Rescue or Bug Hunt? A Colonial Marines One-Shot, Part 1

Happy GURPSDay, folks!

Just a quick post today, but “short” felt a lot better than “none.”

I once again find myself up against a looming deadline for game registration. Somehow, the span between “Plenty of time, the registration deadline isn’t for weeks” and “OMG the deadline is tomorrow!” never fails to whip by in a flash (translation: I can be a horrible procrastinator).

Thankfully, a few weeks back another GURPS GM (hiya, Cal!) was reminiscing about the old “Colonial Marines Technical Manual,” one of my favorite fan books ever, so I dug mine out and got inspired to run a Colonial Marines game. I’ve run them a few times before and always had a great time, so I’ve been turning things over in m’brains to come up with a rollickin’ good one-shot.

(Here are the completed notes for download once all this was done.)

Rescue or Bug Hunt? | Downloads: 1,959 | Size: 3.0 MB

At this point, all I really need are enough details to get a decent blurb written for the convention registration. The deadline of which is tomorrow. So, let’s get crackin’.

Note that if you plan to play in this game at Gamex 2017, the below contains spoilers!

A bit stream of consciousness, but this is what I have so far:

  • Four PCs, all line infantry in the United States Colonial Marines, the “absolute badasses” from the “Aliens” movie. At first pass, I’m thinking:
    • Corporal, Rifleman and Squad Leader
    • PFC, Rifleman and Corpsman
    • Private, Sniper
    • Private, Smart Gunner
  • The game takes place shortly after the events of “Aliens.”
  • The ship the PCs’ platoon is aboard receives a distress call from a remote Weyland-Yutani research facility on Tau Ceti e. Initial reports suggest a pirate attack, and U.S. Space Command has authorized the Marines to reroute and assist. The PCs’ Section is specifically tasked with the recovery or proof of demise of a high-value target, Michael Bishop. They are given encrypted trackers keyed to his bio-implant and ordered to recover him at all costs.
  • What the Marines don’t know is that they will not be going in against a ragtag group of deep space pirates. In direct violation of governmental and corporate treaties, Hyperdyne Systems has sent a platoon of corporate mercs to Tau Ceti e and seized the Weyland-Yutani facility. Once inside, they discover and inadvertently release a small colony of Xenomorphs being bred there for weaponization and research. Hilarity ensues.
  • I would really like the game to begin with the PCs awaking from unconsciousness, finding themselves stuck to the wall in a Xenomorph food chamber. Eggs slowly open, facehuggers emerge, and as they leap towards the PCs’ faces…
  • We cut to the platoon briefing aboard ship prior to the drop on Tau Ceti e. A subtitle on the scene reads, “Ten hours earlier…” The mission is laid out to the PCs’ section and they prepare for drop.
  • As the capital ships engage, both dropships head to the surface. Being armed with high-tech Hyperdyne anti-aircraft technology, the secondary dropship is destroyed and the PCs’ dropship is damaged. They crash to the surface, no survivors aboard except the PCs.
  • In very broad strokes (especially at this stage of brainstorming), the scenes might be something like:
    • Xenomorph food chamber, flashback to…
    • Shipboard briefing and dropship crash
    • Combat: the PCs are discovered by a Hyperdyne squad sent to confirm no survivors
    • PCs set out towards the facility (either to fulfill their mission, or because it’s the only shelter/resource point on this extremely inhospitable moon)
    • As they near, Hyperdyne mercs run from inside — fleeing something, not attacking. Somehow (help me!), the mercs are killed and the PCs are rendered unconscious. Mercs drop a grenade in their panic? Hyperdyne orbital ship launches a massive ground strike? Ordinarily, I am loathe to fiat my way to getting the PCs somewhere, but they need to return from flashback to…
    • Xenomorph food chamber. Escape and re-arm/re-equip. According to Michael Bishop’s tracker, he’s still alive
    • Host chamber: mercs filled with chestbursters
    • Combat: Xenomorph drones try to prevent the PCs escaping from “the nest”
    • Outside the nest, deep in the facility, locate Bishop hiding in his panic room. The walls and door are covered with the blood of other apparently trying to get in
    • Attempt to get Bishop out of the facility to the supply hangar, to commandeer a shuttle and rejoin their ship in orbit

So, that’s where I’m at the moment. It still needs a lot of polish, but seems like a solid start. In particular, I’m concerned about the segue from “We’re in a firefight for our lives!” to “We’re stuck to a wall about to be eaten!” I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for this narrative down in the comments.

At the moment, though, it’s enough to base a convention blurb on, so this is what I’ll be submitting for Gamex 2017:

As they head back to Earth, a platoon of Colonial Marines receives a distress call from a remote Weyland-Yutani research facility. Initial reports sound like a pirate or corporate attack… but could it be something far more dangerous? Come find out! NO GURPS experience needed.

I’ll let you know how this game shapes up in the coming weeks, and how it runs at the table after the Memorial Day weekend when the convention is. Until then, I shall be happily immersed in the “Aliens” universe.

(Continued in Part 2)


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  1. You set yourself a tough one.
    PC may try sending a scout or two ahead, and provide him or them cover from 10s or 100s of yards away, so your unconscious has to work on a large area.

    You did say the moon/planet the research station is on is inhospitable – were you thinking full environment suits? If so, could have an emp/surge disable them and everyone go unconscious from air cutoff, or an emergency medical prodicall (autoinject them with something to slow their oxygen usage).

      • Another idea, if the PCs are spread out, is have several xenomorphs jump each of them from surprise. At this point, they have only seen the mercs. Xenomorphs can trash each of the PCs air supply with a surprise hit, .., unconscious soon to follow.

  2. Do the Hyperdyne mercs need to die? It seems like the scenario would work if their goal is to escape because they released the Xenomorphs and realize that they are screwed. The PCs can’t leave right away because they haven’t retrieved their target. If the mercenaries are being attacked while trying to escape, the PCs will jump in to protect them and some mercenaries will escape, some will fall, and the PCs can be overwhelmed and captured.

    If the PCs do decide to run and join an escape capsule, it’s an easy tweak to have that particular escape capsule malfunction or something so that they can’t make it out.

    • Great minds, Colin, thanks! The PCs could be overwhelmed by a throng of Xenos, but I was hoping to make it something more ‘mundane’ to save the “hopeless stand against a massive wave of chomping aliens” for the final battle.

      • If you want a mundane reason for capture, the Xenos were released because the mercenaries did something foolish to the building while trying to break in. The structural damage to the building caused a failure in the Xeno containment area, and now the mercenaries are racing to escape the collapsing building while being pursued. The PCs can notice the building collapsing but may not know about the Xenos.

        Alternatively, remember that you’ve set up in medias res for the campaign, so the PCs will already know that the aliens are dangerous. As long as there are only skirmishes during the initial escape/fleeing attempt, the climactic battle will still pack its punch.

  3. Is the last name of the “high-value target, Michael Bishop” advised, given that Lance Bishop is the synthetic in Aliens?

  4. If you want a BFG for you players to find, I can always take a crack as stating up the PIG :D. Just have to know if you want RAW GURPS plasma weapon rules (were I’ll have to “broad brush strokes” and go for the feel as close as possible) or try to line up with published data.

    • Hiya, The_RyujinLP!

      Biggest I’m going is the M56 Smart Gun. Between the “Colonial Marines Technical Manual,” the old “Aliens Adventure Game,” and the multitude of ‘Aliens’ posts on the SJG forums, I doubt that will take more than a few minutes. 🙂

      • Gotcha, Gotcha. Both Doug and Hans have write ups for the M4 pulse rifle on their respective blogs.

        David did stat up a version of the smart gun but unlike Hans he assumes its ETC boosted so it’s not gonna line up quite right but I’ll post the stats just in case you want them.

        TL9 10mm Machine Gun Dam 10d pi+ Acc 5 Range 1,400/5,900 Wt 16/13.6 RoF 15 Shots 200[5] ST 14M Rcl 2 Cost $6,700 Power 10kw (EPS 0.5 kJ).

        If used like a rifle ST becomes 12†.

        • Yes! I was psyched to find Pulse Rifle write-ups on the blogs while researching. I think I’ll probably just go with slightly tweaked versions of the baseline Ultra-Tech weapons:

          Pulse Rifle (Storm Rifle, UT137)
          (lowered damage by 1d and from pi++ to pi+ — doubling the damage after DR is a scootch too lethal for my taste; also upped the Shots to 99… that red ammo counter is kind of iconic :P)
          8d pi+, Acc 4, RoF 3, Shots 99[3], Bulk -4, Rcl 3 (w/ underslung 3-shot grenade launcher)

          Smart Gun (Storm Chaingun, UT138)
          (also lowered damage from pi++ to pi+, upped shots from 60 to 200, lowered Rcl to 2)
          9d pi+, Acc 5, RoF 10, Shots 200[5], Bulk -6, Rcl 2 (w/ IR targeting)

          Those should definitely be “good enough” — really, all the versions are pretty similar.

        • I have a BA in History. I know the subject well enough not to get to tripped up, I hope. Back in ’05 I had a player in a GURPS WWII game who claimed he had seen every WWII film. Another player readily agreed. Both players were 20, maybe. I asked them if they ever seen “Kelly’s Heroes”? He hadn’t. ???? WTH? At the time TBS had it on a nearly weekly basis.
          Speaking of “Kelly’s Heroes”… would a game be superfluous?

          • Ha! Kids today 😛

            A game is never superfluous. I’ve run a lot of TV/movie-inspired games (Jem, Battle of the Planets, The Warriors, soon Aliens) and they’re always a hoot.

            Now that I think of it, even in high school I DMed two games I still remember quite fondly, one Ladyhawke and the other Labyrinth.

            I say, thumbs up.

  5. What I meant by superfluous was that I thought there was an official RPG supplement out there. I was close. Warlord’s Bolt Action has a set called Oddball’s Heroes. Complete with rules and figs. It’s a wargame of sorts.
    I did a weird WWII game that was based on a real event: a B-17 bomber landed near a British anti-craft unit. After waiting for the 10 man crew to disembark, someone opened a hatch and discovered the plan landed with NO ONE ON BOARD! Ain’t that cool!

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. GURPS Day Summary Apr 28 – May 4, 2017 – Gaming Ballistic
  2. Rescue or Bug Hunt? A Colonial Marines One-Shot, Part 2 – Game Geekery
  3. “Rescue or Bug Hunt?” Post-Con Wrap Up – Game Geekery
  4. Overview of 2017 – Game Geekery

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