Frontinus
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Joined: Wed 27 May 2020, 18:25

Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Wed 27 May 2020, 19:18

The core rule book arrived two weeks ago and I brought together some relatively inexperienced role playing gamers (2-3 sessions of D&D each) to try out the Hope's Last Day scenario via a virtual tabletop (Roll 20). We had such a blast. The system was easy to teach them (less than 30 minutes) and we played through in about three hours during midday. It has me re-evaluating my GM approach. A short and punchy three hours with quick onboarding was nice contrast to the all hours of the night marathon sessions of D&D I usually run.

I've been GMing various flavors of D&D for 15 years with only minor forays as a player into other systems like Powered by the Apocalypse, but this system may be my new favorite. The unified dice pool (no sums, 6's and yellow 1's are all that matter) mechanic was easy to grasp and the stunt system creates lots of opportunities for improvisation and excitement.

The first time the players encountered a Scout Alien was epicly cinematic: most of the characters were in the armory while Hannah with the motion tracker was keeping an eye on the hallway. She spots the Scout (I labelled the token Quadrupedal Xenomorph) crawling along the wall towards them and screams -- they draw initiative. The ex-Marine Hirschel jumps into the hallway and empties both barrels of the shotgun (rolled a 1 on a stress die, but panic rolled a 4) into the monster, winging it for a spray of acid across the walls, but it is still coming. The Scout darts forward and lifts Hirschel off the ground. The android Holroyd jumps in with a wrench to try to free Hirschel but fails to connect (and can't push the roll!). The Scout head bites Hirschel. My players are silent, then their characters freak out! Didn't even need the panic rolls for them to all decide now was the time to put as many doors as possible between themselves and that thing.

As GM I was taken by surprise as to just how quick and deadly the Scout was, but we all loved it! Totally fits the theme. I had told my players we were using pregens so that we could hit the ground running, and that they shouldn't get too attached and character death on the first round of combat really drove it home. The subconscious weight of years of D&D with pretty resilient characters came up against this new system but I am hooked. Combat should be a scary last resort given that most PCs are not sociopathic killers.

To set the scene, I played them the deleted scene from Aliens of Simpson and Lydecker talking about how remote the colony is. It was nice foreshadowing for when Simpson makes the emergency announcement and when the PCs reached OPS I told the players, "This is the place you saw in the deleted scene, but now it is dark and empty, papers strewn haphazardly."

The final scene with the face huggers coming out of the escape shuttle was also a beautiful final twist (I described them leaping into the air at chest height tails rippling behind them, the way it was shown in the AVP movie) with several characters panicking, emptying entire pistol clips to no effect, one knifing a face hugger to death and getting a fateful of acid for their trouble, and other non-"optimal tactics" responses. A situation of chaos tension if ever there was one.

I was skeptical about the random roll for Alien actions, but on the encounters we had it played well, heightening the uncertainty and unknowability of the creatures.

The Roll 20 character sheet was a boon for speed and simplicity! I will probably keep the online character sheet roller even when we are back to in person games, so a big thanks to the people that put that together too.

As part of my prep I had listened to Effekt Podcast's play of Hope's Last Stand, which I can't recommend enough. Gave me great ideas for describing the atmosphere and additional events. When the characters tried to send a distress transmission from OPS I dropped the clue that the transmitter had hardware damage, which I had picked up from Effekt's scenario, but the PCs were not able to follow up. The players were already speculating about evidence of sabotage or other corporate villainy. Next time we'll try out the more combat focused "Hope's Last Stand" described by Effect and see if they can repair that transmitter.

Happy to answer questions for anyone else getting ready to Game Mother, especially re:Hadley's Hope related content.
 
Frontinus
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Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Fri 21 Aug 2020, 21:24

A second run at Hope’s Last Day went completely differently this time. Used all five of the pregen PCs, four players had never played before (one was their first RPG session!) and one player was also a player in the last run through. I gave the player that had played before the traitor agenda this time.

This group was a lot more deferential to authority. Almost without argument they followed announcement to rally in the Maintenance Bay, completely ignoring the opportunity to escape that Reynolds and the shuttle represented. Traitor made one comment in favour of following orders, and everyone else immediately agreed and set off for the sublevel.

