Sunday, 16 February 2020

I need to get my Alien/Aliens thing off my chest... again.

Nobody:

Me: look, I think I need to state that I don't think Aliens is a bad movie - I love it, it's one of the greatest 80s action movies - but I think it was a bad sequel. Gone the tense Lovecraftian nightmare. Now they're big insects you can shoot, and they have a boss level.

Aliens is fantastic - action, suspense, it's eminently quotable and it looks amazing. The thing is, when they make the alien just a drone in a hive that has a queen laying eggs you have a real-world analogy and any mystery is out of the window.

They're no better than the ants from 'Them!' They're no longer that dangerous, you can 10mm explosive tipped caseless them into the stone age as long as you're not standing too close. Any mystery, horror or threat is minimized. Aliens did an amazing job of the tension as the marines were unprepared, but I can't help but imagine that the Aliens are manageable if you are prepared. The cosmic horror and mystery is just flattened and the whole thing is just a shootout.

There was a lot more to explore as far in the alien's mysterious past, and Prometheus and Covenant tried that but misfired. Perhaps not exploring the history of the creature and leaving it vague would have been the better choice. A queen laying eggs is a little dull, but an Alien morphing a body into an egg? What the hell? That's infinitely cooler.

But now it's classed as a Xenomorph and it's been given labels and a defined background, the mystery is gone and with it the horror. Any 'fear of the unknown' is redundant, because it's not 'unknown' any more.

The greatest strength of the alien was the fact that we didn't know, and it was so far beyond our understanding it scared us. Terrified us.

But now we do know, and it's a terror we could deal with. So now the terror is gone and we can sleep easier knowing we have options. Options to rid ourselves of the nightmare. Guns. Nukes. Sharp sticks.

And that's kinda sad for me.

Nobody: What?

Me: Nothing.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Review - Alien RPG Game Mother's Screen

'A top quality, deluxe Game Mother's Screen in landscape format for the ALIEN roleplaying game. It features Martin Grip’s awesome art on the outside and a host of useful tables and important information on the inside while keeping the GM’s plans hidden from the eyes of inquisitive players.


Please note this is a physical-only product, there is no supporting PDF.'

This is a really handy GM screen that does help with the game. The landscape format is decent and doesn't intrude on the gaming table, and the artwork is fantastically atmospheric.

The tables are concise and helpful - there are tables for measuring time, sneak attacks and ambushes, stealth, a difficulty chart, a breakdown of slow and fast actions, the critical injuries table, the panic roll table, two range tables and a types of cover table. The game is covered in most areas realting to direct results on the game so it's handy having them to hand so that you can make a quick reference and get on with the game.

However, as functional and handy as it is, what you're getting for your money is just a three-panel foldable piece of card with charts on, with a little art on the player facing side. It would have been nice to have seen an adventure, a supplement or some kind of addition with the pack because it works perfectly as a GM screen but that's it. Some extra material - perhaps some simple encounter ideas or even a floorplan or deckplan of a location a GM could use - would have been nice.

It's an excellent product, but could have been more.