Hull Breach Fills A Hole Full Of Content For Mothership

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Games like Shadowdark and Mothership might still be in the process of coming together but that hasn't stopped their fans from creating material to support their favorite games. Mothership, in particular, has a vibrant community that supported the game for years. These creators are ready to have a full shelf of materials when the full game drops. Hull Breach, developed by Ian Yusem, brings several of these creators together between two covers for an anthology of rules, adventures, locations and creepy aliens. I was sent a review copy to check out these ideas under one title rather than the usual mixed collection of pamphlets and PDFs. Should you hve this handy for the arrival of Mothership 1E? Let’s play to find out.

The book is separated into a few broad sections; rules, missions locations, monsters and gear. There’s also a wraparound campaign setting that’s built for Wardens who want to use the book and connect pieces to form a campaign. The opening index also includes bits of information beyond the page number. It highlights content warnings for each entry (this is a horror game, after all) and also has tags that sow off what elements can be easily lifted such as NPCs or monsters. I received a physical copy as part of the review process but the organizational aspect (along with a few handouts) makes me recommend getting the PDF if you can. It’s nice to click on a keyword in one adventure and get whisked away to the full write up elsewhere in the book.

Intel is the first section of the book which offers advice and rules for the Warden. There’s some solid discussion on how to construct a mystery as well as set ups for the dicey hand-offs that often occur in the back alleys and abandoned space stations of the setting. This section rounds out with solo play rules for those folks who can't get their groups to try out the game and a rules hack that flips the script and lets players take a turn as the slimy beasts that eat humans for breakfast. There’s some solid advice here including describing horror with a full sensor suite. The Manhunt rules sound like a good way to spend Halloween or let poor put upon Mothership players get some revenge for all the nasty ways they've died.

Up next are missions and this is, unsurprisingly, where the book shines. The surprise comes in the fact that few of the adventures feature monsters or aliens, instead offering some interesting experiments in genre. There’s a found footage adventure that also plays a little like Fatal Frame, a funnel that grinds out a starting campaign team, and a factional horror where players awake Fallout style on their colony ship to see the others who awoke before them have devolved into Mad Max style factions warring for control of the ship. This is one of the areas where Mothership has an edge on other space horror games. It can afford to be a little experimental and that flexibility pays off here.

The locations section that follows is the part of the book that I felt was the weakest. I think some of that is the price to be paid in building out the campaign side of the game so they have to be a little more normal than the weirdness of missions. I liked the locations fine but there weren’t any that truly jumped out and demanded to be used. When you’re talking about entries that include an interdimensional superstore and an alien megastructure cult dungeon, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointment.

The entities had a curious mix of human and alien bad guys. There’s a section for generating the shadowy corporate agents that loom like birds of doom in the background of the setting. There’s also a Predator style riff that provides a recurring alien antagonist. This is the most versatile section as it can be dropped into any game and any setting for a night of running around in the dark.

Finally, we get to the equipment section which featured my favorite bit in the entire book. There’s an entry for a Star Trek-style energy transporter that gave me chills just reading it. Something like that in a world like this seems like it would pump out Cronenberg horrors left and right. The section even includes an operation manual which the authors recommend redacting to make players hunt for a full manual as a continuing quest line in a campaign.

Hull Breach offers a great collection of space horror inspiration that can fit into any campaign looking to fit some monsters in the black.
 
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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland


Counter-point: Hull Breach presents a microcosm of Mothership's sloppy approach to horror gaming. There's some cool third-party Mothership content out there, but so much of is just goofy, especially compared to what a lot of people are doing with Trophy, Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Dark hacks, etc.
 


Counter-point: Hull Breach presents a microcosm of Mothership's sloppy approach to horror gaming. There's some cool third-party Mothership content out there, but so much of is just goofy, especially compared to what a lot of people are doing with Trophy, Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Dark hacks, etc.
There's plenty of goofy Cthulhu content out there too. I love the Blood Brothers books for CoC for example.
 


But not the boxed set / books, which is long delayed. Hull Breach came together, ran a Kickstarter, and delivered a very polished product while the Mothership Kickstarter is well over a year late.
I'm aware of the delay to the printed materials; I'm a backer. Vaporware implies there's been no motion on the Kickstarter at all. I've been part of those Kickstarters that just stop. While Mothership is overdue, it's not been radio silent. They've done a great job on the PDFs with the Warden's guide being one of my favorite DMG style products to come out in a while.

I am hopeful they deliver those boxes soon.
 

There's plenty of goofy Cthulhu content out there too. I love the Blood Brothers books for CoC for example.

Fair enough. I'll elaborate. I think the third-party Mothership community has produced an oddly large amount of silly content. Orbital Debris, for example, turned out incredibly goofy, and I think a lot of what's in Hull Breach is also really silly. There's always been an audience for RPG silliness—I don't begrudge anyone that. I've just found that Mothership stuff seems to skew in that direction to an inordinate degree. Lotta jokes and yuks for a horror game! For example, there's a spread in Hull Breach with sample enemy NPCs, one of whom is a "teen pop idol" who talks like a "valley girl" and whose attack is to hurl her pet monkey Bobo.

Yikes.

Meanwhile, the material that's come out for the Alien RPG is consistently well-written, genuinely scary stuff.
 

Fair enough. I'll elaborate. I think the third-party Mothership community has produced an oddly large amount of silly content. Orbital Debris, for example, turned out incredibly goofy, and I think a lot of what's in Hull Breach is also really silly. There's always been an audience for RPG silliness—I don't begrudge anyone that. I've just found that Mothership stuff seems to skew in that direction to an inordinate degree. Lotta jokes and yuks for a horror game! For example, there's a spread in Hull Breach with sample enemy NPCs, one of whom is a "teen pop idol" who talks like a "valley girl" and whose attack is to hurl her pet monkey Bobo.

Yikes.

Meanwhile, the material that's come out for the Alien RPG is consistently well-written, genuinely scary stuff.

That's a feature not a bug for me.

Alien is consistently scary and dark because that's the license. They put out a book a year for that line so they have time to let it marinate to focus on the classic themes and mood.

Mothership can afford to be more experimental. There's a firmer grasp on late stage capitalism that veers closer to Paranoia style satire just because of how absurd things have gotten in the real world. That grim sense of absurdity helps set it apart from Alien.

I like that there is stuff like the slasher space station in Hull Breach. While it may be goofy it also gives designers a chance to mess around and push the system.

And while that yields wild 3PP ideas like Dinoplex it also gives out genuinely interesting stuff like Burning of Carbex or Picket Line Tango. It's easy to ignore the stuff that isn't in the right vibe for your game.
 
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