I previously reviewed Alien RPG after only reading the modules and main rule book. This is an update after my first run of Alien RPG - Chariots of the Gods, the module that comes with the starter Box. Previous review can be found here: ALIEN: The Roleplaying Game - Review
Spoilers ahead for Alien RPG - Chariots of the Gods
Here are some updated impressions, confirmations, and tips after sitting down to play Chariots of the Gods as a 5 player one-shot.
Get the Starter Set
I’ll double down on my recommendation from the previous review. The main rule book is for people who want lore (of which there is a lot) or want to run a longer campaign of Alien RPG. Unlike some other games, the starter set is a complete game and is well laid out. I ran the game analog, without a laptop and was able to flip around easily through the book. The main book would have been a pain to do that with.
It can be done in 5 hours – if you skip a lot of things
I completely skipped the introduction of the initial boarding sequence and time jumped ahead to the umbilical option for boarding the Cronus. I also skipped everything having to do with the 3rd ship arriving.
Running in my Friendly Local Gaming Store
If you don’t have 5 players
Ask someone to be the Captain. Having the captain as an NPC ended up taking some of the decisions out of my player’s hands in the beginning. With only 5 characters and being worried the game would not finish our 5-hour time limit, I decided to keep things simpler and not pass out one of the bigger surprise agendas. The game was still fun and the infection options meant every character could still have something interesting happen to them in the course of the game.
More so than other one-shot scenarios, Chariots of the Gods may be extra replayable just by switching up which characters are used and how hidden agendas a distributed. It’s a fun way to keep things fresh for the GM.
Avoid certain table talk
More important than the PvP chat at the beginning, asking the players to avoid table talk relating to scenes from the movies may be a good thing to do. It’s almost impossible not to as some scenes like when Cooper has a seizure, are impossible to not anticipate. Some players may have better memories of the various alien movies and start guessing about which the monster is from. It wasn’t malicious, but I’ll know to ask players not to do it next time as it cut the tension for me, the GM.
Stress and panic
The pushing luck mechanic was great but I felt the Panic table needed more options on it. Inducing panic from botched non-combat checks leads to some odd circumstances. We made it work with some creative interpretation of what a failed manipulation check meant at one point, but I’ll be looking for alternate fan-made Panic tables.
The characters and scenario are so well written. The characters all have reasons to go wandering off or act in their self-interest towards goals other than killing the monster and taking its treasure. After years of playing D&D, this was a great break from dungeon crawling and I’d play the next story in the series in a heartbeat.