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Space is Not the Only Thing Trying to Kill You in the Alien RPG

Making a living in space is not easy. Radiation, micro meteors, and no food, air, or water. A mistake can take your life. And mankind is not alone. There are hostile things lurking in the shadows of mankind’s colonies and ships waiting to kill or worse. Things alien.

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Releasing today, Alien the Roleplaying Game (PDF) is a 392 page full color hardcover that explores the universe after the events of the movies Alien and Aliens. Campaigns are either limited Cinematic Play with pre-generated characters or longer running Campaign Play. Characters are blue collar space truckers, colonial marines, or colonists.

The Alien RPG is divided into thirteen chapters covering characters and character creation (including playing synthetics), combat and panic, gear, the dangers of space including ships and ship combat, the Game Mother’s job, governments and corporations, systems and planets, alien species, and campaign play with random adventure generators. Hadley’s Hope is described as an adventure for Cinematic Play with players running doomed colonists in the last chapter. Everything needed to kick off a campaign is included.

The game runs on Year Zero, the d6 dice pool system from Free League. Rolls can be pushed allowing rerolls but also generating stress which can lead to panic. I have run a few games of the Alien RPG and the panic is real. Players, not just their characters, become tense as stress builds.

Slight spoilers for the included adventure. The pregen MacWhirr, Colonial Administration union organizer, has the Talent of Pull Rank. She can give orders using Command and force another PC to obey even if it leads them into harm or danger. However, MacWhirr takes a point of stress every time she bosses someone around. And her commands won’t stop panic. So she gets closer and closer to losing it herself as those colonists she is responsible for panic or get ripped apart by xenos or betray and kill each other. Being in charge in the Alien universe is never easy. Getting ordered to your death is not great either, though.

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Stress is bad but xenos are worse. Many Year Zero games use critical hits. In this game, aliens may be able to inflict critical hits just by connecting with a regular attack. A PC does not have to be reduced to 0 Health to get their throat slit or their skull crushed by the more powerful xenos.

While Cinematic Play is fast, brutal, and full of betrayal, Campaign Play promises to spread out the terror and dying by aliens with the nice gentle dangers of space travel and conflict with other humans. I haven’t gotten to play this style of Alien but the descriptions of corporations, military units and their ships, alien worlds, and the dangers and opportunities of space travel are all supplemented with various tables to generate adventures.

The book itself is beautiful: black with green textboxes, bringing to mind both the depths of space and the computer screens used on board ships in this universe. Full color art depicts the blue collar body count building nature of space exploration. And everything is easy to find with a well put together layout and an index. Maps of space, floor plans, ships, and depictions of xenos bring the world of Alien to extraterrestrial life.

If you are looking for dangerous sci-fi with working stiffs just trying to survive or want to explore the worlds depicted in the Alien movies and extended universe then this RPG is what you are looking for. All the tools needed to play as a player or run a campaign as a GM is included from ships to aliens to worlds to adventures. All packed together with a visual style designed to immerse you in an alien setting. And once you start playing you can feel the weight of command, feel the pressure of being outmanned and outgunned, and face your own mortality in the uncaring blackness of space. Time to embrace the alien and die screaming or face your fears and be one of the few to make it back home alive. This time.
 
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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody


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Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
The starter kit was available with the first preorder months ago. The adventure is still available as Chariot of the Gods but not the rule preview. I didn't know that the PDF wasn't available anymore.
If you got in on the preorder, you got the CSK PDF, which was the Chariots of the Gods adventure and enough of the rules to run it. AFAIK, it was unavailable any other way (not counting criminal methods).

Supposedly, the original plan was to include Chariots in the core, but the core got too long, so a shorter adventure is in-book, and Chariots was stripped down to just the adventure, printed and bound as a separate book. CHariots is a model cinematic for space truckers; the in book is for colonials.

Thanks. Apparently it wasn't really a quickstarter, but something to allow those who had pre-ordered to begin playing sooner. It makes sense. Too bad, because I would have been interested in trying one cinematic adventure before deciding whether to buy the book.
 
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Thanks. Apparently it wasn't really a quickstarter, but something to allow those who had pre-ordered to begin playing sooner. It makes sense. Too bad, because I would have been interested in trying one cinematic adventure before deciding whether to buy the book.
No, the Cinematic Preview version of Chariots of the Gods is very much a quick-starter. 15 characters, 2 ships, a strain of aliens, just enough rules to use them all, no CGen. Note that 10 are intended as NPC, but all are valid PC builds.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
No, the Cinematic Preview version of Chariots of the Gods is very much a quick-starter. 15 characters, 2 ships, a strain of aliens, just enough rules to use them all, no CGen. Note that 10 are intended as NPC, but all are valid PC builds.
According to several comments on DriveThru, you can't play this scenario without the core rules. People who pre-ordered received a different version that also included quickstarter rules.
 

Fenhorn

Explorer
The cinematic starter kit pdf was a treat to everyone that pre-ordered the game. Everyone else has to buy the scenario and the core rulebook. There will be some sort of quickstart book/box/something eventually (I have heard spring 2020, but that is not something official).
 

Fredrix

Villager
In general, their games use successes and failures (a d6 might have 2 successes, a failure, a crit failure, a crit success and a neutrol face, for example). They usually give you the number map to those (so in the previous example it would say something like "Success on 1 and 4, failure on 3, etc...). You can easily use normal dice, you just have to have a conversion chart handy.
Actually their systems only use sixes (and in some systems, like Alien ones), no there is no need for the custom dice or a number map. (Forbidden Lands is a little different with the way it adds d8, d10 and d12, but that’s rarely used and purely for retro feels). The OP can just use different coloured sets use two sets of 10 or more dice.
 

