Saturday, February 14, 2009

Survivalist characters

Since I've been intermittently posting on post-apocalypse game settings, let me go on a bit about survivalist character types. I'll be speaking GURPS, but you should be able to port this to any other applicable gaming system. This post will be the "Good Guys", with the "Bad Guys" coming in a future post.

The Gummer

Broke into the wrong God damn rec room, didn't ya you bastard!

This is the default which everyone thinks of when you say "Survivalist". Named for the Patron Saint of preparedness, Bert Gummer from Tremors. They tend to have average gun skills for a player character (but a wider assortment of the skills), plus Armoury (Small Arms) for Full Auto conversions, Demolition & Chemistry along with Scrounging for using "a few household chemicals in the proper proportions." NBC Suit & Survival: NBC for dealing with the after effects of The Bomb, and usually the Survival skill suitable for the local climate. Wealth and Independent Income are useful to pay for the "Food for five years, a thousand gallons of gas, air filtration, water filtration, Geiger counter. Bomb shelter!" and, of course, the wall full o' guns. A Sense of Duty of his friends and a Quirk or mild Odious Personal Habit of mistrusting the government rounds things out.

The EDCer

You need a what? Sure, I've got something around here that'll do the trick...

EDC is short for "Every Day Carry". Whatever the situation, he's probably got a gadget which will serve the purpose. There's two ways of handling this guy. For the detail oriented, you can always just list everything the dude is carrying out in their possessions. The character point based version would have a few levels of Gizmo with a 40% limitation of "Can Only Be Used For Mundane Equipment" to represent, say 3 meters of duct tape wrapped around a business card, a tube of superglue in a crush-proof container, a disposable space blanket, a pre-paid phone card, a folding titanium spork, or what have you just when it's needed most, and leaving only the big items actually listed on the sheet. It doesn't have to be the exact tool needed, just so long as it's something that will serve. ("No, no tape measure, but my multi-tool has a ruler and I've got a spool of paracord. I'll just put a knot every six inches and that should be good enough for what we need...") A likely reputation amongst co-workers and friends will be that they're the one to find when something needs fixing, and a good Odious Personal Habit is that they will carry their gear everywhere they go. At his wedding, his cummerbund will have more tools than Batman's utility belt and his bowtie will probably be made out of paracord. Just in case.

The Back-To-Basics

Don't prep so you can survive the collapse. Prep so you don't even notice the collapse...

It'll be a bit hard to work them into the game as a PC, unless it actually is an End Of The World game, but they can make for an interesting helpful NPC, and even a fun red herring. These are the folks who're preparing for the collapse by learning how to make do without all the modern conveniences. Basically, give them the appropriate rural, craft, and mechanical skills for Tech Levels 5 and 6. (roughly the Colonial Era through WWII for non-GURPS speakers) As for the red herring bit, picture the confusion of a PC who has passed out in the boondocks due to wounds or weather exposure, and comes to in a building which looks like something out of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou... This also works for folks who're part of historical re-enactment and Living History goups. Just roll the Tech Level of the skills back further and possibly add melee weapon Sport forms for the SCA types.

The Woods Walker

There is no bad weather. There's only inadequate clothing.

Named for a well-respected poster on the Zombie Squad forums, this archetype would be a Ranger in a swords and sorcery game. Hiking, Navigation (Land), Knot Tying, and Survival for their home climate at high levels. In a cinematic setting, they'd have very high Tracking and Guns (Rifle), and maybe even Zen Marksmanship.

1 comment:

John said...

Don't prep so you can survive the collapse. Prep so you don't even notice the collapse...

Outside of gaming, this is actually good advice. I've seen it in a few survival manuals. Ideally, make the transition to normal to SHTF easy by not getting (psychologically or otherwise) dependent on fragile systems.