The Survival Game
How do you challenge players, teach them how to play better, fill your desire to kill them all, and have everyone loving the game when the night is over? The survival game. The purpose is not to survive to the end, but survive the longest. Every PC is going to die in this game. It is just a matter of time and overwhelming odds. At the same time, the GM is allowed to really let loose, to throw everything at the players, and even experiment with new ideas. This is also not a long and involved game, as everyone should be dead after a few hours.
How Does it Work?
- Every player builds three to five characters. No two characters are the same class. Be sure this is done long before everyone gathers to play. It takes a while to create one character, let alone three or four of them.
- The level of play is up you, the GM. I suggest level 6 if you are playing Pathfinder. It is a good, well rounded level that allows the players to have plenty of options without slowing down play or making one PC better then all the others.
- Allow gear to be bought at the appropriate wealth level for each PC. Limit the list though, possibly only to the Core Rulebook. Also, do not allow the party to buy items that can heal them. Let them know you will place healing items in the game, but they need to find them.
- Build a dungeon with no entrance or exit, just a start point. Don’t worry about story here, role playing and histories are not the point here, surviving it. Build it big, complicated, and with a wide variety features.
- Decorate the dungeon with a wide variety of dangers. Place traps in both obvious and hidden places. Be devious and evil with how you place dangerous terrain and hazards.
- Populate the dungeon with creatures of all kinds and power levels. Pair them with the traps and hazards, or mix up who fights with who. Make plans on how each monster is going to react to the party and how they will fight.
- Add in some NPCs that wont attack but will either help or hinder the party, just to spice stuff up.
- Be as evil, mean, and malicious as you can without creating a dungeon that will kill the PCs outright. You want them to die, yes, but you also want them to be able to either defeat or bypass every encounter and hazard if they are fresh. The goal in the beginning is to make them use up resources that they need to survive later encounters.
- When you start play, somehow randomize which character the players are going to play first.
- When a PC dies, the next random PC shows up for that player at the start point.
- When a player no longer has a PC to play, they are out of the game.
You can change the rules how you want, and make adjustments to whatever you want. The point of this is to allow players to test out builds and learn how to play them, as well as allowing GMs to cut loose and experiment with ideas. Done right, everyone learns something and had fun while doing it.
So go ahead, kill the PCs and cause some mayhem. Have fun while doing it to. It does take some set up, but go wild and don’t edit yourself. In the end, you’ll have fun no matter what.