Posts Tagged ‘Walking Dead’

Well spring is firmly in the air and as the weather gets nicer, thoughts are turning to spending more time indoors playing games. I have a hard time just picking up and running a game as written – I much prefer to get under the bonnet and tinker with either the setting or the mechanics. So, these are the top 6 games I want to play, and the hacks I want to play with them.

1. Fiasco: Dick Head

Not so much a hack as a playset to vaguely recreate the stories of Philip K Dick, with all manner of weird and wonderful results on the situation tables and a tilt table to pull the curtain back for the second act. Why Fiasco? I dunno, there’s something about the way the situation generator that I think will produce great, weird, Dickesque stories.

2. Hot War: Ultraviolet/True Blood

I think Hot War might be the game I own with the most hackability. Its setup lends itself perfectly for tight-knit, character-driven conflicts and monsters. So what better way to represent one of my favourite settings, Ultraviolet, a show all about agents with mixed agendas hunting vampires, perhaps mashed liberally in with True Blood.

3. Empires of Alexander

Anyone who knows me will know I’m a big ancient history buff, especially when it comes to Alexander the Great. I reckon there’d be a lot of fun to be had playing Alexander’s various generals leading their own armies east alongside the Macedonian King, and for me there’s no better game when it comes to military campaigns – Duty & Honour/Beat to Quarters, collectively known as the Empire system. All it’d take would be a reskinning of skills and character creation bits and bobs and you’re ready to ride to the ends of the world!

4. Remember Tomorrow: Revelation Space

I’ve never got into cyberpunk beyond Ghost in the Shell, but love me some hard scifi, especially Alastair Reynolds and his oeuvre. I think the multi-protagonist, split narrative of his books would map brilliantly to Remember Tomorrow’s varied stories told from multiple perspectives. I’ve got a few tweaks to the situation tables to embed the setting in the game more, but RT does the job admirably out of the book.

5. Smallville: the Walking Dead

I’ve got a real yearning to run Smallville but no great desire to play in the published setting. Instead I want to use it to run a game reminiscent of the Walking Dead, as the relationship-focused nature of the game will capture the complicated character situations of the show. In actual fact I’m going to make the setting Unhallowed, but it’s similar enough, just swap zombies for demons.

6. Lost Days of Memories & Madness: Game of Thrones

This hack will almost certainly be the subject of a future post, but with the fantasy epic about go return for a second series I’ve got a hankering to run a high-stakes political game of intrigue, and would use my own Memories & Madness to pull it off. Instead of memories, you’d have subjects or power bases, and coins would become influence or power. Easy. I’ll dig into that one a bit more another time.

How about you? What are you jonesing to a) play and b) hack?

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To celebrate the awesome zombie series, the Walking Dead returning to our screens, coupled with Halloween next week, PDF copies of my horror game, Dead of Night, are half price over at RPGNow for the next week – just $5 instead of the usual $10.

Dead of Night is the roleplaying game of campfire tales, slasher movies and b-movie horror. It’s designed to be quick and easy to play, with rules that help you tell horror stories without getting in the way of the fun. The rules are simple and straightforward to learn, yet offer all the options and depth to allow you to customise the game however you like.

Dead of Night is perfect for Halloween horror gaming – with character creation taking no more than 5 minutes and a host of advice and resources for running games on the fly, you can be playing in no time. And, if you’re really impatient to go, there are four ready-made scenarios in the book and downloadable PCs available on our website.

Go on, give us a scream!

A guest post by James Mullen. Part 2 can be found here.

One thing can be said about the Endangered Species campaign (inspired, you’ll recall, by the Walking Dead and World War Z): it went in some surprising directions. One of the characters started as a notorious criminal, but by the end he was hailed as a spiritual leader for Europe and had tens of thousands of followers… then he lost it all and sacrificed himself to save the world. All of that emerged through the game play, as PCs responded to the initial situation and their responses created new situations, in a recursive cycle. The story boot-strapped itself from one episode to the next and we never had to insert a new plot line or force a change in the characters’ lives. Even when the story drifted from pure survival horror to political intrigue and conspiracy for an entire episode, we never broke the system and Dead of Night supported us all the way.

Risk Checks, or life & death situations, can be about more than just injury or capture; anything a character values can be placed at Risk, whether that is their reputation, their ambition, their authority or their sanity. For example, if your PC climbed to power on a ladder of lies and murders, then any threat to expose their past can be a Risk for them: they might have to use ‘Obscure’ to hide the truth or ‘Dissuade’ to put the investigators off the trail. Also, just because there is no ‘sanity check’ mechanic in Dead of Night doesn’t mean you can’t make the equivalent in your game, if it seems appropriate: push Risk Checks on players when they encounter the unworldly so that they have to use ‘Identify’ to find a rational explantaion for their experience. In a long game, it’s important to make sure that phyicial rolls (Pursue, Escape, Assault & Protect) aren’t the only source of Risk or else players will become wise to that and only create characters that focus on those attributes at the expense of everything else.

Breaking up the horror with episodes of mundane life is a good tool for keeping things fresh and avoiding ‘terror fatigue’, where the PCs just accept the situation and adopt it as the new norm; don’t be afraid to let the horror fade in & out of the story over the course of a campaign, or even a long one-off scenario. The system supports all kinds of tension and by exploring other types of threat or loss, you can give the scenes of horror more impact and significance.

The next plan, for 2011, is to run a campaign styled as a series rather than a serial: the same PCs from episode to episode but facing a new threat every week against the backdrop of a consistent world, such as Kolchak, The X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

A guest post by James Mullen. Part 1 can be found here.

Playing the first ever Dead of Night campaign taught us a lot more about Bad Habits and how to get the most out of them:

First, if PCs have more than one Bad Habit each at the start of a campaign (or even a one-off), then players must be supported in making them as diverse as possible; encourage them to choose Bad Habits that showcase different, even contradictory aspects of the character. If two or more of a character’s Bad Habits occupy the same thematic ground, then opportunities for earning Survival points are reduced, but it is a very easy trap to fall into; for example, ‘Quick Tempered’ and ‘Hates Women’ are both demonstrations of how the character doesn’t get on well with others, so that PC is likely to face situations where both conditions could apply. If they had used one of those Bad Habits to show a different side of their character, they would have almost doubled the number of situations where it was possible for them to earn a Survival Point.

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Earlier in the year, James Mullen and his gaming group embarked on something that had not been done before – a campaign of Dead of Night. In July I asked him to talk about the set-up for the Endangered Species campaign, and James laid out some of the rules tweaks that he’d be using to maintain the game over a series of sessions. With the campaign now laid to rest, I’ve asked James to write a series of guest posts reflecting on how Dead of Night worked as a campaign.

The Endangered Species campaign wound up a few months ago and Andrew has kindly asked me to reflect on what we learned from the experience. If you recall, I implemented an extra rule module called Baggage, which acted as an extra life for characters, allowing them to lose something really important to them instead of dying, but it also allowed players to roll 3d10 instead of 2d10 and pick the best 2 results when they narrated the Baggage into the action. During play, we modified this slightly, adding the rule that if you used Baggage to provide a bonus but failed the roll, you immediately lost the Baggage, unless you spent a Survival Point.

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A guest blog by James Mullen.

I’ve wanted to run a zombie apocalypse game for a long time and the release of Dead of Night, 2nd edition seemed like the ideal opportunity to do so. The game I had in mind would riff off Max Brooks’ World War Z and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, so it would be a long-running soap opera with Zombies, spanning weeks, months or even years of the characters’ lives in a post-apocalyptic world.

It was readily apparent that no one had ever run any sort of campaign using Dead of Night before, so the question was: would it work? My experience of running and playing in one shots suggested a high mortality rate and the rules only suggest refreshing 2 Survival Points for each character who survives to appear in a sequel session. If I was going to keep the characters alive for more than a session or two, I was going to need something extra to assist their survival.

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