flotsam and jetsam for tabletop games, by quadra.

Calm For Mothership

mothership house rules tables tools mothership 0e

Jordan Peele and Robert Hays

Here’s something to try in your Mothership campaign: invert Stress and call it Calm. In vanilla Mothership, Stress starts at 0 and goes up indefinitely as PCs encounter scary stuff. When something happens that triggers Panic, players try and roll 2d10 over their Stress. On failure, they must roll 2d10+Stress on a Panic Effects table and take the (usually disastrous) result.

Calm instead maxes out at 85% (like the other stats and saves) and goes down to 0%. Every time you would gain Stress in Mothership, instead lose that amount of Calm. Panic checks now have you roll d100 under against your current Calm (like the other stats and saves): if you fail, you look up the number you rolled on the new Panic Effects table below. A few things this change does:

Using Calm

Sounds good? Here’s how it works: if you have to make a Panic check, roll d100 under your Calm stat:

If you already have the effect in question, stack it! (This may mean increasing the length of an effect, increasing the Calm penalty, etc.) If it doesn’t make sense to stack it, move to the next highest entry and give them that effect instead. For example, Social Anxiety” would stack so that the character loses 2d10 Calm whenever they converse with someone new, then 3d10, etc.

Switching to a d100 system calls for a few additional changes:

There is now a Calm version of my campaign character sheet.

Panic Effects Table

Conditions are italicized. List these on your character sheet. If a condition does not have a listed duration, it is permanent. A condition may be removed upon leveling up (PSG 36.1) or possibly through other means as determined by the Warden. (Some entries are taken from or closely based on the original Panic Table in the PSG.)

Roll Effect Description
100 Heart Races Lose 1 Calm.
97-99 Moment of Panic Lose 1d5 Calm.
93-96 Overwhelmed Lose 1d10 Calm.
90-92 Nervous Twitch Lose 1d10 Calm. The nearest crew member also loses 1d5 Calm.
89 Hallucinations For the next 1d10 hours (determined secretly), you have trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy.
88 Cowardice Lose 1d10 Calm. For the rest of the session, you must make a Fear save to engage in combat.
87 Rattled Disadvantage on all rolls for the rest of the session.
86 Outburst Suddenly shout, cry out, slam your fist against a wall, etc., making a loud noise. Nearby crew members lose 1d10 Calm.
85 Psychotic Break Immediately attack the closest crew member until you do at least 2d10 damage or 1 Hit, whichever comes first. If there is no crew member nearby, you attack the environment.
84 Crippling Fear Gain a new Phobia, determined by the Warden. Whenever you encounter this phobia make a Fear save at Disadvantage or lose 1d10 Calm.
83 Mild Anxiety Your Maximum Calm decreases by 2.
82 General Anxiety Your Maximum Calm decreases by 1d10.
81 Hypervigilance Gain Advantage on all surprise rolls but lose 1d10 Calm every day.
80 Escapism You always have Disadvantage on Body Saves to prevent Addiction.
79 Social Anxiety Lose 1d10 Calm whenever you converse with someone new.
78 Emotional Detachment You now lose half the Calm (rounded up) you normally would from all sources but you gain the Panic Effect of an Android, in addition to that of your own class. If you are an Android, gain the Panic Effect of a Marine.
77 Recurring Nightmares Every time you rest, make a Fear save. If you fail, lose 1d10 Calm and do not heal. The Warden will describe your nightmare.
76 The Shakes You can’t keep your hands steady any more. Disadvantage on ranged attacks and all tasks requiring fine motor skills. Drugs may be able to help with this.
75 Panicky Whenever you make a Fear save, roll under your Fear or your Calm, whichever is lower.
74 Losing Your Grip Whenever you make a Sanity save, roll under your Sanity or your Calm, whichever is lower.
73 Anhedonia Whenever you would recover Calm, recover half as much Calm instead.
72 Severe Anxiety Lose double Calm from all sources.
71 Broken Make a Panic roll whenever a nearby crew member fails a save.
70 Psychotic Episodes Once per session, the Warden may take over your character for one round. The first one happens immediately.
65-69 Heart Attack Death in 1d10 minutes unless you get medical attention. -1d10 to your Body save.
60-64 Temporary Insanity You become insane. Your character is played by the Warden (or by you but you must act destructively and against the interests of the rest of your team or else the Warden takes over) until they sleep at least 6 hours and succeed on a Sanity Save.
40-59 Severe Heart Attack You die. Take one final action before you go.
1-39 Psychological Collapse You become permanently, irreparably insane. Your character is now played by the Warden. All nearby player characters must immediately make Panic Checks.

Update (2021-05-14): @Amputret on the Mothership Discord has created an excellent Android Calm Table based on the table above for use with Androids specifically.

Stress vs. Calm Breakdown

Switching to the Calm system means that the overall distribution of Panics is going to be different. Here’s a chart showing a character’s chance to experience each possible type of effect when called upon to make a Panic Check using Mothership’s Stress system with 0 Resolve:

Bonus: positive result

Stress Gain: main effect is stress

Condition: permanent / long-lasting effect

Freakout: short-term effect

Death: instant death / character loss

Panic Table Chances

Note that the probabilities described incorporate both the initial 2d10-over-Stress roll to determine if the player panics, and the subsequent 2d10+Stress Panic Table roll on failure. Some interesting takeaways from this breakdown:

Here’s a chart showing the same thing, but with this Calm system. It’s a bit more boring as a chart:

Same categories as above, but also:

Probable Death: as Death but with a slim chance to survive

Worse than Death: as Death but with additional effects

Panic Table Calm Chances

My hunch is Stress is probably the better system for one-shots and mini-campaigns, and Calm may be better suited for longer campaigns, as Stress ramps up and becomes lethal much faster (on average, assuming 1d10 Stress gain / Calm loss, you’re going to have a roughly 50% chance of death when making a Panic Check after gaining Stress 4 times vs. losing Calm 13 times.) We’ve been playing with this system for a while in the Warped Campaign and it seems to work well.


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