“Janus” Mothership Campaign – Session 1

I’ve recently kicked off a Mothership campaign with friends that focuses more on the stresses of making a living in a capitalist space dystopia than on “horror” in the genre sense. I’m not quite sure what will come of it, but for now we’re having fun. The game takes place two centuries from now in a version of our solar system where the outer sectors (past Saturn) are effectively corporate fiefdoms. No faster-than-light travel, no anti-gravity, just lots of debt and the void.

Let it be what it is.

Narrative

The crew of the Janus had a contract to pick up a shipment of art at the personal habitat station of Jose Baker, an eccentric trillionaire artist, out around the Uranus L4 point plus an employee to accompany it. When they arrived at the station, the life support module had been severely damaged. Scans indicated that the station was operating on low power and they could find no signs of life (e.g. heat scans). The damaged module had a large hole clean through it, with no carbonaceous or ice residue as if it had been hit by an asteroid or comet.

Lagrange Contours
A contour plot of the effective potential (not drawn to scale). Credit: NASA

When they boarded the station, they found stale air, emergency lighting, and the cargo pod ready to go, with the manifest attached and no signs that it’s been opened. The android plugged into the computer and determined that the life support system had failed 4 days prior. With the stale air, the crew figured someone might still be just barely alive. However, the android hacked into the security system and found that a Guardobot 3000 was still active and briefly spotted in an adjoining room.

In fact, the Guardobot 3000 showed up a bit later and shot the doctor and android. A lucky shot from the marine got it to flee, and the teamster / pilot got the ship out of there with everyone on board. The doctor patched himself up a bit and the teamster at least stopped the hydraulic leak (bleeding) for the android.

The crew is a little concerned about the optics of the situation with the missing artist. They considered heading directly back to Prospero Station with the cargo, or just fleeing out to the Kuiper Belt, but ended up deciding on a middle choice: refueling and getting some emergency medical treatment before (probably) travelling all the way to Prospero to get their payment and hopefully convince the authorities that they had nothing to do with whatever happened.

Next stop: ALCOR Station!

Feedback

A few thoughts from tonight’s 1e session:

  • Our doctor (Scientist with Field Medicine and Surgery) wanted to do something besides pop a Pain Pill with his skills. I let him make an Intellect + Field Medicine check once he was in the ship’s med bay and heal 1d10 health on a success. He succeeded… and rolled 1, heh! This feels like a natural way to handle things until they can get to better facilities. Not sure if there’s something I missed in the rules? Entirely possible!
  • Players were a bit unclear on the Command skill. Unlike the other Expert skills, it seemed to them like a broadening rather than a specialization compared to Tactics. “Maneuvering military forces in battle” (Tactics) is more specialized than “Leadership, management, and authority” (Command), that’s all. Two of the players are military or ex-military and that probably gives them a specific viewpoint on it.
  • I’m really glad we’re getting updates to Wounds and HP. In particular, I had a bit (though only just a bit) of confusion when they had a Critical Success in combat, which does 1 Wound of damage. It wasn’t immediately clear to me how that interacted with Armor, although on reflection that’s probably just confusion from mixing 0e monster stats (I used a modified version of an android from Gradient Descent) with 1e procedures.

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