Alien TRPG: Spacesuit and Armor “Fixes”

Reading over the types of available armor and armor rules in Free League’s “Alien: The Roleplaying Game”, I was struck by a few oddities concerning armor and spacesuits…

Armour ratings

Firstly, Armor Rating 6 for the basic USCM M3 armor seems pretty darn good, considering how little it seems to stop in most Alien fiction (even in the movie, Hicks’ armor is eaten away by acid in seconds).

Secondly, am I the only one who thinks the Mk 35 and APEsuit ARs should be swapped? I might accept a spacesuit with AR 5 if the M3 is AR 6 and that’s what is being worn over it (again, see the Technical Manual images) but shouldn’t the APEsuit still be higher? I mean, look at that cumbersome thing! Why else would you wear all that stuff if it isn’t even pressurized?

The (Survival) bonus situation

Why does the APEsuit give a Survival bonus but not the Eco (or other) suits? Isn’t the APEsuit protective against hazardous environments but the Eco is better protection? Or is it saying that in the other (pressurized) suits, you don’t need to roll because you’re protected… while the APEsuit means you’d need to roll but with the bonus since it helps with – but doesn’t cancel out – the hostile environment?

Spacesuits: compression vs pressure?

Secondly, I’m a bit confused about the stats of the three spacesuits in the core book…

Two suits (Mk 35 and Eco) are described as bulky (the Mk.35 is “baggy” while the Eco is a “hard suit”), yet only the Mk.50 has an Agility penalty. I would have thought the tight-fitting Mk.50 would be the only one of the three without an Agility penalty, but – as a compromise – be the least physically protective? Both the Aliens Technical Manual (which invented the Mk.35 and Mk.50 suits) and Alien vs Predator CCG (which featured both) show the Mk.35 as a big bulky suit, especially compared to the Mk.50.

Running out of air real fast

The core book states (page 34) that Air Supply rolls are made every Turn, and after every strenuous activity (like combat or a Mobility roll). It then assigns various spacesuits an Air Supply rating between 4 and 6! Unless I’m missing something, that’s *not* a lot of air for a spacesuit to provide; using the “Measuring Time” table on page 83, this means the most heavy duty (Eco) suit allows for – at most – 60 minutes of survival. Contemporary (21st century) spacesuits today provide 6-9 hours!

A possible fix for this would be to change the rules from “every Turn” to “every Shift”. This would mean that a spacesuit’s air now lasts *much* longer under normal use (perhaps too long?) but could still easily run out fast under stressful/dramatic situations, as the wearer would still be required to make an Air Supply roll after combat and Mobility rolls.

Which spacesuit is the “Nostromo Suit” from Alien?

Although inferred by the description, the only way to know which of the listed suits is supposed to be the classic spacesuit from Alien (hereafter referred to as the “Nostromo Suit”) is to cross-reference Free League’s list of suits in the RPG with the online Xenopedia wiki, which states that the Mk.50 is the “Nostromo Suit”.

This, however, doesn’t fit with the stats the RPG gives it or the original illustration of the Mk.50 from the Technical Manual at all. For one, the Alien suit always seemed like a traditional pressure suit to me, whereas the Mk.50 is described as a tight-fitting compression suit (which works a completely different way).

I was honestly a bit confused to see two sources calling the Mk.50 the “Nostromo Suit” at all, given the Technical Manual clearly indicates it’s meant to be something else, so I started doing some research. The more I read and studied official photos and drawings, the more I became convinced that the “Nostromo Suit” is definitely not the Mk.50 Compression Suit at all!

I suspect the origin of this error is the AvP CCG, which had cards for both the Mk.35 and Mk.50, but used an Alien movie still for the latter, and this “stuck”. Someone (justifiably) then used that CCG card as a reference image for the Xenopedia wiki (remember: anyone can edit the wiki!) and thus combined the “Nostromo Suit” with the “Mk.50” from the Technical Manual into a single entry. Later, Free League possibly used that wiki entry in their own research for the RPG, thus perpetuating the mistake.

