Let's Read the ALIEN RPG

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Séadna

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I should say in most ALIEN sources androids are, according to in-setting science, not self-aware and although vastly more powerful number crunchers than humans they have a severely limited ability with abstract concepts and anything vaguely related to what you might call symbology. Their pre-loaded personality is always impassive, neutral and nurturing. Obviously you see this personality frequently in the films.

Their memory is less than half that of a human at 1.2 petabytes (with the standard proviso of how little bytes probably mean for the human brain).

Might be helpful for playing them in a game.
 
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Séadna

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I think all the films except for the Aliens vs Predators ones - and maybe not Aliens: Resurrection, since the game takes place hundreds of years before that. Very early in the thread I asked about Prometheus and Seadna confirmed it was part of the game's canon.
For any interested this is the canon used for the game:

  • Film Series
    • Prometheus
    • Alien: Covenant
    • Alien
    • Aliens
    • Alien 3
    • Alien Resurrection
  • Alien Isolation video game
  • Mike Tanaka Alien Isolation Twitter account
  • Covenant Short Films:
    • The Crossing
    • The Last Supper
    • Meet Walter
    • Five Crew Messages
    • Phobos
    • Advent
    • David’s Lab: Last Signs of Life
  • Prometheus Short Films:
    • TED Conference, 2023
    • Happy Birthday, David
    • Quiet Eye: Elizabeth Shaw
    • Project Prometheus: Mission
    • Weyland Industries Testimonial
    • Prometheus Transmission
  • Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report
  • Alien: The Blueprints
  • Alien: David’s Drawings
  • Alien Role Playing Game by Free League Publishing
    • Alien RPG: Starter Set
    • Alien RPG: Core rulebook
    • Alien: Chariot of the Gods
    • Alien: Destroyer of Worlds
    • Alien: Map of the Middle Heavens
    • Alien: Colonial Marines Operations Manual
    • All upcoming Alien: RPG products
  • The following Dark Horse comic series:
    • Aliens: Dead Orbit
    • Aliens: Dust to Dust
    • Aliens: Defiance
    • Aliens: Resistance
    • Aliens: Rescue
  • Titan and Imprint Novel Series
    • Alien: Covenant – Origins
    • Alien: The Cold Forge
    • Alien: Into Charybdis
    • Alien: Infiltrator
    • Aliens: Phalanx
    • Alien: Prototype
    • Alien: Isolation novelization
    • Alien: Echo
  • The 40th Anniversary Short Films
    • Alien: Containment
    • Alien: Specimen
    • Alien: Night Shift
    • Alien: Ore
    • Alien: Alone
  • Alien: Blackout Mobile Video Game
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual

The following is used in a modified form, i.e. making it consist with the stuff above:
  • Weyland Industries Viral Website (some distances are exaggerated)
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines Video Game (Creatures and Technology are canon, the story is not)
  • Movie novelizations (accurate except when contradicted by screen evidence)
    • Alien
    • Aliens
    • Alien 3
    • Alien: Resurrection
    • Prometheus (Japanese language only)
    • Alien: Covenant
  • Alien Novels:
    • Alien: Out of the Shadows
    • Alien: Sea of Sorrows
    • Alien: River of Pain

Resurrection is thus far used very little in the RPG, since it occurs well in the future.
 
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Séadna

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I don’t know but I’m guessing the Xenomorphs were wholly lab creations? They don’t seem “natural”.
The basic idea (and this is eliding over loads of strands of the franchise that don't follow this line) is that the Engineers encountered some unexplained form of life that impregnated one of them. The entity that emerged after was called "the Deacon", whose blood was used by the Engineers as the basis of all their biotechnology.

The Deacon is seen in Prometheus on a mural and was viewed as a god of sorts by the Engineers.

David is trying to recreate the Deacon or something of his own design inspired by the Engineers' research notes. As of Covenant he hasn't created a true Alien since the creature you see in Covenant is still "biological" with muscles and skin etc. Not the weird vacuum surviving being made of silicon and fluoride with rock-like skin from the films.

It's still up for grabs as to whether David's research results in the Aliens from the first set of films and what relation they bear to the original "Deacon" being.

Now this is just one strand in the franchise but it seems to be the one the RPG is leaning toward. There's also other strands like the comics where the Aliens are just apex predators from a death world, all the way up to where they are manifestations of God or the Universe's rage and hatred.
 
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Necrozius

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In canon is also the rumor of the wooden space station-monastery from the earlier Alien 3 script. Because it's a crazy awesome idea.
 

Séadna

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Some other little tidbits if it is useful in games. Again taking the "main" stream of setting canon.

The Aliens blood is a high grade hydrofluoric acid which as you know eats through metal etc, but will not eat through flouride based materials like teflon. I think that's funny little known weakness. It also leads to the weakness to fire.

The reason the blood has this composition is that hydroflouric acid with some other compounds in the blood functions as a battery, so the Alien doesn't breathe, need to eat etc. The battery is "recharged" by eating silicates like rocks and glass or from strong heat sources. This is why the Aliens just sit immobile when there are no hosts around, they've no need to hunt for food. If they get into a ship place them somewhere hibernating in the piping of the fusion core so they've heat for their internal battery. Or have them chew/steal glass from the ship kitchen.

The possibility is purposefully left open in the novels etc that the battery might not be fully rechargeable and that any Alien eventually just "runs out/stops". So it might be possible to kill them from overexertion.

Young Chestbursters have weaker acid, since it's still mostly just hydrochloric acid taken from the host's stomach.
 
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Giganotosaurus

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Some other little tidbits if it is useful in games. Again taking the "main" stream of setting canon.

The Aliens blood is a a high grade hydrofluoric acid which as you know eats through metal etc, but will not eat through flouride based materials like teflon. I think that's funny little known weakness. It also leads to the weakness to fire.

The reason the blood has this composition is that hydroflouric acid with some other compounds in the blood functions as a battery, so the Alien doesn't breathe, need to eat etc. The battery is "recharged" by eating silicates like rocks and glass or from strong heat sources. This is why the Aliens just sit immobile when there are no hosts around, they've no need to hunt for food. If they get into a ship place them somewhere hibernating in the piping of the fusion core so they've heat for their internal battery. Or have them chew/steal glass from the ship kitchen.

The possibility is purposefully left open in the novels etc that the battery might not be fully rechargeable and that any Alien eventually just "runs out/stops". So it might be possible to kill them from overexertion.

Young Chestbursters have weaker acid, since it's still mostly just hydrochloric acid taken from the host's stomach.
So if they don't need to hunt for food why are they so predatory? Is it only for finding hosts to reproduce?
 

Panzerkraken

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So if they don't need to hunt for food why are they so predatory? Is it only for finding hosts to reproduce?
I don't think that's exposited, but IMO it's wired into them as a component of their "bio-weapon" status. From their actions though (hunting and keeping prey alive if possible, to provide additional hosts for chestbursters) I think your assumption might be how that wiring is expressed biologically.
 

Séadna

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That's (paraphrased or a summary of the text) from the game book, is it?
Colonial Marines Technical Manual and the Aliens novelisation. The RPG actually only mentions that they have acid blood and provides rules for how acid splash deals damage (probably one of the most lethal things in the game).
 
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Nobby-W

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Thanks Picaroon Jack Picaroon Jack ! I was mad into the franchise as a teenager, did modding for the older PC games and errata for the Anchorpoint essays. Glad to see it's all paying off! :grin:

Fun fact: I went to university with one of the folks involved in the Alien TC Doom mod. He wrote the first Doom level editor called DEU. This was sometime after they wrote the mod; at the time he was working as a sysadmin for the university..
 

Toadmaster

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Some other little tidbits if it is useful in games. Again taking the "main" stream of setting canon.

