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Angelman
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Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Sun 11 Apr 2021, 13:04

Hey all,
First-time poster here and a virgin Alien RPG GM (actually, I haven’t even finished reading the rulebook yet! Still, I was inspired to start plotting my first campaign, heh heh). I wish to share my current plans for a campaign and hope for some feedback and suggestions from all you fine peoploids. Anything from setting specifics (like: where should this campaign take place in the setting?) to rules details are all very welcomed. Here goes. (My campaign doesn’t have a name yet, but will probably be named after the star system where it will take place).


Campaign premise: Everything will take place withing one star system (in the Outer Rim, probably) where several small mining ventures were set up perhaps a generation ago. Other structures exists as well, like the Arkhangelsk Space Station from which the system is overseen and organized, and a network of comms stations (basically a small space station with a radio dish) scattered throughout to facilitate in-system computer networks and tele-com logistics.

Somewhere in this system, an alien is loose. It is still a secret, and the campaign will revolve around the players playing several POV PCs that slowly unravels the mystery. A short rundown of the mystery is as follows: An Xenomorph egg (or several) were smuggled into the system for study and experiment (I haven’t decided yet how or by whom). Some locals (possibly a mercenary team hired to protect the system/installation or perhaps a Marshal with friends) discovered the deadly plot and decided to take matters into their own hands for the good of humanity. Taking no chance on letting the secret out, and not trusting any governments or corporate interests, they have taken it upon themselves to destroy every trace of the secret experiment and their object(s) of study, and they are ready to sacrifice their friends and families in the system to nip the threat in the bud.

As the campaign begins, the premise is that unknown terrorists have seized ships and resources from the system and use it to destroy infrastructure and murder corporate types and such. A team of UA Colonial Marines – the 3rd Battalion, Foxtrot Team (or “Foxies”) – arrive to handle the situation.

We will jump back and forth between various groups of characters – some Marines, some miners, some space truckers some a group of kids handpicked by a corporation as future leaders of the firm on a scholarship study trip to the system, and possibly others – and each group will reveal another layer of the mystery onion. In effect, this will be a series of mini-campaigns revolving around the same themes and premises, rather than one big campaign, and since characters are likely to die off rather frequently, the campaign will have come cinematic play elements, I think.

I have only begun mapping out the USCMC character’s plot arc but I have lots of ideas for the others. Still, we begin with the marines, so here we are.

The UACMC mini-campaign
The UACMC 3rd Battalion, Foxtrot Team (“Foxies”) arrive in system to troubleshoot the terrorist enemy operatives behind all the recent destruction. With interstellar war looming on the horizon, the UACMC are spread out evermore thinly, and as a result a single team has been assigned to patrol this star system and combat the unknown enemy.

Prologue: Upon arriving in-system, the UACMC Conestoga-class starship – the USS Fidanza (it. “trust”) – found a nearby cargo freighter – the Viola – under attack from a small system defense/patrol gunship. The Viola, while still operational, had already suffered considerable damage, and the Fidanza arrived just in time to chase the small patrol craft (nicknamed “the Piranha”) off. As the piranha fled at speed into the depts of space, the Viola limped on towards its Arkhangelsk Station destination, while the Fidanza continued on with its preliminary survey tour of the star system.

Lt. Alexander Phillips, commander of the Fidanza and her mission, deemed pursuing the fleeing piranha too time-consuming and not worth their efforts. “At her current vector and velocity,” he declared, “it will take us weeks to catch up with the piranha, putting us severely behind schedule even before we begin our mission. Instead, we shall keep an eye on the rouge craft and, once it decelerates and changes heading, we’ll have ample opportunity to interrupt the piranha on her approach back in-system.”

Making the most of his small combat force, Lt. Phillips has divided half his men into smaller response units, which he drops off at priority locations on their journey in system. These response teams, often just a pair of marines, are charged with protecting, recapturing, and/or repairing these installations – whatever it takes.

Scenario 1 – Hear No Evil
The current scenario revolves around a two-person TechSpec team sent to restore a dead communications platform in deep space, the Siren Dish 7, one of several built to ensure reliable comms within and out of the system. The installation appears dead but there are no visible signs of damage from the outside; scanners confirm the unmanned mini-space station’s temperature is within expected range so there should be power onboard.

Scene 1: After a long (one shift) spacesuit EVA flight from the Fidanza to the platform – yes, they jumped off at a distance and flies over with gas-propulsion spacesuits steering by and IR guidance system – the marine pair finds the Siren Dish 7 locked down. They must either cut their way in or look for an emergency hatch to enter SD7 through.

