Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Madness Non-D&D Blog Challenge: Day Eighteen

What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?

That would be the Aliens Adventure Game. (Note the careful omission of any claim to be a "role-playing" game in the title.)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went through a phase early in my gaming career of buying RPGs based on licensed properties that I was otherwise unfamiliar with. I particularly remember picking up the Aliens RPG, as I got it at the very same time I picked up another unfamiliar IP, Call of Cthulhu. I spent spring break switching back and forth between reading the two core books. I couldn't have asked for a more schizophrenic reading experience, as the two games basically inhabited completely different galaxies in terms of game design philosophy.

I think I may have seen the original Alien at the time I picked up Aliens, but I know for sure I hadn't seen the movie it was actually based on, because there was a lot in the RPG that I just did not get or understand. But I'd picked up the game because I had a friend who was a real nut about the movies, and I was trying to get a group together at the time. I figured I'd play to his interests and run an Aliens campaign for him as a means of getting him into RPGs.

So I'd just like to sarcastically thank Leading Edge Games for turning at least one person off of RPGs forever. Because this is the sort of system that came bundled with Aliens, which was a simplified version of their Phoenix Command system:

Years later, I didn't so much as bat an eyelash at Rolemaster, because I'd already seen crap like this.
I really did try to make it work. I remember typing up a handout to represent telexed orders coming through from Colonial Marine HQ, and my friend and I had a lot of fun in spite of the system. But he definitely came away from the experience with the impression that RPGs were a bit like filling out tax forms for fun. We played one session, and that was it. Eventually, the book fell apart and I threw it out.

It's a shame about the system, because I remember there was actually some fairly good content otherwise. The book expanded the Aliens universe and essentially presented a framework for running a military sci-fi campaign, either with Colonial Marines or (if memory serves) mercenaries. But at the end of the day, it was just way too much crunch.
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