My group just finished this in a one-shot (about 3 hours total time) and they are what I would consider to be intermediate players, then we watched the movie Aliens for good measure. They know a few systems now, but none of them have ever picked up a tabletop RPG book on their own. We are hardcore Call of Cthulhu fans but we pause for 4 month periods to play Star Wars, Traveller or a White Wolf game.
After we were finished I queried everyone on how it went and here were their comments:
- Agendas were great and really drove the plot more than the alien itself
- The core mechanic of counting a 6 as a success was good
- The atmosphere was definitely correct, the universe just oozes especially thanks to the content of the adventure
- Combat is simple (except for flipping between charts for neomorph attacks, then ranged modifiers, but more on that later) and also quite quick!
- Blending Prometheus and classic alien was clever and helped reduce some of the meta-gaming (which is unavoidable when Cooper started twitching)
- Alien behavior "randomized", not a bad method at all as it keeps things interesting (except we kept rolling a one, so our alien just kept hissing at people who were flaming it which kind of killed the mood as it got pummeled by everyone's weapons)
- Stress mechanic is really cool but the table didn't make sense. A 7 panic chart result makes everyone more stressed but an 8 just makes you have a tougher time with agility? Huh? Our group really did not like the progression of the panic chart as it could lead to a cascading effect with little way to relieve stress in that particular scenario
- Critical hits are very effective at creating tension, but perhaps there is a way to temporarily relieve the effects of it rather then waiting so long?
- Art was great but tough on the printer (Yeah we could have used the other sheets, but really)
- The organization required lots of flipping back and forth from specialty attacks to modifiers to critical hits to panic, we had a laptop and tablet plus forms on hand and it was still a little tricky.
- Creating "events" instead of a linear path is a great way to do the adventure, it's just a little harder to jump back and forth
- Keeping track of food, water, air and battery got tedious as my players never left their suit by simply refilling it under cover trying to avoid breathing in the motes
- I think instead of using the 1 on a stress die running you out of ammo, it should be treated like other items with charges, e.g. you roll the amount of dice you have left of ammo, using an action to reload.
- My players had a really tough time coping with getting 5 sixes on regular dice plus 2 on a stress die but then a single 1 on a stress die undoing everything. They understood it but just had a tough time accepting it. Need more ways to reduce stress?
- From a GM perspective, the maps were great to draw all out on a huge mat, but whew that was work! The little icons were cool but difficult to translate.
Overall cool, can't wait to play campaign games (Aliens Omnibus anyone? Outbreak?). Those agendas and the one-off nature really made things work. The stress of the players went up with the amount of stress dice they added towards the end there. Results: Miller (Escaped in Corporate Suite Pod, presumed dead in space somewhere), Davis (Killed by destruction of Cronus, responsible for setting reactor to self-destruct and locking other players out as she did so), Rye (Killed by ship exploding as she tried to cut the reactor control room door open with a torch), Cham (Killed by Neomorph-induced throat injury), Wilson (Killed by Bloodburster leaving skull).