Giger Counter: version 0.3

2007 Apr 24

Here’s some variant rules for the slasher movie game, to run cosmic horror in the style of the Alien movies. Most of the rules are the same, except…


Before the game begins, brainstorm a really horrid situation for the PCs to be in. Perhaps your spaceship crash-landed on an unknown planet and are making repairs or waiting for someone to pick you up, as in Pitch Black. Perhaps you are an exploratory or military team investigating some mysterious ruins out in the arctic, as in Alien vs. Predator. Something ridiculous like that.


1. Each player picks 3 possible Conditions from this list:

    Trapped: You cannot leave your current location.
    Alone: You cannot be in scenes with non-alien PCs.
    Unprepared: You cannot use any objects.
    Foolish: You must put yourself in needless risk.
    Bloodied: You roll an additional d4 with every trait.

2. Additionally, every PC gets the following chain of Conditions, which must get taken in order:

    1. Compromised: You have been injured/tainted.
    2. Crisis: You are dying/hatching.
    3. Gotcha: You are now dead/alien.

3. Losing a conflict with the aliens means you take a Condition on the second chain, starting with #1 and working down. When Taking The Blow, players can decide which Condition to take (though Conditions on the chain must still be taken in order).

Playing the Alien Menace

Until the aliens start taking people over, the current scene framer is responsible for playing the faceless alien menace. However, the aliens do not have real physical presence, do not have actual “faces,” until they have taken over a PC, who then plays them. If your aliens don’t take over humans or hatch from human bodies, this just means that the aliens cannot be clearly shown until they have killed one or more PCs.

Scene framers start with 8d10 in “unnamed dice” to represent the alien menace, but they can only roll 2 unnamed dice in any conflict. This matters later on when more and more of their dice are named.

Whenever a PC Takes The Blow in a conflict with the aliens, their player can choose to do one of two things, representing the group’s increased understanding of how the aliens operate:

    1. Name one of the d10s rolled in the conflict, based on how the alien inflicted a Condition on their character. This turns the d10 into a named trait like “Leaping 1d10,” which, in subsequent conflicts, can only be rolled when it is appropriate (when leaping is involved).

    2. Lower the die size of a die that has already been named, such as lowering “Leaping 1d10” to “Leaping 1d8.”

So the aliens’ dice go from being mostly unnamed d10s to being named d8s and d6s and even d4s. This represents that, as the humans find out more about the aliens, they know about their potential weaknesses and they aren’t so mind-numbingly terrifying anymore. They are specifically and understandably horrible, instead of unspeakably horrible.

Players whose characters have died or become aliens lose all of their existing stats and any of their traits which no longer apply. If their character has become an alien, it’s possible that some of them still make sense. However, instead of drawing on their character’s traits, they are responsible for rolling dice for any aliens who are in the scene and describing the alien’s actions. Alien players should try to follow the general guidance of the scene framer, but I’ll figure out exactly how during the playtest.

Destroying the Aliens

After the aliens’ dice have all been named, you can render a die inoperable by winning a conflict with the aliens. For example, you might discover that they hate cats or are vulnerable to bells or loud noises. Or you might destroy their egg hatchery or some other important alien resource. When all the aliens’ dice have been rendered useless, the alien menace has been destroyed.

Players should feel free to call for “wrapping things up” at any point after a couple major battles have been won by the surviving humans, especially if it looks like they’ve escaped the aliens’ clutches. That means the next scene can’t have any aliens in it, and is an Epilogue of sorts. However, if the aliens have any remaining dice left, they can still come back in the scene after the Epilogue! Maybe they snuck aboard your escape pod! Maybe they’re hiding inside your chest!

After the final Epilogue — or if the group decides, after a particularly end-worthy Epilogue, that the movie is over — the game ends. At that point, if the aliens have any dice remaining, they are added to their initial 8d10 pool as unnamed dice for the sequel.

2 Responses to “Giger Counter: version 0.3”

  1. annie Says:

    maybe this is because I don’t know the source game,

    but what does a player do once they’re character is dead? I’m guessing if it’s their turn, they still scene-frame, but in between?

  2. Jonathan Walton Says:

    When you’re dead, you frame scenes and play the aliens in other people’s scenes. You try to kill the other PCs or turn them into aliens.

    Death and becoming an alien are basically the same thing.

    Also, Vincent’s game Afraid is very different from this, but the slasher hack is closer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: