Alien: The Roleplaying Game – Heart of Darkness

Weyland-Yutani want you! (to die in space)

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Designer Andrew E.C. Gaska

Artist Gustaf Ekelund

Publisher Free League

Category RPG suppliment

Length 76 pages

Release Date 2022

Heart of Darkness is a roleplaying campaign that can be played as a standalone or a conclusion to the Draconis Strain Saga. In this campaign, players are tasked by Weyland-Yutani to venture out to a space station in the far reaches of the galaxy and to retrieve a new lifeform. Oh, and the station sits on the edge of a black hole. I’m sure there’s hazard pay, and I bet everyone will make it home just fine, right?…right? 

Content Guide

Player characters will have the opportunity to fight, survive, and possibly die from any scenario one could imagine in the Alien universe, plus some new ones. The characters may succumb to psychosis, injury, attacks from any number of hostile creatures, acid burns, explosive decompression, infection, or a backstabbing crewmate. Oh, and there’s a couple swear words in the text of the game.

Review

While it’s difficult to talk about the campaign without spoiling any of the surprises in store for potential players, I’ll do my best. In Heart of Darkness, most of the PCs are scientists arriving at Erebos station to collect the new life form that has been found there. Upon arrival, the players realize the station is running silent and was recently damaged by a meteor strike. Their own ship, the Cetorhina, is nearly pulled into the black hole but manages to crash into the station instead. 

Each player will have their own personal agendas which will unfold and possibly change over the course of the game’s 3 acts, and not all of them will align with other crewmate’s. Also complicating things are everyone’s Neurological Distortion Disorders, or NDDs, which is basically a table of how the stress of the mission is affecting your character’s psyche, with everything from paranoia, epilepsy, different forms of obfuscation, to full blown psychosis where you attack the nearest person or thing, triggering a Panic roll for any friendly witnesses. Everyone playing will have to manage not only their character’s health but their radiation, stress, and any critical injuries or conditions that might make their job (or just survival) much harder. 

I love the idea of the characters getting more and more stressed until someone loses their mind and attacks a friendly person – that seems like a pretty normal reaction to some of the horrors one might witness in the Alien universe. The materials provided give the GM (Game Mother) all the tools they might need to wear down the PCs: 2 double-sided fold-out maps of Erebos and the Cetorhina, handouts, cards, and premade character sheets. I do wish the book itself had a few more illustrations, but I also like that it doesn’t waste paper, coming in at a slim 76 pages.

The game itself also isn’t on rails – the PCs at different points have options to collaborate with, fight, or resist subtly against the different obstacles in their path, and the game can end in a number of different ways (most likely is death). Players might not all survive, but they’re given a chance to make sure something really bad doesn’t happen – or maybe they want to make sure it does, depending on their agenda. Oh, and if someone dies early they can come back as the space station’s cat. Considering their survival rate in the films, I would love to roleplay the cat. 

All in all, Heart of Darkness is a dark, interesting story that will challenge the PCs and make for some memorable moments, especially depending on everyone’s roleplaying comfort levels. The story feels a bit like a combination of Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection, but different enough to keep it interesting. Just bear in mind that you need the Alien RPG Starter Set or Core Rulebook in addition to this campaign. Fans of the IP and horror/sci-fi RPGs should definitely give it a look. 

A review copy was provided by the publisher. 

The Bottom Line

Fans of the IP and horror/sci-fi RPGs should definitely give this a look. 

 

8

Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.