Last weekend I was at Concrete Cow, a great little games convention down in Milton Keynes. I ran a game of Dead of Night inspired by one of Paul Bourne’s illustrations, called Unhallowed. It was ostensibly a zombie survival movie, very much in the vein of 28 Days Later, albeit set in London after the war between heaven and hell has been fought. The tagline, “In the battle between good and evil, good lost”, should tell you all you need to know about it.
One of the gimmicks I used for the game was to have everyone draw a “sin” from a bag in place of a bad habit, each of which based on one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Writing the sins out helped me codify some of the ways in which bad habits should work, notably that following the sin should get the character or one of his compatriots deeper into the shit, typically winding up with them taking a risk check or risking a survival point of their own. So there was a very real possibility that pursuing the sin would wind up with the character in a worse situation than when they started, but isn’t that the whole point?
The sins as written for the game were:
Pride – gain a survival point if your proud and arrogant course of action causes another to lose a survival point.
Gluttony – gain a survival point for hording, scoffing or concealing food and supplies from others.
Sloth – gain a survival point whenever you neglect your duties or lose an item, if it puts another in danger.
Wrath – gain a survival point whenever you charge unthinkingly into a situation, putting yourself or others in peril.
Envy – gain a survival point when you take something from someone that they might later need.
Greed – gain a survival point when you attempt to usurp authority, contradict orders or betray another.
Lust – gain a survival point whenever your sexual desires cause a problem or puts another at risk.
The sin that worried me the most was Sloth, as it could so easily turn into a reward for a player not doing anything. And that’s nothing to be rewarded. But actually that, along with Wrath, turned out to be the most used in the game, with the slothful businessman leaving the door to the church open and ignorantly discarding the holy relic.
Instead, it was Gluttony that turned out to be the least used, but perhaps that was more to do with a lack of potential hording opportunities presented by me than anything else. I think the fact that this didn’t stop the player getting involved in other ways, racking up survival points through other cliches instead, is testimony to the way that bad habits work well with the other aspects of the survival point economy.