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Old 08-10-2015, 01:19 PM   #1
trechriron
 
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Default [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

So I ran two sessions of Zombies at Dragonflight this year in sunny Bellevue, WA (A city across the lake from Seattle).

FRI night game had 6 GURPS enthusiasts who handled my hair-brained scheme with aplomb. We had a blast! It was a real treat to play with seasoned GURPS players.

SAT night game had 2 GURPS enthusiasts and two newbies (maybe 16-ish). We plunged right into the action, and they picked up on the basics fast. I kept it simple, describing options and helping through dice rolls. They were very engaged and creative! I was impressed with how well they played.

All in all, I had a LOT of fun. I did however learn much from the experience.

I wanted to run a scenario where the plague just broke out. The characters would be "norms" that found themselves in unfortunate circumstances. I made ten characters. A couple were "more competent" than the others. My goal was to have the players randomly select from the "norms" and then as characters died, those characters could pick from the "more competent" pool and continue playing. I wanted to spotlight the horror aspect of the genre. I thought it would be fun to find baseball bats and golf clubs and cast-iron frying pans and have the first fight be desperate. (Edited to add) I thought the horror of actually losing a couple characters in the beginning would drive the horror home. Then the new characters would give those players an extra "kudos" for having died first.

It kind of worked. :-P

People seemed to have fun at the table. People took their disadvantages in stride and several played them up. I thought it went swimmingly. Later on Sunday I overheard one of the players complaining about my game. "Why would you bring pre-gens that are useless in the scenario you are running?"

Ouch.

So perhaps my idea was not as sound as I thought. People were being good sports about it and having fun HOWEVER, it seems to me that maybe they would have MORE fun if the characters were more "tuned up" for the scenario.

I have some ideas on how to touch-up this convention scenario, but I'm curious of your thoughts/ideas?

[p.s. this player was critical of some of the things happening in the game in general. I think he felt my GMing did not fit his ideas of "how things work" and it irked him. I think he believed I was the adversary trying to kill them. Which is not how I run games but he just met me, so wouldn't know that.]

[p.s.s. - the head shot from a sniper rifle is absolutely horrible, devastating and accurate to my understanding of how people describe such activity in the real world. It reinforced my decision to GM a game that feels realistic yet remains playable.]
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Old 08-10-2015, 02:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

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Originally Posted by trechriron View Post
People seemed to have fun at the table. People took their disadvantages in stride and several played them up. I thought it went swimmingly. Later on Sunday I overheard one of the players complaining about my game. "Why would you bring pre-gens that are useless in the scenario you are running?"

Ouch.

So perhaps my idea was not as sound as I thought. People were being good sports about it and having fun HOWEVER, it seems to me that maybe they would have MORE fun if the characters were more "tuned up" for the scenario.
::Shrug:::
Sounds like monday morning GMing to me. Were you up front about what the tone and style of gameplay was going to be? It sounds like thats what you built for, and if its what you advertised, then its just pointless grumping.

A certain savage resourceful utility and pragmatism is certainly well within the modern zombie genre (Walking Dead comes to mind). The PCs were supposed to be frantically struggling and 'ineffective'.


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Originally Posted by trechriron View Post
I have some ideas on how to touch-up this convention scenario, but I'm curious of your thoughts/ideas?
If you billed it openly as survival horror, then your right where you need to be I think.


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Originally Posted by trechriron View Post
[p.s. this player was critical of some of the things happening in the game in general. I think he felt my GMing did not fit his ideas of "how things work" and it irked him. I think he believed I was the adversary trying to kill them. Which is not how I run games but he just met me, so wouldn't know that.]
There are as many ways to run GURPS as there are people who run it. I might even extend that statement to ALL rpgs, but I dont have the experience to make that statement. Sounds like it was just a difference of play style.


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Originally Posted by trechriron View Post
[p.s.s. - the head shot from a sniper rifle is absolutely horrible, devastating and accurate to my understanding of how people describe such activity in the real world. It reinforced my decision to GM a game that feels realistic yet remains playable.]
As long as you stick to the 'playable' side of that spectrum I think you'll be OK. There are always going to be gun bunnies, rules lawyers, and Suspension of Disbelief kill joys and at a con, sometimes the net is gonna drag those in. Dont worry about it.

GURPS can be a simulationists dream. But normally requires cranking up the rules to a level that is complexity prohibitive to newcomers like you might find in a convention game.

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Old 08-10-2015, 06:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

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::Shrug:::
Sounds like monday morning GMing to me. Were you up front about what the tone and style of gameplay was going to be? ...

If you billed it openly as survival horror, then your right where you need to be I think...

Nymdok
I was upfront yes. I told them I wanted this to be real horror and part of the scare was playing these "norms" caught up in the apocalypse.

Thanks for the thoughts, I appreciate it.
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Old 08-10-2015, 06:30 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

One of my thoughts to make this "more fun":

Make up 10 characters (125 points, 50 disads). These are the "ZA newbs". They are randomly chosen at the start. The beginning would be intense, with a big BANG up front zombie encounter that would increase the chances of a PC death. If you die, you pick another character. Play for about an hour and see where things fall out.

Then...

Hit the pause button, fast forward say 6 months into the apocalypse. Hand out the "hardened survivor" characters (say 200 points, 75 points in disads). These new characters would have the "how I survived the ZA and all I got was this stupid T-Shirt" background blurbs. :-)

Continue the rest of the CON scenario.

