Setting Treatment

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The Vulture
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Setting Treatment

#1 Postby The Vulture » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:06 pm

When the dead rose, the government response was, to everyone's surprise, quick, efficient, and highly effective. Within a few months of the initial outbreaks, the zombies were pushed back to small fenced-in enclaves. Civilization went on much as it did before.

From one such enclave, the remains of a small town in rural Missouri, one of the most popular reality shows yet is broadcast. A small group of nothing-to-lose volunteers enters the enclave, rigged with cameras broadcasting to the eager public. With a few basic supplies, the "cast" of this show is split into two competing groups. Those who manage to survive thirty days in the zombie-infested enclave are awarded two million dollars.

Basically, the players are people who, with nothing else to do in life, enter into this very lethal form of "Big Brother" or "Survivor". Players who win challenges set up by the show's hosts can win the benefits of extra supplies or luxuries (say, another firearm or a steak dinner). Also, creating the type of drama so prevalent on reality programming is to be rewarded by the GM, typically with Bennies.

Any thoughts on this setting idea?
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#2 Postby Sordorel » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:32 pm

Perhaps make the participants convicts? Sending in normal citizens would be a show of hopelessness, something most governments would prefer to avoid. But perhaps the exploiter of the show is part of a megacorp that pays a lot of bucks to get the Players out of jail and into hell, so to speak.

The participants should still be willing, with the final prize being allowed to live in a jail cell with the luxury most could only dream of for the rest of their natural lives. Reason for this would be that the survivors of this series would most of then by total psychos by the end of it, even if they weren’t at the start. So perhaps the first few winners were released and immediately proved this wasn’t a good idea. Plus they might just carry the infection with them. So better to keep them confined.

And hey, this also gives a good reason why the PC’s tend to have high combat stats, they were pretty bad as before they went to the big house.

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#3 Postby jeff » Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:03 pm

You also gotta think of a title for the show:

The Zombie's Right, Who Wants to be Undead?, Zombie Pursuit: Everybody Bites, or my personal favorite: Wheel of Zombies!.
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#4 Postby Jordan Peacock » Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:10 pm

Not quite related, but I had a "zombies as entertainment" Deadlands Hell on Earth scenario: "Zombie Race." The premise was that in this post-apocalyptic setting, a zombie-infested settlement was walled off (or, rather, it had walled itself off before it was overcome by zombie infection, and now the walls keep them all IN). As a barbaric sport, vehicle teams race through the zombie-infested streets. Prizes are awarded for various goals - the *official* goal is to get to the finish line first, but various local "clans" have offered up their own prizes for various things to up the entertainment value: total zombie body count, subjective "points for style," etc. The biggest prize of all, of course, is just getting through the whole thing ALIVE. (Some prizes are awarded posthumously to next-of-kin.)

It was a rather gruesome spectacle, and I really would need to fine-tune it before running it again. (I tried running this with classic HoE rules; it would benefit from being more FFF.)
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#5 Postby Averjoe » Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:17 pm

Not to throw a wrench in things, but why would the government push back and contain the zombies instead of just eliminating them?

Granted, I like the concept, but players always ask the darnedest questions, so I thought I'd go ahead and point it out now.

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#6 Postby Sordorel » Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:42 pm

Perhaps again the evil corporation stick? They paid big bucks to “save” the village in the hope they could harvest some useful data from the zombies, perhaps they did, perhaps not. Anyhow they ended with a entire village of zombies and nothing to do with it, until some nut job came up with the idea for the show.

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#7 Postby Averjoe » Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:55 pm

Not a bad idea. Perhaps the government originally kept them to study, but once they were done the mega corp moved in and acquired them for their own nefarious ends.

I really do like the game show aspect of it. It's especially relevant right now with the popularity of "reality" TV.

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#8 Postby supercOntra » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:17 pm

Keep a lot of sub-goals allowing the players to win cash and/or stuff if they get out.
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#9 Postby Sordorel » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:31 pm

And make sure most of those challenges put the players in some new kind of danger. Ie, the first player to reach the top of the largest building earns himself a lifelong supply of drugs/sex/rock and roll, just do note the whole building has been smeared with blood or some other zombie attracting trick.

