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dazedandconfused

Aliens: Only War

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Hi folks, haven't posted here in a long time, but I just finished a little side project to use Only War for running an Aliens game. It got a bit out of hand, and it ran to be quite big. Anyway, here it is.

 

http://www.mediafire.com/view/7dgrsfftz2aa8fb/Aliens_-_Only_War.pdf

 

Hopefully i'm not violating any rules by posting a link, and if the mods are annoyed by anything, just say so and i'll take it down.

 

So, opinions? Comments? Suggestions? All remarks are appreciated.

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It's a very impressive job, but... sorry, I just don't see the point...

 

The 'Aliens universe' has less than 1% of the background detail of the 40Kverse- just the minimum necessary to tell the story of Aliens, and since every single WH40KRP player has already seen Aliens (probably multiple times), what is left to explore? In replacing the 40Kverse with the Aliensverse, you are losing out on a huge number of potential adversaries, and replacing them with... what? Two-hours worth of storyline (-and all of your players already know the mission is doomed and they will have to 'nuke it from orbit')?

 

RPGs- especially combat-oriented ones- need a wide variety of threats to sustain an ongoing campaign; what do Colonial Marines fight besides their very first encounter with Aliens? Remember, in the movie, the Colonial Marines weren't expecting a threat of the level they encountered- they were expecting to encounter nuisance xenomorphs ('bugs'). Do you have stats for those? Or whatever it was they were hoping to encounter when they groaned with disappointment at hearing that 'xenomorphs might be involved'? Are you prepared to do the monumental work necessary to fill in the other 99% of the Aliensverse?

 

I hate to be so negative in light of how much work you obviously put into this project, but there is a huge difference between liking a movie and that movie being an appropriate setting for an ongoing, player-decision-driven roleplaying game...

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I can't quite agree with that assessment. While it's true that the AvP setting isn't as fleshed out as 40k, one could look at it as a chance to make up stuff by yourself and fill in the void with your own ideas.

 

If we're looking at it critical, 40k isn't actually so different, because 99% of its background does not constitute canon and is up to individual interpretation. In this sense, an Aliens game actually has an advantage, because here your interpretation of the setting is at least less likely to contradict the one of another player at your table, simply because there's less to contradict and you don't end up being forced to pick one particular version out of ten different presentations, just because Black Library cannot decide how to present a certain faction in a uniform fashion.

 

It's also worth pointing out that a setting does not constitute a story, so there's no reason to assume any RPG set in this world would be similar to a single movie. Not to mention that the setting this movie takes place in has, by now, spawned a total of 10 movies, 17 novels and 30 comics, not to mention the various video games, so there's arguably a lot of potential for storytelling.

 

RPGs- especially combat-oriented ones- need a wide variety of threats to sustain an ongoing campaign; what do Colonial Marines fight besides their very first encounter with Aliens?

 

Corporate mercenaries, crazed Synthetics, Yautja, Cravenor, Reapers, Snorgeth, River Ghosts, Hammerpedes, Gro'Tye, ...

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Let's not forget more than forty video games, two board games, heroclix, a ccg and three different sets of miniatures.

Honestly, if lack of background is an issue for you, please don't ever try and run anything using GURPS...

since every single WH40KRP player has already seen Aliens (probably multiple times), what is left to explore?

Not true! Our Deathwatch GM has never seen Aliens. In fact, he seems to be woefully underexposed to movies in general, something that we are seeking to rectify by force.

Edited by dazedandconfused

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RPGs- especially combat-oriented ones- need a wide variety of threats to sustain an ongoing campaign; what do Colonial Marines fight besides their very first encounter with Aliens?

 

Corporate mercenaries, crazed Synthetics, Yautja, Cravenor, Reapers, Snorgeth, River Ghosts, Hammerpedes, Gro'Tye, ...

 

Does the .pdf have stats for those? It was so slow on my computer that I wasn't able to get past page 50.

