View Full Version : [Dark Heresy/RT/DW] - Xenomorphs

2011-04-17, 02:40 AM
[Quick foreword: For anyone not in the know, when I say xenomorphs, I mean the face-huggin', chest burstin', disturbingly awesome aliens from the Alien, Aliens, Alien3, et al movies. These guys. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_(creature_in_Alien_franchise))]

I often DM the various 40k PnP games for my buddies, and I've recently gotten a wild hair to do some conversion work for my next story arc, namely bringing in the Xenomorphs as a key plot point.

I know that 'Nids are thematically similar, but they don't have quite the feel I'm looking for, and besides, surprising my players with something a little different (but still in line with the GRIMDARK of 40k) is fun.

The purpose of this thread is to get feedback on the Xenomorph stats and fluff I work up, and to bounce ideas off anyone who will listen.

So, on to the important bits: I'm looking to stat up, for the time being, the Xenomorph drone, queen, praetorian, and potentially the facehugger and chestburster (though the last two are honestly 1 wound living traps/distractions, respectively).

Also, I'd love suggestions on a more 40k appropriate name than 'Xenomorph'. :smalltongue:

The Setup (species fluff and how they tie into the story)

The species specifics (for anyone not familiar with the Xenomorphs)
Xenomorphs are multistage life forms. The first stage is the egg, a trashcan sized, leahtery ovoid that opens when disturbed to unleash a face hugger, the second stage. The face hugger lookes somewhat like a spider with a prehensile tail and its lone role in life is to find a living creature and implant the unforunate host with an embryo in the manner that the creature's name implies. Third stage is a wormlike creature known as a chestburster, that does just what it says on the tin to get out of its host before searching for food. Over time it molts into the main stage, the drone.

The drone is a little bigger than human sized, with a hard carapace, acid blood, very good senses, and a great deal of cunning. A lone drone will be cautious, finding a warm, safe place with a food source not too far away (the underdecks of an Imperial cruiser, the depths of a Hive city, etc) where it can bulk up a bit before cocooning and morphing into a queen. A drone born in an area already containing a queen will naturally seek her out and act as a worker, protecting the queen and eggs, gathering food and live hosts, and altering the queen's lair into a full on hive by coating the walls in a thick, resin-like substance that insulates and darkens the hive.

Tying it in to 40k
The setup is that the xenomorphs are natives to the Milky Way (i.e. not related to the 'Nids), their homeworld being a particularly nasty death world wherein they aren't the top of the food chain. Unfortunately for the Imperium, a Rogue Trader exploring planets for potential colonization/exploitation found the place and took a few specimens, including a drone and an unhatched egg. Said Rogue Trader takes his new pets back to his base of operations wherein bad things unsurprisingly happen: the drone and facehugger escape, build up a small hive near the trader's estate, and then wreck the place. Some drones hitch rides on ships escaping the area, and thus reach the Imperium at large.

My group plays all three 40k RPGs, switching between them as determined by their mood and my campaign ideas. The Rogue Trader mentioned earlier is a rival of their RT group (a militaristic group, at that), so when they hear that something has gone amiss at his base of operations, they'll definitely check it out. Once they get an idea of what they're up against, the group will either follow up themselves (when I say militaristic, they have a large, well equipped force on their Light Cruiser, so they're not unprepared for this stuff)or pass word on to an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor they often work with...who happens to be the patron for their Dark Heresy characters.

If they go the DH route, their acolytes will follow up on the lead, and if all goes well, they'll find where the xenomorphs got to, at which point they'll either go in themselves (if they find a few drones who haven't started a hive yet) or their Deathwatch kill-team will be called in to drop feet first into hell and clear a full on hive. Either way, fun ensues. I've got ideas for how to add in social/investigative elements to the DH segment besides just tracking down the escaped drones, such as Adeptus Mechanicus elements who want to study the xenomorphs and thus present an obstacle to them being wiped out, or a genestealer cult instinctively trying to get the xenomorphs absorbed into the 'Nid swarm.

Stats (so far just the rough draft of the drone)

Just a quick note: When putting the drone together, I was using Deathwatch as my main reference. Some of the traits and talents thus might not be in the Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader books. And as I pulled some things from memory, they might not be from the Deathwatch book as well (the flexible property is a DH thing, for instance). I'll try and clean things up to slim down the sources needed to use the stats as I work on them.

