Friday, November 9, 2018

Unnamed Mothership Setting

Ismail Inceoglu

There's a bright and shining center to the universe, and it's a long ways out from here. Door's been closed for ages. No trespassing, no solicitation, no visitors without an appointment. The future went on ahead without us and left us behind, with all the dust and the rust and the dinged-up hand-me-downs.

It's a big, old, empty, beautiful universe. Little islands of people trying to get by, and a whole lot of black between.

(Mothership is a fantastic game, people.)

Space Travel

Ship's engines of 30 or below are considered sublight drives.

Engines greater than 30 are considered warp drives.

Engine StatShip SpeedPer Light YearTime DilationTime Debt
100.75 C456.56 days321.42 days135.14 days / LY
200.85 C420.04 days226.45 days193.59 days / LY
300.95 C383.51 days120.53 days262.98 days / LY
4012 C30.44 daysN/AN/A
5024 C15.22 daysN/AN/A
6036 C10.15 daysN/AN/A
7048 C7.61 daysN/AN/A
8060 C6.09 daysN/AN/A

Jump drives are rated according to how many decaLY can be traversed in a single hyperspace jump. The standard shipboard time passage is 3 days / light year. Hyperspace travel is highly irregular on the observer side: roll 1d10 - on a 9-10, multiply the travel time by xd10 (x=Jump rating) and multiply it by travel time to determine any delay. 

Extraterrestrial Life

Life is out there, and it's not even particularly rare. There's carbon/oxygen-based life, methane-based life, ammonia based life, chlorine based life. Most of it is microbial, and of the larger organisms found none have shown any signs of technical prowess beyond simple tool usage. There are a great many dolphins, apes, and elephants among the stars, but man is still alone. The stars are as quiet as they have always been.

Technological civilizations of the deep past are still a matter of debate. No direct evidence has yet been found, but certain paleontological digs (Epsilon Eridani d in particular) have garnered some popularity in the scientific community.

They Might Be Giants

Posthumanity (that is, those humans who digitized themselves long ago and all their offshoots and descendants) is a not-quite-sleeping giant. By population and spread, the digital gods dwarf humanity's interstellar civilization by orders of magnitude, but they play no real part in the lives of folks like you and me. The gulf between is too great to bridge. This has actually worked in humanity's favor.

They prefer habitats to planets, building dyson swarms around red dwarfs set to last trillions of years and filling up Oort clouds with supercomputer processors. They typically ignore humanity entirely, save in those cases where they feel the need to swat away intruders. Communication with them is non-existent, but it seems that for the time being posthumanity is content to let its forgotten brethren go along its own way.

I Owe My Soul to the Company Store

Outside of collective communities (and sometimes even then), it's a gig economy out there. The Company posts a job, freelancers with a ship take it. It's rarely a friendly relationship: the Company provides nothing beyond pay upon completion - any other support is going to come from the assorted unions, collectives, religious organizations and co-operatives out there.

While there are, of course, thousands and thousands of interplanetary and interstellar companies out there, spacers will invariably just call them the Company.

Some Notes on Tech

  • Hyperspace communications are invariably fucked every time they are attempted. News travels as fast as the fastest ship.
  • Self-improving AI and digital upload tech are quashed hard by posthumanity. They don't want competition. Weak AI will get a pass.
  • Timekeeping still runs on the 365.25 day Earth year. Exactly what year it is is not supremely important.
  • Cybernetics and biotech are out there, but are usually for cosmetic and health purposes.
Sung Choi

Solar Gazetteer

Human space is an irregular, blobby sphere stretching outwards from Sol. Thousands of systems have been explored and hundreds permanently settled, but in the scope of the final frontier that doesn't mean much. Even with faster-than-light travel, space refuses to be any less big.

Most populated worlds are within 50 light-years of Earth - beyond that margin colonies become progressively more widely scattered and independently-minded. Out past 250 LY it's mostly nothing but out'sters and posthumans and "here be space dragons".

I'll be putting up a companion post soon detailing a sandbox of 18 nearby solar systems, plus a scattering of other exoplanets to throw down wherever you might wish.

Stuff Outright Stolen From Eclipse Phase

For more goodies, I recommend the Farcast, Seedware, and H-Rep blogs

1. A Thousand Words for FireOpen-source extreme life-achievement challenge.Farcast 212
2. After-EdenCommune that celebrates preventable medical disfigurements.Farcast 57
3. AgeshiftMedical treatment to induce outward signs of a specific age.Farcast 259
4. AnthropomorphismMindhack; subject anthropomorphizes everything.Seedware 133
5. Asshole GeeseEven in the future, they are assholes. Semi-reliable guards.Seedware 291
6. BonsaiFun hobby when you have lots of time and no gravity.Seedware 262
7. BoomfruitExploding fruit. Harmless, usually entertaining.Seedware 302
8. BouncerfeetFlexible feet with opposable toes, can hold objects.MRG 13
9. Break BreadNutrient-rich bricks; add water and last a week off of one.Farcast 96
10. BrowniesOut-of-sight domestic cleaner bots.Seedware 95
11. BruixeraPossibly-legendary den of iniquity.Farcast 225
12. Burning PlagueEngineered virus; causes flammable tumors.Farcast 201
13. Cancer DreamsEngineered disease; stress-generated cancers.Farcast 245
14. CaseCheap, poorly-made android models. Off-the-shelf.MRG 15
15. Catal HayukNeolithic historical recreation habitat with permanent population.Rimward 63
16. CatopiaPopular VR MMO. Everyone is a perfectly normal cat.Seedware 281
17. CheshireHairless cat breed with chameleon skin. Freaky as hell.Seedware 13
18. Church of Luminous SaintsMilitant post-Christian sect; really likes themselves some WMDs.X-Risks 74
19. Coiled CaninesFriendly like a dog, wriggly as a ferret, long as a snake.Seedware 110
20. Common-Sense NetworkLow-pop. anarchist collectives running local direct democracy.Rimward 175
21. Cubehive CorpMakers of affordable ultra-compact housing and habitats.H-Rep 147
22. Designer SynaesthesiaPopular mindhack among artists and unorthodox scientists.Seedware 231
23. DIY ShipyardsEnthusiastic anarchists build anything to order if you help out.Rimward 86
24. DNA ChaffGrenade filled with organic dust; throws analysts into a tizzy.Panopticon 150
25. DroogaMind-altering vodka-variant; tends to start sizable riots.Farcast 133
26. Dummy BarrierInsulation between a hacker and H-Rep 60
27. EarthconConvention celebrating Earth and its old cultures.Farcast 337
28. Elysian FieldsHabitat dedicated to those dying in peace and dignity.Sunward 137
29. Engineer's Womb Exowomb implant; safe, quick, comfortable.Seedware 119
30. Eusocial Monkey ButlersExactly what it says on the tin. Popular with the rich.Seedware 81
31. ExonaturalsThe business of getting alien resources from here to there.Farcast 215
32. FacelessA faceless sphinx of black stone; popular 'net rumor.Farcast 145
33. Francesca's Cheese & WineHole-in-the-wall vender-fabber; no one knows who Francesca is.Seedware 208
34. Fur CoatActually a living organism that you wear. X-Risks 157
35. Gardener BeesProgrammed and modified beehives. Guardwasps available.Panopticon 154
36. Get Your Ass to MarsSpaceship fleet hosts anarchist olympics.Rimward 173
37. Glowstick FungusGrows about a foot and a half, glows green-yellow.Farcast 308
38. Gold BallastIt's basically worthless for anything else.Farcast 298
39. Grendal's LoopHyperspace coordinates that send you back where you started.Farcast 218
40. Gut MacrofaunaSome people just want to be a hive. For art.Seedware 52
41. House of Screaming BricksThe worst prison in human space. No one owns up to it.Farcast 29
42. Hypothetical HandbookPopular series of "what-if" guides, from mundane to mad.Seedware 16
43. IP EnforcementThey aren't above sending someone with a gun.Rimward 65
44. Jellybone SuitVacuum-sealed goo-suit for extreme environment protection.Farcast 4
45. Jester VirusEngineered virus; causes uncontrollable laughter.H-Rep 211
46. K-FlaskAdd water and some organic primer, get milk. Ferments well, too.Farcast 67
47. Kaiju TherapyPut on VR, pretend to be a monster, feel better.Seedware 190
48. Language SynthesisThe art of building a functioning language from scratch.Farcast 159
49. Laughing PolicemanInterrogation drug; target induced to openness and cooperation.Firewall 175
50. LiangamishGiant genitalia-themed temple complex.Farcast 288
51. Lick Me I'm DeliciousShip fleet out to visit every human-settled world.Rimward 173
52. Lilith SequenceGenemod; Allows reproduction via parthenogenesis.Farcast 126
53. LivestockNon-sapient humans modified for food; popular with the rich.Seedware 142
54. Maintenance Rats Smart rodents modified to actually fix the wiring.Farcast 235
55. Manna TreeNutritious high-water fruit, aspirin bark, rot-resistant wood.Seedware 86
56. MeathabSpace station made out of meat. Probably alive.Rimward 77
57. MedicrabsCute little robot buddies to stitch you back up.Seedware 44
58. Medusa LocksMuscular dreadlocks, a replacement for hair.Seedware 205
59. Minervan FleetWandering ex-military fleet looking to find enemies fight them.X-Risks 78
60. Mme. BleuAndroid fixer / crime boss. Bodies found across human space.Farcast 65
61. Mobile GreenhousePrecisely what it seems. A touch of nature on barren worlds.H-Rep 34
62. Mood LizardTherapy animal. Quiet, good at cuddling, skin responds to owner.Farcast 151
63. Moon WormsAdd water and sugar, it generates alcohol.Seedware 68
64. Mortal DiamondsThe remains of war heroes, compressed into diamonds.Farcast 285
65. NanobrushLittle blue pellets that will clean out your mouth. Minty fresh.H-Rep 178
66. Neptunium SkullLegendary cursed / radioactive artifact, Holy Grail of thieves.Farcast 172
67. New Day CorpDevelopers of neanderthal genome splices.Panopticon 121
68. Nostalgia CigarettesDrug; induces feelings of nostalgia.Seedware 199
69. PearlsPainful side-effect of glitching internal nanomachines.Seedware 237
70. Pod VariantsTypical human-presenting models for androids.Corebook 142
1) Ayah - Caretakers, teachers, nannies.
2) Basic - General-purpose androids.
3) Pleasure - Sex-change module + pheromonal control.
4) Security - Not quite extra muscle, but same principle.
5) Vacuum - Built for space work; 0-G and stellar radiation.
6) Worker - Sturdy and solid, good for manual labor.
71. Programmers Without BordersCharitable organization of hackers and devs. They'll fix you up.Farcast 317
72. Red Five Advanced HueristicsAdvertising firm dealing with stolen military programming memes.X-Risks 86
73. Relationship Mapper Software to map out and detail someone's entire social web.Panopticon 156
74. Remnant GardenGardens grown around corpses.Seedware 280
75. Rep DayHoliday for giving gifts to people on your rep network.Farcast 263
76. Robo-MuleEveryone's favorite six-legged luggage-hauler.Gatecrashing 162
77. Rocket RhosaTraveling armorer, weaponsmith, and whiskey-chugging veteran.Farcast 290
78. Rust Hound Dog breed, originally modified for Mars. Big and red.X-Risks 160
79. SharkteethRemovable tooth, grows to a dagger in mineral-rich water.Farcast 88
80. ShiprotObject lesson in entropy; the wear and tear of a ship in use.Farcast 306
81. ShipslugVacuum-adapted; often used for exterior ship repairs. Farcast 144
82. Shut-InDrug; induces feelings of melancholy, focus, and introspection.H-Rep 96
83. SlitheroidRobotic-presenting android model with serpentine lower half.MRG 91
84. Soma FruitFruit bred to carry low-intensity social drugs.Farcast 326
85. SpigipedeKinda like a pig and a worm, popular food among spacers.Farcast 287
86. Survivor's YeastAdd it to nearly anything organic for edible, unpalatable sludge.Seedware 267
87. TaspingMindhack; pleasure/reward centers linked to a specific action.Seedware 140
88. TentaballA ball with tentacles. Used as a ranged restraining device.Seedware 101
89. Terracotta Warriors of MarsOnce-popular android design.Seedware 236
90. The ConchRefugee ship given over to three Company scions. Bad news.Rimward 137
91. The Holy SeeThe pope, in space. Also a woman. Jesuits in space too.Rimward 46
92. To Be Tuesday"Game" in which players control the same android for one day.Farcast 192
93. TransbovineModified cows; includes superauroch beefslugs.Farcast 63
94. Translucent / BioluminecentCommon cosmetic biomods.Seedware 18/19
95. Vengeance of EnkiEngineered disease; targets ability to comprehend symbols. Farcast 140
96. Virtue PlagueEngineered disease; subjects become high-empathy pacifists.Seedware 203
97. Void SistersShadowy sisterhood with plans on shaping the future.Farcast 268
98. "Wait, That Was You?"The typical outcome of being the feature of a viral meme.Panopticon 147
99. Wild ArtificialsRobots with animal-level AI, loose and able to reproduce.Sunward 177
100. WinteristGenemod, sexless, save for short monthly periods of fertility.Rimward 189