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The core book stats out various pmc, marine and mercenary troops, colonists and corporate civilians, technical/combat/infiltration synthetics and the various parts of the xenomorph lifecycle. The second book is likely to be an alien species book called Bug Hunt, and will hopefully include:

Yautja + super predators and their various spacecraft and equipment

Engineers (aka space jockeys) + their technology and spacecraft

The black goo + constructs (hammerpedes, the trilobite, the deacon, mutants)

Harvesters (kinda like burrowing grubs the size of station wagon)

Arcturians

River ghosts (from predators)

Hell hounds (dog things from predators)

Fire walkers (big scorpions)

White hybrids (nasty human xeno hybrids created by a corrupt computer)

Xenoborgs (robots designed to infiltrate hives)

Bugs + flyers and chameleons (the 'bugs' that the marines complain about, ranging from pests to bloody huge)

Gro'tye (big semi sentient bipedal rhino bull things that are bigger than a predator)

Kriltics (another big scorpion)

I can probably whip up around 15-20 canonical xenomorph variants too, based on the species that they were birthed from. There's also a host of unnamed species that appeared in various media but never got a name. As you can see, it's a little deeper than just two hours worth of storyline, then nuke the site from orbit.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting to have to defend this quite so vigorously.

Edited by dazedandconfused

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There was going to be another book called Dramatis Personae, which would provides stats for every character from every movie, and a book called Prey, which would include contemporary military characters and playable Predators.

I was considering a book about space travel too, maybe something with a galaxy map, hyperspace and various starship stats a la Rogue Trader. We could include:

Lockmart Bison class star freighter (Nostromo, Anesidora)

M class commercial courier (Torrens)

Conestoga class warship (Sulaco, Patna, Sephora)

Bougainville class warship (Marlow)

Excavator vessel (Onager)

Research transport (Legato)

FTL transport (Resolute)

Heliades class exploration vessel (Prometheus, Kadmos)

Yautja mother ship

Yautja scout ship

Engineer Juggernaut

Edited by dazedandconfused

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I'm not sure the ships need anything aside from elaborate size and interior descriptions. It obviously depends on what you want to do with them, but in the AvP franchise, they generally serve as the stage for an adventure, and that's about it. Player-guided exploration or space combat might seem out of place -- Marines and corporate personnel just fly to where they are ordered, with the Marines not even having direct control over the ship.

 

Playable Predators sound like a fun idea, and these would have more control over their vessel. But still, as the adventure would focus on the actual hunt, I'd say the space travel bit doesn't need any actual rules/mechanics, rather than the players just describing how they pick a planet and engage the ship's drives, etc.

 

As such, personally I'd recommend perhaps putting those ships (except the Yautja ones) into a Killing Fields (working title) book, together with descriptions of sample planets and outposts/colonies that could likewise serve as terrain for the game to take place on? The list of contemporary military characters could likewise be moved here, as it is essentially a setting book.

 

Then, you could dedicate Prey entirely to the Yautja (+their ships here), as there's certainly a lot of material to go in here as well, from their unique equipment and tribal culture to a primer of their language. You could also add an option to play as a Human Hunter like Machiko or Caryn, and the "Super Predators" (depending on whether you regard them as a separate tribe, or a drug-induced upgrade/mutation available to any Predator) to expand the list of playable character types.

 

Just suggestions, of course. From what I have seen so far, your book is very impressive! Certainly raises interest in a game. The list of available classes seems well thought-out, though personally I would change the name of the Corpsman to Medic (most players are probably more familiar with the latter term), and the civilian Medic to Paramedic or Medical Technician. The Corporate Staff Officer's name also makes him sound as if he belongs to a corporation. Perhaps just shorten it to Staff Officer, like you already did in the NPC section?

 

As for stats, I think I'd limit the M3's protection to the torso as the legs are almost as exposed as the arms (the thighs being much more likely to be hit by stray acid or claws/tails than the lightly protected shins).

 

Another interesting idea might be to add "Host Traits" to the Aliens -- just a small bonus to one of their characteristics that depends on what they were hatching from.

 

All in all, I'd be very interested how the Fear mechanics would work in this game, as this is a very important element in any Aliens story. Perhaps the base mechanic should be expanded to accommodate this concept? A Safety in Numbers modifier (+3 to Willpower per combat-ready, non-panicked Ally within 10m) could lower the impact of Fear when the players first encounter a Fear-inducing creature, but conversely, if one of them dies or gets dragged away, the squad should be forced to test Fear again, with Safety in Numbers temporarily deactivated (as it obviously wasn't safe at all!).

The result would be that a team of Marines is less likely to panic if they encounter an Alien as a combat-ready group, but if the xenomorph(s) strike and take them apart, they should start losing their minds one after another.

 

You could even add a Stress Level mechanic that lowers the characters' Willpower (making them more susceptible to Fear or suggestions from more dominant characters) depending on the horrors they have seen, from low-level Suspense (empty egg shells, acid holes) for -5, to Creeped Out (spun-in colonists) for -10, to Rattled (someone in the group has panicked) for -20.

