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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Alien: The Roleplaying Game – Starter Set

GP Rating

The critically acclaimed Alien roleplaying game has been out for nearly a year, and if there were one criticism, then it would be that the nearly 400-page tome (reviewed here) can be off-putting.  Enter the Alien starter set, which offers players everything they need to play the cinematic modules, whilst giving them a taste of what the game can offer.

What strikes you first is the stunning box artwork.  A blue-collar worker is poised with the iconic flamethrower from Aliens, whilst a xenomorph’s tail curls behind them.  It is incredibly evocative of the unique feel that is Alien and Aliens.  Unlike some starter sets, the cardboard box is solidly made and can easily be used for storing your Alien RPG material in one convenient receptacle.

Inside, the box contains the Alien starter set rules, along with all the dice, cards, handouts, maps and tokens to play the included Chariot of the Gods module.  If the latter sounds familiar; this is the cinematic module that was released alongside the core rulebook at the end of last year.

Cinematic modules are complete adventures that are designed to reflect the Alien experience and come with pre-generated characters tailored for that story.  These are different to the typical campaign play, where characters grow and advance over time, as character death in a cinematic module is highly probable, much like in the films.

The starter rulebook clocks in at an impressive 100+ pages.  This is an in-depth representation of the Alien roleplaying game.  It literally contains everything needed to run any of the cinematic modules that have been or will be released.  Mechanically, the starter set is exactly the same as the core rulebook.  Given the starter set’s focus on cinematic modules, it excludes character creation/experience, campaign play, background setting information and a GM section – players have more than Xenomorphs to worry about in the wider Alien universe.

In many ways the Starter Set rulebook is an ideal tool for players, especially those who balk at reading a 400-page rulebook.  The added advantage is that it also means that players will not inadvertently read any of the GM-specific information.

The accompanying module Chariot of the Gods is – without giving away the plot – a satisfyingly undiluted Alien experience.  It comes with excellent pre-generated character sheets for the players and accompanying character cards for running the game.

Chariot of the Gods is a perfect module for introducing players to the Alien universe.  It should last two game sessions, although this is dependent upon the number of players and how well they work together.

The fantastic artwork from the core rulebook is carried over to this starter set and remains at an outstanding level.  Likewise, the design and layout of the maps and character sheets mimic the iconic retro-futuristic aesthetic that is Alien and Aliens.

The only source of frustration is that the previously released GM screen is slightly too big to fit inside the starter set box.  This may seem a petty, especially as this is an otherwise excellent starter set, but it is rather frustrating.

Ultimately, this is a must-have purchase for anyone who is interested in the Alien RPG.  Even if you already have the core rulebook, having the starter set is still value for money.  Given the Starter Set comes with all the dice and counters needed to play the game, and includes an excellent cinematic module, the fact that there is some repetition is balanced by the amount of content that is included.

Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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