Went through sublevel, spooky sounds in the overhead pipes (they were stalked by the Facehugger from C1, but managed to lose it with a really good second mobility roll). Used inspiration from Effekt Podcast’s play of Hope’s Last Stand to describe the sublevel Maintenance Bay. First they detoured to Vehicle Unloading and Cargo to scavenge for supplies. Checked Vehicle Bay logs and found that tractors were missing but not signed out (possible set up for more colonists being out in the wastes). Encountered Sentry Gun set to motion fire pointed from processor tunnel toward colony, closed door to get past it. Found the demolished barricade in front of the door to the Maintenance Bbay. One Scout Xeno in Maintenance Bay attacks the party. Injured three PCs but didn’t kill any party members. Definitely put the fear of god in them by first damaging Holroyd and when broken came back up, spraying acid everywhere as it twitched on the ground. The traitor almost gave themselves away by closing a door to leave Sigg, Holroyd, and the Scout on the other side, but Holroyd dealt a killing blow to the Scout. When the traitor was confronted about it afterwards, they pleaded fear and everyone forgave them.

While resting and scavenging in Maintenance Bay, paged by Wes Osterman. Team agreed to come rescue him. First, paged all other comms locations to confirm Wes’ claim no one else was answering.

Up ladder in Maintenance Bay to D1. Encounter Mary, she joins group. Move to B1, had Drone from E1 wander up toward B1. PCs used comm station distract back toward E1 South Lock, then closed door between B1 and E1. Took stairs from B1 up to B2 to raid armoury.

Use blow torch to go through armoury door. Used extra success to get it done in half the time. I decided this made it louder, attracting a Scout from C2 and the Drone now up on E2, bashing at the two locked B2 East and South doors. Holroyd steps out of the armoury and is one-shotted by the Drone. Sigg panics and ends up hiding under a table in the armoury. Hirschel sacrifices himself to hold the line at the tee-junction of B2 while everyone else flees down the stairs to B1. Hirschel uses the bolt gun to hobble the Scout and is then tail stung, putting a timer before he passes out. Hirschel then ends up bolting the Scout to the wall when switching to a second bolt gun they picked up in the Maintenance Bay.

I ruled the Drone picks up paralyzed Hirschel and carries him away, giving a chance for Singleton, Macwhirr, and Mary flee back down the staircase to B1. Mary’s chestbuster erupts as they run through B1 on the way to A1 while trying to reach Osterman. Macwhirr stands to fight the chestbuster with a shotgun from the armoury, while Singleton flees to A1, locking the door behind them, trapping Macwhirr with the chestbuster. The traitor closed the door with an epic, “Sorry, nothing personal. The company is a lot scarier than you are.” Macwhirr ends up killing the Chestbuster, but runs out of ammo and the noise of the fight attracts another Drone. We fade to black.

Singleton doesn’t actually want to rescue Osterman, so now that they are alone trying to reach Reynolds in the Admin Office. Since Singleton’s player knew what the last group went through to get the key and shuttle, we ruled that on their own Singleton fails and is captured. Fade to black.

The final scenes were narrated: Hirschel, Singleton, and Macwhirr awaken in the hive and see each other before being Facehugged. Sigg barricades themselves in the armoury and hopes for a rescue which never comes.

Moral of the story: work together or die alone.

After session debrief was very positive, both from those who had seen the movies and those who had not. Holroyd and Hirschel’s players were happy their PCs got to be heroic before their brutal ends. Singleton was proud they’d managed to prevent anyone from escaping, mostly achieving their agenda. Macwhirr’s player was excited by their heroic stand and last minute victory against the Chestbuster. Sigg’s character figured that their character’s end fit their cowardly and fearful unwillingness to work with their team mates.

Next Time: I’m going to take my regular D&D group (third fresh player group!) through my own spin on Hope’s Last Stand with the Marshal and some deputized colonists trying to repair the comm system to send an SOS. Will run it then post the new PCs here, with comments on how they and their agendas went. Again a shout out to Effekt Podast for their Hope’s Last Stand Actual Play recording providing inspiration for this and the next session.
 
Attackmack
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Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Sat 22 Aug 2020, 12:29

Dont forget the third option; "Die together" XD
 
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euromellows
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Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Mon 24 Aug 2020, 00:50

Hi Frontinus. That's a great After Action Report on your two games.

I agree, Alien is a lot of fun - especially the cinematic style.
 
Johnmarron
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Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Fri 28 Aug 2020, 16:34

Both sessions sound like they were a lot of fun. I've run about 6 one-shots of Alien now, and every time the players had a blast. It's a really wonderfully designed game.
 