Stress Level can be "healed" by characters inspiring the others (anytime someone explains the plan on how to deal with the current obstacle, they test Command, and on success lower the Stress Level by one, possibly even setting it to Heroic (+5 to Willpower) if the Stress Level was unmodified before. This represents the group restoring hope as a recognised leader figure appears to have found a way out of this crap.

 

On a sidenote, perhaps the linked characteristic for Command should be changed to Willpower? Fellowship sounds a lot like playing nice or having a way with words, whereas in the AvP setting, Willpower might be more important in that the character oozes confidence as they get their point across: the more confident someone appears, the more likely they are to either bully others into obedience or raise the other characters' morale to a point where they agree that your course of action is best.

 

Coincidentally, giving the Flight Officer Willpower rather than Fellowship as a starting aptitude would make the most prominent example less likely to panic (assuming a balanced advancement scheme), which sounds rather suitable. ;)

 

The Executive, meanwhile, would get Fellowship as the starting aptitude rather than Willpower. Because Burke was a sweet talker, but he certainly wasn't tough (mentally speaking).

 

To recreate a scene from the movie, Burke would then be more apt at rolling Charm as he tries to talk Ripley out of her plan, but her Willpower is strong enough to resist his Fellowship, and so she uses Command to instruct the soldiers.

 

Of course, the Aviator, Sergeant and Line Officer should then also switch their Fellowship aptitude for Willpower, but I'd say this is suitable, given how they should be less likely to panic (either because this is why they are leading others in the first place, or because you need nerves of steel as a pilot).

This would also help setting the Sergeant and Line Officer further apart from the Staff Officer, who would retain Fellowship as, like the Executive, they are more about talking.

 

 

PS: And in the tradition of calling houseruled Only War settings "Only [fill in]", perhaps you may consider changing the title to something like "Only Prey". :D

 

The Prey sourcebook could then be called something like "Hunt", which might appear more fitting anyways, as it's about predators rather than prey (although in retrospect, I have a feeling you may have been gunning for the verb here, rather than the substantive?).

Edited by Lynata

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Lynata, thank you for providing one of the few examples of legitimately constructive criticism I've ever seen on a message board! I think you've raised a number of excellent points, particularly with the core book. This is exactly what I was hoping would happen - I need to start making some v1.1 edits...

I'm going to crack on with a few changes, and I'll repost when it's sorted.

Edited by dazedandconfused

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i love it. brings new light to the same old thing. i love new weapons also. im going to try and convince my group to try it out. if they dont like the setting i think ill just port over the weapons and the aliens saying they might be even a stronger threat then nids. 

 

i think ill have them in a mining colony where its been abandoned and the inquisition "recruits them" to help the inevestigation and provide security or something.

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So, first of all really nice work with this, my group is already planning a game once we finish our current run through in another system so I'll probably have better feedback once that happens.  Off the first read through of the rules though, there were a few things I wasn't sure about rules/setup wise and just some rough feedback I had.  

 

First, a consultant 'regiment' doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, I'd think it'd be more something like colonists, representing the collection of possible civilians that could be fielded as a generic collection of people who would make up a colony or station.  Quite honestly this would be a simple switch of names between the class "Colonist" and the Regiment type "Consultant", especially since your description for the colonist class refers to them as being hired out to the USCM and other civilian types that would be present in the game that would fit better into a generic colonist 'regiment'.

 

The USCMC regiment is also a bit... I don't know, too generic?  Where it comes across most to me is in the sheer volume of things the players potentially get access to.  Every squad gets an APC by default (Which is practically a mobile fortress but I'll discuss my problems with it later), everyone is literally the perfect rifleman (skills like rapid reload being given to everyone, instead of just Infantry who get it again for some reason) and parts to keep the most common vehicles running are easier to come by.  These could easily be broken into several different 'flavors' of regiment (Light Infantry, Mechanized Infantry, Armored, and Air Wing come to mind, you could even throw in Raiders if you need a black ops/stormtroopers equivalent), each given to a different flavor of gameplay and would allow some better tailoring of individual soldiers without having to come up with reasons to take away certain skills or equipment or why a rifle squad would find it easier to get parts for a drop ship.  My big problem more than anything is that choosing a particular regiment type let me as the GM know what my players wanted from the game.  As the USCMC comes now I have to be prepared to threaten anything in the rule book because my players can probably manage to get their hands on it eventually, and other than role playing reasons there's almost no point in choosing any other regiment type (maybe that's what you wanted?  I don't know).

 

The weapons do seem well done and offer a good bit of variety for the setting, my only complaint there is that the table and descriptions are a bit hard to dig your way through.  As it stands now the table is a mess of a variety of M something A something weapons, and while they are in alphabetical order it might help to further break them down by pistol, rifle, and shotgun style categories.  Solid projectile is a bit meaningless as a category since in this world if it's not a flame thrower, a missile launcher, or melee weapon, it's solid projectile.  Also, you have flame weapons on there twice when I think for one of them you meant to be Plasma.  One other breakdown in this section that could help is defining the underslung weapons that are meant to be Pulse Rifle attachments rather than stand alone weapons.  Only War itself avoided that problem by having them as weapon upgrades rather than listing them in with the main selection of weapons.  Also, what about weapon upgrades?  Do you intend to allow them to be used in this setting or are they discouraged?  On top of that what about the weapon customization?  It doesn't need to readdress what they do, just if they're all together banned, or if only certain ones (like say purity seals, vox-operated or sacred inscriptions) are allowed, banned or tweaked a little.

 

Lastly, vehicles... Oh my God, vehicles.  The default APC is only slightly worse than the most advanced tank ever built and is actually better than the light tank.  It carries enough extra war gear to keep your men swimming in neat toys (Nerve gas?  What possible reason is there to give your men nerve gas as a default option?  Side note, not directed at you, I know the Colonial Marine Corps Technical Manual lists all this stuff, but game wise there is no real reason to give it to players as default equipment).  This, more than any other is the section I think needs to be readdressed, not so much from a fluff accuracy point but from a gameplay perspective.  Otherwise, as the GM I'm going to constantly be coming up with reasons to take the vehicle away.

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Still on my first read, but so far I'm loving this.  I tried an Aliens RPG back in the early 90s but the system was FAR too cruncy.  This is sending me to the happy place.  Now to talk a couple people into giving it a go.  Thank you

Living Edge Games Alies RPG

 

My Sgt from that campaign still has nightmares used to keep the Ripley Special locked and loaded and at least 2 handguns, along with his Heavy weapons Expert minus his nose to acid burn, the Motion Sensor/Computer Expert who kept his motion  tracker on his shotgun (damm Xenos don't show up on it)

We were the only survivors of many missions as part of the CM Xeno contact team I beleive our motto was If it not us, Kill them all

We had many resupply mission that provide FNG and weapons and vehicles (yeah 1 planet we lost 2 APC and 1 dropshuttle)

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So, feedback from night one of our Aliens session.  The short version of it, Holy hell those aren't assault rifles, they're shoulder mounted full auto howitzers.

 

The background for the start of my campaign is that my players are newly rotated into a USCM garrison on a corporate mining world.  Their first missions are against illegal miners from another faction I ended up making up for my game who were guarded by PMC troops who I played with the standard infantryman out of the Aliens rule set.  The players got in a huge firefight with them and everyone quickly found out that the standard M41A pulse rifle is a doom cannon.  It seriously has better stats than a bolt gun, and 3 of my 5 players have them by default.  The other is playing a medic and I have one smart gunner (who didn't show up for that night's session) with a gun that's even worse against regular humans.  

 

Here's the problem as we can see it, these guns are perfectly balanced for players fighting xenomorphs, but as soon as you take them up against average humans as PMC troops or anything else they're overpowered.  The pen 5 ignores all but the best armor in the game, reducing that to 1, and makes my players question why they're even wearing armor.  On top of that the gun gets to roll two dice and choose the higher result of the two, so everyone is throwing their best damage every roll with what, to us, is sort of meant to be this system's equivalent to the las gun.  I had to secretly switch to using the lower of the two rolls and immediately giving the enemies flak vests only because otherwise my players weren't going to survive a fight against 5 enemies.  Some of them were even throwing enough damage that through cover, armor, and toughness they were still chewing off a hit point or two.  

