evileeyore
 member, 717 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Tue 23 Aug 2022
at 13:02
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
GreenTongue:
Do you prefer you zombies to be more "Plants vs Zombies" or do you want to see the maggots and smell the rot?

Depends... is it survival horror?  Then ratchet up the details.  Is it "heroes versus the apocalypse"?  then details don't matter as much (except to make the heroes look heroic).

quote:
Do you want to count every bullet, match and can of soup?

Yes.  Though counting every calorie might be a step too far.  But the importance of beans and bullets is 100% on point for a survival games.

quote:
Are the games you play more about Survival! or about the rebuilding?

Both, usually.  Can't rebuild if you don't survive, and whats the point of survival without the hope of rebuilding?

Now that said, you can feature one premise over the other just fine.


Post-Apoc is broad, broad field and to skip over the Big Damn Heroes side of the field without comment is probably wrong.  On that side of the house, survival is more a veneer, a backdrop to occasionally showcase some struggle, the spice if you will, in the "Kicking Zombie/Mutant/Robot/Alien butt" soup.  For reference:  Z Nation, Hell Comes To Frogtown, Cherry 2000, Damnation Alley, Mad Max.

But, and I don't say this with malice intended; in those games you might as well be playing D&D in a Points Of Light campaign (so not as much my cuppa, but I can still enjoy them with the right group).
Galen
 member, 7 posts
Tue 23 Aug 2022
at 13:19
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
Nice response, evileeyore. I concur with what you've said.

I will add one additional consideration. That is what do your players want. In a FtF game, we use Lines and Veils to manage those expectation. I have one adult player who is squeamish. He consistently puts a Veil on descriptions of blood and gore and will speak up if I get too close.

How does that convert to PbP? You need to mention that in the game advertisements. That way you get players who desire the kind of detail you plan to utilize. RPOL is generally better about communicating diversions from the norm than some other sites I've played on.
BlackWater
 member, 19 posts
 You lose! GOOD DAY, SIR!
 Yep! I got issues!
Tue 23 Aug 2022
at 15:04
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
Those are actually BOTH good responses.  And this is a great thread (as my love of Survival Horror is strong).

To add my own:

1) Gore/Horror (figurative 'Realism' vs 'Cartoony'):
• I love knowing that things are a threat, but I don't need the visceral every post.  The first couple times someone encounters it?  Yeah, you can use little details to hammer it home - the look, the smell, the feel.  After that, unless it's a major encounter/event/locations, I tend to slack off and talk in more broad terms.

• Personally, I like it as a narrative device to stop players from becoming TOO jaded.  If every post is about how this zombie's arm is barely hanging on, or this zombie has this defect and wound, or that wound... it starts to become stale.  But when you just mention it occasionally, used a little sparingly...

2) Resource Management:
• Evileeyore said it best.  I want people to count their bullets and their overall rations ('Oh, we've only got enough food for two days for the group!  Alright, everyone's on half rations!').  This adds to the tension.

3) Survival and Rebuilding:
• Again, Evileeyore nailed it on the head.  You need both for a GOOD post apoc game.  Do you have your big heroes?  Great, then they need big challenges

• Those challenges don't have to be the MAIN threat.  Look at the classic Romero trilogy (Night/Dawn/Day) - the backdrop was the zombies and they were a HUGE threat.  You had housewives and reporters and scientists fighting things that could not easily be killed (sure, there were SWAT and Military too).  But the bigger threats that challenged the 'heroes' were more other survivors who caused the biggest threat, either through malice (game from Dawn), incompetence (Tommy in Night), or just plain fear (just about everyone).

• Survival builds tension for rebuilding - which requires resources which causes the characters to have to venture into the unknown or protect what they have - which causes the need for survival which causes tension while rebuilding.
phoenix9lives
 member, 1107 posts
 A brain driving a bone
 mecha with flesh armor
Tue 23 Aug 2022
at 15:54
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
Don't forget trying to stockpile supplies.  Where to store them, how to protect them.  These things are necessary for survival, and for rebuilding.
wolfecubb
 member, 132 posts
 Absolute power corrupts
 absolutely
Tue 23 Aug 2022
at 17:12
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
Agree with the above - detail adds to the feel of the setting. As the characters become more exposed to the zombies and therefore less shocked / more de-sensitized then the detail tones down.

