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Are there any tabletop RPGs that involve being a group of humans fighting some kind of an alien threat? Something similar to the XCOM games for the PC:

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Or the Omega Protocol Level 7 board game:

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My perfect game: A Pathfinder clone with various classes, skills, items, and rules (in other words, a fully fleshed out character progression system) in a sci-fi universe where your character belongs to an organization fighting and investigating alien monsters and gathering information from top secret underground research facilities.

Preferably it also supplies campaigns to take the heroes (something similar to specops commando soldiers) through a story involving fetching information from top secret underground research facilities, and fighting alien monsters. Or stand alone side missions.

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As this is a game-recommendation question, please adhere to the FAQ, the rules for subjective questions as outlined in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and our rules for game recommendations. All responses must cite actual experience or reference others' experiences!

So you want modern day/near future (X-Files, X-Com), somewhat more far future (Aliens, Starship Troopers), or far future (Star Trek)? I assume near future as that's what X-Com and Omega 7 do? – mxyzplk May 29 '14 at 20:25
Oh and also should the aliens be "grey" aliens or are "cthulhu" type aliens in scope? X-Com doesn't have any supernatural elements but lots of the X-Files derived games do, how much is that of interest vs a dealbreaker? – mxyzplk May 30 '14 at 14:52
I'll reopen this but you really need to be more specific. – mxyzplk Jun 4 '14 at 2:58
up vote 12 down vote accepted

You are missing one of the best. Conspiracy X. It's pretty much built for XCOM style play. Edit: Not a pathfinder style clone. This is Unisystem, by Eden Studios.

Second Edit with Clarification:

In Conspiracy X, you play members of Aegis, a secret organization dedicated to protecting human kind. There are three alien races (Greys, Saurians, and Atlanteans), as well as Psychics and other humans (such as another secret organization called Black Book).

In addition to building a character, it's possible to build your cell, including resources, a home base, etc... with rules built in. You can aslo have resources such as FBI, NSA, and CIA connections, and may in fact also be a member of one of those organizations before being recruited into Aegis.

The system is not a D20 system, however. It is Unisystem, which is a point buy character creation system. Like many D20 games, it has attributes such as Strength, Dex, Con, Int, Per, and Willpower, as well as skills. It has qualities and drawbacks instead of items such as feats, and includes power systems and technology. For resolution, you roll a d10, add in your attribute, and your skill. If greater than 9, you succeed. Higher results succeed in better ways.

It recieved an Ennie in 2007. I own the books, and have run and enjoyed the game.

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Wow. That looks like exactly what the OP was asking for. I'm going to have to look into this one! – clyde May 29 '14 at 18:51
There is a GURPS worldbook for ConX. I've read it but not played it, so I don't know how well it works in practice. – Greenstone Walker Jun 4 '14 at 22:35

Some years ago I played in a GURPS game that was designed to be like the old school XCOM games. I still haven't played the older games, but the newer one feels pretty similar to that game. That said, GURPS isn't made for tactical combat between humans and aliens - it isn't designed for any one thing - but it certainly worked.

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Was this based off of a GURPS sourcebook? Do you remember which one? – clyde May 29 '14 at 17:44
IIRC it was just core, but limited to rules focusing on tactical combat. I think we also had access to higher tech level shenanigans, but only after research. This was simulated by cumulative success in different rolls. So the computer guy could roll his skill once between each mission and kept whatever value he beat the roll by. When those added up to some target number, we got new tech. – valadil May 29 '14 at 18:08

One possibility is Game Designer Workshop's out of print 2300AD, a hard sci-fi themed RPG.

One of the campaign settings takes place on a colony world, Aurore, orbiting Eta Bootis, which has been invaded by hostile aliens, the Kafers. Fighting as the local militia or mercenaries, players can engage in commando style operations against the Kafers. The sourcebooks are quite good and help build a believable and alien setting.

I found a complete selection of 2300AD game books at

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If you want an Aliens style bug hunt campaign where the characters are Colonial Marines working for the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, there's also the out of print Aliens Adventure Game published by Leading Edge Games:

The Aliens Colonial Marines Technical Manual by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood would be a nice tie-in with the game.

An Aliens game could easily involve top secret research facilities - alien experiments gone wrong and the PCs have to clean up the mess for Weyland-Yutani.

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@Kveld Ulf's answer of Conspiracy X is probably the best up-to-date RPG available in this genre.

Other options might include:

  • The Void - This is largely Call of Cthulhu in space. The setting is a colonized solar system, where something mysterious is happening to cause eldritch horrors to emerge.
  • Eclipse Phase - There are no aliens per se in Eclipse Phase, but there's plenty of in-fighting among the humans (and many of the humans are barely human), and there are a few non-human threats.

