Fans of the Alien film series have had little in the way of official RPG material over the years. If you wanted to run players through a campaign set in the world of dubious mega corporations, the vast, emptiness of space and Xenomorphs, gamers had little to no options available for them.
Well, we’re in some pretty shit now.
Thanks to Free League Publishing, this Swedish based game company has burst on the scene and is providing players and GMs alike with some great new games and systems for those of us looking for something set outside the norm. They have quickly built up an impressive library of RPGs that are an array of settings, providing a full catalog of choices.
When I discovered that an officially licensed Alien RPG was going to be released in late 2019, I was of course excited and looked forward to getting my hands on it. My FLGS has a great selection of RPGs and has always done a great job of stocking new release products as they hit retail. I picked up the core book shortly after Christmas and was excited to start planning my first game with this new system.
And then came along something more deadly than a Xenomorph Queen with a hive full of Drones.
So I’ve been sitting on this game for well over a year and a half, patiently (as I can) waiting for the time when I can take a group of players through a game that is dripping with atmosphere, trying to recreate the feel and mood of the films (well, the first two anyhow). And while I am ready to begin in-person gaming once more, as things have taken another turn for the stupid, I might have to wait just a bit longer to get this thing off the ground. So in the meantime, lets look at the game itself.
Alien uses what is essentially a modified d6 system. Along with the GM (Game Mother), player characters can be run through two different game modes, Cinematic and Campaign. Cinematic is interesting in that the outcome of the adventure is already predetermined. The GM is there to guide the players along until they reach that final conclusion. The players still have agency and choice to go about their business, but ultimately they are guided along a set outcome. The other gametype, Campaign is exactly as you’d imagine it being.
Characters have 4 basic attributes, Strength, Agility, Wits and Empathy. Each of those 4 attributes has corresponding skills that characters can use during combat or for tests. Attributes and Skills have a value range of 0-5. Any time your character has to roll dice, you take you score from the applicable attribute, add it to the skill score being used and roll that many dice. This is called your dice pool for that test. Even if you don’t have the skill needed to perform the test in question, you can always use on of the 4 attribute scores to at least make an attempt.
You can use standard d6, but Free League has released a set of custom game dice seend below:
The black dice are your test dice and are used any time you perform combat or a test. When rolled, you are looking for a single “6” to succeed. If you roll more than one 6, you can perform something called a “stunt“, which allows the player to select from a list of benefits related to the test in question.
If after rolling your dice pool you get no successes, you can push the roll, which allows you re-roll the dice in your pool that didn’t succeed. However, this will cause stress which is represented by the yellow dice. Stress can lead to your character taking on panic, which leads to negative modifiers when performing tests. Any time you make a roll moving forward, you will the number of yellow stress dice to your dice pool equal to your current stress level and roll them as well. If any facehuggers (“1”) are rolled, your character is now panicked.
This is of course a very basic description for the mechanics of Alien, but hopefully this gives you a basic understand of the game works.
Free League has done a fantastic job on this game in terms of capturing the feel of the films (particularly the first two) and building a game that works hard to put players right into the world their character inhabit. The artwork is a thing of beauty (as seen by the pics in this article) and book layout while at first was some getting used to, also fits right into the aesthetic of this setting.
After the initial core book that i picked up, I’ve also downloaded a free cinematic adventure and purchased the Destroyer of Worlds boxed campaign set as well. All is needed is to grab the Game Mother’s screen and I’m all set to run my first Alien game.
If you know me personally or from reading this site, you know I’m a pretty big fan of this IP. This RPG is no exception as I am ready to get it to the table and hopefully create another experience for my players. Something that is a departure from your standard RPG settings.
Free League has gifted this Alien fan with all the tools needed to run a great game for his gaming group. Now if this this pesky pandemic would just chill, I can finally get on with the business of rolling dice and creating Xenomorph infested worlds.
As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!