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Survival Horror

This is a work in progress, inspired by a popular series of video games you may well be familiar with...

Creating characters

Characters are defined by a chance level and talents.

Chance represents a characters overall power, spirit and luck.

Talents represent the kind of experience and skills the character possesses.

To determine a characters chance level players must decide whether to roll or opt for the default score. The default chance is 3, but a player may roll 1D3+1 instead - but once the decision to roll is made the result must be taken.

Characters begin with 7 minus chance score talents of the players choice.

Talents available to a character are detailed below.

-weapon (specify a particular type, such as knives, handguns, rifles, cudgels etc)

-theft (picking pockets, sleight of hand)

-lockpicking (opening locks, breaking into lockers etc)

-climb (ability to scale walls, climb ropes etc)

-stealth (hiding and sneaking)

-scrounge (ability to find useful items)

-search (ability to uncover hidden doors, traps etc)

-interrogation (intimidation and coercion)

-spy (observation and surveillance skills)

-eavesdrop (listening skill)

-repair (ability to fix and jury rig)

-labouring (lifting, shoving and carrying ability)

-haggle (ability to barter)

-appraisal (ability to estimate value and worth of an item)

-persuade (eloquence and debating skills)

-mechanic (ability to construct and modify mechanical equipment)

-electrical (ability to work with electrical gear)

-driving (ability to handle cars, trucks etc)

-poisons (ability to identify and use poisons)

-botany (knowledge of fauna)

-biology (knowledge of the body, anatomy etc)

-chemistry (ability to work with and identify chemicals)

-caving (ability to navigate underground, identify safe passages, rock types etc)

-medic (knowledge of healing)

-language (choose a foreign tongue)

-track (following and identifying tracks)

-acting (ability to feign emotions, portray different demeanors etc)

-swim (ability to avoid drowning)

-psychology (study of behaviour and the mind, including identifying mental illnesses, emotional states etc)

-archaeology (study of artefacts and methods of excavation).

-athletics (running, leaping and balancing skills)

-computer (ability to use a computer)

-research (ability to find information in books, on the net etc).

Physical appearance

Choose or roll for the physical aspects of a character-


1 very short
2 short
3 average
4 average
5 tall
6 very tall


1 thin
2 slender
3 average
4 average
5 stocky
6 large


1 young teenage
2 teenage
3 young adult
4 adult
5 middle aged
6 old

Distinctive feature

1 skin (very pale, very dark, sickly hue etc)
2 birthmark
3 scar
4 tattoo
5 unusual (odd eye colour, limp, missing tooth, nervous twitch etc)
6 hair (greying, shaven head, dyed etc)

Style of clothing

1 casual
2 conservative
3 fashionable
4 scruffy
5 utilitarian
6 weird


Choose or roll for the persona of a character (from either table)-

1 impulsive
2 curious
3 studious
4 brave
5 detached
6 eccentric

1 moody
2 suspicious
3 aloof
4 devious
5 morbid
6 deranged


The table below contains some suggestions for backgrounds. Alternatively, players can specify their own.

3 homeless
4 musician
5 thief
6 new ager
7 driver
8 journalist
9 student
10 office worker
11 shop worker
12 factory worker
13 teacher
14 medic
15 government agent
16 police officer
17 soldier
18 actor

Starting equipment

To determine what equipment a character begins with roll once on each table-

Starting melee weapon

1 knife
2 chain
3 iron bar
4 cleaver
5 hatchet
6 axe

Misc. items

1 rope (10m)
2 backpack
3 cigarette lighter
4 diary & pen
5 flashlight
6 first aid kit


To determine the outcome of an uncertain action requires a test. Tests use a single six sided die.

To make a test, a player rolls 1D and must score equal to or less than their characters chance for success.

If a character has a talent relevant to the attempted task, a +1 bonus is added to the characters chance.

In cases where characters are in competition, the success margin can determine the test outcome. The success margin is the difference between the roll and the chance score. Thus, a roll of 1 on a chance of 3 gives a margin of 2. This is enough to beat anyone who has a lower success margin.

High chance

A roll of 6 on a test always counts as a failure unless the GM decrees otherwise. However, a high chance score does grant characters the benefit of attempting multiple actions.

Characters with a chance of 6 or more may be allowed, subject to GM approval, of making multiple simultaneous actions. If such attempts are allowed, the characters chance is divided as evenly as possible between the tests.

Example: A character with chance 7 is trying to escape foes when he comes upon a locked door blocking his path. The character decides to attempt to pick the lock, while simultaneously throwing a dagger at one of the foes. His chance is divided, the player opting to pick the lock with chance 4 and throwing the dagger with chance 3.


