Dead... and Back is a survival horror Role Playing Game. The Anarchy Zones is its official setting - aliens, reanimates, and the ruins of 2055 America.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What Are Monsters?

There are a lot of optional rules in the most current version of the game. Alternate ways of reading the damage dice, building settlements, simpler vehicle stats, ammunition types, and new ways spend altruism points. I will admit, part of this is the difficulty of me winnowing stuff from my game. It seems such a shame to just redact these options away, as they can be useful tools for your game. Its all a matter of defining your monsters.

One school of horror holds that monsters are things beyond your means and reason. Fears you can't placate, negotiate, or truly overcome. You might delay, or prolong survival, but you'll lose something in the process.

Hence options to make ammunition more scarce by requiring reloads to be of a specific caliber, and other that make hits count only half as often as the normal rules. In turn, carrying multiple guns to allow for ammunition shortages, or relying on close combat, can be a dangerous move or at least eat up invintory space - Up-rise only allows for so many items in combat. An optional stress rule can eat up deadening points, and another means that supplies must be used to restore the lost fatigue, not just points earned.

However, there are enough things in everyday life that are crushing your spirit - from boring jobs to fear of flying, or bad dreams of evil people abducting your children. Are games not a way to escape that depression for a time?

Thus the other line of thought - that monsters are gruesome obstacles to be overcome. Better yet, there are no repercussions to solving this problem. Foreclosing on a poor family's home or losing your own job at the bank - no good out come there. Blowing the head of a zombie? Knock back a cold one and celebrate!

Speaking of celebrations - is this a great achievement for the character, or just a side story to the true rebuilding of a nation? One of the options allows the group's advancement points to be spend on actually restoring civilization and creating a settlement. On the other hand, the points could just be used to allow the characters to achieve ever more epic feats?

Many of these things depend on the Game Master's Tone and description as well. A town might be an obligation that drains needed AP from characters, or their collective victory over the unrelenting hordes of undead.

Characters in Dead and Back start off fairly competent, even if the average starting values are maintained as is. Its altering the strength and prevalence of threats, and the immediacy of obligations that that make a session a walk in a zombie filled park, or a mad dash for survival.

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