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Author Topic: Big Brother Zombie!  (Read 1333 times)
jrnmariano
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« on: March 01, 2009, 09:01:02 AM »

Over at Ideonauta (http://ideonauta.blogspot.com), my partner-in-crime, Poacher, is writing a game of zombies in a reality show. I'm re-posting stuff here, because The Forge is the creative game designing think-thank that could really help designing it, but feel free to comment at either place, if you will

So, without further ado, the Big Three Questions for Big Brother Zombie.

What is the game about?

It's about conflict, trust and betrayal under extreme situations, on a closed house and without any chance to get out, where a ravening zombie is occasionally thrust, and/or a corresponding weapon to kill it. As the tension mounts, will it be preferable to kill the zombie to survive and thus win the show, or to kill your fellow contestant that can either help you in a moment or betray you on the next?

What do the characters do?

Characters are Contestants on a reality shoe taken to an extreme. Instead of only living mundane and boring situations live, they get the chance to live boring and mundane situation against the undead!

What do the players do?

Players have direct influence on the game through the Confessionals, a mechanic that works just like those you see on reality shows, influence the conflicts of their characters with others through scaling said conflicts and resolving their consequences, compete for Popularity and trust one another so they can kill zombies.
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jrnmariano
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2009, 09:02:01 AM »

--~~--

"Let's meet our Contestants for tonight! Beggining with Marco, a former Marine who has been in jail for assault!"

The characters in BBZ are called Contestants. All Contestants are in the BBZ home for one reason: to be the sole survivor of the game for as long as it lasts in order to win the million dollar prize at the end. They have something dark that leads them to enter the house and these reasons are varied, and they know that although the prize is absolutely fabulous, they only win if they are more courageous, durable and skilled than the rest, not counting the Zombie occasionally released in the House. It's also helpfull if they have a good physical presence for the good viewers at home.

Each Contestant in BBZ has Abilities that help in overcoming the various Tasks that will be imposed by Big Brother, has a Skill from his past that it can be useful, and also has a Disorder which may or may not be evident, both for the Contestants and the viewers, but it is there, and it was because of it that the Big Brother management chose them to participate.

When creating their Contestants, each player has 6 points available to divide between the following Abilities:

Courage, that helps in resisting the fear of zombies and imposing the Contestant's will on others;
Presence, which serves as a measure of the Contestant's charisma and its popularity with the public at home, and finally
Vigor, which helps in the physical tasks in the house and is essential to resist the fight against the zombies

In addition the player can still choose for his Contestant a Skill from his past thar can be usefull in the house. Some examples are:

Used cars salesman, +1 for Tests of Presence, where you want to convince someone of something extraordinary
Arrested for assault, +1 for Tests of Courage, for intimidation and violence involving shouts
Retired baseball player, +1 for Tests of Vigor, when wielding baseball bats

These are just some examples, players are obviously encouraged to be more creative, but the rule is simple: a Skill is always worth only a bonus of +1, when and only when that condition is met.

Finally, each Contestant has a Disorder that haunts him inside the house and therefore influences the roleplay of the player, and that will, hopefully!, be a source of Conflicts with other Contestants.

A simple list of disorders, which players are encouraged to expand, follows:

Is distracted
Is lazy
Insults people
Stresses easily
Is aggressive
Is possessive

Each time that, during a Task in the House or in Conflict with other Contestants, or fighting against the Zombies, the player chooses his Contestant to show his Disturbance, then the Contestant gets 1 point of Popularity. There must be, of course, some common sense: an Aggressive Contestatn will not gain more Popularity by constantly fight the Zombies, but a Distracted Contestant will most certainly win a Point of popularity if he forgets to close the door and a Zombie enters the room where everyone is hiding!

Finally, the Contestant has two aspects that will develop in their stay in the house, their Trust with the other Contestants, and Their Popularity.

The Trust starts at 0 for all Contestants, when they still do not know each other and had no opportunity to establish links between them. As these links are being established and strengthened during the stay in the house, this figure will certainly change. The Trust helps the links established with Contestants who are cooperating in an operation, and it is also extremely important if one of the Contestants decides to betray the other! Remember, only one can win the BBZ, and to win means to be the last survivor!

The Popularity begins with a value equal to the Presence -1, and can rise to twice the value of the Presence. Popularity helps the Contestants in the form of extra dice they can add to their pool, during a Test, and goes up by doing things that appeal to viewers at home, like performing their Tasks better that everyone else (even if that means the others cease to trust him!), violence between Contestants, and treachery!

The mechanics for Trust Popularity will be developed in a future post.

Please note that there is no reference to life points or similar mechanics in the BBZ: this is will be explained and developed in another post, but should reinforce the following: despite the title, Big Brother Zombie is much more about Conflicts between Contestants, than about shooting the Zombies (although that is also fun).
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2009, 01:15:18 PM »

Question 1:

Have you seen "Dead Set"?

It's a comedy TV series about a world overtaken by Zombies and some of the few survivors left in the world are the Big Brother household...because they've been quarantined from the outside world while the zombie plague spread.

Question 2:

Have you seen any of the stuff I'm working on regarding a supernatural reality TV show?

I just thought I'd point this put in case you did come across it later and claim that I stole your idea...

V
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2009, 03:50:49 PM »

Quote
As the tension mounts, will it be preferable to kill the zombie to survive and thus win the show, or to kill your fellow contestant that can either help you in a moment or betray you on the next?
Not that it necessarily matters, but I don't quite get this premise? Unless their betrayal involves trying to kill me, why would I try to kill them (for the prize? If I was willing to kill for that, then the zombie element doesn't really matter - I'd be ready to kill in a standard big brother house). As I said, me not getting it doesn't necessarily matter.

I was thinking perhaps if it was a question of whether you would sabotage your fellow contestants attempts to kill the zombie (cause they'd win the prize), with no attempt to kill them, that I get as a premise? Because if you sabotage their attempt, even if you didn't mean to kill them, you make them vunerable to the zombies attack. Will you lie to yourself that they'll be alright and only fail to kill the zombie, in your desire to win? Will you tell yourself that your only stopping them from killing it to win the game and that's what the games about, and go into denial about what life threatening ramifications that will have?

Actually, that's not a bad comment to make on cosumer society and the fallout of cheap goods for other people in other countries (sweat shops), or even for the jobs of people in your own country. OOPS! Not supposed to talk about this outloud! Quick, back under the veneer of zombie fantasy! >Smiley
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Luke
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2009, 09:59:45 PM »

J-
The Big Three are: What is your game about? How is your game about that? How does your game reward that behavior?

I'm being pedantic for a reason. Callan has intuited it. You haven't answered the third question. It's very fashionable to have "conflict, trust and betrayal" in a roleplaying game, but just saying those words doesn't mean they belong in the game or that the game supports that type of play.

Let me cut to the chase: Why would I betray anyone in your game?

-L
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2009, 10:50:08 PM »

*embarresed*
I just noticed the terms are you have to be the lone survivor.

Now I get the premise, but not the terms it's judged in - ie, whether they would 'help' you or 'betray' you. If your going into the game planning to be the sole survivor, I don't see how you could help someone else or betray them or trust them? Their dead meat to you and surely the notion of helping means you want them to be live meat not just now, but for the long term? So your never helping them, only helping yourself in a roundabout way if you do anything that actually assists them. And the idea of betrayal doesn't work from my perspective - they know the terms of the game and that you want them dead, even if you use them in the short term. There is no shocking betrayal if you try to kill them? And trust them? If their dead meat to you - well, is that trust or just looking for a predictable schmo to do exactly as you would predict they would do?

Then again I didn't quite get that RPG where your manga schoolkids who are in a huge deathmatch to the last man standing. If you know the conditions, I don't know how you can have genuine relationships with anyone else (except to fall into them by habit, perhaps), unless your planning to kill the guys running the deathmatch or escape it all or such, and as I understood it, that wasn't an endgame option.

Perhaps it's the gamist in me, but if it's last man standing, there is no trust or betrayal or help or even people. There are only resources...which reminds me of the Dunyain in the prince of nothing series.

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Rui!
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2009, 12:48:43 PM »

Hey guys, I'm Rui!, also known as Poacher on rpg.net, and the main designer of BBZ.