Social Networks

Rep NetworkWho's OnlineSource
@-repAutonomistsCorebook 286
*-repSpace MarinesFarcast 211
C-repCivic / CorporateCorebook 286
E-repEcologistsCorebook 286
F-repMediaCorebook 286
G-repCriminalsCorebook 286
H-repHomebrewersH-Rep 4
K-repKindness NetworkFarcast 36
P-repVideo GamesH-Rep 184
R-repResearchCorebook 286
X-repExplorersGatecrashing 148

Cowboy Bebop


  1. Mothership is my new great RPG love. Hard sci-fi that doesn't get bogged down in all the minutiae? Be still my heart.

    Plus it makes Eclipse Phase really, really useful. That is not said every day.

  2. Holy crap, that's a lot of awesome spacestuff.

  3. Love it! Mirrors a little of what I’m making so thanks for doing some heavy lifting. I was just working through engines related to systems within reach of earth.

    Where did you get those numbers? Is that Eclipse Phase?

    1. For ship speeds? That was just a bit of math on my part plus an online relatavistic lag calculator.

  4. how do the "time debt" works? is that the travel time as perceived by the travelers, or the time perceived by external observers? (or something else)

    1. The number are, in order: travel time / LY from the outside, travel time / LY from on board the ship, and how many days are lost / LY for crew.

  5. I've never really taken a second look at Eclipse Phase but this? This I want to play. Mothership is dope and the Bebop vibes are a welcome variant.

  6. This looks intriguing. I had ideas of ripping some stuff from EP, apparently this is how its done properly.

  7. The only issue I have with this setting, which sounds pretty awesome, is that it clashes slightly with the Mothership rules. I ran into the same problem with my ongoing one-off; the rules call out skills for Sophontology and Xenoesotericism, both of which imply familiarity with alien civilizations. My own take had alien ruins, but I warned the players that there were no known alien civilization that is currently existent, so these skills are purely speculative and not terribly useful.

    1. Both of those can be wrangled into a no-aliens setting pretty easily. Sophontology can deal with assorted transhuman, uplift, or neogenic life forms, and xenoesotericism deals with the religions of those groups / religions that have emerged outside of the normal Terran cultural sphere.

    2. That's a good point. I hadn't considered transhumanism for my one-off; I stuck more to a gritty Aliensesque vibe. There are a couple reasons I did it that way. First, it seemed like what the source material was going for; second, I didn't want the universe to seem terribly "fantastic" to the players, so encounters with the supernatural would seem all the more unsettling; finally, it was easier for me. But if I was to run Mothership in a campaign, I think your approach makes more sense.

    3. I like the middle ground of "second-hand transhumanism". All that wonderful crazy cool tech exists but since players exist in the cosmic rust belt a lot of it never filters their way, and most of what does is this patchwork of leftovers with obtuse DRM and all that.