Aliens Adventure Game (1991): “The Hunt for Elminster”
Today’s WTF, D&D!? is a tribute to Bill Paxton, who created some of the most memorable characters in film with roles like Hudson in Aliens, the car salesman in True Lies, Chet from Weird Science, and Twisterman, the man who chased twisters in the movie Twister. Bill was one of Steve and Zack’s favorite actors. We thought it only appropriate that we celebrate the man who has been killed by an Alien, a Terminator, and a Predator, by forcing Bill as Prviate Hudson to square off against something even more dire. Using the Aliens RPG system from Leading Edge Games as our ruleset, with some minor adjustments, Steve has cooked up an adventure that somehow involves everyone’s favorite loud-mouthed goofball colonial marine.
Steve: You ready, dude?
Zack: It’s pretty easy to be ready since the Aliens RPG book includes a filled out character sheet for Hudson.
Steve: Okay, right, fair warning: this is not canon.
Zack: Really? I don’t know if I even want to play anymore.
Steve: I had to tweak the continuity a teeny-tiny bit so instead of Hudson being deployed to LV-426 he is instead accidentally deployed to another planet.
Steve: A planet called Toril.
Zack: That doesn’t ring any bells.
Steve: Good. We will begin aboard the Sulaco. You and the other marines have awakened from cryo sleep and eaten your cornbread and had your locker room talk. Carter Burke is meeting with Lieutenant Gorman and the rest of you marines in the hangar bay to explain the mission.
Steve: Ripley hasn’t been found in space so this is like a prequel.
Zack: “Who is this asshole in the vest? He looks like he should be yelling at a kid from the sidelines of a soccer game.”
Zack: Do I get a high-five from Vasquez?
Steve: No, sorry.
Zack: “Is this a bug hunt or a bar mitzvah?”
Steve: Sgt. Apone is like, “Hudson, zip that lip up mister or I will kick your ding dong inside out through your butt.”
Zack: That sounds like the sort of threat a ten year old would make, which is why Hudson respects it and gets very quiet to hear the dork tell us about Toenail or whatever.
Steve: Lieutenant Gorman is like, “The company has recently lost contact with the colony on the main continent of Toril. Burke here says that he thinks something called Elminster might be responsible.”
Zack: “It’s a bug hunt.”
Steve: Hicks is like, “What exactly is an Elminster?”
Steve: Burke is all, “Well, this is going to be sort of hard to believe, but Elminster is actually a 1200 year old wizard and we want the colony secured, most importantly, but we also want Elminster brought back intact for our bio-weapons division.”
Zack: “Hey, Vasquez, anybody ever mistake you for an orc?”
Steve: Hudson doesn’t know what an orc is.
Zack: You mean to tell me he exists in a reality without Lord of the Rings or Dungeons & Dragons?
Steve: This is a cold corporate future where lives are bought and sold for higher profits. There is no time for even the finest Gygax.
Zack: I guess this reality compensates for a lack of orcs with that sweet Arcturian poontang.
Steve: Arcturians are actually in the rulebook. They’re basically alien orangutans that live like ants.
Zack: It’s disappointing that nobody ever bothered to explore all the other alien creatures the Colonial Marines have clearly encountered in Aliens.
Steve: I’ll say it: Prometheus would have been better if it had been about Arcturians.
Zack: So our unit of Colonial Marines is being sent to the Forgotten Realms to find Elminster. Sure.
Steve: “Any questions?” Gorman asks.
Zack: “Yeah, how do I teleport out of this chickenshit adventuring party?”
Steve: Apone is not happy. He has you run laps around the hangar while the dropship is loaded up.
Steve: You have about two hours you can use on the Sulaco after you are done running laps. Anything you want to do?
Zack: I want to ask Bishop if he knows anything about Elminster.
Steve: “I have been briefed on the same information as you, Private Hudson.”
Zack: “Come on, didn’t Burke tell you to sabotage our freezers so Elminster can polymorph us into kobolds on the voyage back to earth?”
Steve: “I’m afraid not, private. If you’ll excuse me, I have creepy equipment to load onto the ship.”
Zack: Hudson isn’t buying it. He’s going to tell Hicks that something is up with Bishop. He might be a wizard sympathizer.
