Tuesday, June 18, 2024

ALIEN RPG: Building Better Worlds Makes A Galaxy Of Terror Bigger And Better

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The ALIEN: RPG from Free League got a bit bigger this year thanks to Building Better Worlds, a brand new splatbook giving players and GM’s alike a chance to create colonies and new stories at the far fringes of the galaxy.

New Options For Frontier Characters

Building Better Worlds art

The cool thing about Building Better Worlds is that it’s not just a book for GM Mothers. It’s fairly evenly split between options and information for players as well as new tools to make those players run screaming out of their spaceship. Essentially it creates the ultimate toolkit for making characters that exist more on the fringes of the galaxy, both societally and geographically. These are the far out spacers and colonists making the best of it on unexplored worlds. Existing careers like Colonial Marine get new story options and talents and are also joined by the Entertainer, working to keep the roughnecks and soldiers happy despite the horrors of space, and the Wildcatter, essentially a playable version of the working class crew of the Nostromo from Alien. You can equip yourself with new rifles, a mining laser, and of course a big ol’ incinerator before taking off in new ships built for everything from light rescue to mass colonization.

A New Life On The Colonies

Building Better Worlds art

Colonies of course get a big focus in the book, with the first section being a complete history of colonization from the so-called “Golden Age” to the more recent issues brought on by extraterrestrial contact and corporate friction. It breaks down what kinds of colony you might be a part of as well as what organizations might sponsor them, giving you hints as to what COULD be going down behind the scenes of the where you’re from or the empty houses you’re currently trying to clear of bugs. GM Mothers, on the other hand, get the chance to learn the details behind existing colonies and just how to use them in their stories. There’s a lot of REALLY cool stuff here to help expand their setting and create some truly memorable setpieces for ALIEN stories.

Wild New Enemies

Building Better Worlds art

Of course it’s not ALIEN without some big ol’ baddies to hunt down your PC’s, and Building Better Worlds doesn’t skimp. It’s broken down into three sections. The first are Abominations, the humans, animals, and otherwise created by the mysterious bio pathogen Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 (the freaky black goo from Prometheus). These include the “Hammerpede from that same movie, the Pathogen Poppers which are mutated rats that explode with gunk once they “ripen,” and the zombie-like human abominations that go through five stages of infection. Going from a powerful, more feral form to a mindless shambling mound of infection, their skulls elongated similar to the form of the Xenomorphs.

The second section is the Proto-Xenomorphs (which you can learn more about in my review of their showcase adventure Heart of Darkness), which are part of the nefarious Living Proto-Hive.

The final part concerns the Xenomorphs themselves, adding in two new forms of sci-fi’s most famous alien killers. The first is the Empress, the natural end-result of Xenomorph expansion. As each hive has its own queen, eventually one Queen would have power over them and thus an Empress is born. She’s twice as big as a Queen and also has psionic abilities now so…good luck. The second new Xenomorph is a bioluminescent form of Xenomorph born at the bottom of a deep lake, who can use their light up organs to distract and blind their prey.

The Lost Worlds Sandbox Campaign

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The final portion of the book concerns the “Lost Worlds” Campaign, which focuses on a crew of explorers in the Far Spinward colonies trying to find out what happened to colonies that got lost over a century ago. While there is a central mystery here to drive players on, the focus is on the exploration and discovery of these strange and exotic locales. It’s a chance for GM’s and players alike to truly get a feel for the setting and it’s maybe the most “hands off” written content we’ve gotten from ALIEN. There’s six expeditions to run as well as new campaign events, which are things a GM can introduce to the story over time to ramp up the horror and shake things up.

You can grab ALIEN: Building Better Worlds from the Free League shop, Amazon, or your FLGS at an MSRP of $44.99. You can also grab a digital copy at DriveThruRPG for $19.99.

Images and review copy via Free League Publishing

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