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SamuelBrett
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Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Wed 24 Feb 2021, 02:07

A friend and I are keen to start up a long-term Alien campaign with some folks online. I'll be the Game Mother. Anybody have any ideas for keeping it fresh? That is, you can't just happen to run into xenomorphs and neomorphs everywhere you go. (Well, maybe in a Colonial Marines campaign but that's not our preference. We're more interested in "space truckers.")

What other scenarios have you sprinkled into your campaigns so it's not just running from space monsters every week? (I was thinking of running it a bit like Traveller and only dropping in aliens once in a while and letting them otherwise deal with troublesome cargoes, shady businessmen, piracy, corporate crooks, getting caught in political crossfires, and so on so that when a xenomorph shows up it's actually a surprise.)
 
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InHarmsWay
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Wed 24 Feb 2021, 06:30

Space truckers is your best option if you're not keen on colonial marines. You can just make them freelancers so they'll do any job.
I'd suggest reading Alien universe books for some ideas, but like you said, you don't want xenomorphs in every session. I'd suggest reading Aliens Bughunt which has eight stories that has no xenomorphs in it.

Look into sci-fi shows and movies as well. Shows like Expanse, For All Mankind, and Firefly, as some examples.

This article gives some ideas as well:
https://roguereviewer.wordpress.com/202 ... ien-world/

I'm writing two scenarios that doesn't contain any xenomorphs or neomorphs. And one that has no creatures in it at all. There is plenty of inspiration if you know where to look.
 
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ExileInParadise
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Wed 24 Feb 2021, 14:04

This has always been one of the more vexing questions about any ALIEN-based RPG campaign.

The question really is - what else can be done in the Alien universe?

Quite a lot - and Free League went a bit overboard adding in as much possible Alien-inspired background from books and comix and such to help with just that.

Some ideas on what sorts of long-term campaigns could be run:
* Survey Teams who go and explore the next possible thing - could include science teams
* Belters exploiting resources from the unclaimed fringes of systems - constantly being harrassed for "claim jumping" when companies think they own everything
* Colony Builders - a variation of Space Truckers primarily on colonization vs established trade - pick surveyed candidate system, build the initial colony or station and move on
* Colonial Marine patrol - this is probably an option from the upcoming expansion - along with anti-piracy and corporate interventions
* Mercenaries - hired by small corps and colonies for protection or raids against rivals
* Medical Intervention - a specialist unit dealing with the various crazy medical situations that colonies are ill equipped for
* Technical Intervention - everyone depends on technology and sometimes you need expert outside help for big station issues
* Space Truckers - hauling stuff to pay the bills
* Space Salvage - space truckers focusing on repo of ships and stations or salvage/recovery of aging/abandoned gear.
* Media / Reporters - paid to cover the colonies with a slant on keeping the folks back home from wanting to emigrate
* Spies - any of the above, but really cover for spies out gathering intel on rivals across the colonies
* Entertainer Troupe - making the colony circuit on a shoestring budget and hoping their creaky ship doesn't fall apart before they can pay it off.
* Athletics Teams - corporate sponsored to improve colonial morale
and finally - what about the foolhardy adventuring type that find ways to knock abut the universe just seeing things?

None of these need xenos - they can all focus on dealing with the physical and mental stresses of deep space existence on their own.

What you are looking for are ways to build *teams* that have some excuse to be mobile in the setting.

Adventures are simply problems put in front of this team to solve.

Then you have a huge sandbox to explore and, anytime you need to wake the players up - well there's a derelict, an egg, or the next colony to visit unexpectedly went quiet
We live, as we dream -- alone. ~ Joseph Conrad
 
Byrax
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Mon 08 Mar 2021, 14:42

Are there any specific Alien books/comics that features Space Truckers?

Other good book/comic sources?
 
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Johnny
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Tue 09 Mar 2021, 14:32

When doing long term space trucker campaigns there's a lot that could happen without involving xenomorphs, I found out that for my group it works better if there isn't a general plot guiding it all, at least in the beginning, but rather to focus on specific, shorter adventures, and then, later, if they're still alive, just develop some plot point that may have interest and evolve it into a larger story. So I just prepare different plot hooks and let them decide, as a crew, what will be the next job. Then, depending on how things develop, just go one way or another.

Some examples of different kind of jobs or "adventures" that you can link together one after another to form a campaign:

- Passenger missions: The party gets paid to transport someone to a specific place, or to pick someone up. Then spice things up: they will only get paid if they can transport the people safely, maybe whoever they're transporting is involved in some corporate spionage mess, maybe it's a criminal, maybe there's illegal cargo involved, maybe they end up in an active war zone, etc.

- Illegal cargo: The mission is to transport something undisclosed in sealed containers not to be opened under any circumstance. It turns out to be drugs, stolen items, weapons or maybe something alive? Third parties will try to intercept them, steal the cargo or it's just the authorities that want to confiscate it. What will they do? Deliver it and get paid, surrender it and risk angering whoever contracted them?

- Shore leave: They need to stop, repair and refuel while en route or while waiting for the next job. They may stop at a planet or a space station. What happens there? Maybe there's a gambler in the group and they get into trouble? Some stoaway takes the opportunity to hitch a ride in their ship. Someone gets separated and ends up in a section of the space station that gets quarantined and closed off. Maybe once the autodock computer finishes the docking process they find out that the space station is misteriously vacant, without a soul to be found on board and just a bunch of androids following their routine?

