TenFoldMore
 member, 96 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 07:46
Systems for a character heavy game
I'm considering running a game about six strangers trapped on a runaway train. The train has been sabotaged by a criminal syndicate who knows that one of the six passengers has evidence that could incriminate someone high up in the syndicate. The strangers are ensured that they will all be able to leave the train safely if they discover who has the evidence and murder them.

This is just a rough idea, but I'm a little stuck on how to run it. I think having some rules in play will definitely be useful in a game that is all but certain to include player on player violence. Adjudicating this violence will be pretty key to the concept.

That said, I think that having too many rules will muddy the game a little. I would much rather keep things light and let the fiction proceed with very little hindrance, particularly when it comes to the characters interacting socially with one another.

What systems would you recommend for this?
witchdoctor
 member, 179 posts
 ᏣᏔᎩ
Wed 20 May 2020
at 08:04
Systems for a character heavy game
GURPS or Basic RolePlay (the system behind Call if Cthulhu) would cover it pretty easily without being too much in the way.
Heath
 member, 2937 posts
 If my opinion changes,
 The answer is still 42.
Wed 20 May 2020
at 08:09
Systems for a character heavy game
I was thinking the same thing. GURPS Lite is a 32 page free book that has the simple rules everyone could use. Then you can always expand it (adding skills, etc.) as needed.
TenFoldMore
 member, 97 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 08:10
Systems for a character heavy game
In reply to witchdoctor (msg # 2):

I was considering GURPS, but I wouldn't want a system that... bulky to run in the background, especially because given the nature of the game a lot of, if not most skills would end up being wasted points. I don't want players rolling diplomacy against one another, for example, I just want them to... talk to one another if you see what I mean.
azzuri
 member, 531 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 08:15
Systems for a character heavy game
How is the syndicate communicating with these six? How are the players to communicate with the syndicate?

I believe it to be a mistake if you make this communication too much a part of your game.
zude111
 member, 17 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 08:20
Systems for a character heavy game
Savage Worlds is a nice, simple, easy-to-adapt-to-any-scenario system.
TenFoldMore
 member, 98 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 08:28
Systems for a character heavy game
In reply to azzuri (msg # 5):

This is more of a rough sketch of the game rather than a hard proposal, but I suppose the syndicate might communicate through the train's intercom. Presumably not very often, perhaps once per hour or so.


In reply to zude111 (msg # 6): Won't Savage Worlds have the same issue, where due to the fact that most of the skills aren't going to be used the point based system will make some people better than others?
tibiotarsus
 member, 149 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Wed 20 May 2020
at 08:42
Systems for a character heavy game
BRP would add some random, if that's what you're after, but Savage Worlds' point buy system is balanced between physical and mental skills - just rule no player-on-player rolls outside combat and there you go.

If you wanted to make the game far more random and deadly, you could try Dread via the dice roller - use d54 to start, rule that anything over half succeeds, half or less fails, making the "Jenga tower" wobbly (subtract 2 from the die being used) and a 1 collapses the "tower". Given there's usually little risk of death/unconsciousness (requiring a draw) in verbal sparring and how many draws would be required for combat it should make players leery and more willing to work together/actually roleplay to outwit the foe.
TenFoldMore
 member, 99 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 08:50
Systems for a character heavy game
In reply to tibiotarsus (msg # 8):

The issue I have with Dread is that after one death (or tower collapse) the entire tension resets, whereas I feel like in this scenario when violence erupts the tension needs to build to the climax of the game!
tibiotarsus
 member, 150 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Wed 20 May 2020
at 09:17
Systems for a character heavy game
Just build the tower smaller!

I mean, for early deaths the 'take a draw for #of PCs under 5' works well, but later in the game a death and a reset to d26 (edit: or even d12 if you're mid-bossfight, but as a longtime horror GM I have to say that tension breaks are your friend) makes everyone jumpy.

This message was last edited by the user at 09:19, Wed 20 May.

TenFoldMore
 member, 100 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 09:35
Systems for a character heavy game
In reply to tibiotarsus (msg # 10):

I agree that typically breaks in tension are a good thing, but you want them to occur at a suitable time. In this scenario I can only imagine that if (when) violence breaks out it will be a single flurry of panic until either the correct person is dead or everyone is. You really don't want a break in tension at that moment!
tibiotarsus
 member, 151 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Wed 20 May 2020
at 09:55
Systems for a character heavy game
So...d12. That's more chance of death spirals than any of the other systems mentioned, if that's what you want.

That said, don't bet on any game going how you'd expect. The Hollywood way for your scenario to end (players all kill each other out of selfish fear of death) is based on the prepper mentality that a) needs to be induced by indoctrination and b) flies in the face of how humans actually evolved to work and became a sucessful generalist species...just as everyone doesn't immediately scatter and/or start eating each other raw after a plane crash or natural disaster, people under pessure generally look for a communal way out.

If you badly want the murder ending you should specify that everyone in the box is already a killer bandit or/and psychopath when setting the game up for advertisement. Or just play Paranoia instead. :D
TenFoldMore
 member, 101 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 10:43
Systems for a character heavy game
In reply to tibiotarsus (msg # 12):

I think that psychological thrillers can work perfectly well within role playing games, and setting up an environment where violence is unwanted by everyone but seen as all bit inevitable is perfectly plausible.

As long as the players buy into the conceit that they cannot escape the train it should be fine.


That said I'm mostly just trying to work out a system to use, and I don't think Dread is it.
evileeyore
 member, 325 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Wed 20 May 2020
at 14:25
Re: Systems for a character heavy game
TenFoldMore:
I was considering GURPS, but I wouldn't want a system that... bulky to run in the background...

You'll have to describe what you mean by "bulky in the background"?  Because I only find GURPS to be heavily frontloaded, once characters are made it's easy to run.

quote:
I don't want players rolling diplomacy against one another...

Then don't let them?  Declare upfront that Social Skills are only used to influence NPCs not other PCs.


The problem most people have with GURPS is that it's not a "set" system.  It's a toolbox of rules for you to pick from to run the game you want.  But most people who reject GURPS never understand it's a menu to ā la carte from, they see just a smörgåsbord and believe they have to eat all the rules, when in fact you'll probably never use even half.
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 106 posts
Wed 20 May 2020
at 14:42
Re: Systems for a character heavy game
Fate (any version really) is an elegant little engine.  As a narratively focused system, it takes a bit of unlearning if you come at it from a tactical roleplaying perspective.
horus
 member, 947 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sat 23 May 2020
at 00:14
Re: Systems for a character heavy game
I'm with Ski-Bird, but I would recommend Fate Accelerated Edition, as it lessens complexity in favor of more streamlined play.

Fate systems, in general, try to involve the players in creation of the game itself if you take the rules seriously.  That said, Fate has been shown to be a great toolkit for building custom games.  The GM can as easily design a game without player input as with.  That's all up to you.

If you'd like to look at Fate before investing in it, get out to:

https://fate-srd.com/
Isida KepTukari
 member, 347 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Sun 24 May 2020
at 22:32
Re: Systems for a character heavy game
Cypher System's character creation and play is simple and straightforward, quite easy for lots of characters in combat.
truemane
 member, 2141 posts
 Firing magic missles at
 the darkness!
Tue 26 May 2020
at 17:54
Re: Systems for a character heavy game
Go Microlite!

Risus, the Anything RPG is free, and only a couple of pages, and works with just about anything. I highly recommend it for just about anything where you want just enough system to keep things on rails, but not enough to get in the way.