pirate santa
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questions that came up playing the first time.

Fri 18 Jun 2021, 08:32

I ran the game for the first time tonight, it didn't exactly go smoothly. Lots of questions... foremost is just 'why is the book laid out like this!?'. Just a general cry of frustration that things never seem to be where I think they should be. There's no answer for that question I fear, I just need to become a little more acquainted with it. Moving on...

Alien's Acid Splash
the index says to find info about it on page 302, which is the facehugger page and I don't see it there. Page 298 has acid splash but leaves a lot of questions. Is this what the index was supposed to be pointing toward?
After explaining the die pool for the acid splash (acid splash rating for the alien in question, + damage the alien took) it says that the base damage is 1. does that mean it does 1 even if no other damage is rolled?
so I roll and apply damage to everyone all at once or to everyone individually? (suppose I roll up 3, which is +1 from the base damage right? So that will be 4 damage. Do I apply that to 1 person, and then roll for the next? Or apply that to all people? It would make sense that some people get caught in the acid more than others. I assume other aliens are immune to the damage from acid splash?)
the cutting torch being used as a weapon doesn't list as fire damage, we were a little perplexed by that, but I assume that's correct?

panic rolls
a player shot at the alien and used a 'stunt' to pin it. which causes a panic roll... but 1) NPCs don't generally take panic rolls, so why is this mentioned? and 2) even if he did take a panic roll there doesn't seem to be a ready way for the alien to acumulate stress to make the panic roll mean anything. 3) how relevant is the panic table anyway?
So is there a simplified panic table for enemies? To indicate how they react to being shot at? I would imagine that humans, xenomorphs, and synthetics (and predators maybe someday?) would all react somewhat differently.
I ended up just having the alien hiss and back off... much as if the 'forced back' option was chosen. And a question about that... would acid splash be applied before the alien 'backs off' because he was engaged? Or would that push the alien back and THEN acid splash would no longer apply? Or should the alien have fled and either gone for reinforcements or gone back to stalking?
I don't see anything mentioning fire causing panic rolls for the aliens.

more panic rolls
many panic rolls inspire panic rolls in others, which can then inspire more panic rolls...
The ex-marine lost his arm and started to SEEK COVER, essentially fleeing for what's left of his life.
The pilot was inflicted with 2 panic rolls from seeing the arm loss and ... I don't remember, it all happened so fast... but the pilot started to scream, and then rolled again and started to flee (because of upgrading the panic results) each of those results would inflict a panic roll on others ... so the marine, who was seeking cover would hear the scream (panic) and then see the pilot fleeing (panic), and assuming he rolls good he still has to upgrade from his current panic action of seek cover to scream (inflicting panic) and then flee (more panic) which would... cause the pilot, who is fleeing to at minimum go berserk (causing more panic)?

I know that things are meant to be fragile and if things go bad they could cascade quickly, but panic causes panic causes panic til you're in a coma is ... umm... that's not how it's supposed to go is it? That's less like the players being routed and more like a group of fainting goats (who become catatonic)

If you get induced to roll more than 1 panic, do you roll all of them, resolving one after the other? That seems to be what the book says. And if you roll more than a single 1 on the stress dice, do they each induce a panic? I wasn't sure if you roll panic for each 1, roll panic if you got at least one 1, or if (for example) rolling three 1s would make you roll 3 times on the panic chart and go with the most dire (which is the compromise I took).

So I scratched my head, ignored the further panics since everyone was panicked, and the alien went and picked off the fleeing marine and dragged him away into the darkness. (though it was a scout, smaller than a person, so it might have been a little awkward.)

Stealth
Moving around when you might be heard would require a mobility check right? For stealth. I had them roll it as a group action... which means people get stealthier the more there are in a group? (up to +3). That's not generally how it's done. So I think I may have done something wrong there, but we shrugged and moved on.

aside from these questions, any advice on things in general?
 