Characters can acquire additional talents and increase their chance. This requires experience, measured in games.

To increase chance requires games equal to the current chance score. Thus, a character of chance 3 would need three games to improve, the next improvement would come after another four games and so on.

A game is defined by the GM and might be a single scenario, a session of play, or a series of encounters. Essentially, it is when the GM thinks that a character has experienced enough to improve, and the rate of development will slow as the character gains more and more experience.

Acquiring a new talent requires a character complete only one game. However, this game will not then count towards the number required for a chance increase.


The scientists involved in the Euphoria project at the Benway Research centre had one specific goal; the creation of a designer recreational drug that would be highly addictive and that would be extremely difficult to manufacture by anyone other than themselves. As the basis for this drug, they used a rare hallucinogenic plant from South America, which they cultivated and modified genetically in their secret labs. The plan was to create a global market for their drug, a drug only they could supply. The scientists failed because they did not discover the full array of properties possessed by the mysterious plant they were using. The scientists are now dead.

The rare plant, Salvia Mortuus, was known to a few learned natives of South America as something to be respected and feared. The natives had legends associated with it, legends concerning its connection to the spirit world, to monsters and to death. They knew that the plant, when consumed, caused both mental and physical changes. The natives believed these changes meant that, for a time, the user became linked to the world of the dead. Their attempts to stop the scientists collecting specimens of the plant were met with violence.

When the scientists first became aware of the unusual side effects of their drug, it was already too late. Samples had already been distibuted to other laboratories throughout the world. Tests at several Benway laboratories had already begun by the time the problem had been identified.

The new drug, named Somnus, carried with it the plants unique properties, except that now these properties were enhanced and multiplied. When the scientists saw the changes in their animal and human test subjects, the damage was done. The laboratories are now ruins...


Combat occurs in turns, each representing a few seconds of activity. Characters can make one attack per turn, and actions occur in the order determined by the GM (depending on the situation, such as whether the characters are ambushed or well prepared etc).

To hit a foe a character must make a successful test. The character receives a bonus to the test if he is skilled with the weapon in use.

Damage equals the characters chance score plus the weapon rating (a die roll). However, damage is reduced by the targets chance plus the value of any armour he is wearing.

Once total damage exceeds chance times two the character falls unconscious for a number of minutes equal to the excess.

Should damage exceed chance times three the character dies. Thus, a character with chance 3 will fall unconscious when damage is 7 or more, and dies once damage is 9 or higher.

Characters naturally heal 1 point damage per day. An injured character that receives treatment (requiring a test with healing talents applicable) is healed of 1 point damage immediately (or 2 if a first aid kit is used). This can be done once only until another wound is received.


A list of typical weapons is given below, with ratings noted.

punch, kick 1D3

cudgel 1D3+1

rock 1D3+1

knife 1D3+1

chain 1D

iron bar 1D

cleaver 1D

hatchet 1D

hammer 1D

axe 1D+1

pick 1D+1

sword 1D+1

crossbow 1D

handgun (revolver) 1D+1, ammo 6

handgun (auto) 1D+1, ammo 15

magnum revolver 1D+2, ammo 6

submachine gun 1D+1, ammo 30

assault rifle 1D+2, ammo 30

sniper rifle 1D+2, ammo 15

db shotgun 1D, ammo 2

auto shotgun 1D, ammo 8

Thrown weapons

Items such as knives and rocks can be thrown. Thrown weapons have a short range, about 2 metres per level of the characters chance. Attacks beyond this range, if possible at all, use the characters chance divided by two.

Missile weapons

Crossbows and firearms are all missile weapons. These have a range of roughly 10 metres per level of the characters chance (except the crossbow, which has a range of 5 metres per point of chance).


All firearms can be fired twice per turn if they have enough ammunition. In this case, chance is divided by two for each shot.

Submachine guns and assault rifles are capable of auto fire. When auto firing, the success margin of the attack determines how many rounds hit, with each causing the usual damage. The number of shots fired equals the success margin +1.

Shotguns fire a spray of pellets and get a bonus to the listed rating equal to the success margin.


Armour adds to a characters chance for defence, reducing the damage received. Typical armour is shown below, with values noted.

Padded leathers 1

Flak vest 2

Kevlar vest 3


Cover is treated like armour, giving one or two points for defence.


Player characters begin with a special ability, which can be chosen (or rolled for) from the list below:


The character has a greater then normal resistance to diseases and poisons. When making tests to avoid the effects of a poison or disease, the character gets a +2 bonus.


