Mothership questions

Two questions, really, for anyone who’s played or run the game.

  1. How well would Mothership work for a long-term campaign? We don’t really do one-shots or short games. When we run, it’s usually a campaign that will last at least a year or two. Would Mothership work for that? Or would you max out your advancement before that?

  2. I’ve heard conflicting opinions on Stress. Some say it’s a neat mechanic, but not at all deadly or too debilitating. I’ve heard other tales of PCs dying from heart attacks left and right. What’s your experience?


I’m running every other week for 2.5 hours each session, so they’re relatively short. I hope to wrap it up in a couple weeks which is session 6. I am only wrapping it up because I want to give others a chance to game with me via Patreon, forums, etc. So yes, the game can be run for long-term as you define a campaign as something longer than 40-80 playable hours. I mean, it does have character advancement, and could easily be a game similar to the The Expanse tv series.

Stress. I have been dolling that out versus having someone roll a save. Actually, I do both. When they level up they can erase quite a bit. Which some players have done. THere is one that has 9 stress. Of course if he rolls 2d10, he can still come in short of a heart attack, and he’s past the point of ‘laser focus’. If it makes sense, doll it out and don’t be stingy. I mean, how often is the player going to be stressed? It’s not at every turn…unless you have a game that warrants that. Let the players deal with it. “You see someone literally blow up in front of you…take 1 point of stress.” Stuck on the same ship, they encounter the alien, “take a point of stress, OH!! and you have a scientist that failed their roll, take another one.” Now that player has 3 stress and you know, as the Warden, you’re going to keep the foot on the gas if you can. Use it to propel the game. Give the players choices, and let them decide, “shit, I am WAY stressed and need to find some solitude to bring all this down or I’m going to suffer”… if they decide to push it…panic sets in, but it doesn’t mean they die. If they see the Alien again, do I inflict stress or have them make a fear save? Maybe, but you can decide the person saved vs fear before and another save is not warranted. That prevents it from getting too crazy.

Space is a crazy place. It can mess with your head and you can run into a LOT of things that just don’t make any sense. It doesn’t have to! Ok player, it’s because of dark matter. Let’s see a player argue that dark matter doesn’t work that way. LOL. Really? Because we don’t know shit about dark matter and now you’re the resident expert. Fucking DARK MATTER!!! That’s why. LOL.

Hope this helps. It’s a great game. Some people will just grok it and some will say ‘no thanks’, but it will because of their own personal preference to genre than anything.


If it weren’t for stress, my character would fall asleep!

What could possibly go wrong? (tictictictictictictictictictictictictictictictictictic……….ding!)

Oh, and my military training will save me.

1 Like

Thanks. That makes me feel better about the Stress situation. (Less stressed, you might say.) Good to know. I get the game and love what I see. It’s primarily it’s use for a long-term campaign (in the 200-400 hour of games range.) Not all my campaigns last that long, but they’re not designed with a specific arc. They end when the various plots have been resolved (original ones and the ones that develop in the course of the game) and everyone is ready to try something else. Historically for my group, that’s a year or two.

1 Like

Looking forward to hearing about it @Tom.

1 Like

I was working on this for a while, but I picked apart some of the elements that seem to be key components of Mothership, compared them to various sci-fi stories, and then looked at how you can manipulate those individual bits to turn the dials from one-shot to campaign.

Hope people enjoy this.


You have a lot of time on your hands, don’t you Jared?

A lot of good advice there. Is there any way you might adjust or adapt advancement for a longer term campaign?

Advancement can’t happen without some rest built-in, so if you are running a one-shot, I wouldn’t worry about advancement, and even in a short story arc, I would think about if it was likely ( @sean was nice to us). You might have a few specific points where you assume the “breaks” will happen in shorter story arcs.

For longer arcs, I think the only real thing you need to consider for advancement is custom story based XP for the scenario and for individual classes. The XP for classes should really revolve around “what does this archetype do in this kind of story.”

In a long-form campaign, I might even say that removing stress or addiction can only happen during significant downtime, instead of just over a rest, but that’s just an optional thought I had on the fly.

1 Like