The Kickstarter campaign for a first-edition boxed set of Mothership’s sci-fi horror tabletop RPG recently reached US $1m putting the indie title in rare company as its crowdfunding campaign nears the final week.
Created by Alan Gerding and Sean McCoy of Tuesday Knight Games, Mothership was initially released in 2019 as a single rules and settings booklet subtitled the Player’s Survival Guide. It garnered fervent popularity within the independent tabletop scene that culminated in winning two ENnies that year - gold for Best Game and silver for Best Adventure.
Tuesday Knight Games announced a boxed set in September of this year that would revise that initial release, along with adding a facilitator’s guide called the Warden’s Operation’s Manual and other supplementary booklets. The core experience, though, remains the same - players take on the role of teamsters, scientists, marines and the unnerving androids as part of a crew exploring alien environments and excavating spacecraft left floating in the void of space. Probably not for any deadly reason.
Mothership uses a d100 system full of random tables but light on rules so that players can roll up characters quickly and bust through the atmosphere as soon as possible. It stresses the inherent threat of doing anything in space, as a tear in a pressurised suit or overheating nuclear engine can be just as dangerous as xeno life forms or rival scavenge crews.
It pulls on classics of the space horror genre such as Alien and Solaris alongside Tetsuo, Dead Space, The Thing and Roadside Picnic. All of this feeds into Mothership’s Stress and Panic system wherein characters might absolutely lose their cool at the worst moment, throwing the rest of the crew into increased danger - not so bad if the scientist begins hucking beakers, but that marine with rifle and an itchy trigger finger is a whole other matter.
By crossing the six-figure threshold, Tuesday Knight Games becomes one of roughly 30 tabletop projects to raise at least US $1m dollars on the platform. Kickstarter has become the de facto solution for raising the capital smaller - and even mid-sized - companies need to produce their board games, card games and RPGs, but the past two years has seen exponential growth in the number of projects and the amount of money spent on them.
For example, ICO Partners analyst Thomas Bidaux told Dicebreaker in September that just four RPG projects managed to reach that echelon in 2020, while this year is nearing twice that number. Magpie Games’ upcoming Avatar Legends RPG enjoyed a meteoric crowdfunding run that crossed the finish line at $9.5m and set a new (and some would say wholly unrealistic) goal for future projects. The tabletop hobby regularly earns $150 million annually on platforms such as Kickstarter, Gamefound and Itch.io.
Among its immediate RPG peers, Mothership has nabbed fourth place behind Avatar Legends, Free League’s new edition of The One Ring RPG and a revised printing of John Wick’s swashbuckling and sorcery 7th Sea. Several third-party additions for Dungeons & Dragons have also raked in huge amounts of funding - Matt Colville’s pair of fantasy supplements, the Tanares RPG and animated YouTube adaptation Fool’s Gold all ended squarely in the six-figure range.
Mothership will continue its crowdfunding efforts through December 2nd and plan to deliver both digital and physical editions of their boxed set in November 2022.