I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
Alien: the Roleplaying Game suggests one obvious situation above all others: the characters are on a spaceship, stalked by deadly alien creatures. Chariot of the Gods, the first scenario published for the game, is pretty much that adventure, elaborated and deepened according to the consistently high standards of quality Fria ligan has maintained.
The characters are on a cargo run when they find themselves awakening from cryosleep prematurely. There’s a mysterious long-lost ship they’re obligated to investigate according to their corporate contract.
We know how this story goes. The characters enter the derelict ship and discover alien perils. However, the perils are well detailed, complex and nuanced. There are supporting characters, technical problems and surprise complications.
Design-wise, it’s interesting to see how character-oriented the scenario is. There are pre-created player characters each with their own motivations and complications. These can cause a lot of dissension and conflict in the middle of the already dangerous situation.
This is pretty much exactly the design that I’ve often felt is sorely missing from a lot of adventures, the hooks that connect the player into the action through their individual characters personality and goals. It means that the players are not only trying to solve the situation but also get to interact with each other through roleplaying.