||The book begins with a forward by Clyde Lewis, host of the paranormal radio program Ground Zero. In it, Clyde tells of his experiences with a strange picture that may or may not have shown an extraterrestrial. The picture supposedly drew a lot of unwanted attention on Clyde, including a mysterious man in black who warned him to cease his investigations. Clyde's story is a perfect example of the kinds of things covered in this book. He happened upon something that may or may not have shown an alien. Suddenly, agencies unknown took a personal and sometimes very dangerous interest in making sure that the evidence Clyde found went away. There is a lot of vagueness to the story. Who exactly was this "man in black?" Was he an agent of the government? An alien creature? The product of Clyde's imagination? And what was so damning about the picture that it warranted such intense intimidation? Such questions are better left to professional investigators, or the player characters in a d20 Modern RPG.
Alien Invasion tries to cover a lot of ground. There is a small section discussing the history of alien activity on earth. Within, events such as Roswell are described in brief detail. Sometimes these seem to be written from the perspective that aliens are very real, and that these events involved actual extraterrestrial encounters. The battle of Los Angeles, for example, states that the event served as an example of the "inability of the U.S. Military to defend American soil against an alien invader." The Roswell section claims that one of the witnesses found actual E.T. bodies. However, the actual meaning of these events is left largely up to the GM. I would have enjoyed a little more explanation here. If we're playing in a setting in which Roswell was the sight of an actual alien craft, who were the aliens that crashed here? Why did the government cover it up? I think a few suggestions would have been helpful in filling in the details.
As expected, there are a number of organizations discussed in this book. From government projects like Majestic-12 to cult groups such as the Raelians, Alien Invasions definitely draws its inspiration from the real world. There are good and bad points to this. On the one hand, using actual groups and government agencies lends a certain familiarity to the campaign, and helps to build the verisimilitude. On the other hand, the authors have to be careful when dealing with groups who, at their worst, could be actual dangerous cults harming actual people. I'm not a member of the ultra-politically correct crowd or anything, but a certain amount of caution should be advised here.
Finally, there are a lot of new rules introduced in this book. A lot of them center on investigations. There are rules for determining the validity of photographic evidence, rules for questioning UFO witnesses, and rules for handling PC abductions. For the most part, these rules are fairly straightforward and well written. The alien abduction stuff is particularly good, since its based on actual personal accounts of such events. Cattle mutilations, on the other hand, are less well designed. The book gives some suggestions for how and why the mutilations take place, but I was left feeling uninspired. I'm not sure what I was looking for exactly, but the short paragraph given just wasn't it. The included cow stats amused me, however. Particularly the Bull Rush feat.
In addition to these new rules, there is the usual assortment of alien equipment, new feats, magic and psychic powers, and various alien species. Most of these rules are also very good. The species section in contains a good mix of the usual suspects. Creatures such as the elohim, the grays, the reptoids, and the chupacabra will be familiar to conspiracy theorists and sci-fi gamers alike. I would have liked a larger explanation on the background of some of these creatures. Some of them are detailed throughout various sections of the book, while the rest get only a brief mention in one chapter.
LIKED: Alien Invasion is a well-researched book with all of the proper tools for running a d20 Modern campaign in which alien conspiracy theories are the main focus. The rules are well crafted, the writing is good, and art and layout is very professional.
DISLIKED: The book lacks somewhat in organization and detail. Information is sometimes spread throughout the chapters, with no real centralized spot for finding details. The setup isn't terrible by any means, but its not ideal either.
Also, the writing seems to lack a certain level of explanation. Although I couldn't put my finger on it at first, after a few read-throughs it became clear to me what was missing. Alien Invasion assumes that you're already somewhat familiar with the creatures and events it discusses. If you aren't, you're going to have to do a little further research to really grok what this type of campaign is all about. The book does include a number of links to help you get started, which is a nice touch. If you're like me and you're already familiar with the sasquatch / UFO connection, el chupacabra, and crop circles, then this disadvantage won't be so bothersome to you.
We'll call the final score 3 1/2 stars and round up for size and delivery.
QUALITY: Very Good
[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]
[4 of 5 Stars!]