The character heals from wounds faster than normal. Roll 1D3 for the number of points damage healed per day (rather than simply 1 per day).


The character gets a +1 bonus to the damage he causes with melee attacks.


The character is an incredibly accurate shot. When making ranged attacks, the character receives a +1 bonus to hit.


The character has a better than average ability to avoid injury. When the character takes damage, subtract an additional point.


The character is naturally lucky. Once per day the player may re-roll a single failed test.


The table below lists useful pieces of equipment characters may come across during an adventure.

To randomly determine the item, roll 3d.

3 tent (1d3 person)

4 rope (1d times 10 metres)

5 handcuffs

6 camouflage jacket

7 ammunition (2d times 5 bullets)

8 cigarette lighter

9 backpack

10 notebook and pen

11 flashlight

12 compass

13 binoculars

14 first aid kit

15 lockpicks

16 tool kit

17 handgun

18 rifle



As the Somnus drug slowly mutates the subject, the first major stage of the transition from human to monster creates a zombie. The flesh of the subject blisters, warps and rots. The mind changes even more drastically, as memories are wiped and intelligence is reduced to the most basic of needs, the desire to eat, ...anything.
Typical Zombie:
Chance 1D3+1 or 3, Talents - Grapple, Stealth
Zombies usually make savage unarmed attacks causing damage equal to their chance score plus 1D3.
Often, a zombie will try to grapple a foe in an attempt to bite them. If their grapple attack succeeds the victim must make a test to escape. If the test fails, the zombie will bite next turn causing damage without the need for a test to hit. The victim may attempt to escape (making a test) or can attack the zombie hoping to destroy it. In this case, the victims attacks hit automatically.
Zombies do not fall unconscious. When damage exceeds chance times two they are stunned, and may fall and appear to be dead. After 1D turns the zombie will recover from being stunned and resume its attack. They are destroyed when the total damage they have received exceeds chance times three.
Zombies often lurk in shadow, surprising a victim as they shamble out of the darkness. This is why they have the equivalent of the stealth talent.


A zombie that survives for a week or more continues to mutate, becoming a ghoul. A ghoul can be identified by the difference in its skin, which ceases to rot and instead appears taut with a leathery look to it, and in its actions, which now are more furtive and predatory. The stretched property of the skin causes the ghoul to appear emaciated, with long nails and protruding teeth. Ghouls exhibit a greater degree of intellect than zombies, though this manifests more as an animal cunning than an ability to reason. This factor, coupled with their ability to transmit the Somnus disease, makes them very dangerous.
Typical Ghoul:
Chance 1D3+2 or 4 Talents - Stealth, Eavesdrop, Climb.
Ghouls make unarmed attacks. Due to their viscious elongated nails and teeth, their damage is chance plus 1D.
As with zombies, a ghould does not fall unconscious.
Ghouls will often find a shadowy area to hide in, listening for the approach of a victim.
If a character is bitten by a ghoul, there is a chance he may contract the Somnus disease. Only one check for transmission of the disease should be made per ghoul (i.e, it does not matter how many times an individual ghoul bites a person, but a new check would be needed if another ghoul bites the character).
The ghoul transmits the disease if a test on the ghouls chance is successful. The character must then resist, requiring a test (with a bonus if the character has the resistance special ability). If the resistance test fails, the character has contracted the Somnus disease.
Each day, a character with the disease takes one point of damage. This damage cannot be treated by normal means, and natural healing does not take place. Once the damage cause unconsciousness, the character rapidly mutates until, after 1D hours, he is a zombie.
Characters that have contracted the disease have only one hope; that they can survive long enough for a vaccine to be administered. This, of course, assumes that a vaccine exists and can be located in time.


Some of the Somnus tests included dogs, which pass through stages similar to humans. These creatures typically have rotting, bloody hides and patchy fur.
Typical Hound:
Chance 1D3 or 2 Talents - Stealth, Track
A hounds bite attack cause damage equal to chance plus 1D.
As with zombies, hounds do not fall unconscious.
If a successful stealth test is made for a hound, it will make its initial attack from hiding. If the hound hits, a test must be made for the character to avoid being knocked to the floor. if the hound has floored a victim, it gets a +1 to hit bonus to its attacks until the character stands.


These are dogs that have reached the equivalent of the ghoul stage. They look gaunt, with dark and hairless hides.
Typical Hellhound:
Chance 1D3+1 or 3 Talents - Stealth, Track
Hellhounds have abilities as listed above for hounds. They can transmit the Somnus disease just as ghouls do. have now entered the world of survival horror..