How would you run a slow burn alien invasion?


Greetings earthlings,

I want to run a campaign where the PCs slowly discover their small town is front and center for an alien invasion. I’d like any mechanic ideas you may have on how to really capture the feel of a full scale alien invasion.

I’m not looking to make it a space opera but closer to a drive in movie 50’s/60’s vibe of a rural town slowly realizing that aliens are not only real but are already here. sort of “Monster of the Week” but much more grim and long term. I’ve been reading War of the Worlds and love the pacing and I’m hoping to find a way to capture the feeling of slow information/disinformation spreading, attempting to understand the invaders and how to resist them all while as the PCs try to survive from initial contact to full scale war. I own the Bear Cats manual and will be using some of that but even that is a bit too “tech” heavy for what I’m looking for.

Some thoughts would be to just “Gameify” the War of the Worlds but I’d like to be more original if I can. I’ve thought of maybe using stages that they work through ( fist contact, initial fighting, fleeing the area, counter attack, full invasion) where there might be a roll chart at the end of each stage that gives the invaders new TAGs, bioforms or gear the PCs have to work around, or may use the ideas from Bear cats and slowly introduce the different types. If done right my hope is to keep the feeling of the Unknown and high strangeness going.

I also think I’d run it fairly grim dark where the PCs aren’t superhero’s with wild abilities, rather a bunch of yokels just trying to stay out of dodge and survive. Stuff like over hostile military, raiders taking advantage of the chaos and the mental strains of learning how big and uncaring the universe truly is are all present dangers as well. Low stats, 10 hp, and maybe a job/life related TAG or two max.

Any and all suggestions are welcome as I am still heavily in the infancy of this idea and would like to hear what others think.

Thanks in advance!


What about turning the town or region into a “Risk” map and then rolling dice whenever you feel like it would make sense? And sometimes, the aliens stop attacking and wait for reinforcements or build routes (which the players can raid, perhaps?)… before they begin to attack again!

You could even setup hero units or special objectives for the players to intercept and find during the campaign, as they gather information!


An INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS game would be a blast!

One way I’d approach it to build slow dread would be to roll a “Bad Things Happening Offscreen” die along with every normal Timer click down. Then, every time that Offscreen Effort filled a Heart, an “Onscreen Sign of Badness” would happen. (Btw, this is also how to gamify DW’s Grim Portents/Front for things the PCs are not being proactive about handling.)

If you really wanted to sexy this mechanic up, start with d4s for the Offscreen Badness Effort and increase to d6, d8, etc with every natural 1 the party rolls.


ohhhhh I like that. The longer it goes, the faster bad things happen. I intend this to be a very, " I don’t have the answers for the problems I’m presenting" sort of thing so it will truly be up to how they handle things that crafts the narrative or if they can survive after things start to heat up.


I’d consider using the Bearcats World Map sort of as the hub of all information (or disinformation). As events happen the map would change and grow as the invasion progresses.

Additionally, as “information” is sent out by officials, the players might notice some discrepancies.


But, when it’s investigated the players see that it’s been overun by the military who are prepping to just nuke the whole town and call it a day. Guess they better infiltrate the high school and stop the disaster from happening.

Plus I think it would be cool if the players kept their own map and compared it to the “official” one.


I was toying around with rumors and hearsay but this is a great idea! I will most likely use the Bear Cats map, but am also thinking of screen capturing google maps of our town and local areas incase they are much more “flight” than “fight”. Not to say there aren’t ways to keep them hemmed in, but I don’t want them to realize there are boarders until it’s already too late


Any fun bioforms or Chunk abilities for spacecraft and their war machines?