The Aliens blood is a high grade hydrofluoric acid which as you know eats through metal etc, but will not eat through flouride based materials like teflon. I think that's funny little known weakness. It also leads to the weakness to fire.

The reason the blood has this composition is that hydroflouric acid with some other compounds in the blood functions as a battery, so the Alien doesn't breathe, need to eat etc. The battery is "recharged" by eating silicates like rocks and glass or from strong heat sources. This is why the Aliens just sit immobile when there are no hosts around, they've no need to hunt for food. If they get into a ship place them somewhere hibernating in the piping of the fusion core so they've heat for their internal battery. Or have them chew/steal glass from the ship kitchen.

The possibility is purposefully left open in the novels etc that the battery might not be fully rechargeable and that any Alien eventually just "runs out/stops". So it might be possible to kill them from overexertion.

Young Chestbursters have weaker acid, since it's still mostly just hydrochloric acid taken from the host's stomach.

In hazmat they called Hydroflouric acid the bone seeker due to its attraction to calcium. If exposed to weaker concentrations it can penetrate the skin causing mild acid burns but then dissolve the bones from inside where the damage it isn't so obvious to the victim until they are a rubber chicken, nasty stuff.

Of course higher concentrations skip the subtlety.

So if they don't need to hunt for food why are they so predatory? Is it only for finding hosts to reproduce?

Reproduction is a pretty common driving factor in many animals, even when it leads to overpopulation. If they were created in a lab or bred as a bio-weapon it makes even more sense.

It varies some from source to source, but there is some suggestion that they do consume parts of their victims. May not be for food, it could be chemical components (bones maybe, lots of useful chemicals in those), for other uses like maybe the resin they coat things in (just throwing ideas out there, as I've not seen anything suggesting that if they do eat parts of their victims or some selected victims that it is anything but food).

Left out of the film, but in the book and a deleted scene Ripley finds some of the crew members cocooned and at least some were missing their limbs. The popular image of the aliens crushing the skull with their extending inner jaw would also not leave the victim in a good state for hosting (pretty dead with the brain destroyed, and kind of missing a face for the face hugger to attach to), however consuming the limbs wouldn't impact their ability to host and helps ensure that they are unable to get up to any mischief.
 

Toadmaster

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You know, I keep hearing this, but none of the "dumb decisions" that people complain about have any relationship to the plot or moving it along. They simply lead to scenes of horror.

In fact, the only movie in the series where a dumb decision in the film is required for the plot is the original Alien.

I spent the first half of Alien almost literally laughing at dumb decisions. I think I mumbled “come on” more than once.

Have you guys spent much time out in public? People are pretty dumb as a whole. I mean come on, can you point out a decision made in Alien that is stupider than eating Tide pods? Have a look at the safety labels on most any consumer product, they didn't get there for purely hypothetical situations, somebody out there did something to inspire the warning.


I loved Alien as a kid/teen but as I got older I found the second half too predictable and slasher-like as characters wander off to be picked off by the monster in a dynamic/structure that was driven into the ground by later slashers and other horror films.

But as time passed I came to find so much else to enjoy in the film: the atmosphere and mood, the look, the excellent performances that the less than inspired plotting didn't matter anymore.

I think I eventually came around to the idea that the plot is only a part of what a film is and not always the most important. I love a well constructed thriller but also dig wild, intense films that border on the incoherent or are slower, more about mood and character. To me, Ridely's three best films: The Duelists, Alien and Blade Runner all fall into the latter. The Duelists remains the freshest for me.

There are a lot of bad movies where I can still enjoy them for the visuals, atmosphere or neat ideas.

I can still enjoy aspects of Alien 3 and Resurrection for individual parts even if they are weak films as a whole. The scene in AR where they have to swim through the submerged lab pursued by aliens makes no sense, but it is still a cool scene.


