Posted in: Alien, Character Creation Challenge, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

2023 Character Creation Challenge Day 1: Alien

Hello readers and welcome to my first entry into the 2023 #CharacterCreationChallenge. Last year I used the first day to post about Dune: Adventures in the Imperium because of how much I’d love to play that game. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to at the upcoming SaltCon. Another game that I hope to play is Alien from Free League Publishing. I had the opportunity to meet the writer of the Alien RPG, Andrew E.G. Gaska at the 2022 FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. He was able to explain a little of the game to me and he signed my book. So I wanted to use Alien for day 1 of the new challenge.

Meeting Andrew EC Gaska at FanX 2022.

OK, so let’s get down to making a character for this game. The character creation steps start on page 27. There are two types of play for this game. Cinematic (think one-shot, character has a good chance of dying by the end of the session) or Campaign Play (self-explanatory). I’m going to run with the assumption that this character will be for a campaign. I need to select a career for my character out of a choice of nine available. The choices are Colonial Marine, Colonial Marshal (oh, I wonder if the movie Outland could be an inspiration for something like this?), Company Agent, Kid, Medic, Officer (think CO of a mining vessel like the one we first saw in Alien), Pilot, Roughneck (worker) and Scientist. Since I told Mr. Gaska that my favorite movie of all time is Aliens, I know that I’ve got to make a Colonial Marine. I’m going with the name Jan Karlsson (plucked out of the air).

There are four attributes in Alien. Strength and Agility (both self-explanatory), Wits (this covers intelligence, sanity and perception) and finally Empathy (think Charisma and how you treat others). You get 14 points to spend over these attributes. Minimum of 2 with a max of 5 for the key attribute of your career (4 max on the others). For the Colonial Marine, my key attribute is Strength. I selected the following for Jan. Str 5, Agi 4 Wit 3 and Emp 2.

Now we spend some points in our skills. There are only twelve of them and they are tied with one of the attributes listed above. As a starting character, I can spend 10 points on any of the following (keeping in mind that my Colonial Marine has to have certain skills) with a max of 3. Close combat, Heavy Machinery or Stamina (under Strength), Ranged Combat, Mobility or Piloting (under Agility) Observation, Survival or Comtech (under Wits) and Command, Medical Aid and Manipulation (under empathy). As my character progresses, I can increase the skill numbers. Jan is not a leader, he’s a point and shoot guy who also wants to make sure he and his squad comes back. So I selected Ranged Combat-3, Close Combat- 2, Stamina- 2, Observation-1, Survival- 1 and Medical Aid- 1.

For a campaign, each player starts with one talent and can earn three more later. A talent in the Alien RPG is a trick, move or minor ability that gives Jan a small edge in something. Each career has a selection of three starting talents to choose from. Later, there is a selection of general talents that can also be used. For the Colonial Marine, I loved the idea of the Banter talent. It helps reduce stress levels between fights. Plus I love interacting with my fellow players at the game and making them laugh.

It wasn’t on the list on page 27, but in the descriptions following the next items are calculating your health and stress. Health is self-explanatory but if you reach zero (and don’t die) you can receive a critical injury. Stress is what your character feels under certain situations. The stress level can rise if you push a skill roll, perform certain actions (or lack of actions such as lack of sleep), etc. If stress gets too high and isn’t kept in check, your character can panic (which is bad). Starting health is based upon the Strength attribute (so Jan’s is 5) and stress at the start of the game is 0? (Flips back a few pages to the combat chapter) Yea it’s 0.

Next on the list is choose a name (done, see above), decide on your appearance (imagine Ivan Draggo from Rocky 4 in Colonial Marines fatigues) and select a personal agenda. From the looks of things, the personal agenda is something about your character that you want to fulfill, or want to keep secret. If you are playing a cinematic game, you earn story points if you complete an agenda item. In a campaign, you gain extra experience points. Since these can be anything I selected “Previous unit let a company man die because he was endangering the team. We kept the details a secret and want to keep it that way.” Since this is a campaign, I can select a buddy and a rival. The rules stated one or both could be another PC. Since I don’t have other PCs to decide on, I’m randomly picking my buddy to be Chester Williams, a marine I helped train and the rival is Miguel Rodriguez, a guy who claims to be an ex-company man, but Jan doesn’t really trust him.

With gear, there is more than just the stuff you have. You can also select a signature item and there are also consumables. From the Colonial Marine details what I felt was appropriate. Jan’s signature item is an old pocket knife that an ex-commander gave him before he died. I think I only track consumables (food, water, air, etc.) if we are off ship. So I’m leaving those sections blank right now. And hey I get to roll my first die while creating a character. Jan has $500 to start out to buy other equipment, of which I did that I thought was logical for a Colonial Marine. I think the character is done. Here is the sheet.


There were only a couple of areas where it was a little confusing. Besides the physical book, the publisher also sent me a PDF copy. I was able to use that to do some quick searches for subjects like “cash” and others. The pages are black, but the majority of the text is in light boxes with a dark font. So it isn’t too hard on the eyes. I still haven’t had a chance to go through the entire book cover-to-cover, but I really hope to play this game at an upcoming convention. The log entries at the start of the book was drawing me into a story. I really want to see the system in action. With experience, I could easily create a character quickly. I wonder how much material that the publisher has pulled from the older Dark Horse Alien comics? I could see myself homebrewing some of those items.

Additional Notes:

I’ve been seeing submissions for the #CharacterCreationChallenge on the forum and on social media using the hashtag. I’ve even been tagged on a few Mastodon posts. Several participants have emailed me links to their sites. So far there have been some interesting submissions. There was even a link to another message board on Board Game Geek that are participating in the challenge. I’m trying to get all of the links posted on the Character Creation Challenge page so that everyone can see them.

Update: The TardisCaptain dot com Discord is now ready and can be accessed by following this link.

Coming Up Next:

The classic Star Frontiers game from TSR

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