Mostly Space Hulk to Aliens Rules Conversion Ideas Mostly


I am finally making some progress on the miniatures side of the Space Hulk to Aliens project, of which more will follow.  Funnily enough, in one of those weird internet-ty ways it seems that lots of other people are dusting off their Colonial Marines, Aliens and Predators to tackle the same or very similar projects on both Lead Adventure Forum and Frothers.  Mikko at Dawn of the Lead has been doing some very solid work too, elements of which I intend to rip off use to inspire me.

To go along with the miniatures I want to hammer out the basic rules conversions required.  I mostly intend to game with these figures in Space Hulk (mostly), simply because it is such a tight and satisfying system.  Ideas for many these rules have been going around in my head for years while others have been as a result of talking to similarly interested Aliens and Space Hulk nerds and and I want to write them down somewhere.  That somewhere might as well be here.

The intention is to translate existing rules for various elements in Space Hulk into their Aliens equivalent and not to write new rules unless absolutely necessary.  Eventually I plan to write up a simple Force List in the style of the Force List in Deathwing that allows players to pick a simple Colonial Marine force for playing any Space Hulk scenario.

Finally, while I like the idea of Predators I have never really enjoyed the movies that much.  I really think that they are pretty shitty to be honest, even though even suggesting that to most of my colleagues tends to send them into a fit of nerd rage, complete with bad Schwarzenegger impersonations.  So, while I have a pile of Predators waiting to be painted they are not a priority for me in terms of rules conversion.  It will happen eventually but not for a while as I dont really care that much about them and they will be harder to legislate for anyway due to their stealth and all that.

So here goes.  Everything is as in 3rd Ed rules unless otherwise specified:

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Colonial Marine = Storm Bolter Terminator Marine (ignore the Grenade Launcher part of the M41A.  It is considered to be intrinsic to the weapons standard effect in the game.  Consider it represented by the sustained fire bonus if that floats your boat).

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Sergeant= Power Sword and Storm Bolter armed Terminator Sergeant (+1 in assault is fine for a veteran NonCom.  Parry from the sword can be seen as whatever you like, kung-fu grip, sixth sense, Riddick levels of badass-ness: whatever.  Regardless, Sergeants have it.  Just like they allow the CP redraw).

Shotgun armed Corporal (Hicks) = Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield Armed Terminator Sergeant (this one is a bit of a fudge.  Assuming that the shotgun is only effective at point blank range is pushing it, but it does make the shotgun very deadly at that range, just like in video games.  The Block given by the shield is explained away just like the Parry for the other Sarge.  It also makes Apone and Hicks different, but similar which is cool.  The utter absence of Hicks Pulse Rifle (Storm Bolter) is a bit counter intuiticve, but as it will then slot in cleanly to all of the 3rd Ed missions I think that that has to be way to do it.  Finally, this ties in with one of the few extra rules that I intend to use, Acid Splash.  If it works out then having the Shotgun guy run the risk of acid burn will feel just like the movie 🙂 ).

M56 Smart Gun armed Colonial Marine = Assault Cannon Terminator

M240 Flamethrower armed Colonial Marine = Heavy Flamer Terminator

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Colonial Marine with Welder and Electrical Equipment (Hudson) = Storm Bolter and Chainfist Terminator (both troopers open doors/bulkheads that are otherwise difficult to open. Simple and accurate conversion).

Caterpillar P-5000 Powerloader = Lightning Claw armed Terminator (I was initially hesitant about this but the more that I thought about it the more that I liked it.  The LC Terminator has no ranged capability and will shred most opposition, most of the time.  It will also have a decent chance to best the dangerous Alien Queen (Patriarch/Broodlord) in hand to hand, which is reasonable.  It is a neat solution I think).

Company Man Burke, Newt and Jones the cat= C.A.T., Relic or other scenario objectives (I might try to come up with rules for Burke at a later date but having to rescue his sorry ass seems just as appropriate I think).

Synthetic/Artificial Person = Terminator Librarian (I know, I know but bear with me for a second.

Having watched Alien 4 last weekend, the idea of a synthetic with potent, situation based powers like Prescience (some sort of CCTV based thing) and Force Barrier (overriding a blast door or similar) seems fine to me. Psychic Storm might be pushing it a bit but whatever: maybe Bishop/Cole/Ash has overridden the Liquid Nitrogen spraying thing or activated the sprinklers after causing a short or switching on sentry guns in that area or something else just as Deus Ex Machina.

The Librarians close combat prowess is a bit at odds with Bishops performance but not so much with that of Ash (super-strong, but not super-tough). Considering that Bishop is three laws compliant, the idea of the synthetic going to extraordinary lengths to beat up potentially harmful Xenomorphs is ok with me.  Apparently the comics had combat synths that used to get stuck in quite regularly too, although the three laws tell me that Bishop would be compelled to help whether he was built for it or not.

Funnily enough the thing that doesnt sit well with me is that the Librarian has a Storm Bolter.  It doesnt seem right that Bishop should have a rifle (and the figure that I have to represent the synthetic has a piece of technical equipment in place of a weapon too.  Does Cole use a gun at any point in the 4th film?  I dont think so.

Reluctant Badass Lieutenant Ellen Ripley = Space Hulk First Edition Captain (another fudge.  The Captain in 1st Ed is very potent: he adds +2 to the CP total every turn, adds +2 to combat rolls and has a Power Sword, Grenade Launcher and Storm Bolter.  I have found that the Captain is roughly equivalent to the 3rd Ed Librarian in potency and I have swapped the characters when playing 3rd Ed quite successfully.

I suppose that Ripley is shown to have leadership qualities in the movie so ok to the CP bonus. The Storm Bolter/Pulse Rifle is perfect and the Captains GL can simply be seen as an alternative way of using the Incinerator that Ripley carries.  Thats OK with me.  The +2 combat plus Parry is harder to explain away but in the interests of keeping the rules standard I think that I can live with it.  I will justify it to myself as Fate or Hero points: the things that make the Hero, the Hero.

So, thats the Humans dealt with.   Bugs now:

Xenomorph = Purestrain Genestealer

Alien Queen = Broodlord

Face-hugger or Chest-burster = First Edition Unarmed Hybrid (these guys will get wiped out by fire very easily.  Once converted from Blip to model they move more slowly too.  They will be a fun, straightforward way to add some variety to the Alien players forces without much additional complexity and the rules are already written.  As I will use the 1st Ed blip sets, including the Hybrid blips it will be easy to throw in a few small aliens.  I havent decided on a way to incorporate it into the standard 3rd Ed blips yet.  It will probably be something similar to how the Patriarch can be brought into play, except that a “1” Blip can be exchanged for 3 Face-huggers twice a game or something like that.)

Lastly, Acid Splash.  Some players have added rules for this.  In many ways I think that it is an unneccesary complication for little gain.  Still, after mulling it over I had an idea: rather than roll to hit any/all adjacent models when an Alien dies (which would be tedious and could easily spoil the rapid flow of the game) I want to try out an idea based on the Scatter rule from Blood Bowl.

See Mikkos comments below.

Acid Splash: Acid Splash occurs when an Alien is hit from a shooting attack and that attack rolls at least two “1”‘s rolls at least two “6”‘s. If the target Alien is adjacent to one or more non-Alien figures then one of the non-Alien figures is chosen by the shooting player.  The chosen figure is removed from play.

As noted below this gives only a 1/36 chance of damage and is incorporated into the existing rolls and game mechanics.  It also makes point blank shooting a tiny bit risky which is both thematic and entertaining.  It also means that a blast from an Assault Cannon/Smart Gun is more likely to cause Acid Splash while the Heavy Flamer cannot ever.  Quite satisfyingly accurate to the relative strengths and weaknesses of the weapons as I see them.  Nice one Mikko.

Phew, that was a long one.  Congrats if you endured it this far.  Comments and thoughts on that much are welcome.

EDIT 02/06/10: replaced Acid Splash idea with Mikkos version from comments below.

EDIT 02/06/10: replaced Acid Splash “1” with “6”.


14 Responses

  1. While I will mercifully skip your Predator comments, this post was ace! Most of the stuff has already been discussed between us in DotL’s comments.

    The acid splash sounds true to the films, but I think it’s maybe a bit too much. Marines landing in close combat with Aliens are lucky to win a round of HtH, and as such it seems a bit unfair balance-wise that there’s a chance of them dying anyway. Needs testing, methinks!

    As I mentioned, the Aliens comics are rife with combat synths, so if you’re willing to count that as canon, you have your Librarian sorted.

    All in all this sounds excellent, and it’s good to know that we’re shamelessly plundering from each other. Some might even call it “sharing”, heaven forbid!


    • “The acid splash sounds true to the films, but I think it’s maybe a bit too much.”

      Like you say, definitely one to test before commiting. That said there is only a 12% chance that it will hit the guy who did it. On the other hand it will be harsh to win a combat with an alien only to be burned by acid splash.

      I think that mainly I just like the simplicity of rolling a dice and thats that. Its very Space Hulk to avoid any potential “roll to hit, roll to wound, roll to save, record wounds” rigmarole.

      The D8 thing may be too much. Any suggestions as to how to keep something as straightforward as “roll a D8” that is less harsh? Acid splash isnt strictly necessary but something that makes the game feel like the franchise that occurs every two or three games and doesnt require a lot of extra dice rolling or record keeping is what I am after.