Let me try and answer your questions:

@Vulpinoid: I was aware of Dead Set some 5 minutes after thinking of BBZ: I did a quick Google search for any games with these points, and instead found Dead Set. Despite the similarities (Big Brother and Zombies), I think the two premises are fundamentally different: one has zombies outside the house, as in a siege situation just like any common zombie flick, the other has zombies constantly thrown purposeflly into the house, to add excitment, drama and violence to the reality show - and the tasks are not about the amount of food the contestants get (as in real life Big Brother), but about which weapons you get, if any.*

I didn't know of your game, and I wouldn't claim you (or anyone) stole any of my ideas; I've noticed, from reading several fora across the internet, that several of my ideas have been made by one or more people in a way or another; things are bound to come up, in one form or another; that's just the natural way of things, and they won't change in the future. My game is almost made, so you can check it when I'm finished posting it, and see for youself if any of your ideas are coincident with mine.


@Luke: I thought the Big Three where the ones posted by Troy Costisik a while ago. I'll try and address these ones as soon as I get the time. Also, I think some of the answers you're wanting will be replied on my next posts on Ideonauta (the blog where I'm posting all this stuff), but I think I can lift the veil a bit here...

@Callan S.: ... which also tie in with Callan's question. The way the game's written, you can only kill a zombie really dead (pardon the pun and the english...) if you get at least twice the number of successes as the zombie, which is impossible if you don't cooperate or if you don't have Popularity points (which give extra dice), or a weapon (which you won't have during the first Scenes and don't give that many dice). So, for the first Scenes, you have to cooperate to get bigger and better weapons (during Tasks) and to beat the Zombies earlier on the game. Later on, as the game draws closer to the final and you've made some friends along the way, you can go all alone and that's where the crap starts hitting the fan.

Sorry to be so misterious, but things really are going to look clearer later on.

A thing I'd like some help on is: wouldn't be cool if a Zombie also gained Popularity points? Or if a zombified player could keep playing?

Thanks for the replies; you've made me think about my game, which is really cool. I only have myself and Mariano to question our stuff, so you guys are being really helpfull.


*if this seems like a reply I gave on storygames, that's because I'm only now checking replies for this. ;-)
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Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2009, 06:51:36 PM »

I don't see why they would make friends, if they know in advance these 'friends' will have to die and you'll either kill them yourself or whistle while the zombie does it? Or whether it could be called anything like the co-operation you would see between two people who both want and intend the other to keep living at the end of the activity. Anyone who made friends makes me think they are what Sirlin calls 'a scrub'. But at the same time in his survivor account, where people played to notions of honour and friendship which really did not match the ruleset at all. It really happens. So maybe this is would be a big roleplay challenge for myself personally and rather than characters forming friendships wouldn't happen, it would simply be really hard for me to play out such a character (a mountain perhaps too high, so to speak).

Just giving my perspective, though as I said, it may not matter.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2009, 07:02:25 PM »

This is exactly the sort I thing I was trying to get across in my one-page game "Guerrilla Television"

If the background story in play for the session was "Zombies", then a player could confront the zombies and possibly die in the chance...or they could "Sell Out" and become a zombie for the remainder of the game.

In this game, it would be possible for zombies to maintain their appeal with the viewers, but they'd lose the ability to win the game...after all, they'd have to be put out of their misery when the show comes to a conclusion (or maybe they'd make an appearance as a carry-over champion in a future session).

I deliberately kept this version of my rules extremely streamlined. So there is a lot of detail that could have been added, but wasn't for the sake of brevity.

I'd definitely be interested to see the directions your game ends up taking.

V

 
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chance.thirteen
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Posts: 210


« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2009, 11:55:16 AM »

Are you allowed to just murder the others? Or only allowed to leave them to the Zombie?
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Rui!
Member

Posts: 11


« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2009, 01:06:49 PM »

@Callan S.: I think it's human nature to find friendship in hardship, I guess; I have no means to test this theory, I can only give examples from what I've seen on film and on tv: the Cube Trilogy might be a good analog, or that japanese flick where everybody dies, or even the real life Big Brother shows where they form little groups, even though they know only one can win. No other way to express it, I'm afraid; I'm gonna have to wait for the playtest.

@Vulpinoid: If you don't mind, I'll try and have a look at your game; I'm really at a loss there, and all ideas are welcome!

@chance.thirteen: PvP is welcomed in BBZ; by betraying someone, you get a load of dice (the ones invested in the relationship) and your Popularity goes up!
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Rui!
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Posts: 11


« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2009, 02:55:24 PM »

@Callan S.: I've had the opportunity to read Sirlin's post about Rich and Survivor, and I think that's the only way to play BBZ; in fact, I going to write a comment asking if I can adapt those to a "how to play BBZ" section. Thanks!
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Rui!
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2009, 10:31:38 AM »

"Contestants, your Task for today is simple: inside that Zombie is the key that opens the safe with the chainsaw. You only have to open the safe to have access to a weapon that can turn the game completely!"