Frontinus
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Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Sat 26 Sep 2020, 23:19

This was my third time running Hope's Last as a DM. The first two times I ran it mostly as written in the rule book. For my third run I modified the scenario more significantly. This time I was running it with my monthly D&D group, so I wanted to have it a bit more hack and slash and see if the system and scenario held up with bigger guns and more ammo.

1. I changed the premise to the "Hope's Last Stand" premise described by Effekt Podcast. Instead of colonists trying to escape on a shuttle, it was a Colonial Marshall posse trying to send a distress call. This group was more heavily armed, including one Smart Gun and Flak Vests (Armor 4) for everyone.

2. I wrote up new characters for this scenario, which you can see here:
https://imgur.com/gallery/eZig0UM


Marshal Kurtz - Based on the Marshal Jonathon Otaka NPC stats. Agenda: to get a general distress signal sent at all costs.
Assistant Marshal Razumov - Based on a the Colonial Marshal NPC stats. Agenda: One up Kurtz and everyone else as much as possible, but especially by getting the first alien kill.
Deputized Mechanic Tan - Ex-Marine. I think I reskinned and armed Hirsch from the original scenario, changing the Talent to Overkill. I wanted someone who could reasonably know how to use a smart gun. Agenda: to make sure the marines are called in.
Chief Engineer Kaluuya - Based on the Chief Engineer Sergei Morozov NPC stats but swapped Hothead for Nerves of Steel Talent. Agenda: Don't be killed by anyone or anything dumber than you.
Doctor Farrok, MD - Based on the Medical Doctor NPC stats. Agenda: Company loyalist. Send a distress call to the company instead of a general distress call.
Doctor Daniels, PhD - Reskin of the Sonny Sigg NPC stats. Agenda: To get a sample back to Earth before those corporate scientists steal all the glory.

I had five players and initially controlled Razumov as an NPC. I figured it was both good to have a spare character for a player to jump to if their character died, and figured since Razumov has an aggressive agenda I might throw them into the line of fire to protect a player character.

The group started in the Command Center. They had just fled Mass Housing by way of the armory, so they are as well equipped as they can be. Engineer Kaluuya realizes they can't send a distress call from here. He lays out the plan that they will need to get the repair parts from the Maintenance Bay on the sub level, repair the Comms Array beside the Landing Pad, start the generator, and then send the distress call from the second floor of the ATC building.

Daniels looks through the security cameras and sees the Xeno in the airlock right below them in E1 and the body being dragged off screen in A1, giving him and Tan, who was looking over his shoulder, their first stress. The party had initially planned to take the stairwell in E directly down to the sub level but see this causes them to choose instead to go the route E2 -> B2 -> B1 -> D1 -> sub level. While Daniels is logged on, he also creates a superuser account so that he can access any mainframe functions from the standard terminals throughout the base. Daniels is very concerned that so many of the security cameras are off line and wants to investigate one when the opportunity arises.

In B2 they passed by Kurtz's office, so he called a stop to check for any additional useful supplies. Kurtz rolled five successes on the observation check so I gave three rolls o the equipment table, yielding a fire extinguisher, a big pipe wrench, and a cutting torch with 3 power that were distributed among the team.

As the party moved down the stairs to B1, they made a no success mobility roll, which Kaluuya pushed into still no successes, which the player described as tripping, trying to grab the railing, then tumbling down the stairs, so I decided that drew the attention of the Xeno in A1. It started banging on the door between B1 and A1, so the party ran flat out to the sub level.

When they reached the sub level Tan helped Kaluuya look for the parts for the repair in the North room while Farrok searched the med station for additional supplies. Kurtz watched the doors to the West while Razumov covered the stairwell they had just taken down from D1. Daniels found a step ladder and went to inspect the non-functional security camera in the NW corner. Kaluuya and Tan found the parts in the NE room and were arguing about who was going to carry it when a Xeno reached out from the tangle of conduit in the ceiling to grab Daniels. Draw initiative!

While Tan argues with Kaluuya, out of the corner of his eye he sees the Xeno reaching down for Daniels and opens fire with the smart gun. He uses a stunt to cause the Xeno to fall to the ground, unfortunately, the acid splash breaks and kills Daniels immediately. With cat like grace, the Xeno lands and charges Tan. It rolls a successful head bite that the armor doesn't block, killing Tan immediately.