      “As I mentioned, the Aliens comics are rife with combat synths, so if you’re willing to count that as canon, you have your Librarian sorted.”

      I am ok with representing a synthetic with the Librarian even without going on the comic continuity. I have only read a couple of the AVP comics and they didnt really do it for me. Its the feel of the second movie that I am trying to evoke. As such representing a not-Bishop by using the Librarian rules is pushing it, but acceptable under the circumstances. If it grates after a while I will write new rules for it but for the time being shoehorning him in as a Librarian will do pretty well I think.

      As for shameless plundering, none of us would put our stuff up if we hadnt enjoyed seeing other peoples work. Thats what its all about. Sharing/plundering increases my enthusiasm and ergo my output. Thats a good enough reason for me.

      Thanks for the feedback Mikko.


      • Yeah, I think we’re both using the term “shameless plundering” with the utmost love it deserves 😀 For someone to borrow something I’ve done is the best praise I can get, and it’s a great feeling to know that what you’ve created is useful to someone.

        The acid splash is tricky indeed. I’d love to see it in the game as well, but the 1/8 chance sounds a bit much. And of course the chance increases if there are other models nearby. I’m a bit concerned about the scatter mechanic, since in a worst case scenario the splash – which follows from the Marine player winning HtH for once – will take out a model specced in the mission briefing as needed to finish the mission (Librarian, flamethrower etc).

        To balance it out a bit (and still keep it streamlined) how about this:

        Don’t use acid splash in HtH at all. Have it instead affect only shooting into adjacent squares on a snake-eyes roll. You roll two ones, and both the shooter and the Alien die. I actually like this rule, as it would sometimes affect strategy as well. And snake-eyes is a great symbol of both bad luck and terrible rolling.

        You could actually extend this to cover all situation when an Alien is shot with a Marine adjacent, even if the adjacent Marine isn’t the one doing the shooting. That’s what happened to Drake!

        This would give you 1/36 chance of someone getting acid splashed when shooting at an Alien in an adjacent square. Sounds reasonable to me, what do you think? I have to honk my own horn a bit and point out that this mechanic does not add any new dice rolls into the game, thus keeping things flowing.

        Oh, and there’s also the factor that with this rule the game wouldn’t end up randomly punishing the Marine player for good rolling, as you could in most situations evade the splash with the correct movement order/going to HtH/whatever.

        Let me know what you think, it’s 2am and I’m off to bed!


  2. Sharing!? *shudders* Such despicable red socialist behaviour must stop immediately!

    I’ll be honest… I didn’t read this post. I’ll leave you guys to it.

    BTW, did you enjoy the 3rd edt Hulk? I’ve played two missions and kind of regret buying it. I mean, it’s a cool kit and all – but some of the tension I remembered from days of old have been lost. Prefer Mutant Chronicles – Siege of the Citadel… though it requires 3-4 people, best with 5.


    • I have played ~40 hours of 3rd Ed Space Hulk I reckon. As I dont get to spend a large amount of time gaming that counts as a serious chunk of my gaming hours over the last 12 months. In short, I love Space Hulk and 3rd Ed is the distilled best of from the other editions.

      Do you play using the timer? I didnt for years but once both players have one or maybe two games under their belt its time to break out the timer. It really gives tension. If you havent tried it then I thoroughly recommend it.

      I enjoy Mutant Chronicles: SotC (and I quickly painted up a set to a base-coat-and-dip-standard a couple of years ago). While it is fun, it isnt as tight as SH. Needing 4 (or really 5) players makes it very hard for me to get a game of it played anyway.

      Also, although I have played games with most of my gaming group for 15 years or more, MC:SotC can still be the game that causes people to get pissed off. Not because of the rules but mostly because the the screw-your-opponent factor is so very, very high. And my group like to try to make their opponent cry. Tiny willies one and all I suspect.

      So I prefer Space Hulk alright, even though MC:SotC is definitely worth owning. Give 3rd Ed another go if you can find an enthusiastic opponent.


  3. I’ve only played the first two missions, but they felt kinda stale and dry. We did play with the timer.

    Ofcourse I’ll give it several more tries, with other opponents too. You never know, sometimes it’s not the game but the company. =)

    Agree with MC being a screw-fest – that’s one of the things I love about it. =D We were a bunch of guys playing it in the early 90s, just making a mess of everything. Shooting eachother up out of spite, blocking entrances to “steal” experience and so forth… fun times! Would be great to play it again with those guys. I remember we used to cheat quite a lot in this also… Rigging the stack of chits to fudge the turn order etc. Happy days. =)


  4. Nice thinking Mikko. SH HtH is so lethal that acid splash is probably superfluous.

    No-one in Aliens ever wins a close encounter except Ripley in a loader and (arguably) Hicks with his shotgun (that takes Drake out of action), so focusing on shooting splash is a good plan.

