Shotgun Diaries

General discussion and chit-chat for any other book or game John has wriiten or been a major part of.

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Re: Shotgun Diaries

Postby wunderworks » Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:57 pm

Charlie_EN wrote:Bought it, read it, love it. Looking forward to running a game either as a one shot or a short series, depending on how it goes in one session.

Still thinking of doing L4D style, with Special Infected potentially as Complications.



You totally could! I was throwing that idea around in my head awhile back. Btw, check John's lj (wickedthought) to see one of his friends who's posting a play report of his ongoing Shotgun Diaries game - it reads like a great zombie movie or novel! :)
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Re: Shotgun Diaries

Postby ROldford » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:39 pm

Charlie_EN wrote:Bought it, read it, love it. Looking forward to running a game either as a one shot or a short series, depending on how it goes in one session.

Still thinking of doing L4D style, with Special Infected potentially as Complications.


The Zombies (capital Z) sound a lot like the Special Infected. The Strong Zombie is the Tank, the Stealthy Zombie is the Hunter, the Helpless Zombie is the Witch...

Well, it kind of works. :)

I've got a few questions about the game, by the way.

First, the Zombie Clock. The book says that "the Zombie Master can unleash zombies in the Survivors' direction" and that "the number of zombies equals the rank of the Zombie Clock". However, it never seems to matter mechanically how many zombies there are, only that there _are_ zombies (no zombies, no roll, but if you roll, you're killing zombies). Is there a certain way that people have found to differentiate between a lot of zombies and a few zombies?

One possibility that I just thought of would be to require 1 Risk Roll for each Zombie Clock rank used to make up the Horde (I'm using that as the unofficial term) before you're past it. (As a house rule, I'd make each Zombie Clock rank be about 5 zombies. Makes for bigger Hordes. ^_^)

Second, the Diaries. If you make 1 thing true about a Survivor, only that Survivor gets the bonus die, right? Can you write "something true" about yourself? (Might need to be house-ruled, depending on the group...) If you write "something true" about the zombies, can you use that for bonus dice in some way?

Third, I was wondering about tools, weapons and Supplies. I assume you find tools and weapons just by having the survivors go looking for them, right? Can you do the same with Supplies?

Anyway, this is an awesome-looking game, and I can't wait to play it!
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Re: Shotgun Diaries

Postby Emperor_Fabulus » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:45 pm

Yeah, I ran my first session, and I'm up a creek on a few of the rules.

This may just be the way the dice fall, but I'm having trouble with the 'together' part of the bonus to die rolls. Typically, the players are joined at the hip, each being a veteran of at least a dozen zombie films and the book World War Z. I'm having some difficulty getting anyone OTHER than the Stealthy Survivor away from the group, and forcing them to rely on a 4 or less dice pool. I realize I could do some really fiendish shit like having zombies in the bathroom, but that would just make them more thorough about checking stalls / banging on walls.

Also, I am all for each ten minutes Clock goes up, but supplies go down, and equals a day, those I'm having problems with. Actually, I'll go whole hog and say I'm having trouble with the Clock mechanic as a whole. So the clock gets up to say, seven, and I throw seven zombies at them. So what? There's no roll to kill zombies, so the zombies fail to be a threat unless I throw some serious complications at the Survivors, like 'the zombies shambling toward you are about to tip over the ice floe you're on.' If the supplies go away every ten minutes, then the players adapt to not having them -- by being joined at the hip and using those dice the instant they get them. I've created a stopgap for this problem by introducing a new way to spend supplies dice -- if you want something really cool, you can spend supply dice on it. The session last night ended with the Survivors making ready to cross the Mackinac Bridge (click for picture), and one of them asked to trade supply dice for a V-plow (click for picture, if you don't live in a place with lots of snowfall).

Also, since there's no roll to kill zombies, what roll do weapons/firearms add their bonuses to?
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Re: Shotgun Diaries

Postby Snag » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:40 pm

ROldford wrote:
Charlie_EN wrote:Bought it, read it, love it. Looking forward to running a game either as a one shot or a short series, depending on how it goes in one session.

Still thinking of doing L4D style, with Special Infected potentially as Complications.


The Zombies (capital Z) sound a lot like the Special Infected. The Strong Zombie is the Tank, the Stealthy Zombie is the Hunter, the Helpless Zombie is the Witch...

Well, it kind of works. :)

I've got a few questions about the game, by the way.