Two player characters dead and the Xeno has only taken one of its two sets of actions for the first round. New record for deadliest encounter at shortest time. I had been planning to have a second Xeno drop out of the rafters, but held back when the encounter turned so deadly so quickly.

My players express suitable concerned about anyone surviving this. Kurtz and Farrok open fire, dealing more damage and pinning the Xeno in place but are shocked that it is still standing. It hisses back menacingly but they hold down their panic. Kaluuya flees to the West with the parts, but pauses at the SW exit to open the door and then looks back. Razumov (now controlled by the player who was playing Daniels) comes around the corner, sees their best friend Tan dead on the ground and incinerates the Xeno.

I have Wes Osterman stumble out of the machine shop to give a new character for the player who was playing Tan. They characters use Daniels Superuser access to play loud rap music in D1 to draw attention, then run west through the sublevel to the vehicle bay. I had planned to have the Sentry Turret shoot at them when they passed the hallway leading to the Atmosphere Processor, but decided to skip it for pacing. They are disappointed to find no vehicles in the bay. The group debate between going outside vs staying indoors and heading for the West Airlock. A skittering sound in the vents cuts the debate short, Kurtz says we are staying inside as long as possible, so they head for the West Airlock.

At the West Airlock, the group found the remains of band practice (drum kit, paper scattered around) and was ambushed by two facehuggers. They quickly dispatched the facehuggers, paused to plan the repairs, and reduce stress. Kurtz makes a special emphasis by using Calming Presence on Kaluuya because he doesn't want their engineer to freeze during the repairs, and also smoked his Fancy Cigar to calm his own nerves. Then they all made a run for the landing pad.

At the landing pad, Kurtz and Razumov hold the line against three dog sized quadrupedal Xenos while Kaluuya repaired the comm array, Osterman started the generator, and Farrok was in ATC preparing to send the message to the company instead of a general SOS. Then they will all head to the ship and get to orbit to await rescue.

Kurtz opens by throwing a grenade at the charging Xenos, to no effect. Razumov again used the flamethrower to incinerate one Xeno and I let them spend a stunt to keep a second at bay with the flames while the third tackled Kurtz to the ground. Kurtz dropped the pulse rifle but was able to get his revolver into the Xeno's mouth and blow its brains out the back of its head (like Hicks with the shotgun) while avoiding acid damage. The remaining Xeno tail stings Razumov, who immediately falls unconscious. Kurtz then retrieves his pulse rifle and blows away the third Xeno. All the characters were pushing every roll they made at this point, desperate to score a few extra successes to finish the repairs faster and pile more damage on the Xenos.

Enough time had been bought. The Comm Array is repaired, the generator turns on, flooding the area in harsh artificial light and revealing many more Xenos are closing in from all directions. Farrok gets the message off to the company, succeeding at their agenda. Kurtz panics and freezes. Osterman rushes in and grabs the flame thrower from Razumov's collapse form. Farrok hits Kurtz with a Naproleve to remove his stress and freeze up and pulls him to the shutte. Kaluuya picks up Razumov and drags him to the shuttle. Osterman sacrifices himself to draw enough attention from the ship for Farrok and Kaluuya to boot and launch the shuttle, even though neither of them have piloting experience.

We leave our surviving characters in space aboard the shuttle. Farrok sends the last transmission, with Razumov requesting a P.S. stating that he got the first kill, fulfilling his character's agenda.

Great fun was had by players and DM and it has been confirmed that bigger guns don't make Xenos any more survivable.

Things I might change if I did this scenario again:

Don't have a shuttle on the pad, let them die in a heroic last stand if they get the message out. That's the way Effekt did it and I think that's the more thematically consistent ending.

Have more interesting agendas. Farrok's agenda to get a signal to the company instead of a general SOS was the most interesting because it drove that player to want to be the one in ATC. Otherwise, these agendas didn't do much to motivate the players to do anything particularly unwise or drama building.

Have a secret android among the party. Or maybe even a non-secret one like in Hope's Last Day. More inter-party conflict would have made it much less likely that they reached the landing pad.
 
SlackC
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Joined: Wed 07 Oct 2020, 19:33

Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Sun 11 Oct 2020, 08:52

Hear, hear! I just ran Hope's Last Day with a couple of fairly inexperienced RPG players, and it went great. And a few of them lived, which I wasn't expecting at all! :) A lot of barricades and a lot of running, and a very efficient path from the medlab back to air traffic control. Macwhirr and Holroyd managed to get Singleton out alive, even after Singleton tried to kill Holroyd. Everyone else was killed by Xenos, including the NPC in the bar, but it made for a great 'epilogue:' Macwhirr recorded a general distress call, and when she ended the recording, Singleton gave them a "you know Wayland will never let us get away with this" as the shuttle left LV246.
Thanks for a great scenario! I can't wait to run some others.
 