There's a possibility, if we had been allowed to see Fincher's vision w/o the studio interference, that there could have been something much more interesting done with the monks in space and stuff.

Maybe that's the trick to an Alien sequel - the Xenomorph is kinda one-note, so you have to make the victims interesting. I dunno. After Prometheus and Covenant, I have to say I'm way more interested in the androids in the setting than I am the Aliens. Well, not so much Winona Ryder's Android...


As an 80s teen, I'd be very interested in a Winona Ryder android. :heart:
 

Séadna

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It varies some from source to source, but there is some suggestion that they do consume parts of their victims. May not be for food, it could be chemical components (bones maybe, lots of useful chemicals in those), for other uses like maybe the resin they coat things in (just throwing ideas out there, as I've not seen anything suggesting that if they do eat parts of their victims or some selected victims that it is anything but food).

Left out of the film, but in the book and a deleted scene Ripley finds some of the crew members cocooned and at least some were missing their limbs. The popular image of the aliens crushing the skull with their extending inner jaw would also not leave the victim in a good state for hosting (pretty dead with the brain destroyed, and kind of missing a face for the face hugger to attach to), however consuming the limbs wouldn't impact their ability to host and helps ensure that they are unable to get up to any mischief.
This is great stuff.

Yeah regarding the food situation this really varies across the franchise and what I have above is only the rough average presentation. So say the Colonial Marines Technical manual not only says they don't need to eat, it explicitly says why they don't down to the chemical level (i.e. the living battery stuff above).

Yet in the novelisation of the first film for example the Alien has 100% eaten rations from a food locker in the Nostromo's lower level (p.200 Warner Books edition if anybody wants to see).

Then for example in the AvP2 game they eat but only to either heal or power the transformation from chestburster to adult, not for food.
 

Necrozius

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Left out of the film, but in the book and a deleted scene Ripley finds some of the crew members cocooned and at least some were missing their limbs.
This is canon in the game. Lone “drone” xenomorphs can inject “dna” into victims to transform them into eggs, awaiting the eventual birth of a Queen.

Super cool (and terrifying).
 

Silent Green

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Colonial Marines Technical Manual and the Aliens novelisation. The RPG actually only mentions that they have acid blood and provides rules for how acid splash deals damage (probably one of the most lethal things in the game).
Thank god. I was beginning to see people building up suspense by having NPC shipmates (who'll totally go missing later in the game) put up sticky notes saying “whoever took all the tea glasses, please put them back” or “has anybody seen the glass ashtray I stole from Xing Xang?” or “I'm not your mother, clean up the bits of broken glass you left under that vent — again” or “if I catch the bastard acid-licking the glass from the telltales in engineering…”.

In hazmat they called Hydroflouric acid the bone seeker due to its attraction to calcium. If exposed to weaker concentrations it can penetrate the skin causing mild acid burns but then dissolve the bones from inside where the damage it isn't so obvious to the victim until they are a rubber chicken, nasty stuff.
IIRC you die from kidney failure (or was it liver failure?) due to the excess calcium in your bloodstream before the bones turn to glop.

Fluorine is vile. A few years ago I tried to find a way to turn clear glass into frosted and — recalling my chemistry lessons — thought about hydrofluoric acid. Took about half a screen of reading up on that stuff for me to drop the idea (and I hadn't even come across Satan's kimchi). Now I've made a hobby out of asking dentists about fluoridated toothpaste just to watch them squirm.
 

Paragon

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I should say in most ALIEN sources androids are, according to in-setting science, not self-aware and although vastly more powerful number crunchers than humans they have a severely limited ability with abstract concepts and anything vaguely related to what you might call symbology. Their pre-loaded personality is always impassive, neutral and nurturing. Obviously you see this personality frequently in the films.

I'm guessing they're kind of ignoring AnnaLee from Alien Resurrection here, or considering her something outside the normal android (which, admittedly, the line of androids she was of were supposed to be).
 

CRKrueger

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This is canon in the game. Lone “drone” xenomorphs can inject “dna” into victims to transform them into eggs, awaiting the eventual birth of a Queen.

Super cool (and terrifying).
and a lot more like Genestealers. The Dark Horse comics went whole hog with the Hive Mind idea. I wonder how much influence the two have had on each other’s authors.
 

Skywalker

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I'm guessing they're kind of ignoring AnnaLee from Alien Resurrection here, or considering her something outside the normal android (which, admittedly, the line of androids she was of were supposed to be).

Resurrection is set a couple of hundred years after the original trilogy, which is when the RPG is set as well. No doubt technology advances over time.

An earlier model of AnnaLee appears in Destroyer of Worlds.
 

Ralph Dula

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I'm guessing they're kind of ignoring AnnaLee from Alien Resurrection here, or considering her something outside the normal android (which, admittedly, the line of androids she was of were supposed to be).
The first Aliens mini-series from Dark Horse also showed very human-like androids. I’m disappointed they went the route they did, after reading that.
 

CRKrueger

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Some other little tidbits if it is useful in games. Again taking the "main" stream of setting canon.

The Aliens blood is a high grade hydrofluoric acid which as you know eats through metal etc, but will not eat through flouride based materials like teflon. I think that's funny little known weakness. It also leads to the weakness to fire.

The reason the blood has this composition is that hydroflouric acid with some other compounds in the blood functions as a battery, so the Alien doesn't breathe, need to eat etc. The battery is "recharged" by eating silicates like rocks and glass or from strong heat sources. This is why the Aliens just sit immobile when there are no hosts around, they've no need to hunt for food. If they get into a ship place them somewhere hibernating in the piping of the fusion core so they've heat for their internal battery. Or have them chew/steal glass from the ship kitchen.

The possibility is purposefully left open in the novels etc that the battery might not be fully rechargeable and that any Alien eventually just "runs out/stops". So it might be possible to kill them from overexertion.

Young Chestbursters have weaker acid, since it's still mostly just hydrochloric acid taken from the host's stomach.
Hydrofluoric Acid doesn’t do a good enough number on flesh to be Alien blood. Maybe Fluoroantimonic Acid, which dissolves nearly everything (except Teflon).
 

CRKrueger

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Resurrection is set a couple of hundred years after the original trilogy, which is when the RPG is set as well. No doubt technology advances over time.

An earlier model of AnnaLee appears in Destroyer of Worlds.
Eh?
Alien is 2122
Aliens and Alien 3 are 2179.
Alien RPG is 2183.
Alien Resurrection is 2381.
 

Paragon

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Eh?
Alien is 2122
Aliens and Alien 3 are 2179.
Alien RPG is 2183.
Alien Resurrection is 2381.

How does that contradict what Skywalker said? He said Resurrection is a couple hundred years after the original trilogy, and last time I look that's what 2381 is to 2179.
 

CRKrueger

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How does that contradict what Skywalker said? He said Resurrection is a couple hundred years after the original trilogy, and last time I look that's what 2381 is to 2179.
He also said that’s where the RPG is set. Last time I looked, it was not.
 

Simon Hogwood

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The phrasing is a bit ambiguous, but it looks to me like he means the RPG is set at the same time as the original trilogy.
Resurrection is set a couple of hundred years after the original trilogy, which is when the RPG is set as well.
 

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The phrasing is a bit ambiguous, but it looks to me like he means the RPG is set at the same time as the original trilogy.

That was my reading as well (RPG is set just after the original trilogy), but can see how it could be read as the RPG and Resurrection were set in the same time line.

Ash and Bishop certainly do fit the description of somewhat passive and have difficulty understanding some concepts. They both seem to be confused by some of their human interactions. Ash kind of goes HAL in his priority of protecting the alien over the safety of the crew, although the company direction is rather unambiguous (crew expendable). The character of Bishop was clearly intended to play off of Ash leading to the is he or isn't he a bad guy.

Personally I feel that Blade Runner is in the same universe as Alien, so the idea that androids start out kind of simple and easily confused makes sense, but they are learning machines so over time they develop real personalities which leads to other issues (a desire to have childhood memories and resentment for not being fully human as you see in Blade Runner).

The androids in the video games are similarly "simple" as I recall. Dangerous but less cagey than human marines (when playing as an alien or Predator). Speaking of Predators I do hope they make an appearance in the RPG at some point. While it is the "ALIEN" RPG over time I'd really like to see it grow to cover more ground than simply being another bug hunt. Assuming Outland, Blade Runner, Predator (maybe even Event Horizon) and Alien all co-exist the setting is very good for a game where space is very hostile towards humanity. It is the polar opposite of the rather upbeat and optimistic tone of Star Trek and Star Wars.
 

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I much prefer the inhuman android of the first Alien to the more sentimental Cameron take in Aliens. The first is a much better fit for a horror game I think.
 

Skywalker

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The phrasing is a bit ambiguous, but it looks to me like he means the RPG is set at the same time as the original trilogy.
Thanks. Yes, the RPG is set at the same time as the original trilogy, not during Resurrection.
 

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I much prefer the inhuman android of the first Alien to the more sentimental Cameron take in Aliens. The first is a much better fit for a horror game I think.
Agreed. Ash and David were far more interesting. However, Bishop was there to subvert expectations, I suppose. Although once we see the “real” Bishop who works for Weyland-Yutani at the end of Alien3… we’re just as confused as Ripley, at least for a moment.
 

TristramEvans

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So, here's a question - now that the Aliens RPG is out, do you (meaning anyone in this thread) have any plans to continue playing Mothership?
 

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Does that include Those Dark Places? I'd deffo run that. Play… heck, right now I'm so starved I'd even play TBE.
 

Malleustein

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So, here's a question - now that the Aliens RPG is out, do you (meaning anyone in this thread) have any plans to continue playing Mothership?

I read a .pdf for Mothership a while ago and it wasn't for me.


Does that include Those Dark Places? I'd deffo run that. Play… heck, right now I'm so starved I'd even play TBE.

Those Dark Places is more my style. However, since I'm likely to referee Destroyer of Worlds/The Frontier War, I'll probably stick with ALIEN. Those Dark Places is spot on for the space truckers campaign style, and likely works well for colonists/explorers/corporate style too. But I'll stick with ALIEN for Colonial Marine antics.
 

hawkeyefan

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So, here's a question - now that the Aliens RPG is out, do you (meaning anyone in this thread) have any plans to continue playing Mothership?

I do! I just started a monthly face to face game with my group and there were three games we considered: Mothership, The Between, and Spire.

We ultimately decided to go with Spire, and everyone seems to dig that so we’ll probably be doing that for a while, but I expect we’ll do Mothership next. I got some cool stuff for it from this year’s Zinequest, and I’d like to run those.

I think that even though the games do similar things, I think they do go about them in different ways. And I think Alien comes with much more specific expectations compared to Mothership. So you can do a bit more with Mothership…you can get weird without worrying about sticking to lore. Of course, you can do that with Alien, too….but I think a big part of the appeal of Alien is using the lore.
 

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I suspect trying to license in other properties to the Alien game would be an economic and administrative nightmare.

Aliens vs Predator is already a thing, and they are pulling from the video games as canon so that doesn't seem a huge leap, although video game license budgets are probably much bigger than table top RPGs.

Predator would be harder because any mention of aliens that hunt and use high tech cloaking devices is pretty obvious to the source, but Blade Runner and Outland wouldn't be hard to give a knowing wink to the fans without crossing legal boundaries. A couple of law enforcement scenarios would do it, one with a special unit tracking down rogue androids, and a group of space marshals combatting a (secretly company sponsored) drug syndicate on a mining colony would go a long way to branch out from aliens everywhere.
 
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