While putting together a Mothership module, I wanted to ensure that the player characters would be motivated to carry out the mission, even in the face of the horrors to come. Here’s what I came up with — have each player roll 1d10 at character creation to find out why they’re in the corp’s pocket. The real horror was capitalism all along!
Student debt: The corp paid for your education in exchange for your labor. If you don’t take the job, they’ll take back everything you own and reassign you to an “untrusted” position, which will be far more unpleasant, dangerous, and low-paying than your current job.
Body mods: Your bionic enhancements / body parts / gene mods (whatever’s appropriate to the character) are not your own. They are property of the corp, and there won’t be much left of you if they take it back.
Family: The corp has made a point of keeping very close tabs on your family back home, sending you regular updates about their well-being. They’re all happy and healthy, for now…
Scrip: The scrip they pay you for your regular work always seemed to go right back into company housing, food, medicine, and everything else. All these years later, you somehow owe them thousands of creds’ worth.
Work visa: The work visa that got you off of your hellish homeworld is about to expire, and your superiors have made it clear they aren’t sure if you’re worth the renewal.
Jubilee: You are one of many people whose crippling personal debt the corp has purchased en masse through its “Jubilee” program. Your debt is not forgiven, but it is reduced and consolidated. You now owe the corp. Your debt came from (d10):
Failed market speculation
Expensive body modification
Purchasing a spacecraft
Set up: At a corp party, you were offered something forbidden by corp policy or local law (e.g. drugs, sex, a bribe), which you took. It was a setup, and you were recorded. If they expose you, you’re finished.
Citizenship: Your next promotion will grant you coveted “Citizen” status on a core world. You’ll finally have the status, safety, freedom, and rights you’ve always yearned for, provided your next review goes well.
Investment: The corp’s investment in your business venture, which you’ve put everything into, is contingent on you demonstrating your commitment to the partnership. If they pull out, you lose everything.
Mole: You’re not — to this corp, anyway. You’re a mole for another corp that has forged your identity and placed you in their structure. You are to play along and steal secrets. Re-roll to find out why you’re in the other corp’s pocket (re-roll any 10s).