Alien RPG Preview

27 June, 2019

I took a couple of years off roleplaying, mainly because it was hard finding other like-minded roleplayers in my area. The hiatus was well spent playing a lot of boardgames, preferably long, complex, multi-player games. But my dormant roleplaying interest has slowly crawled back to life. It might have been the announcement by Swedish publisher Fria Ligan that the licensed Alien RPG was landing in 2019. That got my attention.

Now, I saw—nay, witnessed—Alien in the cinema in 1979 with a good friend of mine. We were both teenagers and at the time we gobbled up anything that smelled of sci-fi, including Star Wars two years earlier, of course. But this one left a lasting mark on us both. I still remember us walking back from the cinema at night, not saying a word to each other, just gobsmacked from the experience. I remember enjoying the very slow beginning of the film, with all its nice spaceship details and the characters coming to life. I also remember the shock when something jumped from a rubbery egg onto one of the characters face. From that moment on, I was pretty much scared shitless—good times!

Fria Ligan has opened up for preorders for the new Alien RPG, and if you preorder, you get a quickstart-PDF with with the basic rules and an intro scenario. I did, and I am playing the scenario play-by-post, just because I couldn’t wait.
The quickstart is focused on one of the game’s two modes, called cinematic. The other one is campaign mode, which we don’t know a lot about so far. In cinematic mode you emulate the movies, which means the feel and storyline closely follow either Alien, Aliens or Alien 3, and to some degree also the later movies. In cinematic mode the player characters are very expendable indeed, not the least since the opposition is very deadly, and the emotions among the crew—some of which may not be what you thought they were at the beginning—are very tense from the outset.
The game system is a simple traditional machine with some nice features that stress the feel of the movies. To overcome obstacles, you roll a number of six-sided dice according to your skill plus attribute—game only comes with 12 skills, so everything is boiled down to give you that Alien experience. Any six rolled indicates a success, more sixes let you add effects to whatever you’re doing, something the game calls “stunts”. If you don’t roll any sixes, you can press yourself by getting stress, which is signified as an extra die in another colour, effectively giving you a chance of trying again with an extra die. But if the stress die comes up with a 1, then your character panics and all sorts of bad things can happen, especially if you have many stress points. And you will.

All in all the Alien RPG is very functional and streamlined and a lot of good fun to play.

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