I recently ran a one-shot of Mouth Brood, a system agnostic science fiction adventure from Amanda Lee Franck. It’s difficult to find in print, which is unfortunate, as it’s a lovely book, but it’s still available in PDF format over at DriveThru.
The setting for the game is a mysterious geodesic dome in a remote mountainous area of the Yukon. Inside is a bizarre hothouse jungle ecosystem that’s been evolving for millions of years.
The players are hired to enter the dome and retrieve five or more living specimens.
The 35 page book has a removable cover, like an old TSR module, with a hex map of the dome interior. There are three levels of 7 hexes each: the undergrowth on the ground, the canopy in the tree branches, and the treetops (called the “Emergent”)
There’s a short description of each hex, and a random encounter table for each level.
The heart of the book, however, is the bestiary. There are twenty creatures described, along with appearance, behaviors, and a random table to determine its actions. Each creature has a line art illustration with teal highlights, and has been assigned a fake Latin species name.
The creatures are all very creative, ranging from the harmless to the deadly. There are reasonably well thought out behaviors and life cycles for each. Some of the various plants and animals have connections to each other, which makes the dome feel like a real ecosystem.
The fun of this setting is working out all of the various behaviors of the creatures, and finding ways to capture them, while avoiding any hazards. When I was running the setting for my players, it actually felt like the players were doing real science, and making real discoveries. I think that’s a rare tone in a RPG setting.
It’s a charming, creative little setting. Highly recommended. Here’s another review over at No Dice Unrolled.
Adapting to Traveller/Cepheus Engine
You could probably make this setting work with almost any sci-fi RPG, but I decided to run the game using the Cepheus Engine, which is sort of a OGL retroclone of Traveller.
For any one else who wants to run Mouth Brood in Traveller or Cepheus (and you should – it’s fun), here are the pregen characters I used, based on the ones in the book. The originals didn’t have names, so I added some. I’ve made versions for both Cepheus Engine (using Stamina & Lifeblood) and Traveller (using STR\DEX\END stats for wounds). There are A4 and US letter versions of each.
I’ve also thrown together a sheet of stats for all of the creatures in the bestiary in Traveller format.
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