Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Saturday 29 January 2022

Blue Collar Sci-Fi One-Shot II

Since 2018, the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG, beginning with the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG – Player’s Survival Guide has proved to be a popular choice when it comes to self-publishing. Numerous authors have written and published scenarios for the roleplaying game, many of them as part of Kickstarter’s ZineQuest, but the publisher of the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG, Tuesday Knight Games has also supported the roleplaying game with scenarios and support of its own. Dead Planet: A violent incursion into the land of the living for the MOTHERSHIP Sci-Fi Horror Roleplaying Game is one such scenario, but Tuesday Knight Games has also published a series of mini- or Pamphlet Modules. The first of these is The Haunting of Ypsilon 14, the second Hideo’s WorldThe world of the title is virtual, a slickware slickworld game world which has become the last refuge of its designer, Hideo Kieslowski, the Hideo. Originally designed as a console called HypnoDD running slickware and a slickworld intended to be both played whilst sleeping and replace the user’s dreams, the project was a failure and despite attempts to salvage it, Hideo retreated into his creation and has remained there in a drug-induced come for a decade. Now, the slickware running the virtual world is deteriorating, degrading, and in danger of destroying it—and taking Hideo’s mind with it. In order to find that mind, the Player Characters will have to plug directly into the interface, and once inside the HypnoDD’s slickworld, move as quickly as they can.

The first thing that strikes the reader about Hideo’s World is the format. It is done as a double-sided tri-fold brochure on pale pink card. In fact, the card is stiff enough for the scenario to stand up right on its own, but open up the folder and the second thing that reader about Hideo’s World is the graphic design. The beginning location, the Plaza, is a virtual menu placed around a Communications Tower takes centre stage in the middle panel. The four options—or doors—on the menu are presented on the left-hand and right-hand panels consists of Settings, Game, Shop, and Home, and each of these has further options, as does the Communications Tower. A separate lists the things that the Player Characters might encounter in Hideo’s World, including Bugs (in the system), and Raiders—hackers, fans of Hideo’s come to see his world one last time, and so on, and Mister Goodnight™, an internal program and moon-headed mascot of PacyGen Pharmaceuticals & Soft Drinks Company which has a love-hate relationship with Hideo... Mister Goodnight™ is the primary NPC in Hideo’s World and ideally the Warden should really go to town in portraying him. On the back of the pamphlet, the Warden is provided with tables of Glitches, Textures, and Adverts with which to colour the world around the Player Characters as they explore and examine its limits.

The scenario begins with the Player Characters arriving in the Plaza and beginning to explore the Options available to them via the four virtual menus. Of the four options, Home is the one that the Player Characters need to access, as it should lead to the short where Hideo’s mind resides. However, a stretch of the Glitch Sea lies between the Plaza and Hideo’s Home. The players and their characters must then work out a way to get over there and explore the tower. It is primarily a puzzle scenario into which the Warden can throw the occasional spanner into the works with an NPC or a strange effect or a Glitch. The latter are important because the more of them there are, the greater the stress caused to the sleeping Hideo, the more likely he is to panic and so cause parts of his Slickworld to collapse around him... This gives Hideo’s World its countdown mechanism, though the players and their characters will initially be unaware of it.

Hideo’s World is different to other scenarios for Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG. To begin with, it is a puzzle adventure and then it very much less of a horror scenario than you would normally expect for a roleplaying game which is best known for its Blue Collar Sci-Fi horror one-shots. It is instead a puzzle scenario, not quite in the vein of the text adventures, but certainly giving a nod to them. The scenario is also more of a funhouse adventure with a lot of randomly generated elements for the Warden to pitch at her players. As a consequence, Hideo’s World is simply not as dangerous a scenario as the more obviously horror-based scenarios for Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG.

The second thing which strikes you about Hideo’s World is that just like The Haunting of Ypsilon 14 before, the Warden will need to undertake a high degree of preparation in order to run it. The brevity of the format means that none of the NPCs have stats, but they can be provided. The major omission is the lack of motivations or reasons for the Player Characters to get involved, and the difficulty for the Warden in devising any such reason or motivation is compounded by the different nature of the scenario. It is not a traditional Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG scenario and so the traditional types of set-up found in Blue Collar Sci-Fi will be challenging to use. Perhaps a family member wants to rescue him or a corporation wants the knowledge that might be hidden in his Sliceworld?

Physically, Hideo’s World is definitely a scenario with physical presence, despite its relative slightness. If the cover illustration is underwhelming, the map-illustration of the Plaza is good and the cross section of the Tower that is Hideo’s Home is serviceable. It is actually a pity that the map-illustration of the Plaza is numbered because unnumbered it could be shown to the players. Lastly, it does need a slight edit in places.

Hideo’s World is a fairly busy scenario with lots of things that can happen to the Player Characters in quite a confined space and not all of them of any consequence. So it requires preparation in terms of what everything does and detailing NPCs and motivations, and so on. Wacky more than weird, hare-brained than horrifying, Hideo’s World is a funhouse puzzle adventure that pushes Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG in an unexpected and not as easy to use direction.


An Unboxing in the Nook video of Hideo’s World can be found here.

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