First, the Zombie Clock. The book says that "the Zombie Master can unleash zombies in the Survivors' direction" and that "the number of zombies equals the rank of the Zombie Clock". However, it never seems to matter mechanically how many zombies there are, only that there _are_ zombies (no zombies, no roll, but if you roll, you're killing zombies). Is there a certain way that people have found to differentiate between a lot of zombies and a few zombies?

One possibility that I just thought of would be to require 1 Risk Roll for each Zombie Clock rank used to make up the Horde (I'm using that as the unofficial term) before you're past it. (As a house rule, I'd make each Zombie Clock rank be about 5 zombies. Makes for bigger Hordes. ^_^)

Second, the Diaries. If you make 1 thing true about a Survivor, only that Survivor gets the bonus die, right? Can you write "something true" about yourself? (Might need to be house-ruled, depending on the group...) If you write "something true" about the zombies, can you use that for bonus dice in some way?

Third, I was wondering about tools, weapons and Supplies. I assume you find tools and weapons just by having the survivors go looking for them, right? Can you do the same with Supplies?

Anyway, this is an awesome-looking game, and I can't wait to play it!


Zombie Clock: That's a pretty good idea, using that as kind of a measure of how hairy things are getting.

My interpretation of the Zombie Clock is that it's a yardstick for the ZombieMaster to determine what kind of odds the players are against. Higher Zombie Clock equals more zombies equals that the one time a player doesn't make their roll, you can narrate that they get et by zombies.

Diaries: Only the named person gets the bonus, yes. And you can write about yourself. Don't forget to employ the Wanker Rule. Something true about the zombies, that's a little more up in the air. Sometimes it's things like 'can't jump' 'runs very fast', which is more in the narrative than anything. If it's more like 'all the zombies are badly decayed', then yes, I'd give a bonus die to anyone that knows that fact.

Supplies: Are only gathered when the players are actively looking for Sanctuary, not sure about the tools and weapons tho'. I'll have to get back to you on that one.
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Re: Shotgun Diaries

Postby Snag » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:55 pm

Emperor_Fabulus wrote:Yeah, I ran my first session, and I'm up a creek on a few of the rules.

This may just be the way the dice fall, but I'm having trouble with the 'together' part of the bonus to die rolls. Typically, the players are joined at the hip, each being a veteran of at least a dozen zombie films and the book World War Z. I'm having some difficulty getting anyone OTHER than the Stealthy Survivor away from the group, and forcing them to rely on a 4 or less dice pool. I realize I could do some really fiendish shit like having zombies in the bathroom, but that would just make them more thorough about checking stalls / banging on walls.

Also, I am all for each ten minutes Clock goes up, but supplies go down, and equals a day, those I'm having problems with. Actually, I'll go whole hog and say I'm having trouble with the Clock mechanic as a whole. So the clock gets up to say, seven, and I throw seven zombies at them. So what? There's no roll to kill zombies, so the zombies fail to be a threat unless I throw some serious complications at the Survivors, like 'the zombies shambling toward you are about to tip over the ice floe you're on.' If the supplies go away every ten minutes, then the players adapt to not having them -- by being joined at the hip and using those dice the instant they get them. I've created a stopgap for this problem by introducing a new way to spend supplies dice -- if you want something really cool, you can spend supply dice on it. The session last night ended with the Survivors making ready to cross the Mackinac Bridge (click for picture), and one of them asked to trade supply dice for a V-plow (click for picture, if you don't live in a place with lots of snowfall).

Also, since there's no roll to kill zombies, what roll do weapons/firearms add their bonuses to?


Sticking together: That's what fear rolls are for. A Survivor that fails a fear roll has to take actions solely for their own survival. Time to start scaring the wee out of 'em!

Zombie Clock: I think the 10 minute marker is for when the survivors are in a Sanctuary and having a rest. More of a guideline when there's nothing much else going on. As with all things, take it depending on the situation. If there's an in-depth spat among the players about what to do, ignore the clock and let the discussion play out, etc.

Roll to kill zombies: It's not that you're rolling to kill zombies - it's more for what you're doing while you're killing zombies. A weapon makes the zombie killing easier, so that they can focus more on whatever other Risk they're taking.

And nice thought about the Supply dice - I was thinking of doing something similar when I run a game.
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Re: Shotgun Diaries

Postby ROldford » Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:01 am

Snag wrote:
Emperor_Fabulus wrote:Yeah, I ran my first session, and I'm up a creek on a few of the rules.

