Resource: A
From 30 reviews
Game: A-
From 346 reviews

Dinoplex: Cataclysm

First Edition

A Horror-Themed Game About Surviving a Futuristic Dinosaur Theme Park

Publisher Description

Forget booze-bending snore leave, take your UTO hours to one of our safe and thrilling Dinoplex theme stations!

Corporate-horror laden tourism turns to terrifying disaster scenario when a pyrotechnics malfunction looses starving dinosaurs on hapless visitors.


Jurassic Park ... in Space! [ edit ]

Mothership, from independent game publisher Tuesday Night Games, is an RPG about futuristic science-fiction horror scenarios.  If you've ever wanted to run an RPG inspired by the movies Alien,  Pitch Black, or Event Horizon, Mothership is the game for you.

At first glance, Mothership might seem like an odd choice for a Jurassic Park-inspired adventure.  Ian Yusem, the author of Dinoplex: Cataclysm, somehow makes this interesting choice work by taking the movie's basic premise (a dinosaur theme park), and pushing it more heavily into the sci-fi/horror realm.  This theme park is on a space station, and instead of being run by a friendly old man, it's run by a terrifyingly callous corporation.

When things go wrong (as, of course, they will), the party finds themselves trapped in this dino space station, surrounded by "fun" exhibits blocking their escape.  And those exhibits are fun ... for the GM at least.  This short adventure (the entire product is only a pamphlet, plus some bonus features) offers such darkly clever "entertainment" options as a dinosaur shooting range, a dinosaur mating observatory ("DinopleXXX"), and a simulated extinction event.

While the adventure itself is short, it is packed with great (if dark) creativity, and it also comes with several bonus items, including a map for the players, a Youtube video "commercial" for the theme park, and a "liability waiver" for the park (which includes such gems as the park's owners gaining possession of any children conceived within the park).  The game also offers a few new NPCs, items, and of course dinosaurs, but as a 6-page adventure it relies heavily on the core Mothership rules.

Mothership, First Edition - Rules SummaryCollapse

Character Creation [ edit ]

Characters in Mothership must pick one of four classes, all of which should be very familiar to fans of Alien and similar movies: Teamster, Scientist, Android and Marine.  Like many RPGs, characters also have core statistics, but the game keeps things simple with only four such stats: Strength, Speed, Intellect, and Combat.

Characters can also skills, which add a bonus to the relevant statistic when making a roll that uses that skill.  Speaking of rolls, Mothership uses a d10 based system, but it has a unique convention of differentiating between d10 rolls that go from 1-10, and underlined "d10" rolls, which instead treat the d10 as a percentile dice (eg. 2d10 would generate 20-200).

In addition to creating their individual characters, the group an also create their own custom space ship.  As you can see from the ship's "character sheet", there is plenty of detail to this process, allowing for each group's ship to be unique.

Core Mechanics [ edit ]

To accomplish most things in Mothership you make stat checks, similar to skill checks in other systems (since having the relevant skill adds to your chance of success).

To make a stat check, the player simply has to roll less than than the appropriate stat on 2d10.  If you roll the same number on both d10's, the check becomes a "critical", either a critical success if it would have succeeded, or a critical failure if it wouldn't.

Like (modern) Dungeons and Dragons, Mothership also has the concept of "advantage" (when circumstances make a check either) or "disadvantage", which lets the player make two rolls, and then lets/forces them to keep the highest/lowest.  Similarly it also has the concept of saving throws, which you make to avoid suffering ill effects.  There are four saves (Sanity, Fear, Body, and Armor) and, like a stat check, you have to roll under the appropriate one to successfully save.

Combat [ edit ]

Owing to its horror nature, combat in Mothership begins with the players making a Fear save simply to be able to act.  After that initiative is determined.  All enemies in Mothership act together, so initiative involves making a Speed check to see if you go before or after the your foes.  Characters with certain skills, Commander and Tactician, get a bonus to initiative, which they can share with others.

On each round of combat a player can take two actions, such as attack, bandage an ally, or move.  To attack the player makes a check using the appropriate stat (possibly with bonuses, eg. from skills), and the defender makes an Armor save.  If  the attacker rolls higher than the defender, without the defender rolling over their Armor save, the attack hits.

As a horror RPG, Mothership also has another form of "mental damage", known as stress, and rules for panicking when faced with alien monsters.  However, as a space RPG, it makes sure to include a full set of rules for handling ship-to-ship combat as well.

Should You Buy It? [ edit ]

Aggregated Review Scores

SourceAverage Score# of ReviewsAs Of
RPG Geek8 / 1019/2/2022
Itch.io5 / 5199/2/2022
Drive Thru RPG4.5 / 5109/2/2022

If you're wondering whether to try Mothership itself, consider that the game won the Ennie Award for best game in 2019, and despite being relatively new and coming from an independent developer, it has already reached rank 368 on RPG Geek (out of every RPG/edition).  And on Drive Thru RPG, with over 350 reviews, the game had an extremely high average score of 4.7 / 5.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Dinoplex: Cataclysm ... as an independently-published adventure, for an independent RPG, it has far fewer reviews available (only 30 across all sites, at the time of writing).    However, those reviews are very strong: on Drive Thru it had a 4.5 /5 from 10 reviews, and on it had an even stronger 5 / 5 average, from 19 reviews.

In short, if you want a more detailed, "full-fledged" adventure, or if you don't enjoy dark humor at all, Dinoplex may not be the best choice for you.  But, at a cost of only $3, anyone else looking for a fun and frightening futuristic Jurassic Park experience (complete with a commercial, waiver, and a theme park map) is likely going to love this incredibly creative Mothership adventure.