I haven't picked up the new game yet, but do have the old Leading Edge rules from the late 1980s.
I have bought other books from Free League, and they produce high-quality books. I've not played with the Year Zero Engine system to know if it's a good or bad match for the Alien universe, but it looks like they at least tweaked the rules for the setting.
Something I like about the ALIEN universe is that it feels grittier and more realistic than most science fiction universes. The idea that the future of space travel gets controlled by corporations that don't share information and hide things from even their own employees is disturbingly plausible. I can easily envision a mega-corporation wanting to capitalize on the discovery of an alien life form even if it meant putting their own employees and others in danger to do it.
In space no one can hear you threaten the company with a lawsuit.
I'll post a more comprehensive review after I've forced it down the throats of my players to have an exciting scenario burst out of their chests.
My initial impressions are that the artwork and layout is very atmospheric and professional looking. There are quotes liberally taken from the movies. The background of the "universe" seems to take a lot from the Dark Horse comics, according to my friend Eric (I myself have not read them), so there is a depth of lore that goes beyond just the movies. They incorporated some things from ALIEN: ISOLATION, which I love. The stress mechanic is perfect for simulating rising tension and panic. The xenomorph is appropriately deadly, getting multiple actions in a round to simulate its greater speed and is virtually unbeatable in close combat (as it should be). There are options for both cinematic play (one shots that simulate the feel of a movie) and campaign play. Overall, just a finely produced game that stays true to its source material.
Cinematic play is unlike anything I've seen before as far as rules go. It is structured in three acts (just like a movie) and players can get different goals and traits in each act. I'm looking forward to trying this option, as I've always been of the opinion that horror scenarios work best as one shots.
I just got a text that one of my players, Randy, will not be able to attend the next Game Night. So, I'm considering running a one-shot of the ALIEN: RPG to take a break from the AD&D campaign just to try something different. I like the idea of a game where there is no expectation for most of the characters to survive... with the tension of the threat of death running through the entire session.
Here is a scenario idea I had. It is in rough draft form and still half-baked but I welcome any suggestions and criticisms.
Background: The characters are unemployed contractors offered a huge payout if they take a nine month job to be transported to a refinery located beyond the Outer Rim to get it up and running again. At the end of the nine months, they are to be replaced by a permanent crew of over a hundred workers with heavy machinery, robotic vehicles, and construction equipment to make further repairs and improvements. If the characters accept this assignment, they'll make so much that they'll never have to work again... If the characters ask why they're being paid so much, the answer is there is a labor shortage and the company signed a contract with an interplanetary government which is time sensitive. If the characters ask why the refinery is not currently operational, the answer is that it was owned by a company that was nearly bankrupt from bad investments and was unable to keep in running. It was recently acquired from a company merger, and the new company signed the government contract. The characters happen to have the right skill sets and are nearby and the company can't afford to take no for an answer. The characters could negotiate for more money, but 90% of the payout is at the completion of their contract. To them the job seems easy but tedious... They've done refinery repairs before.
Start: After a period of hypersleep, the characters are dropped off at the refinery which is abandoned and in disrepair. Water drips everywhere. They power it up and get things running again. There is a lot of old automation, some that still works, some that needs repair. A lot of unrefined ore needs processed and prepared for shipping. They split up to do their various tasks, but stay in communication. The lights flicker, and there are power outages. They find some stuck doors, some welded shut.
Once on site and work is underway, things begin to seem fishy as a number of characters find things out independently. A character tries breaching a stuck door using heavy equipment like a mining laser that will cut through anything. Someone gets the refinery A. I. working and it shows concern for all of the workers who were supposed to be emergency evacuated: "Did they make it? How long have I been off-line? Did my warnings make it to the core worlds? I stated that no organics were to be sent here." Another character may discover the acquisition of the refinery was done by a holding company which was a front for Weyland-Yutani.
INSERT ALIENS/MONSTERS HERE (the twist could be that they have nothing to do with the classic Xenomorph alien)
For the Game Mother only: The story behind the story is that the Weyland-Yutani corporation acquired some confidential documents about a possible infestation of alien life forms through industrial espionage, and bought the company owning the refinery to keep it quiet because they do not want another 'Acheron Incident' with colonial marines getting involved and all assets destroyed. The company had the characters hired as guinea pigs with the option of paying them 90% at the completion of their contract. The relief team of over a hundred workers is a sham, and in reality will be company security and scientists.
How it could end: The refinery A.I. may help the characters set the reactor to overload as way to destroy the refinery and everything in it. There is one last escape ship which characters may attempt to board after initiating the reactor overload.
I just had an idea for an ALIEN RPG monster. The original 1979 movie poster shows an egg that looks like it has a crack in the side that is glowing from within and leaking. Yet, the eggs in the movies don't crack from the side, they open up like a four petaled flower on top. Whether it was intentional or not, that was a nice bit of misdirection. Still, the egg from the poster that glows from within and cracks on the side could be inspiration for a completely different monster to set in the ALIEN universe. This egg may be cracking because it is in the process of hatching with some glowing monster about to come out of it. Perhaps it is bioluminescent like a firefly, and possibly radioactive. Or it could be something totally weird like a viscous liquid flowing out or a bunch of tiny organisms that begin swarming around.
I wonder if this could have also been the inspiration for the ampules leaking the black goo/accelerant in PROMETHEUS?
Heh, that reminds me of the 1970's NYC once grand but turned shitty movie theaters. There were "spacy" mod theaters but the majority were like ballet level with chipped wooden fixtures, rotten rugs and curtains. Most scary movies would play in these crappy theaters.
Another idea I had was to rip off Lovecraft's AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS (1931). On an ice planet, an ancient alien species is found frozen in the ice, perhaps due to mining operations. When it thaws out, it returns to life. There are a lot of possibilities here. It could be shoggoth-like, similar to John Carpenter's THE THING (1981). Or it could be more like the Elder Things who are disoriented after coming back to life after so much time. In the latter case, the Elder Things may not be hostile, but may kill men inadvertently due to a misunderstanding or perhaps there is something about the Elder Things makes them poisonous to humans (spores, radioactivity, etc.). It could be an interesting scenario if the colonial marines are on their way to wipe out the infestation but the player characters discover the Elder Things are intelligent and not hostile.
Next Saturday I am planning to run "Hope's Last Day" which is the short scenario in the back of the core rulebook. I will be handing out pregenerated characters and the main purpose will be for us all to familiarize ourselves with the rules and game mechanics. I have been watching some videos on Youtube of gamers playing through and/or reviewing this scenario to help me prepare. I'll post a write up after the game.
To gear myself up for this, I rewatched ALIEN and ALIENS over the weekend and listened to the audio drama RIVER OF PAIN which tells the story of Hadley's Hope in much more detail. The first scenario I'm going to run, "Hope's Last Day," is set on Hadley's Hope just as it is about to be overrun. So, it is set between the first two movies, or more accurately during the beginning of ALIENS but before the Sulaco arrives.
Rewatching the movies, I think I'd forgotten just how many call backs there were in ALIENS to ALIEN. Ripley calls MU/TH/UR a bitch in ALIEN and says the iconic line "Get away from her, you bitch!" in ALIENS. Dallas says "Kill me" in ALIEN (deleted scene added back in for the Director's cut) and one of the captured colonists says "Kill me" in ALIENS. In both movies the alien infestation begins as a result of humans exploring the same derelict space craft (confirmed from a deleted scene added back in for the Director's cut in ALIENS). In both movies, the xenomorphs are able to blend into to the walls and camoflage themselves. The company betrays the human protagonists in both movies with essentially the same goal to bring back a live alien. Both movies have a nuclear explosion. Both movies have a false ending. Ripley blows the final alien out of the airlock in both movies. Both movies begin with Ripley in hypersleep. Both movies end with Ripley going back into hypersleep and hoping to get back home. When there are differences, they are brilliant, such as the synthetic Bishop being trustworthy even though Ripley (and the viewers) distrust him throughout the entire movie because of how Ash behaved. And the sequel isn't just bigger/badder, it also shifts genres from horror to action movie. Building up how bad-ass the marines are helps the viewer feel empowered by contrast to the previous movie with everyone seeming completely helpless. The marines get slaughtered but also kill many aliens. Ripley is a lot more like a protagonist in the sequel, and some of the best scenes are when she decides to take action, which are accompanied by her own music theme: taking control of the APC to rescue the marines and later when she is fighting the xenomorph queen in the airlock.
P. S. A bit of trivia is that I just noticed Hadley's Hope Administrator Al Simpson is played by actor Mac McDonald (in the deleted scenes) who also plays Captain Hollister in RED DWARF! ("It's cold outside/there's no kind of atmosphere/I'm all alone/more or less/let me fly/far away from here/fun, fun, fun/in the sun, sun, sun/I want to lie/shipwrecked and comatose/drinking fresh mango juice/goldfish shoals/nibbling at my toes/fun, fun, fun/in the sun, sun sun!/fun, fun, fun/in the sun, sun, sun!") I love that end credits song!
One thing I'm going to change about the scenario is I'm going to remove the synthetic Holroyd. The synthetics have a lot of advantages like being immune to stress. I want everyone to play a human and experience the stress mechanics. Also, there doesn't need to be a synthetic in every single ALIEN scenario. At this point, it feels like a twist if a synthetic is not in a scenario!
Last Edit: Oct 15, 2021 14:07:06 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
Last night we played "Hope's Last Day." Ray, Eric and Cindy were the players. Each had a pregenerated character and they had an NPC with them too. It played out very well, and felt like an ALIEN movie. After coming back from servicing Processor 9, they found Hadley's Hope strangely quiet and empty, but soon found evidence of chaos and carnage. The tension built up gradually to a climax as they raced to the Starcub shuttle -- their only possible means of escape -- while being pursued by a xenomorph drone. Eric died from the head bite and the drone dragged off the NPC after stinging her with its tail. Ray got on the shuttle with another NPC, and shut the door to abandon Cindy. Cindy went berserk and drove a tractor into a comm array which nearly fell onto the escape shuttle. As they were taking off, Ray realized there were eggs on board and began shooting them with his shotgun but one opened and a facehugger jumped out and got him. The other NPC piloting the shuttle had a chestburster erupt out of her causing her to crash the shuttle in the distance as Cindy watched, panicked and catatonic, on the landing pad... No one got away!