A buddy of mine and I were texting recently and this idea came to us:
Imagine that you are…well…a burnout. A washed up nobody barely getting by on a part-time job and some sort of unspecified other income. Maybe you deal dope on the side or you have some sort of unspecified “disability” that brings in a trickle of government assistance. You spend more time strung out on bath salts or high on the Mary Jane than being a productive member of society during the day. Then the sun goes down…and THEY come out. Are THEY aliens? Demons? Ghosts? Orcs? Or are THEY just the by-product of a chemically-addled mind?
The mechanics of this are still being hammered out between us. However, using a dice mechanic like the World of Darkness games comes to mind as a way to do this kind of a game. For those unfamiliar with that system, the short version is that if you are good at task/skill, you may roll multiple d10s; if you are not good at a task, you might only roll one d10. The more dice that come up 8 or higher, the more successes you have. If you roll a 10, you get a success and you can re-roll that die. If it keeps coming up 10, you keep adding successes and you get to keep re-rolling it. The GM then determines what happens based on the number of successes.
Example: Active Aaron is trying to run from the zombie. Because he is quite active, he might get to roll five d10s versus the zombie’s one d10 on the running “Athletics” check. Aaron rolls three successes; the zombie rolls one. The GM states that Aaron easily outruns the zombie and climbs up a ladder to the roof to escape it.
Example: Lazy Larry is also trying to run from a zombie. Because is not active, he might only get to roll one d10s versus the zombie’s one d10 on the running “Athletics” check. Larry rolls zero successes; the zombie rolls one. The GM states that Larry trips and the zombie catches up with him. Now Larry has to fight for his life against the hungry zombie.
So using a system like this, we would encourage the players to make bad decisions during the day (like taking an extra-extra-long break from work to smoke in the car) that would add to their dice pool for enduring the night. The players would have to balance keeping their lives together during the day (can’t skip work too much or you get fired!) with dealing with the terrors of the night.
At night, THEY come out. The characters would be encountering situations and beings that would not be out of place in D&D. However, we would leave the reality of the nocturnal activities to be ambiguous. Did the character actually hurt from getting whacked by the club of an orc…or did they just wander into the wrong part of time at 2:00 AM completely out of their mind and got beat down by a gangbanger?
Do you think there would be an interest for a system like this? Is it worth developing further?