Bugged by the alien-ant-apocalypse infesting New York City, four friends have a plan to escape. Will they succeed…or be exterminated?
Intro Music: Controlled Chaos by Kevin Macleod
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6 comments on “The End of the World: Skitter 2 of 2”
And this is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but a skittering, chewing noise
I’ve got to say the End of the Word games are all a really fun listen, and I second the motion to blow up the guy’s apartment sometime. I’m sure they’d still find a way to get blackout drunk, but having them have to start the apocalypse in a drunk tank might give them a new way to shake up the scenario.
Also as the token Canadian listener I actually have a fair amount of maple syrup on hand, and live close to a large body of water, so the antpocalypse may be the one scenario I survive.
EDF! EDF! EDF!
Yeah… I think End of the World has become my favorite. Great game, guys!
Hey Fandible Crew,
Loved the actual play. I was really glad to see you guys making use of the teamwork rules, it seemed to be helping. In that vein of thinking I have a few more ideas for your consideration (turns out it was more than a few. I’m really sorry about the length. Please don’t take this in a negative way. I love the podcast and would not want to discourage you from playing it again!).
Describe before you roll. When Kevin was trying to fix the car he looked for equipment and help, which is great, but I think he missed an opportunity. Perhaps the engine wasn’t working because some kind of hot hose pulled loose. Using a spare pair of jeans as a rag would help keep him from burning himself. That’s a potential extra positive die to his pool and some extra narrative. Win win yeah?
Describing gives you the ability to come up with a good approach or a piece of equipment you might have skipped because it wasn’t obvious. It also gives the ZM (zombies forever!) the ability to narrate interesting consequences of failure or stress. Maybe Kevin calls for Bruce to turn it over and the pants get caught in a belt. Now the car is still busted, and Kevin has no pants. Perhaps that stress is caused by steam burns when the hose bursts or breaks loose in the attempt fire it up.
Helping dice and equipment can provide multiple dice of benefit depending on how applicable they are to the roll at hand. A firebomb could be a great distraction for another players attempt at an attack. It might even be worth an extra two dice instead of one as that distraction (instead of just attacking together for one die). Again this goes back to narration on the part of the players and the gm prompting said narration.
A good tactic to bring about a more narrative focused game is to keep asking, â€œwhat does that look like?â€ or â€œHow are you accomplishing that?â€. It’s a core concept of a game called Torchbearer. The game is based on the mouseguard system and burning wheel but seeks to run an old school homage to dungeon crawlers. It’s very cool if you have yet to check it out (and easier to play than burning wheel while adding depth to mouseguard). I highly recommend it.
When you ask for a die roll without asking the players what they are doing you are robbing them of agency. Sometimes this is fine (reactive rolls to notice, fear checks, etc). Other times it is an impediment to good collaborative stories. In the scene where they are being surrounded at the dock there is a dex check called for. I’m not sure what the check was for or what the characters were doing. The group might have jumped in the water to avoid the ants (in which case no check may have been needed at all. This too is a torch bearer concept called Good Idea where sometimes a clever idea can circumvent the need to roll). Calling for a specific check implies a specific approach which closes off options for your players.
On reactive rolls (such as a logic roll to notice something on the run to the docks) try using loaded questions to prompt narration. â€œWhat were you looking out for while you were running?â€ or â€œHow are you keeping calm as the zombies shamble past?â€. Not sure if those were as loaded as I originally thought, but they accomplish my goal of getting the players to give us insight into the characters. What might have been four solo attempts not to freak out could morph based on the response. A player’s response that they know everything will be fine because Jeremy is with them could result in some positive die (maybe even more if there is some kind of reassuring physical contact).
I think you guys aren’t running traumas per the book. Not sure if this is on purpose or any accident. The way they work per the book is you take a trauma equal to the line you have any stress in. So you can’t choose to take two level one traumas instead of a second level one. In reference to my previous points I recommend keeping a list of ideas based on how their stress is building. Something like: bitten on hand for 1. The injury could be an amalgam of the various stresses, or it could be that the bite was superficial and that the 3 stress steam burn is what is going to come to the fore. Bear in mind the acquisition of traumas is a collaborative process, so make those pesky players keep the list (and their dog too!).
On the subject of lethality, I think you need to reassess your expectations. At the end of the game a number of players were into their thirst stress track. Those are major traumas that will not go away in short order. It takes a month to reduce a third level trauma to a second, a week to go from second to first, then a day to get rid of it all together. This assumes you are able to treat the trauma immediately and not put more pressure on it in the meantime. That freezing water could have resulted in pneumonia or some other illness that the players have to rest up and receive care for, for a whole month. Considering they dropped their packs, they were screwed. Characters with other traumas prior to the one they would take at the end would be two traumas from death. If this were a continuing game, the first session would have crushed their hopes for a long running game.
Consider multiple types of failure. If you can’t convince the hipster sea captain to give you the keys out of the goodness of his heart, then maybe he’s willing to trade. It’s the food for the boat or no deal! A failed drive check could result in being forced onto an unfamiliar route instead of a collision. You can’t find a way through the blocked traffic and will have to go around or even hoof it (gasp!). When it comes time to make that drive check you’ll want to know what failure means. Narrate the situation so that the players know what is going on and can respond. When the dice hit the table everyone should have an inkling of what is at stake.
Give the players hard choices. It is easy to decide to club a hipster when you can’t see a way forward. If he offers you a compromise, then it becomes much more clear how much of a cold hearted bastard you are when you club him instead of trading. They might decide they can’t spare the food and take a threatening tack with him after that to try and avoid physical conflict. â€œYou know we can’t give you the food. Give us the keys so this doesn’t have to get ugly.â€ They might even have to get physical with him, but I bet it will mean more if they had options but made a choice to pursue this one. All roleplaying games are really about choice, and the hard ones are always the juiciest.
I think it would be cool if you guys would run through the post session advancement stuff. You may discover it is more significant than you realized. Just because there is no xp, levels, or dots doesn’t mean that advancement isn’t possible.
Anyway, I’ve prattled on long enough. I hope some of this helps you and that I haven’t been disheartening. Keep playing good games!
That was pretty excellent. I’m surprised everyone made it out. That’s unusual.
Once you run through every scenario, you need to run the special scenario where they figure out this multiverse thing. Give Jerry his Instrumentality scenario. He’ll be the only person who has any idea about what’s going on when the ocean turns orange-red and giant crosses start bursting out all over the place.