Sunday, April 8, 2018

OSR Survival Horror 2nd Edition. 70's, 80's and 90's Horror Movie Role Playing

What is this?
A revision of my Survival Horror material found here.
It has been play-tested further and revisions have been made, mainly an expansion of the skills, a tweaking of skill modifiers, and a distinction between natural and learned skills. I feel the ever so slight complication in this is worth it for more clarity in play. Also I've included my additions to the healing rules in the base books to survive in a setting with low to no magic for the player characters.
Posts on Jason Voorhees can be found here. Posts on John Carpenter's the Thing can be found here and here.

OSR Survival Horror
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.

How to Build a Survival Horror Character
Roll attributes (Str, Dex, etc) normally or choose them any other way the DM wants.
Characters are tracked by Hit Dice not level. The DM will decide what Hit Dice you start at based on how competent he wants the characters and the tone of the game. (RJ MacReady from the Thing was higher HD than the kids from the Friday the 13th films.) The Maximum Hit Dice is 12.
Roll hit points (1d6 +Con bonus per hit dice), figure out beginning AC (10+dex bonus), Saving Throw, and to Hit bonus.
Hit Point Limit: 5 HD. Characters can continue to go up in HD gaining hit bonuses, better Saving Throw, Ability/Skill points, etc but gains no more hit points unless the Hit Points Ability is taken.
Figure out what abilities/stills you want your PC to have and fit it in with the quick Ability/Skill system below.
You have 10 points to build at first level; every level after you receive 2 more.
Abilities are familiar: AC bonuses, Hit bonuses, etc. You can buy them up at certain levels. Again pretty standard stuff.
Skills are a bonus you add onto a basic Attribute check when attempting something the DM calls for.  The maximum of points put into a skill is 5 points for a +5 bonus.
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.

Attribute Score Checks
Using common sense is the first rule. If there is absolutely no chance of success or failure don't bother to roll.
If there is a chance of success or failure 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 +8 bonus.
The DM may also use the skill bonuses for appropriate Saving Throws.

Modifier to Attribute Roll
Beyond Easy: No Roll
Very Easy: +8
Easy: +4
Average: Base Ability Score Roll
Difficult: -4
Very Difficult:  -8
Super Difficult: -15

Learned skill with no skill points in it: -4

Natural versus learned skills. 
Natural skills are attribute checks that most people, with no training or study, can perform with a fair degree of success. This includes climbing, jumping, noticing things, attempting to sneak, etc.

Learned skills are attribute checks for subjects that require specialized study or training to be effectuve in. Not everyone can drive well, understand history, medicine, physics, etc.

When attempting a natural skill there is no extra penalty. When attempting a learned skill with no skill points in it there is an automatic -4 penalty to the attribute roll in addition to any normal bonuses or penalties.  Natural skills are marked with an asterik (*). The rest are learned.

Failing a Check
The check an be tried again and again but there is a cumulative -2 penalty to each attempt. Another character can take over and attempt a check at his regular check number and will acquire his own penalties upon failure.

Cooperating on Checks
Each extra person helping the character attempting the check adds an additional +2 bonus to his check. The maximum to this is +6 to the check for three helpers.

Opposed Checks
Most often this will be between a Notice check and a Sneak check. Both roll and add normal bonuses and penalties for each check. The winner is the one who succeeds by the most points on the die roll.
For example the first has  a check number of 14 and second has a check number of 12.
The first  rolls , making the roll by 7 points. The second  rolls a 9, making the roll by 3 points. The first character is more successful and wins the contest.