But then every now and again remind them of the horror they face. For example the characters see a group of zombies then general descriptions (clothes from last season, ragged, open sounds, nothing special) - until they notice their first child zombie, or zombie wearing a nightdress, or one that doesn't seem to be injured at all - even a zombie body that appears to have "died" but not from a head shot. Something, anything, that is different from the new norm they are used to.

They might choose to hesitate before attacking the youngster, at least at first, or even capture the uninjured zombie to investigate more closely, but it's yet another reminder of the world they've lost and what they need to do to survive going forward.

Above all else it creates roleplay opportunities, and that's what we're here for. Yes, we can all still be the big shiny hero and fight our way through the zombie hordes. But every now and again even big shiny heroes need reminding of their humanity and reminder of the world they've lost.

Of course, it is always dependent on style of game, GM and group of players. But if done well it always (IMO) adds depth and colour to a game.
Larson Gates
 member, 24 posts
Thu 25 Aug 2022
at 11:26
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
GreenTongue:
Do you prefer you zombies to be more "Plants vs Zombies" or do you want to see the maggots and smell the rot?

Do you want to count every bullet, match and can of soup?

Are the games you play more about Survival! or about the rebuilding?

Such a narrow definition of Apocalypse..
So many more variations that don't involved zombies at all..
GreenTongue
 member, 1126 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 25 Aug 2022
at 15:34
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
In reply to Larson Gates (msg # 7):

True, but, "Zombies Attack" seems common and popular.
"Walking Dead" being a fine example of the genre.
Rockwolf66
 member, 81 posts
Mon 5 Sep 2022
at 02:10
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
GreenTongue:
Do you prefer you zombies to be more "Plants vs Zombies" or do you want to see the maggots and smell the rot?


Someplace in between. I don't want something cartoonish but on the other hand i have seen a number of IRL corpses. I don't need to hear about gore and rot constantly. I've seen it before and what my head shows m is enough.

quote:
Do you want to count every bullet, match and can of soup?

At first yes that is a problem. I vacation in the backcountry you have to not only take into account all the need supplies that you will need for a week of living miles from where the roads end (and then you are still hours from civilization). but the weight of what you are carrying. You cannot carry much when the local terrain is as rugged as any found in North America.

quote:
Are the games you play more about Survival! or about the rebuilding?

Usually they start out as simple survival. As they go one it becomes one of rebuilding. others have pointed out that just surviving isn't a fun game. One of the worst games i played that wasn't pleasing to the Ebon Dragon was a home brewed Fallout game using WOD rules. the GM banned the players from having resource points. This meant that as the GM was not giving the players any way to get gear. the Players were scavenging off their own dead PCs in hope of making it through the game.
Gaffer
 member, 1743 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Mon 5 Sep 2022
at 02:34
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
I'd like a Shaun of the Dead game. It progresses from "something's not right" to "Oh, God, zombies" to "THAT'S how to kill them" to Last Stand.
Jarodemo
 member, 974 posts
 My hovercraft
 is full of eels
Mon 5 Sep 2022
at 09:04
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
In reply to GreenTongue (msg # 1):

I guess as others have said it depends on the context.

Twilight 2000 is a good setting for post nuclear war, very gritty and realistic. On the other hand, any zombie setting will be for fantastical and can be anythign from grim Walking Dead style to more wacky Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.

Personally I would also state that resource tracking is important, even though it can require some housekeeping. People will kill to protect their freshwater spring or a warehouse full of tinned food. Every bullet counts, and dirty water will kill you as effectively as a zombie bite.

Post-Apoc is all about survival, and that includes management of scarce resources no matter what the setting.

Generally I would say short-term the aim is just to survive until tomorrow, but long-term then rebuilding has to come into it to give purpose and direction. However, from a roleplaying perspective farming and town council meetings may not be as fun as scouting a crash site for survivors and gear or wading through zombies with a machete.
evileeyore
 member, 721 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Mon 5 Sep 2022
at 09:58
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
Jarodemo:
However, from a roleplaying perspective farming and town council meetings may not be as fun as scouting a crash site for survivors and gear or wading through zombies with a machete.

