien but not really kinda thing. The world-building is left to us and I dig that. At one point Jim talked about a trail of alien artifacts that could be offering evidence that we are getting closer to an alien homeworld and I yes but-ed it, “That sounds like a great hypothesis for a future science paper.” We’ll see if it ends up being true.
Are either of the characters veterans? What was the war about? What school did they attend? We’ll find out. I’m daydreaming details but there’s no rush.
The ship was called the Humboldt, found when someone (was it Jay or Jim?) suggested that Bradley Company ships were named after fish species. Grahm’s ship is called the Balinadae. I named Mendel after searching up names of biologists and liking how the name Mendel sounded. Awkward androids are some of my favorite PC and NPC’s to play.
In contrast to Mendel, the ship’s computer is warm and very human-sounding. Jim and Jay both spent time in New Jersey, something we all have in common, so I described the computer’s voice like your favorite NJ diner waitress, who smokes a pack of Marlboro Lights a day and always remembers how you like your coffee. “What’ll it be, hon?” Jim named her, Celeste.
After making characters we had enough time to wake up out of hyperdrive sleep and get to know one another a bit. Anders took some stress when an Electromagnetic Wave rattled the ship a bit but Mendel and Navaroe handled it.
Jim made some fun decisions that were worth highlighting. He had Anders trust Mendel with the fact that they had changed the ship’s course and go save their former professor. This led to Mendel trying to trust Anders with his hobby, that I presented in as creepy a way as I could, causing Anders to run when Mendel was trying to show his new comrade the whiskey still he had hidden in the engine room, “There are no cameras there, so I can engage in my hobby without observation.” Jim really played it up for maximum horror and made it a real Jonesy Moment.
Horror, in my experience, isn’t so much about one person setting a tone but about everyone buying in. Sitting at computers in broad daylight, Jim and Jay are buying in.
Mendel trying to share his hobby led to a minor freak-out from Anders and some well meant apologies. Anders let Navaroe know that he was flat out jealous of his relationship with Professor Grahm. I love that we are starting the game with that on the table, right from the start as we head to Dr. Grahm’s abandoned spaceship. Some folks would’ve let that jealousy ferment in secret but it is out there now and I dig it. That is where we’re starting next game.
Dice hit the table, we saw some stress doled out and we’ve got some context. I’d like to get more of a feel for the ship’s layout and look, get to know Navaroe a bit more and see what happens when these scientists engage with alien horror. It was a fine start.
Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons