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Massive Firepower vs. Mooks, but scary

SlideAway

failing every quest
Banned
Validated User
3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars is more styled on Starship Troopers than Alien but it hits a lot of your bullet points. It's certainly worth checking out I think!
I think you'll have to abstract away a lot of what might be "traditional" combat rules -- movement, situational modifiers, range, hit points.

I thought of 3:16 as well, and a lot in that game can help, like:

* You want your damage rolls to be the number of Xenomorphs killed, not the amount of damage to a single enemy (straight from 3:16)
I checked out 3:16 and from what I can see it's heavily geared towards the narrative. Maybe I'm missing something? I didn't watch a live play.

I'm going to try to go simulationist-lite I guess, that's how my rules set works. Range won't be a factor most of the time, and the GM would add in things like lighting and cover helping the xenomorph defense rolls.

Keep the difficult decisions falling on the players, and when they hum and haw they have to spend a die out of their dice pool to delay.

* Marines basically do not survive hand-to-hand combat with a Xenomorph - if they get to you, you're dead. I'd give 'em a plot point or two to get out of it (say, you get sprayed with acid, but manage to shuck off your body armor in time). (similar to "taking a hit on the armor" in 3:16)
* Objectives besides killing aliens, as mentioned already, are good: shutting down reactors, rescuing civvies, sneaky Weyland-Yutani "research" stuff on the aliens, etc.
* Lots of Colonial Marine extras to either get killed, or get taken over when a PC dies.
* Panic rules or stress rules, definitely. You want "It's game over, man!" moments.
Agree that up close combat should be extremely deadly, but stat the xenomorphs correctly and shredding marines will just happen if they get in close.

Extra grunts is an interesting idea. I need to brainstorm what the extras should be capable of, in a very streamlined way, so that they add very little complexity to taking turns, but add a lot of flavor/options. The danger is that they would increase the PC-team firepower too much and the xenomorphs will never manage to get close enough for a kill. If the extras are temporary meat shields, then that's a fun resource for players gamble with.

The damage range for the firearms should be high enough so that the average hit is a kill-shot (especially with exploding rounds).

I will probably let players tell me the exact damage they inflict, but on my side of the screen round heavily: e.g. under 30 damage wounds a xenomorph, 30 or more kills it. I figure you just can't have gun fantasia if you have a nebulous "kills this many" but no stats tied to damage, rate of fire, facility in tight quarters, etc.

I'm hoping high damage at range for marines, high damage up close for xenomorphs will keep the combat from becoming a big hit-points-attrition slog.

One thing I want is players laying down heavy fire and then running out of ammo at inopportune times. Risk vs. payoff for every choice. Maybe a rising % chance every time a player lays down heavy fire that they inadvertently blow through their ammo.
 

Mock

Force 5 Wrongnado
Validated User
I checked out 3:16 and from what I can see it's heavily geared towards the narrative. Maybe I'm missing something? I didn't watch a live play.

I'm going to try to go simulationist-lite I guess, that's how my rules set works. Range won't be a factor most of the time, and the GM would add in things like lighting and cover helping the xenomorph defense rolls.

Keep the difficult decisions falling on the players, and when they hum and haw they have to spend a die out of their dice pool to delay.



Agree that up close combat should be extremely deadly, but stat the xenomorphs correctly and shredding marines will just happen if they get in close.

Extra grunts is an interesting idea. I need to brainstorm what the extras should be capable of, in a very streamlined way, so that they add very little complexity to taking turns, but add a lot of flavor/options. The danger is that they would increase the PC-team firepower too much and the xenomorphs will never manage to get close enough for a kill. If the extras are temporary meat shields, then that's a fun resource for players gamble with.

The damage range for the firearms should be high enough so that the average hit is a kill-shot (especially with exploding rounds).

I will probably let players tell me the exact damage they inflict, but on my side of the screen round heavily: e.g. under 30 damage wounds a xenomorph, 30 or more kills it. I figure you just can't have gun fantasia if you have a nebulous "kills this many" but no stats tied to damage, rate of fire, facility in tight quarters, etc.

I'm hoping high damage at range for marines, high damage up close for xenomorphs will keep the combat from becoming a big hit-points-attrition slog.

One thing I want is players laying down heavy fire and then running out of ammo at inopportune times. Risk vs. payoff for every choice. Maybe a rising % chance every time a player lays down heavy fire that they inadvertently blow through their ammo.
Yeah, 3:16 is narrative-focused -- it was just a couple things that I thought might work (like the "last chance" / "miraculous escape" plot point for when a bug gets its claws on a marine, etc).

The ammo thing -- I've often found games where ammo should matter (e.g. Shadowrun, where there are all sorts of rules for it) also end up not ever having it matter -- players are hyperconservative, or the guns are so powerful it only takes a few rounds to win a fight. So a rising percentage chance of ammo blow-through always seemed like a cool thing to me in a lot of games, and it definitely works here. So this isn't really a recommendation, but more of a Go For It.

Another thing that I think of when I think about the movie Aliens is the dark, confusing nature of the bigger gunfights in it. The Xenomorphs don't charge across open ground, and there's never enough light, and everything is tight quarters. I have no idea how to simulate that, but imagine the fight in the alien nest -- dark, hot, steamy environment; aliens everywhere (essentially endless in number); confusing orders being shouted; people grabbing each other screaming "WHERE'S APONE?" -- you might be able to address concerns about being able to engage the enemy from a comfortable range by incorporating the visibility and 3-dimensional movement capabilities of the aliens.

So, just riffing -- if you're using miniatures or pogs or whatever to represent the enemy, then don't put them on the map at all until they're at a terror-inducing range. Motion trackers can say "the enemy is in that direction" and build up the tension, but don't resolve them into shootable targets until they're danger close, and the team needs to start making decisions fast. Couple that with alternate objectives -- don't shoot the reactor, don't hit civilians (who you may also not see too clearly) -- and you have difficult decisions for the players. Do they rock 'n roll? Fall back? Throw grenades?

That might also work with your idea to keep the players from hemming and hawing: yeah you don't see them, but they're inside the room! DO SOMETHING.

Regarding the extras / meat shields: they're already a resource simply as "ablative Marines," but you could also tie availability of gear to them. Lose too many meat shields, and maybe you've lost backup ammo for the smartguns, or your medic is gone along with the field surgery kits, or you don't have your sentry guns anymore.

And as a final thought - find a sound file of the Motion Tracker noise. Have it at the ready. (Edit: there's even an app for that)
 

SlideAway

failing every quest
Banned
Validated User
Design scenarios that require a positive objective (advance to position XX, retrieve McGuffin/evacuate civillians/etc) and/or time pressure so that it's not feasible for players to turtle. Yes, if you had time available, you'd bring in your air support and artillery and whatnot, but you've got to get those people out *now* and your heavies are still 3 hours away.
Thanks! Yes, definitely keeping this in mind. I would want to let the PCs turtle up every now and then, just for their sanity. Then drop something really horrible on them, of course.

So a rising percentage chance of ammo blow-through always seemed like a cool... Go For It.

The Xenomorphs don't charge across open ground, and there's never enough light, and everything is tight quarters. I have no idea how to simulate that..
Probably some pre-drawn battle maps with nooks, crannies, stuff in the line of sight. Fun. If they move from this crappy position...they wind up in another crappy location.

So, just riffing -- if you're using miniatures or pogs or whatever to represent the enemy, then don't put them on the map at all until they're at a terror-inducing range. Motion trackers can say "the enemy is in that direction" and build up the tension, but don't resolve them into shootable targets until they're danger close, and the team needs to start making decisions fast. Couple that with alternate objectives -- don't shoot the reactor, don't hit civilians (who you may also not see too clearly) -- and you have difficult decisions for the players. Do they rock 'n roll? Fall back? Throw grenades?

Regarding the extras / meat shields: they're already a resource simply as "ablative Marines," but you could also tie availability of gear to them. Lose too many meat shields, and maybe you've lost backup ammo for the smartguns, or your medic is gone along with the field surgery kits, or you don't have your sentry guns anymore.

And as a final thought - find a sound file of the Motion Tracker noise. Have it at the ready. (Edit: there's even an app for that)
Excellent, liking all these points a lot, definitely will incorporate.

*****

Two more questions for everyone:

1) What creative approaches might the xenomorphs develop? (Remember, these are quickly adapting/cunning life forms--I asked upthread about hurling acidic body parts at marines--is that too far?)

2) Get caught in a meat grinder once, you're the cast of a horror film. Get caught a second time, you're morons who deserve to die. So....

What do you all think of an alien species which uses the xenomorphs as shock troops? Provide them some field support while using them as cannon fodder?

Use drones with auditory/pheremonal technology for luring the horde to the attack position?

Use a ramming ship-to-ship pod to deliver xenomorphs into your enemy's ship?

Good ideas for further into the campaign? Or too over the top?

(Remember the derelict ship in Alien? Maybe that species?)
 

LordofArcana

Registered User
Validated User
Creative alien tactics?

What about using their acidic blood to make the air unpleasant to breath? Not necessarily damaging, but tiring.

If you want them to be social, what about using cooperative tricks like one of them making a noise in one direction to distract the marines from other aliens going in the other direction? After all, who pays attention to the motion tracker when there's an alien you need to shoot. This could potentially include one of them sacrificing itself so that other can get a drop on the marines.

Oh, and they will know that the marines have better firepower, so what about them trying to trick the marines into destroying things that are obstacles for the xenomorphs? Sort of like crows using cars to open nuts.
 

Geburah

Brickotherapist
Validated User
If the xenomorphs have huge numbers, ant-like tactics ("suicidal" behaviour on the part of individuals to further the colony's good, like crossing bodies of water with "dead" ants - in fact they can survive immersion to some degree) can become viable:

Marines almost always shoot at waist height, and leave many carcasses on the ground - have select aliens burrow between/under the bodies of their dead comrade and use the killzone as a way to come closer to the marines, leaping out at the last minute when the rest are drawing fire elsewhere. Or have them "play dead" hiding under the bodies of others and leaping out when the marines come to survey the battlefield.

Have them throw sharpnel or destroy objects messily/burrow and fling earth about in order to saturate the motion trackers and provide distractions.

Have them fling or otherwise propel others (works better if you have larger "queens") through the air at the marines - even if the xenos don't make it to the ground alive, they are dangerous missiles (acid burst damage?).

Let them use living bridges/body piles in order to cross seemingly impassable barriers, à la World War Z (or ants again) in order to catch marines unawares.
 

Mock

Force 5 Wrongnado
Validated User
And there's always "They cut the power."

Changing the environment up on the players -- suddenly it's dark (or bathed in red light), or the doors stop working, or the exhaust fans stop pulling the haze and smoke out of the air.

Plus, other tension builders hauled out of the movies. Audio recordings with stuff like, "Containment breach on Deck 5. Containment breach on Deck 6. Containment breach on decks 7, 8, and 9" and "You have 2 minutes to reach minimum safe distance."
 

Gee4orce

Registered User
Validated User
The movie handled this with the threat caused by collateral damage. The marines couldn't use full firepower (or weren't supposed to), because they were in proximity to a nuclear reactor. That scene quickly went from "walk in the park" to "we're all going to die!" when the marines had to only use sidearms.
 
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