The Drone

Xenomorph Drone

{table]WS | BS | S | T | Ag | Int | Per | WP | Fel
40 | -- | 40 | (8)40 | (8)45 | 20 | 40 | 30 | --[/table]

Movement: 4/8/12/24
Wounds: 10
Skills: Acrobatics +10, Awareness, Climb +20, Concealment, Contortionist +10, Shadowing, Silent Moves +10, Swim +10
Traits: Acid Blood*, Dark Sight, Improved Natural Weapons (Claws, Pharyngeal Jaw), Lurking Horror**, Natural Armor (chitinous carapace), Pyrophobic***, Selfless for the Hive****, Unnatural Agility (x2), Unnatural Senses (15m), Unnatural Toughness (x2)
Talents: Berserk Charge, Double Team, Furious Assault, Sprint, Takedown
Armor: AP 3 all (chitinous carapace)
Attacks: Claws (1d10+5 R, Pen 5), Pharyngeal Jaws (1d10+5 R, Pen 5, Razor Sharp, Tearing, only useable during grapple in place of a successful grapple action), Tail strike (1d10+7 I or R, Pen 3, primitive, flexible, concussive (though auditory protection is useless as it is the force of strike that stuns/knocks down the target))

*Acid Blood: Due to the nature of a Xenomorph's circulatory system (consisting of a powerful acid under pressure), wounds to the drone can be dangerous to its enemies. When a drone takes damage from a melee weapon, that weapon is treated as though it had been parried by a power field (i.e. most weapons have a 75% chance of being melted). Any attacker who wounds a drone in melee, anyone within melee range of a drone wounded by explosive damage, and anyone otherwise drenched in a drone's blood (e.g. high critical damage caused to the drone) must make an Agility test to avoid the blood spray; on failure, 1d10+5 E damage with a penetration of 0 is taken to the body location. Any armor on that location is considered damaged and has 2 less AP (and power armor is considered unsealed) until repaired. Multiple applications of acid stack, and armor reduced to 0 AP is essentially scrapped. Xenomorphs are immune to this effect. NOTE: This means that xenomorphs aboard a starship must be fought with extreme caution to avoid damaging important components or putting holes in the hull.

**Lurking Horror: A drone is a careful, cunning creature with a dark, insulated hide and menacing visage. Thermal imaging (like that provided by a Preysense scope) provides no bonus to Perception to detect a drone. In areas of dim or no illumination a drone gains a +20 bonus to Concealment and Shadowing tests. During a turn in which a drone attacks an unaware opponent from an area of dim or no illumination the drone is treated as having Fear(2) to all opponents who witness it. Xenomorphs are immune to this effect.

***Pyrophobic: Due to the chemical make-up of a xenomorph's hide and the nature of its circulatory system, it faces several challenges when lit on fire. A drone takes a -10 penalty to tests made to put itself out, and damage rolls for being on fire gain a +4 bonus. A drone on fire that succeeds on its willpower test to be able to act while aflame has a 50/50 change of either attempting to flee from its assailants or attempting to put itself out. A drone that dies from fire damage will burst, drenching anyone nearby in acid as if it had been wounded by an explosive weapon (see Acid Blood). If a drone witnesses a foe using a weapon with the flame quality it will instinctively hide until the foe leaves or flee if the foe appears to be aware of the drone.

****Selfless for the Hive: A drone on its own is a wily creature with great survival instincts. One defending its hive, especially the queen and eggs, is a frenzied, vicious creature willing to do whatever is necessary to kill anything that would invade the hive. When fighting in the area of a hive (whatever complex contains a queen and her eggs) a drone gains the Fearless talent, and is considered to automatically pass any Willpower test to continue acting as normal, such as the test taken when on fire. Should a drone be fighting in the presence of the queen or the egg chamber, it additionally gains the Frenzy talent (which is immediately activated as a free action).

Tactics: A lone drone will focus on catching a single target off guard, ambushing its prey quickly and disappearing with its prize. The drone will typically use its tail or a takedown attack to stun its victim. If looking only to feed, the drone will then grapple the target and finish it with its secondary jaws, while a drone looking to bring a live host to the hive will use grappling to subdue the prey.

Drones in a group will set up ambushes for prey, communicating through body language and pheromones to coordinate the attack. Drones defending a hive's outer reaches will turn these ambushes into hit and run affairs to avoid depleting the hive's guards. Drones protecting the inner sanctums of the hive will attack in waves to overwhelm a foe, pulling back to the Queen's chamber if their numbers become low.

