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Vita Nova: A Mothership Scenario
by Laura L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2020 17:55:29

Great and easy to follow adventure, I LOVE the generative map mini-game type thing where the players get to create their own space station, so much more immersive. Highly recommend



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vita Nova: A Mothership Scenario
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Vita Nova: A Mothership Scenario
by Kevin F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2019 10:20:15

TLDR: While Vita Nova does not have the same ratio of inspiring and innovative ideas per page as the official Mothership modules from Tuesday Knight Games, the premise and tools in the scenario are strong and interesting enough to provide gameplay that is wholly different from anything that is currently available for this ruleset. Mothership can be guilty of delivering a homogenous experience that resembles a dungeon crawl in space that unavoidably plays out like scenes from the movies Alien and/or Event Horizon. For anyone trying to escape the trappings of the tropes associated with those movies, Vita Nova offers a different set of puzzles and a framework for wilderness exploration.

The author wardened this scenario for a group of mostly strangers and me at a local game cafe. This review is based on my experience as a player who subsequently purchased the PDF because I had such a great time.

SPOILERS

The PCs comprise a team sent by a company to investigate the progress of a planet in the process of being terraformed. They find that the planet is being terraformed at an accelerated rate, but not by technology engineered by the company. Traveling to the edge of the terraformed area triggers a timer for the scenario that can last between one and three sessions. We played this as a one shot, but two sessions would have been ideal because we could have explored more of the planet and the base.

The terraformed portion of the planet is referred to as "the Zone" after the Strugatsky brothers’ Stalker and Roadside Picnic. The allusion’s intent is to imbue overland travel with a sense of unpredictable danger in an alien landscape, but Burroughs’s Caspak trilogy from Appendix N immediately came to mind during play because the planet’s flora and fauna evolve in stages from quasi-mundane species to deadlier, more complex monsters as the PCs travel further in country. There are also obvious parallels to the mutated creatures encountered in the Shimmer from the book/movie Annihilation. The rate of evolution is described in four phases. Suggested creature features that might appear during each phase and a chart for quickly generating creature stats based on deadliness are functional and easy to use at the table with little to no prep. The lack of dynamic generative roll tables (as in Slumbering Ursine Dunes or The Garden of Ynn in which roll modifiers increase or decrease according to how weird the result should be) seem like a missed opportunity here. Creature generation roll tables with incremental modifiers for each phase based on something like The Tome of Adventure Design or Random Esoteric Creature Generator would not be hard to put together. The creatures we encountered during play (a giant centipede, a swarm of cockroaches, a giant lizard, and a massive, flying brain) did not disappoint any of the players, so I think the provided creature rough sketches definitely deliver out of the box in the hands of an imaginitive warden. While combat in Mothership is typically too deadly to pursue head-on, an all-marine Starship Troopers style of play in which PCs can choose to fight instead of run might work with creatures encountered during the early phases.

The scenario comes with a collaborative metagame system that uses physical props for building a base from parts of the ship on which the PCs arrive. All the players at the table seemed to enjoy building the base and lamented not being able to interact with it more during the single session. Once the base is built, each phase contributes complications that compromise the stability of the base that the PCs can attempt to resolve or ignore. My group did not have a chance to encounter any of the base complications because we spent more time driving in the Zone than at the base, but I think this aspect of the scenario could be implemented to great effect if the scenario lasts more than one session.

The journey to the center of the Zone culminates in an encounter with a cosmic entity. By design, there are no scripted NPC interactions or areas of interest along the way to the final destination. The evolving wilderness is a gauntlet that the PCs must survive before the timer runs out. Ultimately, anything that occurs at the base or along the way to the final destination serves as a distraction from the ticking clock.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spiralis - A Lovecraftian Roleplaying Game
by Lon P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2018 19:45:07

REVISED: Based on creator's professional handling of a couple of my concerns that were actually peripheral to the book's content, I've adjusted my review to 4 stars and deleted those concerns. I look forward to the possibility of upping my review to a 5 at some point in the future, based on the creator's interest in fleshing out the couple nitpicks I wanted to see more of. ~Lon

[...] And the only thing he'd have needed to do to get the 5th star from me was a couple dashes more of "extensive Keeper section" to make it feel extensive on its own rather than extensively paraphrasing or pointing out other places to get Lovecraftian storybuilding resources. Perhaps maybe a smidge more in the text about how the extra d8 and d10 stats (basically the rule-meat that sets this apart from the original Cthulhu Dark) can make this game feel a little more survivable and longer lasting than you might expect.

That said: With the added rules for d8/d10 extra Stats, this ruleset becomes a lot more versatile than the Cthulhu Dark chassis it was built on. With some capable timing/planning of obstacles by the GM and a bit of marketing spin, I can see this being a lot of people's go-to high stakes/thriller and maybe even generic microlite.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spiralis - A Lovecraftian Roleplaying Game
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Creator Reply:
Hey Lon, I'm sorry you had this experience. While I feel strongly that charging the same amount as a cup of bad coffee is more than fair for a game I've been playtesting for three years, I am looking at addressing some of the issues you had with the content (GM-facing material and notes on the d8 and d10). The broken link is a particularly egregious error on my part. Here is the correct link: trailofdice.com/spiralis For your trouble, I'd love to send you a free hard copy of the game, that is if you'd be interested. Feel free to message me through my website if you like. Cheers! ~ Aaron S.
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