Tuesday, February 17, 2015

70's, 80's and 90's Survival Horror (dying a horrible death with quick characters. OSR)

What is this?
This is an emulation of 70's, 80's and 90's classic horror films. The Thing, Friday the Thirteenth, Dawn of the Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Nightstalker, Halloween etc etc. Survival horror films where most, if not all of the cast, is going to very likely die horrible deaths. These are almost always ordinary people trying to survive, not by spells or fantastic fantasy abilities, but surviving with cooperation and clever plans. It's a challenge and it can be a real blast to play.

To make it even more fun we needs a quick build PC for these games. Got split with an axe? NO problem. Take two minutes, make a character, and get back into that meat grinder! The PC's are easy enough to play two or three with minimal book-keeping. Split up the party. Enjoy.

Why use OSR based rules?
I like them. I've used D6, BRP, and other skills based systems for this type of game but I want to be able to run this in a game system familiar (ingrained?) with a large base of players. Yep, surprise on a 1-2 on a 1d6. Go it. Hit points and levels/Hit Dice. Yessir, know it. Str and Dex bonus to melee and to ranged attacks. Yup.
Basic and familiar. Christ most of us probably don't even need a base book for most of this.

Using the familiar systems I also want character creation to be fast. Damn fast. Easy but comprehensive stats for customizable characters. I want you to be able to build archetypes found within the horror movie genre, combat and non-combat, with little trouble.

There is also the options of  add-on rules such as sanity, driving, or other extras I've come up with to expand the game if necessary. It all depends on the level of complication desired. But at the heart of it all is the idea of easy fast characters getting chased around and slaughtered by a maniac and his best friend power tool.

Here's how we make the characters a very quick build. 

  • Roll attributes (Str, Dex, etc) normally or choose them any other way the DM wants.
  • The DM will decide what level you start at based on how competent he wants the characters and the tone of the game. (RJ MacReady from the Thing was higher level than the kids from the Friday the 13th films.)
  • Roll hit points (1d6 +Con bonus), figure out beginning AC (10+dex bonus), Saving Throw, and to Hit bonus. All standard stuff.
  • Figure out what abilities/stills you want your PC to have and fit it in with the quick Ability/Skill system below.
  • You have 4 points to build at first level; every level after you receive 2 more. 
  • Abilities are familiar: AC bonuses, Hit bonuses, Alertness ability, etc. You can buy them up at certain levels. Again pretty standard stuff. There's even a Hit Points ability to give you an extra 1d6 Hit points at even levels. 
  • Skills are a bonus (bonuses) you add onto a basic Attribute check when attempting something the DM calls for.  Limit of +5. 
  • Give them a name and a basic personality trait, receive equipment from the DM, and go!
  • There is no experience. If you survive for a sequel the DM can (and probably should) level you up for a sequel. 

HD: 1d6 per level. 
There is no experience. The DM decides at what level the PC's start at. If they surive (good luck) and there is a sequel the DM may raise the PC's one level.  
HP Limit: 5 HD. Characters can continue to go up in level gaining hit bonuses, better Saving Throw, Ability/Skill points, etc but gains no more hit points unless the Hit Points Ability is taken.
Save Throw: 15 at first level, drop one per level, minimum of 5.
Hit Bonus: +1 at 1, 3, 5,7,9
Ability/Skill Points: 4 at 1st level, 2 each level after.

Attribute Score/Skill Checks: 
Using common sense is the first rule. If there is absolutely no chance of success don't bother to roll. 

If there is a chance of success make an Attribute score check (Str, Dex, Con, etc). This is modified by points put into skills and a difficulty modifier. Each point put into the skill adds a +1 bonus to the Attribute score check. Skills can have a maximum of +5 bonus.

The DM may also use the skill bonuses for appropriate Saving Throws. 

Modifier to Ability Roll
Stupid Easy: No Roll
Easy: +8
Average: +4
Difficult: Base Ability Score Roll
Very Difficult: -4
Stupid Difficult: -8
Good Luck: -15

All  Abilities except Alertness can be taken more than once. Each time you an ability costs the base skill point(s) listed in parenthesis after the name of the ability. The levels at which they can taken again and the effect of spending more points on them are noted in the base descriptions below.

AC Bonus (1 point) Levels 1,3,6,9.
Alertness (1 point) Surprised on 1 on 1d6.
Backstab* (1 point) +4 to hit at 1st level. 
Taken at level 5: x3 dmg. 
Taken at level 10: x4 dmg.
Hear Noise (1 point) Must concentrate to use. 1-2 on 1d6. 
Taken at level 3: 1-3
Taken at level 6: 1-4
Taken at level 9: 1-5
Hit Bonus (2 points):  +1 to hit. Levels 2,4,6,8,10.
Hit Points (2 points): Gain 1d6 hit points. Levels 3,6,9.

Skill Points: 
Adds bonus to Attribute score check.
Maximum of +5 bonus. 


If it's on water, use this
If it's on land, use this.

Picking locks, bypassing electronics, etc. Getting in where you don't belong.

Picking pockets, palming small objects, etc. 

Moving silently, hiding, etc. 

Extended activity such as long distance running, swimming, trying to stay awake, etc.

Programming, hacking, etc.

If it flies, use this.

Diagnosis and treatment. To bind wounds the Character must make an Intelligence check with this bonus included. Success stops hp loss after zero and, if used above zero hp, adds back 1d4 hp after any combat has ended.

Occult Lore
Folklore of magic, vampires, ghosts, etc.

Reading someone's mental state. May allow detection of lies, psychopatic tendencies, etc. 

Fixing physical objects. Includes carpentry, mechanics, etc.

Finding information from libraries, archives, newspaper morgues, online, and other files.  

Anatomy, Biology, Chemistry, etc. 

Finding water, shelter, food; making fire, etc in the wilderness.

Following footprints, broken branches, etc. 

Using forceful presence to get what you want. If the DM decides that the character is horrifically ugly, scary etc he may give a large bonus to this to compensate for a low Charisma score. 

Manipulating someone to see your point of view or calm down. 
Includes bribing, appealing to logic or good nature, etc. 

The skill list is a most basic list. 
If you don't want generic skills and want to add specific skills for characters simply make one up. 

Here's a few examples of Science expanded for more specific skills:


  1. Yesssssssss.
    As soon as I saw the picture of McReady, I knew this was going to be a good post.

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  2. Thanksssssssssss. Lol. I'll put up my version of Jason, Leatherface, and others for this soon. Prob tonight or tomorrow.

    1. Re-watched the first half of The Thing last night.

      "McReady wants the flamethrower!"
      "That's what he said! Come on!"


  3. Simple easy and disposable PC's for a quick pickup game of murder and mayhem.

  4. I think this is really cool. Maybe consider using the Expert skills from LotFP instead and then adding your modern skills into it. You could flesh out a full clone from this!

    1. I had considered that. I wanted them tied into the ability scores for my game though instead of just adding in a +1 pip. I could also have added in ability modifiers and made it a 2d6 roll but I decided screw it, ability scores.

    2. Still no reason it couldn't be done that way for people who prefer that system. Easy and accessible.:D

  5. I've written adventures and edited for Silver Gryphon Games. I was a partner at one point. I would love to take time to put all of my stuff together for a pdf. I'm not adverse to making a small bit of coin. Lol.