Scene 2: Once inside, they find SD7 dark and the main entrance airlock welded shut from the inside… There is atmosphere and heat, but no power to doors, lights, computer panels, etc. (Note: While an unmanned installation, local regulations demand that all relevant space facilities must maintain systems capable of supporting human life in case of emergencies. So, the SD7 is basically an “oasis” in the cold “desert” of space). To get the SD7 up and running again, the team has to get the power working properly, and starts checking the reactor and systems.

Scene 3: With power more or less back on line (although curiously, there are lots of systems still not working and there seems to be indications of sabotage), the team heads on to investigate the radio systems and dish. In the dish control room, they discover that every electric circuit board has been removed from their systems and smashed to dust on a nearby table (i.e. obvious evidence of sabotage). This system cannot be brought back on line without major refurbishing efforts, although, the marine pair might be able to hook their personal coms up to the giant dish and send a signal to the Fidanza. As they work on this, the power suddenly dies. Before long, the marines’ rad-counters start to climb and the air grows heavier with every breath. Somehow, the life support is down and the radiation shielding around the reactor core must have been lifted. Heat starts slowly building, as well.

Scene 4: Back in the SD7 reactor, the PCs encounters a single Working Joe who has been lurking out of sight all this time. He wears the uniform of a different installation altogether, and upon seeing the marines he declares “invasive hostile organisms detected” and rushes to kill them. There’s a fight, the marines will likely win.

Scene 5: Having rid SD7 of its lurking threat, the PCs are free to try and solve their mounting problems as best they can.

Secret: The Working Joe was reprogrammed by one of the beforementioned terrorists and sent to SD7 to destroy the communications there. This to prevent the various system colonies from calling for help or any scheming corporate agents from contacting their handlers and bosses. Re-programmed terrorist Working Joes will be a common threat in the campaign, which will be juxtaposition with some scenarios or scenes where the PCs have Working Joes on their sides (the kids being chaperoned by one, for instance).


Scenario 2 – Speak No Evil
Another Foxies team find themselves on a system communications control satellite over one of the many moons in the systems. This is basically a small radio operations station tasked with managing communications and keeping the local computer networks online, and they have had serious problems with failing systems lately. Possibly armed with information from the SD7 team (presuming those PCs survived and/or managed to send their report to the Fidanza), the present Foxies team arrives to investigate and help out. They quickly learn that several Working Joes have recently been stolen from the station, (the one at SD7 came from here), and that comms systems keep failing regardless of their efforts. In other words, there are saboteurs in our midst! The scenario will revolve around the PCs figuring out who the badies are and dealing with them. There will likely be a confrontation towards the end with a few suicidal terrorists-for-humanity and at least one reprogrammed Working Joe, who, again, were working to prevent communications in the systems.


Scenario 3 – See No Evil
The terrorists from Speak No Evil carries clues that they originate from one of the mining bases in the system. The mine (for which I will use the brilliant fan-made Mining Outpost Dapheus’ Lyre map – thank you Mr. Anders Scisco Karma [??] for a fantastic map!), has gone quiet... The Fidanza arrives to look into the matter and find the place abandoned, although there are definite signs of violence and fighting having take place. This is one of the terrorists main strongholds, and possibly the site of one of the Xenomorph experiments, and the marines will go toe-to-toe with dug-in terrorists and possibly also with a lurking alien… (we’ll have to see where this fits in the overall campaign structure when we get to it). In any case, this will be the finale for the UACMC PCs in the campaign, and they will likely all die. (If I get my way, the terrorists will also seize the Fidanza and turn it towards their terrorism-to-save-humanity scheme).



These three scenarios are just one part of the overall campaign, and there will be other stories sprinkled in between these. For one thing, the mining out post in See No Evil will be the site of one or more non-marine scenarios earlier in the story. We’ll see how this develops.

Any takers? :)
"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)

Tue 13 Apr 2021, 21:24

No takers. Fair enough :lol:

I'll throw in a couple of new mini-campaign outlines for my multi-POV campaign. (I hope this all makes sense outside of my own deranged mind!)