Design notes:
The drone is designed to be incredibly dangerous to the unwary, providing a challenge alone to Dark Heresy level characters with its stealth and ambush abilities, while retaining ways to provide a credible threat to Space Marines if in a group. Even an Astartes will feel unsafe when his AP 10 chestplate is only providing less than half its normal protection.

However, the creature is not impossible to defeat, and is actually quite easy to bring down if a group can learn how xenomorphs operate. In and of itself, a drone is not particularly durable; its toughness and armor can shrug off small arms, but hotshot las bolts and autoguns with manstoppers can put one down rather quickly. The acid and stealth skills make xenomorphs dangerous to the unwary, but these advantages can be overcome. For example, an investigative team of acolytes collecting samples and data on the creature can allow a Tech-priest to synthesize an oil to protect Astartess armor and chainblades from the acid, and a team that has dealt with the xenomorphs can learn to use nonvisual/thermal means of detecting them (an auspex set to detect the chemical makeup of the xenomorph's hide, for instance).

The goal is to design a creature that feels organic; something that the players can adapt to over the course of the story.

As a note, I based the drone's abilities off of the movies and the Aliens vs. Predator video games. The 'firey death sprays acid' bit comes from the most recent AvP game, in case anyone is wondering where that is from (I'm unaware of any other source for that effect, though it may just be poor memory on my part).

So, what do ya'll think?

2011-04-17, 04:25 PM
Well, I'm not really familiar with the game system in question, but I will point out that you are overlooking two fact about xenomorphs. First, the actual traits of a drone are in part determined by the host that the face huger/chest burster found (the species of the host that is). For examples look at the difference between a predalien and a normal drone, or the Alien 3 movie alien and those in the ones in other movies (you can also look at the comics and the toys for more varied ones). There also seems to be a cast system of adult xenomorph aside from the drone & queen. Examples include the warrior and praetorian.
Mind these aren't required if you are just adding a similar creature.


2011-04-17, 04:58 PM
Those are two good points to bring up.

So far I'm running with drones as they are when born from humans; I haven't decided if I want to play around with different breeds based on host yet. On the one hand it's a lot of work to stat up, but on the other it does allow for some fun plot points and more ways to surprise my players (radical Inquisitor gathering various other species to see what pops out, maybe how to use Xenomorphs against other races. Hmm, the possibilities...)

I am intending to include Praetorians, as the thought of a battle between Space Marines and the Queen's royal guards is pretty epic. I'm stuck on whether or not I want to include warriors or runners (the other two most common types, if I remember correctly). I don't remember much that distinguished warriors from drones besides them being a bit bigger and meaner, unless my memory is failing me.

2011-04-17, 06:46 PM
Well, if you do have various xenomorph types based on hosts, from what I've found, it seems that if a face huger fails to find a host it will eventually die and the chest burster will develop into a spider like form. It might be worth including particularly if you have some groups trying to study them.

As for the various casts, the runner seems like it may just be the result of a facehugger affixing to a four legged host (in Alien 3 it was a dog or a cattle depending on which version is seen). The warrior is a you said pretty much a slightly stronger drone from what I've seen.

Also, here are some useful sites for information. site 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_(creature_in_Alien_franchise)), site 2 (http://aliens.wikia.com/wiki/Xenomorph), site 3 (http://avp.wikia.com/wiki/Xenomorph_(Alien)). Depending on how out of control things get, it may be worth looknig at the queen facehugger, Empress, and Queen Mother.


2011-04-18, 01:25 PM
Thanks for the links; I'd found the AvP wiki but not the Aliens one. Fun stuff there.

I'm thinking I'll roll with a caste system like that seen in the AvP games (sans Predalien): Queen at the top, Praetorian's as guards/young queens (since Praet's have been depicted as male warrior-consorts in the hive OR as young queens, I haven't decided which to roll with yet), warriors as the hive guards, runners as scouts, and drones as workers/gatherers. If I stick with that setup, it gives enough variety without going overboard on the number of potential xenomorph forms.

I'm probably going to nix the 'forms based on host' bit, though. Maybe have a trait or slight stat change based on host (orks make slightly tougher xenomorphs, eldar hosts give minor brood telepathy, something like that) but with 5 varieties of creature I think I can work up some fun adventures just fine without the extra paperwork.

Any chance someone familiar with Dark Heresy or the like can comment on the crunch here? I've DMed the systems a bit, but haven't needed to do much monster creation before and I'm not sure if what I've come up with falls within the guidelines I want it to (namely, the drone should be a respectable threat, but killed easily enough with the weapons Acolyte's would carry, i.e. autoguns and lasweapons).