Frontinus
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Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Mon 28 Dec 2020, 03:11

Latest adventure in the Alien RPG was another one shot, this time based on The Black Pyramid by Skull Dixon, a scenario written for the Mothership RPG. I took the premise from that adventure, reskinned for the Alien Universe and applied a healthy dose of Prometheus, which none of my players had seen. Used most of the maps and images from The Black Pyramid pdf, unaltered except for changed names, as the art is very evocative.

We had four players, five characters in the starting party, and I kept two others on hand as backup PCs, but didn’t end up using the backups (pirate and royal marine). We again played on Roll20 and you can see images of the character sheets and agendas at the link:

https://imgur.com/gallery/hYrGGud

The Reskinned elements:

The basic premise is that a giant black pyramid has been discovered floating in deep space. The players are a joint Weyland-Yutani/Three World Empire team being sent to evaluate the site. The away team consisted of two archaeologists, a company agent, a private security contractor, and a medic android and were carried to their destination by Captain Maxwell and the fast response ship HMS Swiftsure. They were scheduled to arrive after the HSM Arrow a quick fast ship full of Three World Empire Royal Marines. When the Swiftsure team arrives, they discover the Arrow team has been ambushed by pirates that have gone ahead into the pyramid.

As a few of my players are academics, I made a point of having both a book smart archaeology professor and a field smart archaeology post-doc on the team-- an obvious line of tension for the characters that immediately resonated with the players. The professor telling the post-doc, “You hold significant potential, but your currently capacity is limited,” immediately cemented the two academic characters as rivals and my players played it to the hilt. At one point the passage split between a path to the King’s tomb and the Queen’s tomb, and the two academics disagreed as to if they should split the team and who would go to which tomb. It nearly came to blows! Which was perfect.

In addition to the inter-party rivalry, falling oxygen supply, and the escalating character stress mechanic (Alien RPG Stress Dice are possibly my favorite tension mechanic of all the RPGs I’ve ever played), I also used a hidden timer as The Black Pyramid powers up, as described on p 23 of the module. I tracked this timer as a series of “clocks” as used by Blades in the Dark, with escalatingly creepy pyramid-wide event happening every 4-6 turns. Those events were also tweaked, instead of briefly sending the characters back in time to the pyramid’s construction, I had the characters see holographic playbacks, like in Prometheus. Instead of the pirates being turned into macroameba-like creatures, I used Abominations. In the flooded chamber I included a knocked over black vase and used Facehugger stats described as Hammerpedes, all inspired by Prometheus. The characters were also being stalked by a single Neomorph that was looking for an opening if someone ever went off alone, mostly prompted by my desire to have some of the “Covenant mold-spore” stuff around to encourage them to keep their suits on and manage their oxygen levels (this resulted in one very tense scene where the group was hiding from the Neomorph and needed to do an inter-suit oxygen transfer to prevent one of them from suffocating!).

I located the canopic jars to be from the Queen’s Tomb instead of the King’s Tomb, and made each jar a conceal electronic device. Once all four jars were back in the Queen’s sarcophagus, they revealed that the Queen’s sarcophagus was actually a cryosleep chamber for an Engineer. This triggered a final escape sequence with the explorers running for the exit as the pyramid shook, while the Engineer ran for the control room--I reskinned Chamber 5B, replacing the central liquid metal sphere with a holographic orrery of the surrounding star systems and adding some giant “throne” control chairs like we see in Prometheus and Alien.

This final running sequence was an epic conclusion:
The map layout really contributed to the tension as the characters reached the exit, dodging masonry and the Neomorph along the way. The Engineer, who had been barreling along behind them, ran down the other passageway shouting in almost-proto-Egyptian roughly: “Someone’s gotta fly this thing.” Professor Wokoma looked to her colleagues, looked toward the receding Engineer, told everyone else to go, and then ran in the direction of the Engineer before anyone could stop her. Just as the rest of the team escaped aboard the HMS Arrow, the Black Pyramid blinked away to parts unknown. Inside, Wokoma’s wildest dreams are exceeded. She sees a living Engineer take control and pilot the craft into the great unknown. The players and I certainly felt the adrenaline pumping when we were finished.