This is one of those "to each their own" things...

Being an old VLARP Player and WoD Player (and long running VLARP GM), as well as "mafia/Werewolf", I love 'town council' or 'socpol' games, the digging for blackmail to swing votes, jockeying for power, etc.  I could happily play in one of those games.



In fact, sidenoting; I'm surprised RPoL doesn't have any Mafia/Werewolf games, message boards are the best place for them.
Rockwolf66
 member, 82 posts
Mon 5 Sep 2022
at 22:20
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
In reply to Gaffer (msg # 10):

Last stand as in the Flash game that used to be all over hand has three flash sequels and a non flash reboot out?
Jordan Task
 member, 5036 posts
 All glory to the
 Hypnotoad!
Wed 26 Oct 2022
at 03:16
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
In reply to GreenTongue (msg # 1):

This all depends on the premise of the game and what kind of feel you’re going for.

Gritty survival games can be fine, but it’s easy for it to turn into the typical DND hack and slash than you might think. Your dungeons are the grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants you’ll be looting for supplies, instead of fighting orcs you’re fighting the people inhabiting those locations and instead of gold pieces and magic swords, your treasure is canned food and guns or ammunition. It takes a lot of care to prevent your game from falling into that, and you need more than just a gimmick (like adult content sexy time between characters) to keep it interesting.

It also takes some research to figure out, for example, how long gas left sitting in a plastic gas can in the sun can remain useable, if you’re going for that hyper realistic game.

On the other hand, if you look at the earlier seasons of Walking Dead, the most threatening and scariest/most frightening opposition is always other people and the survival elements (counting bullets and desperately searching for food) are only occasionally played off for dramatic effect or as a mcguffin for something else.

I think the walking dead approach is the best, that instead of constantly fighting against starvation and exposure that a far more engaging experience is fighting against other people/opponents, with the occasional foray into the survival aspect.

But that’s just me.

This message was last edited by the user at 03:18, Wed 26 Oct 2022.

thebigh
 member, 5 posts
Wed 26 Oct 2022
at 04:31
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
I like to give enough detail to provide players with a sense of place and occasion. The first time they encounter a zombie I might go into detail about its decaying flesh, gruesome injuries, and horrific rotting stench. After that, it doesn't seem worthwhile to narrate every zombie in such detail. I don't need to mention that this one is missing a hand, or that one has an eye dangling by the optic nerve, unless these details matter somehow.

Generally though I will spend more time describing the scenery and the surroundings. Those always matter.
Samus Aran
 member, 462 posts
 Author, game designer
 Part-time Metroid fighter
Sun 6 Nov 2022
at 17:37
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
GreenTongue:
Do you prefer you zombies to be more "Plants vs Zombies" or do you want to see the maggots and smell the rot?


More toward the latter, though I think it's possible to describe the hideous dead things trying to eat you without always going into every last necrotized detail (which would get exhausting).

GreenTongue:
Do you want to count every bullet, match and can of soup?


Absolutely not. I've never had this make a game better, and often it makes it worse. Give me broader, more generic game units that can be fluffed as you need: 3 Food instead of "you have exactly this amount," 4 Ammo instead of "one box of 9mm rounds and some change," and how many uses you have left on matchbook, rather than counting that many.

GreenTongue:
Are the games you play more about Survival! or about the rebuilding?


This is more of a story concern. Ideally, I'd like a game to be able to do both. But I love the survival aspects, too, and transitioning into rebuilding some semblance of order.
GreenTongue
 member, 1132 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Sun 6 Nov 2022
at 17:39
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
In reply to Samus Aran (msg # 16):