Steve: Hicks thinks you are an idiot for always dreaming up some theory about how the Evil Corporation is out to get you and sabotage your freezers.
Zack: “Infowars dot com, Hicks. Wake up! Jet fuel can’t melt the Nostromo.”
Steve: Soon enough, Apone is shouting at you to load up in the dropship and make ready to drop into the atmosphere of Toril.
Zack: “We’re on an express elevator to Baator! Goin’ down!”
Steve: The dropship shakes violently as it dives through the upper atmosphere and the cloud cover. You can see a sunny landscape of green fields, hills, and a bright blue ocean. There are some giant mushrooms, a few scattered villages, and the colony, which is encased in a giant crystal.
Zack: Swarovski 426 down here.
Steve: Needless to say, the dropship has to abort its initial landing and find a new spot to touch down. The ramp is down on the dropship only long enough for the APC full of marines to roll out of the aircraft and onto the surface of this alien planet.
Zack: “Aw, hell, I was planning to be on leave in two days bangin’ Hicks’s wife.”
Steve: Hicks says, “You know I’m married to the job.”
Steve: The dropship takes off and the APC rolls up to the edge of the crystal. Gorman orders everybody out of the vehicle and Apone shouts, “You heard the man, get me a perimeter and find me a way into that crystal!”
Zack: Is there a way into the crystal?
Steve: You fan out and set up a perimeter around the APC. The crystal seems to complete encase the entire colony. It is the size of a mountain, smooth, and apparently unbreakable.
Zack: We could try shooting it. “Hey, how about we shoot it?”
Steve: Burke seems to think this is a really bad idea.
Zack: “Well how are we supposed to get it open? Harsh words?”
Steve: Going to have to find another way.
Zack: What about the villages? You said there were villages and giant mushrooms when we were landing. Maybe somebody there knows how to open this thing.
Steve: Burke likes this idea. You all load back into the APC and it drives in the direction of one of the villages.
Steve: As you approach, you see crude wood and mud huts and simple banners indicating some sort of tribal culture lives in this village. There is smoke rising from the chimneys of some of the huts, but you don’t see any people. You do notice some vehicle tracks.
Zack: “Lock and load, kemosabes! Time to waste some orcs!”
Steve: Dude again Hudson does not know what an orc is.
Zack: This is like finding out people didn’t have a word for blue when “The Odyssey” was written. An orc just exists. It is a fact. Vegetable, mineral, orc.
Steve: At one point orks were vegetables in Warhammer 40k but I think they changed it because it didn’t make sense that their blood was red.
Zack: I had to cancel my Blue Apron subscription because every week they were sending orks.
Steve: Alright dude, the APC’s hatches opens and you and the other marines climb out into the apparently empty village. Once again, you notice some signs that wheeled vehicles have been here, but maybe not too recently. Most of the tracks seems to have faded.
Steve: Apone is like, “Come on marines, stop grabbin’ nuts and search those huts.”
Zack: Veteran sergeants are such musical people.
Zack: Searching the huts and hooking up my motion tracker.
Steve: You and Hicks and Vasquez are searching the huts and noticing that everything seems too small. These huts are like those playhouses for children.
Zack: Checking to see if any of the huts have half-eaten food.
Steve: Yeah, you find wooden bowls in one hut still steaming with hot stew.
Zack: “Looks like we interrupted them in the middle of eating. So where did they go?”
Steve: Just as you ask that, you start to see motion. It’s coming from every direction. Some of the movement is closer than some of the other marines.
Zack: “I got motion here! Uhhhhhh every direction! It’s right on top of us!”
Zack: Getting out of the hut I am in with my gun ready.
Steve: You hear shooting and screams on your radio. As you come out of the hut, you see little green figures, about the size of eight year olds, getting up out of the dirt. They have long noses, jagged teeth, and pointed ears.
Zack: “AAAAAh! I probably don’t have a word to describe these things! GET SOME!” Opening fire with my pulse rifle.
Steve: Your gun splatters a couple of the creatures. Nearby you hear the distinctive sound of Vasquez shooting her smartgun.
Zack: “You want some, green miniature men i have no name for? How about you, little man? You want some of this?” BrRRRARraat! BRrrraaaat!
