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Lock & Load for This Bug Hunt RPG with an Exclusive Preview of ‘Xenomorphs’
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Lock & Load for This Bug Hunt RPG with an Exclusive Preview of ‘Xenomorphs’

Geek & Sundry got an exclusive first-look at Xenomorphs, a roleplaying game of aliens, space marines, and the colonists they defend which is clever beyond clever, and so savage it’ll make your chest explode. If you want to stay tuned into what’s new and exciting in world of tabletop games, be sure to tune into Game the Game hosted by Becca Scott every Wednesday starting at 4PM PT on Twitch and Alpha.

Remember the blockbuster 1979 film Xenomorph? We witnessed the terrible fate of the crew of the space freighter Viola when they discovered a crashed alien spacecraft on the ice moon of Lethe? How about its unforgettable sequel, Xenomorphs: The Fall of Somerset Landing? Well, EN Publishing has secured the rights to produce a game based on the WOIN Studios films, which produced Xenomorphs and a number of other cult classics and B-movie hits, and this partnership will allow players to relieve the action and horror of the beloved franchise.

Xenomorph

Except not really.

If you’ve never heard of WOIN Studios, it’s because it never existed outside the cracked but brilliant minds of the EN Publishing team. It means that Xenomorphs, no matter how much it might remind a reader of a series of movies featuring directors like Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and David Fincher, is clearly not based on that property at all. Rather, Xenomorphs the game is based on WOIN’s Xenomorphs film series, which is of course totally different from those other alien-y movies. Really. Honest.

The metanarrative of WOIN Studios is a genius creation because it takes the concept of Xenomorphs, which might kindly be described as heavily influenced by those other movies, and turns it into something self-aware and fun. It also allows EN Publishing to base future games on other WOIN Studios hits that never existed. For example, Xenomorphs designer Russell Morrissey made dark hints to Geek & Sundry about a future project entitled, Ghostcatchers: The Spirit of Manhattan.

Something Deadly in the Dark

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Xenomorphs: The Fall of Somerset Landing lets players live out all the action and horror of the eponymous 1984 WOIN Studios hit.

Somerset Landing is a mining colony on a moon named Lethe, lazily orbiting a star 40 light years from Earth. The colonists have discovered a new vein of ore, and sent out a recon team to investigate. Of the two women sent out to investigate the find, one does not return. The other comes back with, “A grey-like octopus-looking thing… attached to her face through the helmet with several tentacles crushing the helm.”

This is the beginning of the end for Somerset Landing.

The ore vein is adjacent to a crashed alien spacecraft filled with the eggs of a nightmare horror black as space, and just as deadly to humanity. Within hours, an alien implanted by the octopus-thing bursts from the chest of the unfortunate recon team member, and goes to ground in the colony until it is strong enough to hunt. The colony’s corporate managers, rather than informing the colonists of their danger, keep the first contact between humans and the new race called “the xenomorphs” under wraps, even when the xenomorph begins kidnapping colonists for implantation in the nearby atmospheric processing unit.

Security is on the alert, and the colonists are told there is a murderer on the loose. But when the player characters see a security team quite literally taken apart by the “murderer,” they learn the killer is no mere deranged miner, but rather is a chitinous black horror. What will they do next? Confront the administration with their lies? Take matters into their own hands and rescue their kidnapped comrades in the atmospheric processing unit? Take off, and nuke the whole place from orbit? (“It’s the only way to be sure.“) It’s up to the players to live out the rest of the tale, and perhaps write a new ending for the colony of Somerset Landing.

A N.E.W System

Xenomorphs uses the N.E.W. system, a sci-fi ruleset from EN Publishing also designed by Russel Morrissey. He said of the system, “It’s loosely inspired by some of my favourite RPG systems of the 1980s, but with modern game design sensibilities. So you can see some DNA from FASA’s Star Trek RPG, and some 80s dice pool systems, along with some more recent concepts.”

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The N.E.W. system itself is easy to pick up for both old hands and the novices at the table. It uses six-sided dice for its core rolling mechanic. Characters have attributes that describe their character, like Logic, Agility, Strength, and Charisma. The better they are at thinking, being agile, or inspiring their followers to march into the maw of death on their command, the more six-sided dice they get on that roll. Characters also have skills representing what their character has learned over the course of their life. N.E.W. provides a thorough but not exhausting skill list ranging from blackjack, biopsionics, and bribery to flirtation, forgery, and farming. The better you are in a skill, the more six-sided dice you get to roll. Add your attribute dice to your skill dice, and you are ready to roll. Roll over the target number provided by the game master, and you’ll succeed at forging those corporate documents, or blasting down the door to the colony’s generator core.

The system has a few other unique bells and whistles. For example, players choose five careers for their character during creation, which in addition to providing bonuses to attributes help creates a backstory for your character. Morrisey said this was his intention, and that the life-path character creation system is “a really immersive and organic process which makes for a fully developed character.”

A career option which truly shines out is that of “Experiment”, which means that your character’s childhood was spent as a guinea pig locked away in a corporate lab. But one of the enhancements installed by your character’s mother-tormentors was a self-preservation routine which gives the character a bonus to initiative for the first round of combat.

Ready whatever weapons you can find, and see if you can survive the night with Xenomorphs. You can pick up both N.E.W. and Xenomorphs here, where Xenomorphs is Kickstarting.

Want more atmospheric horror RPG gaming?

Image Credits: EN Publishing

Ben Riggs speaks five languages and has lived in four countries on three continents, but still manages to lose his keys in the bathroom. A friend to man, animal, and werewolf alike, you can discover more of Ben’s thoughts on game, the universe, and everything on the Plot Points podcast. You can read his novel about the only good orc here.   

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