Key take aways:
Intentionally created interparty conflict can be great as long as your players are mature enough to recognize how it contributes to tension of the story and don’t take it personally.
A hidden timer that triggers unexplained phenomena (ground shake, holograms, falling bricks) is a great way to create a sense of urgency and foreshadows a great final run to escape the dungeon.
There are plenty of sci-fi supplements available that can be easily reskinned to fit the tone and lore of the Alien universe.

Everyone liked their pre-gen characters a lot and had such a good time that we’re going to try turning this into a campaign. Next time, most of the characters return to explore another Engineer tomb in an adaptation of an adventure from the Hard Light supplement by Kevin Crawford for Stars Without Number. I’m thinking Hard Light has enough to base a whole campaign arc around the “Sky Tombs of Perdurabo,” again with liberal reskinning of the supplement’s aliens to Engineers, Xenomorphs, and sundry black goo derived monsters.
 
Frontinus
Topic Author
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed 27 May 2020, 18:25

Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Mon 01 Mar 2021, 01:46

The players and surviving PCs from the Black Pyramid have turned into a monthly game. Quick summary of the next two events:

The Cold Tomb:
For the second session, the PCs arrived in a high solar activity system where the central star is called "The Beast" because of the intense radiation interfering with equipment and long range communication. The PCs were called in to map a comet being shepherded in system by the mining ship Canterbury to be used as reaction mass for the Darkside Station mining facility sheltered by the system's only planet. As planned, I used "The Cold Tomb" map from the Hard Light supplement by Kevin Crawford for Stars Without Number. Drawing from the experience in Black Pyramid, I again had them working on the clock to get the comet surveyed and artifacts collected on a timer before the station needed to break down anything left behind for reactant mass. I changed the dead inhabitants to a smaller number of Engineer corpses and the tomb defense robots to Xenomorphs. I described the text in this location as closer to Proto-Inod-European than the Egyptian Hieroglyphs from the Black Pyramid. To hint at DNA reflex effects, I indicated there were three Engineer corpses with bursted chests, each of a different skin colour: alabaster, amber, and purple. I then had each of the three adult Xenos be tinged one of those colours, which helped to give them some differentiation. Since Wakoma had left with the Engineer last time, that player took over the new W-Y Company Agent, Jameson. One of the rooms contained a map of the system, which they used to identify four other sites of interest for future exploration. In all, they mapped the comet interior so it can be safely processed into reactant mass, captured one (very soggy) Xeno corpse, and trapped the two other Xenos in the comet. I can't imagine any terrible consequences of that decision.

Empty Graves:
At the beginning of the session I had the characters get some scenes being thanked by the workers on Darkside Station and subtly threatened by the station administrator, who I played as a cross between the Station Administrator in Outlander (the 1980's Sean Connery film) and a southern bell, "Y'all understand I have wide discretion to take the actions I deem necessary to maintain the flow of metal from this mining and refining operation? Peachy." I also took time to introduce them to Pilot Terishkova, descendent of the first woman in space and pilot of the in system shuttle Iron Belly.
Between sessions, I gave the Company Agent's player the choice of which of the four sites to explore first:
1. Empty Graves artist colony carved into an asteroid
2. Ypsilon-14 Asteroid with a mobile survey module currently present.
3. Asteroid rumoured to be the secret cache of a dead pirate.
4. Asteroid in a section of the belt rumored to be haunted as two teams had gone missing while surveying there.
5. Stay at Darkside Station and poke around there.
They picked the "off the books artist colony" of Empty Graves. Given the pirates theme of option 3, and a request for "more cyberpunk" I took the Empty Graves map, added a second uninhabited level below for more graves, and redid all the PCs as an actual artists colony. The walls are decorated with abstract murals, impressionist canvases, pointillist 360 degree views and more. The colony residents are definitely hiding something that the PCs haven't figured out yet, but they are in fact also artists. I expect the cyberpunk player will be most pleasantly surprised once they get to the bottom of the Empty Graves' present day mystery.
In the uninhabited level two the team found an empty mausoleum (figured I need some justification for the "Empty Graves" moniker), and an incomplete hieroglyph story about the inhabitants of the tomb "standing against the darkness." They found another three cryotubes in the style of the sarcophagus at the Black Pyramid. Alas, the inhabitants of all three sarcophagi had expired from various levels of cryotube malfunction. The first appeared fossilized, the second was dead but the "space cat" in the pod with them had survived and was immediately adopted by the PCs. However, this foreshadowed the horrific discovery in the third sarcophagus of a busted chest Engineer that was being nibbled on by a huge chest buster (I doubled the health and armor). Since last month's Xeno combat happened in water, and the Black Pyramid featured neomorphs, this was the group's first exposure to the acid blood mechanic and boy howdy did that nearly kill the Archaeologist! They have succeeded with injuries but no casualties and a new found respect for the dangers of "the Engineer biotechnology." This was also the first site they were able to salvage in full as there was no time pressure. Jameson declared bonuses all around as the Engineer cryotubes alone were expected to revolutionize cryosleep.

