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HyveMynd
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Campaign Mode Examples

Wed 11 Dec 2019, 10:44

Any Game Mothers running the ALIEN RPG in campaign mode? If so, would you mind sharing what you're doing as an example for the rest of us?

I really like the Cinematic Mode of the ALIEN RPG and bought the core book after playing (and then running) Chariot of the Gods. I think it's a fantastic scenario, really like the mechanics of the game, and am happy with my purchase. After running Hope's Last Day I'm currently writing up some more cinematic mode scenarios with a friend and fellow Game Mother.

Campaign Mode is a somewhat different story for me though.

While I'm not dissatisfied with what's in the book for campaign mode, I feel it's rather light. It's a tool box of tables and charts that create all kinds of awesome ideas for campaign mode scenarios. But we didn't get an example of what a finished, playable campaign mode scenario might look like. Which is why I said it was a tool box. I feel like we've been given all the parts we need to make scenarios, but haven't been given the instructions or images to reference of what the finished thing should look like.

Which isn't a huge problem, I suppose. I have experience running games and could totally make something with what's in the book. I just think it's really helpful, especially with new game systems, to have an example scenario showing how the creators expect and intend the game to be played.

So, until we get an officially released campaign mode scenario put out by Fria Ligan, does anyone want to share what they've been doing so the rest of us can get a better idea of what to do?
 
decanox
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Wed 11 Dec 2019, 14:56

Hi Hyvemind...

We are starting a campaign. Only one session because players have to create their characters. In this point, it's curious because, characters are supposed to have 2 items from a list but they go in a ship (which it's recommended according to the rulebook) where, I suppose, there are other things from the list that they have not selected. For example, a marine could choose between a M3 armor and a compression suit, then he/she chooses the M3 armor, but if they go in a ship like it's recommended, it's difficult to imagine that there is no compression suit inside the ship. Anyway, I have tried to be flexible with this.

Another question about creating characters: players wanted to create a colonial marines team, so instead they could create a team composed of 5 or 6 Colonial Marines, I let them to choose from another categories: medic, pilot or official; mixing the gear they can choose. I think this is natural like "Aliens" movie (there are not only soldiers but a pilot, medic, sergeant, etc.). And I included some NPCs to the party (an android).

Then I have to go back in time: I have designed an adventure that it would be the first chapter of the campaign. First, I have an idea in mind and I developed some story about that idea (how it would begin, how it would develop and how it should end). Then I used the tables and I have to admit they are useful to resolve many questions. For example: how is the planet? Is there a colony? How big is it? Which kind of industry could be found there? Which kind of people could be found there? Are they aggressive? How many factions are there? ... Things like that. I admit for that tables can be really useful so you don't have to build an entire world from zero.

There are a good list of NPCs to use in these adventures... I miss more characters, but for me it's ok.

The only thing I miss (I think other people have told in other posts): there is a lack of metaplots. That is, after this adventure I have designed, where the players should go or do? The tables don't answer to that, they only talk about "jobs" players can perform but they are not connected. So you would have to create some kind of metaplot for that campaign or the campaign can be "jobs" with not too much connection between one or another.

Anyway, I have to insist, they are useful to create an atmosphere and to resolve many questions so you don't have to work too much. 

Edit: I see I have told many things you told already. So I will try to explain a bit more.

I have set the campaign in the conflict between UA and UPP. More people are doing the same since I have read some posts related to this conflict and how they are going to include this conflict in their adventures.

In my case, a UPP faction is interested to capture a xenomorph to use as a biological weapon (exactly like W-Y). In the first adventure, players know nothing about this, they are going to put down a revolt in a remote planet where W-Y has some facilities (thanks to the tables in the rulebook I have created the planet and which facilities are inside). They are beginning to suspect there are more things involved. This first session is for doing some research and not too much action. Following the rulebook recommendation, I am not going to introduce the xenomorphs from the beginning, but I would introduce 1-3 drones at the end (the number depending on how the players react to other threats). After that? I don't know, first I have to see how the adventure ends so they can choose one path or another (or none if they are dead) but I have some ideas for the metaplot: travel to a UPP controlled base to know where the xenomorphs samples are, travel to the planet where the UPP is testing the xenomorph, the W-Y involvement, the other UPP factions reactions, etc.  
 
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aramis
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Wed 11 Dec 2019, 20:33

I've two campaigns running; I'm posting session reports on RPGGeek.com in the "how did your session go" geeklists. (my username there is aramis)

I've started them off with starting gear as listed. I've presumed the minimum tools needed to perform maintenance are in fact part of the ship.

Group 1 is on an issued ship, property of the UPP. They have a "target earnings" debt, to be paid after 365 days not on state-assigned missions. They checked on the Junior Assistant Deputy Vice President of the UPP Central Bank... the guy who sent them into UA space... and he's still yet to pay them. They delivered, now they need to get paid, promised upon return to 17 Phei Phei. 
They got an additional passenger pair for the trip back. A scientist and his (synthetic) assistant, their experiments, and lab gear. 10 tons worth. Trivial. Except that the scientist is allergic to coldsleep, his research is dead ended and unfunded, and he's fleeing to the UPP in hopes of funding. 
Not wanting to leave awake passengers, they rotate who's watching... which was the meat of session 2... as individuals suffered from NDD.

Group 2 is on a ship on a lease-to-own contract, ownership currently residing in Lasalle Bioscientific. And they have discovered the cargo they are carrying are Lasalle's genetically hybridized bonobos to serve as sex slaves.

Note that Group 2 had a firefight.... and the skipper took a shot to the neck... he's been treated, and his quadriplegia is temporary... but it really set the tone for the party about how fragile life is.
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Smith & Wesson: the original point and click interface...
 
Bengt Petter
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Wed 25 Dec 2019, 14:33

This is not an actual campaign example, but still a comment that might be of some value to the initial question in the first post:
So let’s put this very simple: what should an Alien campaign be about? I don’t think that question is really answered in the game. I want examples (yes, I can create my own stuff, but guidelines would help). And I don’t think that the space is limited enough to be described as a sandbox. To me travelling in space is travelling between sandboxes (or adventure sites if they are smaller).

I would like some frameworks for creating campaign themes (such as certain conflicts, secrets, conspiracies and discoveries) and some ideas for creating sandboxes (more than just a spacestation, even though that’s a good location to start with). And I think it’s important that everything has that specific Alien feeling, and not generic sci fi in space. If you want that, you can just pick another game.

Maybe the dark secrets might be a good starting point - to me that is an important part of the thematic core of Alien campaigns. I don’t think it would be interesting without at least one big, dark secret. In some of the Cthulhu games (is it ToC?) there is allways something called ”The terrible truth”. I can imagine something similar here too. Or maybe ”What the conspiracy is really about”. Headlines like that could help make things more Alien.

You can also describe Alien as a cousin to Lovecraft. It’s not just dark space dystopia, it’s a game with a mythos. I would like to see that in the campaign chapter. Imagine a Lovecraft game without mythos - it would be a game with some big missing pieces. The mythos is a part of the thematic core here too, and not something that can be added later in a supplement.
 
Bengt Petter
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Wed 25 Dec 2019, 14:37

And here is a way to grasp how an Alien campaign can be created:

Just to get the Alien campaign structure right, I would like some kind of formula where you answer questions. Below you can see my first draft of campaign questions. The answers is basically the campaign, or at least the most important stuff.

1. What is the terrible secret that might be discovered during the campaign? What makes the situation dangerous? Who is it dangerous for? Who might benefit from it?

2. Is Weyland Yutani or some other factions involved? What do they want in this campaign? How much of the terrible secret do they know? Is there a conspiracy and/or a conflict and if so, what is it about? Is there some faction - or maybe even something alien - that is just remotely involved?

