Mothership 1e : Honest Review

Mothership 1e Deluxe Set. $99 Pledge Reward for Kickstarter.

It finally came, the Mothership 1e Deluxe Set I have been waiting for since (checks Kickstarter) December 2021. With an estimated delivery date of November 2022, I can’t say I was thrilled to wait until May 2024 to receive my box. Taking an extra year and a half to deliver feels like a foreseeable condition, BUT having just failed to fund my own Kickstarter, I understand. Who can be honest about the timeline when so many are willing to lie to make their offering more juicy? Alas, it came, and I am glad it came, let’s review it.

I received my rewards for Hull Breach in September 2023, hilariously paying $26 more for this book and pile of adventure content than for the game required to play them. So, since September, I have been reading, stewing, and plotting about using this material in the game for which I pined. At last, that wait is over, and I have fully dug into the strange and dark place Mothership calls home — sci-fi horror.


The core art for Mothership is good. It’s not mind-blowing, it’s not gorgeous, it’s not trying to be anything other than what it is. It is a good representation of the type of stories you will explore with the game. While the statement above may sound like a criticism, it isn’t. One of the things I find refreshing about Mothership, art, design, and writing is that the cohesive lot is not trying to impress me. It’s not trying to pump itself up or pretend it’s something it isn’t. Instead, I find art that compliments without distracting. Skillful and thoughtful art.


This thing is punchy. Sure, it’s got some prose, but the pure utility of words and the concise nature of the communication are truly useful. I found the rules enjoyable to read, easy to understand, and consistent in their application. There does not appear to be extra attention paid to needlessly “seeming clever;” instead, the rules provide a framework upon which tension comes naturally. Stress rises as failures occur; failures occur only when a roll is called for, and rolls occur only when there are meaningful stakes. This trinity of progression ensures that the players are trying to make meaningful changes in the game world, often not quite hitting the intended mark, and moving towards panic as things get progressively worse. It’s horrifying and its perfect.

The writing is better than clever; it is elegant.


From a layout and design perspective, the documents provided in the box are imminently usable. One of my favourite features, consistent between documents, is the “How to use this” section. Usually, it is a page or so of information on the document’s structure. This goes a long way to supporting me as I approach each piece of content but even more than that often helps inform what I can do with the game. The included introductory adventure “Another Bug Hunt” includes a Warden Education System (W.E.S.) icon near information that can help contextualize information or reinforce procedures and hygienic warden habits.

This game comes as a shock of fresh relief from my experience with Mörk Borg, where I felt like the design really inhibited usability. In Mothership 1e anytime the design is ambiguous or unclear, there is a reason, which it explains at the beginning of the document. This doesn’t always work as expected and I am sure that some documents miss this mark but so far the approach, the pattern of design, is encouraging.

Tuesday Knight Games also provides lots of supplemental materials free on their website and even a mobile app for character management, though at the time of this writing the online Warden training materials are not yet available.


When is an Adventure not an Adventure? When it is a Toolkit! So far, the Mothership 1e content I have explored is a good mix of the two. Most “Adventures” also contain highly usable tool kits and tables to support expansive creation. The introductory adventure (4 scenarios), “Another Bug Hunt,” delivers foundational support for a new Warden. It is worth noting that the directionality of the writing in this content does not lend itself super well to the actual dynamic potential of player approach, but this is a minor gripe in an otherwise outstanding product. The zines are brief, flippable, and filled with useful tables. Well designed for running on the go.


When the rubber hits the road, this game delivers a highly addictive game loop. Where most tabletop role-playing games hyper-focus on combat, this game instead focuses on exploration. While the game has a bias to roll failure (most stats and saves will have less than a 50% success rate), the default mode of operation is not to roll unless there are stakes and a meaningful failure result. Violence is considered a failure state, which drives a level of caution that adds to the game’s tension, accentuating the horror genre vibe.

Right after I received it, my partner and I played for four nights in a row. Every evening, we both immediately gravitated towards playing more when deciding what to do. Playing with just one player would typically be a challenge. But, with the simple and elegant rules for “contractors” and the aversion to violent solutions, the game has held up exceptionally well, with each of us looking forward to the next session.


Go buy this game, if you like OSR and sci-fi horror at all, you will be doing yourself and your friends a tremendous favour. If you like what we do here I hope you will like and share, if you hate what we do here I hope you will comment and tell me about it. Also if you want to get regular updates on free RPG ideas, join our mailing list and let the good times roll.

– g$

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