Sunday Night Gaming Captures An Alien


I’ve long enjoyed James Nicoll’s Wednesday Night Gaming posts, so I thought I’d rip off pay homage to the idea by writing up our semi-weekly FATE game, which we’ve just started.

The setting: In the very near future, Earth is invaded by an alien race, called the Xenari, bent on genocide. We would never have driven them away without the help of a friendly alien race called the Shai’lun, who lent us advanced weapons, ships, and apostrophes.

It’s been a few years since the Xenari have been driven away, but a great deal of infrastructure is still unfinished. Also, local political figures are now beholden to corporate interests–corporations are pretty much in control now. The United States exists mostly as an idea of something people used to have; as a nation, it’s all but over. The Xenari are mostly gone, but the Shai’lun have stayed, mostly in orbit, as friendly but standoffish assistants.

The characters:

Finlay Quinn: High Concept: Dealer in Forbidden Tech. Trouble: Forbidden Knowledge (she has the maguffin everyone is after, an encrypted alien thumb drive)
Walton Pierfoy: High Concept: GenEn Anti-establishment Rebel (“GenEn” = “I have superpowers”) Trouble: Life is short and I’m running out of time (his superpowers have shortened his lifespan by quite a bit.
Travis Roman: High Concept: Corporate heir trying to do the right thing. Trouble: Infamous face.
Evan Skepsis: High Concept: Fringe Scientist Seeking Validation. Trouble: Wanted leader of anti-alien “terrorist” group.

Where things stood from the previous two weeks:

After trying and failing to find out the secrets behind the alien thumb drive during a break-in of the evil-evil corporate headquarters of X-Aggra, the group scrambled from one contact to another trying to find someone willing to help us work out what was in the thumb drive. We even tracked down a friendly Shai’lun who warned us that the thumb drive was something we could get killed for.

Finally we track down the name of a scientist living in a remote complex in Arizona. We arrive after dark to find it already under attack by an X-Aggra hit squad. After a long and complex battle, the X-Aggra drop ship blew the hell out of the house and took off (with a tracker attached to the hull), leaving behind the corpses of their hit squad and the scientist’s entire family (including a little daughter).

This game session:

Travis suggested that tracking the ship to its base could wait. Once we knew the location, we could clear the location with a neutron bomb and collect whatever intel was lying around. No one batted an eye at this suggestion.

After a great deal of searching (and investigation rolls) we discovered that the scientist (Daws) was a geneticist and the X-Agg troops had stolen a hard drive from his lab. They had missed a safe, which Travis summoned up by the expedience of spending a FATE point; inside was a few semi-organic hard drives of alien origin. There was also something unusual about the bookshelf but none of us rolled well enough to find out what it was.

Then Evan, the alien-hating mad scientist, discovered alien food in the fridge. The team immediately realizes there is an alien on the grounds (or that one was taken away by the drop ship). A search outside reveals a trap door in a green house, which leads to a dark shaft with a ladder, which leads to a damp, sewer-like tunnel, which leads to a Xenari powering up an energy weapon.

Walt, our GenEn soldier, was the first one down the tunnel. Unfortunately, he could not trigger his superpower (duplication) because he’d spent his FATE points investigating. Luckily, he had a gun, not that he hit with it.

Seeing the alien about to take a shot at very close range, Evan the mad scientist leaped down the stairs and knocked Walt aside, taking the shot in his own chest instead. Luckily, he’d fired up his black hole force field vest (I mentioned he’s a mad scientist, yes?) and the blast went right through him. While Finlay made her way down the ladder to add her bullets to the fray, Travis used his very high Deceive in an attempt to trick the alien into thinking he was outnumbered and ought to surrender.

He got the first but not the second. Walt tried to grapple with the alien but got thrown aside, which gave Evan a convenient opening for lots of gunfire, which was moderately effective. A second grapple attempt deprived the Xenari of his blaster and Travis once again ordered him to surrender, spending a FATE point to give it extra oomph.

It worked. The Xenari dropped its fighting knife and raised it arms. After a bit of discussion about whether to blast a few more holes in it (The Xenari killed billions of people in their attack, so even the characters without aspects that make them anti-alien are not fond of them) it’s decided that interrogation would be a better option. Actually, it was a lot of discussion; Evan hates Xenari with a white fire, and he only relents when Travis explains that shooting people who surrender to you means that no one will ever surrender to you again.

The PCs invite themselves into the Xenari’s quarters, which are spartan enough that we had to remind ourselves that he wouldn’t have been allowed weapons if he was a prisoner. Finlay finds the alien’s computer and helps Evan crack it.

Meanwhile, Travis uses his Rapport skill to interrogate the alien. If Evan and Walt are hostile to it, it is even more hostile to us. It turns out that Daws, the murdered scientist, was its friend and they were working together on the secret to the Shai’lun genetic code, which appears to be more than one code combined.

Also, humans are immoral animals who war endlessly and are generally scum. Mr. Genocide is not keen on a) earthings and b) looking at the beam in his own eye. The insults come so fast that Walt actually bashes him one with the butt of his rifle, and Evan charges at him in a rage. As a grappler, Evan makes an excellent mad scientist.

Between the insults, the Xenari explains that all of humankind are doomed. The Shai’lun, it turns out, are host creatures for imperialistic parasites called the Shinkara. The Xenari traveled to Earth because humans are also compatible hosts, and they hoped that they could wipe us out and prevent the Shinkara from eating our brains or whatever before the Shai’lun finally died out.

What’s more, the alien’s computer is compatible with Finlay’s thumb drive. She cracks the encryption and discovers that X-Agg has been selling human kind out to the Shai’lun. Worse, someone in Roman Industries (Travis’s family business–the good-evil corporation) is doing the same thing.

Finally, the Xenari boasts that, having failed to stop the Shinkara from taking our world, its people were moving on to the next compatible host planet to try out the whole genocide thing again. Evan finally loses his cool and shoots the alien in cold blood. No tears are shed, although the player felt bad about it. Right for the character, awkward for the player.

We ended there, with a little more intel than we knew what to do with and one mad scientist who smugly declared he’d been right all along.

Travis (my character) has some useless aspects right now. I’d created him thinking we would be revolutionaries plotting to restore democracy, but the story has gone a different way. I need to come up with something compellable. Next session in two weeks.