“Thin Men” are a genetically engineered species of evil alien invaders, featured in the 2012 XCom video game. Unless you’re well acquainted with it, we suggest reading our XCom Project article first.

They are archetypal “Men in Black” conspiracy fodder  with a dose of V – the Visitors thrown in.

  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.


Powers & Abilities

Thin Men are about 2 meters tall and weight 80 kilograms – hence their nickname. All evidence points toward them being some sort of reptilian humanoid species, but whose genetics and physiology were rewritten using brute force so they could vaguely pass for human and operate on Earth more easily.

Their ossature is reticulated like snake vertebrae. Many of their longer muscles are much stronger than the human equivalent. As a result the Thin Men move in a jerky, off-kilter but rapid way and can perform some inhuman acrobatics.

It seems likely that they have enhanced strength, though this is not demonstrated in-game. Thin Men may also have reptilian-like assets and limitations that aren’t apparent in game.


Thin Men can make sudden, superhuman jumps. They can easily leap on top of a parked semi or even a three-story building. This gives them a significant tactical advantage in urban combat.

There have been incidents of Thin Men reinforcements coming out from nowhere, as if making a gigantic leap from afar. It is possible that they have one-shot “jump enhancement” anti-gravity equipment that can fit in a pocket.


Their chest includes huge glands from which they can expectorate a gob of fierce poison, which manifests as a small green cloud at the point of impact. This seems to also have some corrosive properties, though this is unclear.


This toxin isn’t as potent as their guns, but it still is deadly and can ignore most cover due to its ballistic arc. Killing a Thin Man will usually perforate the glands and release a poison cloud over the corpse.

Armament and qualifications

Thin Men are usually equipped with a plasma carbine (that they wield much like a large pistol). Like most alien equipment it shatters when the wielder is slain. This carbine is significantly more powerful than most Earth small arms.

Many Thin Men are remarkable sharpshooters, easily the equal of the best Human special forces. Those encountered on Earth also seem trained as spaceship technicians and pilots.

Whether they can talk in any human language is unrevealed.

Thin Men in XCom 2012 under the moon with slender limbs


Thin Men were clearly engineered to serve as a sort of infiltrator for operations on Earth. They seem to be a combination pilot/paratrooper force.

Typical missions seem to include sabotage and terrorism, serving as the flight crew for an UFO sent to Earth, or reinforcing sectoid aliens during abduction strikes.


Thin Men uniformly sport the “Men In Black” look – black suit with tie, black shoes, small round shade and outdated haircut. The imitation of humanity is so-so – they move wrong and their faces have clearly been brute-forced into human shape.

The Thin Men’s masters were unable to imitate human eyes, and the Thin Men’s eyes are clearly reptilian – hence the sunglasses.

However, they seem to mostly operate at night in a stealthy manner, and even with clear visual contact most people would assume a haplessly disfigured person (perhaps a burn victim) rather than a space alien. On the other hand, *three* eerily identical disfigured guys dressed like stereotypical G-Men…

Thin Men in XCom 2012 - in the fog with a plasma carbine

Thin Men are somewhat reminiscent of Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith, perhaps because Smith is such a memorable “Man In Black” archetype. It has been reported that they actually are caricatures of Sid Meier , though.

*However*, from the texts in XCom: Enemy Unknown one gets the impression that Thin Men are supposed to be much more human-like than the in-game model.

Perhaps the most man-like Thin Men do the infiltration work, and the ones seen in the tactical game are relative failures in this regard – who thus can’t really do infiltration and get detailed to less subtle missions.


Thin Men seem to be sadistic, evil hunter-killer reptiles.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Generic Thin Man alien

Dex: 04 Str: 05 Bod: 04 Motivation: Slave species
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Slave species
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 000
Init: 013 HP: 000

Jumping: 03, Poison touch: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Poison Touch is Indirect, has a Range of 03 and has a 00 APs Area of Effect.
  • Poison Touch lingers for 4 Phases (less with wind, rain, etc.).
  • Poison Touch is automatically triggered, without any Range, when a Thin Man is slain.
  • Poison Touch probably has Ammo: 04 or so (with the last Ammo only being useable when they’re killed).

Possible Powers:
GMs might consider Directional Hearing: 05, Telescopic vision: 02, Ultra-vision: 04. These suggested Powers follow a loose reptilian theme, and help make Thin Men deadly shooters who can unerringly locate their targets – like in the game. Also, see below for the “psychic static”.

Acrobatics: 05, Gadgetry: 04, Thief (Stealth): 03, Vehicles: 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 05

Double-Jointed, Lightning Reflexes.

Other Thin Men and alien forces (Low).

Distinct Appearance.


  • Light plasma rifle [BODY 03, Energy blast: 07, Security system: 04, Sharpness (Energy blast): 01, Misc.: Security systems shatters the weapon if its wielder is killed].
  • JUMP MODULE [BODY 01, Jumping: 12, Miniaturization: 04, Ammo: 01, R#02, Limitation: Jumping can only engage 4 APs per AP of Jumping the wielder is using]. A sort of one-shot anti-gravity jump booster. This equipment is hypothetical.

“Psychic static”

“Psychic static” is hypothesized in our main XCom article as a way to explain several aspects of the tactical gameplay. It is assumed to be an ability possessed by all alien troops, who are radiating “psychic static” – without having to use any Action to do so.

Describing it as Powers would be hopelessly intricate, so it is best treated as an environmental condition with the following characteristics :

  • Anybody within 4 APs of distance of any alien agent experiences these conditions.
  • The Range for all perceptions and attacks is increased by 2 APs. For instance, if something is 3 APs away, observing it visually, shooting at it or listening to it is as difficult as if it were 5 APs away.
  • Aliens are also affected by this effect, but their Ranges are only increased by 1.
  • It might be possible to overcome this Range effect, but even the most powerful psi troops cannot do so in the XCom game. Perhaps a non-standard WIL/MIN roll against an OV/RV of 10/10, with the effect being suspended for a time equal to the RAPs.
  • For Distance Penalties Genre Rules, see BOH:SE p.156 or our clarifications in our rules files.

Furthermore, there is a sort of Aura of Fear effect that amplifies stress responses within 4 APs of any alien agent. This effect is tested against a non-standard MIN/MIN OV/RV, and Iron Nerves does apply.

Aliens cannot put HPs behind this effect (it’s not an Action) but they are entirely immune to the effect. Targets can use HPs to resist these attacks.

Example event Example AV/EV
Spotting aliens 01/01
Being shot at 01/02
Seeing a comrade wounded 02/02
Seeing a comrade killed 03/03
Being wounded (1+ RAP before LDD) 03/03
Being badly wounded (2+ RAPs after LDD) 04/04

If the comrade is a close friend, increase EV by 1.

RAPs Impact
1 RAP Freezes and cowers for 1 Phase
2 RAPs Freezes and cowers for 1d10/2 Phases
3 RAPs Breaks contact and flee the field for 1d10/2 Phases
4+ RAPs Completely loses it for 1d10/2 Phases, likely attacking the closest person (GM’s call)

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: X-Com: Enemy Unknown video game.

Helper(s): Dr. Peter Piispanen.

Writeup completed on the 24th of November, 2015.