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Review Aliens RPG Post Mortem

11 SEEK COVER. You must use your next action to move away from danger and find a safe spot if possible. You are allowed to make a
retreat roll (p. 59) if you have an enemy at ENGAGED range. Your STRESS LEVEL is decreased by one, but the STRESS LEVEL of all
friendly PCs in SHORT range increases by one. After one Round, you can act normally.

So this wasn’t really an issue that Inoticed when I ran the game…but I imagine that’s because I was running a cinematic scenario that was very much in line with the source material. So someone seeking cover didn’t stand out to me as out of place.

But is it that bad? A result of 11, which means you have at least 5 stress, which isn’t insignificant, it seems that a person might decide to seek safety of some sort. Cover specifically implies combat or some other physical threat like a storm or such, but that can be easily reskinned. The mechanical impact is described and could fit a slightly altered scenario.

A Scientist, for example, could raise his head from a microscope and then say something like “we need to abandon the facility immediately” or some other cryptic bit. The mechanical impact of raising stress in those around him seems to be the meaningful consequence, and applies here. The loss of the next action seems potentially less significant since you may not be in a turn based scene in all cases.

I can see your point, but I think it’s pretty easily handled. I could also see a campaign or scenario specific panic table. Perhaps that’s something worth considering. Or an alternate one for non-combat threats.

I do agree that the game is a bit unclear on whether a panic result negates the present action or not. That’s something I remember being very annoying.
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So this wasn’t really an issue that Inoticed when I ran the game…but I imagine that’s because I was running a cinematic scenario that was very much in line with the source material. So someone seeking cover didn’t stand out to me as out of place.

But is it that bad? A result of 11, which means you have at least 5 stress, which isn’t insignificant, it seems that a person might decide to seek safety of some sort. Cover specifically implies combat or some other physical threat like a storm or such, but that can be easily reskinned. The mechanical impact is described and could fit a slightly altered scenario.

A Scientist, for example, could raise his head from a microscope and then say something like “we need to abandon the facility immediately” or some other cryptic bit. The mechanical impact of raising stress in those around him seems to be the meaningful consequence, and applies here. The loss of the next action seems potentially less significant since you may not be in a turn based scene in all cases.

I can see your point, but I think it’s pretty easily handled. I could also see a campaign or scenario specific panic table. Perhaps that’s something worth considering. Or an alternate one for non-combat threats.

I do agree that the game is a bit unclear on whether a panic result negates the present action or not. That’s something I remember being very annoying.
Yeah, you can work around take cover a bit, but how do you work around berserk in the same scenario? I also think this means ignoring the listed effects (which are tied to the action economy in the short term) and effectively creating ad hoc rules. You can absolutely do this, but I think it's important to be calling that out as different from the system presentation and doesn't really have much to do with discussion about how the system works as presented. It's getting into the "D&D works fine because of all my houserules" territory.
 

Yeah, you can work around take cover a bit, but how do you work around berserk in the same scenario? I also think this means ignoring the listed effects (which are tied to the action economy in the short term) and effectively creating ad hoc rules. You can absolutely do this, but I think it's important to be calling that out as different from the system presentation and doesn't really have much to do with discussion about how the system works as presented. It's getting into the "D&D works fine because of all my houserules" territory.

Oh definitely. I'm not excusing it as a flaw in the design....I get that. It wasn't immediately obvious to me because we played a scenario where the panic results were not really out of place, but I can see the criticism.

And they are probably too tied to the action economy; if the game isn't a series of encounters or scenarios where the turn structure matters, then several of them lose at least some of their bite. Those with lingering impact or that immediately impact nearby friendlies are the big deals in that regard.

All I meant is that they can largely function as is, with some slight narrative adjustments based on the fiction. Which plays to the point of making them less specific in order to be more broadly applicable. If I ever do run a campaign, I'll likely make a custom list, or perhaps two.