Something like Mutant: Year Zero or more like Twilight 2000?
Samus Aran
 member, 464 posts
 Author, game designer
 Part-time Metroid fighter
Sun 6 Nov 2022
at 17:49
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
Yes. Those kinds of systems are a lot closer to what I'm designing for my own game. You can fluff "You find a couple cans of chili" or "You found half a loaf of stale bread" as "You find 2 Food" more easily than trying to be ultra-specific. I vastly favor broad game measurements that are easier to fluff to what you need, and serve as good points of interaction with mechanical widgets. Like CCGs, really. I think most RPGs can learn some things from CCGs in the form of clear, transparent rules interactions.
donsr
 member, 2706 posts
Sun 6 Nov 2022
at 18:12
How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
one of  my players said

 " never let  facts ruin a good  story ( game) "
Heath
 member, 3004 posts
 If my opinion changes,
 The answer is still 42.
Mon 7 Nov 2022
at 12:27
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
donsr:
one of  my players said

 " never let  facts ruin a good  story ( game) "

Originally said by Mark Twain, so your player is in good company.
donsr
 member, 2707 posts
Mon 7 Nov 2022
at 12:30
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
::chuckles:: Yeah. It  was commented thus, but  some  arguemtns over    'space' related  battles.

  but..GM's  win, those    discussions , for the most part.  The player, posting that, just added to what my intentions where.

 we worry about  Ammo,  yes, you need  food. But  i don't want accounts, i want players... That saying? if they go too far the other way, i stop that as well.
GreenTongue
 member, 1133 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Mon 7 Nov 2022
at 13:36
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
Enough details to set the scene and establish tension but not enough to need an accountant.
Lluis
 member, 10 posts
Tue 8 Nov 2022
at 18:03
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
As per food ,a system like Powers and Perils, where echa player needs an amount of food points (FPs) and each kind of food gives x FP/pound may sufice, so you only have to account its weight and the amount of FPs they have.

Of course this leaves over the need for variety, or the perishing food (one can ssume players eat the closer to be spoiled), but I find it quite good for relaism/complexity/bookkeep ratios.
facemaker329
 member, 7421 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Wed 9 Nov 2022
at 04:57
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
I don't generally get into post-Apocalypse games.  I've tried a few times (but the original Gamma World, and especially Rifts, don't lend themselves well to someone testing the waters.  They tend to involve a pretty hefty time buy-in, and I tried them at times in my life where I didn't feel like I had a whole lot of time, so I freely admit I didn't get the most out of them that I could have), but that particular genre is extremely hit-or-miss for me (like, I loved the first season or two of Walking Dead, and then it just became a slog...but I love Shaun of the Dead, if that tells you anything about my preferences...)

I'd get bored really quick with a game that was heavily focused on the mechanics of survival.  I like games with a strong narrative flow (whether they be freeform or system-based), and the day-after-day grind of "scout an area, collect supplies, stockpile, shelter, set guards for the night, and repeat the next day" would bore me right out of the game.  Now, if those same elements are part of a greater narrative, my interest level could be completely different.

But I'm also one of those weird people who thinks that I'd rather just die quickly at the start of the Apocalypse and avoid all the suffering (both my own and everyone around me), so I'd need some compelling reason to feel like it'd be worth committing to playing through that kind of misery.
GreenTongue
 member, 1134 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Wed 9 Nov 2022
at 15:33
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 24):

Excellent points.
That has been my experience. The initial rush of surviving against the odds gets old fast. It is not helped by getting to the point that you no longer have to worry about doing it on a day to day basis.

That's where I'm wondering if a game like Mutant: Year Zero with its ARK and the ability to develop it in various ways, might be interesting enough long term to hold players.

Doesn't look like it would be a spreadsheet nightmare either.
donsr
 member, 2711 posts
Wed 9 Nov 2022
at 16:04
Re: How Much Detail Do You Like In Post Apoc Games?
with me? You want the 'needs' to be there, with out  dominating the game. some detail is good, because you can get immersive . But you don't want to have sliderules and calculaters.

 yeah? yiou have to do stuff in IC  for it to could 'Grabbed  some food" is good... you don't need to read the labels to us.

 case in point? I was in a game on Yahoo  years and years ago. The GM was pretty good. but when it came time for us to eat, his character  did the cooking, and  he would  go into detail of   sauces, herbs  and veggies..and it was a Fantasy game! Had he  went into that much detail  with NPCs  and   Missions, the game might still be around!