Also, make sure to band player on player violence, would get ugly very quickly. Make sure to ad challenges that require a lot of teamwork and provide something to all the players if they succeed.

OH, another idea, start of with a large group of participants roaming the town, say trice of four times the players. Now when a PC dies he gains control over another player which is bumped to half his previous XP and promoted to wild card. All the PC’s know is that the last [insert number of players] to survive win.

This will keep the game interesting after character dead. Tough you might require a bit of score tallying for all the participants.

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#10 Postby Jordan Peacock » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:43 pm

Just trying to brainstorm some ideas:

Re: Why Village Isn't Wiped Out by Government.

Maybe the reason is because there is no "government" in quite the sense there used to be. The population has been devastated by World War Z, along with lots of the wildlife, as well as general infrastructure. Civilization is in isolated fortress-cities, or in geologically-separated areas (islands that have been cleared of zombies, with defenses against zombies walking along the riverbeds and popping up on shore). Due to competition for resources within a limited "safe" area, some people, under economic pressure, venture out into the "zombie lands" for various reasons. (Perhaps there are meager bounties on zombies, in the hopes of eventual clearing of new safe zones. Or, scavengers brave the risks in hopes of finding abandoned resources - or to avoid being under the thumb of whomever is in charge of the settlements.)

The zombie town is just an area on the "frontier", outside the safe zones. If anyone is there (e.g., a bunch of guys in a safehouse), the zombies will come. It's not that it's any particular focused concentration of them. Such "entertainment" serves the purpose of entertaining a confined populace, and dealing with malcontents and criminals. (Resources are too scarce to have big prison systems.)

Many values we take for granted today have taken heavy hits because of the sheer horror of the zombie apocalypse and death left and right, hence the Powers That Be may allow for more barbaric forms of entertainment than might be considered civilized today.

Anyway, just an idea for rationale.
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#11 Postby Jordan Peacock » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:46 pm

Sordorel wrote:OH, another idea, start of with a large group of participants roaming the town, say trice of four times the players. Now when a PC dies he gains control over another player which is bumped to half his previous XP and promoted to wild card. All the PC’s know is that the last [insert number of players] to survive win.


That sounds like an interesting twist, to keep the players (if not their original PCs) involved in a high-"turnover" scenario. The players might just have to choose from a list of pregens from the start, so there's less incentive to get TOO invested in a character. Players still keep in the game, but there's still a drawback for "losing." With the Savage Worlds system, I've found that even Novice PCs can still hold their own with more experienced groups. (They just might have to "specialize" more.)
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#12 Postby HaraldKlak » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:47 pm

I think this idea could be quite fun.

For a campaign you might consider using the classical conspiracy a la Running Man and Death Race. It is not in the interest of the company to have any real winners. So at the point where the characters realize this, they might have to go after the company behind the show.

An explanation why the government hasn't just bombed the area and eliminated the zombie threat could be that there is a nuclear silo in the area, which would be disastrous to let explode. This way, one of players could actually be placed (in jail or whereever the contestant come from) by some idealistic government officials, to deativate the missiles, so the problem can be solved once and for all.

As my thought imply, I could personally fear that killing zombies might end up casual in the longer run. I like to have some longer running plotlines, which might be worth some consideration.

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#13 Postby jpk » Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:52 pm

It's not too difficult to imagine the government beginning to curtail the zombie problem only to have either a civil rights organization or a hot-shot lawyer looking to make a name for himself pop up with some form of zombie rights lawsuit.

Given that premise, which is not at all unlikely (especially if an outbreak hits an area full of rich people where substantial assets are now up for grabs), the courts would almost have to grant a temporary injunction on what might well prove to be the wholesale genocide of a new species of human by the government.

Seriously, once it hits those terms, wouldn't you rather the government just pen them in until the question were settled. After all, you're likely to "die" someday, too...

Altruism can lead to at least as messed up a scenario as overarching evil corporations, you know.

Of course, if I were a globe-spanning megalomaniacal super villain sort, I can think of a lot worse places to hide my underground lair than someplace protected by a swarm of undead who, in turn, were being protected by the government. Bwaha, bwaha, bwahahahaha.

