Okay folks, listen up! From now on, unless I cannot make an update and have to do it on a different day, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays will be Rappy’s RPG Reviews day, with any other days update from me instead of Celtic Gamer being a bonus for me. So, what do we have today? Well, ignore that previous schedule, because my timing was all messed up. ^^; I will get around to reviewing that stuff, including my first D&D review, just not when I said ((Psst…..look tomorrow for an update schedule that\’s actually correct). Anyway…today’s review is a look at the whopper of a book known as Alien Invasion, brought to us by the designers at Reality Deviant Productions (sold via RPGObjects).
Chapter 1 starts out with an outline of alien campaign setting types. These are Education (the aliens are here and present to teach us something, whether we like it or not), Infiltration (aliens are here, you just can\’t tell they’re aliens), Occupation (similar to Infiltration, but the aliens have already won and claimed Earth behind the scenes), and Raid (the aliens are interstellar Vikings, plundering Earth at random from somewhere out in the cosmos). What proceeds afterward is a sheer wealth of real world conspiracy, legend, and lore built into the fluff text. This starts with four pages of a “history of aliens”, from prehistory to Majestic 12 and Roswell. Obviously that’s not the entirety of history, so where’s the rest? Well, stick around and you’ll see. There are then rules on various forms of documentation and skill checks. We get DCs for checking the authenticity of a document (opposing Forgery check to the creator if it’s fake), searching and determining the reality of a photograph (Knowledge [Art]), radar evidence (Knowledge [Technology), analyzing equipment damage from extraterrestrial contact (Craft [Mechanical]), and physical evidence on land or living things (Knowledge [Earth and Life Sciences]). There\’s also a nifty little list of types of encounter, including visual, radar, and Close Encounters of Types 1-7.
After another brief list of DCs for Gather Information in an investigation of a UFO sighting, the book moves on to the subject of abductions. The first part is a 5-step plan on how to generally piss off aliens and make them say “screw this, we’re going back to mutilate cows instead of mess with these morons”. There is a sample abduction setup for GMs, a farmer stat block (a 1st-level Tough Ordinary, merely a simple human), and a walkthrough of the saves a character will be making during all those alien hijinxs. Implant descriptions and rules on adverse side-effects from them are coughed up as well. Hell, they give a detailed diagram of said alien microchip implant. There are several types of implants listed, from a psionic “awakener” to one that causes the implantee to be immune to paralysis. There’s a brief list of Knowledge (Behavioral Sciences) DCs on abductions, then….behold, alien cults! There are only two, the Aetherius Society and Raëlian Movement (both actual real world organizations, if you’re curious), but both are detailed so much that I can forgive only having a pair of them.
Cattle mutilation gets a brief history, and although there are no specific rules on said mutilation, we do get actual cow stats (I am not sure if they’re exactly the same [I didn’t take the time to check], but they look fairly similar to the generic herd animal from the core rulebook)! Crop circles get a similar treatment right after, but with the added bonus of a chart of in-game effects that can be caused by them. After a listing of how certain skills can be used to uncover conspiracies X-Files style, we get the “History of Conspiracies”, which just so happens to fill in the timeline from post-Roswell to the modern day. Hey, that’s where the rest of that timeline went! There’s also an extra non-cult organization here, Majestic 12, listed out with the same detail as the others. The same section of the chapter gives a list of various other government organizations in the campaign setting that are interested in aliens, alien bases in places as far apart as Australia and Mexico, and some stats for low-level Ordinaries from UFO enthusiasts that range from regular believers to UFOlogists. Last but not least in this section of who’s who, we have an organization known as Ground Zero Radio and lower-level heroes that go with it.
Alright, after what is mostly fluff, we get our first taste of all-crunch 65 pages in. There are two new occupations, the Abductee and Conspiracy Theorist; I think both are fairly self-explanatory, no? There are also two advanced classes, the Aetherian (divine spellcasters who turn aliens and evil spellcasting humans rather than undead and outsiders) and the Raelian (essentially insiders to advanced cloning and other alien toys). There are some feats from d20 Future added in for good measure, then new psionic powers and spells. The psionics, such as Demoralize and Remote Viewing, are pretty cool, while the spells are….erm…standard healer fare with alien flavor. Finally, we get new templates! The ones here are Activated Organic Portal (think a hive-mind humanoid spy), Grisi (raging brutes infected with an alien disease), Horlock (reanimated humans with alien souls shoved into their bodies), and Hybrid (human-alien hybrids with special powers).
While we already had a legality scale for equipment, Alien Invasion”s equipment chapter starts by adding a second factor: the confidentiality scale. From confidential to black ops, this chart gives GMs and players a list of just how much it will cost you to get a hold of that cutting edge tech…if you can. The three examples of such weapons that are provides are a pistol and rifle version of the particle beam, plus a sonic pulse weapon called the Joshua beam. Spacecraft get four new engine types (electrogravitic, magnetogravitic, ununpentium, and quantum), as well as 10 new spacecraft types, from the classic flying saucers to strange cigar-ships. There’s also a reprint of the alien probe from Menace Manual, renamed the AROD (which I find a generally cooler name) and various “carry on” alien tech such as stealth modules.
The final chapter is called “The Alien Agenda”, and that pretty much sums up the first portion. There are some interesting ideas here, such as the Grays working for the Reptoids and wanting to warn Earth of an incoming interstellar threat from an unstatted otherworldy race, but most of it is mutable fluff that you may or may not want to use. Seven species of playable alien can be found in this chapter. The Ataians are like giant anthropomorphic cricket mercenaries, dwarves have basically the same stats as the magic type, the Elohim are psionic humanoids here rather than the evil elemental fire brutes they are in the Menace Manual (I’ll have to work these two together some time, just to see how that would work), Grays are….Grays…nothing new here about them (in fact, these stats look eerily like the non-Open Game Content Fraal….there are some differences to avoid any uncomfy feelings for Wizards of the Coast, though), Men in Black are humanoids that will pummel you with their arsenal of nearly every alien psionic power in this book, Reptoids are strong but emotionally distant psionics-using lizardmen, and Ultrons are playable gaseous energy beings. Last but not least is a minor bestiary, featuring the Chupacabras (as a…humanoid? Not my personal choice at all), goblin (based on the glowing Hopkinsville goblin sightings), Ikel (think furry murderous parasitic gremlins), and Sasquatch (a psionics-using humanoid version, a far cry from the dim-witted giant in the Menace Manual; again, not my choice, but it’s there for those who want it).
The art here is just spectacular and evocative. From the cover of an cold, pitiless Gray injecting an emaciated rat with a strange glowing chemical in the depths of a rusting depths of an undercity to the haunting image bathed in red of a cattle mutilation. A nice touch of these color-tinted black and white images within are that they tend to have a “Top secret: eyes only” stamp somewhere on them. Cute touch.
Pretty much everything is here. Some fluff I don’t like, and I probably won’t use any of the bestiary creatures other than the Ikel and Hopkinsville goblin, but I cannot deny that this thing is just well-made. If you want a conspiracy theory setting, an X-Files style campaign, or just want to get some crunch to fill in that empty spot that a certain Dark campaign felt didn’t Matter, this is for you. 10/10.