“Janus” Mothership Campaign – Session 5

“Farts are just stinky, boogers need to get chiseled off the wall.”

BR3ND4 when dealing with the black market

In this week’s session, I took a small location from the Dissident Whispers book, added some content from Dead Planet and the third-party module Black Heart of Paradise, and generated one of my favorite sessions of Mothership yet.

Crew

  • BR3ND4, Android (corporate representative)
  • Dr Theodore Wilson, Scientist (ship’s doctor)
  • Billy Ray, Marine (security and cargo)
  • Aeris Goulder, Teamster (pilot and everything else)

Narrative

The session opened with Billy Ray in surgery on the ship as Doctor Wilson worked to bring him back from being dangerously close to death. Between the doctor’s medical skills and a Pain Pill, the Marine got back to 2 out of 3 wounds fully healed. Aeris, however, failed to repair BR3ND4, as her loss of confidence with industrial equipment still left her a bit shaken. ((We use Jury Rigging for repairing androids, not Industrial Equipment, but the player used this as the fictional explanation for failing the roll and we all liked it.))

After getting a briefing from IX-425 on his report back to the Drex Corporation, BR3ND4 suggested a bit of additional context. The final version read:

“Silo-15, a facility under the management of Bicycle Day Corporation, was found in an anomalous state. All interior surfaces sprouted protein filaments resembling human hair. Research area contained abnormally enlarged, previously unobserved Phthiraptera specimens approximately 30 cm in length and mildly aggressive. Within the pharmaceutical manufacturing complex, we found a delivery to a third party that previously contacted Janus crew requesting pickup. Scheduled delivery occurred successfully. Two entities, apparently assembled from miscellaneous biological components as well as scavenged instrumentation, approached the crew with hostile intent while tethered to the protein filaments. Fearing for their lives and the safety of Drex Corporation vessel “Janus“, the crew constructed a new exit portal and, after rapid decompression of the pharmaceutical facilities, conducted an extravehicular retreat to the ship.”

The company found this sufficient not to dock the contractual pay but placed a new condition on the crew: until their next debt payment, IX-425 will need to approve any major decisions or employment contracts.

As previously discussed, the Janus arrived at Station 472. This is a facility built down into the asteroid itself with minimal structures on the surface: landing pads and an entry way, plus some additional strip mines further out that occasionally get used as a landing area by ships trying to avoid notice.

Before fully disembarking, the doctor scanned the mysterious cargo they were to deliver to Dave’s Ol’ Timey Meat Emporium from Bicycle Day Corporation. He found that it was some set of tissues rather than pharmaceuticals, but full results will take time to process.

Upon entering under a sign that read, “Welcome All And Sundry”, the crew was greeted by a tough old woman named Phylis. She instructed them to store their weapons in the dingy old storage lockers before proceeding and somehow got Billy Ray to do so. (He has a tendency to want to carry a gun at all times.)

General layout of Station 472

They took a rickety old freight elevator all the way down to Dave’s on Level 2. The “Meat Emporium” consisted of a huge warehouse with hanging sheets of plastic to segment off different areas, as well as a large metal staircase that led down to an area with lots of giant vats growing animals. Dave paid the crew 19 kCr (under the table) for their trouble and eventually explained that he was the head of the Old Timers, an “informal association of business associates” who were focused on the economic prosperity of the station. Another group, the Underground, didn’t seem to quite appreciate the Old Timers’ leadership. Billy Ray figured out that this was more or less a division that applied to the lower levels of the station as seen in the layout. Hotel Artemis, Dave’s, and the Resleeving Facility were roughly aligned as the Old Timers. The Underground seems to be led by Nina, Luke, and the Chop Shop.

Based on that, Dave offered to compensate BR3ND4 for any recordings she could bring back of the inner workings of the Chop Shop when she heads there later for repair by their technicians – or, as she called them, “artists”.

Back up in the open market area, the crew met three vendors:

  • Audrina – Medical Supplies – huge, potentially roided-out woman who emphasized that pain pills and stimpaks are for weakling babies who cry, but asked Billy Ray out for drinks because he is not a weakling baby
  • Peter – Arts and Crafts – a young man with a cracking voice and an addiction to a pyschedelic drug called “Jebadustus”
  • Selden – Armor and Vacc Suits – an older man with sinus congestion who engaged in all forms of nasal maintenance in front of his customers (see opening quote)

Next Time

  • Moonlighting shore leave (micromission) for Billy Ray, plus date (?) with Adrian
  • BR3ND4 to visit Chop Shop for a cool-looking upgrade that looks cool and wound repair
  • Take delivery of an automed from Audrina
  • Visit Dave for additional work contracts
  • Doc Wilson to finish analyzing the cargo scan (from Bicycle Day)
  • See Nina for underground weapon sales

Feedback

The current playtest book says:

Just because you don’t have a Skill doesn’t mean you don’t know anything about the subject, and it usually doesn’t mean you can’t at least make an attempt. What it means is that you don’t have a significant enough experience or expertise in the matter to act decisively in high pressure situations. Therefore, you get no bonus, and depending on how complex the task is, you might roll with Disadvantage.

However, in some cases we think some skills should be more differentiated. My players would like more definition for which skills can be done untrained (potentially with disadvantage) and which cannot. This is something I plan to write a house rule for, as it will vary a great deal between Wardens and so I don’t imagine it being in a core book. I still need to think on this before our game this week!

Some equipment types have mechanical benefits listed. For example, the MoHab unit consists of “Tent, canteen, stove, rucksack, compass, and sleeping bag” and also grants Comfort 20 when resting. Others don’t; e.g. the Lockpick Set is “a highly advanced set of tools meant for hacking basic airlock and electronic door systems” and that’s it. The players wished that more items had a mechanical benefit listed.

Related to the above, the HUD says it allows the wearer to “tap into their guns’ smart-link capabilities” but we’re not clear on what those are. That might refer to the Smart Rifle, but its only special ability is armor-piercing rounds – and those shouldn’t need a HUD to be enabled. We’d definitely like to find a way to simulate some sort of linkage to make the smart rifle, well, smart.

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