Roleplaying Games

We’ve played a few sessions since I last reported on our shift to a campaign game using the new Alien RPG by Free League. We had tied the new campaign into the cinematic adventure provided with the game bundle, Chariot of the Gods, and you can see the last installment here. Having survived an attack by a juvenile bloodburster, one of the characters was near death but saved by the medics, while the damaged synthetic Ava (from the original adventure) and their ship’s synthetic, Stella, worked quickly to improve on the vaccine for the 26 Draconis infection. Having saved the one mortally wounded character, they had to test the new inoculation on those characters that had been exposed to the air during the other action scenes. This had led to only one failure — and the only character lost to the mission. The characters found themselves battling their former buddy turned abomination and hastily had to abandon ship.

They had set the reactor of Cronus, the ship from the Chariots adventure to blow and had to convince the captain of their ship to let them onboard. Left in quarantine for 24 hours in the vehicle bay of their vessel, the characters seemed to be alright. They would so after rendezvous with a Colonial Marine ship, at which point they were poked and prodded, interrogated and interviewed, and finally found safe to proceed on their way. The characters had decided to tell the marine interrogators that they had not recovered anything from the hulk — a lie — but unbeknownst to them, the marines downloaded everything they needed from Stella’s memory.

The players did some upgrades to their characters and got paid for their work. At this point, we discussed the system and how it seemed to work. We had already played Tales from the Loop, so we had a good idea of how things worked, but there was a pretty consistent opinion that the three skills/attribute mechanic on TFTL didn’t quite fit the Alien universe so well. We thought the skill list too truncated. I thought a “science” skill was appropriate, and there were a few other suggestions to open the characters to a bit more differentiation. considering there is a more comprehensive (though not by much) list of skills for the Coriolis RPG using the same mechanics, we’ve decided to let people build out differing skills, and perhaps adjust their attributes. (I did not see this as an option in the Alien rules, though I seem to remember it in the TFFL.

So how did it play? We found expanding out the universe from the eponymous critters and looking at the corporate espionage and synthetics angle worked for us, and in the next play sessions, we returned to the characters, with different additions, back on Earth lying low with new identities…until an agent from Lasalle Bionational turned up to hire them to look into their original mission to steal the Cronus data from them. Edina Lasalle, the CEO of the company, is looking into security breeches and strange disappearances throughout their facilities. She suspects an insider is helping someone to damage the company and she was impressed with the way they managed to disappear, then reappear a month later having procured the information they so desperately had sought on the 26 Draconis mission. Soon they found their way to Japan (with a new PC, a corporate security officer) to investigate who had hired them.

Along the way they discovered they had ticked off the security contractors whom they had used as cover — a company owned by the yakuza. Additionally, their initial suspicions, that they had been hired by Weyland-Yutani to spy on Lasalle looked to have been false. The group that had attacked them was a top-tier military and security contractor called Constellations . Some of the team began looking into Constellations, only to be found by the yakuza, leading to a full chop-socky style fight in the kitchen of the coffee bar/internet cafe they were in . The other half hit up a high-end bar/sex club to find out what Constellations was up to and in the end the groups returned to compare notes in their hotel.

Their hacker, Jensen, had found a bank account that the Lasalle security guy, Hauer, was able to track to the National Bank of Polynesia — a bank owned by the Lasalle Financial Holding Company in Colombia. He worked out the time and date, and even terminal that had created the false account used to launder the funds for multiple operations Constellations was doing around interstellar space, then narrowed down the suspects until he had one: Mercedes Lasalle, the genetically engineered super-genius daughter of old man Lasalle and twin of their Chief Security Officer (and Hauer’s boss) Michael. They seem to have stepped into some kind of family feud for control of the company! They also noted to new contracts paid for — one in Tokyo, and a protection detail for a VIP going up to Luna City. At that point, a flash bang grenade came through the window, and they were captured by Constellations operatives that then bundled them onto a plane headed who knows where…

WALTHER CCP M2 .380 Pistol

The newest offering from Walther for concealed carry is the CCP chambered in .380. This makes it a direct challenger to the venerable PPK/S handgun. The original CCP was in 9mm.


The CCP, however, uses a delayed gas blowback system similar to that of the old Heckler & Koch P7 to mitigate recoil (what they call the SoftCoil system.) This allows a fixed barrel which gives the pistol good accuracy and control. The magazine takes eight rounds. Thedownside to an otherwise excellent package is the long trigger pull and reset. For those used to some of the modern handguns, and especially Walther’s superlative triggers on the PPQ and Q variants, it’s loooooong and makes for slower follow up shots, or more jerky ones, affecting accuracy. Operation is flawless with most types of ammunition.

The pistol is well designed to fit the hand and is almost as comfortable as the PPQ (maybe more so for smaller hands.) The grip is textured for decent grip, and is a bit taller in the grip than the PPK/s, otherwise they are almost the same size. The CCP also has a curious take down system due to the gas system, requiring the shooter to push on the plate over the striker and flip a small switch to allow the pistol to be taken down. Putting it back together is a bit tricky at first, trying to line up the piston to its seat.


Fired side by side, the .380 version has almost no recoil and is easy to handle, as well as slightly lighter. Size-wise, they are almost identical save for a hair’s lighter frame for the .380, with an 8 round magazine for both. Shooters will notice after extended time firing (30+ rounds on the 9mm, 50+ on the .380) that the frame gets quite warm directly above the trigger finger — where the gas pistol is positioned — much like the old H&K P7.

PM: +1   S/R: 2   AMMO: 8   DC: E   CLOS: 0-3   LONG: 9-12   CON:-1   JAM: 99+   DRAW: +1   RL: 1   COST: $400

GM Information: The 9mm version has the same specifications as the .380.

(The trigger on the new CCP isn’t gritty or heavy, but it is long, with a tragically long reset that is vague and unlike the other Walther products, not audible. Otherwise, it’s an accurate little shooter with very mild recoil and an easy slide to manipulate for weak or arthritic hands. SCR)

Despite hectic and sometimes crushing schedules, The Sublime Porte, our guide to 1930s Istanbul is moving toward completion. The game book will be available for Ubiquity and Fate, both in print and PDF.

Here’s a taste:


I didn’t want the same ol’ for the Alien game we’ve been playing so after peeping through the interwebz, I came on this lovely:


Introducing, Honest Mistake

The U.S.C.S.S. Honest Mistake is an older Ostrrom M305 G-Class Transport. With a length of 55.2m, a beam oof 34.6m, and a draught of 28m, she has two main crew decks (A and B), and a vehicle bay/cargo bay (capable of 10 tons of cargo) on C Deck. The M305 uses vectored thrust nacelles for planetfall, and a fusion pulse drive in the main hull. Honest Mistake has an uprated FTL drive that gives her an FTL rating of 12. The standard crew complement for the class is six crew, but the airscrubbers and galley can accomodate 10. The cre accomodations are minimal, with hot swap bunks for the off-duty crew, and only a single cabin for the captain. There is a Type 337 EEV for evacuation, and a medbay that can be repurposed for basic scientific missions. The ship’s operations are overseen by an upgraded Seegson METIS artificial intelligence system, replacing in the old APOLLO system.

Additionally, Honest Mistake boasts two nose-mounted light railguns and an external bay for eight Short Lance ASAT missiles to complement the modified drone deployment system, which is now used to dispense sensor decoys in combat. The ship is commanded by Richard Dunn, a retired Weyland-Yutani ship officer, now independent. The three-man crew is also aided by an older Weyland Series 12 gynoid, Stella.

Game Stats: HULL: 5, ARMOR: 5, FTL: 12, SIGNATURE: 0, THRUSTERS +1

The ship is the design and work of Lucas Örstöm. You can find his resume and links to his Artstation page here It is used without permission, but no infringement is intended. SCR


Some of the stuff the characters were toting in the game:

GRIZZLY HSW 6.5mm Riflef4

A high-end semi-automatic sniper and battle rifle, the HSW uses a high-speed, long-range armor-piercing round. The gun uses a 10 or 20-round magazine. 

Bonus: +1   Damage: 3   Range: Long   Weight: 1   Cost: $1200   Comment: Armor piercing

 CZ PDW-10-M 10MM machine pistol


The CZ PDW-10-M is the military version of this 10mm machine pistol. It can be fired semi or full-automatic, has a30 round magazine, and rails for lasers (adds +1 bonus), and telescopic sights (range: long).

Bonus: +1   Damage: 2   Range: Medium   Weight: 1   Cost: $950   Comment: Full Auto

30 round magazine for 10mm cased ammo. Semi and full-auto settings. Rails for lasers (adds +1 bonus), and telescopic sights (range: long)

MATEBA PDR 10mm Revolver

5345364476_eb22dc8eb5_bThis revolver uses an electrically fired caseless 10mm round used by the Colonial Marines. These weapons have been popular with police services on Earth for handling issues with synthetics.

Bonus: +1   Damage: 1   Range: Medium   Weight: 1   Cost; $800   Comments: Caseless ammo.

This week, we picked up where we left off with the campaign-style adventure for the Alien RPG from Free League:

The characters, with the help of a pair of scientists and a synthetic (Stella 12) attached to the crew of Honest Mistake were investigating U.S.C.S.S. Cronus, a Weyland Corporation vessel missing for almost 80 years. This ship is the setting for the scenario Chariots of the Gods, which we played to test the system before attempting a campaign. They had learned the ship had put down on Luther Colony inthe GJ1256 system because of irreparable issues with the drive system, and that there was some kind of contagion aboard.

The characters moved aft from the bridge, having heard voices, and found the two hapless terraforming techs that had been dispatched from a nearby atmosphere processor, and another man (Cham, the roughneck from the scenario, and in our game, the undercover synthetic working for LaSalle Bionational. ) But not before they come face-to-face with the results of the denouement of our playthrough of Chariots: a bloodbath involving a woman who is terribly mutated, her head apparently mildly elongated, her eyes hazed over, and her limbs stretched and strange. She has been killed with a half dozen .45s to the torso and is clutching the helmet of the shooter, a redheaded woman going ripe who died when the helmet — torn from its suit — had cut her carotid artery. Another woman lies just inside the medbay, her skin turned slightly translucent, like the mutant outside, but nowhere near as turned.

The men have been searching the ship in compression suits and rebreathers. Cham, the last survivor of the U.S.C.S.S. Montero, has been trapped here for weeks. As for the contagion: the doctors of Cronus had come up with a vaccine to the disease that created the horror in the vehicle bay, but it wasn’t always effective, instead mutating the recipient, like Miller, his captain; and Clayton, the shot to Swiss cheese mutant and former corporate rep on Cronus. At that time, they get a warning from the bridge — the Weyland synthetic is active and has warned them about the rogue synth on the ship. they did very well on their observation tests and realized this was Cham, but not before he disarmed Max, breaking his trigger finger and nearly wrenching the helmet from his suit.

Wade, protecting his brother, gave chase and finally shot the android down with his Mateba 10mm. They then had to start piecing together the situation from Ava 6, the Weyland android, the notebooks of the scientists and a data core that had been gathered up by one of the Montero crew. They found two of these in a hidden EEV, still alive but in cryosleep. The ship had set down on 26 Draconis 𝛃 and had suffered some kind of infection from an archeological dig. The crew had taken aboard vials of some kind of fluid that seemed related to the disease and in an attempt to inoculate the crew ad cobbled together a vaccine that was only 90-95% effective. Stella and Ava, working with the scientists, Kumbe and Mignault, began working on an improved cure, while Wade, Jensen, and Pugh did a sweep of the ship for any more surprises. Jensen then began downloading what he could get out of the ship’s computer, while Wade and Pugh set the ship’s reactor to overload on a code typed in from any console. Honest mistake, meanwhile, buttoned up and waited — if things went awry they would take off and destroy the ship; otherwise, the landing party would set the ship to scuttle and get back aboard in time to get out of the blast radius.


Except the spores, which Stella had surmised were some kind of nanotechnology, had infected one of the workers, Said. The two had been sequestered in the room with the medpods for the two or so hours the crew was doing their thing. While the characters were working, Said gave birth to a bloodburster, which killed Said’s partner, then escaped into the air vents. Stella burned the room to prevent any other issues, but with the creature loose, Wade went to get Jensen from the MU/TH/ER compartment on Deck A. The two men met at the forward junction, but before Jensen could climb down to B Deck, wade was grabbed by the juvenlie bloodburster, injured by its claws in the leg, but he was able to kick it off. Jensen opened fire on the critter and missed and the chase was on.

Max and Pugh were on their way to aid the screaming Wade when the alien attacked, knocking Pugh to the ground and doing the classic evil, slobbering grin schtick. Pugh tossed it off, Jensen had a clear shot by blew his stress roll and panicked, freezing up. Wade opened up on the thing, emptying his Mateba (this has become his thing, and it tied nicely with the Overkill talent he has). The creature was killed, but not before it did a tail stab on Max. I ignored the “automatic” head hit and had it impale him, instead. Slumping to the ground, Max was out of the fight. Wade’s shots sprayed acid all over the place and it melted Pugh’s foot, requiring Ava and Mignault to amputate, while Kumbe and Stella managed to save Max’s life.

While the scientists did emergency surgery on Max, Stella and Ava finished the vaccine for the 26 Draconis infection and gave it to the people exposed to the air — Wade and Pugh. We ended with Wade finding out Max would live. He, Pugh, and Jensen were all trying to rest — Jensen doing well with the drug addiction he’s picking up, and Wade from the alcoholism he’d already kind of had from play. Meanwhile, Pugh began to change as the vaccine turned him into an abomination. Wade had been dozing but realized something was wrong at the last minute…he was disappointed to find Pugh turning into one of the monstrosities, and turned on him.

With a “Aw, Pooch…” from Wade, we ended for the night.

The game group tried out the Alien game by Free League over the holidays, and like their other offerings, we found it easy to create characters and get to playing quickly. After running through the “cinematic play” Chariot of the Gods scenario that came with the preorder game, we turned our attention to trying out a campaign game.

I wanted to tie it into how our Chariot game ended, with the last PCs put into cryosleep by the turncoat android Lucas, who then had to battle (post credits) the damaged bu trevived android from the adventure’s setting, the research ship Cronus.

Our first session involved the characters getting hired by a fixer in Tokyo, Ari Jacobson, who had a bit of corporate espionage on the menu. The players were Wade and Max Jones — a team of brothers. The first is a former marine and screw-up (the player wanted to play against his favored type and go “dumb); the latter is a corporate spy type hoping to get his brother back on track. The other two were a hacker, Jensen, and a former marine pilot, Pugh. The team was rounded out by an android, Clay, whose job in the mission was to capture a high-ranking officer of the LaSalle Bionational company, use a “dream reader” to get information they needed to allow Clay to impersonate the official and gain access to information on a mission to salvage a long-missing ship, USCSS Cronus.

There was the usual bit of getting the kit the needed, shadowing the mark, and then attempting to take him in his hotel room. The fight led to gunfire, and the characters had to think quickly to extract their target and leave as little evidence as they could. Once they got him to the “dream factory” they were able to use interrogation techniques and a dream reader helmet to question the mark, who was drugged unconscious.

In the second session, the characters convinced Ari — who was concerned by the police and corporate security investigating the disappearance of the mark and his security team — that they could still pull off the mission. Jensen hacked the security company’s database and replaced the information on the mark’s original security with their own. Then they waltzed into LaSalle Bionational’s small Tokyo offices and managed to fast talk their way inside. Clay was able to impersonate the mark perfectly, accessed the data with Jensen’s help, and find what they needed — Cronus was an old Weyland Corporation ship that had been damaged too badly over the years to get to a Bionational facility and their agent, Lucas, had it put down on the nearest colony…which was unfortunately a Weyland-Yutani colony.

With this information in hand they returned to Ari, who was in the process of paying them when they were raided by a corporate hit team using armed drones and a pair of unmarked police APCs. They were able to escape, but Clay was damaged, captured, and his memory hacked. While the characters looked for a way out of Japan and away from their pursuers, they were able to use their military contacts in town to get aid from a former Colonial Marine Corps officer. Within minutes they were whisked to the airport, flew in a private hypersonic to Los Angeles, and were offered money and new IDs to investigate Cronus before Weyland-Yutani did. They, they realized, were working for the United Americas, who were pissed with W-Y over the loss  of their ship Sulaco. 

The next session involved meeting their new partners (including a new PC to replace Clay; the player inadvertently picked the synthetic, again). The crew of the independent scout Honest Mistake are led by Captain Dunn, and include Akoye, the engineer, and Wei, the pilot. They have a jailbroken Weyland series 12 android, Stella, who has been repurposed to aid in scientific and medical tasks. They also have a pair of scientists, a Canadian biochemist (Mignault), and a Kenyan doctor, Kumbe. They were dropped into hypersleep and two weeks later the ship was in the GJ1256 system, closing on Luther Coloney, a fairly new “shake and bake” colony.

On their approach they were attacked by a Class D Skiff — a small interstellar vessel armed with missiles. This was our chance to roll out the space combat rules, and the fight was over quickly. Detection was accomplished, the skiff got an advantageous position, but missed Honest Mistake, but Pugh was able to put the skiff in front of their ship and Wade hit it with the ships light railguns. It was a solid hit and the skiff rolled nothing for their armor. The railguns ripped the little ship stem to stern and killed it instantly.

Suspecting they were on the clock, they took the ship down to the landing site of Cronus, finding a Cobb-styled jumpjet there.


A pair of W-Y terraforming engineers had been dispatched to check out the hulk and had arrived only a few hours earlier. The team left the HM crew to mind the ship, and with the scientists and Stella, entered Cronus. They found a dead neomorph on the vehicle bay deck, the metal around it corroded and melted by acid. They bagged the critter in some plastic tarp for return to Honest Mistake and began a quick recon of the ship, arriving at the bridge. Along the way, they see dead bodies of the Montero crew from the Chariot of the Gods adventure, as well as loads of damage on the bridge. They also find the badly damaged, but reparable, Ava 6 — the ship’s synthetic.  Stella and Jensen were able to fire her back up, but not before Wade heard movement and voices aft near the science labs. The rest of the team went to investigate, missing Ava’s warning when she woke “You are all in terrible danger!”

This was a surprise. I haven’t had a chance to fire this, but a friend has and gave me the run down on the pistol compared to the venerable FN FiveSeven.

RUGER-57™ 5.7x28mm Pistol


Introduced in 2020, Ruger stepped in to save the 5.7x28mm cartridge, which has been limping along since the early 1990s. The caliber has a small but loyal following, but outside of a few custom offerings for rifles, the round was relegated to the overly expensive FN FiveSeven and the accompanying P90 personal defense weapon and its civilian carbine versions. Adding to the caliber’s troubles was an infamy for being a “cop killing” because of its ability to penetrate soft armor decades ago. The manufacturers of the 5.7mm cut the power of the round, dropping its speed from a blistering 2100fps from the pistol to a mundane 1600fps, placing it on par with .22 magnum. coupled with the expense of the round, this limited the popularity of the 5.7mm.

Ruger has stepped in with a similar pistol to the FiveSeven — a hammer-fired semi-automatic that has a 20 round (metal, not polymer like the FN), and with a thinner, more ergonomic grip. Unlike the FN, the safety is placed at the back of the receiver, like many handguns and is ambidextrous. The slide has a cut in the front, top-side to reduce weight and aid in function. This and the lower bore axis of the Ruger mean faster follow up shot and even less felt recoil than the already very easy shooting FN FiveSeven.

Limited commercial reloaders can reproduce the velocities that made 5.7mm a decent self-defense pistol, and Ruger is pushing manufacturers to offer more 5.7mm offerings.

PM: +2   S/R: 3   AMMO: E   CLOS: 0-8   LONG: 15-22   CON: +1   JAM: 99+   DR: 0   RL: 1   COST: $800

GM Information: Most commercial rounds for the 5.7mm have a DC: D and reduce armor effects by one. For military and specialty loads, the round halves armor ratings. Both commercial and military rounds hav a -1WL to inanimate objects.

(I carried a FN FiveSeven for years and loved it. The weight was almost non-existent, like carrying an airsoft gun. Even with an anemic round, 20 in the mag was enough to do the trick. I also had a P-90, which was easily my favorite “long” gun. But the wimping out of the round’s speed and power, and the expense of the bullets led to me abandoning it for the Walther PPQ. I’m hoping to get my grubby wee paws on this thing soon to try it out. SCR)

I love me some Greek mythology, so when I saw a Kickstarter for Odyssey of the Dragonlords for D&D 5E, I jumped on it. I had already gotten a copy of the similarly themed Arkadia, but Odyssey is a real step up.


The packages came in a few days ago with the main book, a smaller Player’s Guide, a GM screen that has important setting related information, and two dozen maps of the world. Some of these are city maps, others orthographic-style maps of the islands, there’s a pair of world maps, and also a constellation guide to the night sky of the setting, Thylea.


The maps are lovely, but they’re nothing compared some of the internal artwork.


IMG_0969IMG_0968That’s just a taste…

The setting is rich, and like Arkadia, does a riff on Greek mythology without pulling straight from them. There are fewer gods, and there are a trio of “titans” that are the scenario bad guys. The book is broken up in quests that string together to form an epic campaign. It’s good stuff, with detailed maps and writeups of the cities you should visit and the people you will meet. You could get away with throwing a lot of this out and just sandboxing the world, and still get a lot of use out of the material presented, should you wish to ignore the campaign.

The artwork and the flow of the campaign outline feel very much like this was a pitch for an RPG video game that the authors — some of them from Bioware (creators of Mass Effect).

Is it worth it? I paid $75 for the entire set with maps, screen, and the two books and feel i got my money’s worth with room to spare. The entire project is fabulously pretty, well-bound on good gloss paper, and well worth throwing money at the ubiquitous Mödiphiüs. (As of this writing, I hadn’t seen it pop up on their website.) You can also make a late pledge at Kickstarter.

The editing work on the Fate version of The Sublime Porte is almost done, and the work on the Ubiquity version is complete. We’re just waiting on the art before assembling the book for publication.


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