I was really excited about the Fall of Somerset Landing as it is a fully written adventure that allows a GM to run the movie Aliens. I have to give the WOIN creators props for creating this just for the idea alone. I've always wanted to run a game based on Aliens. Thank you for delivering this cool adventure as well as a sourcebook for the setting.
The art is amazing. I love all of the vehicles and ship designs. There is some recycled art in here though that is used in the WOIN NEW Core Rules, namely the chick with one side of her head shaved that is sitting down as well as the pod from Oblivion with the car sitting next to it. As a side note, I wish that whoever came up with the ship designs in this book did the rest of the ship designs in the NEW Core Rules and Ship Construction Manual.
The book provides a map of the solar system and it shows some new races that are available such as synthetics and Jovians. It also adds new careers such as laborers as well as marine careers. Then there is a section on new equipment as well as guns and pulse rifles that we saw in the Aliens movie. I was disappointed that there were no pictures of these weapons but we all know what they look like from the movie.
If you plan on playing this adventure as a Player, STOP READING NOW. Because I am posting some spoilers. You have been warned.
This adventure allows the PC's to play as colonists on Hadley's Hope just before they encountered the aliens. They are newly arrived colonists and the adventure opens when they are on a shuttle that is landing at the colony. An accident occurs and the pilot gets knocked out and the PC's will have to land it.
Once they land, they will be given a tour of the colony and during the tour they will have a hostile encounter with some people that are angry because there was a recent dispute about wages with the Company and they feel like the player's are here to take their their jobs and a fight ensues. The tour continues and they are left at the bar. On a view screen in the bar is footage from two explorer of survey footage that will make everyone rich and people are excited about it and celebrating.
The adventure jumps to the next day to the players first day of work. There is not much detail about what they are doing or what their jobs are. Make something up because the adventure does not go into any job duties for colony life. At some point, there is a commotion and they bring back 1 of 2 colonists that went messing last night during a survey mission when they were sent to investigate an alien ship. A xeno is attached to her face and she is rushed to Medlab. - Yep, there is still 1 colonist left at that ship.
The adventure fast forwards and there is an abduction and the players are sent to check it out with a team of marines. The marines go in first are attacked and killed but one person is abducted and the players must go in and look for clues.
The next day people are start to come up missing one by one and then more and more each hour. Eventually, the 2 leaders of the colony come up missing and then Mr Lee from the company orders the PCs to go into the reactor to get some specimens. He will be waiting on a shuttle with a company of marines to guard him. If they want a ride out of here, they must do as he says.
In APU Reactor, they will first encounter a survivor who tells them that there is another shuttle off this rock but the pilot was abducted by aliens and has the keys. The players have a choice, they can either get the specimens for Lee and board his shuttle or they can locate the pilot and get the keys to the other shuttle and bug out of here. Once they go further into the reactor, they will encounter part of the alien hive and all hell will break loose. First they will be attacked by face huggers, one for each of them. When that does not work, dozens of Alien Warriors attack and they have to flee from the facility. There won't be anyone to nuke the site from orbit though, so we know someone will be sent here again to recover more specimens at a later date maybe do something about the Queen. Sounds good so far?
Let me first start by mentioning some minor quibbles that I found with some problems with the equipment stats in the adventure. I don't like that the sentry guns are automatic hit and do 2d6 damage to anything within their 30' cone. They should have an A.I with firearms skill and roll to hit like everything else but give it a bonus for its targeting system. The diagnostic incubator should also be an A.I with medical skill as well. Nothing should have automatic success at anything. The A3 Smartgun should have some sort of bonus to hit for its targeting system. Also, since it is mounted using a swing arm that is attached to the marine, it should offer some form of recoil compensation.
Now for the bad. The description about the Xenomorphs mentions a Worker and Hive Boss and yet there are no stats for them. There are no stats for the chest burster xenomorph either. You would think that the information about them would be more thorough and complete.
I also found several problems in the overall story line. The first problem I see is how did the survivor Tara get back to the colony? She had a face hugger attached to her. So the company must have sent someone to get her but the adventure never goes into it. If they both got attacked by face huggers in the same place, then how come the people the company sent to rescue them did not find the other one? We will never know because there is no map of the ship, which is a huge problem considering the adventure!
I think that the events described in the section where the Nightmare Begins seem too rushed and lack detailed plot elements describing exactly about how everything unfolds. It would have been nice to get a time line that describes which colonists get taken, when they are taken, and the location where they are taken from along with the xenomorph's route that they travel to get back to the hive.
Where is the abandoned newly constructed module located that the xenomorph that was inside Tara hiding at? I don't see it on the location map. Also where is the interior map of this module? This is all important as the security team goes inside and are killed by the xenomorph and the PC's might go inside afterwards to investigate. There they discover the gruesome remains of the security team and learn that one of the members named Jacek is missing.
The events after that are not detailed. It says that over the next few days the population of 226 colonists dwindle rapidly to a handful over the next few days. It would have been nice to get a timeline of how the abductions and attacks unfold. From here on out, it just seems rushed. Where was Wheeler and Kokumo when they get kidnapped? Are we to assume that they were all in the Ops Center? This information is necessary for the GM to know just in case the player's hear about their abduction and want to investigate. I want to know the backstory as the GM so I can unveil it during game play. What route did the aliens take to get back to their hive after capturing them? Are they going through sub-level 2 via tunnels to the atmospheric processor? Are they in the ventilation? No, it can't be that as there is no map of the ventilation tunnels. Or maybe they are crawling along the rafters above the drop ceiling tiles?
