“Janus” Mothership Campaign – Session 3

This session mostly consisted of shenanigans on Prospero Station, the locale from A Pound of Flesh. The crew arrived last session; this time, they wanted to do some shopping. Some narrative threads needed to be resolved or at least advanced as well.

Narrative

Our Marine (Billy Ray) and Android (BR3ND4) wanted some modification, so they headed to the Chop Shop. This is listed as a cybersurgery center but it’s overflowing with trash and grime. The entry area is stacked with clutter in the form of old mechanical bits, crates & boxes, and squawking holographic birds on every available perch.

Both of them went poking around the boxes while waiting for someone to come attend to them. BR3ND4 found some old toys, mechanical Jack-in-the-boxes with tags on the handles that said “REMOVE BEFORE DEPLOYMENT”. Before she could fiddle with them too much, Billy Ray recognized that these were covert explosives and stopped her.

A few minutes later, a holographic child showed up directly behind them, startling the duo. After some back and forth, they negotiated the installation of a light in BR3ND4’s head. For some reason I never fully understood, she asked Billy Ray to try to punch the hologram, which led to a 10% price increase (because who wants to deal with patients like that?) Our Teamster, Aeris, stood back and watched all of this interaction, realizing that sometimes it’s better to let these two go do their thing.

While Billy Ray worked out a deal for an animated tattoo (a flashing neon sign on his shoulder that would show the ship’s name, “Janus”), BR3ND4 wandered outside. Two unhealthy, malnourished, slightly-grey-skinned people placed something on the back of a pillar and ran off. This raised our Android’s curiosity, who came around the pillar just in time to point and say, “That is a bo–“

The ensuing explosion didn’t quite end the Android, but close (she hasn’t had significant repair since getting shot by a Guardobot in the first session. Our Teamster / pilot (Aeris) hid around the corner and Billy Ray ran out of the shop to see what was happening.

At about this time, the crew’s Scientist / doctor (Dr Wilson) ran up and the crew saw an entirely different version of him. Usually, he’s a bit of a shrinking violet with no self-confidence, a quavering voice, and a milquetoast outlook. However, in a trauma situation with casualties everywhere, we saw him immediately take charge, order around the security response services, and generally organize the overall medical response. ((I asked the player to roll an Intellect + Field Medicine check, which yielded a Critical Success, which fit since we had previously discussed this exact type of situation as the only area where he knew exactly how good he was. It doesn’t hurt that the player in question has significant RL experience with this as well.))

By the end of it, Tempest Company (the private security organization that keeps order on Prospero) was suitably impressed with the entire crew. Even Aeris, who does not like blood, found ways to be helpful and try to keep the somehow-cheerful BR3ND4 out of more trouble. This wasn’t the first bombing on the station and it probably won’t be the last.

Once things had calmed down, the crew headed to their interviews with a corporate investigator named Reese Clarke looking into the disappearance of José Baker (from Session 1). One by one, she called each of them into a conference room where she had TWO Guardobot 3000s flanking her (plus the fully-armed Tempest operators outside the door). Her imposing appearance and extremely curt, no-nonsense manner put them slightly on edge ((Fear save for nervousness)). She asked each of them:

“Walk me through what happened. Be specific and leave out no details.”
“What did you find on the rest of the station?”

This led to some tense moments, particularly when she refused to answer clarifying questions or indeed any queries whatsoever from the crew. At one point, when BR3ND4 was asked to provide a copy of the logs and her own recordings, one of the hovering Guardobots floated over to her and she nearly panicked – but held it together. Several of the crew testified that the logs said the original assault had happened 3 days before their arrival, while others (and the logs) said 4 days. ((While I expect this was just player memory, I ran with it anyway.))

Shore Leave

One of the new systems in the current edition is Shore Leave – basically, downtime. The Debt rules we’re using allows the crew to take 1 Shore Leave action collectively at the cost of 1 Debt for the crew (assuming everyone takes Shore Leave at the same time). This covers their training costs, expenses, and everything else normally associated with whichever action they’ve chosen.

Dr Wilson started training Jury Rigging, specifically focusing on Androids so he can help “fix” BR3ND4 when she takes damage. Aeris similarly began working on Mechanical Repair. BR3ND4 went to a repair facility to get her Wounds healed (as she was down to 1 out of 3).

And, true to type, Billy Ray spent his Shore Leave drinking to relax, relieve stress ((and hopefully improve his saves)). Unfortunately he only got the stress relieve, but that was important for him because at that point I think he was up to 13 stress or so.

Next week, the crew will wrap up some minor business on the station and take a transport contract out to Silo-15 ((a site from the Dissident Whispers anthology)).

Feedback

A few bits in this session felt a little rough mechanically. A couple of my players feel like “advancement” is slow. I personally like the idea of foreground growth: hey, you got a good payout and immediately got a slew of new weaponry, significant armor upgrades, lots of new gear, and faction standing with both the local citizens of Prospero Station as well as Tempest Company. But players like to see numbers go up, so I may still work out a way to speed up skill development from the current “5 Shore Leaves for a basic Trained skill”.

Similarly, the Relax option for Shore Leave was a bit wonky. The way I read it, if you roll low and make your Sanity save, you roll the appropriate amount from the Ports table for Stress Converted (in this case, 1d10 with advantage), relieve that much stress, and add those points to whichever saves you like. In the moment, I misunderstood the rule and (since he failed the roll) had him divide by 10 and relieve that much stress. Looking at it now, I confused this with a Comfort Save. He should have still rolled 1d10 with advantage and relieved that much stress. We’ll fix this at the start of the next session. I do think this part of the rules is a bit confusingly worded.

Medical Care for wounds also was not entirely clear to me. The text says, “Once all your Wounds are healed, then (at the cost of 1 Wound) you can heal back up to your Maximum Health per Wound.” Since the character had 12 health on 1 wound, and the X-Class port provides “2 Wounds healed/day”, we put her back up to 3 wounds available with 12 health on it. I don’t know that this is a good way to do it, or if not then the way I understand Wounds to work is incorrect.

I haven’t exactly decided how to handle all of this in the future. My current thoughts include:

  • One player commented that they weren’t a huge fan of the relation between Sanity and Stress, potentially because of implications around the word Sanity. We might rename it Resilience or something in the future for everyone’s comfort. Regardless, this seems like a core system to Mothership and I don’t expect significant additional changes to it. He really appreciated the removal of the “Psychotic” panic result, though.
  • Alternate suggested wording for the “Relax” downtime action.
    • Spend your Port Class’s required credits to make a Sanity Save and roll the listed Stress Converted amount. On a successful save, that amount of stress can be added to Sanity, Fear, or Body saves. Regardless, relieve that amount of stress.
  • The “Get Medical Care” downtime action also needs clarification. For now, I think I’ll handle it this way:
    • Each Port Class heals Wounds at a different rate and cost. If the current Wound is not at full health, it requires one Wound of healing to get to full.

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