My boots echoed flatly through the confines of the Omega. There was meant to be a full ships complement of crew. There was no-one. Scans reported sufficient oxygen to find out what went wrong. Barely. The away team leader's voice barked over the intercom.
"We need the Hydro Pods manned if we're going to be here any amount of time, and someone get me the ship's log"
Then the lights started to flicker, and that's when everything went wrong.
SSO tells the story of the S.S. Omega, a space ship tasked with a mission vital to the survival of humanity. It is also a ship with a mysteriously absent crew, that players have to guide to the completion of its mission. Players have multiple crew, since away team members rarely survive long. They must investigate the deserted ship, discover the nature of the disaster which befell it and slow down or avert its effects long enough to pilot the ship to the fruition of its mission.
The narrative threat of any particular play through is told by the game's "Challenge Deck". The Challenge Deck is entirely modular and can be slotted out and replaced for endless replayability depending on whether players wish to be wiped out by a malicious computer, hunted by a former crew mate or suffer the brutal assault of an unknown life form. In fact game play tension can be vastly increased by using the random Challenge Deck selection process such that players never know which death will befall them until it strikes.
The aim of each player in a game of SSO is to have at least one surviving crew member when the game's Challenge Deck is exhausted. SSO's Challenge Deck represents any of a range of vicious, aggressive, deadly threats to the players. It will shut off locations when they are their most crowded, vent oxygen when it is most precious, attack the morale of the crew when they are at their lowest ebb, and pick off members of the team when they are at their weakest. Players will unite as a team against this seemingly conscious enemy or be torn apart to attempt piecemeal survival in the face of its terrors.
Players win or lose independently, but if the ship shuts down or runs out of oxygen all crew will die and all players fail. Players can work together to increase the ship's oxygen supply, repair its failing systems and complete missions triggered by the Challenge Deck. Of course, limited oxygen is only a problem is there are too many people breathing, and players are free to conclude that death of the many can mean victory for the few, or the one.
SSO is a game for 1-6 players; all rules are the same for solo play as for multi-player games. A game will last 45-90 minutes depending on player experience and decisiveness.
To begin, set up the game by laying out the ship's location cards as follows:
Then deal each player crew cards:
Finally, set oxygen levels, shuffle the Challenge Deck and you are ready to experience the struggle to survive.
Each turn players receive a random set of movement cards. They will need to discuss their aims and options since these cards are kept as "hidden information". Locations have maximum capacities and certain Movement Cards have bonuses for successful activation, so that correct strategic co-ordination of crew movement throughout the confines of the ship becomes essential to player's success.
"Must" means that all actions on a particular card must be performed or none of the actions on the card take place. "May" refers to actions that players can take or avoid freely. So in order to activate any part of this card the crew member it is assigned to has to be able to move into a "Module" (one of the ship's command centers) in order to be allowed to skip a Challenge Card and avoid its terrifying effects.
After movement all crew must "breath" by reducing the oxygen count, those unable to do so will cease to be effective mission assets (dead). They then have an opportunity to access Ship's Systems or use personal abilities to perform Crew Actions.
The Airlock crew action allows crew to load up on personal oxygen (Crew Oxy + Y) in return for draining the general oxygen supply at an increased rate (Gen Oxy - Y x 2). An additional effect of the Airlock is that it is the only room that allows access to the external parts of the ship (Array). All location abilities are explained in detail in the rule book. The text printed on the locations is provided as a player aid.
Finally, each turn players will reveal the next Challenge Deck card, discovering what new challenges, possible missions and fresh hells await them.
Each new mission triggers a vote among the crew to attempt it along with its risks and rewards; or abort it, allowing problems to spread unchecked. Players will need to discuss and organize to vote effectively and direct mission commitment to their advantage.
"Try" means that the actions on a card have to be completed as much as possible. In this case all crew have to try to reduce their morale by 2, meaning that crew on morale 1 reduce their morale to 0. Crew alone with morale 0 die as the psychological pressures of the mission become too much for them. This particular card activates Mission 1: Search Pattern.