    The only issue that I see is in the case of multiple Marine adjacency to the target Alien. Rather than randomising it os something else fiddly, I suggest that the choice of who gets burned is up to the Marine player. It ampounts to almost exactly the same thing and keeps it clean.

    Making the point blank shot just a tiny bit risky is fun too. It wont make a difference very often but once in a blue moon it will have catastrophic (read: hilarious) consequences.

    I like it. I am going to edit the original post in an effort to keep that data current. All subject to testing of course but I dont see an issue with your take on the Acid Splash. Good work 🙂


    • Hahah, this is great! As I was going to bed, I kept turning the idea ’round in my head, and started thinking that maybe the Marine player could just pick the splashed model if there were several. Great minds think alike! This also in most cases fixes the frustration of having a mission-crucial Marine die randomly.

      Just to nitpick (and might be wrong, too :D) but wasn’t it Vasquez’s smartgun shooting that blew up the Alien splashing Drake? And Hicks’ shotgun spraying Hudson a bit?

      God, this is so geeky.


  5. “Just to nitpick (and might be wrong, too 😀 ) but wasn’t it Vasquez’s smartgun shooting that blew up the Alien splashing Drake? And Hicks’ shotgun spraying Hudson a bit?”

    Nitpick away. When it comes to dork stuff I would rather have accuracy due to its fundamental importance in holding up my fragile self-image.

    You are right too I think 🙂

    As for the Acid Splach, it should activate on a pair of 6’s, not 1’s right? Causing a kill on 1’s or even a pair of 1’s is a littlle counterintuitive I think.

    Having Acid Splash activate on 6’s doesnt throw up any other issues that I am missing, does it?

    “God, this is so geeky.”

    Pffft, who cares? I made a comment on a thread about Klingon breast size once. It *was* only one post and it *was* a thread about 28mm miniature Klingons but still, I cringed a bit.

    Embrace your true self. Everyone else knows already, they are just being polite. 😉


  6. Oooh, Star Trek is a whole new can of worms 😀 I think I have the Geek-self embraced, considering my upcoming Darth Vader-Alien-Predator-tattoo…

    Anyway, the way I see it is that double sixes is the best roll you can make, and as such it just feels wrong for the player to be punished for hitting it. While the double ones wouldn’t normally score a kill, the acid splash kill IS going to hurt the Marines a lot more than the Aliens. You could bend the rules a bit and allow the Alien player to bring a new Alien on the board at an entry point so the rule wouldn’t hurt the Alien player apart from the positioning of the Alien.

    I like the double ones mostly for the “arghhhfuckingsnakeeyesacidsplash…”-factor, enhanced with the natural feeling of FAIL resulting from a pair of ones.


    • “Oooh, Star Trek is a whole new can of worms”

      Wait until you see my planned re theme of Space Hulk to Star Trek. Seriously.

      One of the problem with the splash hit on a double 1 as I see it is that at distance a roll of snake eyes will kill an Alien, regardless of adjacency to anythiing else.

      Making splash happen only when something is adjacent to target or shooter or whatever adds another sub-clause to the rule, which should definitely be avoided I think.

      While I absolutely understand the amusement in the “arghhhfuckingsnakeeyesacidsplash…” roll, I find it easy to imagine it as an over-zealous attack that liquifies the target (but that is all just fluff and in the eye of the beholder anyway, but worth considering)

      The bottom line I do think that hitting on a 1 is too counter intuitive.

      Dont forget a double 6 also cause a jam in Overwatch, so the concept of hitting but still suffering somewhat already exists in the framework.

      Not that we cant agree to differ or anything 🙂

      The other option of course is that acid splash only occurs on a double one, which as normal does not kill the target (badly targeted shot blows an arm off or something rather than obliterates the target.

      Possible jam, wasted AP, undamaged target and possibly friendly figure wiped out. Thats about as arghhhfuckingsnakeeyesacidsplash as Space Hulk could get I think 🙂



      • Actually, I think you might be right. You just persuaded me.

        What about the smartgun? Two sixes out of three? It would reflect the rapid firing tearing the Alien to bits (Vasquez and Drake again).


  7. “What about the smartgun? Two sixes out of three? It would reflect the rapid firing tearing the Alien to bits (Vasquez and Drake again)”

    I addressed that in the edited original post when you came up with your first draft of Acid Splash. Its more likely with the Smart Gun and impossible with the Flamer, both of which are just fine with me 🙂


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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: