Cannibal Contagion: Proposed Draft 5 Revisions

This past Saturday’s game session at Go Play! led to a fantastic after-talk, in which many great rules updates and amendments were proposed. I spent the weekend writing them up a bit more coherently, and here’s what I’ve got so far (after the cut below):

Gear

The Juice mechanic is now included in the core Gear mechanic, and no longer just for Weapons alone. Juice is an abstract mechanic that represents any and all of the following:

* Weapons that require ammo (guns, chainsaws, flamethrowers, grenades, etc)
* Equipment that requires power (electronics, cars, flashlights, radios, etc)
* Vices that are limited (drugs, smokes, booze, etc)

The abstract evoke/sacrifice Gear mechanic remains, although the number of times a piece of Gear can be evoked now is no longer limited to once per scene. If a gear requires Juice, then it is limited by its Juice tally, otherwise it can be evoked multiple times per scene. However, only one item of Gear can be evoked for any specific Quickie or Showdown.

Gear and Weapons will now be combined into one section on the sheet for ease of tracking

Crazy-go-Psycho, Psychotriggers, Panic Buttons, and the Mad Half

These are being merged. Psychotriggers are removed entirely as they currently exist, and instead reduced to a single Psychotrigger. This trigger represents the power that the Mad Half has over you. It can be anything that you can represent through RPing, such as “Cigarettes” or “Finding my Missing Kids” or “Crackhead” or whatever. It also tells the CiC and other players what major part of your character you wish to be included as the focus of her descent into madness.

Crazy-Go-Psycho is now a meter that tracks your character’s descent into madness. It starts at zero, and begins increasing right from the Cold Open scenes. There are multiple stages on the meter, and as your character gains points she crosses into those stages. Each stage represents an additional level of control over your character that your Mad Half has. Your Cool characteristic represents how many points of CGP you have per stage. If your Cool is 4, for example, then you go up a stage at 5, 9, 13, and so on.

The relationship between the character and the Mad Half has been strengthened, and transformed into an actual full-blown negotiation mechanic. You gain CGP by negotiating with your Mad Half for empowerment. Instead of using Awesome tokens for their previous uses, you gain CGP for the same results. If you want to try a Grit check to soak Hurtin’, for example, you have to ask your Mad Half. If the Mad Half agrees, then you can try the check, and gain a point of CGP. Each time you

There are five stages of the Cragy-go-Psycho Meter. While a character is in a stage, that stage determines what level of control the Mad half has over their actions in the game, and what “demands” the mad Half can make during empowerment negotiations.

* Stage 1 – The Calm: No significant control at all. During Negot6ations, then Mad Half can suggest minor things that you must do at some point during the current scene, like smoke a cigarette, chew some gum, check your ammo, organize your pack, look at your kids’ pictures, etc.
* Stage 2 – The Brink: No control yet, just more negotiation demands. The demands are immediate however, so the character must smoke a cigarette now, or must sit in a chair and cry while looking at their kids’ pictures; you NEED to organize your pack NOW.
* Stage 3 – The Descent: The Mad Half can, if she so desires, randomly remove any one of your cards from your hand after they have been drawn and before they have been played. Suggestions can be much more intense: when you’re done with that smoke, put it out on your arm; start talking to your fellows as if they are your missing kids; you are missing things that you could have sworn you just had a moment ago, and you must now search the area over again to find what you know you dropped somewhere.
* Stage 4 – The Shatter: The Mad Half can choose to narrate how you perform any Showdown. For example, if your intention is to “attack that zombie” and you declare you’re going to shoot it, the Mad Half can Interject, and instead say “No, you use your gun as a club instead and try to beat it” or “You flip the fun to full-auto and open the hose on the zombie, even though your friends are all around it as well.” Suggestions can be quite dangerous: while smoking, douse that house with gasoline, and when you’re done, flick your butt at it and then stand there watching it burn; your friends know exactly where your kids are and they’re keeping it a secret on purpose, so you should force it out of them; your friends are stealing your things, and you must get them back!
* Stage 5 – The Madness: Whenever you declare an action, the Mad Half can declare that you do something else entirely different, if he so desires, and the sky is the limit here. Suggestions are likewise pretty heinous: while you smoke that cigarette, set yourself on fire and laugh; your friends drugged you and convinced you to kill your own kids, so you must shoot them and then shoot yourself; you don’t have enough pockets to hold your gear, so you should carve new ones into your thighs.

Additionally, the CiC can choose to give everyone a boost to their CGP levels by hitting the “Panic Button.” By spending an Adversity token, the CiC can declare that a moment of tension occurs, narrating it suitably. For example, an eerie scream might echo down the halls of the school that the characters are trapped inside of, and the CiC believes this scream is so unearthly that it rattles everyone present. Or they might be forced to go inside a pitch black warehouse, and the CiC believes that the pure darkness is quite scary. Everyone in the scene who is affected by the described narration gains a point of CGP unless they can evoke a piece of Gear that can suitably resist it. If the Panic Button is based on complete darkness, for example, then evoke your flashlight to absorb the CGP.

Other in-game moments can increase CGP as well:

* Running out of Juice for an important item gains you a point

How to get rid of CGP? Not sure on this one yet. Perhaps faces & aces can be exchanged when winning showdowns to “collect yourself” and shed a point or two?

The New Awesome Tokens

Awesome tokens are being changed into something of an “extra” mechanic. The amount of Awesome a character receives will be much more limited, with an initial draw of starting awesome and very, very little gain from then on. You gain more only by being totally awesome, as rewards from the CiC.

These tokens now serve as a reserve of “fallback” options. Each token can be used to either absorb a single point of Hurtin’ or soak a single point of CGP.

The Secret Votes

On each character sheet (or possibly separate handy cards) are four secret votes. Each player at the table answers each of these questions, writing in the name of another character in the group. Should their answer be made correct during the course of the game, they get an immediate number of bonus ranks added to their character’s Characteristics, divided as they see fit.

* Which character will die first? +1
* Which character will betray the others first? +2
* Which character will be turned by the Contagion first? +3
* Which character will reach The Madness first? +4

The purpose of this is to allow them to secretly strategize against each other, and encourage a bit of clandestine back-stabbing as they try and orchestrate these fates for their fellows.

Page References

Read through the text, and find any locations where there are needed page references (“see page XX for more”). Put the word “Grobble!” in each location, so I can quick-find them later during the document assembly stage.

Art Placers

Put special notations anywhere in the text where I plan on putting images.

Sidebar Placers

Put special notations anywhere in the text where I plan on using text as a sidebar.

Character Sheet

Make it a full 6×9 page, and landscape-oriented. The lift half is the “Survival” side, and the right is the “Horror” side.

Survival Side:
* The Kill and Savvy Characteristics
* Gear slots and Weapons
* Mojo

Horror Side:
* The Grit and Cool characteristics
* Mad Half (who is yours, and who you represent)
* Crazy-Go-Psycho meter (should this be yours? or the person who named you as their Mad Half?)
* Psychotrigger (what sets you off?)

Things to remove:
* Threat
* Concept
* Archetype
* Tragic Flaw

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