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House rule to even out the game a little

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I like the simple mechanics of the game a lot. But I do think that sustaining stress even when successful has the effect that doing anything is always risky, leading to players behaving conservatively. Which led to me as the GM hold back on negative dice, even when they would have made sense for the narrative. For a fun game you want people to be trying lots of things out, not be scared to try things because they might get hurt.

 

To make it more lenient, how about adding a rule that each un-cancelled success also removes a negative dice. So negative and positive dice with the same number are removed as usual, but also, any successes also cancel a negative roll.

 

So say I'm attacking a zombie with dexterity 3. I have a baseball bat and attacking it from behind (plus two positive dice for three total), but I have a damaged arm from a previous trauma, it's raining so I have loose footing, and the zombie is horrifying (3 negative dice).

 

Say my positive rolls are 1, 3, and 5, and my negative rolls are 4, 5 and 6. Normally I would hit the zombie for two damage, but also sustain 2 stress myself! But if successes also remove a negative dice, then I would hit for 2 damage and not take any stress.

 

Or imagine my positive rolls were 1, 4 and 5, and negatives 2, 3, and 4. I would hit the zombie for one damage, after the 4s cancel there are two remaining negative dice, and my success would cancel one of these, but the remaining negative dice would cause me one stress.

 

I think this might be nicer because successes will actually feel a bit more like successes.

 

The only problem is that this might get too easy for the players once the resistance kicks in from the stress tracks. So the resistance rules could be dropped entirely. They don't quite make sense to me anyway. If you have some physical stress like a twisted ankle, you would think it would make you more vulnerable to additional physical stress not less! Like, when has a twisted ankle made you suddenly more resistant to other injuries? Seems strange to me.

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My take on the stress is this. It is a survival game, life is hard, short, and brutal. Unlike most RPG's where you lvl up to great heights with mighty feats and unparalleled accomplishments (Tomb of Horrors!). This game you survived the night! Good for you, now find some **** water... Just like in real life every action can have a impact on you. Also once you get that first bar it becomes harder to get more on that track. 

 

On the flip side of that though I do feel that it is a bit more punishing than it needs to be and found myself not adding as many negative dice as there should have been. 

 

One way you could make it easier is instead of positive negating negative dice, you could just make the negative rolls have to meet the target roll number to count.

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One way you could make it easier is instead of positive negating negative dice, you could just make the negative rolls have to meet the target roll number to count.

Wouldn't that mean that characters with higher attributes can be hurt more easily?

Personally I would expand the range of what rolling doubles with your positive dice can do. Beyond head shots, you could have them give bonus dice on the next roll, give a resistance to stress of 1 till your next turn, etc.

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Or maybe only negative dice rolls that exceed the characteristic in play count as stress.

I do like having unchecked negative dice exceeding target number count towards stress. I think that is a good middle ground. But I do have reservations as they came up with this mechanic through play testing etc.. Could be a reason that stress is such a problem. Also, lets face it...this is a very stressful situation and we are lucky this doesn't go into Call of Catthulhu rules haha.

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Or maybe only negative dice rolls that exceed the characteristic in play count as stress.

 

That's really elegant, I like it.

 

I'm toying with the idea of using the system for Call of Cthulhu, and constant stress blowback in non-survival-apocalypse situations doesn't seem tonally right, or sustainable, so I was thinking about making checks that don't logically have the chance of stress be "no-stress" checks. Researching something in the library? No-stress check. Running through the stacks trying to find a book while cultists chase you? Stress.

 

I'm also thinking of allowing ranged attack stress blowback to be assigned to any Physical, Mental, or Social stress track. I have a hard time thinking of physical stress to take if I'm sniping someone from a rooftop. Mental? Sure. Remorse, disgust, etc., something that could last a day. Bruised shoulder from the rifle stock? That's going to get silly really fast.

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I agree that it seems that the "everything I do comes at a risk" is integral to the game itself.  The game is built around the idea of survival under extreme circumstances.  It is the Apocalypse after all!