Zack: Trying to cover Vasquez and Hicks and any other marines nearby.
Steve: You hear screaming and you see arrows and spears flying through the air. One of the arrows thumps into your armor, dealing five damage. The smartgun seems to be having trouble tracking these little scampering dudes but you and Vasquez and Hicks are still racking up quite a body count.
Zack: “They’re comin’ outta the freakin’ walls!”
Steve: Actually, they’re leaping up out of dugouts in the ground.
Zack: “You can just stay in your graves, assholes!” BrrrRAT!
Steve: Frantic shouting over the communications network tells you that Gorman is overwhelmed trying to get a grip on the situation. Apone is trying to give orders to fall back to the APC when you hear him scream. A moment later, there is an explosion like grenades just went off.
Zack: Retreating towards the APC.
Steve: You fight your way through the little humanoids, blasting many more to pieces, when suddenly you encounter a big one with bones through its nose and a big staff. Green light starts to glow from the animal skull atop the staff and it starts to chant.
Zack: “Light it up! It’s Elminster!”
Steve: Your pulse rifle volleys seem to hit some sort of force field inches away from the creature and the flattened bullets drop harmlessly to the ground.
Zack: “Well that’s just fuckin’ great, man. Now what’re we supposed to do?”
Steve: A beam of green light shoots out of the skull atop the creature’s staff and hits Vasquez. She drops to the ground, nearly crushed by her smart gun as it falls. She has been turned into a rabbit!
Zack: “Oh, shit! Vasquez! Vasquez!” Going full Hulk and grabbing this little dude and throwing him as far as I can.
Steve: Throwing him?
Zack: Yeah, you said he’s like the size of an eight year old, right? So I’ll grab his arms and spin around and do a shot put with him. Just fling him as far and as hard as I can.
Steve: Alright so Hudson is not particularly strong or tough and your combat action value is 6. You have no skill in hand to hand so you need to roll under a 6 on 3D6.
Zack: Even though this guy is like a little kid sized?
Steve: Alright, subtract 2 from whatever you roll.
Zack: Rolled two 3s and a 1. So a 5.
Steve: Hudson gives a mighty shout of anger at seeing his Latina friend turned into a rabbit and he grabs the alien and throws it onto the roof of a nearby hut. You hear a loud crunch as the roof collapses and a gust of smoke and fire as the grass collapses onto the fire pit inside. The creature begins to scream.
Zack: “And that is why you do NOT fuck with a Colonial Marine!”
Steve: You get impaled through the side by a small spear for seven damage.
Zack: Okay, I don’t know what this means exactly, but that puts me over 1/10th of my knockout value.
Steve: It means you have a 10% chance of being incapacitated by pain or shock. Roll percentile.
Steve: You’re fine, but you have a spear a little bigger than a normal arrow sticking out of your side.
Zack: Calmly reloading my pulse rifle and then firing furiously.
Steve: Hicks grabs the rabbit and Vasquez’s red bandana and the two of you retreat to the APC.
Zack: “Go! Get us the fuck out of here!”
Steve: Only you, Hicks, the rabbit, and I’ll say Dietrich the medic woman survived just to fill out your party with a healer.
Steve: And Gorman, Bishop, and Burke of course, who never left the APC.
Zack: Hicks better take over driving the APC before another one of those aliens decided to turn our tank into a wardrobe or something.
Steve: Hicks kicks Gorman out of his chair and drives the APC out of the village, crashing through burning huts and smashing over screeching aliens.
Zack: “What the fuck were those things? Did I kill Elminster?”
Steve: Bishop says, “I am afraid that does not match up to the description we were given by the colonists of a man in a giant floppy hat with a long gray beard smoking a pipe.”
Zack: “Smoking a pipe? Are you jokin’, Bishop? We just lost most of our marines out there? What the fuck is going on, lieutenant?”
Steve: Gorman is all, “I-I-I was not briefed on meeting heavy resistance, it was, uhhhhhh, there were clearly some complications and we need to, uh, we need to regroup and uh…”
Zack: “We need to get the fuck out of here, man! Look at them, they’re all dead because of you!” I’m gonna punch him.
Steve: Dietrich holds you back and stops you from punching Gorman.
