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

Saturday 19 March 2022

Blue Collar Sci-Fi One-Shot III

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 are The Haunting of Ypsilon 14 and Hideo’s World. The third is Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly. Where The Haunting of Ypsilon 14 was a traditional ‘haunted house in space monster hunt’ and Hideo’s World, presented a horrifyingly odd virtual world, Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly is a locked room—or locked ship—McGuffin hunt against the clock and Player Character cluelessness!

The set-up for Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly is simple and requires that the Player Characters possess a ship, especially one suited to carrying large amounts of cargo. They are making one more cargo run when they have to dock and refuel at the remote service station of Anarene’s Folly—which when their troubles begin. Their problem is twofold, at least initially. First, someone, and it is up to the Warden to decide, has placed an experimental planetary colonisation device, ‘volatile warhead of chemicals, biological agents and mutagens’ (a bit like the Genesis Device from Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan) aboard their vessel and they know nothing about it. Second, someone else does, the Space Traffic Controller of Anarene’s Folly, and he is prepared to go to ordinary lengths to get hold of it. This is when the Player Characters’ problems multiply…

First, all of the docking berths on the Anarene’s Folly are in use. Then the Anarene’s Folly seems to target the Player Characters’ ship, and when the Player Characters’ vessel is allowed to dock, the maintenance crews aboard the space station seem really, really insistent on getting aboard the ship and carrying out repairs. Does the Player Characters’ space ship require repairs? Should maintenance crews like that actually be armed? Or are the maintenance crews actually coming aboard for some other reason? If so, then what have the Player Characters down to warrant such interest? Those are all questions that that will be flying the minds of both the players and their characters as the events of Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly unfold.

The Game Master is given a large number of tools with which to taunt and even gaslight the players and their characters! These are built around a pair of time lines, one which escalates events on the station, whilst the other tracks the hacking attempts on the players’ ship. Together, they form a count up of escalating events and challenges for the Player Characters which threaten to overwhelm them if they do not deal with each one in turn. Accompanying this are details of the marine’s battle plan (the marines having disguised themselves as the Anarene’s Folly maintenance crews) and the profile of the main NPC the Player Characters will interact with. It is likely that the players and their characters will come to hate him, as he will prove evasive and unhelpful. The Warden can colour this interaction by using the ‘Small Talk Table’ and ‘Improvised Marine Tech Jargon Table’, and further, there is ‘Gaslighting Table’ for essentially confusing the players and their characters… 

Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly as written feels very much like the scenario and thus the Warden is setting out to screw with the players and their characters. This is because they are placed in what is essentially a reactive stance from one event to the next in the scenario’s escalating timeline, and that escalating timeline really does require the Warden to keep track of lot. Ideally, this should be set up beforehand as part of the Warden’s preparation. The scenario also feels as if it would benefit from the use of deck plans so that the Warden and players can track where their characters are from scene-to-scene and thus which problems they are trying to deal with at any one moment.

Like Hideo’s World before it, Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly is different to other scenarios for Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG. Again, it is 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 much more of an escalating, against the clock affair where the horror is bureaucratic in nature, its cause unknown for much the scenario. Like Hideo’s World this scenario will need a higher degree of preparation because of its multiple timing mechanisms.

Physically, Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly has less of a presence than Hideo’s World primarily because it consists mostly of text. It is broken up into boxes, but it is still text heavy. Lastly, it does need a slight edit in places.

Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly is a fairly busy scenario with lots of things that can happen to the Player Characters in quite a confined space—their own spaceship—and piles event after event on them. It requires preparation in terms of what all those events are, but Terminal Delays at Anarene’s Folly is a grueling, often confounding scenario that will test the patience of both players and their characters.


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

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