 

Our proposed solution to it was, using the M41A as an example, a reduction in pen from 5 to 2, which brings its potential damage output down to the same as a lasrifle fired on overload mode (or the only way to fire a lasgun according to my group) and add it to felling 4.  Also, to remove some of the overpowered feeling from the rifle, and keep others feeling unique with our proposed changes we got rid of tearing for the standard M41A.  At the same time you take 3 points of armor away from a xenomorph and put them into unnatural toughness 5.  It keeps the M41A as an effective weapon against Xenomorphs, which marine players will need when they show up, but keeps it from being an overpowered rifle against standard humans.  So the statline for our M41A changes to damage 1d10+5   Pen 2   Reliable, Felling (4)

 

Our next work over was the M56 Smartgun.  Throwing 2d10+4 pen 6 was putting it into the realm of a full auto grenade launcher rather than feeling like a squad automatic weapon, which is what we felt Aliens set it up as.  Our proposed changes there were knocking it down to 1d10+5 to represent the fact it fires the same cartridge as the pulse rifle according to the Colonial Marines Technical Manual, giving it pen 4 to represent a higher velocity with the gun than the rifle can achieve, taking away reliable to represent the feeling in the technical manual that the older model M38 smartgun was more reliable, and leaving it tearing to represent the computer assisted aim available to the gunner and to allow it to continue to throw more average damage than the pulse rifle armed troops. In addition we would add Felling 5 to give it its effectiveness back against Xenomorphs by taking away all their extra toughness and all their armor but being able to throw less total average damage at them.  We got left with a statline of Damage 1d10+5  Pen 4  Tearing, Felling (5).

 

Those are just the changes I would make to the guns my players and enemies had access to.  I can still see others on the list that will need to be reworked in the future as my players get access to them, like the sniper rifles, 6 different shotguns that don't change too much in between each other and the selection of instant death machine guns.  Again, we think that the problem is that the guns are intended to be used against xenos, and the xenos were built using the normal damage reduction models, lots of armor and high hitpoints, which lead to the guns being over penetrating and high damage dealing, which deal with the Xenos fine but if your players are like mine, and don't want to reenact the movie (according to them that means they don't want to start a game knowing they're on a doomed mission and are only playing out the stories of how they died), the other options like PMC corporate troops fighting another corporations PMC, or Marines who somehow find themselves in a corporate conspiracy the ability to fight other humans turns into a death fest faster than I think it would against Xenos.

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So, Week 2 feedback, a bit late but better than never.  The gun changes worked, my players stood a chance, the enemy didn't feel overpowered but weren't pushovers either.  The only casualties we had were a combination of player dice apparently deciding a 1 for damage was good enough about three times in a row, the smartgunner jamming his weapon (an unmodified 100 at that...) and one random enemy activating Rambo mode after his friends died and getting two righteous furies before someone finally took him down.  The downside we ran into with our weapons changes is that a lot of guns start to feel the same, and the USCM only background didn't allow a lot of variation, despite several comics and such I dug out to re-read showing a lot of different guns.  I took it as a chance to invent a few other rifles (significant stat line changes and backgrounds for the two will be at the bottom) and let my players have a bit of a choice in their weaponry since we're approaching the first major plot point.

 

Some of the positives I've found (as the GM) the armor gives a nice feeling in human on human battle, especially since the defaults leave the arms bare.  My combat engineer has been on a crusade to find a way to protect his arms, but I think it matches the look/feel of the movie armor pretty well.  I'm a little tempted to turn down the armor value for the legs the next time around as in the movie these were only shin guards/kneepads and the upper thigh had no protection.  Possibly a 3 value?  If I end up doing that I'll be sure to give some feedback on it.  My characters are starting to seriously mistrust their motion tracker since I've lead them into two ambushes using jumping jacks so far, but it's a fun way to push back as the GM against the 'I see everything" tool, I've had a bit of a problem pressing back against the prey-sense built into the helmets, but my players also haven't used it that much either.

 

Created Weapons:

 

Royal Arms Model 84

 

A bullpup style carbine originally designed for the British Army's Airborne divisions.  The Model 84 was designed from the beginning to be lightweight and compact enough for a soldier to maneuver normally in an aircraft as well as through crowded city streets and through buildings.  Although the bullpup design achieved all these goals the Model 84's complex cycle of operations and high maintenance requirements have given it a less than reliable reputation.  Although the weapon was designed to use the same standard NATO magazines as the M41A the inherently isolated nature of airborne soldiers and the uncertainty of resupply led to a reduced rate of fire to help the soldier conserve ammunition.  The unexpected upside of the reduced rate of fire, when combined with the long barrel in an overall compact weapon was a high degree of accuracy.