Abilities and Skills
All  Abilities can be bought again to increase its effective at later Hit Dice except Alertness. Each time you buy and improve and ability it costs the base skill point(s) listed in parenthesis after the name of the ability. The Hit Dice 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) Hit Dice 1,3,6,9.
Ambidextrous (2 points): Can be taken at any time. It allows no off-hand penalties if only that hand is being used. If both hands are used in combat for an extra off-hand attack the penalty is -2 for the main hand and -2 for the offhand (normal off-hand penalty is -4).
Alertness (1 point) -1 to be surprised. (minimum of 1 to be surprised)
Back-stab (1 point) +4 to hit at 1st Hit Dice. (Anyone can backstab at a +2 to hit and x2 damage.)
Taken at Hit Dice 5: x3 dmg.
Taken at Hit Dice 10: x4 dmg.
Extra Attack (2 points): Available at Hit Dice five and after. Can only be taken once. Gives one extra attack in a combat round.
Hear Noise (1 point) Must concentrate to use. 1-2 on 1d6.
Taken at Hit Dice 3: 1-3
Taken at Hit Dice 6: 1-4
Taken at Hit Dice 9: 1-5
Hit Bonus (2 points):  +1 to hit. Hit Dice 2,4,6,8,10.
Hit Points (2 points): Gain 1d6 hit points. Hit Dice 3,6,9.
Language: Can be taken at any Hit Dice. Each point gives the character a new language to speak and write.
Unarmed Combat (1 point): At first Hit Dice unarmed damage is 1d3.
Taken at Hit Dice 5: 1d4 dmg.
Taken at Hit Dice 10: 1d6 dmg.

Skill Points add a bonus to Attribute checks. They are grouped below by Attribute.
The maximum of points put into a skill is 8 points for a +8 bonus.

Climb:* Bonuses can be given for equipment.
Jump:* The DM can set difficult based on distance.
Swim:* Difficult set by water conditions.

Acrobatics: Tightrope walking, tumbling, breaking short falls for half or no damage, etc.
Art (choose)*: Drawing, painting, sculpture, etc. Using your abilities to physically create something.
Boat: Non-motor water vehicles such as rowboats, sailboats, etc.
Drive: Motorized vehicles. Automobiles, motorcycles, motorboats, etc.
Drive, Heavy: Large vehicles such as bulldozers, cranes, tanks, etc.
Musical Instrument (choose): Drums, guitar, trombone, etc.
Riding*: Horses, camels, other animals.
Sleight : Picking locks, picking pockets, palming small objects, etc.
Sneak*: The ability to move quietly and hide. This is either a straight roll or an opposed roll with the Notice skill,

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

Accounting: Maintaining and understanding financial books and finding unusual information within.
Business: The skill of running and successfully maintaining a business. A management skill.
City Knowledge (choose): Major landmarks, important locations, etc of a chosen location and not getting lost while on the way.
Computers: Repairing, programming, hacking, communications, etc.
Folklore: Myths, legends, and lore from various cultures.
Forgery: This is not simply drawing a copy of a document. This includes knowledge of proper paper, ink, marks, machinery used, etc.
History: Basic and obscure facts in history.
Law: Knowledge of laws of the user's homeland and surrounding areas.
Medicine: Diagnosis and treatment. Rolls to diagnose illness, injuries, identify parts of anatomy, etc. Also used in Binding Wounds (see below.)
Occult Lore: Knowledge of legends of magic, vampires, ghosts, etc.
Pharmacology: Drugs. Identification, proper dosage, etc.
Photography: All things film from photos to footage.
Pilot: If it flies, use this.
Psychology: Reading someone's mental state. May allow detection of lies, psychopatic tendencies, etc.
Religion: Knowledge or beliefs and practices of various reigions with ephasis on the user's own personal religious background.
Repair: Fixing  and building objects. Includes carpentry, mechanics, etc.
Research: Finding information from libraries, archives, newspaper morgues, online, and other files.
Science (choose): Anthropology, Archaeology, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics, etc.
Security: Bypassing electronics, etc. Getting in where you don't belong.
Survival: Finding water, shelter, food; making fire, etc in the wilderness.
Track: Following footprints, broken branches, etc.

Notice*: A base roll to notice things with difficulty modified by cover, lighting, etc. Also used to opposed Sneak (with modifiers to both rolls where appropriate) when someone is attempting to move silently or hide.
Willpower*: Strength of will and the ability to resist non-magical manipulation. Used to oppose Charisma skills.

Acting*: Not just stage or film this skill can be used to fool people as well.
Intimidate*: 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.
Persuade*: 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 basic list.
If you want something and it can't be shoe-horned into an existing skill make a new one up.
Anatomy, Gambling, Sailing, etc are but a few examples.

Healing with No Magic
Binding Wounds/Stabilizing
Binding wounds takes 1d6 rounds to perform.
Requires an Intelligence check. If successful it recovers 1d4 hit points.

A Medicine check can be attempted instead. Success recovers 1d6 hit points.
Both can be retried with a -2 penalty per try.

If the patient is at negative hit points he loses one per round until he is at -11 and dies. IF reached in time they can be stabilized with an Intelligence check with a penalty equal to how many hp the victim is below zero plus an additional -4 penalty. A Medicine check can be made without the additional -4 penalty. If successful the patient stops losing hit points but cannot be given healing but normal medical science to regain hit points. He must naturally heals 1d2 hit points per day until he reaches one hit point, then he will heal naturally (see below.)

Natural Healing
Each character can heal one hit point per Hit Dice per day of complete rest (only walking and non-stressful physical activities.) If complete rest is not maintained the character only heals one hit point per two Hit Dice. A successful Medicine check can double these rates.

Short Rests
This represents recovering from wounds, combat fatigue, etc that are all rolled into the nebulous use of hit points. Also it's a great way to get some hit points back in low magic healing settings.
Usable a maximum of 3 times per day.
The character must completely rest for 10 minutes: no fighting, ability checks, walking, etc. Just rest.
At the end of this period the character regains half of the hit ponts he has lost from his maximum hit point total.
He may continue on normally or take another Short Rest, up to the max of 3 per day.

Using Attribute/Skill Rolls with Monsters/NPC's
Most likely it will be opposed notice/sneak checks.
Start with a base of 10 for Monsters/NPC's and add or subtract the following based on DM's judgement.
No Skill: -4
Average: 0
Professional: +2
Expert: +4
Master: +6

For special or long-term NPC's I would build just as if it was a PC

Fear and Madness Rules 
Found here

Firearms Rules
Found here.

A more Modern Era Weapons Sampler

Less Lethal Weapons
Pepper Spray/Tear Gas
When using a hand spray canister it is a ranged touch attack (10+Dex bonus) with a 5-15' range depending on size of the canister. Smaller spray canisters will have 1-3 bursts while larger ones will have up to 5 bursts.
The target, if hit is blinded (-4/-20%) and in pain for 2d6 rounds. A Saving Throw cuts this time in half.

If delivered via riot canister the blast zone of the chemical is a 30' area attack. Everyone in the area will be blinded (-4/-20%) and in pain for 3d6 rounds. A Saving Throw cuts this time in half.

An assailant may be in pain and blinded and still come after you. Most normal people will not and instead try to flee. The effectiveness of the chemical deterrent is partially based on the commitment of the assailant to the attack. 

Stun Gun
Using a stun gun  it is a touch attack (10+Dex bonus) which, if successful, will paralyze a target for 1d3 rounds. If the target makes a Saving Throw the time paralyzed is reduced to 1 round. If the Saving Throw is made by 5+ the target ignores the effects but must re-roll if shocked again. Much like pepper spray/and tear gas a stun gun is most effective against assailants with a low commitment to attacking. 

Bigger more powerful stun weapons that can be sued in melee or as a ranged weapon with wires and barbs for a range of 30' (15' in civilian models.) When fired it is a ranged touch attack (10+Dex bonus) and if it hits the target will be paralyzed for 1d4 rounds. If a Saving Throw is made the time is halved. Most modern tasers allow you to use it three times (thus three shocks to whoever the barbs are in) before needing to be reloaded.

Stun Grenade/Flash bang
Thrown exactly as a normal grenade. The Blast Zone is 20'. All within the blast are deafened, partially blinded, and disorientated for 1d6 rounds (minimum of 3.) During this time the targets in the blast suffer a  -6/-30% to all actions and movement is halved to 60' (20'.) If a Saving Throw is made time affected is not reduced but the penalty is reduced to -3/-15%.

Vehicle Rules 
Found Here

A Vehicle Sampler


  1. This is fantastic stuff! Between your work on it, Slashers & Victims Light, and Night of the Slashers, I HAVE to put together at least a one-shot OSR horror game before long. (I love that my hobby allows me to lift bits and pieces of other folks' creativity to make the specific game that feels right to me!)

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks. Cleaned up a few things, added a couple of new combat abilities and added a few less than lethal weapons. Working on skill packages to make character creation even faster.

    I also now have to check out those slasher rpgs. :D