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#14 Postby The Vulture » Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:50 am

To elaborate, I was thinking that there was multiple enclaves established the world over. Some are maintained by fascist governments as a deterrent- be good or we release the zombies. Most are kept for scientific research purposes. I actually considered the human rights angle, but rationalized that the television series wouldn't really make sense, given that killing zombies would be a big part of it.

This is meant for a shorter campaign, with an emphasis on having to improvise solutions to the problems posed by the undead, challenges, and opposing team. As the game progresses and other numbers dwindle, people may become more desperate to survive. Especially if the prize was a fixed amount to be divided evenly among all the other survivors.

Also, there's any number of subplots that could be developed, like someone's mention of a nuclear silo. I think for a short campaign, especially one to introduce newbies to the wonders of SW, this may have potential.
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#15 Postby Wendigo1870 » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:27 am

A few ideas:

"Why not just destroy them?" Well, that was the basic strategy, and it worked: Armed Marines VS Shuffling Zombies => Exit Zombies. Upon discovering Zombies weren't that big of a threat, people who's loved one's passed away started protesting the 're-killing' of their loved ones. (Which is a staple in zombie horror: "I can't kill her, she's my wife" kind of thing) And it's a normal human reaction, as long as there's still some life in it, people will try to keep their relatives 'alive'. (Real-life example: see comatose and/or braindead patiënts kept alive artificially.)
That's why some zombies aren't destroyed, but detained (and paid for by the government. With tax-money, of course (heh, zombie-tax :razz: ).

Now, imagine those too poor to pay for their family zombie (or those in need for cash) to donate/sell them to a Media-Corporation. (Like people do with hospitals and research centers nowadays.) (INSERT NEW IDEA: Are zombies kept for use as organ donors? If they're not the decaying type of zombie, it could be a good source of organ donors.)
The Corporation makes a Zombie Survivor-gameshow, where teams of contestants participate to survive and do missions in the zombie pen. Aside from the constant 'survival' aspect, the missions give bonuses, and/or packages of food/ammo are dropped here and there in the pen.
Missions can be from the type of 'running the gauntlet' and or obstacle courses (get somewhere in time - without getting eaten, preferrably), to hunting a specific zombie ("the zombie with the blue shirt and red baseball cap"), ...
Standards are scarcity of ammo, food and shelter, as well as medical aid, meaning that the teams are constantly on the move, trying to find these necessities.

INSERT ADDITION TO NEW IDEA:in combination with the zombie=donor idea: the contestants are all volunteers; and all are people who need an organ transplant quickly. They're on the way too long waiting lists, and are as good as dead. But by participating with the game show, they can earn themselves an early organ transplant. Since they're almost dead anyway, and certainly will be if they don't get a donor fast, lots of people actually volunteer!

Now, if I'd be running the game, with the above 'Donor'-way:
- Zombies are infected and infecting, but it can be countered with proper medication (otherwise they wouldn't work as donors). Medication is one of those things you'd have to fight for!
- Zombies are vulnerable everywhere, but it's encouraged to do headshots, so as not to risk damage to transplant organs. (This way, you can still kill zombies 'easily', but it's frowned upon by the public and forbidden by the game rules.) So, you're constantly choosing between the easy solution (just hit it), or the hard way (aim at the head for a -4 penalty).
Which means the 'Head-shooting' of zombies is kept in the game, while at the same time, you're not making it too hard for your novice players to fight of all those zombies. (And, if they're new players, it wouldn't be cool to learn them the SW combat rules while they're only allowed to do headshots: they'd develop a skewed view of how SW combat works.)
- The most dangerous part of the game wouldn't be the zombies - they're just an annoying constant. It's the other teams you have to watch out for!
- As The Game goes along, the teams get depleted through attrition, keeping only the most ruthless survivors of the other teams alive. In time, these players aren't above killing other players anymore, and will look for places without camera's to ambush other teams and take their gear (or set up traps to have the zombies do the work for them - that's technically not even against the rules!).
- And finally; why does everyone think zombies are mindless? They do have a learning process, and will eventually develop their own hunting tactics and behaviour, ... Up to the point where they're smart enough to use weapons, feign awkwardness and stupidity, but then make their move, trying to escape the compound entirely.
Now it's not just trying to win a game anymore; it's saving the world by preventing a new advanced zombie outbreak!

Just some of my thoughts :twisted: !
He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
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