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Deep_Impact
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 09:14

To be honest: I didn´t see the potential to construct a campaign that breathes the spirit of Alien (what players would expect) without just doing routine jobs. Sure you could do everything you like: investigation, heists, pirating, planetary wars, archaeology research, buisiness intrigues, black ops, trading, ... but that not what I need Alien for. It would just breaks the expectation.

Will use it only for cinematics and interconnected one shots.

Just sold my Standard Bundle*. Guess I will buy the book again when it comes in a corrected edition. And waiting for the next special offer like Black Week or similar.

And most of all: I have to cure my "overhyping" of the last months. No company could forfill that hype. Or as a friend said: If you juggle with the dreams of fans - you better be perfect.

Repetion: I´m not happy with the mistakes happing in publication, but that wouldn't be a reason to damn the book and Fria Ligan - as some do. Sure they had reasons to do it the way they did.

*dice 30€ + rest 80€ = 110€. Meaning I got the PDFs for free plus 16€ in sum. :D
 
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aramis
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 10:12

To be honest: I didn´t see the potential to construct a campaign that breathes the spirit of Alien (what players would expect) without just doing routine jobs. Sure you could do everything you like: investigation, heists, pirating, planetary wars, archaeology research, buisiness intrigues, black ops, trading, ... but that not what I need Alien for. It would just breaks the expectation.
Have you actually read the plot twists tables? The sandbox mode does provide for Xenomorphs as random job plot twists. It's the long form, "will this be the job we get hit with the xenomorphs?" that really thrusts this sandbox different from Traveller and Firefly. They are out there, and sooner or later, you're going to meet them. If you lvie long enough. Hell, session 2, and  my players in my FTF at-the-store group found out about NDD the hard way. They're wanting a faster ship. I'm giving them events during the thaws to do weekly maintenance, too... because they had a passenger (paying) going back where they had to go anyway...

Every failed roll hurts, but killing them is far too easy a fate... letting them anticipate the eventual demise, knowing, sooner or later, they WILL face them... and my regulars know I make the random rolls work for me, so... 

Plus, the stress system is a great push-your-luck mechanic. One not present in Traveller and Serenity, present but much less brutal in Firefly or Savage Worlds. 
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Deep_Impact
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 11:04

Plus, the stress system is a great push-your-luck mechanic. One not present in Traveller and Serenity, present but much less brutal in Firefly or Savage Worlds. 
Have I named Traveller, Savage Worlds or anything else as alternative?

Yes, sounds like hell of fun.

Session 0
"Wanna play a longterm campaign in the world of ALIENS?"
"Yes!!!"
...

Session 2
"There is something lurking in the dark. A dark, silvery scheme is rushing towards you... draw for initiative."
...
"Okay, two of you died a cruel death, but you have hurt the Xenomorph for three hitpoints till now. 
Let´s move on to round two..."

Session 3
"Let´s play Coriolis with stress mechanic, background story, intrigues and no meta currency"
"Yes!!!"
...
 
Just kidding. :D
 
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Diego
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 11:28

Aramis, it’s your OPINION that metaplots are overrated. I’d rather say that it depends on how they are written.
Couldn't agree with you more Bengt. Also for reference Aramis, given that we have nothing else to go by, something like Traveller for a lot of people will be VERY helpful.
Well, let me put it another way: if you're answering questions about what the devs intend with references to a series of games by another company, and you're not the devs, you're not actually answering the question, but a related question of your own strawman construction.
Actually in this thread you jumped the gun and assumed I'd bring it up, when last time I did it was in a thread where YOU were looking for a work around. In this thread I was agreeing with the OP. Something up Bro you seem edgy and pretty aggressive?
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Bengt Petter
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 17:23

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.
 
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Diego
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 19:12

Yeah the Alien itself is very lovecraftian. The game does try to come up with some campaign threads you can pluck at.

You have a cold war situation brewing between the three nations. The UPP would probably love to get their hands on the xeno. So if they know about it (possible links to Gibsons unused script) you can have corporate agents trying to obtain samples, covertly hiring ships to move gear around for them.

Competitors to Weland are going to start trying to find out what happened on acheron and fury. If/when they find out any number of things might start happening. The creature becomes public knowledge and hysteria breaks out. Or the alien might have started to spread and everything goes a little like the Expanse.

Failing that we could start to borrow from the comics. The creature finally gets to earth and we are too late to stop its cancerous like spread. Most of humanity has to live on ships. Quarantine procedures are everywhere. It's like the early days of HIV, no one really knows how its spread and rumours abound.

