The first expansion for Mothership takes us to some ugly places. First, we find an orbiting cloud of derelict spaceships filled with all sorts of danger. Then it’s down to a moon and a frightening failed colony. But we’re just getting started. The real meat (grinder) is down on the planet itself. Mothership is an interesting game all around. You can play it as is and I’m sure it would be fine as a sort of Traveller by way of Event Horizon and Alien. Or you can break it up, rebuild it, mod it, trick it out, or use it to trick out your favorite game. Essentially you can play it ‘out of the box,’ or you can use it as a toolbox for whatever you might need. Dead Planet adds tools to that kit.
Like the first book, this one has a ton of content jammed into 48 pages, and like the first book, there are tons of practical charts and guides for taking your character through the wringer. I really like the stuff for generating derelict ships. There’s lots of good stuff here that you can easily plug into any given Science Fiction game. The colony part also seems like it would be useful, though I think if I ran Dead Planet as it is, I’d probably skip this chapter. Still, the tools could easily prove useful. Then there’s the titular planet, where some really sick stuff waits. This has lots of good tools for building ancient ruins and that sort of thing.
Obviously, the focus on this game is on Horror/Science Fiction, but I think the game would work really well as a different type of Science Fiction if you tone down the Horror side of things. I thought this while reading the first book, and I think it more so now. Mothership could make for a great Traveller-type Sci-Fi game, something a bit more grim and gritty than say Star Wars or Star Trek, where space is genuinely dangerous. You don’t need the supernatural or the monstrous to make things difficult and deadly. That said, this would be an excellent way of doing something like Alien, and Dead Planet is a must have part of the whole.