DeusXLondon
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Mon 19 Apr 2021, 07:55

Hi Angelman

I don't see anything in the Aliens lore for GJ2092 (A quick google of that star name and the keyword aliens doesn't show up anything in the usual wikis like https://alienanthology.fandom.com/wiki/ ... ology_Wiki, my usual go-to to check I'm not stepping on existing lore)

For my campaign full of astrophysicists I have to get at least the star type right , so I punch it into here:
https://www.universeguide.com/star/124301/gliese2092 .
But if you've already rolled up your star system, always a fun part, remember the rule with hard sci-fi - don't let reality get in the way of your inspiration :)

On Working Joe stats, I agree, the refurbished android is the way I'd go too.
(In my long campaign arc, I'm thinking of making the UPP android antagonist from DoW my parties bete noire)

DX
 
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Angelman
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Tue 27 Apr 2021, 13:05

Hi Angelman

I don't see anything in the Aliens lore for GJ2092 (A quick google of that star name and the keyword aliens doesn't show up anything in the usual wikis like https://alienanthology.fandom.com/wiki/ ... ology_Wiki, my usual go-to to check I'm not stepping on existing lore)

For my campaign full of astrophysicists I have to get at least the star type right , so I punch it into here:
https://www.universeguide.com/star/124301/gliese2092 .
But if you've already rolled up your star system, always a fun part, remember the rule with hard sci-fi - don't let reality get in the way of your inspiration :)

On Working Joe stats, I agree, the refurbished android is the way I'd go too.
(In my long campaign arc, I'm thinking of making the UPP android antagonist from DoW my parties bete noire)

DX
Oh, thanks, mate! This is gold :) (I've been mostly away from the internet for about a week and didn't see this until now). Thanks, this will allow me to bs my players into believing that I know what I'm doing ;)

We played the first adventure -- Hear No Evil -- last Thuesday and it went swelling! :D I struggled a bit with remembering the rules, but that's expected and the players didn't mind. We managed to pull off a proper "haunted house" drama which culminated in a confrontation with a terrorist-reprogrammed Working Joe in the dark. Very cool and atmospheric and the game left the players howling for more 8-)
Last edited by Angelman on Thu 29 Apr 2021, 10:24, edited 1 time in total.
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
DeusXLondon
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Thu 29 Apr 2021, 08:29

Glad to help.

Your Hear No Evil adventure sounds great! Always leave them howling for more :)

DX
 
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Angelman
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Thu 29 Apr 2021, 10:20

Thanks, @DeusXLondon :)

Hear No Evil sure was fun! :D
I'm trying to keep the scenarios short, simple, and uncluttered, kinda like space horror minimalism if you will.

The next one (with this pair of characters) will be See No Evil, where the USCMs go to investigate a mining colony elsewhere in the star system, which, like the comms satellite platform thingy has also gone suspiciously quiet lately. Also, the Working Joe that attacked them on the satellite wore a uniform from said mining colony... The thick plottens!!! ;)

(This part of the multi-strand plot arc will all culminate in Speak No Evil, where the USCMs discover the Xeno plot and find themselves in a mad dash to get off world before the Xenos get them or the terrorists, who (trying to prevent anyone spreading the horror to outside systems) again destroys all comms options, and attempts to set the site to self-destruct. (Although, I haven't done any more than casual brainstorming on this one yet, so things might change).
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
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Angelman
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Sat 08 May 2021, 11:18

So, we did a second session last night and I thought I should share it here just in case people are interested in reading this kind of thing. As always, feedback and suggestions are very much appreciated.

Space Trucker mini-campaign (aka. WAR IN HEAVEN) - Scenario 1: Safe Haven
So, this scenario occurs in the same overall campaign but with different PC POVs; this time, trucker crewmembers of the Bison-class freighter, Viola (the same ship that was attacked by terrorists en route to Arkhangelsk Station in the prologue of the previous scenario).

The Viola, having survived its encounter with the terrorists with the help from the USCM frigate the Fidanza, limped its way towards Arkhangelsk, its FTL engines ruined, and two fuel tanks ruptured (+a lot of “minor” issues). The station (a Sevastopol-type facility) orbits the “dirty snowball planet” of Atlas, a terrestrial rock slightly larger than Earth, with a methane rich atmosphere, 95+% ice sheet cover, but several mining ventures going on along the mountain ranges peeking up through the ice. Approaching Arkhangelsk, they grow weary of how little and how weak radio communication there is with the supposed major colony station, and then they see it: an entire spire of the 3-spire space station is burnt out and destroyed (the Sys/Tech Spire with most of the comms arrays and such).

The Viola, which carries foodstuffs, medicines, and textiles for Arkhangelsk – as well as a sealed cargo contained addressed to the space station's Wayland-Yutani representative – is allowed to dock, but their requests for aid and emergency repairs at Arkhangelsk goes unanswered. Cpt. Holton (NPC) sends his Main Pilot & Medical & Science Officer (PCs) to liaison with the Arkhangelsk Marshal to figure out what’s going on. More importantly, Cpt. Holton wants the PCs to offer any medical & technical aid they can to Arkhangelsk for free, hoping the Viola will get some love back in return.

The Viola lands and is greeted by the Arkhangelsk Station’s Wayland-Yutani Rep, a middle-aged white dude named Abe – I show the players a picture, and it is Ash from Alien (same model, different unit). The PCs haven’t a clue who Ash was, of course, and have no reason to suspect Abe of any funky business, but my players? …yeah, they’re pooping themselves. Fun times!

Abe checks and accepts the sealed container, before taking the PCs to see the Marshal. The Marshal reveals that Arkhangelsk used to employ a certain mercenary unit for system security, a group of impeccable reputation and moral standing, not to mention conducting themselves according to supposed “strict Christian values”, calling themselves Seraphim Security. Everything was going swell, until 11 weeks ago, after returning from a classified patrol mission, the Seraphim mercs attacked Arkhangelsk and attempted to destroy it; they ignited several drums of spacecraft fuel inside the Sys/Tech Spire, completely burning that out, and smashed every comms equipment they could find on Arkhangelsk. Furthermore, they stole all the food, water, and booze* they could get their hands on, and left the station in a rain of bullets. The mercs also stole the station’s two system defense patrol crafts, one of which (the players realize) was the Piranha ship that attacked the Viola in the prelude thingy.
*To manage their growing stress levels, of course.

The Marshal asks the PCs to help out, the Pilot PC to operate a remote-controlled drone in space to check out the damage and assist a repair crew, and the Medic to take over the make-shift field hospital where 16 critical patients still linger on (with only 4 nurses to treat them, the entire hospital wing having been destroyed in the Sys/Tech Spire inferno).

(I’m skipping lots of details here, obviously).

The Pilot operates the drone and spies on Abe can't-believe-it's-not-Ash through a space-window, witnessing the station Company Rep. packing out all sorts of high-tech medical gear, some motion detectors & cattle prods, a child-sized stasis pod, several 20-liter steel containment “buckets”, and lots-and-lots of horse-strength tranquilizers and broad-spectrum antibiotics. The PCs are intrigued but not too suspicious at this point, but the players… well, they poop themselves again, realizing that someone has just been outfitted to capture some bugs or something. Oh dear...

Meanwhile, the Medic PC gets to reorganize the station field hospital efforts, and goes on a 3-days-straight work shift with the help of a few handfuls of Neversleep pills. (Here we have a couple of human interest stories coming to bare, basically to give the players some context to the story and put some vulnerable NPC children and the like in their care, but we’ll skip that for brevity). One of the critical patients is Father Greyul (Catholic), who was the victim of a hate crime after the (supposedly Christian) mercs attacked everyone. They learn from Father Greyul that the Seraphim commander, a Col. Banks, approached him seeking confession and absolution prior to the mercenary attack; in short, the Seraphim commander wanted pre-emptive absolution for a heinous crime he was about to commit, which, of course, the father could not do as it is impossible to repent a sin before it is committed. A few hours after that confession session, the mercs attacked.

The plot thickens, just as the drone-operating Pilot PC spots a system defense patrol craft approaching Arkhangelsk Station from out of the shadow of the Atlas three (captured asteroid) moons and the Viola’s navigator picks up a radio transmission beamed from the approaching piranha to someone on the Arkhangelsk, spelling out a letter codeword in Morse Code: “W-R-A-T-H”. A (smallish) explosion occurs somewhere on the station and alarms blare; panic rise and the terrorist gunship approaches fast; Cpt. Holton orders his crew back on the Viola, but desperate civilians are queuing up in the hangar outside their ship; reports of fires… Working Joes going rogue… panic-driven violence… In short, all hell breaks lose on Arkhangelsk Station, and we break for a cliffhanger end to the session.


………..

From here, the Viola will probably try to escape Arkhangelsk, especially once they realize the terrorists are after them specifically (or rather, any outsider ship who could spread the secrets that Seraphim Security desperately wants to keep a lid on, by any means possible). The Viola will likely take more damage and, with at least some civilians onboard (patients put in the onboard AutoDoc), be forced to make an emergency landing on the frozen surface of Atlas.
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
nda
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Wed 12 May 2021, 14:01

I dropped into the forum because I discovered it and had my own question but I was much more engaged by this one.

I didn't think Free League could pull this game off at all, but even when I started reading review after review saying that against all odds, they did pull it off, the writers were all saying that campaign play was the weak point - given the nature of the Alien setting and style, it would never work. And I enthusiastically agreed. I wrote off the format at first reading.

All this to say that looking at your campaign architecture, I believe you did make it work. The alternating casts of characters jumping from storyline to storyline was absolutely inspired.

My first Alien GMing experience is scheduled but I haven't gotten there yet and I have limited experience with the lore. But just dramatically some thoughts occurred to me.

One of the things shared between my appreciation of the Alien movies and my appreciation of zombie movies is the generally-accepted hypothesis that no matter what the horror monsters are doing, the greatest threat humanity faces is still ourselves. You've embraced that theme which I love. I think the trick is that the threat of the alien needs to be ever-present - if I were running this I'd do what I can to leave it open in the player's minds that any given mini-scenario could by The One Where it Happens. I think you've probably gotten maximum GM points if you can convince them that each game is the one where the alien finally rears its ugly head, and then the one where they seem to believe it won't be is the one of course when they finally run into it.

I worry about one alien vs. Marines with, you know, everything on Hudson's list of deadly devices. No absolute obligation in the end to have one alien (I spent a while building my PCs confidence in a game recently with the promise of a small family group of creatures just to make sure they appreciated it when they accidentally attacked a whole tribe of them instead, intel is important :) ) but if you can get them down to just the 'sharp sticks' part I think the fear factor will be there. Not saying they have to face the Alien that way, just, you know, making them run through a game session or two with no ammo or a strict 'hold fire' order (not the kind that Vasquez and Drake view as optional, the kind where you breach the hull and everybody dies) and the Xenomorph close at hand really should keep the stress up.

I'd vote for the endgame where somehow all the disparate characters are cooperating by the end (either in person, or at least communicating) and plan ahead to ensure it happens. Obviously that will help mitigate attrition in each group and I think your players would get a kick out of picking their favorite character from the whole set for the Final Showdown.

You've probably considered a lot of that, just some things that occurred to me. Mostly I just wanted to say that this whole plan for executing a campaign was utterly brilliant (though a remarkable display of dedication from you, that is a ton of pre-planning, I salute you) and I'd love to do a story like this with my PCs one day.
 
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Angelman
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Thu 13 May 2021, 11:59

Why, thank you for those kind words, @nda :) It's really inspiring that you find our campaign worthwhile and interesting!

As I see it, this campaign is sort of a mix between campaign style and cinematic style of Alien RPG-ing. Overall, it's a campaign, but the individual mini-campaigns that it's made up of are more akin to cinematic gaming, since they won't go on forever (actually, they'll last for only about 3 sessions each) and the characters are there just to support telling the overall story. In other words, I can kill off characters without causing any problem for the overall "meta"-campaign, or whatever you wanna call it. It gives me lots of freedom to explore really focused stories, without having to bother with scripting character arcs and the like, as per cinematic gaming.