Berserk is easy, this is where the fight breaks out among the crew. The Roughneck is fed up and needs someone to blame and decides to beat the snot out of the Company Agent to the point he's broken (or is perhaps restrained by others) seems like a pretty likely scenario, even if not under threat of immediate physical harm (maybe even more so, in some ways). Alternatively, a Scientist could lose his cool and decide to lash out at the Marshall or Officer, only to get himself pummeled and thrown in the brig as a result. Potentially significant consequences there.
 

Larnievc

Explorer
If I would have written the Panic rules, I would have codified when a Panic result overwrites a Success and made it strictly math (eg Failure = Subtract 1 Success for every Panic above 9...if you get to 0 Success, the result is a Failure...eg Success +2 is cancelled by Panic 11).
I think that might seriously undermine the flow of the game. When I have run games of Alien RPG the tables are a springboard for me as the GM coming up on the spot with something exciting and memorable.
 

PANIC ROLL

As long as you keep your stress in check, you can use it to your advantage. But if the tension grows too strong it can explode, sending you into a wild panic. You need to make a Panic Roll when any of the following happens:

1- You roll one or more on your Stress
Dice in a skill roll. If this happens, you can't
push the skill roll—instead, roll for panic.

2- You witness a friendly character suffering
from a certain panic effect (see the table).

3- You are pinned down by a ranged attack.

4- You suffer a critical injury.

5- You’re attacked by a strange alien creature that you’ve never seen before.

6- A truly horrifying event occurs, as deter-
mined by a scenario or the GM.




Quick thought/clarification on Panic Rolls in the game. They serve double duty:

1) They’re peer contagion. You lose you nerve, your pal loses their nerve, everyone loses their nerve. It spreads slowly and insidiously or explosively like wildfire.

2) Content generator like a 7-9 or 6- in PBtA. That is my only reading of the 1st listing of the below (and it’s how I’m handling it. This is the Story Now aspect of Panic Rolls which you use by following the GMing principles.

#2-6 are outputs mapped to a fictional input. They’re like hard moves in PBtA where the fiction is tightly constraining and they funnel the GM’s cognitive workspace toward Harm or something very costly that is an obvious outgrowth of play.

#1 is not. Therefore what else can it be than a content generator? In AW or DW if you Read a Sitch/Discern Realities and trigger a hard move, the GM is telegraphing a threat/announcing future badness etc etc.

Here you’re following the Game Mother advice. We converse > break out dice when we’re in a dramatic/uncertain moment > erect obstacles > watch panic spread and watch people lose control (

The Stress and Horror entry after the Principles section does a great job of speaking to this and even talking about PBtA moves; introduce horrific situations, make their agendas collide, take away their resources, turn off the lights, cut the power, make stuff malfunction, hide in the shadows and let their imaginations do the work for you (this is a version of “ask questions and use the answers”), put them in situations with difficult choices (life or death).

Those pages (Game Mother, Principles, Stress and Terror) are underwriting my GMing of the game.

The issue I’m having is some of the Panic entries aren’t written in the most wieldy manner (like PBtA soft moves).

I’m assuming @Ovinomancer and @prabe maybe disagree with this analysis? You have any thoughts @hawkeyefan or anyone else whose read/run the game?

EDIT - This conversation is reminding me a bit of Read a Sitch and Spout Lore (etc) conversations prior. What do you do when you’re in the midst of a horrific situation that is combustible but doesn’t involved hostilities with the threat of immediate violence and action resolution results says escalate.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
PANIC ROLL

As long as you keep your stress in check, you can use it to your advantage. But if the tension grows too strong it can explode, sending you into a wild panic. You need to make a Panic Roll when any of the following happens:

1- You roll one or more on your Stress
Dice in a skill roll. If this happens, you can't
push the skill roll—instead, roll for panic.

2- You witness a friendly character suffering
from a certain panic effect (see the table).

3- You are pinned down by a ranged attack.

4- You suffer a critical injury.

