Continuing on my journey to re-work the graphic design in my RPGs, I’ve tried to fit all the rules for designing a ship in Mothership onto one sheet, just like a character sheet. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
You can download the full-res pdf here.
This still needs some tweaking, both in the rules department, as well as in the layout department, but I’m pretty happy with it so far. Also, right now, this is designed to build PC-facing/sized ships. Meaning a freighter or light cruiser. Something that can hold maybe a hundred people. It’s not built to design motherships (the game’s megadungeons) that are city-sized. It’s too granular for that. Those should be built with much less thought put into function, and a lot more thought put into what would be interesting to explore.
However, for your standard wreck, ruin, or commercial towing vehicle, this should do the trick.
Let’s go through the example. The basic unit for building ships in Mothership is “hull.” Every point of hull corresponds to a 20x20’ square room, or square on a sheet of graph paper. Each hull point also costs roughly $10,000,000. PCs probably won’t be buying ships, but just to give you a general reference.
So, everything costs hull. You want armor? Each point of armor costs 3 hull and adds 10% to the ship’s armor save. You want cryosleep pods so that you don’t go insane when making the leap into hyperspace? You can fit four cryopods into a cryochamber, each chamber costs 1 hull. If your passengers are going to be traveling in normal space for awhile, they’ll need galleys to hang out in, and living quarters (for officers) or barracks (for everyone else), you can forgo these niceties, but doing so gives the characters “stress,” which doesn’t do anything until they panic, in which case the more stress they have, the worse their panic is. Each ship has a few non-negotiable systems, like life-support and thrusters, and then a lot of optional ones. Everything not covered generally goes into the “cargo space” category.
Based on what you buy you can alter your ships stats (literally like a point-buy system), and based on your hull you have other requirements. Like the heavier your ship is (i.e. the more hull it has), the more thrusters, engine, and fuel it needs, that kind of thing.
Not super scientific or anything, but this kind of mini-game can be fun. Plus, since everything is on a 1 hull = 1 square philosophy, you can map these ships out pretty easily, like this:
When mapping, I draw out a big shape that’s the “total” hull, and then draw in the rooms that matter (like, I leave out the armor, frame, and fuel, but I think I draw in everything else). Then I draw in corridors to match, and theoretically I could add in secret corridors, or ventilation shafts, etc. I’ll add in doors / airlocks, because that stuff could become important later when, say, your ship takes a critical hit and one of the chambers starts depressurizing and the PCs need to run and shut off a wing of the ship. The few ships I’ve mapped so far have been tons of fun.
My next goals are to come up with weight classes, basically hull limitations, so you can say to your players “you can build a medium-freighter, or something cooler like an emperor class freighter” and they know they have x amount of hull to spend and the player that likes optimization problems can just go crazy at home with a sheet of graph paper and a ship design sheet.
There’s some cool stuff you can do with this system, like I think the smallest “vessel” you can create is something like 7 hull, meaning that’s the size of an escape pod or shuttle. And if you have enough cargo space, like say, 7 or 8 hull, you can house that little ship onto your big ship, neat!
Additionally, the GM can design a bunch of these ahead of time, or I could (or fans could hopefully) create a bunch of these designs in the long run so that there was a big library of content for GMs to pull from.
Note: I’m almost done with an updated players guide for Mothership, which is exciting! I’m slowly updating the web-rules, but they’ll be in semi-flux for awhile as I work through getting the new rules updated.
Published on April 8, 2018.