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Tabletop Game / The Awful Green Things From Outer Space

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The most recent edition.
The Awful Green Things From Outer Space is a board game originally created for TSR of Dungeons & Dragons fame by Tom Wham, and first published in 1980. After being out of print for many years, the rights for the game were picked up by Steve Jackson Games. The game is again out of print, but there's still an official webpage on the SJG website with some details and extra goodies, and copies of the many and varied editions are available on eBay.

The game is for two players, one of whom controls the eponymous Things, while the other controls the non-human multiracial crew of the starship Znutar, the rooms and corridors of which make up the board. The AGT are seeded on board and attempt to multiply and devour the crew, while the crew must collect and test various would-be weapons, applying a randomly-drawn chit to determine the effects, hoping to wipe out the Things. The game tends to heavily favor the Things, which can reproduce and replace their losses, while the crew are pretty much doomed if they fight hand-to-hand, and must desperately try to scrounge up a weapon that kills the Things, instead of being useless or even causing the creatures to grow.

Features examples of

  • Alien Invasion: They're attacking only a single ship, but that's what AGTs do.
  • Armless Biped: The Things; see below under Bizarre Alien Biology.
  • Asteroids Monster: One possible result with the crew's weapons, which can cause the targeted AGT(s) to explode into Fragments, which can then grow into new Adults.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Things start out as Eggs, hatch into caterpillar-like Babies, and then become globby two-legged Adults. At no point do they have visible mouths.
  • Bold Explorer: Being these is what gets the crew into this mess in the first place.
  • Cephalothorax: The Things again.
  • Cyclops: The Things only have one eye.
  • The Dreaded: Leadfoot the Robot, for the Things. If he's in a room, all Things present must attack him.
  • Energy Weapon: Two crew weapons are Stun Pistols and Communication Beamers.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: They're awful, green, and from outer space.
  • Extra Eyes: The Redundans and the crew's bird-like Mascot have three eyes.
  • Fictional Sport: The crew's version of "Pool" evidently involves whacking a ball with a Pool Stick so it ricochets off multiple walls and... hits one of your opponents. The Sticks can be used as a weapon.
  • First Contact: In the backstory, how the crew Mascot got on board; the first Thing was a Egg mistaken for a "green rock" and collected on the same trip as a scientific specimen.
  • Foreshadowing: In the intro comic, the newly-collected Mascot is unfortunately prevented from attacking the Egg.
  • Hollywood Acid: One potential crew-weapon.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Several examples in the naming of the crew and their equipment.
  • Improvised Weapon: In a meta sense, most of the things the crew can deploy are examples of this, ranging from hypodermic needles to canisters of the "food" Zgwortz.
  • Kill It with Fire: Welding Torches and Rocket Fuel can do this to the Things, if the correct chit is drawn. On the other hand, if a bad result comes up..
  • Kill It with Ice: Fire Extinguishers are one weapon available to the crew.
  • Knockout Gas: The crew can toss gas grenades. Unfortunately, as implied by the trope's name, whatever they do to the Things, any crew-members present (except Leadfoot) get rendered unconscious for a turn.
  • Make My Monster Grow: One possible result of using a weapon. Inverted in that the crew is trying to avoid that outcome — they're looking for weapons that can shrink or destroy the Awful Green Things.
  • Mighty Glacier: Leadfoot, as implied by his name, is powerful but painfully slow.
  • Mystery Meat: In the included intro comic, some of the crew treats Zgwortz as this, while others guzzle the stuff.
  • Planet of Hats: Only has a minor effect on gameplay, but the various crew-races tend to specialize: Smbalites are engineers, Redundans are doctors, and the Snudalians are the soldiers and officers.
  • Shout-Out: In the instructions, the game's creator Wham credits the Japanese/American film The Green Slime as a major influence. The Things themselves are essentially Vermicious Knids from the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator with legs attached to them.
  • Taking You with Me: If Rocket Fuel proves to be an effective anti-Thing weapon, a crewmember can set off a canister of the stuff and most likely die in the resulting explosion. (Fortunately, the game does allow canisters to be tossed through hatches into adjacent chambers.)
  • Unpredictable Results: When a weapon type is used for the first time, a random draw determines its effect. Subsequent uses of that weapon type remain consistent, however.