To be honest, this is just me trying to be a fantasy writer on my spare time and using those acquired skills to run a multi-POV Alien story with no actual main protagonist story arc. (<-- I don't know if that made any kind of sense, but here we are).
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
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Angelman
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Thu 13 May 2021, 15:42

the writers were all saying that campaign play was the weak point - given the nature of the Alien setting and style, it would never work. And I enthusiastically agreed. I wrote off the format at first reading.
I do believe that the game has some serious challenges in the campaign style department, challenges that Free League should absolutely strive to mitigate. The core problem is that the Alien franchise universe is so very small... ironically. There are a few political factions who all vie for control of the Aliens, and then there's the Aliens trying to murder everything it encounters, and you can always throw in a big Engineers plot to add scale but not much else... and that's about it for the Alien universe. I think the best thing that FL could do is to create some original content that does NOT strive to emulate the movies. Give us an Alien free corporate espionage campaign, or a tension-fueled murder mystery, or whatever; SOMETHING to demonstrate how it doesn't have to be an Alien/Aliens/Alien3 reskin every time. There are potentials here, with the various factions and all, but FL should really aim to actually do something about such stories and themes and tropes and genres to build a better world, so to speak. Hell, make a campaign/sourcebook about the war between UPP & USCM having finally exploded, and use that, instead of (only) the Alien thing, to create conflicts and scenarios and vistas. I, for one, am not at all sure that I can create another Alien campaign like the one I'm GMing, just because once this campaign is done, I've done the Alien thing and there isn't much else to do except remake the same thing but with different monsters.

............
I think the trick is that the threat of the alien needs to be ever-present - if I were running this I'd do what I can to leave it open in the player's minds that any given mini-scenario could by The One Where it Happens. I think you've probably gotten maximum GM points if you can convince them that each game is the one where the alien finally rears its ugly head, and then the one where they seem to believe it won't be is the one of course when they finally run into it.

I'd vote for the endgame where somehow all the disparate characters are cooperating by the end (either in person, or at least communicating) and plan ahead to ensure it happens. Obviously that will help mitigate attrition in each group and I think your players would get a kick out of picking their favorite character from the whole set for the Final Showdown.

You've probably considered a lot of that, just some things that occurred to me. Mostly I just wanted to say that this whole plan for executing a campaign was utterly brilliant (though a remarkable display of dedication from you, that is a ton of pre-planning, I salute you) and I'd love to do a story like this with my PCs one day.
Very good points here. I will try to make the "is this The One Where it Happens" a core part of the suspense, but to be honest, thus far my players are just geeking out so hard over being in the Aline universe and meeting not-Ash and whatever that I don't really have to do much ;)

I don't actually do a whole lot of planing here, to be honest, and the below-surface iceberg is none-existing. I draw a lot of visuals from Alien: Isolation, keep in mind I'm using as much religious allegories and flavor as I can in the story, and going with South-East Asian nationals most of the time to make it all a bit different, and then I play the various mini-campaign stories more or less by ear.

I try to keep it fast, focused, and contained, preventing sprawling narratives at every opportunity. Fancy post-modern GMs would accuse me of railroading the story through the narrow scope of things, but I see it as more of a literary thing rather than stream-of-thought free-form RPGing.

............
I worry about one alien vs. Marines with, you know, everything on Hudson's list of deadly devices. No absolute obligation in the end to have one alien (I spent a while building my PCs confidence in a game recently with the promise of a small family group of creatures just to make sure they appreciated it when they accidentally attacked a whole tribe of them instead, intel is important :) ) but if you can get them down to just the 'sharp sticks' part I think the fear factor will be there. Not saying they have to face the Alien that way, just, you know, making them run through a game session or two with no ammo or a strict 'hold fire' order (not the kind that Vasquez and Drake view as optional, the kind where you breach the hull and everybody dies) and the Xenomorph close at hand really should keep the stress up.
Actually, I'm not all that concerned about this. My players, playing two (new) USCMC marines, had a fair bit of problem dealing with a single Working Joe badie in the first scenario (although I did take away my girlfriend's smartgun, mohawhawhaw!). I believe a single Drone or Warrior or some-such would be challenge enough for many marines pairs. But you do have a point and I will keep open the option that there are potentially several Alien creatures running about. I mean, my overarching campaign conflict is that some Seegson scientists are trying to figure out some alien stuff (eggs OR "spawning gunk" or whatever it's called OR Queen Jelly or whatever), and there's no reason that this endeavor couldn't result in multiple demons running about!

