Mothership, What We Give to Alien Gods, S3: Pushing Buttons

Mothership, What We Give to Alien Gods, S3: Pushing Buttons

In this third session the scientist player-characters entered the Cyclopean Alien Temple through a breached wall. They tested out the Panic Table and pushed some buttons. Judd was going to name this session, Cyclopean Alien Temple but Pushing Buttons felt more clever.


It has been three weeks since this group last played, so they settled into things. Dr. Navaro, played by MadJay!, did some research, trying to make sense of this pillar orbiting a cube the size of a moon.

Mother Eff, Ghost Astronaut

That roll failed and so Judd moved things to the Sanity or Fear roll the adventure demands for dealing with the scope and size of this thing. Navaro failed that too and took some stress.

Scifi Starskull Subject Divider

Scans showed 3 possible entry-ways into the temple – 2 of which were breaches in the walls. Dr. Anders, upon spacewalking to the breach they chose for their entryway, failed his Sanity check too and took his Stress up to 5.

Shit was real when they finally rolled on the Panic table upon seeing 3 alien corpses floating in this control room. Navaro got a sense of DOOM, all critical successes are failures. Anders came away with a new phobia, latching on to the fact that the Triathals (what the aliens are called) were headless. The good doctor now has a fear of losing his head.

That Panic table is no fucking joke. You can lose your character in a single roll.

Scifi Starskull Subject Divider

After that it was time to play with some alien glyphs and the room’s control panel, covered in alien glyphs and nerd out about theories about alien brains – both in and out of game. The breach they entered through was a claustrophobically close fit.

Drones wouldn’t work because the stone/metal the temple was made of ate the signal that allowed them to control it.

A few interesting things happened as they pushed buttons on the control panel.

First of all there was this moment of brevity, where the two scientists joked about pushing the 3 depressed glyphs at the same time. Navaro made a joke about, “Clearly, we’ll push the buttons on 3.”

Judd decided that this moment of levity took away a stress point. “For a moment, you two are interacting like you did back at the lab and you can almost forget that you are in an alien control room open to the vacuum of space in an alien temple.

The glyphs on the panel went from this:

Alien Glyphs

To this:

More Alien Glyphs

That didn’t mean shit to them because the glyphs don’t have context yet. When their trusty android colleague, Mendel, reported that the pillar they were in was seeming to drift away from the cube and other pillars in formation, they quickly depressed the original glyphs again.

Going over the room carefully, they found a trapezoidal piece of metal with an alien glyph on it, crossed out.

Jim, who plays Dr. Anders, asked if he could make a Linguistics roll to make some sense of this shit or get a clue. Judd was down with it, knowing that it is a fine line. Part of the fun of this adventure is figuring this shit out but can you figure it out with the information at hand?

The roll was a success but not critical. Judd offered the following: The crossed out glyph means, God. The control pane is numbers and the other glyphs from the column are simple words and concepts.

Anders isn’t sure how or why he knows that; he is attributing it to the dreams that brought him here.

Scifi Starskull Subject Divider

Anders was explaining this and the game was already a half-hour over time. Judd dropped a final detail on them before the game ended, as their mentor and professor, Dr. Grahm walked into the room through a trapezoidal glowing blue doorway. He had a strange key in one hand and a cheap pistol jury-rigged for vacuum firing.

“I am seeing a vision of my students from my lab back at the university. There must be a psionic angler nearby. I’ll shoot it and get to work.”

Pushing Buttons, indeed!

TO BE CONTINUED next week…

Scifi Starskull Subject Divider

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Mother Eff out!

Mother Eff, Ghost Astronaut

Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

Mothership, What We Give to Alien Gods, S2: Aboard the Corporate Science Frigate Balinadae

Mothership, What We Give to Alien Gods, S2: Aboard the Corporate Science Frigate Balinadae

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.

What We Give to Alien Gods, Mothership
Session Two / Aboard the Corporate Science Frigate Balinadae

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.

Scifi Subject Divider

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.

Scifi Subject Divider

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.

Scifi Subject Divider

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.

Alien symbol, not TRIATHAL
Blank Glyph Sheet / What We Give to Alien Gods
Scifi Subject Divider

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.

CSB Humboldt shoulder patch
Hull Designation, CSB (Corporate Science Boat)
Double Quartz Data Core
Manufactured by Raven Nebula Shipyard

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.

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Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons