Fedoras, waistcoats, and Grey aliens

The BureauAs I mentioned before I haven’t run any roleplaying games in a while. Several plans haven’t come to fruition and over the last weeks I got more and more frustrated. One advice I got by several people is that instead of trying to run an epic campaign, I should start with easier fare to slowly ease into the GM job again. Why not run a couple of one-shots or an episodic campaign instead of one with an over-arching epic story? But as usual I couldn’t make up my mind what kind of one-shot or short, episodic campaign I’d love to run. I tried to make up my mind on my own this time. Normally asking the players for input is a great idea, BUT my evil brain has the tendency to make me agree to running games I later feel overwhelmed with.

For a while I was throwing several ideas around, until I stumbled upon the obvious. For the last weeks I have been (re)watching the X-Files, a couple of UFO conspiracy “documentaries”,and Dark Skies.  I also played the computer game “The Bureau: XCOM Declassified“. So why not run a game inspired by those sources? The players could be members of a secret organisation fighting an Alien invasion and hiding the truth from the population. Very much like in the computer game, the players are sent out in small teams on missions to fight the alien threat, recover crashed alien craft, investigate strange events, et cetera. As a setting I am currently favoring an early 1960s USA, which is also the setting of both The Bureau and Dark Skies, which makes it easier to draw inspiration from these sources. And much like in TV series like X-Files I can easily throw in a Monster-Of-The-Week episode which can be easily improvised if I don’t have any better ideas.

As a system I am almost 100% settled on Fudge. There are two reasons for that: a) Fudge is just awesome and I want to put all these Fudge/Fate dice I bought to good use, and b) I recently rediscovered Micro Fudge, which is a perfect way to play Fudge if you want to focus on playing without having to worry about all the options Fudge offers. Fudge also assumes competent characters (which fits my game idea perfectly) and combat should be fast and quite deadly (which is also a great fit). Last but not least, Fudge can be tweaked to my hearts’ content, which is always a plus in my book.

The only thing I have to come up with now is an introductory adventure and perhaps a few cool handouts to set the mood of the game. Perhaps a custom character sheet made to look like some official government document may help as well. Luckily eyeballing NPC stats in Fudge is extremely easy, so I can create enemies etc. on the fly, when needed, so I can focus on the story during prep.

What do you think of my idea? Please share your thoughts below!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

One thought on “Fedoras, waistcoats, and Grey aliens”

  1. I like it a lot!
    It is eerily close to a Fate Core setting I am trying to bait my friends with.
    The idea was to have a late 50s alien incident response team that doubles as a spin control / information containment task force.
    Starting point would be Berlin. The characters would have different political affiliations and would try to clandestinely take out the alien squads, figure out what these are searching for in the labyrinth of bunkers underneath the ruins and try to get powerful tech into the hands of their respective fraction.
    My idea is that the aliens will only send small teams because they are not allowed to reveal themselves to the general public for now. Kind of like the Prime Directive. If everyone knows about them, they will not hold back. Maybe something a character or ally senses after being temporarily mind-controlled by an alien.

    Both facets of the setting (greys and post-war Berlin) are evocative and easy to wing (I think/hope).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.