If you want to play What We Give to Alien Gods – SPOILERS ahead. Nothing too terrible but if you want to know NOTHING, don’t read.
In which the scientists search the powered down science frigate their mentor had taken into this nebula and abandoned before the Balinadae’s crew went into the alien temple.
The last team, led by Dr. Grahm with mercenary soldiers as support, had left their ship in orbit around a dead planetoid in the nebula. I called it the CSF Balinadae, a larger ship sent by the same corporation that had sent Dr. Anders and Dr. Navaroe – the Bradfield Company.
This ship is not in What We Give to Alien Gods but it was nice to do some warm-up, getting used to horror GMing and all around Mothering Mothership, getting used to the rules and doling out some stress. I made use of the d100 Random Item table and had them find their first magnetic tape recording.
They sent a drone over into the ship and I asked what we thought it looked like. Jim described a floating penis looking thing that led to a decision that crews often have crude names for them and to many, many dick jokes.
Started with Wren in a dream. I asked Jay if their exhausted post-hyperdrive sleep dream was something they missed. Jay (check out his patreon or podcast) talked about a conglomeration of their last day with a special lady. I added a detail that their lady-friend was reading a book about making relationships work when long distance space travel is involved in someone’s career with their patch from the d100 Trinket Table, a fire emoji, was used as a bookmark.
I didn’t add a horror detail. It would’ve been easy but I decided not to right now. It felt like too much of an idyllic moment and I didn’t want to add in alien shit just yet.
When I asked Jim what detail Nathaniel was vaguely remembering as they woke up, he said it was a caterpillar. I did add a horror detail to that, saying that the caterpillar from their dream was trilateral, causing the creature to move in a strange corkscrew motion. When evidence of trilateral aliens came out, Jim had Dr. Anders jump on it with both feet as a kind of prophetic vision.
In the ship they found a Spent Quantum Lance Shell, a Lump of Triathal (the trilateral aliens), a Halogen Censer and an Instant Photo of one of the mercs. Nathaniel found the photo of a mercenary officer whose skill was changing as their head became trilateral. There was a failed Sanity check that caused more Stress to pile up. Nathaniel Anders started acting more and more strange, a mix of alien prophecy and real-world academia pettiness. He has an alien harpoon/spear/lance that has a hollow bit near the tip.
Dr. Navaroe went to the lab and first found the magnetic tape recording and a piece of Triathal capapace. They were full of theories as to why Dr. Grahm’s lab wasn’t sterile; turned out one of the mercs just did a shitty job cleaning it.
Nathaniel stays aboard the CSF Balinadae when Wren and Mendel went back to the CSB Humboldt. They could talk to one another but it made it feel isolated. Nathaniel found some kind of alien symbol on an aluminum cube and they found the worksheets Dr. Grahm was using to figure out the Triathal language; with a solid roll Nathaniel figured out that the symbol on the cube is NOT Triathal in origin.
We had an interesting talk about hiding things from one another at the gaming table and something I associate with college games, GM’s taking players out of the room to talk about something the other characters don’t know. Sometimes Jim had Anders hide something for a bit but he did it in front of Jay and in the end, Dr. Anders came around and showed Dr. Navaroe. If we had talked about it, we would’ve found the boundaries were there are disagreements but in play, smooth as the shell on a Triathal carapace.
The other players-who-GM moment was when Jay narrated into existence, in a cool way, that the commanding officer of the mercs was the lady from his dream. Love it. That is very useful horror-shit.
When they got over to the Balinadae, I mentioned that the ship was a refurbished former military frigate that had been remodeled for corporate science work – guns removed, gym turned into a lab. Jim asked, “What sound do the doors make when they open and close?”
Good fucking question. I said they don’t hiss but make a more concrete ka-CHUNK noise because they are a bit heavier duty. If the Humboldt is the size and vibe of a shitty-basement apartment, the Balinadae is more like a 3 story suburban house.
Next game we’re headed to the xeno-temple. Y’know, usually when a game is about an alien temple I’d start it right at the front steps but it felt right to take it nice and slow. We get a grip on the characters, their relationships and the system. Mothership reminds me a bit of 1st/2nd Edition Unknown Armies in that you roll when you are under real duress because the stats are fairly low. This module is what I’ve described as a kind of cerebral slow burn and I’m enjoying taking our time a bit. I thought I’d get it done in 3 sessions but it will likely be more than that.
I described the cyclopean alien temple as a sphere the size of Earth’s moon, surrounded by 3 pillars all made of a stone/metal that is not on our periodic table. In the module it is a cube…oh well; it is a sphere now. How long until we get a dick joke? Time will tell.
Looking forward to getting into the temple next week.
Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons