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Gritty Apocalypse Game


Starhawk

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Hi all, 

 

My first time on the site.

 

I'm trying to put together a gritty post apocalypse game in the Walking Dead/World War Z setting. World War Z component would likely be the zombies and how dangerous they are. Walking Dead in regards to civilisational downfall.. i.e. government gone, I'm not going to run it like a zombie game. I'm going to run it like Asimov's Foundation.

 

I've decided to use the BRP ruleset as I need a ruleset that's quick, intuitive and above all skills based and not level based. I need it to be level based as players will be self training and training others. Wondering if there's other stuff out there that will allow me to keep track of, in very basic terms, the groups supply of necessities and civilisational building blocks.

 

Any opinions, hints and tips would be much appreciated.

 

Cheers

 

Starhawk

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You might want to check out the BRP monograph 'Rubble And Ruin' as it is a post-apocalyptic setting kinda like what you are describing, with less zombies.

I have only perused it briefly, but there is some stuff there to swipe and save you a bit of time. Perhaps someone here with more familiarity with it can describe it much better for you, and see if it is of any use.

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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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I've decided to use the BRP ruleset as I need a ruleset that's quick, intuitive and above all skills based and not level based. I need it to be level based as players will be self training and training others. 

 

BRP is skill-based, not level based. so should be OK. However, you also need it to be level based - is that a typo?
 
 

 

 

Generally, BRP is good at tracking various types of resources. However, there is not much around for tracking necessities.

 

My Land of Ice and Stone supplement, for Legend, has some rules for survival, including rules for starvation, which might be useful, especially if you want to make the food supply important.

 

 

 

Walking Dead has slow zombies, World War Z has fast zombies, BRP has slow zombies, so you would need stats for fast zombies for a WWZ-style game.

 

Both make the bite of a zombie poisonous, which BRP does not do. So, you need rules about that, but they should not involve POT vs CON, as the bite always works. Walking Dead seems to allow amputation of a poisoned limb, so that needs to be included. This makes zombie combat really dangerous for PCs.

 

 

 

 

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Hi Mankam and Soltakss, 

 

Yes, that is a typo. Need a system that allows training by doing and is not level based, since working on stuff and training novices is going to be a big part of the game. D20 modern has the heroic/non heroic dichotomy which I hate and no way outside of adventuring for NPCs to be trained up.

 

Not sure about starvation right off the bat, Massive amounts of agriculture and canned, stored goods in zombieland will likely mean its not a game start issue, but it will almost certainly arise as they take more people into their little haven.

 

As for making combat dangerous. Well I am hinting that taking on zombies hand to hand is suicidal and that technology and tactics need to replace hand to hand. I am starting them in way out in the countryside, Lay Dam in Alabama to be precise, so there's not enough zombies out there to do the "Bus being overturned by a wave of zombies in Jerusalem scene' from World War Z. But that phenomenon will be around in the ruined cities, where a lot of the resources are located. The PCs and their community will have to come up with ways to overcome that phenomenon. I have no idea what they'll opt for... Claymores, heavy vehicles with snowploughs, crowd control turned on its head so as to induce crushing..don't know.

 

BRP is on its way from Amazon right now, so don't have the ruleset yet. Going to need swarming rules, grapples and grabbing and pulling rules that get around armour. I cannot but imagine that the PCs will armour up (I know I would). But will need a fast metric for when folk get swarmed.. 

 

Rubble and Ruin looks like Mad Max, which I'm not going for. 

 

Players have a good thing going but their resourcefulness will be stretched with immediate problems. An early one is going to be outfitting an away team to go mothball two nuclear power stations, one in the south of the state and one in the north which have to be safely powered down and mothballed. The PCs will not be handling the nuts and bolts of that, but will need to provide resources and diversions to the NPC foray that does, since the whole campaign is basically centered around building and maintaining a Haven. 

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I like BRP well enough, but it sounds like Eden Studios' All Flesh Must Be Eaten RPG can do everything you want straight out of the box, especially if you also pick up the One of the Living supplement. Even if you're intent on sticking to BRP as a rules set One of the Living may be worth picking up for reference as it's really thorough. As for the AFMBE core rulebook, the only difference between first and revised edition is that there's directions for d20 in the back of the latter, so you'll be perfectly fine using an older edition.

