Grannies in space!
Armanda Haller, from Argentina, talks about GRANDMOTHERSHIP
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Global South Shoutout, where we shine a spotlight on game designers, developers and creators from around the world!
Today is going to be all about GRANDMOTHERSHIP, a tabletop role-playing game that's currently crowdfunding as part of Zine Month. We're lucky enough to have the creator of this game joining us for a chat, and we're excited to get her take on the game, her inspiration behind it, and what's next for her.
GRANDMOTHERSHIP is a tabletop RPG designed for 2-4 players and 1 GM about space, horror, and senior ladies piecing together a mystery. It is inspired by Honey Heist, Brindlewood Bay, and Mothership, and features a retro-futuristic space setting, 2-stat d6 based system, and a clue-gathering and hypothesis-corroborating mechanic. The game is designed to be played as one-shot sessions, with a pre-designed adventure and stretch goals that include a character sheet, more pre-designed adventures, solo rules and more art. The author, Armanda Haller, is a TTRPG designer and sommelier from Argentina who has a vast collection of solo games on her portfolio.
So, without further ado, I give you Armanda Haller, the creator of GRANDMOTHERSHIP.
What inspired you to create a TTRPG about senior ladies in space?
I’m a huge fan of Brindlewood Bay, in every possible aspect. And we were at the board games coffee shop where we hold our regular table, and it was canceled at the last minute. There were some guys playing Mothership next to our table and the ones that we actually showed up decided to join them. One of the BB regulars said that it would be cool to be “viejitas espaciales” (old ladies in space). And I said that I was going to make that game for them. Definitely I was not expecting that people would be so thrilled with this.
How do you balance humor and horror in GRANDMOTHERSHIP?
The premise already is a tad funny, imagining these senior ladies floating around in zero-g, and such. I think that it’s almost impossible to play this game in a completely serious way, but that’s related to how I imagined the game when it was born. To be honest, I think that most of it depends on the table safety tools and what the GM creates for them. This game has a lot of collective work and the vibes of the game are set to be that of The Jetsons or The Twilight Zone, so the balance comes naturally from what the table is asking to play. The tools put together (such as the tables and the pre-designed encounters) are serious, or as neutral as possible, but there’s an alien there, there are mercenaries, there are unknown fauna, there are other people. The gameplay always starts from a problem that arises. But the humor comes from what the table wants to do with it and how the GM creates that world, entirely.
How did you come up with the idea of a "2-stat system" and what does it bring to the game?
The 2-stat system comes directly from Honey Heist: the player has 2 stats, that normally would oppose each other, and that have a variable value that moves through failing rolls along the gameplay. I wanted to make a fast-paced game that would help people to tell a story and to have a support system in case they need it. If they want to do something that might be over their head, they roll but if not, things just happen and the story moves forward.
Can you tell us about the "clue-gathering and hypothesis-corroborating mechanic"?
Of course! It’s totally inspired by Brindlewood Bay. The GM has a list of possible clues and they decide where to put them along the game. It’s not a fixed system in which the answer is already there and players have to reach it, but a hypothesis that they construct according to the clues they’ve gathered. Once they’ve gathered enough clues, they put together a plausible explanation that connects as many clues as possible. Once they have their hypothesis, they count how many clues they’ve used to build it. That’s the number they have to roll (or below) on a d20.
How does GRANDMOTHERSHIP handle violent encounters, if they are not central to gameplay?
The idea is to avoid violent encounters in the sense that the players are senior ladies and not action heroes. This doesn’t mean that a senior lady in game can’t shoot or kick someone, but that the normal way out of a situation for a senior lady is another: talk themselves out of a situation, bore people by narrating an nonsensical story, hit them with the purse, tying them up with a long scarf they’ve been knitting. For starters, enemies (or the characters) don’t have HP. They have a weakness and a strength. Everything is built to tell a story, not to die in action. But, once again, in the end, this is up to the table and the kind of fun they want to have. The game is built to tell a cool story and solve a problem that no one else can, loadouts have no weapons but normal items a person would have on them. How people use those in the end, it’s up to them. To be honest, if players just want to shoot down things they can, but in the end I don’t think they’ll have fun with GRANDMOTHERSHIP.
What was the biggest challenge in designing GRANDMOTHERSHIP?
To be honest, everything. Though it’s a simple game, I’m a person who normally designs solo games. I have designed over 20 games and this is the third one that has a GM and a group of people to play it. So, at the beginning I’ve started thinking of the game in a more OSR way, it was going to have HP, and stats for the enemies, and such. But that just felt unnatural to me. That’s why I finished with a much more simple game, and I think that the game grew from there in a much more organic way.
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What's something that you like about the game that you think people might overlook?
Not something super important, but the game has a charater names’ table, and it’s both usable in English and Spanish. Which it was kinda hard to come by. Since the game will be available in both languages, I didn’t want to translate that too. It made me proud to find a way. It’s a small detail, but as a person who also translates things, I’m always fascinated when I find the right word or way to do something I want.
Can you share a cool discovery or change that happened during playtesting?
Well, I discovered that my first thought about not having a mechanic to move voluntarily from one point from one stat to the other, in fact was necessary. It gets super hard to do things without a chance to move those numbers a bit around. I don’t want it to be overused but I think that you need a way to keep your character playing and able to do things.
What do you hope players will take away from playing GRANDMOTHERSHIP?
In the end, this game is in part inspired by my mother, a 78-year-old woman who one year ago went hiking in the Andes with me. I like to think that people might find in their heart a way to value the stages in life, and reflect on how the body changes and some other things don’t. And that elderly people can, many times, find a solution when no one else can’t.
How can people find you online and learn more about GRANDMOTHERSHIP and other games you've created?
GRANDMOTHERSHIP campaign is going on until February 24th on Crowdfundr: https://crowdfundr.com/GRANDMOTHERSHIP
My twitter account is: @armandah17
Most of my games can be found on my itch io page: https://armandah.itch.io/
Thanks for tuning in to this edition of Global South Shoutout! It's been a blast exploring the exciting world of GRANDMOTHERSHIP and getting to know the talented creator behind it, Armanda Haller.
We hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we did and learned something new about this unique and entertaining game. If you loved this episode, don't forget to share it with your friends and gaming buddies. And of course, keep following us for more fun and insightful interviews with game creators from the Global South!