berger15
Topic Author
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun 17 May 2020, 20:03

First game - issues arose!

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 11:18

Hi all,

I ran my first game as GM ( both for Alien and first game as GM EVER! ). I ran a CotGs game for a few friends. I had a list of notes and story points ready, had pages labelled in the rulebook and the scenario book. I had all the cards ordered and ready to go.

First issue - one guy "forgot" - I'm now down to two players. Neither wanted to play the captain, so I made the decision to play the captain as someone seeking suggestions from the crew, which she assessed and made a decision on.

I decided to leave out the whole "Lucas" part - it didn't make sense with one as Wilson and one as Cham and no other players.

The players were, although true to their characters, way ahead of the games story! The pair of them happily split up to get things done - although both wanted to take a couple of NPCs with them in case they met anything nasty.

A (not-so-) brief breakdown:

The Bloodburster attacked Cham, hissed, Cham laughed it off. Bloodburster was incinerated. Totally incinerated. I had to game it to make it live!
Wilson refused a jab - even besting a roll-off with the Captain - and kept his suit on - but agreed to take the jab once his suits oxygen ran out. He then passed EVERY test I made him take for his air supply for several turns. The air finally ran out after the Montero blew!
The engines and oxygen were safely bought back on line. The abomination fled to the ducts for later.
Cham, Reid and Rye encountered the abomination on their way back out - Rye had her head crushed. Cham and Reid caused WAY too much damage. So many hits it was unreal - and I failed armour rolls at every turn. The Abomination died.
I used the "itching" on Wilson, despite his suit, to make him check the seals and think about the "Cure" more.
Halfway through act two, Wilson was already in league with Clayton and planning to abandon the crew at the first opportunity!
Johns and Flynn were in the mess hiding from an abomination - Cham selflessly drew the abomination away from the end of the corridor, opening the door and, with his shotgun, causing a wound to the creature, This allowed Reid and Miller to open their door and use the incinerator and Pulse Rifle to full effect. The Abomination attacked Cham - Cham had his arm torn off. Then in a fit of poor rolling by me and great rolling by Miller, the incinerator caused a lot of damage (which, being fire damage, would persist), the Abomination then attacked Flynn, killing him outright, then turned and screamed at Reid and Miller. Given the crew had managed stress well, the worst case was a 7 on a panic roll. Reid then took aim and caused more damage. Next round the Abomination decided to scream....again. While the fire caused more damage. Miller failed to cause any further hits and the Abomination leapt for the kill, knocking Miller to the ground and the incinerator out of her hands - but failed to hit! Reid (standing right next to Miller) completed a simple kill. I think I need new dice!
Cham was given medical aid and taken to med-bay, where Ava was tasked with protecting him and lending medical support - with Reid on guard outside.
Miller (the player took over Miller from here on), decided to collect a shotgun and went to check on Davis and Wilson.
Wilson was, by now, ready to simply jump in the escape pod with Clayton (who had been stacking a few "items" in the pod as a retirement fund. Before Wilson went to meet Clayton, he decided to try and execute Miller! I gamed this a little, by making him take an empathy (survival) test - as he's a suit, not a killer. He failed. Given Davis was next to him at the time, I had her draw her pistol on him. The captain simply hefted the shotgun onto her shoulder and ordered him to drop the pistol - which he did! I used an opposed command roll I think.
Wilson fled (no-one knew he had a second pistol in his waistband behind his jacket. He went to the suite, and met Clayton in the hall, and decided to take out Clayton! Again, he failed the survival check - Clayton didn't, and shot him! He wasn't dead, but he was broken and needed medical aid.
Miller had ordered Davis to set a course for Anchorpoint and then followed Wilson - so she saw Clayton shoot Wilson. Wilson had been part of her crew- and if anyone was going to shoot him, it was Miller - so she killed Clayton. Stone cold dead.
Miller then gave medical aid to Wilson - he offered a 50/50 deal on the goods Clayton had stashed and told Miller of the pod. Miller agreed and they both went to the suite to use the escape pod.
I had Reid call for aid as the Adult Neomorph emerged to hunt the last few survivors. They decided to abandon everyone and fled in the pod!
Given the characters agendas, I felt this was in keeping with the actions they would take.
As time had been short and we wanted to complete the game in one hit, I abandoned the Sotillo story and had debris from the Montero hitting the hull (they didn't know what it was, only that there noises coming from outside) - and they knew there was still an abomination outside.