If you're willing to delve into the RPGs of yesteryear, there are a few more that might fit:

  • Aliens Adventure Game - I don't actually recommend this game (it's not very good), but since it's based on the material that largely created the sub-genre, it's worth a mention.
  • Bughunters - This is largely an Aliens knockoff, with the added bonus of being a slightly better game.
  • Dark•Matter - This fits largely into the same niche as Conspiracy X: modern setting fighting hidden aliens.
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Do you have experience with using these games for this purpose? If so, please add it, we frown on "I've heard of" answers to game-rec questions. Thanks. – mxyzplk May 29 '14 at 23:18
There are aliens in Eclipse phase. – GMJoe May 30 '14 at 5:00
I have used Eclipse Phase, and have playtested elements. It's pretty awesome, but in my opinion, would take a little work to modify for this purpose. That being said, once modified, I am sure it could be handled very well. The reputation economy would be very cool if turned into agencies instead of different factions. – Kveld Ulf May 30 '14 at 16:22

There are a large number of games set in this general genre, thanks to the popularity of X-Files and similar media set in that genre in the 1990s. I own a lot of them, thanks to a decade-long game buying and playing binge with my first roommate out of college!

The first batch we should look at are the closest to Pathfinder in nature. Alternity was a far-future sci-fi RPG that TSR published, and they put out a modern day version called Dark*Matter in 1999. Like most of these games based on popularity of the X-Files, it included rules for aliens but also psychics, magic, and other supernatural phenomena. Alternity was cancelled by Wizards of the Coast, but they published both "d20 Modern" and "d20 Future" versions of the new 3.x D&D d20 - and then they released a d20 Modern version of Dark*Matter in 2006! It is shorter than the original and thus has less content, though, so if I were to run this again I would likely just run the Alternity version (and there's a lot of fan support at, but either are workable. There are actual attempts at a more Pathfinderized version of d20 Modern at (they also have a product) and if you want the game to be really, really, super-Pathfindery. You can use these for "combat and underground bases" play but they're not 100% about that , they're designed to support that and other kinds of play in the general X-Files space.

Though this set of games is very d20-ey, and supports heavy combat play acceptably, they have a strong supernatural element to them and didn't get much adventure support. I don't know that pdfs of any of these are purchasable, but I see books from these lines in Half Price Books and such still nowadays.

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Another set of games that is not d20 based, but is otherwise rules-crunchy and strongly supports the style of gameplay you are looking for, starts with Conspiracy X, another X-Files type game, in 1996. This has a very strong conspiracy aspect to it and "covering up the truth" is a major theme. And big guns. It includes both aliens and the occult, and had its own system. At about the same time, Steve Jackson published GURPS Black Ops in 1997. Its taglines are "Find The Truth - And Kill It" and "The Greys. Vampires. Evil Psis. Better Bring A Spare Clip." GURPS is a well known universal system and the game is very much "hunt aliens and monsters" focused, with a slight tongue in cheek (not as comedic as Men in Black). The respective publishers must have seen the chocolate and peanut butter nature of these two properties because they came together into a full-sized (285 pages) GURPS Conspiracy X book in 2002, which has a solid system and detailed support for fighting the Grey conspiracy. There is a newer version called Conspiracy X 2.0 in 2006 but all I have on that one is a Free RPG Day quickstart product so I can't really speak to it. This newer version uses the Unisystem, a system Eden Studios uses for most of its games. These are closer to X-Com in style, though you have to steer away from the supernatural parts - but You can get PDFs of all these from

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Other games begin to diverge from the main thread a little, but have some strengths depending on what you're willing to work around.

Delta Green is a modern version of Call of Cthulhu that focuses on special ops and government conspiracies surrounding the 'alien' threat, where the aliens are those of the Lovecraft Mythos (Mi-Go, etc.). Whether this feels more like aliens or more like supernatural horror is a bit up to the individual. Use the huge "Delta Green: Countdown" adventure to really get that race-against-the-apocalypse experience!

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Dark Conspiracy is a similar conspiracy/combat game but it's very much more about the supernatural and monsters and such. It has aliens too, but it's mostly about the modern world becoming "the Demonground." You can get the products in pdf from drivethrurpg.

There was an actual licensed Men In Black RPG (you know the Will Smith movie) that used the d6 system - I don't get the impression you're looking for that level of camp however.

Also, there are a variety of far future "fight the aliens in open combat" military games - Aliens, Bughunters, Starship Troopers - but that's farther afield from the X-Com experience. I mean, pretty much any full sci-fi game you can choose to hunt some aliens in, but they lack the "sub rosa" nature of these other games that are more purpose built for it.

One possible modern alternative (and a game that's actually in print, unlike all the others) is Night's Black Agents, a GUMSHOE system game that is intended more to be action/superspy/conspiracy/vampire killing - but they take a very general view of what the "vampires" are and some of the point is for you to pick something weird and random for the players to unravel in a given campaign; they can be time traveling aliens or whatever. This would provide more of a modern storygame take on it - they have great support for engaging with a conspiracy (cribbed from Blowback, the game inspired by Burn Notice).

You may also want to look out there at fan provided hacks - a lot of people have been interested in X-Com RPGs over time, and though I don't know of any complete games, there have been some pretty extensive explorations, like this Cortex Plus one.

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