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System and other advice for a Survivor campaign 
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Post System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
Yes, the reality show. I posted this on rpg.net and so far got nothing. I wonder if it's a question of demographics, because it sure seems weird that there wouldn't be a single system suggestion over there!

I'm mulling around the idea of running a mini-campaign (maybe 6-8 sessions) taking place in the filming of a season of Survivor. I haven't fleshed out all the parameters yet, but the basic idea is that things go terribly, terribly wrong right from the beginning and the PCs have to try and survive. How things go wrong, I'm not quite sure, but I'm thinking along the lines of a storm coming in and isolating the cast and crew, a serial killer among the cast & crew, angry natives/revolutionaries targetting cast & crew, evil machinations by desperate producer to create a truly shocking show, etc.

I would like to have at least one session with a real filming of the show before the shit hits the fan, with their challenges and voting off and all that stupid crap on the show.

One of the players in our group is a big follower and knows these shows inside out. I have only my moral loathing and a few episodes, so I'll need to brush up on how it works.

I would like to try and include some of the social conflicts and tension that is the heart of the actual show as well as basic physical conflicts. I don't expect there to be a lot of actual combat, but more escaping, survival, betrayal, in-fighting and so on.

As a group, we like our games to be fairly traditional in structure, though we are comfortable using some more narrative elements to enrich the structure (flashbacks, zooming out for conflict resolution). We're okay with rules for social conflict as well. But PTA, for instance, is probably going too far into the narrative zone for us.

I'm comfortable going very light, but I think the other players like a bit of crunch. We are currently playing Savage Worlds (Deadlands) and everyone is pretty happy with the rules. We liked ORE and Unknown Armies as well.

Personally, right now, I'm thinking about using Over the Edge, and adding a social hit points track.

So hit me up with your suggestions for a system you think would work well here. I'm also open to any general suggestions on plot devices, tips on running a Survivor game, etc.

Thanks!

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Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:53 am
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
You could use BRP for this, and here's how I might do it:

BRP is a skill based game of variable crunch level. It's highly adaptable to various uses. I would probably completely customize the skill list to reflect the skills needed in the game. I would probably beef up the social interaction part of it because BRP doesn't really have complex rules for this, but I have some ideas how it might work. I would have several social skills to reflect different ways of changing people's opinion, such as INTIMIDATE, DECEIVE, INGRATIATE, and LOGIC - or something like that.

I would adapt the sanity system into a toughness or survival system. This would work similar to CoC sanity, but called Toughness. Your toughness would be tested each time you had to eat a giant slug, discovered you were betrayed by your BFF on the island, lost the chance to call home, or saw someone step on a landmine in Survivor Vietnam. Failing tests would result in short term or long term breakdowns.

If there were NPC survivors in the game, too, I would consider using the allegiance system in the book to similate the different factions.

And with that, I think you're off an running.
Oh - I would also use hit locations to better simulate sprains and wounds and how they might impact people in the game. But that's probably not a necessary element.

Thalaba

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Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:32 pm
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
Hmmm, very interesting suggestion.

I bought the BRP basic book when it came out, but just never could get myself to read it, not having a real need for it, though a general appreciation for generic systems. I eventually sold it to clear space. There is one person in my group who is prejudiced against it as well.

That being said, your idea of using the sanity system for survival or toughness is really spot-on, the kind of ideas I was looking for. It makes a ton of sense and as the GM, I can attack their "survival" or "toughness" or just "keeping it together" from many angles. I don't like disempowering the PCs, but I'm sure I could find several creative ways for the players themselves to input into how their players finally lose it. But it really could work well to capture the civilized, self-involved wannabe hollywood starlet slowly breaking down in the face of "real" reality.

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Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:01 pm
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
It's been a while since I read it, but I bet the Shab-al-hiri Roach could be totally adapted to this setting, too. But that's a whole different kind of game - maybe not mainstream and crunchy enough.

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Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:12 pm
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
My suggestion here is PDQ. Mainly because it has a "combat system" that is applicable to things other than combat, like the various types of conflict and competition that occur on those shows.


Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:44 pm
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
Ah yes, the famous "he was punched in the girlfriend" factor. I'll look into it.

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Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:46 am
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
Not just that, but the system can be stretched to accommodate things like negotiations or competitions, rather than simply combat.


Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:17 pm
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
Cool. Which is the book I should get for this? I know PDQ comes in many flavours. I believe there is a generic one in a smaller free version and possibly in a larger non-free version?

If I run this, it will probably be in the early spring. I'm going to put together a prospectus for the players of 3-4 potential mini-campaign ideas and this one will be one of them. Right now, it's the one I'm most interested in but we shall see.

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Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:22 pm
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
http://www.atomicsockmonkey.com/freebies.asp#pdq

Here's the link to the PDQ core rules. Just below it is the PDQ# rules, which are a bit more crunchy.


Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:09 pm
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Post Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
walkerp wrote:
Yes, the reality show. I posted this on rpg.net and so far got nothing. I wonder if it's a question of demographics, because it sure seems weird that there wouldn't be a single system suggestion over there!


I'm about like you as far as the show goes. Just can't seem to get into it (or reality shows in general).

I don't think there are RPG mechanics that mirror or even come close to the semi-PvP nature of a reality show, so you're probably better off sticking with a system you're comfortable/familiar with and just playing up the roleplaying aspects. Oddly enough, you'll also want a system that emphasizes cooperation so you can keep the challenges interesting and avoid having everything come down to a single skill check.

Here's something along the lines of what I would do, though. I would have everyone write out a bunch of traits such as outward demeanors (friendly, mysterious, etc.) and true nature (generous, conniving, etc.) or maybe even archetypes such as Leader or Bully or Tramp and possibly professions. Then fold them up and place them in a "bowl" in the center of the table.

The players make characters, then pull a few notes to create the background and goals for their character. As their characters are eliminated, they draw new traits and create new characters. Obviously this only works if chargen is a breeze (PIG's genreDiversion system always works for me in that regard). You might even consider having everyone player two or three characters to start with.

I would run the whole campaign "tournament style" assigning points for different things, like completing individual and team challenges, discovering hidden items on the "island," creating alliances, that sort of thing. Characters would also gain bonus points for staying true to their nature/archetypes, etc. These points would be used to influence the votes of NPCs to see who gets voted off the show that week.

I would also try to include video moments where characters can give their opinions on other characters. These might be doled out as rewards for play or rolled randomly and they would also add points.

Anyway, just a few thoughts I've had before when I was looking for something to publish commercially--never could get into the show though, which is something else you should probably do before trying to run a campaign. Call it research, grit your teeth, strap yourself to a chair, prop your eyes open with toothpicks and try to watch a whole season or two. :)

Good luck!

Pete

PS- and doggone it, curse you for making me think about a Survivor RPG again--I hope I can move on to other things before I actually slip up and try to work out some real mechanics for this. :)

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