Launching the Mothership

How Tuesday Knight Games built an indie tabletop RPG darling, and why the Deluxe Box took three years to release.

Launching the Mothership
Credit: Tuesday Knight Games/YouTube

If you’ve spent any time submersed in the tabletop RPG culture flourishing outside the industry’s dragon-shaped shadow, you’ve likely heard of Tuesday Knight Games’ Mothership. Marrying old-school dungeoneering with a strain of horror distilled from Ridley Scott’s ALIEN and other chunky, 1980s science fiction, Mothership is a cultural touchstone for modern RPG design up there with MÖRK BORG and the Bakers' Apocalypse World.

Beginning as a black-and-white stapled zines of player-facing rules and some guidance for the Warden (its term for facilitator players), Mothership prepared its jump to printed legitimacy with a Kickstarter campaign launching in November 2021. Creators Sean McCoy and Alan Gerding promised a boxed set of zines—core rules and a suite of printed adventures—that would come in a standard box and a gorgeous Deluxe Set. By the end, the publishers had raised $1.4 million dollars to make it all happen. Everyone’s favorite sci-fi horror RPG had broken the glass ceiling to join an exclusive few tabletop titles with seven figures of capital to throw around.

One year passed, and then another. The COVID-19 pandemic raged on, kneecapping global shipping and the production of raw materials such as paper and cardboard. Fans waited, all the while freely playing various versions of Mothership’s rules and adventures that had been kicking around since 2018. Finally, in the spring of this year black and gold boxes began to arrive on backers’ doorsteps and mailboxes.

So what happened? What had stymied such a prosperous project with a nearly unmatched level of player and third-party inertia behind it? Rascal sat down with McCoy to chat about the pitfalls of Kickstarter wins, insisting on building that boxed set, and what the future of small creator success might look like. As a slight spoiler, our video interview turned into an impromptu tour of his Texas home as the father of two juggled me, Mothership’s history and two toddlers in constant need of snacks and attention.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.