5- You’re attacked by a strange alien creature that you’ve never seen before.

6- A truly horrifying event occurs, as deter-
mined by a scenario or the GM.




Quick thought/clarification on Panic Rolls in the game. They serve double duty:

1) They’re peer contagion. You lose you nerve, your pal loses their nerve, everyone loses their nerve. It spreads slowly and insidiously or explosively like wildfire.

2) Content generator like a 7-9 or 6- in PBtA. That is my only reading of the 1st listing of the below (and it’s how I’m handling it. This is the Story Now aspect of Panic Rolls which you use by following the GMing principles.

#2-6 are outputs mapped to a fictional input. They’re like hard moves in PBtA where the fiction is tightly constraining and they funnel the GM’s cognitive workspace toward Harm or something very costly that is an obvious outgrowth of play.

#1 is not. Therefore what else can it be than a content generator? In AW or DW if you Read a Sitch/Discern Realities and trigger a hard move, the GM is telegraphing a threat/announcing future badness etc etc.

Here you’re following the Game Mother advice. We converse > break out dice when we’re in a dramatic/uncertain moment > erect obstacles > watch panic spread and watch people lose control (

The Stress and Horror entry after the Principles section does a great job of speaking to this and even talking about PBtA moves; introduce horrific situations, make their agendas collide, take away their resources, turn off the lights, cut the power, make stuff malfunction, hide in the shadows and let their imaginations do the work for you (this is a version of “ask questions and use the answers”), put them in situations with difficult choices (life or death).

Those pages (Game Mother, Principles, Stress and Terror) are underwriting my GMing of the game.

The issue I’m having is some of the Panic entries aren’t written in the most wieldy manner (like PBtA soft moves).

I’m assuming @Ovinomancer and @prabe maybe disagree with this analysis? You have any thoughts @hawkeyefan or anyone else whose read/run the game?

EDIT - This conversation is reminding me a bit of Read a Sitch and Spout Lore (etc) conversations prior. What do you do when you’re in the midst of a horrific situation that is combustible but doesn’t involved hostilities with the threat of immediate violence and action resolution results says escalate.
No, I agree. The principles of play speak strongly to Story Now. The mechanics provided fight against it. The only way I see to reconcile this without alteration is to engage in play very tightly aligned to the source material and genre expectations. Then the mechanics align to the play (prowling derelict hallways haunted by xenomorphs while clutching whatever weapons you can find), and you can flex the story now in that play smoothly and easily.

I think we are outside that intended play space right now, and that's why we're running into the incoherencies with the mechanics but not the principles of play.
 

Looking at the list of Panic results, and the ones that I think are the biggest problem are the ones that are very connected to the turn structure used in Combat and Stealth mode. A lot of the results are much more about the double duty you mention of the spread of fear and content generation in the form of new complications or elements of play.

The following Panic Results all seem to me to fit one of those duties very well, or both of them pretty well:

  • Nervous Twitch- kind of passes by being intentionally the most minor of the batch, but it certainly gets that peer contagion rolling.
  • Tremble- this has an ongoing penalty for Agility skills, which makes it unique among the results, so that's got some heft whether involved in combat or not.
  • Scream- a more severe version of Nervous Twitch, but also serves to potentially introduce new complications; I mean, something could hear the scream, right?
  • Berserk - seems to me to hit the peer contagion well although not through Stress or Panic, but instead by causing conflict within the group, and possibly new content as well (i.e. our scientist lost his ish and decked the officer, and is now in the brig, and we're dealing with some kind of pathogen situation, etc.).
  • Catatonic- pretty much game over man in combat, and still very bad in just about any other situation.

