Bad luck continues to rain down on four friends as they try in vain to weather the storm of Mother Nature’s wrath.
Intro Music: Controlled Chaos by Kevin Macleod
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5 comments on “The End of the World: Gaea’s Revenge 2 of 2”
Great game, thanks again for letting us listen in. All of the ideas at end of session sound like winners.
Though I like idea of the Reservoir Dog Day Afternoon of the Dead, and the special forces/swat team sounds great (not just cause I got name dropped [though that helps :D]); a religious apocalypse is always a a trip, as it allows for the potential full blown existential melt down from the active atheists and the inactive/fallen away [your faith here!] which have come to grips with the decision that is now biting them in the ass.
Hey Fandible’s Crew,
I’ve been really enjoying your actual play sessions of Fantasy Flight Gamesâ€™s End Of The World line. Following the ending of the Gaia apocalypse the crew made some comments on their experience with the game and some things that they thought might need to be changed. I thought I’d put together a little compilation of suggestions to make the game more enjoyable (specifically for Jerryâ€™s player).
Use more mental and social rolls. Logic is one of the easiest characteristics to make use of. It provides awareness of your surroundings and the ability to think on your feet. What could be more important to a survivor than that? Take the situation with the sea lions outside Bruce’s Moms place for example. A logic test might be used to find a fire escape you can access in an alley with convenient vine handholds on the walls to climb your way up. Got a group of zombies shambling this way? Use logic to think on your feet and roll under a car or dive into a dumpster to hide while the zombies shamble past.
Willpower is the quintessential characteristic every character in a horror game needs to keep calm. Rational people survive, people who panic die. Remember that each test has two axisâ€™ upon which resolution is determined. First is sucess/failure. Second is stress. When you are laying under that car watching the zombies shamble past a failure could mean you lose your nerve and bolt or whimper and attract attention. The stress you do or don’t take determines how much you are shaken over the longer term, but what is important at the time of the roll is suceed or fail.
Charisma is ever so important when your game is set in one of the most population dense locations in the world. All those people aren’t going to be able to get out at once, and that means running into them while you are stuck in the jam like everyone else. The gang likes to Hotwire cars? Well not everyone has that skill, but still want an escape vehicle or your supplies. Other survivors can be just as much a threat as the apocalypse itself in those early days. People will be desperate. Charisma will determine if you can convince them to back off or else, or maybe that this isn’t the example they want to set for their kids (parents get crazy when it comes to protecting/providing for them).
Empathy is just as pivotal when dealing with those sneaky parents! Did they really take your words to heart, or are they just waiting till you go to sleep to rob you blind? Who is going to convince Bruce that humans are worth fighting for when the NPCâ€™s are driving off in their ill begotten car? Who will keep Jerry company when he finally has to leave Fuk & Suk Me behind?
When you use physical rolls, vary it up. Dexterity may be the attack stat, but vitality is all about conditioning (which may be important while trying to outrun whatever threat is present). A lot of activities you might default to Dex can actually be used with other characteristics. The book uses logic for lock picking, so don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path.
When in combat attacking is not your only option. For low Dex characters like Jerry, you can assist an ally and give them an extra positive die. In addition you take no penalties or stress for doing so! Don’t be afraid to have the Hurricane Bros team up to spank that monkey. Running is often an option, as is using actions other than attack. Grab a chair to hold back the zombies with and make their attacks opposed using your vitality!
On the ZM (Zombie Mastertm) side of things, make sure you are only giving out negative dice that matter. Being dark could be worth a negative die, but is that darkness really hindering people shimmying across a makeshift bridge? Does the height matter if characters are unlikely to fall? Is this test even about the possibility of a fall, or the fear or falling? Remember that two part resolution from above. What happens if they fail the check? Are they hanging by the arms over a large drop or are they unable to muster up the courage to shimmy crossed this death trap? What failure looks like will determine what you test.
Pacing can and should effect the number of rolls and how difficult you make them. Want the game to go up in a blaze of glory that ends in 4 hours? Make sure to test often and harshly. Allow their actions to fail forwards till they inevitably bite the bullet. Fail that fear check? Add a negative die to their check to shimmy across for their fear/shaking hands. Fail the check to shimmy across? You drop that flashlight as your hand slips and it plummets down into the alley below with a loud crash. Maybe your jacket snags on a nail left sticking out and you have to ditch it to get loose.
Don’t be afraid to hit them in the resources. It drives up the desperation and deprives them of one of the prime motivators of the game. Stress will happen from attacks or uncancelled dice, but you need failures for what happens when it is not an attack. Once they fail you need to move on. Do not keep letting them reatempt. If the action can be attempted adnaseum without consequence then there shouldn’t be a test made. There either has to be some kind of dramatic tension(which would be a good example of a place to have multiple checks with failure being a â€˜not yetâ€™ result. The lock picking check from the book is a good example of this as the zombies provide tension for the character to possibly accrue stress and failure may not mean they cannot keep trying.) to allow them to keep rolling or a definite sucess/failure result which forces the story to keep moving. Attacks are of course exempt from the above.
Also don’t be afraid to deviate from the rules in the book. A quality knife with locking mechanism may operate as per the books suggestion, but a cheap Swiss Army knife with no locking mechanism is prone to injuring the user in a fight. Make that positive a negative to reflect that it is not well designed as a weapon. Not every creature needs to use a full PC style stress track. You can reduce stress tracks to make the fights more cinematic or to simulate things like zombies with lots of rot or preexisting injuries. Likewise, small animals do not need 9 stress boxes.
A cool hack can be to have NPCâ€™s gain traumaâ€™s as their stress is depleted. Don’t have the damage convert, just add a descriptor and a negative for the trauma. Get a good swing in with that fire axe? Off comes the arm and now the zombie has another negative die in its attack. It makes the fights feel dynamic and the actions of the players feel like they are having an immediate impact instead of just hacking away until it dies.
I hope that you find some of this useful and it enriches your End of the World games in the future. Iâ€™m looking forward to Revelations but I’m most interested to see how you all tackle Pandemic. The Zombies in that scenario are really powerful and I still haven’t figured out how to handle them without brutally murdering the party in the first encounter. I’m hoping you guys will come up with a cool solution I can steal.
CallMeIshma3l – I’ve been scoping out the various churches and other religious-affiliated buildings in my neighborhood, trying to figure out interesting Revelation-based scenarios for each of them (I love living in a neighborhood that gives me multiple Christian-denomination churches, in multiple languages; at least one Catholic church; an Indonesian Buddhist center; and an Islamic community center all within a few blocks. Expand that to a mile and we get synagogues and Hindu temples as well!). If/when we hit that scenario, it shall definitely be interesting.
Steven – Thanks so much for that in-depth analysis! I will definitely be coming back to this post before I run my next End of the World game.
I’m curious… So, Carter has a flaw called ‘near sighted’. It was suggested in the book. However, if he is wearing his glasses, should this flaw be ignored since I’ve corrected the negative with a positive (glasses)?
It seems like a good place to use the equipment rules. Glasses add a positive die, near sided adds a negative one. Both could cancel each other out or come up on top. Most people without corrected vision don’t have 20/20, so glasses could improve a persons vision above the average joe. On the other hand, glasses don’t work unless you are looking out the front of them (vs down at your feet or out the corner of your eye). It could also be that they aren’t staying in place. Either way eye fatigue could result from that uncancelled negative. Contacts could get grime in them and irritate eyes if the negative didn’t get cancelled with them.
This approach keeps equipment consistent. Equipment is a big deal in the end of the world (hope you don’t lose or get those glasses crushed!) and should be kept in mind both by the players and GM. How much worse would losing your glasses be on that failed check to shimmy across the gap that I mentioned above?