NECESSARY EVIL -- Mining Colony mini-campaign outline

Scenario 1 – Barbarians at the Gates
The PCs, a Kid and miner/marshal/boss-person/boss-person’s lover are woken up by alarms. Someone is breaking into the mining outpost from the loading platform!
Drunk terrorists (subduing their stress and remorse) are trying to take over the mining outpost, knowing there is some sort of Xenomorph experiment going on there. (Actually, the experiment is taking place deep inside an abandoned mining shaft, repurposed by WY [??] scientists into a laboratory; the terrorists wrongly assume the lab is somewhere at the outpost base).
Soon, the PCs are the only survivors of the base (with the Kid being purposefully let go by a remorseful terrorist signaling for them to go and hide). They must flee to safety, but where to? The scenario ends with the pair making their way into the deadly unknown of the alien planet/moon/planetoid asteroid…

Scenario 2 – Hunted in the Dark
The terrorists, making inventory, have discovered that the PCs are missing from the mining outpost and sends a kill-team to look for them. No one can be allowed to escape, lest they know… or carry something.
The PCs must hide and possibly misdirect the pursuing (drunk) terrorists to stay alive.
There are several places where they can hide, minor periphery habitats and the like (radio towers, ice-melting plants, mining shaft habitats).
There’s at least one opportunity for the PCs to trick the terrorists and lure them to their doom by killing the driver of their vehicle and steeling it, stranding the terrorists in the ever-dark.
Still, there is nowhere for the PC pair to go, nowhere to escape, except… The scenario ends with the PCs discovering faint radio disturbance, some vague radio chatter down a valley where there shouldn’t be any… just an abandoned, unstable mining shaft.

Scenario 3 – Tartarus
Investigating, the PC pair discovers that the supposedly abandoned mining shaft is not at all abandoned. Inhabited by unknown agents (called Psychopoms perhaps?), this is the lair where Xenomorphic experiments are being wrought. Welcome to Hell. The PCs must chose to either brave the Tartarus mine, return to the mining outpost (possibly to alert the terrorists), or chose a cold, lonely death in the dark as their power runs out.


WAR IN HEAVEN -- Truckers mini-campaign outline

Aka. Arkhangelsk, Where Angels Dare Tread.

Overview: A trucker crew of the Viola finally arrives at the colony space station, having narrowly escaped a terrorist attack (fended off by the marines in the first story) that damaged their fuel tanks. Now they cannot leave until some repairs are made and their tanks refilled.
While at the station, the truckers get to relax and make preparations… and then some sort of crisis occurs. The truckers don’t learn exactly from what, but the station finds itself under attack. A Working Joe also malfunctions critically, causing deaths as the truckers flee. They must get back to their ship and try to escape; perhaps they can make do with emergency repairs and whatever fuel they can scavenge at the landing bay?
Back on their ship, scrambling to leave the burning station, the truckers are attacked by a colonial patrol craft! They escape with their lives, but must patch their ships enough to flee to the ice asteroid surface before the gunboat comes about for another strafing run.
Taking off in the damaged ship, the crew discovers a rogue Working Joe onboard, which they have to deal with. Crashing on the surface, their ship disintegrating and reactor slowly melting through the ice, the truckers must make a long trek to a small research station structure to find warmth and heath and oxygen… and hope for eventual rescue. Turns out, there were a second Working Joe onboard, and now they’re pursued across the ice… (or, there is an Alien on the ice? Having escaped Tartarus?)

Scenario 1 – Safe Harbor
Viola arrives at Arkhangelsk. Repairs being (station mechanics & Working Joes) and the crew receive help, spending some time in the goat fields. Suddenly, alarms blear and panic spread on the station. Rumors of an attack circulate and confusing orders and counter-orders fly.
More stuff happens. Fires, turning into an inferno (one whole “tower” burning?). Systems begin to fail, the station tips, metal creaks as Arkhangelsk falls from the heavens.
Eventually, the truckers decide it’s time to leave and make for the Viola. Terrorists and mad folk in the way. Narrow escape.

Scenario 2 – Uninvited Guests
Several mechanics and Working Joes have taken refuge aboard the Viola. There was no time to throw them off. Unfortunately, two newly-arrived mechanics turn out to be terrorists and along with a couple of Working Joe do their best to bring the Viola down.

Scenario 3 – Shipwrecked Sailors
Down on the surface, the truckers must find some way to survive. All the while, a monster (and surviving Working Joes?) hunts them.
Perhaps the truckers end up at the Mining Outpost and/or Tartarus mine?


I haven't yet decided how (i.e. in which order) these individual scenarios will be woven, but I intend to cut back and forth between mini-campaigns, rather than run them one after the other. Also, I will do one or two more mini-campaigns to round it all out, and there will probably be some sort of larger scale finale, but I'm going to leave that open for now.

Any feedback would be very much appreciated :)


PS: Btw, having looked around for a few days, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of action on these forums. (This is not at all intended as criticism, I'm just being curious). Is Alien RPG a not particularly popular game, I wonder? Is it just us hard core Alien freaks who bought and games it? Or are there other forums out there that gets more traction? (Again, no offence intended).
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
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ExileInParadise
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Tue 13 Apr 2021, 23:23

It might a few days before people get notices and get back into the forums to take a look...