This may just be the way the dice fall, but I'm having trouble with the 'together' part of the bonus to die rolls. Typically, the players are joined at the hip, each being a veteran of at least a dozen zombie films and the book World War Z. I'm having some difficulty getting anyone OTHER than the Stealthy Survivor away from the group, and forcing them to rely on a 4 or less dice pool. I realize I could do some really fiendish shit like having zombies in the bathroom, but that would just make them more thorough about checking stalls / banging on walls.

Also, I am all for each ten minutes Clock goes up, but supplies go down, and equals a day, those I'm having problems with. Actually, I'll go whole hog and say I'm having trouble with the Clock mechanic as a whole. So the clock gets up to say, seven, and I throw seven zombies at them. So what? There's no roll to kill zombies, so the zombies fail to be a threat unless I throw some serious complications at the Survivors, like 'the zombies shambling toward you are about to tip over the ice floe you're on.' If the supplies go away every ten minutes, then the players adapt to not having them -- by being joined at the hip and using those dice the instant they get them. I've created a stopgap for this problem by introducing a new way to spend supplies dice -- if you want something really cool, you can spend supply dice on it. The session last night ended with the Survivors making ready to cross the Mackinac Bridge (click for picture), and one of them asked to trade supply dice for a V-plow (click for picture, if you don't live in a place with lots of snowfall).

Also, since there's no roll to kill zombies, what roll do weapons/firearms add their bonuses to?


Sticking together: That's what fear rolls are for. A Survivor that fails a fear roll has to take actions solely for their own survival. Time to start scaring the wee out of 'em!

Zombie Clock: I think the 10 minute marker is for when the survivors are in a Sanctuary and having a rest. More of a guideline when there's nothing much else going on. As with all things, take it depending on the situation. If there's an in-depth spat among the players about what to do, ignore the clock and let the discussion play out, etc.

Roll to kill zombies: It's not that you're rolling to kill zombies - it's more for what you're doing while you're killing zombies. A weapon makes the zombie killing easier, so that they can focus more on whatever other Risk they're taking.

And nice thought about the Supply dice - I was thinking of doing something similar when I run a game.


In addition to scaring them, try throwing in a Helpless Survivor. When those extra dice keep running off... :twisted:
Also, I just re-checked the rules, and it seems as though using up all your Supplies means you have no Sanctuary (or at least a useless one). That means there's no safe place for the survivors at all. That sounds like a reason to have to make Fear checks. :)

I like the idea of the Zombie Clock being mostly for Sanctuary time, but I might use it if the players start spinning their wheels outside of Sanctuary to keep the action moving. Also, unless their trip out of Sanctuary is really short, I'd call it a new day once they return.

As for the Supply dice, they only give you a temporary boost, and a snowplow sounds like a more permanent advantage (like a tool or weapon). I'd be wary about doing this, and I'd definitely make them pay a lot of dice for it.
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Re: Shotgun Diaries

Postby PandaDad » Wed May 18, 2011 9:26 am

Just picked this one up, more or less on a whim (I got Game of Tears, too, and decided 'what the heck', which is part of how my personal library of games got so freakin' huge).

Now, before I go any further, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I don't like zombie games. I don't like zombie flicks. I didn't even care for Shaun of the Dead, and I liked Zombieland if only for Bill Murray's death scene. I just plain don't find them all that much fun. If I'm facing a totally hopeless RP scenario, I'd rather go up against Cthulhu than some bunch of living impaired. The only cliche monster I detest more than zombies is vampires, sparkly or otherwise. And please, please, please don't get me started on the plot holes in 28 Weeks Later!

That said...

There are two zombie games out there that (in my opinion) do not utterly and completely suck. This is one of them*. I would play this. I would play this in a heartbeat. I will take this along to my tabletop group the next time we're in That Certain Mood and inflict it on them, and they (knowing my distaste for the undead) will no doubt tremble in fear and loathing even before the first sign of rotting flesh shambles into view. I would play this if someone else wanted to run it and enjoy dying every ten minutes.

In short, I trusted Mr. Wick to be able to turn a subject I don't like into something that might be worth the trouble, and he did. Mission accomplished, on time, to spec, and under budget. Well done, sir. Well done.


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* The other is called All Things Zombie, and if anyone really wants to know how to find that one, they can PM me. I don't want to spam up the forums or anything by plugging for Someone Else's Work.
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