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Free League's Alien RPG - My Experience

Celebrim

Legend
I generally don't find it particuilarly constructive to obsess over whether something is truly science fiction or not.

I'm not really obsessing about it but I do require a reasonable interest in science and scientific matters before I'd consider something to be science fiction. If people want to think of things as science fiction that have no interest in science, well of course they are free to do so, but they shouldn't expect me to agree. I do think there is value in understanding the difference between science fiction and fantasy and recognizing something as fantasy typically makes it's meaning more clear and allows for deeper analysis of the themes and intentions of the writer.

Star Wars, 2001, Alien, and Gravity are all science fiction movies.

1 out of 4 ain't bad, I guess. Although, I suppose I could give ACC the benefit of the doubt and accept two of those, that would lead to a long discussion of the incoherence of ACC's themes.

And if you hate the Alien universe, it should come to no surprise that you're not a fan of the game either.

I enjoy the movies to some extent, especially Aliens, because of the outstanding well done character of Ripley in that movie. But yeah, as a universe I don't have a lot of interest and playing the RPG only reinforced that. I find that there is a big difference between good media in some other format, and being a good gameable setting and intellectual property. Good settings have room for all sorts of different stories and all sorts of important roles and they tend to have strong internally consistent world building and themes. The gritty feel of the Aliens universe just doesn't match the fact that it isn't actually science fiction, leading to strong incoherence where you are concerned with biology, physics, chemistry, engineering and the gritty facts of survival, when the thing you are fighting isn't playing by those rules.
 

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Retreater

Legend
Seems a little weird to just dismiss whole modes of play in RPGs.
Well, if I know I don't like it. I didn't even use the backgrounds in Rime of the Frostmaiden because they could cause interparty conflict and PvP - which I think is to a much less effect than Alien.
As a rule, I don't like stories that focus on protagonists who are repugnant characters doing despicable things. I don't watch gangster or crime movies (from the Godfather to Tarantino to Breaking Bad). I didn't follow Game of Thrones after the first season.
I honestly don't want to contribute to my already pessimistic outlook on life with entertainment asking me to invest emotionally with terrible people doing awful things.
There are heroes in the Alien films: Ripley, Dallas, Hicks, Hudson, Vasquez, Bishop, Newt. The Alien RPG (at least the cinematic adventure in the Starter Set I played) assumes everyone wants to play Paul Reiser's Burke, like that's the highlight of the fiction.
 

Haiku Elvis

Knuckle-dusters, glass jaws and wooden hearts.
You say Lovecraft isn't science fiction?

That's how both the first and second movie were set up. Monster on a cargo ship, and monsters on an isolated outpost. These stories don't require settings larger than a thousand meter bubble.
And I think pretty much everyone who's really into those two movies agrees that the attempts to expand on that world were all mistakes.
The dark horse comics in the 90's managed it well. Much better than any of the movies at any rate.
 

That's probably not entirely inapt. There's a pretty good argument that Alien is Lovecraftian fiction in a science-fiction costume.
To quote Dan O’Bannon, the writer of the Alien screenplay:
One especially insightful critic- I wish I remembered who - wrote that Alien evoked the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, but where Lovecraft told of an ancient race of hideous beings menacing the Earth, ALIEN went to where the Old Ones lived, to their very world of origin. He was right, that was my very thought while writing.
 

prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
To quote Dan O’Bannon, the writer of the Alien screenplay:
I have no idea whether O'Bannon was thinking of this, but Stephen King says more or less exactly that, in Danse Macabre:
I do count it as a supernatural tale, however; I think of it as Lovecraft in outer space, mankind finally going to the Elder Gods rather than they coming to us.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm not really obsessing about it but I do require a reasonable interest in science and scientific matters before I'd consider something to be science fiction. If people want to think of things as science fiction that have no interest in science, well of course they are free to do so, but they shouldn't expect me to agree.
You're free to march to the beat of your own drum, but Alien and the other movies I mentioned frequently make it onto various lists of the best science fiction movies of all time. This is an old debate in the science fiction community though. I read articles from the 1920s and 30s that women made for poor "scientification" writers because they didn't focus on the technology instead focusing on things like "feelings." (Not that you're coming at it from a sexist point of view.)

I enjoy the movies to some extent, especially Aliens, because of the outstanding well done character of Ripley in that movie. But yeah, as a universe I don't have a lot of interest and playing the RPG only reinforced that. I find that there is a big difference between good media in some other format, and being a good gameable setting and intellectual property.
While I think the Alien RPG is great, my interest in playing it is limited to one-shot adventures or possibly very, very short campaigns. It's good at what it sets out to do even if it's rather narrowly focused. One of my criticisms of the game is that it has rules for ship-to-ship combat. When am I ever going to use that? Probably never.
 


MGibster

Legend
Is this similar to the debate between "hard" and "soft" science fiction? I remember that when I was a selector of SF in my library.
Alien certainly explores human emotion and social dynamics, fitting the "soft sciences" description.
It's similiar. But in this case, whether hard or soft, we're at least in agreement that it's science fiction. Most science fiction is of the soft variety.
 

Cordwainer Fish

Imp. Int. Scout Svc. (Dishon. Ret.)
Is this similar to the debate between "hard" and "soft" science fiction? I remember that when I was a selector of SF in my library.
Alien certainly explores human emotion and social dynamics, fitting the "soft sciences" description.
Something I saw around the net a while ago, probably not word for word: "'Soft science fiction' means 'there were things in my Analog story that made me uncomfortable, like women and feelings."
 

aramis erak

Legend
It's playing an Alien-style horror story, down to the brutal end.
The endpoint of my Union of Progressive Peoples Merchant Ship Campaign held everyone playing in rapture as the last two surviving PC huddled & snuggled, one bullet left, as a warrior alien came to get them in the astrogation dome. We faded to black, at player request. And so, the People's Patriotic Transport Ship Brave Survival went silent...

@Retreater the lack of weapons in Chariots isn't absolute; there are quite a number of weapons listed as on the Montero. Including "incinerators" (flamethrowers)... plus another half dozed weapons and tools suitable for weapon use on the Coronus. A smart party can get away...
It sounds like your GM may have not encouraged y'all to find them. Plus, with the tools to hand, one can fashion some armor...
Plus, given the nature of the new xenomorph aboard, it's not like armor will help prevent infection. Staying buttoned up, tho', is a pretty safe way to survive...
 

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