 

S/2/4 1d10+5 Pen 2  99 round magazine  100m Range  Accurate, Felling 4, Bullpup (custom rule for our game.  Bullpup allows the weapon to be wielded with no penalty in one hand or melee combat, but cannot benefit from an aim action in either circumstance)

 

State Arms WZ805

 

A Chinese copy and modernization of late 22nd century Soviet arms (Our world history is based on the 80's idea that the Soviet Union never fell).  The WZ805, unlike modern Western arms, still fires brass or steel cased ammunition at higher velocities than equivalent Western arms.  Although each magazine is capable of holding less rounds than a NATO caseless ammunition magazine it does allow for specialized ammunition to be loaded into the magazine and is based off of centuries of proven weapons design, leading to a well deserved reputation for reliability in the worst conditions present on modern battlefields.  The general low-tech design of the WZ805 allows them to be produced in massive numbers with little need for specialized machinery or a highly trained workforce, leading to large numbers present in most insurgent, mercenary and conscript style forces.  While possession and use of the WZ805 by USCM forces is generally frowned upon by leadership, an enterprising Marine should have no problem keeping himself supplied off battlefield salvage.

 

S/2/10  1d10+7 Pen 2  30 round Magazine  100m Range Reliable  Felling 4 Cased Ammunition(Custom rule allowing the various special rounds in the core Only War rulebook to be used in the weapon, but renders the player unable to find ammunition for the weapon through USCM sources)

 

Edit:  Forgot to include the Felling 4 stat for these guns used against Xenos.

Edited by FireforEffect

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Wow, lots of feedback! Thanks for the praise and feedback folks.

 

FireforEffect

Thank you so much for the constructive criticism. I'm glad that you're enjoying the game (even with the tweaks!), and that you've found a way to make it work for your group. However, I do feel that I should justify some of my design concepts.

 

The Pulse Rifle/Smartgun is overpowered

Yes, to a certain extent I agree. However, the pulse rifle is meant to be an elite weapon. Generally only the USCMC and private corps have them. Yes, they're damaging to soft targets, and I feel that they should be. Look at what happened to poor Aaron at the end of Alien3; the Wey-Yu goon in the apesuit hits him with a pair of semi-auto bursts and he's killed almost instantly.

 

When a weapon is fired, it should send the PCs scurrying for hard cover! Remember the tactical advance action. Use it often.

 

The armour doesn't protect against Pulse Rifles et al

Yes, but allow me to explain: the USCMC are used almost exclusively to deal with local rebels, disgruntled militias and the occasional border skirmish. Most of their enemies are equipped with SMGs, shotguns and handguns. Against these weapons, the armour is pretty decent. Granted it isn't power armour, but these aren't Astartes. Also remember that the pulse rifle fires "10mm explosive-tipped caseless, standard light armour-piercing round". The pulse rifle should shred most personal armour. That's its job.

 

I know that this isn't going to change your mind, and that certainly isn't my intent; you'v clearly found what works for you and that's very cool. However, I felt that you deserved to hear my reasoning rather than just leaving your well-thought-out input hanging in the air. That just feels like it would be rude... ;)

 

tl;dr - thanks for playing, i'm glad you're enjoying it!

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I'm glad I can help in any small little way I can, even if it's just to prove that people are actually taking what you made and playing it.  Nothing quite like knowing people like what you made in my experience, so yes despite all the small tweaks and criticisms I've made you've done an amazing amount of work and it's been one of our more enjoyable game sessions lately.

 

In the same way you justified your design decisions I feel I ought to give you a little more background on why I made my tweaks, and in reality they're just house rules that make the system fit the game my players want to play.

 

Weapon power levels:

 

As far as the universe is concerned the USCM and the private corps have pulse rifles, but the problem I saw in this setting compared to my group in Only War was when I offered my group 'down time' where they could go and try to acquire new guns.  In Only War they would be on a voracious hunt to get different las weapons, replace their heavy weapon with something a bit bigger, but not here.  In fact in session 2 (we've since had the third I just haven't put my feedback down yet), one of my players flat out told me "I don't need to find anything better, I have the pulse rifle."  One of my player's largest 'carrot on a stick' elements for an RPG, the quest for better gear, was just gone.  The problem for our group wasn't that the pulse rifle was good, but the my group enjoys the pseudo-military setting and all of them chose some sort of military character and the USCM background as their regiment type.  Three of my five players got one of the system's elite weapons as default gear, and one of them got one that's better.  One of the other problems I think that leads into this is, like someone else already pointed out, there is so little background fluff.  This is a good and bad thing in my book.  It's good because my group's story and background will be totally different from anyone else's .  My Greater Eurasian Commonwealth won't even exist in someone else's game, the corporation my players are dealing with isn't canon by any means, but works for what I needed in my game; as a GM I love the freedom but as a game designer there's a horrifying lack of diverse weapons to draw from.  I know since introducing my two weapons to the game (and one alternate to the smart gun I didn't post yet) my players have been in an absolute race to find another Model 84.  Maybe I made it too powerful, I don't know, but it's the first time they've been excited about new equipment as USCM players.

 

The Armor:

 

I get the idea of utilizing the USCM as the high level power, but the weapons currently on offer vary from 'you may as well be naked' to 'no real chance to do any damage'.  This sort of ties into the problem of having one of the ultimate weapon issued to a good chunk of your classes as default equipment, there's a major group that's either able to completely ignore either the damage a weapon can issue or the advantage that armor confers completely ignores the average damage of a weapon.  Our problem was more that the armor should have been something that deflected some, but not all damage.  OUr reasoning was that the armor the USCM, and thereby their 'conventional' opposition should have been wearing would have been designed to defeat each other's weapons.  A USCM piece of armor that defeats acid blood before acid blood has been discovered doesn't really make sense, but USCM armor that beats the AP value of a Soviet assault rifle makes sense in my mind.

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This is going to form something of a response to Malachai's question and a continuing update to my group's play through and our house findings.

 

Well, the one thing my players have found, now that Xenos have actually made their appearance, is that one by itself is deadly.  The rules for the acid blood and aliens killed by explosive rounds are actually deadly (one player actually died).  Since then we've downgraded the individual rifleman's rounds to impact while leaving the smartgun's rounds as explosive, mainly based off the fact none of us could remember an alien shot by an actual pulse rifle exploding in the movie the same way that the one shot by Vasquez did all over Drake.  While the fluff of Aliens does reference exploding rounds in the pulse rifle, game effects wise it didn't make sense to have every rifle suddenly be explosive, everything my Marines get by default is super dangerous to them up close, which coincidentally is where Xenos want to be.  It left my players feeling reluctant to fire up close, since they as players knew what was going to happen to them if the xeno actually died.  The one player who did fire up close (arguing that his character wouldn't have known about acid blood yet in our timeline) died from it and as a result got an extra fate point for his next character).  The small change, mixed with our changes to rifles as they were written in the original document, made it so that regular infantry had a reason to feel useful, my smart gunner had a reason to try to change targets, and everyone felt pressure from something.

 

The problem my group has run into with Xenos has been in not having them attack the same people.  This is in part my fault, since my idea was that drones are dumb, they attack whoever is closest to them.  Warriors try to take down the biggest guy, or what they perceive as the biggest threat (read as guy with the biggest gun).  How this works out, since my players tend to run smart gunner-infantryman-line officer-medic-combat engineer is that the front two tend to take the brunt of both categories.  What I've been trying to do, to make Xenos feel like they do in the movies, is use their stealthy characteristics to appear in places my players have already cleared, and the grapple-head bite is a real fear for my players, so much so that they turn on whatever the closest Xeno is.  Granted, some of what makes it not a 'Genestealer re-skin' is my group's desire to play in a new setting and accept the fact that a Xenomorph is a Genestealer, and a Genestealer is a Xenomorph.  Then again, all the campaigns I've run so far have been against humans/Chaos/Dark Eldar so this is a change no matter what.

 

Now, as for my added weapons from my last few sessions:

 

Mark 28 Computer Aided Gun System

 

One of the original ‘smart’ weapon designs the Mk 28 combines a 12.7mm heavy machine gun with a hydraulic supported arm and vest all tied into a central processing computer that tracks and engages a single target until its destruction.  For all but the most experienced users overriding the computer targeting system during combat is nearly impossible.  While much heavier than modern smart weapons and limited by its outdated targeting software, the Mk 28 is still popular with the South African Confederation and mercenary groups due to its ability to penetrate light cover, heavy vegetation and all but the heaviest conventional body armor.

 

Heavy 400M -/5/10  2d10+3 Pen 5  50 round box magazine  2 full reload  40kg  Reliable, Tearing, CA Gunsight  Requires Exotic:Smart

 

The Computer Aided Gunsight has 2 methods of firing, locked and unlocked and cannot benefit from an aim action

 

Unlocked:  The gun is not locked to a target signature and can engage any target at will but the system doesn’t engage the hydraulic supports for anything other than holding the gun’s weight and is operated at a -20 BS.