Overall it looks like you have some good hooks/seeds in mind already.

Your first post looks like a bit of a mystery setup, so you want to make sure you have the who-dunnit, how-dunnit, and why-dunnit for the egg/xeno being brought to that system in the first place.

Then you sprinkle round 3-10 clues for each, as well as a pile of red-herring clues... then set your hook that drags the players into realizing there's a problem to solve.

You will also need a good bit as to why the players are the people to solve it - otherwise, they go all "Parker" on you and want to go home and party....

The other thing I wanted to mention from the initial look is that the Tartarus system was lifted from the 1990s ALIENS Adventure Game.

In that game, its the home of a voracious underground species called Harvesters that are busily devouring the colony on Tartarus, keeping the USCM busy with combat and rescue, and generally causing surrounding systems a huge refugee problem.

So, you could drop that entire subplot in there, and harvest (har har) all that previous material for that colony world.
We live, as we dream -- alone. ~ Joseph Conrad
 
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Angelman
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Wed 14 Apr 2021, 18:47

Hey, ExileInParadise,
Thanks for your feedback :)

Regarding the mystery, I have some vague ideas about the hows and whys and such, but I'm holding off on developing those things till I've finished the core book. (Which, by the way, is pretty damn good as rulebooks go!). Any suggestions are highly appreciated, however. At the time of writing, I'm planning to develop the mystery along the following lines (but there are big holes in my plotting, still):
  • Someone got their hands of one or more Xenomorph XX121 eggs. Exactly who, how, and when, I haven't decided but whatever the case, those someones have stashed said egg(s) somewhere in the star system we're in (possibly at multiple locations), planning to send out feelers to W-Y, Seegson, and others who might be in the market of buying some. The whos and hows of this is still very weak in my mind... but I might tie it to LV-426 or Fiorina 161 (some "treasure" hunters having struck bio-weapon gold, perhaps?). I'll have to do some more work here, for sure.
  • In any case, the plans were discovered by someone else. Again, the whos and hows are underdeveloped, but I'm leaking towards some kindhearted mercenaries specialized in protecting vulnerable Frontier communities and such -- a rare example of people in possession of a moral compass (religion might be involved here). These guys, whomever they are, experienced soul destroying horror connected to the egg discovery, and the experience left them quite mentally scared and in a constant state of panic. They decide there is only one thing to do, to make sure NO ONE EVER get their hands on these things, this for the good of all of humanity. They vow to destroy all evidence, which will take some time since they don't know if there's more specimen out there, and in the meantime they're destroying system communications and attacking ships to keep the secrets from leaving the star system. In other words, some good-ish guys find some Xeno-stuff, which broke their minds and turned them into terrorists. (Yeah, I know... there's A LOT more work to do here. The premise is not all at good right now, but I've focused firstly on drama and tropes and themes in developing this)
  • As the campaign moves forwards, the players (and their various PCs) will come closer and closer to the truth about the terrorists loose upon the star system... and the even more terrible evil they're trying to protect humanity from...

Regarding red herrings, I have -- in my 30 year experience as a GM -- come to the conclusion that they tend to do more ill than good. I find that confusion doesn't add as much as insight, especially to a horror/mystery story, so I tend to stay clear of red herrings.

As to PC motivations for (eventually) dealing with the core problem, I at present assume it will be the Colonial Marines who gets to troubleshoot the Xeno-issue, so getting them started is only a matter of higher-ups giving orders. As for other PCs rolling up their sleeves and doing what it takes, I will mostly rely on their desire to protect their loved ones and their livelihoods. At first, however, PCs will mostly compose of unlucky heroes who happen to be at the right place at the wrong time, with circumstances forcing them to act.

Regarding Tartarus, yes... I found references in the rulebook to the Tartarus System after posting the above. I wasn't aware of such a location already existing in the Alien-verse. I was planning for "Tartarus" to be a mine or something, but I think I'll have to choose another name for it; no problem. That said, turning this around and play up the Tartarus connection, as you suggest, could be interesting! I was planing to only use the classical Xeno-lore for my first campaign, but I might have to reconsider. We'll see...
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
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ExileInParadise
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Wed 14 Apr 2021, 22:41

This might help with red herrings - make them be legitimate clues to other plotlines...

Get 2-3 different loops running at once, much like how J. Michael Straczynski would write "A" and "B" plotlines for episodes....
We live, as we dream -- alone. ~ Joseph Conrad
 
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Angelman
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Fri 16 Apr 2021, 20:10

This might help with red herrings - make them be legitimate clues to other plotlines...