 

Questioning whether or not a certain task is worth the risk is a fundamental aspect of survival under even the best conditions.  The thing that separates the Survivors from the (Un)Dead, is coming up with ways to mitigate those risks. 

 

Sounds like you are concerned that your players will not preform any tasks because they are afraid of getting hurt (Stress), and as a result, it is bringing the game to a standstill.  I would encourage them to focus their efforts on acquiring items/skills needed to reduce those risks, through adding more positive dice.  I would also encourage the players to justify the use their Features in as many ways as possible.

 

For example, One could justify that during a standoff with another group of survivors over a water source, the player with +Weightlifter under his Physical Features (which normally would be used for physical tasks like, well, lifting some sort of weight ^_^) could add a Positive Die to his Social roll when he is trying to Intimidate the other group into conceding the water source using his size and physical presence.  

 

TL:DR One of my recommendation would be to let the players come up with creative uses of their Features and Equipment overcome the risk of gaining Stress. 

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I agree that it seems that the "everything I do comes at a risk" is integral to the game itself.  The game is built around the idea of survival under extreme circumstances.  It is the Apocalypse after all!

 

Questioning whether or not a certain task is worth the risk is a fundamental aspect of survival under even the best conditions.  The thing that separates the Survivors from the (Un)Dead, is coming up with ways to mitigate those risks. 

 

Sounds like you are concerned that your players will not preform any tasks because they are afraid of getting hurt (Stress), and as a result, it is bringing the game to a standstill.  I would encourage them to focus their efforts on acquiring items/skills needed to reduce those risks, through adding more positive dice.  I would also encourage the players to justify the use their Features in as many ways as possible.

 

For example, One could justify that during a standoff with another group of survivors over a water source, the player with +Weightlifter under his Physical Features (which normally would be used for physical tasks like, well, lifting some sort of weight ^_^) could add a Positive Die to his Social roll when he is trying to Intimidate the other group into conceding the water source using his size and physical presence.  

 

TL:DR One of my recommendation would be to let the players come up with creative uses of their Features and Equipment overcome the risk of gaining Stress. 

 

This

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Guest Sydonis

Wouldn't that mean that characters with higher attributes can be hurt more easily?

Personally I would expand the range of what rolling doubles with your positive dice can do. Beyond head shots, you could have them give bonus dice on the next roll, give a resistance to stress of 1 till your next turn, etc.

Are rolling doubles a benefit in combat? If so, what page? I have scoured the book and cannot find any details on doubles anywhere.

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I think the rules on doubles is under the "ghoul" profile in "Night of the Meteor." Its a special rule for that particular scenario, but I dont see why it shouldnt be a general rule for "critical hit". I think most people use it in all the other scenarios too.

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I think the rules on doubles is under the "ghoul" profile in "Night of the Meteor." Its a special rule for that particular scenario, but I dont see why it shouldnt be a general rule for "critical hit". I think most people use it in all the other scenarios too.

This. It is called Destroy the Brain. As noted, many have carried this over to other zombie iterations. I look at all the zombie types as toolboxes. You can run them as is or mix and match features or abilities.

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My take on the stress is this. It is a survival game, life is hard, short, and brutal. Unlike most RPG's where you lvl up to great heights with mighty feats and unparalleled accomplishments (Tomb of Horrors!). This game you survived the night! Good for you, now find some **** water... Just like in real life every action can have a impact on you. Also once you get that first bar it becomes harder to get more on that track. 

 

 

Sounds like you are concerned that your players will not preform any tasks because they are afraid of getting hurt (Stress), and as a result, it is bringing the game to a standstill.  I would encourage them to focus their efforts on acquiring items/skills needed to reduce those risks, through adding more positive dice.  I would also encourage the players to justify the use their Features in as many ways as possible.

 

For example, One could justify that during a standoff with another group of survivors over a water source, the player with +Weightlifter under his Physical Features (which normally would be used for physical tasks like, well, lifting some sort of weight ^_^) could add a Positive Die to his Social roll when he is trying to Intimidate the other group into conceding the water source using his size and physical presence.  

 

I just felt that I should highlight these two pieces that make the game what it is.

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