The GM will have to make up the bulk of the story to describe how the adventure unfolds when the colonists start getting abducted before Lee sends them into the APU Reactor. The GM has to figure out who gets taken, what to do if the PCs get wind of their disappearance, as well as decide if there are going to be any encounters with the aliens while they are abducting colonists. There are some tables to roll for colonists that the players encounter that can work to help with this as well as there are names of 12 important colonists but you will have to make up the rest.
At some point, I think the colonists or player's would start making barricades and setting up defenses once they figure out aliens are abducting them. There is nothing mentioned about this though, so these guys are just completely oblivious, which I think is kind of lame. Why even bother staffing the place with marines if they don't do shit? Plus, there is security here too as well as cameras. I wish there was an encounter where they capture footage of an alien on camera skulking about and darting away taking someone with it. Maybe Wheeler or Kokumo? Another idea could be a fight with aliens inside the colony if the PC's decide to set up any defenses or barricades. We know they did this in Aliens because the marines saw their barricades. Again, you have to add this on your own because this adventure does not mention anything about it.
There are 9 pages that detail the colony. However, it lacks information detailing the location of the Atmospheric Processor Unit as well as the Atmospheric Processor Unit Reactor on the exterior map. The adventure also does not really spell out the location of the Queen and Wheeler's body but it says that they are somewhere in the APU Reactor - which is where the PCs are sent. However, since I know the Alien movie, I have to deduce that they are in the Atmospheric Processor Unit and not the APU Reactor but the adventure says they are in the Reactor - which is incorrect and I spent quite awhile wondering where they were on the map until I eventually figured out the mistake.
Also, where are the specimen coordinates that Lee gives the PCs located? What room are the specimen jars supposed to be in? How did the company get the specimens in the first place? Are they the 2 specimens that were recovered from the colonists that went to the alien ship? I assume so but again, this information should have been provided for me. The whole point of buying pre-written adventures is so we don't have to do any prep work except read the adventure. Thinking about it now, why the hell does Lee want the PCs to recover the specimens if he already had them in the first place? Why did he have them taken from Medlab and put in the APU reactor? It makes no sense! This is a major plot flaw in the story line. --- Maybe he was planning to do some secret research and getting ready to kidnap a colonist for experiments so he could implant it with an embryo to examine its life cycle? Then this happened and screwed up his plans. Now he wants his specimen back? Who knows! You have to make it up because again the writers failed to explain things once again.
Another problem is that the locations in the APU Reactor map are not detailed. On the map, we see rooms such as the Secondary Control Room, Emergency Generator, Medstation, Reactor Control Room, Xenomorph Lair, Security, and Storage but there are no details about any of these areas. You have to make them up as well as make up what is in those rooms. Its pure laziness that these areas are not detailed. Plus, there are symbols on the map and yet there is no legend to show what they are supposed to represent.
It would have been nice to get a map of the alien ship as well as a map of the Atmospheric Processor Unit. We only get a map of the APU Reactor. Yet the adventure describes them as two separate locations. I could definitely see players wanting to go to either locations during this adventure. For one, they might want to go to the ship to get the other missing colonist. Plus, it would be useful to have if we want to revisit this place at a later date and have the player's take care of that Queen and her hive in the sub-levels of the Atmospheric Processor. The areas are mentioned in the adventure but they are completely left out which is REALLY annoying because the information about the colony is incomplete.
The adventure also lacks information about the other 2 ships in the adventure, namely the shuttle and the cargo freighter that Lee and the colonial marines will be on. Are they on a Millenial Class II Freighter? I guess so... the adventure never specifies.
Another thing that I have issue with is the derived statistics for defense and the way they are calculated in the WOIN system. When a Xenomorph Warrior has a Melee Defense of 36 and a Ranged Defense of 27, that means that the PCS who are Grade 5 characters can never hit the Xenomorph in melee as the max that they can roll with 5d6 is 30. Even shooting them is almost impossible. These numerical values are too high and need to be revised. There is no way the PC's could survive being attacked by a dozen of these things. They have to be changed to Hunters instead which have a Melee Defense of 24 and a Ranged Defense of 18.
Also, the adventure provides back up pregenerated characters in case the PC's get killed but the only time this will happen is when they are trying to get out of the reactor with either the keys to the shuttle or with the specimens for Lee. In either case, they are trying to escape and are shooting their way out. How can you bring replacement PC's in when they are trying to leave? One way would be to have another batch sent in by Lee again and they are encountered as the party is leaving and then the party says to the backup "to come with us because we either have the specimens or we have keys to a ship to get us all out of here" and they all leave together. The second choice is that you introduce them as being cocooned but then the surviving party members would have to rescue them, which is unlikely because they are getting their asses kicked and fleeing. I think the best option is to have them roll with the PCs as NPCs during their trip into the reactor and when someone gets killed they can just become one of the NPCs. The problem this idea is that you have to handle controlling an additional 3 to 6 NPCs during all the fight scenes.
Overall I like the adventure but I think that there needs to be more meat to it. The adventure itself was only 13 pages! Instead of giving us 11 pages of pregenerated characters, maybe someone should have took some more effort to flesh the adventure out. Besides, I don't think that the idea of Hot Swap characters was necessary either since they can't be introduced until the very end of the adventure as they are running away from the aliens. The adventure ends when they get back to their ship!
So far, this thing feels like it is just an outline. Plus, we really need maps to the APU and alien ship for this to feel like a complete adventure. I'm left feeling disappointed and let down. I wanted this to be great but with the flaws listed above, I can't rate it as a 5-star adventure. I'm only giving it 3 stars.