Get 2-3 different loops running at once, much like how J. Michael Straczynski would write "A" and "B" plotlines for episodes....
Yeah, those are pretty cool. I don't like to confuse and blindfold my players, but having events and stuff achieve additional things by foreshadowing future plot elements, or whatever; THAT I'm very much down with :D


Regarding my story... I find the the greatest challenge with Alien is getting your mind wrapped around the setting, especially interstellar society. Where would my story be best set, you think? On the very extreme edge of the Frontier, or is it possible to have huge secrets in less backwater corners of space too? Space travel is much faster "now" then what it was back in the day when Nostromo was destroyed, so star systems seem to never be that far away from "civilization". So, where is remote enough yet developed enough to house my plot, do you think?
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
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ExileInParadise
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Sat 17 Apr 2021, 00:02

Well... Sol to Zeta II Reticuli is around 17 weeks in 2179 (cribbing from how long a relief mission could take once they were declared "overdue")

So, call it 16 weeks in 2183...

Z2 Reticuli is ~40l.y. and 4 months, so the Sulaco could have been cooking 10l.y. a month.

That's less than Traveller's 1-6 parcec/week speeds.

So, yeah - space is big, really big, and getting anywhere is like the old ocean-going days of sail on Earth.

The crowded core is going to mostly be homebodies too... it's only the restless wanderers and those already born in the frontier who stick with it.
We live, as we dream -- alone. ~ Joseph Conrad
 
DeusXLondon
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Re: Early ideas for a campaign (help appreciated)

Sun 18 Apr 2021, 00:09

Thanks for those numbers, Exile.

I ran similar numbers for Chariot of the Gods, and got that FTL rating 12 mapped neatly to 100C.

<Chariot of the Gods spoiler warning>
Here was my no-doubt error filled numbers from my prep notes:
Nostromo: 88B, modern tug 88H
Montaro 88G freighter
Cronus a Heliades class WY sci vessel, sister ship to Prometheus, modern equivalent is Magellan class

Montaro's run to Sutter's world:
8 parsec 96 day trip on average, crew bonuses from day 92-100. Montaro stopped after 95 days, 2 days from Sutters World and 90 from Anchorpoint station, the closest WY shipyard. Montaro FTL rated at 12 days per parsec i.e. at 3.26 ly/pc (20 000 AU/31 petametres(31 x 10^15m or 31 thousand trillion km) she travels a ly every 3.68 days, so 100x C. Hence at 2 days out from Sutters World they are just over half a light year away, just entering their inner Oort cloud (actually 0.54 ly so 11000 AU, 16740 trillion km!) so a regular sublight radio message will take 200 days, 400 for a reply. FTL link to the WY Network maybe a week through Anchorpoint relay.

Cronus much slower, maybe 10x C? Rating 120! 2.5 years to Anchorpoint. 73 years if at 10 C could have covered 730 ly, 224 pc. Obviously ran out of fuel long before that, maybe 100-150 pc range, does that get us to Draconis 26? Also their old comm arrays might have supralux capability, but low bandwidth. Solitto rating FTL 18 (66C) or 36 (33C) when towing 1MT. To tow Cronus would only drop ftl to 19? 152 days to Anchorpoint - the closest City/major WY facility in space. But if the would rather head to Sutter? Then head to Novgorod? Novgorod is (currently) in Alpha Fornacis 14 parsecs from Sol(46ly), 3pc sw of Anchorpoint, around 9-10pc from Sutter’s World.


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

Sun 18 Apr 2021, 00:12

Sorry, just to clarify. Chariot doesn't specify how far along 'The Gauntlet' route it stopped, or the crews exact bonus structure.
So those are IMC-only :)

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

Sun 18 Apr 2021, 09:57

Great stuff, peoploids! :D

Question - GJ2092: I don't know much about the franchise's comics and books and games and such -- I've read one of the omnibuses back in the 90s, but that was about it -- but since I have a "read it all" Alien geek in my group, I nonetheless want to not contradict too much stuff if I don't have to. (To clarify, my head canon consists of the films + the Alien: Isolation game, but I still wouldn't want to contradict other sources too much). So, with that in mind, can anyone see any issues with me putting my star system in GJ2092 (-Atlas), located on the Frontier, at the intersection of the horizontal 6 & vertical -10 lines on the Stars of the Middle Havens map? Is this a location heavy with franchise lore that I'm not familiar with, perhaps?

Question - Working Joe: What would be a good set of stats for one of these guys? (One will be the antagonist of our first game session). Would the "Android, Refurbished" (p.355) sound about right for that, do you think?
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged

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