Grimmshade
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Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Fri 18 Jun 2021, 15:24

For general advice, I'd say two things. First, read the book again. Most of the answers are right there, and it's honestly one of the better RPG books (as far as layout for reference goes) that I've read. (But, no RPG book is perfect!) Second, get comfortable with deciding what happens with NPC's, etc. This system is very "GM Fiat" heavy when it comes to NPC's.
So, for the pinned Xenomorph, you just say it loses one of it's actions, or whatever you envision the cool results of that to be.
Acid Base Damage is the exact same as all other Base Damage in the game. If it's 1, then it does 1 damage for the first success. Just like a gun with a Base Damage of 2 would do 2 damage with the first success. With no success, no damage.
You definitely don't make a Panic Roll for each 1 rolled on Stress Dice. You just make one Panic Roll no matter how many 1's are rolled.
Cascading Panic - if hearing one PC scream makes another PC start screaming, then so be it. At that point you are taking about all the PC's having loads of stress, as you need 7 or so to even get the scream result. At that point, panic is going to get very common. It's why stress is something you have to manage.
Last edited by Grimmshade on Fri 18 Jun 2021, 15:31, edited 1 time in total.
 
Grimmshade
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Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Fri 18 Jun 2021, 15:28

Stealth - It's the person with the lowest Mobility of the group if you're doing a group stealth check, and you don't add extra dice for "help" from others. (P. 67 & p.90)
I'll admit that that rule should probably be reprinted in the Stealth section.
 
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Pangea
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Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Fri 18 Jun 2021, 18:08

aside from these questions, any advice on things in general?
My advice is just to play and have fun.
Tell the players you are all learning the rules, and, after a game, go read the rules you did not know or were not sure of... and then apply what you now know the next time you play.
The game is about the mood and fun of (re)living Alien-like stories. If you get that right, it is more important than exact knowledge of the rules.
Rule-knowledge will come with time.

Some little things:
• base damage is 1 - the general rule is that if an attack gets 1 success, it applies the base damage (1, 2, 3, 5 etc.).
Then, each further success can add 1 damage (or be used for Stunts in some circumstances).
If you attack and get 3 Successes w. a base damage 3 attack, you get 3 base + 2 times 1 extra damage = 5
• the cutting torch - per the rule book it is not a fire weapon (not listed as such). If I remember correctly, the guy who wrote the rules has clearly stated that the intent was that it be a fire weapon that does not bring on Acid Splashes.
• NPCs don't generally take panic rolls, so why is this mentioned - I'd have to check the exact wording, and a couple different places, to back what I am saying, but, basically, there are Stunts and things you can do that apply to human NPCs (if you are shooting at some UPP commandos) but not to non humanoid ones (which of course means you might have to determine if your Android PC is a humanoid or not!).

Just play the game and have fun! And learn the rules you want and need.
I've been playing/GMing a lot (2 or 3 games a week I'd say) for 18 months, or more, and I still never apply several rules (am just starting to add distance modifiers, have to next look into dim light/foliage etc.).
Playing in France, and online
 
pirate santa
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri 18 Jun 2021, 07:24

Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Sat 19 Jun 2021, 00:43

For general advice, I'd say two things. First, read the book again. Most of the answers are right there, and it's honestly one of the better RPG books (as far as layout for reference goes) that I've read. (But, no RPG book is perfect!) Second, get comfortable with deciding what happens with NPC's, etc. This system is very "GM Fiat" heavy when it comes to NPC's.
So, for the pinned Xenomorph, you just say it loses one of it's actions, or whatever you envision the cool results of that to be.
Acid Base Damage is the exact same as all other Base Damage in the game. If it's 1, then it does 1 damage for the first success. Just like a gun with a Base Damage of 2 would do 2 damage with the first success. With no success, no damage.
You definitely don't make a Panic Roll for each 1 rolled on Stress Dice. You just make one Panic Roll no matter how many 1's are rolled.
Cascading Panic - if hearing one PC scream makes another PC start screaming, then so be it. At that point you are taking about all the PC's having loads of stress, as you need 7 or so to even get the scream result. At that point, panic is going to get very common. It's why stress is something you have to manage.
I'll keep reading and get better at it

Ah, so the base damage 1 meant that it only does that on a success... ok. I was thinking it seemed a little odd that it was going to do damage even without success. Nice to know. (and how did I miss that?)

I cut off the panic cascade because if a person is subjected to a panic result it will always bump their result to the next level regardless of what they roll, and the next result at those levels tend to cause more panic. so if 2 people are screaming, then you have 2 people fleeing, then you have 2 people berserk, then you have 2 people in a coma... no rolls needed, no save possible. ... actually let me check that... no. I was wrong. Going catatonic does NOT induce panic on other people... so the first person goes berserk, causing the second person to go berserk, causing the first person to go catatonic... which I assume counts as 'broken' which means that the berserk character stops berserking (unless he/she was attacking someone else), meanwhile watching this cascade of panic will likely cause other players to panic and repeat the process.

This is why I described the effect as a group of fainting goats rather than a stampede...
 
Grimmshade
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Joined: Wed 05 May 2021, 23:15

Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Sat 19 Jun 2021, 00:59

Remember that the panic only upgrades if the person is still under the effect of a panic, and it only upgrades for that person. I don't think you'll see the panic cascade often because everyone involved would have to have 7-ish stress (which is a lot!) and also roll 6 on their panic dice for the panic roll. (That's a lot of use of the word panic!)
 
pirate santa
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Posts: 7
Joined: Fri 18 Jun 2021, 07:24

Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Sat 19 Jun 2021, 01:04

aside from these questions, any advice on things in general?
My advice is just to play and have fun.
Tell the players you are all learning the rules, and, after a game, go read the rules you did not know or were not sure of... and then apply what you now know the next time you play.
The game is about the mood and fun of (re)living Alien-like stories. If you get that right, it is more important than exact knowledge of the rules.
Rule-knowledge will come with time.

Some little things:
• base damage is 1 - the general rule is that if an attack gets 1 success, it applies the base damage (1, 2, 3, 5 etc.).
Then, each further success can add 1 damage (or be used for Stunts in some circumstances).
If you attack and get 3 Successes w. a base damage 3 attack, you get 3 base + 2 times 1 extra damage = 5
• the cutting torch - per the rule book it is not a fire weapon (not listed as such). If I remember correctly, the guy who wrote the rules has clearly stated that the intent was that it be a fire weapon that does not bring on Acid Splashes.
• NPCs don't generally take panic rolls, so why is this mentioned - I'd have to check the exact wording, and a couple different places, to back what I am saying, but, basically, there are Stunts and things you can do that apply to human NPCs (if you are shooting at some UPP commandos) but not to non humanoid ones (which of course means you might have to determine if your Android PC is a humanoid or not!).

Just play the game and have fun! And learn the rules you want and need.
I've been playing/GMing a lot (2 or 3 games a week I'd say) for 18 months, or more, and I still never apply several rules (am just starting to add distance modifiers, have to next look into dim light/foliage etc.).
Ok, being a fire weapon will make the cutting torch way more useful. Good to know.

I screwed up on that acid and I thought that 'base 1' meant that it would always deal 1 damage to everyone regardless of if it generated success. That was a tragic error...

I also had entirely forgotten the rule that the alien draws and acts multiple times in initiative, the scout alien that tore the player party up was only acting once a turn. (or round? I get those 2 mixed up a lot. ... round, it's round.) Though to be fair, the alien only actually did damage through it's acid blood when it got shot that one time. People started that fight a little stressed from the facehugger attack and stuff but after the marine froze and the pilot nicked the alien (who's acid blood took off the marine's arm) they were in bad bad shape mentally. So the alien didn't really even need to do anything but drag off the wounded marine to finish that encounter.
 
pirate santa
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Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Sat 19 Jun 2021, 01:18

Remember that the panic only upgrades if the person is still under the effect of a panic, and it only upgrades for that person. I don't think you'll see the panic cascade often because everyone involved would have to have 7-ish stress (which is a lot!) and also roll 6 on their panic dice for the panic roll. (That's a lot of use of the word panic!)
yes, I know it only upgrades for that person, but once you get unlucky and go past 9 - drop item, they all take at least 1 turn to wear off. Once someone freezes, if they get a panic before their next turn is over it's going to upgrade. Several people getting unlucky and freezing adds a bunch of stress to everyone's dice pool making the chances of panic fails a lot more common.

It's unlikely, but starting an encounter with a stress of 3 can (if the alien rolls 2: Knock a person prone, give them 1 stress, and force a panic roll) can lead a person to freeze (rolling a 6) causing stress with everyone ... and more failures with more stress and more panic attacks before the person gets to clear their freeze effect lead to a cascade.

I think it's a perfectly reasonable reaction for a group of people to flip out and flee in terror when an alien shows up and attacks... I'm just surprised at how unstoppable it is once everyone's on that track that it ends with everyone catatonic rather than fleeing or hiding.
 
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Pangea
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Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Sun 20 Jun 2021, 07:12

but once you get unlucky and go past 9 - drop item, they all take at least 1 turn to wear off.
Well, I believe 10, 11, 12 last 1 round (as specified in their descriptions).
14 lasts until the panicking person or their target is Broken (so can be 1 round... or more, but is not time based).
Thus it seems to me only 13 lasts one turn (the default max') w/o exterior action.

It can be worth reminding your PCs they can break someone's panic effect by using Command (successful roll). see p.104 top right.
That can stop the cascade effect.
Playing in France, and online
 
pirate santa
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Posts: 7
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Re: questions that came up playing the first time.

Sun 20 Jun 2021, 14:20

but once you get unlucky and go past 9 - drop item, they all take at least 1 turn to wear off.
Well, I believe 10, 11, 12 last 1 round (as specified in their descriptions).
14 lasts until the panicking person or their target is Broken (so can be 1 round... or more, but is not time based).
Thus it seems to me only 13 lasts one turn (the default max') w/o exterior action.

It can be worth reminding your PCs they can break someone's panic effect by using Command (successful roll). see p.104 top right.
That can stop the cascade effect.
Yeah, I think I said 'turn' didn't I? I'm still new to this and am using 'turn' and 'round' interchangeably because I was dumb.

You're right that they last 1 round, but they never got so far as 1 round to clear once that cascade started. Or did one of them clear and then rolled back into those? or possibly I forgot that a 'flee' cleared and he didn't need to upgrade his chart? I don't remember. It's entirely possible I goofed something up, but it seems equally likely that it was just unlucky dice rolls and running hot on the stress. (they were really focused on getting into the armory and never took time to hide and clear stress. Though it was our first game, it didn't seem that 3-5 stress was 'running hot' at the time. maybe that's just our mistake.)

actually... tell me... if someone rolls a 'scream' effect when does the panic roll start? how I read it was they start screaming, causing everyone to make a panic check, and they continued til they had spent their turns slow action screaming. (thus clearing the effect). And if the panic roll caused by that scream causes someone else to scream, the screaming person would take another panic roll... all as an effect of the initial action that caused the first panic roll.

But if the panic roll doesn't cause immediate screaming, but causes them to instead start and end their scream on their turn... the alien would provoke it's panic. then the marine would take it's turn by screaming, causing everyone else to take a panic roll and the pilot to scream... the pilot was next and would spend his turn screaming, inducing a panic roll but the marine had already cleared his turn so could roll a result that might not be quite as bad, especially since the roughneck wouldn't have been all twitchy and freezing and seeking cover and generally giving everyone more stress every time the marine and pilot went back and forth.

that would make a cascade like that less likely. And might be able to prevent anyone screaming, if someone noticed the marine was going to scream and stopped him then he wouldn't have caused any more panic. (it would mean they would be spending most of their turn essentially doing damage control, but to be fair, the only damage the alien actually did was acid damage because everyone flipped out and panicked before it could do much more than that.) ... yeah, even if this isn't how the rules are supposed to be, I think I might use that, because it wouldn't result in 2 people screaming mean they would auto catatonic. Talking this out with you was super helpful!

another order of operations question... if someone panics while shooting and rolled into something like scream or flee, they would lose their shot as it says in the book, and then they would spend THAT action screaming, thus clearing the effect? Or would their shot be spoiled, and then they would be under the effect (scream or flee) til their next turn? If they rolled 'seek cover' they would use their fast action, so they could still take the shot, yes? Though that didn't come up, the pilot actually got a twitch result, so everyone got stress and he took the shot anyway (which was what caused the acid damage, taking the marine's arm off, and pretty much ended combat with a cascade of screams.)

in any case... the moral of the story is this: Xenomorphs are scary beasts and this is a horror game, not an action game. I think my players learned that.

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