So, Cooper killed by a story event. Cham critically injured and Flynn and Rye killed by an Abomination. Clayton killed by a player.
Davis, Johns, Reid and Ava abandoned by Miller and Wilson.
Not a bad tally - but lower than I expected.

The players really enjoyed the game - especially the stress mechanic. They also loved the overall game mechanics and want to play another one-shoot soon - with maybe 4-5 players.
I felt almost overwhelmed by how quickly they made decisions - to the point where I had to find ways to get them back together, or back on track, just to make events impactful.

Any hints or tips from the more experienced would be appreciated!
 
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Angelman
Posts: 248
Joined: Sun 11 Apr 2021, 12:46

Re: First game - issues arose!

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 11:58

Sounds like you did an absolute stellar job, @berger15 :) Running RPGs can be hectic and overwhelming, which is even more true for Alien, but you aced it, mate :D

I don't think I have that much to add to your summary, really, but I'll give it a go:
-Dice are fickle and, by the law of averages, you'll probably squash the PCs the next time around ;)

-I'm surprised, however, that the PCs managed to consistently give lots of damage to the xenos. That can happen, but it’s not too common in Alien RPG. If I were you, I’d look over the rules again just to see if you’ve missed/misunderstood something in regards to damage and injury. Also, remember that there’s a separate xeno critical hit table, which often results in xenos not going down when broken, but stands back up to keep fighting! I don’t use it in my games very often, reserving it for “boss fights” and such, as it can be quite powerful, but it’s worth having in mind when the PCs cuts down beasts left and right.

-Good call with dropping Sotillo and Lucas. They can be very interesting twists to the story, but they do add complications and bloating, and makes the scenario play much longer.

-GMing the “party leader” is a bit awkward, as the GM basically decides what the PCs shall do (unless the PCs decides to disobey, of course), but I think you handled it very well. I, too, GMed Cpt. Miller in CotG, and also Cpt. Silva in DoW, and I’ve found that it can be a good tool to keep the story flowing and making sure the players get the most out of the story. But, it requires the players being willing to “take orders” from NPCs, of course (which, luckily, my players totally are). That said, your handling of it – to have the boss NPC regularly seek the PCs’ advice – is a great way to involve the players in the decision making.


I don’t know what advice I could offer you, as it seems you’ve already got this, mate, but do keep playing. Don’t skip Hope’s Last Day from the rulebook, which is a good one-shot to introduce new players too, with a very recognizable set-up for anyone who has seen Aliens.

Good job, @berger15. Keep gaming :)
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
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Grimmshade
Posts: 162
Joined: Wed 05 May 2021, 23:15

Re: First game - issues arose!

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 15:20

Alien is like Call of Cthulhu, in that for some reason people think you need to kill the entire party each adventure or you failed as GM.
Your play through sounds pretty great. Double check rules for next time and have fun playing again!
In my play through of Chariots, only 1 PC died, (and several NPCs), but after escaping (narrowly) I had an awesome moment at the end where they realized the ships doctor (an NPC I added) was an android in a very Alien: Covenant type moment.
In my play through of Destroyer, zero PC's died despite the odds! A couple NPC's died. We still had tons of very tense moments.
(I also use the PvP rule from the book, so players don't usually outright attack each other)
You can have loads of fun, tense moments without loads of PC death.
 
berger15
Topic Author
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun 17 May 2020, 20:03

Re: First game - issues arose!

Wed 06 Jul 2022, 17:08

@ Angelman - thanks. Yeah, it was hard graft. I certainly had some REALLY poor dice rolls - 10 dice and zero sixes happened a few times! When I saw the incinerator hit three times, I knew the Abomination was likely to take a few hits just from the ongoing effect of the fire.
The critical hit table was missed on the first Abomination and that was just the heat of the moment. The beast only had one hit left, when a Pulse Rifle armed Reid, took aim at a beast right next to him, and unleashed three hits. After failing to save a single hit (10 dice and no sixes - eek) I got caught up in the "blow it's head off" emotion the player exuded and completely forgot about the critical hit table for the beast! Still it made for an entertaining end for the players, so it's not all bad :-)

Hopes' Last Day is the next one we will play - I want to see how they handle a situation where they kind of know the outcome for the settlement. Additionally, they are traditional Aliens - so I'll have to remember "Acid splash" is a thing! I think it will all add some extra tension.
I know "Leafygoodnis" on Reddit created a whole slew of helpful things (about 3 years ago - he created an entire "portfolio" for each character, maps, cards - everything), so they will come in handy.