 

Links:

Eden Studios, Inc. - All Flesh Must Be Eaten

Eden Studios, Inc. - One of the Living Player's Handbook

RPGbericht (Dutch)
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The Morrow Project is a Post Apocalyptic skill based game. It is not BRP, yet was originally developed around the same time as Runequest by Chaosium, (Copyright says 1980.) I have played it, (as recently as two years ago) and have enjoyed it. It is published by http://timelineltd.com/, and as far as I know they are still selling it. It has about 10-11 supplements for it, each between $10-15. While I don't remember it having zombies, there was a scenario where we had to deal with mutants who were zombie like. It uses military stats for most of the equipment, vehicles and arms from actual (current?) items.

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In my opinion all you need is BRP, a good modern equipment /weapons guide, and imagination.

I ran a Walking Dead game with just BRP and Google Maps. It was a lot of fun.

I chose to use The Walking Dead style zombie because of the possible high PC death rate if fast zombies were used, but I also mutated the virus to include animals. More specifically, mammals like dogs.

Google maps is a great resource for any modern style RPG.

With very little house ruling you should have a exciting, gritty campaign.

A little advice though. As the game master you have to be very careful to weigh your encounters carefully to avoid total player kill.

I always kept a group of NPCs handy in case things started looking grim for the PCs .

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Oh, and also, I know you mentioned this but...not every game master keeps track of resources such as food, water, medicines, ect. I think it's VERY important that these are controlled in this type of campaign. It adds to the desperate and even hoplessness of the game. It binds people together and also forces them to do things, sometimes terrible things, they might not normally do.

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Hi Starhawk,

I can direct you to two great games that might be contain rules and inspiration useful for your game: Sine Requie and Nameless Land. SR has zombies as the reason for the apocalypse, but it also focuses on the social structures that the various surviving human civilizations adopt to counter the zombie threat and reorganise human life. Nameless Land has no zombie but has a fantastic, extremely effective resource management rule mechanics that abstracts everything in a number you write on your character sheet.

The only problem is that both games are in Italian, with no translation available. How high is your linguistics skill?

Proud member of the Evil CompetitionTM

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Hi Guys, 

 

Working my way back from most recent post..

 

Rosen McStern, my French is very rusty and my Italian amounts to a few phrases and what I can figure out from my French unfortunately because this material looks great.

 

Tooley1Chris, Google Maps is the way to go I agree. One of the problems I am having with it though is that pretty much only urban areas have street views and by necessity we're starting at a Dam way out in the country.... power, water, concrete, big steel doors.

 

I was in a PBEM game that used Google Maps and it added a lot of realism to the game. I have to find out how the DM annotated the map, since that helped everyone stay on the same page as it were. TPK is also possible, though I am rather hoping that players will fight zombies with technology, tactics and equipment more than with physicality. 

 

Vorax Transtellaris, Morrow Project sounds good but I am going to have to limit the number of books and supplements I buy. 

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Yeah more rural or secure areas would be iffy for Google maps...

Just FYI when I used Google maps for a PbP game at unseen servant, I used MapTools from the VTT RPtools.

It allows you to import any image, like a map, to use as a backdrop and add notes, tokens, other art, ect to it.

Worked great for moving tokens around the map.

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You might want to check out the BRP monograph 'Rubble And Ruin' as it is a post-apocalyptic setting kinda like what you are describing, with less zombies.

I have only perused it briefly, but there is some stuff there to swipe and save you a bit of time. Perhaps someone here with more familiarity with it can describe it much better for you, and see if it is of any use.

 

I have played in a Rubble and Ruin campaign and I can recommend it. Its setting is immediately post-apocalypse, so yes, it is a bit Mad Maxy, but it still has useful rules for food, water, radiation survival etc. Plus the concept of a 'casbah', a safe enclave used by Rubble hunters (which can be high technology). The Modern Equipment Catalog is a useful addition to the game too.

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I know melee combat is to be avoided, but if it does get down to it then I recommend you use the Hit Locations option from the BRP BGB. It lends itself to very tactile and visceral combat scenes, which would suit this setting perfectly

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Hey Tooley1Chris, 

 

Got the program. Had to learn more than I ever knew about Java to get the thing to download. Can I ask you how you get a Googlemap onto the thing?

 

Cheers

Save the map, i think i used the snipit screen capture app for this, but any screenshot would work.

Drag the pic onto maptools map area, adjust size as needed.

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Thanks RosenMcStern, 

 

Good point on locational damage. I imagine cuts all over to a zombie wouldn't count towards general hit points in the same way. Zombies don't go into shock. You'd probably have to do double hit point damage to most locations to render that location useless, which would have different effects depending on the location. Going into negatives in the head would, I think, kill the zombie outright. Have to consider the different outcomes depending on whether a crushing, slicing or penetrating weapon is used. 

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Wondering if I've bitten off more than I can chew. My plan is to have stocks of food, water, parts, metal, wood etc that the players use up over time... basically like the start of a Warcraft game with a mine, forest etc. It's not going to be a traditional game as it's more of a kingdom creation game with players having to go out on away missions to get the things they need, take care of enemies, clear a particular land area etc. I envisage them having to expend lots of resources on supporting allies as well. First ones to come being a nuclear engineer and some bodyguards needing supplies to get them to the next nuclear power station that needs to be powered down.. They'll need food, ammo, transport etc.. things the players will want to keep. On the other hand preventing a nuclear power station going critical is in everyone's interest.

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The kind of thing I'm expecting to see is folk using padded arms with hooks so when the zombie bites the closest thing it can see, it can't let go. Sure, you'll have a zombie's head attached to your arm, but at least it won't get a second chance to bite you. If you're with friends, they can take it out, while you grapple with it, secure in the knowledge that it can't bite you now.

 

Their location is the Lay Dam in Alabama. Thus they will have river access to lots of places by water. The watercourse extends all the way to the sea at Mobile, and north and east for hundreds of miles as well.

 

Zombies sink like stones, so water is a good defensive strategy. I do imagine the players using scuba gear. I have an image in my mind of the players in scuba gear swimming along a canal, the bottom of which is festooned with zombies, stuck in the mud, reaching up to try and grab them.

 

Zombies washed downstream will start piling up against the dam. That'll be fun..

 

Hospitals with emergency power will have massive drug supplies, some of it will only keep if its continuously refrigerated. 

 

Space will be at a premium, since everything has to fit inside the concrete walls of the dam.. What do you choose to fill the space with.. more food, production facilities, people? What do you spend your hours on.. training, building, looting. What social and political organisation do you opt for? What become the laws? What do you do when another bunker (everyone left alive is living in bunkers.. kinda like humans in the Big Rubble in Glorantha) runs into problems? How much energy do you devote to trying to save knowledge? Do you turn your bunker into a zombie slaughtering magnet and abbatoir ?

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How scientific vs magical do you want the zombies?

 

By magical, I mean that they defy the laws of physics and biological examples in that they don't rot, the muscular system still functions despite clear damage etc. By scientific, I mean that they still follow nature's laws and will "die" a second time once the environment, bacteria, etc have finished decomposing them. That bones cannot move without muscle tissue and that rotted or absent muscle tissue is significant to the abilities of the zombie.

 

Btw, I had a survival campaign in mind that had "rage" zombies as well as Romero zombies, that this thread has helped re-invigorate. In the campaign, the initial trigger for the pandemic was going to be slowly revealed to the players as a parasitic infection that affected the nervous system and created Romero's. This would allow players to develop strategies and gain equipment to defeat classic, shambling zombies and keep the lethality proportional to their skills. There would be various road adventures in which the characters sought equipment, tinned food etc and dealt with other hostiles such as animals packs, human marauders, as well as zombie hordes. As the survival horror element started to dullen, I was going to have them role play the need to re-establish society and build adequate defenses and survival systems (water harvesting, food production etc.) to allow them time to explore the meta questions of how and what caused the pandemic? How many other survivors are there out there? What of the military? Potential cures etc.

 

At some point (probably when the players felt secure in their defenses and fighting stances) I was going to introduce the rage zombies. They would run faster but would also rot faster. Only new deaths would result in rage zombies and it would be even more slowly revealed to be the unfortunate result of a military run, scientist base's attempt to create a "solution" to the Romeros. 

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Hi Jae, 

 

I was thinking kinda magical. As in animated by a process that defies scientific analysis, such that they have essentially infinite energy and do not rot. But scientific in that you shatter one's leg and it cannot continue walking, or in the case of this game.. running. Haven't worked out the senses yet. I was thinking some kind of cross dimensional energy (that spreads like a virus). This idea is from Barbara Hambly's Ladies of Mandrigyn novel. 

 

Yes, your concept and mine are essentially the same. 1. Survive the initial onslaught. 2. Develop the resources and strategies to go on the offensive. 

 

There are going to be a lot of NPCs, so the PCs have a community that supports them. Some of this is inspired by Barbara Hambly's Time of the Dark series, where humanity retreats to Keeps when human civilisation is overwhelmed by far more powerful monsters.

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