I love sci-fi horror, and I love a good flow chart, so you can imagine that Mothership is right up my alley.
For the uninitiated, Mothership is a sci-fi horror TTRPG from Tuesday Knight Games that casts its players as marines, androids, scientists, or blue-collar workers trapped in the unforgiving hellscape of space. It runs on a roll-under D100 system that constantly stacks the odds against the players; survival is the name of the game.
If you want a more detailed overview, I’d recommend checking out Tuesday Knight Games’ excellent website, or catching this great review from Youtube channel Collabs Without Permission.
Mothership’s strong, hyper-stylized aesthetic caught my eye immediately. I love the way it organizes information, and I love how its sketchy art-style compliments that simple-but-effective graphic design. It all works together so well.
And that all starts with Mothership’s character sheet, which, like I mentioned above, is organized like a flow chart.
Since Mothership is a horror game that has all its player characters start out at level 0, players tend to churn through characters pretty quickly. It’s easy to just decide not to get attached to these characters, but knowing your role is a crucial part of playing Mothership. To solve this tension, Mothership’s character generation all happens on the sheet itself—it’s set up as a diagram, and building out a new character is treated as an essential part of play.
There are four classes, four stats, four saves, and four possible sets of equipment. Those four sets of four basically define your character’s wants, needs, strengths, weaknesses, and verbs.
To help players roleplay, there are also two features of each character that lend personality; a hand-sewn patch on your character’s uniform, and a trinket that holds some kind of personal value or importance to that character. Since Mothership leans on its inspirations so heavily in place of its own lore, if you’re literate in the sci-fi horror genre, you’ll probably be able to put together a pretty complete portrait of a character just based on that information.
So, when Tuesday Knight Games decided to bring the game to Roll20, they had a decision to make. How could they retain that kind of simplicity in character generation? They could have ported the full flowchart-style character sheet to the virtual tabletop, sure, but they opted for something that I think makes playing Mothership on Roll20 even better: Charactermancer support.
The Charactermancer is a tool for streamlined character creation. It holds your hand through everything from generating stats to coming up with your character’s patch and trinket. It’s a great example of using the digital platform to port over the philosophy of a game, rather than a literal 1:1 translation.
The Mothership character sheet on Roll20 also features these nice hover-over text boxes that detail stats and skills, helping you and your Warden (GM) make better decisions.
Another great system in Mothership is the flowchart for skills; mastering a complex concept necessitates learning more fundamental building blocks first, but there are multiple ways to reach those end-points. They’re similar to the skill systems you see in video games like Skyrim and God of War, wherein climbing complex skill trees unlocks more branches.
The Roll20 integration makes tracking these skills easy, too. Once you select a skill, you’ll see the other options it unlocks in your skill tree highlighted on the sheet. You can move around to get an idea of potential builds, and you can keep track of the direction you’re taking your specific character.
Liftoff in 3…2…1…
The character sheet is just one of the many ways Tuesday Knight Games have thoughtfully ported Mothership over to the VTT. The Haunting of Ypsilon 14, the module included in the starter bundle, features beautifully designed maps, well-considered NPCs, and even Jukebox integration with found audio logs.
Mothership is a truly unique experience, and if you’re looking for something a bit more chilling at your next game night, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better. And with the love and care Tuesday Knight Games poured into this conversion, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to play it than Roll20.