@Grimmshade - thanks. Having never GM'd, I wasn't sure what to expect - but being Alien, I did *anticipate* three or four PC deaths. Thankfully, I don't think of it as a failure - although my dice rolling was appalling! I'm certainly going to keep GM-ing and looking for tips on how to improve.

I really enjoyed the experience, and I certainly need to run through the rules again, as I know I missed some things - the Xeno critical hit table for the first Abomination for example. Pretty sure I missed something with the stress. The levels rarely got above 4 (I think 5 once for Wilson), and generally was at 2-3 . The players were always checking if they were able to take time to reduce their levels. I usually let them if I felt they were somewhere secure and with some element of time (for example, Wilson reduced stress while stationed in the bridge with Miller, Reid and Davis while Cham was out fixing the Engines). I didn't even know where to begin with PVP, (or PC vs NPC stand off) so I made up the Empathy roll on the spot. I might use that again if it comes up. Seeing the players face when he failed the roll and couldn't pull the trigger was funny :-D
 
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Grimmshade
Posts: 162
Joined: Wed 05 May 2021, 23:15

Re: First game - issues arose!

Thu 07 Jul 2022, 04:37

Again, it sounds like you're doing great, especially for a new GM. Let us know how Hope's Last Day goes!
 
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Angelman
Posts: 248
Joined: Sun 11 Apr 2021, 12:46

Re: First game - issues arose!

Thu 07 Jul 2022, 13:01

Hopes' Last Day is the next one we will play - I want to see how they handle a situation where they kind of know the outcome for the settlement. Additionally, they are traditional Aliens - so I'll have to remember "Acid splash" is a thing! I think it will all add some extra tension.
I know "Leafygoodnis" on Reddit created a whole slew of helpful things (about 3 years ago - he created an entire "portfolio" for each character, maps, cards - everything), so they will come in handy.
For my running of Hope's Last Day, I expended the characters slightly by giving each of them three "points of interest", i.e., places of resources or agenda interest for them at Hadley's Hope, to give the players a bit more agency. These were things like, the marine knows where the armory is, and stuff like that, to give players some pointions for where they would want to go. This expanded the story from a quick start-at-A-get-to-B-survive-C-run-to-D to a more dynamic "explore the dungeon" type of scenario, and filled it out to a whole evening's worth of gaming. As a bonus, it also encouraged the players to explore more of the colony, to go places where they wouldn't logically end up with the scenario as written, so that was fun.

I cannot figure out how to attach the pdf file to a post ("file too large"), but, if anyone would like a copy then drop me a line in PM (with e-mail) and I'll send it over :)
"And the rain sets in,
it's the Angelman.
I'm deranged".
--David Bowie, I'm Deranged
 
berger15
Topic Author
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun 17 May 2020, 20:03

Re: First game - issues arose!

Thu 07 Jul 2022, 13:25

Thanks both.

@ Grimmshade - I'll keep you posted :-D

@Angelman - that sounds like a cool idea. I might add something like that to the player files. I think that might also be good advice generally, and especially for Bladerunner - the idea that a PC was raised in a certain district, or trained there prior to becoming a Bladerunner could really add to the backstory and give potential leads for information or locations.
 
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_ArthurDallas_
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed 04 Mar 2020, 03:22

Re: First game - issues arose!

Thu 11 Aug 2022, 16:06

Yes you did well Berger15. I give lots action to my players and I let them (win) if their ideas are good or ingenious. The game should have 1 or 2 dead (NPC) in presence of xenos. It's a guaranteed statistic.

I play with 3-4 players and we found an interesting idea (from a colleague here I can't remember who). In short, each player has a MAIN character and a SECONDARY character. I also keep several NPCs in the bank for the games.

Enjoy your Alien games man.

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