The ones that seem ill-suited (at times) are:

  • Drop an Item- obviously, this is potentially disastrous if you're facing off with a xeno, or if you're hauling the one piece of equipment needed to restart the land rover, etc. But it suffers a bit because if you're either not in the turn structure OR the fictional situation isn't in a dangerous environment (space, walking along a plank above a pit filled with alien eggs, etc) then dropping an item seems less consequential. You can just pick it up. Yes, you still increase stress, but by itself that's less severe than the lower panic results. So the Dropped Item has to really matter in order for this to be significant, and that may be tough to ensure.
  • Freeze- nearly irrelevant outside of the turn structure. The add on of increasing stress for you and nearby friendlies is good, but by itself is again, not quite enough, I don't think.
  • Seek Cover- situationally hard to narrate, as you already pointed out. Has the added element of reducing stress for the character, but raising that of nearby friendlies, so without the wasted turn or the forced movement being brought to bear, this is actually less harmful than the lower results.
  • Flee- I'm a little torn on this one. As Burke showed us, this can be a horrible idea. But, it's similar to Seek Cover in that it would really only apply in a situation where there is looming physical danger, unless you tweak it a bit. But it's much more severe in that it costs more than a turn, and it could cause others to Panic, as well. Also, depending on which way a character runs, maybe that brings in new fiction by alerting enemies or security measures or what have you. Forced movement can be really bad. But it's hard to imagine this being a response to anything less than severe immediate danger.

That's my assessment looking at them again now, months after having played the game. In our short campaign, not all of them came up, so I haven't seen them all in action. And our campaign was a cinematic scenario where there would have been plenty of opportunities for the results as written to make total sense. At the time, I really enjoyed how Stress and Panic can spread among the group. That seems perfectly suited and overall well implemented.

But I think some are less suited for the job than others. They are assuming when and how they'll be applied, and not allowing for much beyond those specific situations.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Do the Swedes care about Story Now vs. Traditional gaming?
In the bits I've read, it's more that there's a strong presumption of prep play and not much has been done outside of that. I see Aliens as entirely coherent within the strong prep/narrow focus that I get from the bits of Nordic RPG theory I've read.
 

MGibster

Legend
I think one area my group had some difficulty in was in interpreting the motivations of their characters in cinematic scenarios. One of my players just flat out decided she didn't want to try to attain the goals of the character she was playing because it made her (the character) look like an " greedy naughty word." Yes, the character was motivated by money, but how many of us would jump through hoops to avoid forfeiting a year's pay for not only our own self but for the crew as well? So you can run into situations in the cinematic scenarios where a player receives a character they're just not into and won't get their story points. Although in my case, the player's interpretation of her character led to some memorable situations.
 

Campbell

Legend
On Nordic play techniques : In comparison to other LARPs there is less prep and far less focus on external plot, secrets, and NPCs. It's still a LARP that people schedule months ahead of time so there is still far more prep (for organizers and players) involved than in a typical tabletop session.

This is a fairly decent resource that goes over some relevant bullet points.

 

FYI to anyone reading this thread - There may be a spot for this game Thursday nights 8:00 - 10:30 EST.

May be.

If you’re interested, send me a PM and we can discuss further.
 

There's an interesting element - Stress/Panic has a different table for ship combat (See page 201). I wouldn't be surprised to see additional situational panic tables; I expect a non-combat one to appear in the merchants book when/if it comes.

Also, any Panic check of 10+ prevents you doing the action attempted, instead doing the panic action. It's pretty darned clear on 104. But the errata reiterated that on a 10+ panic, the original attempt fails or doesn't even happen at all, as fits the narrative.

Ship Combat panicparaphrase
7 - nervous twitch. All +1 SL
8 Tremble: -2 all actions until panic stops
9 Ignore Orders +1 SL, no help, no taking orders, nor discussing with others.
10 Hysterical comm chatter. -1 SL you, +1 SL anyone else on comms
11-12 Freeze. You and all with you in compartment +1 SL
13 Run to safety. -1 SL, but +1 SL for witnesses.
14 Abandon Ship. Witnesses +1 SL
15+ Maximum Overload: damage station, lose next action.