3. Who are the most important NPCs and why should they interact with the PCs? What do they want? Who do they like/hate/fear that is relevant in this campaign? Some of the NPCs have secrets that are relevant - what kind of secrets? How can these secrets be revealed? Who are the most dangerous NPCs? Who might actually become a friend or an ally?

4. What are the most important locations? How are they a part of the dark secret? Why should the NPCs go there? What will they discover? In what way will it be surprising to visit these locations? Are there some kind of clues? How might some of the locations change in a dramatic way?

5. What events does the time line consist of? Did anything important happen before the campaign? Are there any kind of events that will happen no matter what the PCs do? And the opposite - what will he PCs be able to change? Is there some kind if final event that might be the end of the campaign? Perhaps a final battle, eacape or an amazing discovery? What might happen after the campaign?

6. If the xenomorphs are involved, what is unexpected about them? Are they a key part of the dark secret or just a minor detail? What do they want? Is it something else than just surviving? Do they actually have a more advanced agenda?

7. Who are the PCs and why should they do things in this campaign? Are they just employees or do they have other motivations? Do they have some previous relation to any of the NPCs or maybe some of the locations? Does one or more have a secret mission, connected to the dark secret?

Final comment: I guess it should be possible to just mine any Alien movie, novel or comic book with these questions and create a campaign from that.
 
Bengt Petter
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Wed 25 Dec 2019, 14:47

So what I’m basically saying is that this Alien RPG is a mythos based game without any good tools for working with the mythos (and connect them to the dark corporate secrets that are a part of the genre). I also disagree with the somewhat vague notion that the known universe is a huge sandbox. I think it’s simply too big. I would have preferred tools to work with much more limited sandboxes - such as space stations, star cruisers, space colonies, asteroid mines etc. On the back cover of the book, it’s mentioned that you should be able to play sandbox style campaigns, but nowhere in the game (as far as I know) you can find a definition of what a sandbox in the Alien universe really is. Of course, I can figure out most of that on my own, but I would like to read some thoughts about that in the game. I would say Alien has many quite specific environments and locations.

From a defining point of view, the difference between sandboxes and adventure sites isn’t that obvious. I would say that it has to do with both size (sandboxes are usually bigger, an entire city rather than a small building) and purpose (if the PCs are supposed to be able to do many things instead of just one or two). Another way of defining the difference could be to compare with a movie: a sandbox is an entire studio facility, while the adventure site is more of a single studio set.

Edit: Sorry for tripple posting. I wrote this in my phone.
Last edited by Bengt Petter on Thu 26 Dec 2019, 17:52, edited 3 times in total.
 
APOLLO
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Thu 26 Dec 2019, 17:35

Your players are blue collar workers surviving against a world that chews them up and spits them out. Be it corporations, environment and monsters.

My plan is to have an overarching Campaign where I have a crew on a deep salvage vessel. Most of the first few sessions will be environmental and corporation intrigue and dangers. I hope to then base some cinematic sessions on areas they have visited. If I think the campaign is going slow. Maybe playing out how they became abandoned ect.
 
Bengt Petter
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Thu 26 Dec 2019, 18:11

Your players are blue collar workers surviving against a world that chews them up and spits them out. Be it corporations, environment and monsters.
Sure. That’s a good way to put it. But don’t you think it matters who (or what) they are fighting, and who (or what) is hiding behind the scenes? I would say, the Alien universe has many layers. There are corporate puppet masters, corporate puppets, dark secrets and human insignificance in space. The blue collar workers might never see all these layers, but still they are there and can be (should be?) used by the GM. There should be a bigger picture, something secret and not obvious to discover. A bit like in Lovecraft games, but with a cyberpunk in space twist. That is at least how I see Alien campaigns.
 