Since Sinister Noises are heard in the ship, the connected mission "Search Pattern" involves crew needing to spread out across the ship to search it. If they manage to do so within the 2 turns provided by the mission guide they are rewarded by skipping a Challenge Card. If they fail they will suffer the punishment of further morale loss as they fail to track down the source of the noise. If they vote not to engage with the mission they suffer the punishment effects, and the mission may be re-activated later in the game. The decision to engage with missions and risk failing either them or other currently active missions with competing success conditions, or to abort missions and engage in damage limitation will be one of the major strategic decisions players will need to make.
The game ends when either no crew remain alive or the Challenge Deck is exhausted. If no crew remain the mission has failed, all players have lost and humanity is doomed. If the Challenge Deck is exhausted all players with remaining crew are glorious heroes apt to have statues raised in their honour, they also win.
Games Designer Glenn Ford explains the various parts of a SSO game in detail:
For the full rules go to: https://www.manokentgames.com/rules
Backers who order "SSO" (signed or otherwise) will receive the base set which includes the full rules, 13 fully illustrated standard card sized Ship Locations, 1 fully illustrated double card sized Ship Location, 12 Crew with asymmetric abilities for repeated play, 24 Challenge Deck cards telling a thrilling story of narrative struggle, 6 Mission Cards driving gameplay actions, 12 Movement Cards, 1 Oxygen Count Card and 56 Counters.
Backers who order "The Original Series" (signed or otherwise) will receive everything in the base set, plus an additional Challenge Deck of your choice containing 24 Challenge Cards telling a new story of struggle against a terrifying threat and 6 Mission Cards, pushing each new game in new and challenging directions.
Enlist Now! 5 Backers who order "Enlist Now" have the opportunity to be included in Henry Peters' artwork for "The Collective" Challenge Deck. The box artwork for this deck will feature an artworked photograph of the ship's original crew, now deceased; Henry will take your image and give one of those crew members your face. Backers who select this tier will need to be over 18 years of age, provide a clear photograph of themselves, and allow rights over the use of their image in the artwork once they approve it. If "The Collective" Challenge Deck is not unlocked we will provide these 5 Backers with a limited edition copy of this deck in addition to all other unlocked decks, and a signed copy of SSO.
The Backer who orders "SS Melies" will receive everything in the base set, all unlocked Challenge Decks and our own original proof copy of the game, a genuinely unique potential collector's item.
The Backer who orders "Genesis Project" will receive the base set, all unlocked Challenge Decks and our original prototype copy of the game, including all eliminated rules, crew, missions, and challenge cards. The prototype is entirely hand written and hand made and will allow interested backers to view the development of SSO from its earliest inception and again forms a genuinely unique potential collectors item.
Backers who order "Probability Drive" will receive the Base Set, all unlocked Challenge Decks and a hand knitted doll representing one of the 13 SSO Crew members, randomly selected from amongst the 12 basic crew and the stretch goal Trillionaire Backer. While the designers know what the crew look like, in order that players don't become overly attached to crew soon to die, the game does not include any artwork detailing crew's personal features. As such these backers will be one of only 3 people in the world who knows the age, gender, race or appearance of their particular crew member. The doll will be roughly 5 inches high and hand knitted from acrylic wool.
All tier prices include UK shipping; US and EU shipping are an additional £2; shipping to the rest of the world will be an additional £4.
Our first few stretch goals will take the typical Kickstarter form of additional content for all backers. Later stretch goals will unlock further Challenge Decks with attached backer tiers and new artwork for Challenge Decks.
The project has been successfully backed and all backers will receive their chosen rewards.
Kickstarter Exclusive: All backers receive the additional Crew Member "Trillionaire Backer".
Kickstarter Exclusive: All backers receive a copy of the Captain's Lucky Poker Chip to use for coin flips during play.
All copies of the "First Captain" Challenge Deck will have original box art by Henry Peters.
