Bloom (2021)

Checking out some of the vast wealth of third-party Mothership zines this week. There are several systems that have spawned rich third party creator communities but Mothership’s is my favorite. I find it endlessly fascinating how a relative niche genre (space+survival horror) has generated such multifaceted yet somehow still consistent material. Take for instance, the highly deadly one-shot Bloom (2021). It somehow looks just right, while also not really looking anything like other Mothership zines (that gives it room to develop its own character, whereas, for example, the strong visual aesthetic of Mork Borg often smothers character under thick coats of yellow and black paint).

Anyway, Bloom wants to see if two great tastes — outer space facility horror and deep sea research facility horror — taste great together. Players are corporate raiders, sent to a research base on floor of an exo-ocean to find out what exciting break-throughs in plant-based horror, I mean medicine, are worth stealing. There are lots of nasty hazards, mostly the many varieties of the titular Bloom moss, but also some stemming from human impulses like greed and incompetence. But primarily Knot, the semi-living corpse worm. It is actually worse than it sounds.

I love the little box at the start of the zine that is like “Here are some ways to make this adventure less deadly, should you want to stick it in an on-going campaign.” Ignore that box, do this as a one-shot and kill everyone.

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