Contractor Personalities and Solo Exploration Procedure
Part 4 of Defining a Mothership Solo/Wardenless Methodology
Good morning everyone! I’m excited for this newsletter that finishes sharing the early draft of my solo/Wardenless methodology for Mothership. This is part of the work that I have been writing for our upcoming zine Advanced Rules and is used in a simplified fashion in our upcoming Crowd Sale for our solo/Wardenless programmed Mothership adventure, The Progeny. Please follow our Crowd Sale and support us by buying a boxed version via Crowd Sale, a box of counters from The Game Crafter, a print and play version via a paid subscription to this newsletter or DriveThruRPG, or by downloading the free rules from our info page.
If you have missed my prior articles defining my solo/Wardenless methodology for Mothership, I have included the prior links below.
This article is focused on defining personalities and simple AI for contractors and then laying out a solo/Wardenless exploration procedure to put all of this together. I will talk about some ways that you can build and modify maps to support this methodology in a future article, but you could start playing using this methodology using the three articles above in combination with this article.
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A solo or Wardenless party is ideally made up of four controllable characters. In the case of solo and partner play, this is handled through the use of Contractors. A solo party consists of one PC and three contractors with generated personalities. If you are playing with a partner, each person controls a PC and a contractor, and if you are playing with three or four people, you each just control a PC (contractors are optional).
For solo and Wardenless play, contractors are controlled indirectly. A personality consisting of traits and behaviors is generated for each contractor, making their behavior unpredictable. Contractors are another aspect of problem-solving, you need to react to their behavior the same way that you need to react to the behavior of encounters. This approach is heavily influenced by the solo protocol included with Cloud Empress by watt. This is the contractor equivalent of the Dice AI for encounters. This makes the gameplay experience somewhere in between a traditional player-driven solo experience and an experience that solely uses player emulation since you directly control yourself and then indirectly control your crew of contractors.
Personality Design Sequence
This is a modification of the solo character generation from Cloud Empress.
You are creating a d10 personality table to represent the personality for a contractor, this is part of the included contractor sheet. You follow the following sequence to generate the personality of the contractor at the time of character creation.
Roll a d5. This is the likelihood that a certain trait will be expressed by a contractor each turn. You will fill in the number of rows rolled with a trait and its corresponding behavior.
Roll a d10 to select a trait and its related behavior from the Trait Table.
Repeat the process until you’ve filled the entire personality table.
For example, you roll the d5 and get a 5 and then roll the d10 and get a 4. You surround the box for sections 1-4 of the Contractor Trait Table with a heavy line and then you fill in the Trait "Helpful," and its corresponding behavior. Next you roll the d5 and get a 3 and then roll the d10 and get a 7. You surround the next three boxes on the Trait Table with a heavy line and fill in the Trait "Charismatic," and its corresponding behavior. Finally, you roll the d5 and get a 5, and you roll a d10 and get a 10. You surround the final two boxes on the Trait Table with a heavy line since there are only two boxes left (even though you rolled a 5). You then write the Trait "Wildcard" in this set of boxes along with its corresponding behavior. Ultimately, you are then able to read the Contractor Trait Table on their Contractor Sheet, and you see that this generated Contractor is Helpful 50% of the time, Charismatic 30% of the time, and a Wildcard 20% of the time.
As you run the Solo or Wardenless Procedure, you will be able to see what behavior a Contractor will engage in according to the Dice AI Roll if you do not ask them to take a different action (which requires a successful Loyalty Save from the contractor as well).
1 - Aggressive - Approaches the nearest encounter and attacks
2 - Stubborn - Refuses to do anything
3 - Scared - Runs away from encounters, attempts to get Out of Range
4 - Helpful - Gives [+] on all rolls to crewmembers within Close Range
5 - Jittery - Panic!
6 - Talkative - Chats with fellow crew members even in the worst situations, gives [-] to all crew members within Close Range, automatically reveals their location to encounters
7 - Charismatic - All crewmembers who failed re-roll their Loyalty Saves
8 - Argumentative - Attacks the closest crewmember with their bare hands
9 - Distrustful - Gives [-] on their next Loyalty Save
10 - Wildcard - Roll for a random behavior off this table whenever this trait is triggered
This is a procedure designed for using modules even if they are modules created or adapted by someone who is playing the game. If you make up your own original content, you are still playing through it in a non-authoring way. There are suggestions for converting existing modules in the sections of the book about Dynamic Tables and Dice AI. You can run this as a crawl procedure in traditional game with a Warden, but this can end up a little too mechanical if you’re not careful.
One key difference with this method of play is that everyone gets to see what’s in the module, it’s very helpful if everyone has access to a copy. It may be useful for the facilitator to make packets of material for the upcoming session.
You can play out social encounters and isolated enemy encounters using theater of the mind, and there are some mapping techniques and ways for handling social encounters that will be discussed in future articles. However, if you enter into a more confined location with rooms and encounters you use the following broad procedure to proceed. The turn counter for the area’s Dynamic Table is set to zero when you enter the location.
Roll a Speed or Fear Check for each PC to determine initiative. If a PC is successful, they will act before the encounters, and if they fail, they will act after the encounters.
If there are no spawned creatures, you do not need to roll for initiative.
Roll a d10 and a d5 to determine the Behavior and Attack AI for the turn.
Roll Loyalty Saves for all contractors. Contractors who succeed will allow you to give them instructions for the current turn, and contractors who fail will only follow the behavior defined by their Trait Table and Behavior as selected using the Behavior AI roll.
Construct, roll, and play out a cooperative narrative dice pool as necessary for each action group determined by initiative. As always with Mothership only add a roll to the pool for actions taken under stressful situations. Use the AI rolled on the turn to help construct the dice pool as necessary for Contractors and Creatures. There are rules for stacking encounters and contractors that can simplify this and will be discussed in another future article. You also need to remember to roll on the Dynamic Table for the current area as necessary as characters enter rooms unoccupied by PCs or contractors.
Increment the turn counter.
Start the next turn by starting this procedure from the beginning and continue until you leave the area, everyone dies, or you decide to end the session.
The Progeny Crowd Sale goes live in a week on September 12. Support our solo/Wardenless programmed adventure for Mothership.
Outsourced: The The Luko Fin Corp Deception for Mothership 1E is live today! Support this module with a great team. I will be publishing an interview with Marco Serrano about this module, solo RPGs, and parenting as an indie creator in next weeks issue.
Outer Rim: Uprising is another great campaign packed to the brim with content. It will be launching in early October, and we will be publishing an interview with Iko from The Lost Bay about this bundle and his WIP game The Lost Bay.
Freebie for Paid Subscribers
I’m super excited to announce Joshua Justice’s first adventure module, Radio Free Hekate. It’s a gorgeous pamphlet with art by Amanda Lee Franck and layout and editing by D.N. Wilkie. For paid subscribers, I am attaching a free copy of the pamphlet itself. If you want any of the additional VTT materials and player handouts, you will need to purchase a copy from Itch. We will also be distributing a limited physical run of these via Tuesday Knight Games, World of Game Design, Indie Press Revolution, and the RV Games Shop.
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