Space Horror in Aliens & Asteroids

It’s Halloween — that time of year when we start contemplating bellies full of candy, fun costumes, and horror movies! And I’m happy to say that many of my favorite horror movies also happen to be science fiction flicks, which gives me an excuse to mine those films (for good or ill) for Aliens & Asteroids! Regardless of whether you like your science fiction horror to be more like the bug hunts of old (Alien, Aliens, The Thing), more traditional monsters (Frankenstein, Cloverfield, Hollow Man), or invasion movies (War of the Worlds, Them!, Mars Attacks!), it’s a bit like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials from the 1980s (“Hey, you got peanut butter in my chocolate!”) — many of the best stories are a mix of more than one thing.

The Starship Troopers film (though only very loosely based on the book by Heinlein) merged the ideas of the old 1940s recruitment ads with a traditional bug hunt to good effect (it’s still a guilty pleasure for me). Films like Puppet Masters (another Heinlein story) took the idea of a more traditional spy kind of story and threw in aliens who had mind control on their side.

No matter what kind of plot you tackle, A&A is very easy to skin for some of these oldies but goodies, so I want to show how you might create a few creatures for your Halloween adventures.

  • The “Puppet Masters” from Heinlein’s 1951 novel are actually described as “slugs” that arrive in flying saucers and attach themselves to victim’s backs, running them a bit like puppets by taking control of their nervous systems. They’re not the fastest critters in the universe, but they definitely cause some trouble when they get a few people under their control. We might end up with this sort of variant…
    • Puppet Master (Mid-level): Attribute 11, Traits: Slug locomotion (Speed 5m), Suction tendrils (Accuracy, Short range, 10m, can shoot small tendrils to attach to a target and quickly bring itself to attaching to a target), Mind Control (Presence to take control of victim; Victim can Save vs. Presence at a Disadvantage to recover their wits)
  • The giant ants from Them! would be great for any story where weapon testing or alien radiation may cause havoc among the normal population of a world… (This also works for spiders, centipedes, scorpions, and more!)
    • Giant Ant (Low-level): Attribute 7, Traits: Legged (10m), Bite (d6), Tough Hide, Sprinter (doubles speed to 20m), Hive-mind (when one knows where you are, they all do!)
    • Number appearing: 2d6 with 1d6 more every few minutes
  • Invisible foes such as the Predator with its camouflage armor and the Hollow Man with more traditional Invisible Man vibes would also be interesting, but I could see those as being more in the realm of equipment rather than creatures
    • Camouflage Armor (AR2/AP10); Environment suit; Patchable; Causes wearer to “disappear” when in use (Disadvantage on Awareness checks to spot)
    • Invisibility Ray (No damage): Causes single target to become “invisible” to all visible light spectrums for a period of 1d6 turns; wearer still noticeable to the other senses under the right circumstances, but essentially invisible to the naked eye unless viewed through infrared or ultraviolet spectrums

What better way to scare your players than with a nice group of killers all wearing Camouflage Armor and setting up an ambush? Or perhaps they’ll lead them to a place where a beacon can be activated to call in all the giant ants in the area!

Happy Halloween, folks! May you have a terrifyingly fun game!

Looking for more creatures for your Aliens & Asteroids campaign? Check out the rest of the articles about the system!

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