Victim to Survivor (People vs. Creatures variant)

“People vs. Creatures” can make “normal people” or “adventurous people.”  Adventurous people get 2 occupational talents and 5 wounds at generation. Normal people are less competent…

  1. Beginning characters get 1 occupational talent.
  2. Beginning characters have 1 wound.

Level 2. When a character has spent 12 Morale Points, then the character goes to level 2 and gains +1 wound in addition to a talent and +1 to an attribute.

Level 3. When a character reaches level 3, the character has 5 wounds, in addition to another talent and +1 to an attribute.

DMs can choose which kind of character they want people to play for their scenario; it is probably best if people all make the same type. Why mix and match? If you have civilians with soldiers, or tough guys rescue normal people, or whatever, it may be good to have a mix.

By having characters start as minions at first level, guards at second level, and characters at third level (in parent game “Old School Hack” terms), you really motivate them to get and spend those Morale Points. Also, you thin the herd; as the clever or tougher ones survive to get more wounds, they tower above their peers. By third level they are five times as tough as they were. Which is a pretty cool (and seemingly accurate) curve in a survival horror game.

Plus, it’s fun. Don’t forget the fun.

For examples of normal people, I would think of Ellen Ripley (Alien series), Ash (Evil Dead series), characters from Frighteners, Tremors, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Laurie Strode (Halloween).

For examples of adventurous people, I’d suggest soldiers (from Aliens movies, Predator movies, etc.), Seven, and X-Files.

I want this system to be flexible enough to handle investigators, soldiers, or housewives… Whatever story you want to tell.

The Progression:

Level 1.

Level 2.

Level 3.

Level 4.

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7 Responses to Victim to Survivor (People vs. Creatures variant)

  1. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn’t find a contact email for you.

    I’ve recently put out an ebook of my writing, called ‘The New Death and others’. It’s mostly short stories, with some obvious gamer-interest material. For example I have a story inspired by OD&D elves, as well as poems which retell Robert E Howard’s King Kull story ‘The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune’ and HP Lovecraft’s ‘Under the Pyramids’.

    I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a review on your blog.

    If so, please let me know your email, and what file format is easiest for you, and I’ll send you a free copy. You can email me ( or reply to this thread.

    You can download a sample from Smashwords:

    I’ll also link to your review from my blog.


  2. Keith Davies says:

    I really like the progression of Ash you use to illustrate your point. I’ve been considering doing something similar for Echelon, to show how characters in different tiers are manifestly *different*. for the various tiers involved.

  3. fictivite says:

    For me, one of the most helpful dissection of the tier concept for D&D was in Justin Alexander’s essay on calibrating expectations, here.

    The essay really helped me understand why I really liked D&D until characters got past 5th level…

  4. Keith Davies says:

    fictive, that article was a significant influence for how I divided the tiers in Echelon, and influenced the design of Echelon as a whole. Never mind that D&D uses the same core mechanics and similar rules in the different level ranges, game play changes enough that it’s frankly different games at different level ranges.

    I find that once people realize this, the game because much more fun. They either accept that yes, high-level characters are that powerful (and yes, high-level fighters damn well *should* be gonzo, wuxia-grade combatants), or that they don’t actually want to play that high level and stick to lower levels. Which is entirely okay.

    I did four-level tiers in Echelon instead of five because I aligned on iconic spell access more than iterative attacks. Levels 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20 don’t work as well for me as 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16, 17-20, 21-24 (I expanded “pre-first” into a full tier).

  5. fictivite says:

    Yeah, looking at spells, level 5 and access to 3rd level spells is a real game-changer. That’s a good point to start the next “tier.”

    This concept of tiers made both Warhammer and Old School Hack more attractive to me. Players can continue making their characters cooler without moving to a whole new play style right away. It’s not a choice between “stop advancing” and “change the entire power scope.” In fact, with Warhammer, one delightful consequence of our scopative changes was a move up into political concerns, not just into personally slaying bigger monsters.

    I anticipate taking a closer look at your project!

    @James, I plan to enjoy reviewing your work as well, thanks for sharing it.

  6. Thanks. Let me know if you want a free review copy.

  7. Pingback: Links of the Week: October 24, 2011 | KJD-IMC - KJDavies "In My Campaign" Articles

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