I would love to see some actually published campaigns for this game. Even if its third party.
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Bengt Petter
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 21:08

Now, we are talking! 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.
Last edited by Bengt Petter on Wed 04 Mar 2020, 18:07, edited 1 time in total.
 
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aramis
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 22:54

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).
Just from the text in the book ...

we have 
  • the timeline telling us that the default start is a few months after the events of ALIENS. WY is trying to keep it quiet, and in the next few years, the survivor of Fiorina 116 
  • a 3 "empire" setting: 3WE, UA, and UPP, with a weak confederation (ICSC) as a 4th player. It's explicit that the UA and UPP are at cold war.
  • mentions of Ripley's android-phobia cribbed from ALIENS.
  • mentions of ongoing archaeology off-earth looking for more about the Engineers and their demise.
  • a smattering of xenopredators besides the "Xenomorphs"
  • A list of various important corporations and their spheres of effort
  • annotations about which corps are in conflict
  • rules which provide for high stress in ways other than just a xenomorph
  • rules which can result in lasting impairments other than death
  • Geiger's alien, which is Cthulhuesque (but not overly so)
  • explicit working man against the Corps references
Essentially, the setting is a low-cybernetics cyberpunk (much like Blade Runner or GDW's 2300AD). 
This extrapolates out to several key themes:
Space Truckers
  • the grind will drive you to the edge
  • Long enough in space, and you'll have scars
  • Nothing good comes from the bosses, except pay.
  • Pay is good, but never enough.
  • How far will you go to keep flying?
  • What has the corp gotten us into? †
Marines
  • Space is horrible. 
  1. Planets are worse. 
  2. Which one will drive you over the deep end?
  • WTF are we doing here? †
  • What's the government going to make us do that we find immoral/unethical?
  • Overcoming our problems to save others... but which others...
  • Bug Stomping.
  • Sometimes, the bug stomps you.
  • How do we kill the monster of the week?
  • How do we cope when we're the monster?
Colonists
  • What have we got to do to eat?
  • How will the corporation screw us next?
  • What's over that horizon, or in that cave?
  • A single world is a campaign itself...‡
  • There are so many worlds, which one can the Corp exploit? ‡
Thanks to the twist and complication tables, all of them, if the campaign lasts long enough, will end up revealing the xenomorphs. There's the one metaplot baked into the mechanics. If you add more metaplot, fine, but unless you ignore table rolls, running the random mechanics their course will make this one happen.

† Insert GM's preferred metaplot here, if any, as the answer to be found.
‡ Yes, these are at odds with each other. Both are visibly present options for the colonist mode.

There is one other element not explicit, but which is "buried" within all of them in the complications: No one else cares about you unless it's for their own benefit. Essentially, it's a setting where altruism is very limited. Even on crew - you rely upon the others, so actions to their benefit are usually to your own benefit, as well... unless it promotes them off the party.
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Bengt Petter
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 23:12

The things you list, Aramis, are useful, but still quite general or just random. Campaigns might have general traits, but the core is specific. There should, I think, be a specific secret, mystery or conflict. That is the point with my questions: they are meant to lead to specific answers, not general.

I think a campaign works much like TV series (which was something we talked about when the metaplots were created for Mutant Year Zero). There should be kind of central drama with a few key characters involved in a conflict or/and a huge discovery. Exactly what it is has to do with what kind of genre it is. The genre is a framework you can work with - or against. I like to figure out what is specific for Alien as a campaign or drama. Aramis, I don’t think you really answer that. To put it simple: it would be hard to make a TV series or a campaign from your post.
Last edited by Bengt Petter on Tue 03 Dec 2019, 23:27, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Diego
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Re: Campaign Mode... some thoughts

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 23:26

The things you list, Aramis, are useful, but still quite general or just random. Campaigns might have general traits, but the core is specific. There should, I think, be a specific secret, mystery or conflict. That is the point with my questions: they are meant to lead to specific answers, not general.

I think a campaign works much like TV series. There is some kind of central drama with a few key characters involved in a conflict or/and a huge discovery. Exactly what it is has to do with what kind of genre it is. The genre is a framework you can work with - or against. I like to figure out what is specific for Alien as campaign or drama. Aramis, I don’t think you really answer that.
Yeah, you suggest what I'm running. I just don't want to lay out what all my campaign beats are gonna be as my players would easily swing around here at some point given their loving the game.
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