Next month, some strange reports from survey outpost Ypsilon-14 will provide both professional and personal draws to another Sky Tomb.
 
Frontinus
Topic Author
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed 27 May 2020, 18:25

Re: Thank You Free League! This game is awesome!

Thu 17 Jun 2021, 23:29

I am pleasantly surprised to report that I am now running a monthly game of Alien RPG. The next session was adapted from The Haunting of Ypsilon-14 adventure for the Mothership RPG by D G Chapman.

The team took the in-system shuttle Iron Belly to asteroid Ypsilon-14, as this was a site identified on the star map and it happened to be currently surveyed by one of the two in system mining ships. The Archaeologist and Company Agent stayed behind to continue managing the extraction of artifacts from the Empty Graves site. Additionally, the goal was to pick up two community members from Empty Graves that were finishing their 6 month shift on the prospecting ship.

On the flight from Empty Graves to Ypsilon-14, the pilot briefly detected an anomalous sensor reading but was unable to determine the source before the signal disappeared. This is not uncommon due to the EM interference in this system, there are even rumors of a ghost ship, Captain Terishkova relays.

The team arrives on Ypsilon-14 and finds things are not ready to receive the supply shipment because a miner is missing so the prospecting crew is focused on a search operation down in the mines. It is mentioned that the scientist had discovered a xenoarchaeological site of below surface tunnels, so the characters end up focused on that, interviewing anyone that paused near them and trying to establish if it is related to the disappearance. The PCs are so focused on possible black goo ampules the scientist may have found, and the dice rolls had the monster picking off people far enough away from the PCs, that they didn't realize they were being hunted by a monster until until the fourth of ten mining ship characters was almost dragged off into the vents right in front of them. Given that the supervisor was also missing (she was the first victim) at this point the PCs took charge. They quarantined the two crew members exposed to the black goo and moved everyone else (fortunately including the two Empty Graves members) over to the Iron Belly.

They set a trap for the monster. I used the stats for a Neomorph, but described it as a sallow white person-sized octopus type creature that could wriggle through surprisingly small openings, including the vents. The trap worked and they managed to herd the monster into the airlock and eject it into space (very Ripley at the end of Alien), with the PMC only barely surviving a brutal throat bite from the creature thanks to the emergency medical intervention of the android medic. As final clean up they torched the two infected crew members, who had transformed in the time it took to set up and execute the trap for the big monster.

The team then decided that discretion was the better part of valor, so they left the prospecting site unexplored and lifted off, leaving behind a quarantine beacon. But someone is going to need to recover this multimillion dollar corporate asset eventually, so there may be scope for a marines one-shot in the future.

On the flight back to Empty Graves with the survivors, Captain Terishkova detects the anomalous signal and with her quick thinking they recover a flight recorder from the USCSS Cronus. The next few sessions will be framed as this group of PCs reconstructing what happened on the USCSS Cronus by having the players play through Chariot of the Gods with that scenario's pregenerated characters.

A quick note on format: at this point I'm envisioning this as an anthology series. The main through line will be our team of intrepid xenoarchaeologists but there will be arcs and one shots with adjacent sites and characters (eg. next 3 sessions CotGs, maybe a one shot of marines clearing the tunnels that the Ypsilon-14 survey discovered (perhaps generated based on the tunnel mission in Colonial Marines Operational Manual), a bunch of sessions for Destroyer of Worlds, etc.). I was originally inspired to consider this format by @Diego 's Alien: Wanderer campaign described here: https://alienwanderer.obsidianportal.com

P.S. the prospecting ship's cat was also rescued, so our little band is now in guardianship of two ship's cats, despite not having a ship!?!

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