The Graverobber's Guide
Friday, 24 March 2023
Tuesday, 28 February 2023
WEAPONS TEST 023 is live!
For zine month this year (which it still is, just barely) I’m making my first ever physical zine! 😬
Do battle with experimental weaponry, cyborg streamers and a Whole-Ass Mech in this sportswear-sponsored suicide mission for the Mothership RPG.
Live now on Kickstarter! Click here to support x
Sunday, 5 February 2023
How To Make A Mothership Pamphlet
A pamphlet adventure is essentially 2 pages of GM notes. If you’ve found your way here, you already have all the skills needed to make one yourself.
As with anything, we start with an idea. Ideas are cheap and easy. Use your best one, they’re not worth hanging on to and you’ll have a better one before you’re done.
Because I have game design brain, my idea is for a random table. Yours might be more abstract but that’s ok, just represent it through a table entry or room description or blurb, something you’d read in an adventure. The writing doesn’t have to be good, we’re just getting words on the page, you can change it later.
I had the image of players frantically searching through trash, so I’m going to write a table of trash. I reckon they should be able to find something useful, so what’s something people would throw away that might be useful?
This is Mothership so there’s probably a monster, so the item we’re looking for is something the monster is weak to. Let’s say this monster has a great sense of smell, it’s a hunter type beast thing. So the trash smells really bad - now it’s something the players can use as a weapon, but that would realistically be here.
Let’s put something generically smelly on the table, plus something like… weapons-grade smelly.
1. Moulded old fish guts.
2. Hot sauce bottle, unopened.
“Unopened” will make players more likely to hang onto it even if they don’t know why they might want to yet.
That’s 2 entries, we’ll go for 5 or 10 because MoSh uses d10s, probably 10 to convey variety. No need to come up with them all now, move on to something more exciting.
Let’s think about this monster. All we know is that there’s trash nearby and it can smell well. Also it’s normal everyday rubbish, food waste and stuff. So our location is a restaurant or an apartment complex or something.
Pick somewhere small and contained, the unity of place is good for both horror and game design, plus you don’t have much space as far as wordcount. A good word count for a pamphlet is like 1000 words. 800 if you have a map and lots of pictures, never more than 1200 or so. Just not enough space.
Let’s say this trash is in the skip outside an apartment building. Why is the monster here? Idk I’m thinking it’s basically a werewolf type thing. That’s what I think of when I think of good sense of smell + monster. Don’t have to decide what exactly it is yet, or indeed ever. It’s “the monster”.
The players have tracked it to its nest. Maybe it’s out hunting and there’s a time limit to investigate and set up an ambush before it gets back. That’s pretty good! Good enough, at least. Good enough is better than perfect because it’s achievable.
This might be a good time to check over the advice in the Warden’s Operations Manual, things like the TOMBS system are great for outlining these kinds of details. I’m just gonna rawdog it tho lmao
So, we have a bit of a random trash table, a setting and a monster, and kind of a mission. Let’s outline the rest of our location and see if things come together.
5 or 10 distinct locations is a good shout because then we can roll for one if needed later, plus it’s not too much for our word count. Start with 5 and expand if we think of more good ones. If you have between 5 and 10, don’t stretch to think of the last few, just cut the worst ones.
1. Alley. Round the side of the building. There’s a big communal refuse bin, nearly overflowing, faded recycling warnings.
Then the table goes there. It’s not a great description, I’d probably go back and add details about the smells, the sounds, the lighting.
Also I’d probably add something interesting that would make players want to look here because they might not care about a dumpster otherwise. A suspicious rustling noise from inside would be good - turns out it’s just a fox.
Anyway i can note that now and come back to edit later, we need more words on the page first. More locations for a start.
Let’s make the ground floor of this building a shop, that differentiates our locations a bit. Go for variety, if two rooms are too similar just merge them. Unless you’re separating locations to establish exploration, put secrets somewhere else or something. Idk I’m not a cop
I can’t think of what the store is so i just note this for now. Go for something that’d be full of potentially useful items. Maybe a cafe, kitchens are a great source of danger and utility, you got hot and sharp and heavy and everything, water, fire, food to distract the monster etc.
Anyway we’ll name our other locations before working out the details.
A side entrance for people who live here to get up to the apartments without going into the cafe. Around this time I feel the need to get a mental map of where shit is so I’ll sketch a flowchart.
Can always change this later, make the apartments connect to the alley if you can jump out the window for instance. If you don’t have the ability or budget to put things like maps on your pamphlet just make sure you describe what each space connects to as part of the rooms descriptions.
Btw we like to divide places into rooms or hexes or whatever because they’re good little individual spaces for players to focus on in the present, then file away for later when they move to the next one. More complex mental geography like how these spaces all interconnect is best learned over time as they play rather than a big dump of description.
Anyway I did locations 4 and 5 like they’re the two apartments. If I can’t think of two separate rooms for those that are interesting enough to deserve being 2 locations I’ll probably change 5 to be the rooftop or something else.
For now we need to work out why the stairwell is interesting, I know why it’s there from a layout perspective as it handily connects things up and would logically be there if this were a real place, but idk why anyone should care as far as gameplay.
If I can’t think of anything I’d just fold the stairwell description into another location, like 4 could be “apartment plus hallway”. But I think a decent use of this space would be building dread and maybe dropping clues. Like claw marks on the walls, but less shit than that.
I can’t think of anything right now but I’m sure I will at some point, so I make a note and move on.
The apartment, whether it’s location 4 or 5, is where the monster lives so is a key location for our concept. Maybe it’s normal on the surface but shit’s weird once you take a closer look, or maybe it’s more horrifying to have a normal flat in a normal building be this fucked up beast lair. Go with your gut about what would be better in a horror context, you can only really scare yourself.
4. Nest. Darkness, no power to the lights. Stench of musk and piss. Fixtures ripped out, clothes scattered and piled up, human bones strewn about and riddled with teeth marks.
That’s good enough for now. I’ll put more info and some fun interactive items or elements once I’ve decided more about the monster.
5 I’m not certain about yet. If it’s another apartment I’d swap its location with 4, so the players pass the more normal location first, maybe a neighbour turned victim or someone who’s locked themselves in their place because they know who lives upstairs (and has found a way to deter them? Decent idea).
Anyway, at this point I have a decent idea of what’s in each location, and a decent premise of why the players are there - set a trap while the monster is out. I’d set a time limit for this one, the monster returns in 1 hour or whatever, maybe add a system for tracking it into the adventure because I don’t know that MoSh really tracks time like that.
And that’s basically it, we have the skeleton of our adventure done. Everything else is just filling in blanks, going over bad writing and redoing it until it’s playable. Things like statblocks can come last, just copy one that’s basically as strong as you want your guy to be and change the details.
We’ll probably get close to 800 words just filling in each of these locations with a table and paragraph or two, but if there’s still space it’ll be time to think of something else to add. Maybe more items in the shop or something. Nothing just to fill space though, it has to be good in its own right. If you have space and don’t know what goes there, just leave it for a while. Come back once you’ve watched a movie or gone for a walk or something.
Anyway, that’s one way to do it. Reckon you could pull that off.
Then just lay it out across two pages, 3 columns each, on some free software. Add a royalty free cover image, maybe look up a fun font. Then email TKG to submit if for a 3rd party publishing license, info’s probably on the discord or somewhere like that. Upload to itch or somewhere. Now you’re as much of a professional as any of us!
Or just keep it for yourself and have fun in your home game.
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with x
Wednesday, 18 January 2023
|Art by Zach Hazard Vaupen|
Take part in a deadly live-streamed obstacle course, explore the local shanty town beneath a mutagenic rain, and try to make it to the moon in time for civil war.
Friday, 13 January 2023
I’m still here and I’m about to make it everybody’s problem
Coming this year:
Mothership: ADSPACE is still on track to be out this month. Next month it’s zinequest/zimo and I’m hoping to have something ready that’s been cooking for a very long time, excited to show you. This is kind of a huge step for me so fingers crossed it goes ok.
In March 1E should be out or imminent and you’ll be able to get your hands on Another Bug Hunt, which I’m very proud of. Beyond that… idk fam I’ve been living month to month my whole adult life, April is a big stretch for me. But yes, more MoSh
Graverobbers: I’m itching to get to the next step in G’robs, a complete starter package. Rules, adventure, tools, extras. Already playtesting and it’s gonna be good
Other projects: Look, I gotta eat so stuff that pays takes priority. But I haven’t forgotten about the likes of DEADLINE and ONSLAUGHT, I have plans for those! Hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more this year.
This blog: I post when I feel I’ve got something worth posting! I’m doing dungeon23, google it if you don’t know what’s up, so maybe I’ll at least post some of that at some point. When I write stuff for home games that’s not also going on sale you’ll get that too lol
Not to be dramatic, but this year is a big one. Based on how things go, what jobs come my way, whether i can pull crowdfunds off etc, I’m going to see whether the steady growth I’ve had professionally since starting this thing 5 years ago (!) is going to turn into something I can do for the rest of my life, or a hobby I come back to now and again for beer money. it sucks but I gotta pay rent and think about the practicals!
So, here’s hoping. I’d love to keep making things for you all. Gonna do my best this year.
Let’s all work at changing the little bit of the world that’s right where we each are. See where that gets us
Happy new year xox
Tuesday, 13 December 2022
Bare Bones updated!
The newest version of the Bare Bones of Graverobbers just went live. Download for free here.
Updates include new item lists, clarifications and general changes for tone etc.
More on the way from Graverobbers soon. Happy gaming xox
Wednesday, 30 November 2022
TERROR… FROM BEYOND THE STARS!
A Mothership hack.
TERROR… FROM BEYOND THE STARS!
- Replace Combat stat with Social. Roll Strength and Speed for melee and ranged attacks.
- Roll for Cast and Role instead of Class and Patch/Trinket. No Skills or Saves, 20 HP, 1 Wound.
- On a failed roll, gain Schlock instead of Stress. All characters share the same Schlock total.
- Players may roll the Panic die under Schlock for a stroke of luck. +1 Schlock each Panic roll.
- At 20 Schlock, the adventure becomes unbearable. Game Over!
- Ascended Stuntperson: +10 Strength. [+] on STR, [-] on Social.
- Precocious Starlet. +10 Speed. Reroll Panic die once per session.
- Incongruous Thespian: +10 Intellect. Once per session, reduce Schlock by 1d5.
- Sex Symbol: +10 Social. +1d5 Schlock at 0AP.
- Puppet Sidekick: +10 all stats. No Role, +1 Schlock on successful checks.
- Chosen One: Light Sword (1d10), Impractical Armour (5AP), [+] all checks vs a single enemy
- Dashing Rogue: Raygun (1d10[+]), Stylish Clothing (1AP), [-] all attacks against you
- Galactic Royalty: Raygun (1d10[+]), Elaborate Costume (3AP), understand any language
- Otherworlder: Strange Weapon (2d5), Rubbery Suit (3 AP), return from death once.
- Star Wizard: Fancy Robes (1AP), 5 SFX budget per session, spend at will, +1 Schlock per use
o 3 SFX: Pyrotechnics, 5d10 area dmg
o 2 SFX: Mind Magic, incapacitate 1 enemy
o 0 SFX: Transmit Thought to any ally
Forbidden Temple of the Moon Lizards
a. Dense jungle plants surround huge stone door, hallway within.
b. 2 lizard men guards [C:50 (Spear 1d10), I:60]. Pick and eat jungle fruits.
c. Carvings on wall in strange language lead to side passage and dungeon.
a. Flaming torches, uniform stone walls. Portrait of lizard queen, oddly human.
b. Grand doors to the arena. Heavy beam used to barricade them from this side.
c. Cold, dark steps down to the prison.
a. Circular balcony over huge pit, doors to hallway.
b. Lizard queen on far side, enthroned. Vain, vindictive and greedy.
c. Sturdy gates in the pit below connect to the prison and dungeon.
a. Dank, cold stone beneath the planet’s surface. Cells guarded by lizard men.
b. Stairs up to the warm, well-lit hallway. A passage to the arena pit.
c. A prisoner spouts exposition before dying dramatically.
a. Underground chamber. A monster [C:70 (Claws 2d10), I:50]. Chained, kept hungry.
b. Passage to arena pit, secret passage to exterior.
c. Rack of lizard spears (1d10 dmg), long rope, barrel of sticky tar.