As you might expect for such an iconic franchise, Alien has spawned a lot of games. But while there are plenty of board and video game versions, role-playing has fared less well. This is perhaps because of the awkward limitations imposed by the tight focus of the series, at odds with the open-ended nature of the best tabletop RPGs. That might be about to change thanks to Alien: The Roleplaying Game which builds on its namesake to create dark, futuristic body horror.
As the name suggests, this is a role-playing game set within the universe of the Alien franchise. So think Dungeons and Dragons books, but for sci-fi horror.
You can get into it through two products. First is the boxed Starter Set which contains the essential rules framework, a scenario, some dice, reference cards, pre-generated characters and floor plans. The second is the Core Rules book, a hardback with the full game rules, the entire campaign setting, and a short starter scenario.
The one that’s right for you depends on how you’re planning to play. Alien is a little different from the kind of campaign-based RPGs you might be familiar with. While you can play in that style, for which you’ll need the Core Rules, this is a horror game in which characters are expected to die sudden, messy deaths. To facilitate this, Alien: The Roleplaying Game has a second method of play – ‘cinematic mode’ – in which players get pre-generated characters with conflicting motivations, and play through a single, high lethality scenario. That’s what the boxed Starter Set supports.