Review: Alien The Roleplaying Game: Colonial Marines Operations Manual  Is Everything you Need to Run A Sprawling Marine Campaign

Image: Colonial Marine Operation Manual. It’s been a few months since my tabletop role-playing game group sat down to a session of Alien The Roleplaying Game. We were playing through the available cinematic scenarios, and once we finished the epic Destroyer of Worlds, we moved onto other games. That’s not to say we weren’t looking for an excuse to get back into the world of body horror and nasty creatures lurking in the dark, and the Colonial Marines Manual looks like the perfect excuse to dust off our Pulse Rifles and get back on the ready line. Alien The Roleplaying Game: Colonial Marines Operations Manual is a supplement to the core Alien The Roleplaying Game rulebook which features everything you need to know to run your own Colonial Marine unit. Even more than that, it serves as a sort of bible on how to run your very own campaign featuring cinema’s most iconic sci-fi badasses.  Unlike the other published scenarios thus far released for Alien The Roleplaying Game, the Colonial Marine Manual is about setting up a campaign game, a long term game meant to keep the same characters (if they survive) over several scenarios, unlike cinematic play which is usually limited to a single extremely deadly scenario. But it’s more than just a series of scenarios. The Colonial Marine Operations Manual holds a wealth of information for any number of conflicts and encounters that any UA Colonial Marine unit might find themselves in. Image: Colonial Marine Operation Manual. If you plan on running a campaign involving Colonial Marines, or are already running one, the Colonial Marine Operations Manual is a must-have.  It gives you information about how Colonial Marine units are organized, their rank structure, and even other armed forces that support them. There is a lot of information fleshed out in this supplement that isn’t touched on at all in the films, or only mentioned briefly, giving a huge amount of guidance and insight for those who are stuck homebrewing most of the details. If you were ever curious what an Arcturian is or an Independently Targeting Particle Beam Phalanx, this book is for you. Not only does the Marine Manual give you all the information on how to run a Marine outfit, it gives you information on all of the gear needed to keep the peace on the frontier. The Marine Operations Manual has an entire section dedicated to gear, including gear and stats that were only included in Destroyer of Worlds previously—and a whole lot more. There is even a plethora of information on the types of armed forces your Marines might find themselves up against, and the equipment they wield as well. Image: Colonial Marine Operation Manual. One of biggest sections of the Colonal Marines Operation Manual is its proposed campaign. Set over seven (included) scenarios, the Colonial Marines Operations Manual has an epic campaign that picks up right after Destroyer of Worlds ended, using all of the clues and threads that have been inserted into Alien The Roleplaying Game thus far. It’s a huge campaign, with a really compelling premise: there are several “epiphanies” for your Marine company to discover, leading to a truth that can shake up the command structure of the entire UA armed forces.  If you’ve already started a Colonial Marine campaign, there are even instructions and tips on how to incorporate the Marine Operations Manual’s sweeping grand campaign into your existing one. The Marine Operations Manual is designed to be used by both players and Game Mothers (GMs), though the majority of content is meant to be for the GM’s eyes only. There is some great information for players, but that’s only in the first 107 pages or so of the book’s whopping 356, though, to be fair, the last 130 pages or so are dedicated to the book’s seven modules. Each module isn’t quite as long as Chariot of the Gods or Destroyer of Worlds, but they are robust and feature a variety of mission types. Image: Colonial Marine Operation Manual. The thing I was expecting the least from this release is the giant campaign that is planned for you, if you choose to run it. It’s a sprawling adventure that will take your players over many worlds, encountering all sorts of threats—from human, to alien. Your players will have an opportunity to uncover conspiracies, and choose their sides. Each mission contains a list of Events to amp up the drama, and while the campaign is designed to not kill player characters as easily as the previous cinematic scenarios, death still lurks for those who are unlucky or careless. The book even has suggestions on how to handle inevitable player character deaths. I don’t think I was necessarily waiting for a new supplement or scenario to be released to get back into Alien The Roleplaying Game, but after reading through the Colonial Marines Operations Manual I can’t stop myself from wanting to get my players back in body armor, and out on another bug hunt. While this book might not be as valuable to a casual plyer, any Game Mother will find the Colonial Marines Operations Manual to be essential for their Alien The Roleplaying Game sessions.   Aliens The Roleplaying Game: Colonial Marines Operations Manual is available today on Free League Publishing.       If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content. You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites on our Twitch channel.    
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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.