It could give the initial horror punch in the setup, showcase character advancement, and provide an exhilarating survival romp to finish it out. I would share this setup before we begin to manage expectations and give the players room to "ham it up" in the first hour playing the ZA newbs without fear of the 4-hour slot being "ruined by a horrible death".
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Old 08-10-2015, 07:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

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I was upfront yes. I told them I wanted this to be real horror and part of the scare was playing these "norms" caught up in the apocalypse.

Thanks for the thoughts, I appreciate it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by trechriron View Post
One of my thoughts to make this "more fun":

Make up 10 characters (125 points, 50 disads). These are the "ZA newbs". They are randomly chosen at the start. The beginning would be intense, with a big BANG up front zombie encounter that would increase the chances of a PC death. If you die, you pick another character. Play for about an hour and see where things fall out.

Then...

Hit the pause button, fast forward say 6 months into the apocalypse. Hand out the "hardened survivor" characters (say 200 points, 75 points in disads). These new characters would have the "how I survived the ZA and all I got was this stupid T-Shirt" background blurbs. :-)

Continue the rest of the CON scenario.

It could give the initial horror punch in the setup, showcase character advancement, and provide an exhilarating survival romp to finish it out. I would share this setup before we begin to manage expectations and give the players room to "ham it up" in the first hour playing the ZA newbs without fear of the 4-hour slot being "ruined by a horrible death".
I've never run a con game, but that sounds kinda tough to pull off, and that may have been the difficulty with your initial offering.

A horror game is difficult to pull off even with a good and well known group. It takes active willing buy in from the players, maybe more so than any other Genre.

Have you considered running something a little more ACTION!-esque? I dont necesarrily mean with the Action Supplements and templates (Although Zombies Day One certainly has a couple of em that are practically ready made for that), but something a little more run and gun and that might be easier to play in.

Its a tonal shift, and that may be a concession that you're not willing to make, but consider that the transition from the movie Alien to Aliens was a shift from horror to action and both of those films are fun and good in their own right.

I think thats what you mean when you say 'tuned up', or 'effective' I think you're saying 'combat effective' in the setting.

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Old 08-11-2015, 09:42 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

Quote:
Originally Posted by trechriron View Post
One of my thoughts to make this "more fun":

Make up 10 characters (125 points, 50 disads). These are the "ZA newbs". They are randomly chosen at the start. The beginning would be intense, with a big BANG up front zombie encounter that would increase the chances of a PC death. If you die, you pick another character. Play for about an hour and see where things fall out.

Then...

Hit the pause button, fast forward say 6 months into the apocalypse. Hand out the "hardened survivor" characters (say 200 points, 75 points in disads). These new characters would have the "how I survived the ZA and all I got was this stupid T-Shirt" background blurbs. :-)
That is a interesting idea. Might not use it for a convention game but I think it would work well for a game with regular players.
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

Quote:
Originally Posted by trechriron View Post
One of my thoughts to make this "more fun":

Make up 10 characters (125 points, 50 disads). These are the "ZA newbs". They are randomly chosen at the start. The beginning would be intense, with a big BANG up front zombie encounter that would increase the chances of a PC death. If you die, you pick another character. Play for about an hour and see where things fall out.

Then...

Hit the pause button, fast forward say 6 months into the apocalypse. Hand out the "hardened survivor" characters (say 200 points, 75 points in disads). These new characters would have the "how I survived the ZA and all I got was this stupid T-Shirt" background blurbs. :-)

Continue the rest of the CON scenario.

It could give the initial horror punch in the setup, showcase character advancement, and provide an exhilarating survival romp to finish it out. I would share this setup before we begin to manage expectations and give the players room to "ham it up" in the first hour playing the ZA newbs without fear of the 4-hour slot being "ruined by a horrible death".
What I did for my DF-demo was give everyone starting characters and everyone who stayed at least 2 hours were allowed to "level" their character during my 30 minute break. It showcased how fast character maintenance was for GURPS and the fact that anything could be done. It was a hit because everyone from day one of the Con came back for day two (I had a total of 12 players and 8 people watching us play).
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Old 08-12-2015, 06:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

It'd bug me to have someone complain on the side about a game I ran.

However, it seems to me that if you weren't forcing a TPK and I could see a reasonable chance of succeeding assuming I did right by the scenario, then I think not having optimized characters is fine. I'd actually prefer that. People would have to roll some defaults and be creative to try and get as many positive modifiers on their side before doing so. It's a con game with pre-gens. Play your min/maxed character in your home game!
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Old 08-12-2015, 11:37 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

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It'd bug me to have someone complain on the side about a game I ran.

However, it seems to me that if you weren't forcing a TPK and I could see a reasonable chance of succeeding assuming I did right by the scenario, then I think not having optimized characters is fine. I'd actually prefer that. People would have to roll some defaults and be creative to try and get as many positive modifiers on their side before doing so. It's a con game with pre-gens. Play your min/maxed character in your home game!
It did bug me a little at first, BUT I did get the opportunity to hear it. Now I can tune up the scenario a bit. :-) I knew it was going to be "non standard" and a bit unusual.

It was not designed for TPK, it was designed to see how resourceful players could be playing "norms" during the initial outbreak. I was trying to push the "this is what I would do" button for those who love Zombies. :-) The experienced GURPS players in the FRI session did really well!! They were super resourceful and only one player was bit during the session.

I'm tuning up the Con scenario for 200 point (-100 disads including "enemy") Survivors (capital S). For a con game I will have them be butt-kicking heroes making their way in the zombie-world. This will likely appeal to more gamers than my initial outbreak scenario.

Then I want to include some 125 point characters for the initial outbreak scenario. That one will be good for multiple session games (short runs or home games).
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Old 08-12-2015, 07:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Post-Con Report] Zombies at Dragonflight 2015

Would it be possible to get the templates you used?
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