 

Locked:  The gunsight is locked to a target signature and the hydraulics will cause the  gun to continue to track the target until it is destroyed, allowing the player to engage one target and one target only until the targeting program is overridden at a +0 tech use test, or the target is lost behind heavy cover for two total turns (the turn they move there and one additional.  Heavy cover is defined as building walls, vehicles, rocks etc., not ballistic flak board, bushes, sheet metal or trees).  Locked gives the firer a +10 bonus if he/she doesn’t move before firing and an additional +10 if their target doesn’t move (up to a combined +20 BS)

 

Israeli Military Arms Jericho Mk. 2

 

The IMA Jericho is considered to be an older weapon by most standards, but the slow changes to its basic design are not without purpose.  Due to the disadvantage of the Israeli Defense Forces in numbers against any of its neighbors the equipment of even the most basic infantryman is guaranteed to work under the most austere circumstances possible and the killing power and reliablity of the weapon is not to be compromised in pursuit of anything but higher lethality and further reliability.  The Jericho itself is constructed out of a single block of steel using the best in robotic micro-manufacturing technologies available, leading to a well-deserved reputation for reliability above and beyond the normal military standard found in western style militaries.  The methods of manufacturing leading to increased reliability have the noted downside of increasing the weapon’s weight.  If the Jericho has one flaw worth noting to the line trooper, it’s the fact that all the available manufacturing time is allocated to the weapon itself, leaving the IDF reliant on the NATO standard magazine and array of weapons sights and attachments; none of which share the Jericho’s reputation for reliability.

 

Special Rules:

 

You could bury it in the dirt:  Jamming the Jericho is impossible.  While the NATO standard magazine is susceptible to double feeds, or failures to feed, the Jericho itself is fitted with an electronic cartridge feed management system that is programmed to detect potential jams and refuse to continue feeding rounds from the current magazine. Unlike the Mk. 1, which used an audible tone, the Mk. 2 utilizes a tactile feedback pulsing of the pistol grip to alert the soldier to a situation that could lead to a jam and also indicates the necessity to reload (if replicating the older Mk. 1 an audio tone indicating a jammed gun can be detected by enemy troopers with a +20 awareness test).  On an unmodified result of 90 or above the rifle locks any further loading from the current magazine to prevent a jam.  No ballistic skill test is required to resolve the jam, but a reload is required to replace the locked out magazine and any ammunition remaining in the ‘jammed’ magazine is lost as the weapon's onboard system marks the magazine as 'defective' in its memory.

 

You can run it over with a tank:  The single piece solid steel construction of the Jericho prevents all but the most serious physical damage from rendering the weapon useless.  Any result that might otherwise damage or destroy the weapon requires a second re-roll; on an unmodified 100 the Jericho is destroyed, 1-10 the weapon’s magazine is damaged and must be reloaded with a loss of all remaining ammo, 10-25 one attachment of the player’s choice is destroyed, 25-50 one attachment of the GM’s choice is destroyed. 50-75 2 attachments/modifications are destroyed (one player’s choice, one GM’s choice), 75-99 all attachments/modifications are destroyed.

 

It’s built like a rock:  Modifying the Jericho is not an easy task for the average line trooper, the all steel construction makes it an arduous task for the most determined of troops to do much more than scratch something more than the required serial number onto the receiver.  Any attempts to modify the weapon beyond attachments (i.e. grenade launcher, underslung shotguns, weapon sights) receive no benefits from tools, work spaces, or time spent, and modifications without tools or an appropriate armory suffer -20.  In addition a trooper without Trade: Armorer attempting a modification suffers -40 instead of the normal -20 for using an untrained skill since the tight fit and solid construction of the IMA Jericho prove to be too much for them.

 

S/4/10  1d10+7 Pen 2  99 round Magazine  75m Range Proven 3  Felling 4  7kg

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My only concern is the outright similarity between the Aliens and the Tyranids (and many would argue the 'Nids are an Aliens rip-off).  What do you do different to keep players from going "Oh, it's a Genestealer re-skin."

Those... are not the sort of people I want as players. Or friends.

I kid. However, if I did get that reaction from a player I'd probably be like "Ha ha, yeah, real funny. Wait... are you serious?!"

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