Attack Squadron: Roswell!
Attack Squadron: Roswell is a new third party Traveller supplement set in the 1950s. Written by Paul Elliott, it’s designed to simulate encounters between US Air Force personnel and alien invaders.
I bought the $5.99 pdf version and have been reading it on my tablet over the last few days. The supplement’s premise, I admit, intrigued me. I confess that I have long been fascinated by the seedier, less credible ’50s UFO culture. You know, your Adamski-types, your George Von Tassels, etc. I have a complete set of the writings of George Hunt Williamson, including an autographed copy of Other Tongues – Other Flesh. The more unbelievable and patently ridiculous the claims of the “contactees”… the more I love them. The idea of bringing all of this insanity into an RPG, I thought, was inspired.
The supplement is, by its author’s own admission, heavily influenced by the 1960’s TV series The Invaders. I had heard about this show, off and on, for years – but I’d never seen it. Prompted by the supplement, I found some episodes and began watching them. Making allowances for the time it was made, and with all the constraints of network TV of the period, it’s still surprisingly engaging and fun to watch. I’m about a quarter of the way through the first season and I would recommend it to anyone. If anything, it reminds me a lot of that other classic 1960s show, The Prisoner.
There’s a theory that popular culture doesn’t reflect UFO sightings, but that UFO reports imitate depictions of flying saucers and aliens in popular culture. Naturally, this theory enrages the “true believer” types, but as I watched The Invaders it was easy for me to see its influence. One lone man, who no one believes, is fighting against a cold and calculating foe – a hidden enemy that can take over and control human beings. Critics have long noted the way this series effectively embodies a certain kind of paranoia. It was created by horror auteur Larry Cohen, who admitted that the McCarthy scare and resulting blacklist was his main influence. Our next door neighbor, when I was growing up, knew Larry well and had made some films with him.
This supplement divides the action between simulations of fighter pilots seeking to shoot down invading craft and detective and investigation work done on the ground by the pilots – all using basic Traveller rules from the current version of the game from Mongoose. I assume one could use the “classic” rules just as easily. Since Traveller has varying “tech levels” and basic combat systems to go with them, I soon saw that you could play using these rules in ANY period by adjusting for, and then incorporating the appropriate tech level for the time and place. In this sense, Traveller was like a proto-version of GURPS.
Elliott gives the reader examples of possible player characters, designs and specifications for the various airplanes and flying saucers, and some background on the aliens and their agenda – all presented in Traveller terminology. There isn’t a huge amount of detail (remember, this pdf costs just $5.99), but there’s enough to prompt a great deal of creative thought. A good referee could do quite a bit with what is suggested. If anyone wants to expand on just how the alien technology works, I recommend the DGP’s Starship Operator’s Manual Volume 1 supplement for Megatraveller. A new copy is going for only $149 over on Amazon.com! In order to preserve game balance, the aliens can’t have everything. The humans must have a fighting chance against them… or what’s the point?
Many more innovations to the scenarios presented in the supplement occurred to me. For example, why only have one “invader” race? Why not have several? What if they were all competing against each other? Other ideas like this occurred to me.
What if the all the “Nazi UFO” stuff was incorporated? The fighter pilots could match their jets against the Haunebu and Vril 7s! How hard would it be to toss a Ju EF128 or a Focke-Wulf Ta 183 into the mix? A Horten Ho IX?
It’s easy to see where you could take this. Abandoned mines and factories concealing alien beachheads and labs? Breeding and human mutation experiments going in secret, underground bases? How hard would this be to design? Find a copy of the “Dulce Papers” and let your imagination do the rest!
There’s a good list of inspirational material included too: mostly TV shows and computer games. Elliot gets major points, from me, for including Gerry Anderson’s Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons – which is vastly underrated, unfairly ignored, and probably one of the single greatest TV shows ever made. There, I said it!
Should you buy this supplement? It’s only $5.99 for a pdf, so yes. Yes, you should. It provides a lot of “bang” for the buck and takes Traveller in a great new direction.