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Tabletop Game / Moon Dust Men

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Moon Dust Men is a campaign frame for the GUMSHOE Universal System written by Kenneth Hite and published by Pelgrane Press as part of the Ken Writes About Stuff series.

In Moon Dust Men, players assumes the role of characters inducted into Project Moon Dust, a secretive organisation born out of genuine paranoia in the US over UFOs and their alien pilots. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Project Moon Dust in 1953 to locate, contain, and coordinate everything known about the alien presence on Earth. The Moon Dust Men travel the world, knowing the truth is out there somewhere and if you don't find it first, the Russians definitely will.

This campaign frame is set in the late 70s world of extraterrestrial cover-ups, Men in Black, and bell-bottom flares. It deliberately focuses at ground level: on the immediate investigation of a crash, anomaly or event. Individual scenarios can turn into a black-tech Cold War or a secret high-octane War of the Worlds, depending on the GM's goals.


Two expansions were published for Moon Dust Men, both as part of the Ken Writes About Stuff corner: MAJESTIC Overwatch, where player characters are MAJESTIC-12 members who manage the global war against the aliens, and GALILEO Uplift, which provides rules for gear reverse-engineered from alien technology.

This game contains examples of:

  • Ancient Astronauts: The nommo aliens may have been the mysterious Anunnaki who uplifted Sumerian civilisation.
  • Area 51: Active experimentation, reverse-engineering of UFO systems, and other such activities take place at Area 51 in Nevada, under cover of the black aircraft programs building the next generation of spy planes and testing Soviet-bloc aircraft performance. Moon Dust operatives need special clearance to enter Area 51.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Per contactee reports, a large number of UFOs are piloted by 'Very Talls' or hairy giants: these aliens may have colonies in the Himalayas or the Pacific Northwest.
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  • Black Site: Inside the Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio is Hangar 18 (actually a complex of hangars) where DARPA, NASA and other above-top-secret agencies study anything retrieved by Moon Dust or its transportation section, Project Blue Fly.
  • Cast from Hit Points: After using a paranormal ability, you must make a Difficulty 5 Health test or immediately lose 2 Health and become Hurt for the rest of the scene, representing a profound, bone-deep exhaustion approaching shock.
  • Chupacabra: The spined, wolf-sized 'goat sucker' of Latin America tends to vanish from sight when nobody's looking right at it. And when they are, it can leap ten feet from a standing start.
  • Covert Group: By now, the administrators of half the agencies on the MAJESTIC-12 committee don't even know it exists; it is well on its way to complete bureaucratic invisibility.
  • Driven to Suicide: The strain of managing MAJESTIC broke Secretary of Defense James Forrestal: institutionalised after his resignation, he fell from the 17th floor of Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 22, 1949, an apparent suicide.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The main MAJESTIC experimental and research facility is a cavern complex in the S-4 zone of Area 51.
  • Elite Mooks: Spetsnaz should only show up inside the Soviet bloc or for the most urgent and important crashes in the Third World. They should be capable of taking out two or three Moon Dust agents in the normal course of things, only equalled by a badly unbalanced 'combat monster' PC.
  • Fish People: Nommos are aquatic, gray-green aliens who resemble dolphins or merfolk, depending on the specific breed.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Insane theories, crank science and arrant lies have a very real chance of providing real-world leads and clues, but the resulting realisation that the real world is not the whole world might invoke a Stability test.
  • The Greys: The most common aliens in ufological lore, especially in abductee testimony are Greys: large black eyes, slender build, long fingers, silence and uncanny presence. They are reported in all sizes from 3' to 6' and more, and in colours from green-gray to gray-brown.
  • Human Aliens: Tall blond 'Nordic' aliens of seemingly human appearance are one of the most common sorts of EBE. They may indeed be humans – time travellers from the future, or Nazis from a hidden colony – or humans may be descended from their earliest colonists on Earth. Or their appearance may be built or assumed for better communication or infiltration.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Project GALILEO involves taking devices in the Roswell saucer apart, reverse-engineering them, rebuild them and turning them into weapons and equipment for use by Majestic-12 and Moon Dust.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The twelve commissioners from MAJESTIC's branches don't always get along. Institutional rivalries held over from other missions, resentment over the NSA and MAJIC shakeups, and standard bureaucratic backstabbing are as rife inside the COUNTRY CLUB as they are in any other government organisation, especially interagency groups.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The invisibility cloak bends light around the wearer or projects a false transparent image removing the wearer.
  • Jet Pack: Just like it sounds: a jet pack allows the pilot to carry 90 kg at 100 kph for 30 minutes.
  • The Men in Black: Reports of some Moon Dust men have come back as Men in Black rumours – so 'MIB' is another possible cover for misdirection and misinformation ops.
  • The Mothman: The most enigmatic and terrifying cryptid, the winged, headless, glowing-eyed Mothman heralds disaster. It may be a Jungian archetype given life by nuclear terror, an Indian manitou, or an alien hunter seeded to weaken America ahead of Grey invasion.
  • No Such Agency:
    Lt. Col. John E. Madison, USAF: There is no agency, nor has there ever been, at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, which would deal with UFOs or have any information about the incident in Roswell. In addition, there is no Project Moon Dust or Operation Blue Fly. Those missions never existed.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Whether the various cryptids seen in the woods by drunks are also alien is something Moon Dust doesn't know – it just knows it runs across a lot of them nowadays.
  • Psychic Powers: The world of Moon Dust is rife with psychics. It's up to the GM whether only one character can have psychic powers or whether any given psychic can have only one power. Any paranormal ability the GM allows is possible: the CIA is up to all kinds of weirdness, and has been since its first LSD experiments in The '50s. More to the point, weird psychic powers are very much in genre both for UFO lore and for The '70s SF.
  • The Reptilians: Reptoids may be the descendants of Troodon, aliens who merely resemble bipedal, large-headed Earth reptiles, or shapeshifting dimension-travellers infiltrating our ranks by cannibalism and sorcery.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: After a spate of sightings over Washington State in June and the crash at Roswell, the US military began a wide-ranging investigation into the UFO phenomenon. From the outset, this investigation had a public face designed to placate a panicky citizenry and mislead the Russians, and a more serious secret side.
  • Secret Identity: Moon Dust personnel are either assigned or seconded to the 7612th Air Intelligence Group, in at least one cover identity.
  • Soviet Superscience: The Soviet psionic warfare program goes back to before WWII. Some Soviet gear is psychotronic, powered by psychic energy or affecting the enemy's brain or perceptions. Are the Soviets ahead of America in UFO research? Psionics? How much of all this is disinformation? Are they alien allies? Alien tools?
  • Translator Microbes: The translatrex is a headphone, processor and microphone kit that provides simultaneous translation for any EBE language or code broken by Project SIGMA.

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