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

2. Store.

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.

3. Stairwell.

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