It may be a pedantic and controversial opinion, but in light of the above, I propose that the “Nostromo Suit” needs it’s own stats and the Mk.50 is left as described in the Technical Manual: as a new design of “military” spacesuit that compresses the skin rather than envelopes it in a baggy suit and thus doesn’t limit the mobility of the wearer or require decompression after use.

“Fixing” the suit stats

The discrepancies between the different armours/spacesuits and their original designs bothers me enough that I wanted to tweak them and adjust their stats to better reflect what we see in the movies (or read about in the Technical Manual).

This, combined with my desire to give the “Nostromo Suit” it’s own, correct stats, led me to revise many of the armour and spacesuit stats found in the core rulebook…


Original Stats

From the core book (page 127-128):

Suit Armor Rating Air Supply Weight Cost Comment
M3 Personnel Armor 6 1 $1,200 Built-In Comm Unit
IRC Mk.35 Pressure Suit 5 4 2 $2,000 Air Supply 4
IRC Mk.50 Compression Suit 2 5 1 $15,000 Agility -1, Air Supply 5
Eco All-Worlds Survival Suit 4 6 2 $30,000 Air Supply 6
Weyland-Yutani APEsuit 3 4 1 $5,000 Air Supply 4, Survival +3


My Revised Stats

Suit Armor Rating Air Supply Weight Cost Comment
M3 Personnel Armor 6 1 $1,200 Built-In Comm Unit
IRC Mk.35 Pressure Suit 3 4 2 $2,000 Agility -1, Air Supply 4, Built-In Comm Unit, Pressurized
IRC Mk.50 Compression Suit 2 5 1 $15,000 Air Supply 5, Pressurized
Eco All-Worlds Survival Suit 4 6 2 $30,000 Agility -1, Air Supply 6, Built-In Comm Unit, Pressurized
Weyland-Yutani APEsuit 5 4 1 $5,000 Air Supply 4, Survival +3, Acid Resistance 2


IRC Mk.20 Pressure Suit

My Proposed Stats for the “Nostromo Suit” worn in “Alien”:

Suit Armor Rating Air Supply Weight Cost Comment
IRC Mk.20 Pressure Suit 3 4 2 $1,600 Agility -1, Air Supply 4, Built-In Comm Unit, Pressurized

An early spacesuit design still in wide use despite its age. Bulky but protects well against full vacuum. The helmet features a light, comm unit and video camera. One of the most noted features of the Mk.20 is how quickly and easily it can be donned and removed.


Wearing Armor Over Spacesuits

The Mk.35 and Mk.50 suit are available in “military versions”; these are the same as the normal versions except with parts of M3 Personnel Armor (torso, groin and shin plates) attached externally, as seen in the Aliens Technical Manual. This increases Armor Rating for the suit by +2 and cost by +$800. The lesser cost and Armor Value compared to regular M3 armor is due to the lack of armoured helmet.


Acid Resistance

Some armor is designed especially to protect against acids such as the Xenomorph’s blood, whether through ablative plating, Nutra-Gel, or other methods. Suits with an Acid Resistance rating reduce any Acid Splash attacks against the wearer by that value before rolling for damage.

For example, a commando wearing an APEsuit is hit with Acid Splash 8. This is reduced to Acid Splash 6 before any rolls are made, since the APEsuit has an Acid Resistance of 2. The Armor Rating of the APEsuit will still protect against the Acid Splash damage as well.


Air Supply Rules Change

Air Supply rolls should be made every Shift (as opposed to every Turn), or after any strenuous activity like combat or a Mobility roll.


Image Gallery

M3 Armor
Weyland-Yutani APEsuit
Eco All-Worlds Survival Suit
Mk.35 Pressure Suit
Mk.50 Compression Suit
Mk.20 Pressure Suit (a.k.a. “Nostromo Suit”)

Note: I feel these images back up my “Nostromo Suit” suppositions: the Mk.35 looks like an improved (armored) version of the suit seen in “Alien”, while the Mk.50 looks like an advancement on both with its tighter fit and compression technology.

Of course, none of this includes the incongruously high-tech-looking, skintight suits from Prometheus, but it’s conceivable that those are only “environment suits” (despite what the wiki says!) that don’t protect against open space, just toxic atmospheres, since we never see anyone wear one in hard vacuum.

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