- Stranded: They end up stranded. Perhaps there was a mechanical problem and they got ejected. Maybe had to take a road trip on the surface and the ground vehicle breaks down. Or maybe they just awaken from hypersleep to find out that they are not in their ship. What will they do? Is going back to the ship even an option? Maybe there's a colony but it's in the other side of the planet? Is there any possibility of finding a way out?

- Military Logistics: A good way to add a bit of action without going full space marine. They get hired to provide material transport to armed forces engaging in combat somewhere. They are technically non-combatants, but once they get close to the action they need to pick sides or just defend themselves as they are attacked. Whatever goes down they get dragged into the conflict in some capacity.

- Salvage operations: A good way to add variety and still have the group fall within the archetype of space truckers or civilians. They work as salvagers or get contracted to do salvage work. Retrieve valuables or scrap from a known derelict or an old battlefield. From there, a lot could happen: they find something valuable and there are other people that's after the goods; they may find something unexpected such as an alien relic; they find proof that what is considered an accident was actually a premeditated attack and someone wants to cover it up.

And so on, there's really a lot of opportunities. It's good to talk with the group and have some idea about their expectations. For me it works well to just do this kind on non-related adventures and then after a while just pick an interesting NPC that they met or a plot point that was left unfinished and develop it into a larger story, involving one of the big players (Weyland, etc.) or directly involving xenomorphs. For some other groups or GMs it may be better to have a more developed plot since the beginning. And a lot of people will expect to find xenomorphs at some point while others will be perfectly happy to play a lengthy campaign without any xenos at all.
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?"
 
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ExileInParadise
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Tue 09 Mar 2021, 17:39

When doing long term space trucker campaigns there's a lot that could happen without involving xenomorphs, I found out that for my group it works better if there isn't a general plot guiding it all, at least in the beginning, but rather to focus on specific, shorter adventures, and then, later, if they're still alive, just develop some plot point that may have interest and evolve it into a larger story. So I just prepare different plot hooks and let them decide, as a crew, what will be the next job. Then, depending on how things develop, just go one way or another.
At the risk of getting yelled at for "crossing the streams":

There is an RPG game like this which has been kicking around for ... about 40 years [1] which has running jokes about it being used as a basis for ALIEN games since the early 80s [2].

It has a wealth of "space trucker" friendly material for it that is not at all troublesome to adapt to an ALIEN universe.

Recent editions and an open spin-off heavily feature supplements written by one of the contributors to the ALIEN RPG itself [3] [4]

...

[1] Yes, I mean Traveller - patron encounters, spaceport encounters, and much more can be mined for inspiration.
[2] JTAS 4 contained stats for "Reticulan Parasites" which led to people asking "we're really playing Traveller right, not Alien?" because GMs would liberally sprinkle said parasites into games without warning.
[3] Zozer Games' CREW EXPENDABLE supplement for HOSTILE can flesh out and supplement an ALIEN RPG game "Space Truckers" game quite nicely.
[4] Zozer Games' SOLO supplement for Traveller can be used to solo play a Space Trucker style game as a mine-able testing ground for a "Space Truckers" campaign with friends.
We live, as we dream -- alone. ~ Joseph Conrad
 
Byrax
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Tue 09 Mar 2021, 17:57

Thanks for this! Excellent idea, haven´t heard about Hostile before.
 
Geekdaddyprime
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Tue 23 Mar 2021, 16:24

So ive been running a campaign for about a year now. Initially a Marine combat mission to Fiorina 161, I then opened the classes up and had the players play as a multi national black ops team to try and disrupt WY operations on the frontier and to counter their control and influence of the various nations. Their first mission was to rescue the survivors of the first mission (2 out of 7) and then theyve had a fairly free form campaign with various clues and missions that they can take or not as well as some personal plot for the players involved.
So far theyve had uncovering corruption the goings on of the Church of Immaculate Incubation on Novgorod. This ended with a player getting mutated by black goo and killing another player then Novgorod getting Nuked. Then they had a one shot, Xenomorph on their ship to introduce the new characters to the species. Then they spent some time on Anchorpoint, They were taken prisoner by WY and taken to a science station with a HIve. Then they were on shore leave on a pleasure planet and helped some UPP mafia people smuggle weapons. Theyve just poked around an abandoned UPP spaceship full of Mutants and Neomorphs and are about to have a sitdown with WY to negotiate a peace.

Theres loads to do in the universe that doesnt involve being a trucker or running a colony or as a full marine. At the moment we have a couple of comany agents, 2 marines, a pilot, and a officer but a free form black ops campiagn means that almost any class can be a part of the crew dfor their own reasons.
 
Wolfclaw
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Mon 29 Mar 2021, 21:22

Throw some dice on the missions tables. Dunno what type of campaign are you going for (marine, colonial/exploration, space trukers), but generaly it's a good idea to have a session 0, i think that is very important and talk about the theme and type of game they want to play.
 
Byrax
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Re: Long-term campaigns: tips? ideas? scenarios?

Wed 31 Mar 2021, 16:23

The Expanse scenario "Salvage Ops" would be rather good as an intro or an one-night-scenario in an Alien-setting (without xenos). Any other similar sci-fi scenarios that could be used? Transhuman Space Orbital Decay from Steve Jackson maybe too (long time since I read it)?
Last edited by Byrax on Fri 02 Apr 2021, 10:02, edited 1 time in total.

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