Run to safety relies upon the character for where. In one session, the engineer decided the air vent system was the safe place. It took the characters over a month to get her out... (and 2 weeks's sessions.)

Converting it to a social situation
7 Nervous twitch. +1 Stress for all seeing it.
8 quietly compromised: all actions at -1 until panic stops.
9 Major Sulk: Stop listening, stop engaging, and cannot help nor be helped until panic ends.
10 Verbal Diarrhea: +1 SL for everyone, and all vocal actions in earshot -1 while panic lasts
11-12 Freeze (as above)
13 Flee. (as run to safety)
14 Flee & sulk. Push the recovery time one step larger.
15+ Attack. -1 SL, but attack someone or something important.
 

Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
Looking at the list of Panic results, and the ones that I think are the biggest problem are the ones that are very connected to the turn structure used in Combat and Stealth mode. A lot of the results are much more about the double duty you mention of the spread of fear and content generation in the form of new complications or elements of play.

The following Panic Results all seem to me to fit one of those duties very well, or both of them pretty well:

  • Nervous Twitch- kind of passes by being intentionally the most minor of the batch, but it certainly gets that peer contagion rolling.
  • Tremble- this has an ongoing penalty for Agility skills, which makes it unique among the results, so that's got some heft whether involved in combat or not.
  • Scream- a more severe version of Nervous Twitch, but also serves to potentially introduce new complications; I mean, something could hear the scream, right?
  • Berserk - seems to me to hit the peer contagion well although not through Stress or Panic, but instead by causing conflict within the group, and possibly new content as well (i.e. our scientist lost his ish and decked the officer, and is now in the brig, and we're dealing with some kind of pathogen situation, etc.).
  • Catatonic- pretty much game over man in combat, and still very bad in just about any other situation.

The ones that seem ill-suited (at times) are:

  • Drop an Item- obviously, this is potentially disastrous if you're facing off with a xeno, or if you're hauling the one piece of equipment needed to restart the land rover, etc. But it suffers a bit because if you're either not in the turn structure OR the fictional situation isn't in a dangerous environment (space, walking along a plank above a pit filled with alien eggs, etc) then dropping an item seems less consequential. You can just pick it up. Yes, you still increase stress, but by itself that's less severe than the lower panic results. So the Dropped Item has to really matter in order for this to be significant, and that may be tough to ensure.
  • Freeze- nearly irrelevant outside of the turn structure. The add on of increasing stress for you and nearby friendlies is good, but by itself is again, not quite enough, I don't think.
  • Seek Cover- situationally hard to narrate, as you already pointed out. Has the added element of reducing stress for the character, but raising that of nearby friendlies, so without the wasted turn or the forced movement being brought to bear, this is actually less harmful than the lower results.
  • Flee- I'm a little torn on this one. As Burke showed us, this can be a horrible idea. But, it's similar to Seek Cover in that it would really only apply in a situation where there is looming physical danger, unless you tweak it a bit. But it's much more severe in that it costs more than a turn, and it could cause others to Panic, as well. Also, depending on which way a character runs, maybe that brings in new fiction by alerting enemies or security measures or what have you. Forced movement can be really bad. But it's hard to imagine this being a response to anything less than severe immediate danger.

That's my assessment looking at them again now, months after having played the game. In our short campaign, not all of them came up, so I haven't seen them all in action. And our campaign was a cinematic scenario where there would have been plenty of opportunities for the results as written to make total sense. At the time, I really enjoyed how Stress and Panic can spread among the group. That seems perfectly suited and overall well implemented.

But I think some are less suited for the job than others. They are assuming when and how they'll be applied, and not allowing for much beyond those specific situations.

Absolute no idea about how the game plays, but some ideas:
As pointed out, all the ill-suited ones are basically about the action economy in combat. Wasting actions in turn means the enemy can do more bad things to you because you didn't use your action to prevent him from doing so.

Outside of combat, it seems it needs to be something that makes the current challenges harder in some way. Adding some complications.

  • Drop an Item: Instead of an item, you drop a secret that could complicate things ("I really suck at molecular chemistry", "I never got over him, even after the affair", make people lose trust in you, or in someone else. If you drop an item, it's important for the task at hand and might need repairing or retrieving. (The idea is that this brings a new check which presumably can create more stress or panic)
  • Freeze: You start glazing over your or miss something important, requiring you to repeat something, or have someone else try to take over for a bit while you regain your compusure.
  • Seek Cover: You start working on a different problem, or blame someone that he isn't helping, or demand someone to help you, which requires resolving before you go back to work.
  • Flee: You're fed up with what you're doing, drop the lab coat or stop talking and just walk out, or go up in a tirade that insults or threatens people that shouldn't be insulted or threatened. Do the tirade, and then people need to repair the fallout.
 

There's no reason to have characters roll skill checks for routine tasks. The rules tell us to save the dice rolling for dramatic situations or tough challenges.
Yes, there is a good reason to do the maintenance (beyond that the rules call for rolling it): it's one of the resources to manage in the trade-mode game. The quest for spares is a significant drive. (pun intended). And it's driven by the strong potential for breakdowns.

The routine rolls are few: Weekly ComTech (which MU/TH/UR can do) and a weekly Heavy Machinery roll (which MU/TH/UR cannot do). Fail either, and something's broken. Ship's Android is there for a reason: keeping the ship running.
Essentially, ship travel in Alien RPG is never "routine".
Competent player groups will take the shift, and do the maintenance as a group. It's a player stressor as much as a character stressor, and creates a lot of reasons to take risks in the field...

Functionally, there is a huge bit of resource management in the game... easily more than in D&D or Traveller. It's a different mode, but it's still resource management.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
For me, I can see ways to hack the game to make it better, but then I'm not talking about the game as written. I'd rather discuss how the actual game functions, what works there and doesn't work and why, to nail down exactly what the root issues in the system are. When discussion immediately goes to fixing table entries, my first (and strong) worry is that we're addressing symptoms, not gameplay, or something else is being missed while doing this and setting up future issues.

So, for me, there's a set of interconnecting issues:

1. Panic results create incoherencies when applied outside of combat. This isn't just a fictional issue, but ties into the assumed action economy and also the nature of skills and talents and the combat system. It's not just the table entries.

2. The skills and talents are extremely narrow and focused on a specific set of assumptions as to what play will be about. To me, this is as big an issue as the panic, because you have to do a lot of work to ignore these when applying them outside of pretty much combat or exploration of a combat zone. There's almost no support for anything not related directly to survival or combat or combat survival. Those that exist are aimed at getting the GM to tell you stuff about the situation your in to aid with survival or combat.

3. The time/action assumptions. Aliens has a pretty strong time issue. As the last discussion in our game happened, we were looking at the time between actions outside of combat and realizing that the stress reduction mechanics, which are tightly constrained in combat/survival situations, are such that stress bleeds off very quickly when doing things at a slower pace. Thus, the time assumptions of the game are again geared to specific scenarios and not broader play, and this directly ties into how the whole game drives at combat and survival. I mean, this makes sense, look at the title!

While changing entries on the panic table does some work, I don't think it's the patch that's needed. I'm not sure it's worth patching this game to do something other than what's on the tin, and that's recreating the sort of scenarios that are like the source material. I haven't tried this yet, but I think it'll do a bang up job here.
 

2. The skills and talents are extremely narrow and focused on a specific set of assumptions as to what play will be about. To me, this is as big an issue as the panic, because you have to do a lot of work to ignore these when applying them outside of pretty much combat or exploration of a combat zone. There's almost no support for anything not related directly to survival or combat or combat survival. Those that exist are aimed at getting the GM to tell you stuff about the situation your in to aid with survival or combat.
Given the total of 12 skills, and that the skills are extremely broad in scope...

Pilot isn't just spacecraft. It's also cars, airplanes, bicycles, and boats
Heavy Machinery includes power loaders, engineering, auto mechanics, and more. If you can't carry it, HM either operates it, fixes it, or maintains it.
Ranged combat is darts to dreadnought main cannons.
Close Combat is any using anything you keep ahold of to whack somebody with in your immediate proximity.
ComTech covers almost all man-portable non-weapon operation, repairs to man-portable equipment, repairs to non-man-portable electronics, programming...
All social interactions fall under 3 skills: Manipulation, Command, and Observation.
Command is using authority (real or faked) to get others to conform/obey. Manipulation is used to change their opinions and beliefs within reason, and/or to coerce compliance without authority.. and Observation is to resist and/or to notice a variety of things social.

Note that, in all the Fria Ligan games I've read, no skills are added in expansions, only more talents and/or spells.

The talents are intentionally narrower, and not a wide scope; more in expansions. (Colonial Marines adds 5, for example)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Given the total of 12 skills, and that the skills are extremely broad in scope...

Pilot isn't just spacecraft. It's also cars, airplanes, bicycles, and boats
Heavy Machinery includes power loaders, engineering, auto mechanics, and more. If you can't carry it, HM either operates it, fixes it, or maintains it.
Ranged combat is darts to dreadnought main cannons.
Close Combat is any using anything you keep ahold of to whack somebody with in your immediate proximity.
ComTech covers almost all man-portable non-weapon operation, repairs to man-portable equipment, repairs to non-man-portable electronics, programming...
All social interactions fall under 3 skills: Manipulation, Command, and Observation.
Command is using authority (real or faked) to get others to conform/obey. Manipulation is used to change their opinions and beliefs within reason, and/or to coerce compliance without authority.. and Observation is to resist and/or to notice a variety of things social.

Note that, in all the Fria Ligan games I've read, no skills are added in expansions, only more talents and/or spells.

The talents are intentionally narrower, and not a wide scope; more in expansions. (Colonial Marines adds 5, for example)
This is looking from a specific direction and set of assumptions and saying "this fits everything I need from this perspective, so it's broad." This isn't clear.

How do I run a science oriented character interested in creating new things with science? It's not Comtech, it's not Observation, and there are no talents to let a Scientist do science stuff like experiments or gene-splicing. You have to bend the game to do this (and you can, but my point is that you have to paper over this crack). As written the Scientist Analyze ability is very narrow and specific to getting the GM to tell you more about their notes, and there's no ability or skill to manipulate any of that knowledge, by say developing a counter to xenomorph acid blood or the like. And this is fine, if you're in the scope the game assumes, which is mimicking the source movies. The game's fine there (and this appears to be the lens of your analysis that the skills a broadly applicable within that scope). If you try to flex the game, it doesn't work very well for a longer, slower, less action/survival oriented game. And that's fine.

And you can ask me how I know this, and it's because I'm playing a scientist in that game and have no idea how to do the things I want to do, but instead have to have a 'how are we going to do this' conversation for each. And that the moves that are covered, like Analyze, feel very much like I'm just prompting the GM to tell me things.
 

@Ovinomancer I don’t disagree with what you’re saying for the most part. I think the skills are a little broader than you’re saying, but I agree that they’re designed toward a specific scenario type that aligns to the movies at least somewhat.

I also think that the rules are mostly presented in a traditional play mindset. The Analysis Talent displays that pretty clearly; it lets you ask the GM questions, and they must answer truthfully…but then it goes on to explicitly say thecan be vague in order to not spoil the scenario.

It’s pretty hard to read that in anything but a traditional mode.

I know @Manbearcat wants to approach the game from a more Story Now direction. I’d like to hear an example of what you want to do with your scientist in play that has needed to be decided on the fly, as you suggest. I’ve no doubt that’s the case, but without the details of the situation, it’s hard to comment any further.

You mentioned experiments and gene-splicing…maybe an example related to one of those?
 

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