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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Good survival horror or action horror

    Hello all. Looking for some good survival horror and or action horror games. I have heard good things of a game called Esoterrorists but very mixed things about the GUMSHOE system.

    Welcome a discussion of either GUMSHOE in this type of setting or settings, campaigns, systems, books etc.etc.

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    I don't think one can go wrong with Call of Cthulhu. There is also World of Darkness, and while I am not personally familiar with the setting or the rules, I often hear very good things about it.
    "Its amazing how hostile people can get about an entirely optional campaign setting that they werent forced to play."

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    Knaight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    Gumshoe is a solid system (or more accurately a solid family of systems), but it's not really survival horror or action horror - it's an investigation focused system deep down, and while horror investigation has a few games that focus on it in particular (Trail of Cthulhu, Night's Black Agents) there's not much for action horror.

    The closest is gets is Night's Black Agents. Even there though you're investigators with a side of action.

    If you're looking for something Cthulhu like with a side of action there's two games that fit particularly well. One is Delta Green, a Call of Cthulhu spinoff with an action lean. Again, there's an investigative game at the core of it, but unlike Gumshoe it's not built deep into the mechanics. The other, which I'd actually recommend more highly is Nemesis. It's an action horror game in the ORE family of games, and it's available as a free .pdf at that*. While it's still investigator friendly it doesn't require it in any real way, and it has a pretty beautiful stress/trauma system.

    *Legally. I assume most games are technically available as a free .pdf; this one is just available as a free .pdf because the author intentionally published it that way.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    Thanks to both.
    I played Call of Cthulhu like a decade ago and liked it but I haven't tried Trail of Cthulhu yet. The thing about GUMSHOE isn't a mechanic complaint but a plot device muguffin playstyle. I haven't played this system so I am not familiar with how it feels to play.

    Delta Green sounds familiar so I may look into that for some more background.

    Thanks guys and any more personal experiences or ideas are more than welcome

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    rredmond's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    There's Rotworld and Cryptworld. Not sure if either of those systems would be what you are looking for, but I linked them to reviews. Hope that helps!
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    Grod_The_Giant's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    STaRS! It's my generic rules-light thing, flexible and fast without getting too abstract... but more importantly for this purpose, it shades real easily into horror. The full version has an entire chunk of optional rules to make things scarier, revolving around what I call the "Doom Pool"-- a pile of dice that grows and shrinks over the course of the session, based on player actions. At the start of each scene, you roll the pile, and if you get three of a kind Something Bad happens.

    The Doom Pool is supported by "Dark Secrets." Each character has a Dark Secret that would ruin their relationships if it came out. You can tap your Secret for mechanical bonuses... but if someone else figures out your Secret, not only do the roleplaying consequences play out, but the Doom Pool permanently enlarges. On the other hand, if you figure out someone else's Secret yourself, you get a mechanical bonus...

    STaRS also has strong mechanics for handling non-physical conflicts, like running away from a horrible tentacle monster, finding survivors before said monster comes back, looking for clues about the nature of said monster, and so on. More than the usual "roll X checks before Y limit" sort of extended check rules you'll find in a lot of systems; my Environmental Conflict rules include a lot more back-and-forth and tactical options.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    Any system where Sanity is a serious thing and you get long-term / permanent trauma through it. Otherwise it's just an empty threat, and won't really hurt the characters.

    It helps if you design your adventures in a way that allows for failure, and really let the players / PCs mess up things. That's horror: you can fail, as opposed to standard fantasy where you inevitably need the heroes to win.

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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    Quote Originally Posted by FiberPilot View Post
    Any system where Sanity is a serious thing and you get long-term / permanent trauma through it. Otherwise it's just an empty threat, and won't really hurt the characters.

    It helps if you design your adventures in a way that allows for failure, and really let the players / PCs mess up things. That's horror: you can fail, as opposed to standard fantasy where you inevitably need the heroes to win.
    That's the thing that I was told about Gumshoe that wasn't good for the survival/investigative horror style. Not that the system is bad but it gives a huge safe area for finding everything and missing things or failure is hard. I may use keep using the old Call of Cthulhu rules but I admit that they can be daunting even for seasoned players at times.

    Thanks for the great feedback and I will definitely look into the STaRS link

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    DwarfFighterGirl

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    Gumshoe is kind of built around the idea of a higher, less specific level of challenge. Here's the idea, although I don't think they explain this in the books very well.
    Solving a mystery has two different levels of challenge: Can you find the clues, and can you assemble the clues. Assembling the clues is where you see things like red-herrings, dead-ends, and leaps of intuition come into play. Finding the clues is a more technical and procedural process of making sure the person with the right knowledge is looking under the right rock. When you succeed at the challenge of finding a clue, your reward is the clue.
    Here's the thing though, in a game with Assembly challenge if the clue you get for completing an encounter is a red herring, or a clue that your party misinterprets and spends two hours chasing a dead end over, then the reward for that encounter that you spent character resources and time and clever planning on was that you got to be responsible for wasting the party's time. This feels like a punishment for completing encounters, and down that route lies madness.
    Gumshoes' approach is basically, that to leave the door open to as much Assembly challenge as possible, there should be as little Finding challenge as you can stand.
    Non est salvatori salvator,
    neque defensori dominus,
    nec pater nec mater,
    nihil supernum.

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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    Gumshoe is kind of built around the idea of a higher, less specific level of challenge. Here's the idea, although I don't think they explain this in the books very well.
    Solving a mystery has two different levels of challenge: Can you find the clues, and can you assemble the clues. Assembling the clues is where you see things like red-herrings, dead-ends, and leaps of intuition come into play. Finding the clues is a more technical and procedural process of making sure the person with the right knowledge is looking under the right rock. When you succeed at the challenge of finding a clue, your reward is the clue.
    Here's the thing though, in a game with Assembly challenge if the clue you get for completing an encounter is a red herring, or a clue that your party misinterprets and spends two hours chasing a dead end over, then the reward for that encounter that you spent character resources and time and clever planning on was that you got to be responsible for wasting the party's time. This feels like a punishment for completing encounters, and down that route lies madness.
    Gumshoes' approach is basically, that to leave the door open to as much Assembly challenge as possible, there should be as little Finding challenge as you can stand.
    That does seem a better explanation of how to use GUMSHOE. I've heard complaints that since clues are guaranteed that players can feel they don't have real agency, BUT, if not all roads (clues) lead to Rome then I can see that this could have real merit. I may not be experienced enough of a GM to tackle that since the narrative might need to be at a higher level than I am at the moment

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    Mordar's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    I'm a huge Call of C'thulhu fan...but if you're looking for action I don't think that is the way to go. CoC is investigation based and promotes/requires "action" avoidance for any real longevity.

    I've only heard about Delta Green, but that does seem to have been the response to people asking Chaosium for a more aggressive player role.

    - M
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    DwarfFighterGirl

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    Quote Originally Posted by JungleChicken View Post
    That does seem a better explanation of how to use GUMSHOE. I've heard complaints that since clues are guaranteed that players can feel they don't have real agency, BUT, if not all roads (clues) lead to Rome then I can see that this could have real merit. I may not be experienced enough of a GM to tackle that since the narrative might need to be at a higher level than I am at the moment
    I've been running Gumshoe games for about five years, and I still haven't written an adventure I'm happy enough with to run. For me it's all pre-published adventures. The worst moment at the table in Gumshoe is when you've handed the players all of the clues, but no individual clue actually leads to the final encounter space. (In one module, for example, you've given the players a map, and the players have discovered five crime scenes. Somebody needs to look down at the map and realize they form a pentagram surrounding the cult's hideout, or that everyone on the suspect list is wearing the same tie-pin, a symbol of their fraternity house that's in the center of the pentagram. If nobody makes the out of character leap to connect theses two clues, the adventure tells you that the party just... loses. The bad guys get away.) so the players have all their notes spread out in front of them, and they're just staring at them, stumped. There's no in character action they can take to complete the puzzle, because the puzzle is intentionally incomplete. One of the player's has to figure it out. I have a tendency to fudge here, to add some extra clues or to tell someone what intuition there character has. This is to keep some of my players from never coming back, but a few of my players hate Gumshoe specifically because I won't let them spend an entire session arguing about where to go or staring at two dozen note cards in despair.
    Non est salvatori salvator,
    neque defensori dominus,
    nec pater nec mater,
    nihil supernum.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Mordar's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good survival horror or action horror

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    I've been running Gumshoe games for about five years, and I still haven't written an adventure I'm happy enough with to run. For me it's all pre-published adventures. The worst moment at the table in Gumshoe is when you've handed the players all of the clues, but no individual clue actually leads to the final encounter space. (In one module, for example, you've given the players a map, and the players have discovered five crime scenes. Somebody needs to look down at the map and realize they form a pentagram surrounding the cult's hideout, or that everyone on the suspect list is wearing the same tie-pin, a symbol of their fraternity house that's in the center of the pentagram. If nobody makes the out of character leap to connect theses two clues, the adventure tells you that the party just... loses. The bad guys get away.) so the players have all their notes spread out in front of them, and they're just staring at them, stumped. There's no in character action they can take to complete the puzzle, because the puzzle is intentionally incomplete. One of the player's has to figure it out. I have a tendency to fudge here, to add some extra clues or to tell someone what intuition there character has. This is to keep some of my players from never coming back, but a few of my players hate Gumshoe specifically because I won't let them spend an entire session arguing about where to go or staring at two dozen note cards in despair.
    Mystery games aren't for everyone. This highlights the biggest problem (IMO) in RPGs like this - your character sheet can simulate physical characteristics and skills that you don't have, but the psyche of the character really belongs to the player. You can have an intuition score, a empathy score, a wisdom score, whatever...but if you're running an investigation/mystery game they just can't be used to make the seminal connections or final leaps. That has to come from the player, not the dice, or you might as well be playing a board game. Frankly, I think it is a good thing as it maintains the spirit of the mystery game, even if it means some people won't like it.

    - M
    No matter where you go...there you are!

    Togashi Ishi - Betrayal at the White Temple
    Da Monsters of Da Midden - GitP Blood Bowl Manager Cup Season VI

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