Or, to quote Col. Kurtz: "The horror... the horror..."
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
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Angelman
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Wed 26 May 2021, 13:19

Last week, we did another session but I forgot to write a summary here.

This time,
Space Trucker mini-campaign (aka. WAR IN HEAVEN) - Scenario 2: Shipwrecked Sailors
We picked up where we left off, with Arkhangelsk Station already in tatters and now attacked AGAIN by the Christian fundamentalist mercenary company turned marauders – Seraphim Security.

A large explosion is heard somewhere, but nobody knows what it was.

The Pilot PC must battle his way back to the Viola, encountering panicking thugs (out to steal the spacesuit he’s still wearing post-EVA for safety) and later Abe (can’t-believe-it’s-not-Ash) who – carrying an 80L backpack, huge wheeled-suitcase, and an armored compact briefcase – insists that he (the station’s premiere Weyland-Yutani rep. and therefore the WY crew’s ranking superior) come with them on the Viola to escape.

Meanwhile, the Medic PC has her hands full with putting out a hangar fire (near the starship fuel pump-line), looking after her patients, dissuading (unsuccessfully) the scores of station personnel from boarding the Viola, and battling a Working Joe who comes crawling out of the woodworks all of a sudden. It is total chaos.

The Marshal, whom the PCs haven’t seen for a while, manages to contact them on a bad Walkie-talkie, informing the PCs that terrorists have blasted his way into the Arkhangelsk Station AI control room (hence the explosion earlier) and he’s now battling it out with the entrenched terrorists down-the-hall as the bad guys seem intent on taking over the A.P.O.L.L.O. AI (=to reprogram the Working Joes, of course). The Marshal urges the Viola crew to get as many civilians as they dare onto their ship and fly to the Atlas surface to escape the carnage.

And then the Seraphim patrol craft arrives to open fire on the Viola just as it leaves the Arkhangelsk docks. The pilot PC fudges every Piloting check, which plays into the drama perfectly, and the Viola takes more damage – her FTL engines are already off-line, and now the STL engines and steering thrusters are failing, too. Luckily, the terrorists' stolen craft runs out of ammunition (this was scripted, to represent the ad-hoc nature of the Seraphim operations, and just happened to save the Viola from being torn completely to pieces when the Pilot PC kept failing checks). They have no other choice, now, then to attempt a crash landing on the dirty ice-ball planet of Atlast… Luckily, Abe points the way towards a fairly big surface colony that should be able to take them all in – the Golden Plains colony (see fan made map).

The Viola lands (our Pilot succeeding his check for a change), and everything is hunky-dory… except, it’s -70 degrees Celsius outside, with strong snow- & ice- storm raging, and the atmosphere is mostly methane and totally unbreathable to humans. With some efforts, they all manage to get shuttled from the outside landing platform into the base where they are welcomed by the helpful population of Golden Plains. Things quiet down as food, alcohol, and hot chocolate is administrated to the cold and stressed-out refugees. The locals relates that the Seraphim struck their base, too, but here they were content with only shooting out the base satellite dish and radio towers (i.e. the terrorists conserving resources) – the locals believe that’s what the terrorists did to most Atlas colonies and mining bases, with only Arkhangelsk being actually invaded. (This will turn out to not be entirely true, however).

As calm and sanity descends, a wild-eyed local techie storms into the mess hall where the refugees are cared for, informing everyone that someone just left the station, in the middle of the frigid snowstorm, on foot… It turns out it was Abe, heading south, (towards the Orpheus’ Lyre Mining Station), with all his luggage; the man must surely already be dead, and besides, there’s no way they’ll find him in this weather, so everyone grieves (or not) the loss of the Arkhangelsk Station Science Officer and Weyland-Yutani Rep to madness.

End Session
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
DeusXLondon
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Joined: Tue 23 Mar 2021, 11:34

Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Sun 30 May 2021, 19:11

Hi All, Angelman.

Ok, I'm still gripped, please keep the great write-ups coming :)

DX

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