Monday, May 6, 2019

Somebody Wake Up Hicks

I recently received a foreboding transmission from Gateway Station. It seems some Offworld Colonists have detected something unusual...

Fria Ligan, the Swedish RPG Publisher known as 'Free League' in English, has the rights to produce an officially licensed Alien RPG and I am so stoked I feel like my chest is going to burst. Wait...

I've already got possible scenarios, NPC concepts; I've got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs; we got sonic, electronic ball breakers! I got nukes, I got knives, sharp sticks...

Sorry. Where was I?

For those of you unfamiliar with Free League's work, they are the publishers of a number of excellent RPGs including Mutant Year Zero and a favorite of mine, Tales from The Loop. I really enjoy Tales from The Loop and it's related products and I'm extremely curious to see how a similar system would be adapted to the Alien universe.

In an interview with Plot Points PodcastFree League Designer and Writer Tomas Harenstam gives some intriguing insight into the upcoming Alien game, including basic mechanics, approach, and supplements. 

Most interesting to me was that the focus of the game seems to be on the original film, 1979's Alien, with options that expand the setting to the 1986 Aliens sequel. They aren't saying the other films in the franchise didn't happen but they aren't really covering them either (at least when the game releases). One way to look at it is that the game covers a particular part of the Alien universe timeline, possibly based on what was known by a particular corporate or government body at the time. 

Personally this is fine by me. In my mind only the first and second films are canon. I was disappointed in the subsequent films and really didn't like the Prometheus and Covenant movies at all. 

Box Art for Alien: Isolation Video and Computer Game
Produced by SEGA

I would probably include the computer/video game Alien: Isolation as canon (semi-canon?) as I really enjoyed it and felt it had the right feel. Beyond that I would be really picky. 

Part of what Harenstam mentioned in his interview was that the game would have two different 'modes' of play. In Cinematic Mode, good for one-shots, convention games, and streaming, the PCs are likely to die with maybe one or two survivors a la' a Horror Film type situation. In Campaign Mode, longer term play is possible and the Xenomorphs are not the only threat or scenario one can encounter in the universe. 

Early information on the initial supplements for the RPG cover books on Space Truckers (The Nostromo crew), the Colonial Marines (Another glorious day in the Corps!), and (get this) Explorers. That last one would be new but would also make sense. Who are the Survey Teams and Scientific Research Groups who study exoplanets and their ecologies for possible colonization or any resources to benefit the corporations? I mean, Space Exploration + Alien Universe = Count Me In!

So talk to me, who's excited? What would you do with it?

Barking Alien


  1. I'm trying to wean myself off buying new game systems, but this has me all kinds of excited. And the additional information you've supplied - re: the supplements etc - has me grinning like a loon.

    I loved the mechanics of Tales From The Loop, but knew immediately it wasn't for our group, however I think an Alien RPG could have legs. Fingers crossed!

    1. The rules for the Alien RPG, while similar to Tales From The Loop, will not be identical. Each of their games uses their house die pool system as a framework but they tweak it as is needed to reflect different settings.

    2. I'm traditionally not a "dice pool" guy, nor a fan of games that don't use a rainbow of funky polyhedrals (yes, I'm shallow), but I'm so excited by the concept of this that I'm more than willing to change my mind ;)

    3. How funny :D I'm quite the opposite. I tend to like die pool systems and prefer games that just use D6s.

      More than 6 sides on a die is frivolously opulent. More than 10 is needlessly ostentatious. lol

    4. I'm of an age where the more frivolity and opulence I can wallow in the better!

  2. An RPG based on the original film seems like a strange choice...doesn't feel like there's much re-playability in something like that.

    That being said, I do live mixing the horror and hard SciFi genres.
    : )

    1. I don't think the idea is to replay the original movie, but emulate it's feel: ordinary people (working in space) facing vastly superior "entities" in a terrifying, claustrophobic situation.

      Possibly a cross between Traveller and Call of Cthulhu.

    2. As I noted in the post above JB there are two modes of play.

      Cinematic Mode would be a lot like the first movie. This mode is useful for Streaming, One-Shots, and Convention play where you don't expect to survive the session. That is, you going into the game knowing and understanding you are likely to die because that's how an Alien movie works.

      Campaign play would be a little more like an Alien novel. You could die, just as any PC in most game could die, but it could be a long way from Page 1.

  3. I'd like to pick your brain for a minute.

    Given how ubiquitous the Alien movie tropes have been become in modern culture - and therefore the fact that no player is EVER going to let his character lean over a giant blossoming leathery egg to see what's emerging from it - what ideas do you have to keep the setting both fresh and frightening?

    Have you got any story ideas your toying with yet, or will you wait for the game to arrive before really coming up with any campaign ideas?

    1. As noted in the past, I have ideas I've been working on for years. I've never gotten to run a campaign in the Alien universe setting but I've been thinking about it for over 2 decades at least.

      I have hesitant to detail any specifics here as my players do occasionally read my blog. I can private message you Tim if you're interested.

      As a note and observation though; following the original the best installments in the Alien franchise are the second film, Aliens, and the computer game Alien: Isolation. In both cases, it isn't a 'PC' who stumbles upon the eggs.

      Something to consider.

    2. Yes, NPC as "trigger/incubator" was my thinking as well. I'd love to hear your other ideas as well though ;)