The "Parasites" Challenge Deck Backer Tier will be unlocked, allowing backers to buy the Parasites Challenge Deck. An entirely new modular Mission for SSO, unleashing the threat of Alien Parasites who will infect, control and eventually hatch!
We will also be taking a vote on which Challenge Deck to unlock next.
If we hit £12,000 the goal will unlock the new Challenge Deck that has been voted for by backers, add full artwork to the "Parasites" Deck and launch a new vote on which additional Challenge Deck to unlock.
There will be another vote at £14,000 and artwork for the previous unlocked Deck, and so on until we run out of new decks or stop raising funds. The options are:
- The Wonder of Wubs: Too Cute to Live - the SSO is being choked by tiny, furry, incredibly fast breeding alien beings. This would be a dumb way to die.
- The Collective: We are Collective - we are crew, we are collective. Our laws will be obeyed, we are judge, jury, executioner.
- Temporal Anomaly: Deja Vu - as the ship draws closer to the anomaly time irregularities are increasing. It's not dangerous its just confusing. The real problem is that as the ship draws closer to the anomaly time irregularities are increasing. Just a minute ...
- Travelers: Good Morning - maintenance crew count: 12. Colonists in cryo freeze: 13,903. Supplies sufficient for maintenance crew. Warning: Cryo Failure in 3...2...
- Classis Caetera: Latin for Terror - we know where all the crew are, why would anyone even need to bring a motion tracker along? Blip.
We are Man O' Kent Games, an independent games designer and publisher, and SSO is our first full project. We are led by Glenn Ford, previously Games Developer on Osprey Games' Gaslands (winner of the People's and Judge's Choice Award at UKGE 2018). Artwork is supplied by Henry Peters and Bluepepper Designs, and we'll be printing with Long Pack Games.
We now have a 3rd party review from ICanHazCardboard. For the full review go to: http://icanhazcardboard.x10host.com/2018/05/12/sso-preview/
Here are his final thoughts on SSO.
Overall thoughts: SSO is a compact survival game in space, everything from the cards having that old school vibe to the bleakness of your situation draws you into this game and you get a great sense of achievement from a well-executed win. The potential here is amazing and the pricing structure represents incredible value for money.. I really encourage you to take a closer look at SSO, the rule book is available on the campaign page as well as some novel rewards above the base game.
For his Elevator Pitch Overview go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uT1xgDVsy4
We've been playtesting and promoting SSO at conventions around the UK. Here are a few comments from playtesters:
10/10 for Rules, Game Flow, Balance, Integration, Fun and Clarity.
"I don't like sci-fi, and didn't think I'd like this but I really enjoyed SSO"
"I'm putting your launch date in my diary"
"It was like a sci-fi RPG in a simple tabletop game"
Check out a recent interview with Designer Glenn Ford for On The Table Top at UKGE 2018: https://www.beastsofwar.com/liveblogentry/1196316/#entry
Watch games Designer Glenn Ford, Lead Playtester Philip Hawtin and general dogsbody Jenny Ford, play a full 3 player game of SSO.
Risks and challenges
Man O' Kent Games is a new, independent games development company and this is our first Kickstarter. While our designer, Glenn Ford has been involved in developing at least one highly successful table top game (Osprey's Gaslands) and our team has experience of organizing and directing complex production and distribution campaigns, this is our first project without a pre-established production and distribution network.
We have all the initial artwork completed and a highly professional art and graphic design team in place and a strong accumulation of playtesting both privately and at convention events, such that we know the game is both solid and able to sustain future expansions. We have a production contract with the company Long Pack, including the proof copy, photos of which can be seen throughout the campaign. Finally, having designed the game from the ground up we've ensured that simple features such as box dimensions have been created from the start to facilitate final distribution via standard lines of public delivery.
As such, while we acknowledge that our fundamental inexperience with the specific Kickstarter process may throw up unforeseen difficulties, we have in place processes to deal with all reasonable problems.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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