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View Full Version : Good System for Exploration and Survival?



Calinero
2013-10-02, 03:18 PM
I'm bouncing around a concept for a game in my head. It's a ways away from being ready to run, but I'm trying to at least lay down some of the groundwork.

I want to run a game where my PC's play people who are, more or less, ordinary people. This rules out games like D&D or Pathfinder right away, obviously. The loose, loose premise of the game is that these ordinary people will be thrust into a setting they are not familiar with--either in character, or out of character. A plot will arise, but their initial concerns will be a combination of surviving their strange new surroundings, and exploring them to learn more about where they are (and maybe how to get home).

While I've got a few concerns with the premise (namely how to make the players attached to the characters if they're almost immediately going to get ripped away from any roots they might have in their home society), I am also struggling to think of a good system. I want something that is at least somewhat realistic, though it doesn't need to be gritty. I imagine that most of the survival scenarios will be puzzle solving type things--they figure out how to start a fire, for example, or build a tent, or come up with a plan. Large parts of the game will hopefully be rules/rolling light. However, I do want there to be occasional combat, and I want it to be dangerous. Maybe not Call of Cthulhu dangerous, but dangerous.

Anyone have any ideas?

veti
2013-10-02, 03:29 PM
I think 'Call of Cthulhu' would be a pretty good starting point, for a game about ordinary people. You could either leave out SAN entirely, or simply turn it into a system for rewarding/punishing good/bad roleplaying.

Well fleshed out system, extensively tested - check.
Supports ordinary characters - check.
Power levels don't escalate insanely as you gain experience - check.
Dangerous combat - definitely check.

TheThan
2013-10-02, 05:41 PM
I was thinking of running a game similar to yours, a group of regular Joes stuck on a desert island, trying to survive and gain rescue.
so I'm also interested in such a system.

Mr Beer
2013-10-02, 05:54 PM
GURPS always gets a vote from me because it's what it says on the tin, Universal. For the kind of thing you describe it's an excellent fit because it's particularly good at approximating real world situations and combat with ordinary folks = deadly.

The downside is if you haven't played it, the learning curve is quite steep. You don't need to know every rule (and certainly don't want to use every optional rule) but you do need to know where they are.

skyth
2013-10-02, 07:01 PM
Traveler fits the bill nicely. PC's are the very definition of ordinary person. Have the PC's be stranded on a 'low' tech and/or pop world somehow and see if they can survive. (Low in Traveler context may mean current tech all the way back to bronze-age tech.

Combat in Traveler is dangerous and not something that you partake in often if you value your character's life.

I'm not a big fan of playing the game personally, but I love the setting and a couple of the rules systems (mini-games effectively) and I could see it working well with the constraints you have described.

molten_dragon
2013-10-02, 07:35 PM
I'm bouncing around a concept for a game in my head. It's a ways away from being ready to run, but I'm trying to at least lay down some of the groundwork.

I want to run a game where my PC's play people who are, more or less, ordinary people. This rules out games like D&D or Pathfinder right away, obviously. The loose, loose premise of the game is that these ordinary people will be thrust into a setting they are not familiar with--either in character, or out of character. A plot will arise, but their initial concerns will be a combination of surviving their strange new surroundings, and exploring them to learn more about where they are (and maybe how to get home).

While I've got a few concerns with the premise (namely how to make the players attached to the characters if they're almost immediately going to get ripped away from any roots they might have in their home society), I am also struggling to think of a good system. I want something that is at least somewhat realistic, though it doesn't need to be gritty. I imagine that most of the survival scenarios will be puzzle solving type things--they figure out how to start a fire, for example, or build a tent, or come up with a plan. Large parts of the game will hopefully be rules/rolling light. However, I do want there to be occasional combat, and I want it to be dangerous. Maybe not Call of Cthulhu dangerous, but dangerous.

Anyone have any ideas?

If you're okay with a more rules-light system, FATE core would work well. It's a generic system, and handles ordinary people well. But it can also handle pretty much anything else (though some homebrew might be necessary). It's even free (well, technically it's on a 'pay what you like' system, but you can pay nothing if you want).

Jenrock
2013-10-02, 07:53 PM
This may seem odd at first blush, but I'd recommend Cortex Plus. Their Smallville system emphasizes drama and relationships while the Leverage rules set gives every character a specific role within the group. While it does have a heist feel, it can easily be adapted to your needs. If memory serves, Cortex Plus now has a "hacker's guide" that collects various modifications made to the system.

I recommend Cortex Plus because it places a heavy emphasis on the narrative. The players even gain a limited ability to influence the narrative throughout play, and chargen can easily put a good deal of world building in the players' hands, especially Smallville.

Rhynn
2013-10-03, 03:18 AM
Unisystem (the supplement One of the Living for All Flesh Must Be Eaten has some survival stuff), Basic Role-Playing (or really any edition of RuneQuest) or GURPS.

Mark Hall
2013-10-03, 09:58 AM
Hackmaster.

Beginning PCs are about equivalent of normal people. Advancement is slow, combat is dangerous, and healing far lower than damage potential (first level healing spell will heal 1d3p, 1d4p if you're part of that person's faith. Longsword? 2d12p, plus bonuses). Combine with training times and you have a system where cautious play is the word of the day, but audacity can get you a lot.