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A Savaged Setting




These rules and the accompanying one-shot is based on the Valve Software game Half-Life (the first one). We've playtested the first scenario and made a few modifications. I"ll throw some playtesting notes up here when we get finished...


Characters in Half-Life begin their careers soon after a major accident in the Black Mesa research facility. This accident opens various rifts to an alien dimension, allowing in a collection of horrid alien species while simultaneously disabling many of the facility’s control and security systems. The heroes are scientists, technicians and security guards that must make their way out of the facility before the aliens eat them.


All Hell Breaks Loose -- A Savaged Half-Life One-shot

Creatures -- All the hell that breaks loose.



Character Creation

There are three types of characters in Half-Life: Scientists, Technicians, and Security Guards. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. In gameplay, the professions are taken like Races, giving the character a template of bonuses and options.


Security Guard

Security guards at Black Mesa are not your usual rent-a-cop. They are security professionals trained in security procedures, various types of weapons and physical fitness. Security guards start the game with the following benefits:

  • d6 Shooting
  • Pistol





Black Mesa is a high-tech facility with a complex system of computers, machines and slightly arcane alien technology. Technicians are trained in the various systems within Black Mesa, though they must have special security clearance to obtain training in alien technology. Technicians begin play with the following:

  • d6 Repair
  • Hazardous Environment Suit




The scientists of Black Mesa are an esoteric lot. All have a fairly rigorous education in physics and biology, as well as alien technology and crypto-biology. Scientists begin play with:

  • d6 Knowledge (Alien Science)
  • d6 Investigate





Characters in the Half-Life setting use a variety of skills to make their way through the shattered Black Mesa facility. In addition to the standard skills (and uses for those skills), Half-Life characters have the following options:



Many of the failed systems can be repaired to ease the heroes’ way through the facility. Most broken systems also require repair parts. A standard repair (no bonus) takes 1 full round to complete. An additional round of repair is required per penalty to the base repair. When repairing a system that requires parts, the parts are consumed whether the Repair roll is successful or not.



The Black Mesa facility has a complex network of computers, security cameras, and other systems containing specialized information about the facility, the science practiced here, and, most importantly, the alien invaders. Characters use Investigate on working computer terminals to find resources, avoid concentrations of enemies and to better use the facility and any found alien technology against the invaders. An unmodified Investigation roll takes 1 round with an additional round required for each penalty to the base Investigate roll.


Knowledge (Alien Science)

Alien technology can be used by humans only through the Alien Science Arcane Background. This Knowledge skill allows practitioners to discover alien weaknesses, operate alien technology and even graft alien parts onto allies for additional benefits. When determining information about an enemy, a Knowledge (Alien Science) success grants the hero a +1 to one trait test (player’s choice) against an alien species. With a raise, the +1 is extended to the whole party (must be the same trait test for all). This can only be used once per alien species – a failure counts as the one try.




Arcane Background (Alien Science)

  • Arcane Skill: Knowledge (Alien Science)
  • Starting Power Points: 10
  • Starting Powers: 1
  • Powers List: Armor (Converted – Chitin coverings), Jet (Eye – third eye), Bolt (Alien Pistol), Boost Trait (Any – various muscle and ligament grafts), Fear (Converted – Exuded alien essence), Thumper Stun (Thumper – thumpers “drum” implanted in chest), Blast (Alien Rifle), Summon Ally (Alien Rod)


Alien Science Powers all require parts from specific alien types or equipment (noted above) in order to function. Those powers that required parts from alien types are actually grafts of these alien parts onto the receiver of the power. Those that require alien equipment represent the Alien Scientist figuring out how to make the item function, including altering body chemistry through alien grafts and the like.


Alien Scientists receive one power when they take the Arcane Background Edge. If they take the New Power Edge, they must discover their new power using the Investigate skill at some available resource (such as the Research Facility’s labs or computer networks). This skill test must be attempted after the hero takes the New Power Edge, and requires 2-5 hours to complete. If the skill test is failed, the scientist must wait a full day before trying again, due to the mental stress of the operation.


Grafting alien parts onto human subjects is a dangerous and rather disgusting proposition. First, the scientist must find a viable subject. Any alien killed in combat is only 10% likely to have the requisite parts. Then, the parts must be harvested, which requires an Alien Science (-2) roll. Failure indicates the subject is no longer a viable donor. The grafting process takes 4-8 hours and requires a Knowledge (Alien Science) success. The Alien Scientist must have access to a full lab (+1) or a lab kit (0) to harvest and graft alien parts, as well as to research any alien technology. Attempting to graft or research technology with other tools imparts a -4 penalty to the skill roll.


The recipient of the graft must make a Vigor (-1) roll to accept the graft. On a failure, the recipient must make a Vigor (-1) roll each time the graft is used or take a Fatigue level. The recipient of the graft makes either a Knowledge (Alien Science) roll or a Spirit (-2) roll to use the graft. Each graft has 10 power points. The graft recharges at 1 power point per hour. Those with visible grafts receive a -2 Charisma and may develop other Hindrances such as Delusion, Bad Eyes, or the like.




When the Black Mesa facility goes haywire, the presence of aliens and the failing environmental systems pumps a lethal cocktail of toxic gases and low-level radiation into many of the levels. The heroes’ first mission is to find equipment to protect themselves.


Hazardous Environment Suit

Scientists and technicians operate in a variety of unforgiving environments in Black Mesa, thus the Black Mesa Research Corporation designed an HEV for these situations. These sealed suits protect from environmental hazards, as well as providing light and repair tools.

  • Armor +2
  • Headlamp
  • Repair kit (starts with 3 repair parts)


The suit protects the wearer from all biological, radiological and chemical effects, as long as none of the critical systems have failed (containment). This protection extends to the Attach special power of the Headcrab, though once containment is breached, the sneaky little things can get through.


Though the suit is resilient, it suffers when the hero receives damage. For every wound, roll on the table below to determine what function fails. Repair penalty and number of parts to repair is in parenthesis.


Roll.............System Failure

1-3...................Containment (-1, 3 parts)

2........................Armor -1 (0, 2 parts)

4........................Repair Kit (0, 1 part)

5........................Headlamp (0, 1 part)

6........................No suit damage



There are various weapons to be found around the facility once all Hell breaks loose. Common weapons include:

  • Glock 9mm automatic pistol
  • Smith and Wesson .357 revolver
  • Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine gun
  • Pump action 12 gauge shotgun


In addition, heroes might be forced to use whatever’s lying around until they can find something better.


Damage Weight Notes
Improvised STR+1d4 Variable -2 Fighting
Crowbar STR+1d6 2 Can be used to break and pry things open (+1 STR checks)
Fire Axe STR+d8 10 2 hands, AP1, Parry -1



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