In any normal edition of Big Brother the Contestants would have Tasks to perform, which would result in points to be transformed into food and / or objects for the home. In BBZ, these points can only be transformed into objects, weapons, protection, things that will help combat the Zombies.

Big Brother (previously known as Game Master) will assign Tasks to Contestants, which must be resolved with the Characteristic he asked. Some Tasks will require Vigor, others Presence, others Courage.

Examples of tasks are:

Place doors in strategic sites (Test Vigor), the Big Brother may increase the difficulty of this Task, ordering that it be done in a give time limit, or a Zombie is released!

Get a gun in a room where a Zombie is chained, which may be set free if Big Brother wished (Test of Courage), this Task may become more difficult if the Zombie is already free! Of course, if failed, not only do they not get the gun, but something bad happens: another Zombie appears, the next Task is more difficult, or anything else that the sadistic Big Brother thinks of.

Decide which tools are needed to help them in the house (Presence Test - as they should argue with each other!), from a list given by Big Brother.

These Tasks are always at a difficulty between 1 and 3. The Contestant must roll a number of 6 sided die equaling the value of the Characteristic to be Tested, counting the 5's and 6's (which are then called Successes), and get a number of Successes equal to the Difficulty to be successful.

Some tasks may be more difficult (4 or more difficulty!) or have a time limit (like getting 4 Successes in 6 rolls, for example!), after which something bad happens.

The Contestants can and should cooperate. To do this they pool their Characteristics, subtract a number of dice equal to the number of Contestants involved, then rolling and counting the Successes as usual.


Conflict

When the Contestants can not agree on a decision and threaten to go at each other's throats at the minimum fuss, then there is a Conflict.

Conflict is a simple comparison of Successes between Contestants, who roll the dice corresponding to the Characteristic of their choice, following the rules below:

1 - Each player must decide what to get from Conflict; before rolling the dice that decision should be well established at the table, so that there isn't any doubt at any time
2 - Each player chooses a Characteristic, based on what he wants to get from this conflict:

Steps of Conflict
a) are they trying to shame each other on a live camera? Use Presence
b) are they pushing and shoving, shouting and waving arms? Use Courage
c) are they coming to terms and punching each other? Use Vigor
d) are they using a weapon to intimidate the other and force him to do what they want? Use Presence + Courage
e) are they using a close combat weapon in fighting, trying to hurt each other? Use Courage + Vigor
f) are they using a firearm to actively hurt each other, even going for a kill? Use Presence + Vigor

Notice the difference from the point d, from the moment a weapon is used in the Conflict, a completely different level is reached: from now on, blood can run and people may be injured or worse.

Note also that from the moment they use weapons, in addition to rolling two Characteristics, they also roll any dice from the Weapon. Without going for an exhaustive list of weapons, some examples are given below:

Stick, knife, broken bottle or improvised weapon, 1 extra dice
Ax, sword: 2 extra die
Chainsaw: 3 extra die
Pistol: 2 extra die, distance
Rifle, shotgun: 3 extra die, distance
Molotov Cocktail: 2 extra die, distance, Fire

The extra die are added to the pool in conflicts where there are weapons. Fire and Distance will be explained below, in the Fight against Zombies. Use of a Molotov cocktail in a heated discussion in enclosed spaces, frankly, seems stupid, but if the player so wishes, go for it!

3 - Each Characteristic represents a number of dice (d6) to roll, as explained above; to this roll one can also add up any Popularity Points and/or Trust, when necessary, in addition to the above points for weapons. Count Successes for any dice showing 5 or 6, as always. The Trust and Popularity will be explained on another post.
4 - Finally, apply the consequences decided in paragraph 1 with the following exceptions:
a) if the winner has twice the successes of the loser, automatically applies the next level of results (if you were just trying to shame, you are in fact intimidating, if you were trying to hurt [with a Weapon!], you actually killed your opponent) but does not get another Popularity Point for accidentally scalling the Conflict
5 - if still alive and is able to do it, the loser can choose to accept the decision, or Escalate the Conflict


Escalating the Conflict

The loser may accept the consequences of this result, or the Conflict can escalate to the next Step; you can only do this once per Conflict (although you can start another Conflict later at a higher Step) and automatically get 1 Popularity Point for Escalating - viewers like violence and blood!


Zombies!

A zombie just wants the one thing: the brain of the Contestants! So a fight against a zombie is always at the last Step. You can only kill a Zombie if you ge twice his Success.

The Zombie has only one characteristic: Vigor. Depending on the sadism of Big Brother, the Vigor of a Zombie can go from 2, for those Zombies that drag across the room and say "braaaaaaaaiiiiiiiinssssssssss" while drooling, to 5, for those who are faster than a dragster and screeches madly with blood shot eyes. Personally I prefer the later, but your milleage may vary.

An opposing Vigor vs Vigor Test is made, just like if there where two conlficting Contestants. The Contestant can only kill the Zombie if he has twice it's successes of this, otherwise the Zombie keeps fighting as if nothing had happened.

If the Contestant is shooting the Zombie, or if he is using a Weapon with Distance, he Tests Vigor vs Vigor as usual, trying to get twice the success for a kill. However, if the Zombie gets more Successes, that means he gets closer, but did no damage, and a new Test is made - if the Zombie had twice the successes it would add +1 to Vigor for the new Test, demonstrating the momentum and velocity of the Zombie running against Contestants. Of course, if the Contestant had twice the Successes, it meant he killed the Zombie in the first shot.

If in any situation the Zombie has more Success, then the Contestant is in trouble! He can die instantly due to wounds, if the Zombie has twice the Successes, or risk Infection if the Zombie only had more Successes. Of course, if the Zombie has no Successes, or less than the Contestant's, then nothing happens: the Zombie did not hit the Contestant, or if it did, then no serious damage was done, and the Contestant did not hit the Zombie, or if he did it was not in the right place to kill the Zombie outright.
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otspiii
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2009, 11:32:44 AM »

Have you ever played Mall of Horror?  It does a really good job of forcing alliances while encouraging betrayal.  It also destroys friendships.  It sounds like it has some similarities with what you want to do.

What's this game's stance towards miniatures?  Are they encouraged, mandatory, or indifferent?  You're dealing with a small and static zone of play, so I think they could add some interesting claustrophobia to play.

I'm still a little worried that the game will just degenerate into a bloodbath instantly.  I understand that teamwork would be needed to beat the zombies that come in, but it sounds to me like there's no reason not to just run away from the first zombie that comes in indefinitely and hope you're the last one it catches.  The thing about Big Brother is that players are eliminated at a slow and steady pace, with a chance to assess the other players between each elimination.  With this game it sounds like a cast of characters could easily go from full to game over in one zombie attack, or even possibly just in the first scene if PKing breaks out immediately, which means that a betrayal done in the course of that one attack would have no repercussions.  I think the game could benefit from some way of keeping casualties at a slow (but steady) pace.

The other thing is that it seems like the game seems harsh in a lot of good ways, but could be kind of harsh in some not so good ways too.  Players going from full health to dead in a single event can be a pain if you're just out of the game as soon as you die.  Some system of having extra lives, such as possibly controlling multiple characters, could lower the risk of sitting down to play, being killed in the first five minutes, and just sitting on the couch eating chips for 4 hours while your friends play on without you.
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Rui!
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« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2009, 02:39:42 AM »

Ostpiii thank you for your comments.

I haven't played Mall of Horror; I had never even heard of it until you mentioned it, and I've googled it and checked it out on boardgamegeek. It does sound similar to this, but lacking the fundamental part of Trust, which I haven't addressed yet, but will on a future post.

I have no plans whatsoever on using minis with BBZ; it sounds too boardgamey for my tastes and has nothing to do with where I want BBZ to go: which is a "party" game, or an intro/filler game which you could play either in one big session, or several smaller ones, akin to real Big Brother episodes.

I have no idea if the game will turn into a blood bath or not; I haven't tested it yet, I'm still posting my ideas for it. Right now, I'm worried about two things: Tasks that can pit players against players in order to create Conflicts among them (perhaps some 10 general examples of how this could be done, then coupling them with Contestants' Disorders), and ways to keep players playing even if their character is dead (they could still gain Popularity even if zombified, but now would be playing against the other players [they couldn't also win the game per se, but could still make life miserable for others], and they could still use their Trust to help/hinder the other players). I have the bare bones of the game, but those two key aspects still elude me.
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