Fredrix

Villager
The core rulebook has a cinematic adventure, Hope's Last End, which takes place at Hadley's Hope before Aliens the movie kicks off. I ran this twice at Gen Con and really enjoyed it.

though I am glad you enjoyed it, as I am a co-author I should point out the Hopes Last Day isn’t really a full adventure. It was especially designed for con play.
 

Reynard

Legend
Actually their systems only use sixes (and in some systems, like Alien ones), no there is no need for the custom dice or a number map. (Forbidden Lands is a little different with the way it adds d8, d10 and d12, but that’s rarely used and purely for retro feels). The OP can just use different coloured sets use two sets of 10 or more dice.

Yeah, I was mixing up that system in my head a little bit with the Genesys system -- which, now that I think about it, would be a pretty good combo.
 

Paragon Lost

Terminally Lost
Actually their systems only use sixes (and in some systems, like Alien ones), no there is no need for the custom dice or a number map. (Forbidden Lands is a little different with the way it adds d8, d10 and d12, but that’s rarely used and purely for retro feels). The OP can just use different coloured sets use two sets of 10 or more dice.


I wouldn't call an increased chance of success being purely a retro feel. If you get to use a D8, D10 or d12 on your roll it increases the chance of success. An increased chance of rolling a six or higher. That's a solid mechanical benefit.
 

Fredrix

Villager
I wouldn't call an increased chance of success being purely a retro feel. If you get to use a D8, D10 or d12 on your roll it increases the chance of success. An increased chance of rolling a six or higher. That's a solid mechanical benefit.
Yeah, but the mechanic came out of wanting to add polyhedral dice into the system to make it feel like a game from the eighties
 

I wouldn't call an increased chance of success being purely a retro feel. If you get to use a D8, D10 or d12 on your roll it increases the chance of success. An increased chance of rolling a six or higher. That's a solid mechanical benefit.
8-9 is 2 successes, 10-11 is 3, and 12 is 4.... it makes a HUGE swing in the odds to have a d10 or d12.
 

According to several comments on DriveThru, you can't play this scenario without the core rules. People who pre-ordered received a different version that also included quickstarter rules.
THere are 2 versions of it.

One, the preview, was a standalone.
the other, which is dead tree and DTRPG, is not.

I happen to have both.
 


wicked cool

Adventurer
Any insight to the one session adventures as opposed to the campaigns. This has gotten my attention and just wondering how it works. how you rated it
 



I am running Chariot of the Gods on New years day. Lay upon me your experiences and advice!
Pace it out... I found it took my group 9 hours to play. Many have complained it's not a one session adventure.

Make certain to be descriptive.

It really helps players new to YZE to have a list of the stunts for the skills.

Work the stress mechanic.

When the countdown starts, play it up. Go into structured time and track their movements tightly.
Print the printer-friendly maps from Fria Ligan | ALIEN. PF sheets, too.

Read and understand the alien life cycle for the alien strain in Chariots.

Remember:
Day: 24 hours or 3-5 shifts. (Need: Sleep)
Shift 5-10 hours (need: Food, water)
Turn 5-10 minutes; 60 turns to the Shift (Need: Air){grants recovery if resting}
Round 5-10 seconds, 60 rounds to the Turn.

Everyone wakes up from hypersleep dehydrated; give them a little time before the gotchas to drink up.

If you got the maps and counters, use the blips.

If failure isn't interesting and isn't obviously called for, just say yes.

Once there's an alien loose, you can literally just say, "no where seems safe." THis prevents stress recovery.

Broken isn't KO'd, it's rendered combat ineffective. Can still crawl and mumble. I used the "Wits Words" limit to prevent them doing much... but they still got some good ideas out...

If you throw XX121's at them instead, hicks level panic is likely to ensue.
 

Reynard

Legend
Today went pretty well overall. I did some minor tweaking to the plot to make the experience more palatable to my group, but nothing drastic.

We did find that the "stress spiral" could be overwhelming. Once characters get 5 or more stress is was common for them to suffer panic, acquire more stress and lose whatever action brought on the panic roll in the first place.

In my game I made the Cronos MOTHUR the real villain and dispensed with the "zombies" entirely (I had only 3 PCs so a couple neomorphs was plenty). Also because only 3 PCs I did not use the secret android plot line. If it had been too easy I was prepared to introduce a surprise Predator but it turned out unnecessary.
 

Any insight to the one session adventures as opposed to the campaigns. This has gotten my attention and just wondering how it works. how you rated it

Late reply, but I can answer now. I've run four sessions of campaign play for Alien. The cinematic adventures are like a movie, slow start and then crazy action until the end. Campaign play is like a TV series. Xenos didn't even show up until the last adventure. But space is dangerous all by itself. Radiation, explosions, lack of air, dangerous animals, dangerous humans, and more. Plus the PCs have to pay the bills and so are forced to take on jobs they might otherwise want to avoid. The tension is there, but there are some victories to allow room to breathe. It is intense and my group is really enjoying the game. We have lost one PC when his air ran out and they couldn't get him back to the ship in time (getting chased at the same time). Also, the Colonial Marine had his throat cut by a xeno last game but the others kept him from bleeding out and the android got his arm ripped off. Xenos are really dangerous and seem even more so to space travelers used to "just" dealing with guns and radiation and lack of air.
 


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