Stuck in Orbit? – Dead Planet [Mothership RPG]

Dead Planet

A violent incursion into the land of the living for the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror Roleplaying Game

Author: Fiona Maeve Geist, Donn Stroud, & Sean McCoy
Publisher: Tuesday Knight Games
Page Count: 48
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $7.99
Print & PDF Bundle – $14.99

Traveling through space at hyperdrive speeds, the Crew’s ship suddenly disengages its jump drive, causing it to stop and orbit an unknown planet. A quick scan of the area reveals they are not alone. Countless numbers, dozens if not hundreds, of other spaceships are also locked in orbit with the planet and its satellite moon. The jump drive just seemed to stop by no fault of its own. Something in the area is preventing the jump drive from re-engaging. The Crew will have to search for the cause if they wish to free their ship from orbit.

Note to the reader: For this review, I will be coving the physical book. A PDF is available but unavailable to me at the time of my writing. Any comments about its quality or design are solely about the printed book. The quality of the PDF may differ.

The Crew finds themselves stuck in orbit. Their jump drive, for whatever reason, will not engage. It is as if a strange force is holding the ship in orbit, just like all the other ships crowding the skies. The Crew will need to figure out what outside force is causing their jump drive to malfunction. There are only a few options to explore, all of them outside their own ship; the many orbiting ships, the planet’s surface, or its moon. The ship isn’t going anywhere, so you might as well don your space suit and do a little scrounging while you’re at it.

In true Mothership style, the Crew is placed in a very dangerous situation, and they must solve a mystery to continue. Their investigation into releasing their ship from orbit will put them under great stress and test their limits. Their first and closest avenue of investigation is the neighboring ships also stuck in orbit.

The closest ship to the Crew’s ship is a research ship named The Alexis. The Alexis is the only ship detailed in Dead Planet with a map and basic room descriptions. A derelict ship and module generators are provided if the Crew wishes to expand their search to other ships. These generators are jam-packed with useful and sometimes humorous results and come with instructions to get the most out of them. With these tools, a gamemaster can construct as many ships as they need with detailed layouts, their basic function, and items to salvage.

When constructing a derelict ship, the publications suggest using a handful of D6 to physically construct its layout. Each D6 represents a different room or corridor. It is an interesting way to generate a ship’s layout, which can be done at the table if a Gamemaster has not prepared one ahead of time. The number of D6 used depends on the kind of ship you wish to generate. The generator lists nine different classes of ships with the number of levels for each and the number of D6s it will use for its layout. The D6s can be arranged in any configuration as the Gamemaster wishes. After configuring the ship layout, the Gamemaster can generate each room’s basic function or choose from the list.

Another location to investigate is the planet’s orbiting moon. The Crew will quickly discover that the surface is littered with the debris of crashed vessels. Though the moon is barren, faint signs of life emit from its northern hemisphere. If the Crew travels to the surface or is forced to land, they may be closer to solving the mystery afoot. But with curiosity comes consequences.

The moon’s surface is indeed inhabited, and once the Crew lands, it will be quite apparent. They will have some areas to explore, encounter some interesting things, and have plenty of options to investigate. The question is, are they willing to pay for their decisions with an arm and a leg?

The last location is the planet’s surface. On the planet’s surface, the Crew will discover several locations to explore and dangerous encounters that they wish they didn’t find. Out of the three main locations to investigate, the planet’s surface holds the most defined locations where the Crew will do most of their adventuring.

In one or all three of the main locations, the Crew will be able to piece together the reason why their ship is locked in the planet’s orbit and devise the means to free it. Cleverly, Dead Planet provides several ways for the Crew to free their ship. There is no one answer but several dangerous and action-packed solutions. The Crew just needs to figure out the best route for themselves.


Dead Planet is a digest-size saddle-stitch booklet with a sturdy cardstock cover and a nice thick paper stock for its interior. The art style follows that of the core book, gestural illustrations of indescribable monstrosities. Color is sporadically used throughout to highlight illustrations, points of interest, design features, and in some cases, to color text. In some areas where color is applied to the type, the contrast between the text and background is shallow, leading to legibility issues. Even with my reading glasses on and under bright light, I still struggled to read some passages. I can only imagine how difficult, if not impossible, it might be to read for someone who suffers from color vision deficiency (CVD). I can only hope and assume the PDF version displays better.

As with most Mothership products, Dead Planet is filled with a large number of rollable charts. Charts for generating items like the derelict ship generator and random action charts for NPCs. There are so many charts to roll on, with humorous results and interesting finds. As mentioned above, there are several detailed mapped-out locations to explore with the option to create more through rollable charts. There are several hostile creatures, NPCs, and items to find and salvage. The adventure can run as written or expanded upon with the charts provided.

Final Thought

Dead Planet was the first of many published adventures from Tuesday Knight Games for their Mothership RPG. The adventure provides several avenues of investigation and more than one solution to resolve the Crew’s dilemma. Parts of the story can get pretty gritty, as one should expect from a horror survival game. What I really appreciate, a design choice with all Mothership supplements that I have read, is the flexibility of the material. It features just enough material to play as is or allow the Gamemaster to expand, before or at the table, through a series of rollable charts. A gamemaster, with little effort, can customize the adventure or run it on the fly if they wish. Though I take issues with some of its design choices, I think Dead Planet is a fantastic supplement for Mothership RPG and worth being part of your gaming collection.

~Stephen Pennisi

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