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TagalongFriend

My House Rules

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After running two campaigns of EoTW with different groups, here some of the changes that I've found work for me, and why.


CRITICAL SUCCESSES AND FAILURES:
Matching successes count as a critical success, not just in "Destroy The Brain" attacks, but in all skill tests - they may score a head-shot, find rare loot, talk an NPC into joining their group, etc. On the flip side, Matching negative dice count as a critical fail - they may fall on their ass, accidentally hit a nearby ally, have a weapon jam or break, drop something loudly, etc.

The fact is that sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you hit a patch of ice and fall on your ass while trying to run from flesh-hungry ghouls. Currently the game doesn't have a way to reflect this and leaves it up to the GM to simply inform the player that their gun jammed randomly; this can make it feel arbitrary and punishing for the player. This way makes it feel more fair.

 

FLEXIBLE CHARACTER CREATION:
I let people take an extra point or two if they can make a good faith argument why they should be allowed to. I also tell them that they have to take at least one positive and negative feature in each category, but that they should take as many as are required to make an accurate in-game reflection of themselves.

I get the the game wants to make all the PCs balanced by starting everyone with 10 points and requiring one negative and one positive feature in each category, but I don't think that works, for two reasons:

- One, not every person IS exactly as skilled as everyone else, some people are just less likely to survive. It's a bit cold, I guess, but I would rather lean towards realism at the expense of perfect group balance.

- Two, not all features are equal anyway. The physical feature "Asthma" is going to trigger all the time, whereas "Peanut Allergy" will barely come up (short some creative GMing). So seeing as starting everyone with exactly one of each feature isn't balanced anyway, I might as well just say **** it and go for accuracy.

CROSS-CATEGORY STRESS:
I will sometimes tell a player to take stress in a different category than they one that they rolled the test in.

Real Example From One of My Games: Players had secured a zombie in their car trunk and was driving it to the hospital (early game, they didn't know it was a zombie yet). The zombie broke out through the back seats and the player had to roll to exit the car in a hurry. One player failed the DEX roll to bail from the stationary car, freaked out, and succeeded on her next roll with one negative dice before the zombie got to her.

I didn't think it made sense for her to take physical damage: she was exiting a car parked car, not the most dangerous thing. But it DID make sense for her to take mental damaged: feeling trapped in a little metal box as a psyco/zombie crawls toward, your hands shaking too much to work the buttons that will save you. That's stressful!

I have heard people suggest that it's not fair to have to take damage in another category because the player knows their strengths and weaknesses and has tailored their play-style to avoid taking damage where their defensive stat is weak: "If I knew that I would be taking mental damages I would have buffed my willpower." To that hypothetical player, I say "Stop being a meta-gaming min/maxer and play the game." This is a story driven game, not a tactical combat RPG. I am comfortable bending the rules for the sake of realism and narrative integrate.

-EDIT-
Sydonis reminded me of another one in his post below.

NO VOTING ON CHARACTER CREATION:
Everyone knows themselves. Certainly better than I or the other players know them.  I'm not interested in policing their self-conception. If they tell me that they think they deserve an extra point in logic, I'm fine with that. Especially as they already have multiple negative (and/or positive) traits to balance it out.

Voting is just going to take extra time and make people feel self-conscious and judged. I haven't had any problems with just letting my players play as themselves, whatever that looks like.

Edited by TagalongFriend

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Guest Sydonis

CRITICAL SUCCESSES AND FAILURES

Agreed. This is the basis of the Career Skills system.

FLEXIBLE CHARACTER CREATION

I find this unnecessary. 3 Positive Features and 3 Negative Features is generally enough to make a well-rounded, accurate representation of a person, especially when combines with Characteristics, traumas, and group voting. Especially if a player gets voted up or down, they get those extra features to compensate. Not to mention a Soldier, who generally has peak physical performance, only has a 3 vitality. Extra points is generally inaccurate.

CROSS-CATEGORY STRESS

I completely disagree with this. I understand cross-category stress if the situation truly warrants it, but that situation is definitely not that.

It clearly states in the rules that Willpower is used to resist the horrors of the world, so what is the point of having decent Willpower if you can't even use it for what the rules states it is used for? This has less to do with players and CharOp than it is about you running the game by your own rules.

The fear of a zombie attack should be a Willpower test separate from the dodge test, and thus should be mental strain if failed. End of story, it's clear as day in the rules.

And that's even if a fear test is required; zombies are going to be so prevalent in the game that requiring a fear test for mental stress EVERY time someone is attacked by zombies is a bit much. Maybe if someone has a phobia of zombies or something... And maybe if you want to be a hardass GM just for the sake of the apocalypse.

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I get what you're saying about running willpower tests. That makes sense, but I remain unconvinced.

At the end of the day, they failed a test and/or have negative dice sitting around; they're GOING to take stress, who really cares that it's in another category. Hell, there's a 50% chance that it'll work out in their favor, anyway.

Edited by TagalongFriend

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i like it, but i do have a question on your critical failures. what do you do if somebody rolls a successful positive(s) but two uncancelled negatives? 

 

Also negative dice don't indicate failure... You could succeed with 5 uncancelled negatives.

I do like the idea of a critical succes but am not convinced by the critical failure. I might even use the positice dice that were too high before I use the negative ones to do so. But I then think that 2 matching might be too few... Perhaps at 3?

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Eyeless, If they succeed AND roll a critical fail at the same time, that just means I have to get creative.

They successfully ram the gate but doing so blows out one of the tires.
They successfully make the headshot but the round over-penetrates and damages the loot they were going for.
They successfully jump between buildings but they drop their cellphone when they land.
 

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I see. So would you say a sucessful roll with a critical failure meant they succeded but something BAD also happened. And if they didnt succeed and critically failed that something HORRIBLE happened?

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Guest Sydonis

That makes sense, but I remain unconvinced.

Haha what? What an oxymoron. Not only is it clearly written in the rules, but it even makes sense to you, yet you're "unconvinced"? That means you are disagreeing simply for the sake of it.

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