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aramis
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Sat 28 Dec 2019, 02:36

Your players are blue collar workers surviving against a world that chews them up and spits them out. Be it corporations, environment and monsters.
Sure. That’s a good way to put it. But don’t you think it matters who (or what) they are fighting, and who (or what) is hiding behind the scenes? I would say, the Alien universe has many layers. There are corporate puppet masters, corporate puppets, dark secrets and human insignificance in space. The blue collar workers might never see all these layers, but still they are there and can be (should be?) used by the GM. There should be a bigger picture, something secret and not obvious to discover. A bit like in Lovecraft games, but with a cyberpunk in space twist. That is at least how I see Alien campaigns.
No, it really doesn't matter who's behind it, per se. If one randomizes heavily, in the old-school sandbox way, sooner or later your players will decide who their real enemy is. 

It can be left in quantum uncertainty until that point, and then, the GM can either embrace, or negate with counter evidence, as suits their mood.

There's literally no need to overthink  it as a GM, and I think you are well past overthink into "give me a deep element on a silver platter" that is, really, just a macguffin to the real meat of the game: EVERYTHING IS OUT TO GET YOU ALL. Every corp will cheat you if they can. Every functionary is out for his own good first, and the client's a distant second (or worse)...

There's no need to have a consistent bad guy, when players will see one whether you write one or not, simply by the nature of the contracts.

Time to prep for tomorrow. The youth wants the BEM experience, so I'm going to give him one. No, not the Xenomorphs. I don't want the campaign over yet.

And I've not rolled a xenomorph encounter, either.
I have rolled a sabotage. And they're just leaving both a prison and a farming community.
—————————————————————————
Smith & Wesson: the original point and click interface...
 
Bengt Petter
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Re: Campaign Mode Examples

Mon 06 Jan 2020, 22:28

Your players are blue collar workers surviving against a world that chews them up and spits them out. Be it corporations, environment and monsters.
Sure. That’s a good way to put it. But don’t you think it matters who (or what) they are fighting, and who (or what) is hiding behind the scenes? I would say, the Alien universe has many layers. There are corporate puppet masters, corporate puppets, dark secrets and human insignificance in space. The blue collar workers might never see all these layers, but still they are there and can be (should be?) used by the GM. There should be a bigger picture, something secret and not obvious to discover. A bit like in Lovecraft games, but with a cyberpunk in space twist. That is at least how I see Alien campaigns.
No, it really doesn't matter who's behind it, per se. If one randomizes heavily, in the old-school sandbox way, sooner or later your players will decide who their real enemy is. 

It can be left in quantum uncertainty until that point, and then, the GM can either embrace, or negate with counter evidence, as suits their mood.

There's literally no need to overthink  it as a GM, and I think you are well past overthink into "give me a deep element on a silver platter" that is, really, just a macguffin to the real meat of the game: EVERYTHING IS OUT TO GET YOU ALL. Every corp will cheat you if they can. Every functionary is out for his own good first, and the client's a distant second (or worse)...

There's no need to have a consistent bad guy, when players will see one whether you write one or not, simply by the nature of the contracts.

Time to prep for tomorrow. The youth wants the BEM experience, so I'm going to give him one. No, not the Xenomorphs. I don't want the campaign over yet.

And I've not rolled a xenomorph encounter, either.
I have rolled a sabotage. And they're just leaving both a prison and a farming community.
Again, that’s your OPINION. It’s my experience from quite many years of writing RPG stuff (for Mutant Year Zero and several other published games), that it’s good to work with preparations that are connected to the specific genre, in this case cyberpunk dystopia in space. Creating good antagonists is not ”overthinking”, it’s a good strategy for campaign and world building. And it’s for sure not my personal strategy - there are plenty examples in many RPG campaigns (and movies and TV series as well...) By antagonist, I don’t really mean the stereotypical villain, Star Wars style. I would rather say that the cyberpunk genre offers other types of antagonist characters, such as the corporate mogul, the crime syndicate boss or maybe the fanatic scientist. The could all give depth, drama and flavour to an Alien campaign. I would use them as tool to make things happen and evolve.

Finally, just a personal advice: being polite and humble is good for communication. Nobody knows everything.
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