Steve: “Come on, Hudson, let me take a look at that wound.” She’ll remove the spear and heal 3 damage to get you below 10% of your knockout value.
Zack: “Get Farro to fly that dropship back over here and pick us up.”
Steve: “We need a flat landing area,” says Hicks. “I’m looking for something, but the transaxle is damaged.”
Steve: He manages to find a flat meadow among the rolling hills and the APC crunches to a halt. Brightly colored flowers wave in the sunlight. Butterflies dance through the air and a clean blue stream winds alongside the damaged APC.
Zack: “Oh, this is great, very scenic, Hicks. Let’s have a fuckin’ picnic.”
Steve: “Calm down, Hudson,” growls Hicks. “I’ll call in the dropship. You get out there and secure a landing-” Before Hicks can finish, there is a flash of green light and Vasquez appears, screaming, in the back of the APC. She’s naked except for her bandana.”
Zack: “Vasquez, you’re alive, man! I thought you were dead!”
Steve: “Don’t look at me like that, Hudson.”
Zack: “I’ve just never seen an orc naked before.”
Steve: She is confused by what you mean since she can’t get the reference. There is a spare uniform in the APC and an extra pulse rifle. Vasquez grabs the gun and puts on the uniform, although she obviously does not like the unused crispness of it.
Zack: I’ll get out there and set up a perimeter.
Steve: Gorman grabs a pistol and Dietrich helps out too. Nothing much to really secure. Everything is very peaceful and sunny. Bishop and Burke just sort of stand around. You’re soon joined by Hicks, who says Farro and Spunkmeyer are on the way in the dropship.
Steve: “We’ll be back on the Sulaco in an hour,” he assures you.
Zack: “Yeah, right, man. Back home in an hour. We can nuke this whole place from orbit. Fuckin’ aliens, man.”
Steve: “Now, maybe we should think carefully about that,” says Burke. “That is a very valuable crystal and we have not seen Elminster yet.”
Zack: “Fuck Elminster! That guy is a bitch! I threw an alien through a roof!”
Steve: If only we had gotten a chance to hear Bill Paxton shout, “Fuck Elminster!”
Steve: You see the dropship punch through the high altitude clouds, engines screaming as it descends towards the landing zone. It is at about 2,000 feet when suddenly Bishop points out a winged white horse moving at incredible speed. Sitting astide the back of the flying horse is a man in flowing robes holding his floppy hat on his head as his beard whips around his shoulders.
Zack: “What’s this happy horseshit? What the fuck is that? Is that Elminster flying on a horse?”
Steve: Before any of you on the ground can do much of anything, a ball of fire launches from Elminster’s fingertips and strikes the side of the dropship. Flames engulf it for a moment and then ignite its payload of a air to ground missiles.
Steve: The dropship explodes, showering the ground with debris.
Zack: Going to go over and pick up a piece of the dropship. “Well that’s great. That’s just fucking great, man. Now what the fuck are we supposed to do? We’re in some real pretty shit now, man.”
Steve: Hicks is all, “I don’t even know what to say to you, Hudson, because I just watched a wizard explode our dropship.”
Zack: “That’s it, man. It’s game over, man. It’s just game over. Total party kill. What the fuck are we gonna do now?”
Steve: Burke says, “Maybe we could gather around the wreckage and I could, you know, try to figure out a way to screw you guys over and weaponize a wizard’s beard against our corporate rivals.”
Zack: “We’re fucking stuck here now man, and those little green alien dudes are gonna turn us all into rabbits. Latina rabbits.”
Steve: “Watch it, pendejo!” Warns Vasquez.
Steve: Bishop offers a suggestion. “I could remotely pilot the other dropship from the Sulaco, but we will have to reach the high ground.”
Steve: He points to an enormous peak overlooking the hills.
Zack: “Yeah, Bishop can do it. Send Bishop up there.”
Steve: Hicks says, “We all go. We don’t know when those green things from the village or Elminster on the flying horse will be back. No matter what, we need high ground. It’s more defensible. Right, lieutenant?”
Steve: Gorman says, “Uhhhhh, yeah, right, corporal. That’s right.”
Zack: “This is bullshit, man. I hate climbing.”
Steve: We’ll conclude this incredible adventure in part 2! RIP Bill Paxton!
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