Squads and Space Battles for Mothership

In this double feature blog post I wanted to explore higher level play in Mothership. Not in the sense of more XP, but in the sense of larger scale. I think that factions are a key driving force for campaign. When the crew interacts with one, they gain access to more resources, but also open themselves to more risk. More risk equals more opportunity for tense sessions and horror!


Squad is a group of contractors united by mission and proficiencies. They are usually too expensive to be hired by individual characters, so most of the time they will be attached to a faction. Such faction squads will count as resources (which I will cover in a later post). Once a goal is set for a squad, they will complete it autonomously. If a character has a Command skill, they can also control a squad directly.

Missions are very clear goal, which is always aligned with their faction’s interests. Missions are put into clear terms like: extract the VIP, disconnect the reactor module, excavate the relic etc.

Squads can be sent on missions during Shore Leave. Give a mission a difficulty score: 1 - easy, 2 - challenging, 3 - hard. Roll Xd10s (X=difficulty score) vs a d20. If the d20 is higher than the sum of the d10s, the squad completes the mission. If the result is lower, they fail, and the lowest d10 result is the amount of casualties sustained.

Squads can be divided into small (3-6 members), medium (7-12) and large (13+). Attacks by individual characters against squads are reduced by 1d10/1 Wound per size of the squad, unless the character has means of damaging the whole squad in an area.

Attacks by squads against individual characters is increased by 1d10 per squad size. Attacks between squads of different sizes receive ±1 Wound damage per size difference.

There are several squad types that specialise in different fields (akin to the four character classes). Each squad is proficient in skills which they can complete expertly.

  • Ground: Military Training, Wilderness Survival, Field Medicine, Firearms.
  • Void: Zero-g, Piloting, Athletics, Rimwise, Asteroid Mining.
  • Breach: Industrial Equipment, Explosives, Hacking.
  • Salvage: Jury-rigging, Mechanical repair, Engineering, Exobiology, Archaeology.

Pictured: salvage squad entering a derelict. Illustration kindly provided by HodagRPG.

When tasked with something outside of their expertise under pressure, or when the environment works against the squad, they make an Instinct save. If they fail their save or encounter the horrors of space, they increase their Stress by 1.

Vitals of a squad: Instinct (starts at 2d10+10), Stress (starts at 2) and Hits (start at 2x# of members). Notice that squads don’t have health, any damage reduces a Hit (as contractors).

When a squad loses a Hit, they make a Panic Check. If they roll under their current Stress, they mark a condition. As damage is dealt to the squad, it may reduce in size.

  • Concerned: the squad is more cautious and takes longer to complete tasks.
  • Terrified: all saves are made at disadvantage.
  • Broken: members seek the fastest way to escape this location.

When a squad survives a mission, they gain a Veterancy point, which can be spent to ignore Panic checks. Veterancy points are replenished during Shore Leave.

You can also download the Mothership squad sheet to help you keep track of all the details.


Capital Spaceship Battles

When capital spaceships clash, a simplified combat system can be used. Each side rolls a d10 with the following modifiers:

  • +1 for every weapon category that out-numbers the opponent’s (lasers, fighter craft, torpedoes, railguns).
  • +1 for each significant tactical advantage, such as: surprise, asteroid field cover, stealth technology etc.
  • + the tens digit of the Combat stat of the highest ranked character on that side.

The side that rolls the highest wins the engagement, ties are a draw. The difference between the result of each side’s roll is the amount of decks damaged and breached.

Optionally, the crew can engage in a flashpoint, an operation that can turn the tide of battle. The crew is tasked with completing a mission, such as disabling hull defences or fighting the enemy captain. If the crew wins the flashpoint, add a d10 to their side’s roll. If the crew loses, add a d10 to the opposing side’s roll.

At the end of a battle, any characters involved make a Combat check. If their side won or drawn, success means they are unharmed, failure — they take 1 Wound of damage. If their side lost, success is 1 Wound of damage, failure is death.

Further Reading

  1. Gundobad Games - Really Simple Mass Combat: warband rules for Into the Odd.
  2. Atomic Rockets - Space Tactics: a scientific and tactical look at space fights.
  3. Errant - Initiative: my main inspiration for this post.
  4. Cavegirl - One Roll Fights: the basis for capital ship battles.