Creature Feature is a collaborative roleplaying game based on monster movies.
What You Need Править
Lots of d6s, lots of index cards, pencils and pens
Game play is split into two phases: script-writing and filming. In script-writing you develop the elements you’ll need for filming: cast, sets, tropes and sub-plots. Filming occurs in 3 acts, and before each act, the group has a script-writing session. Each act consists of several scenes. An act is over when all the tropes for that act have been satisfied. Once all the acts are over, the movie goes into the climax, and either the monster or the cast meet their demise.
The Game Mechanic Править
Creature Feature uses d6 dice pools to resolve any conflict between cast members. Two versions of the game mechanic exist: a check and a contest (which is like an extended check). Every check or contest is resolved between two players at the table, and represent a conflict between their cast members, or a cast member and the set.
Here’s the breakdown: Each player has a budget, a large pool of dice they draw from. Each player bets any number of dice from their budget on the check. Then each player rolls their bet dice, and count the dice as successes that are equal to or lower than their character’s Screen-Time rating. The player with the least successes now loses dice from their bet dice. The player loses the number of dice equal to the higher number of successes subtracted from the lower number of successes.
Example: Bob and Beth are fighting over a Holy Cross of Iron. Bob bets 5 dice and Beth bets 4 dice. Bob has a Screen-Time 2 and Beth has Screen-Time 3. Bob rolls a 1, 2, 2, 3, and 5 — 3 successes (number of dice rolled equal to or under Screen-Time). Beth rolls 1, 3, 4, and 6 — 2 successes. Beth loses 1 die (3 — 2 = 1) from her bet dice. If this was a contest, both would continue rolling until one ran out of bet dice, but this is a check so the conflict is over. Bob takes the Holy Cross.
If this is a check, then the rolling is over. If it is a contest, it continues, until one player has no bet dice left.
Before the first script-writing session, the movie needs three super-ultra-important things: a monster, a setting and a title.
The group decides on a monster for play. Pick any monster from film — mummies, vampires, giant apes, hot-dog eating fish-men, chest-bursting aliens, whatever. Pull out an index card and write the monster’s name and any special abilities you think the monster should have. Give the monster Screen-Time 4. Write another stat called Monster Dice, and set at 0. Finally, every monster has a «trigger event» which has to be satisfied before they can show up in the movie. Trigger events are described below under «The Monster.»
Special note on monsters — they’re indestructible. Nobody defeats the monster until the climax. Fighting the monster is futile, ultimately.
Now decide on a general setting: a spooky castle, a New England town, a mall, outer space. The setting is going to influence the game a bundle — a mummy movie set in Ancient Egypt will have a different flavor than a mummy movie set in Outer Space.
And finally (most important of all!), pick a title. Give it flavor — either one of those late 70s one-word titles: Gruesome or Monstroid or Whatever. Or maybe you’re going for a B-movie flavor: Castle of the Mad Scientist, Cave of the Apeman, etc. Or give it a Dada-esque flavor: Green Fish and Goo, or Mummy in Space!!
I mean, it’s your movie.
During the script-writing phase you develop the elements that you’ll use during filming: cast, sets, tropes, and sub-plots.
At the start of the first script-writing session, each player is given a budget of 12 dice. Each player then takes a turn, creating any number of «free» elements — tropes and sub-plots. Once the player buys a «bought» element with budget dice — usually a cast member or a set — then the play proceeds to the left. Each element is written down on an index card. This continues until one player «calls» the script-writing session, and the game moves into filming.
Here’s the low-down on each of the four elements:
These are the characters of the movie. Every Antarctic Research Station has a science crew, every Bavarian village has a torch-weilding mob, and every mall has food court employees and security guards.
Three levels of cast exist: extras, supporting cast, and starrring cast. Each cast member has a Screen-Time rating dependent upon their level, and may or may not have an Escape Clause.
Extras are the nameless nobodies who generally serve the function of monster chowder so the stars can get away. Extras have a Screen-Time rating of 1, and cost zero dice to create. Extras are considered «free» elements, unless dice are invested in them.
Supporting cast are the second tier characters who make the stars shine. They live a little longer than extras but not by much. Supporting cast have a Screen-Time rating of 2, and cost 1 die.
Starring cast are the main characters that the action resolves around. They may or may not make it to the end. Stars have a Screen-Time rating of 3, and have 1 level of Escape clause.
Escape clause is similar to a «Get Out Of Jail Free Card.» If that cast member gets captured by the monster, then the cast member doesn’t get killed (although any manner of horrible things can happen). Each level of Escape Clause is good to use only once. So if Bethany has only 1 level of Escape Clause, the monster leaves her fainted on the ground the first time, but the next encounter leaves her body mangled and mutilated. Each level of Escape clause costs 1 die.
Not all cast members need be heroes. Villans are possible. In older Hollywood movies, villans controlled the monster to wreck vengeance on their enemies — like Bela Lugosi in "The Devil Bat, " or the high priest in the Universal Mummy sequels. This is represented by ungodly amounts of Escape clause. So, while a villan is usually only supporting cast, they might have 4-6 levels of Escape clause. Eventually that Escape clause is going to run out, because we know that the villan always gets «his» at the hands of the monster in the end.
Sets are the locations that a scene occurs in. Sets are very specific — the pyramid is not a set, but the altar room inside the pyramid is. Each set may have a number of props, that can be used by anyone present. For example, a musuem may have «medieval sword» as a prop, while a gas-station may have «tire iron» as a prop. Sets cost 1 die, and props cost nothing.
A set can also have a Screen-Time rating. Sets start at Screen-Time 0 but can be bumped up +1 for every die invested in a set to a maximum of 5. After a player has a bumped up a set’s Screen-Time rating with dice, that player’s turn is over, and play proceeds to the left.
Any genre movie has a number of genre «tropes» that are expected to occur: mad scientists always give the «They call me a fool but I’ll show them!» speech, crashed cars always explode, pregnant women always go into labor, and dogs always growl at werewolves.
Tropes can be any event you feel important enough to put on a trope card. Once played, a trope is considered "satisfied, " and the card discarded. Each trope card has the trope, any characters involved in that trope (if any), and which act the trope must occur in (act I, II, or III).
Tropes are important in that each act isn’t complete until all that act’s tropes are satisfied. Tropes don’t have a cost.
Sub-plots are «side» problems that cast members are mixed up in, tangential to the main problem being «the monster.» Unlike tropes, sub-plots can be played over and over. Sub-plots in movies are usually the boring parts between the monster killing that helps us «care» about the cast members.
For example, a son who resents his father can be a sub-plot. So can a landlady evicting a kindly young couple, or a scientist who wants a monster taken alive and another one who just wants to get to safety.
Sub-plot cards have the sub-plot on it, and the characters that are involved with the sub-plot — a sub-plot have to involve at least one character. Sub-plots don’t have a cost.
The script-writing session is over once a player uses his/her turn to «call» the process and start filming, instead of creating more elements. During filming both extras and sets can be created, but none of the other elements.
Filming occurs in 3 acts and a climax. Each act is played out in "scenes, " and between scenes, players get more budget dice. Between acts, the players go through more script-writing. During the final climax, the monster is either vanquished, or triumphs over all the lily-livered white-hat do-gooders (and good riddance).
Before each scene, all the index cards in play are gathered up, shuffled, and dealt to all the players. The players can then trade up to 3 cards — but only by stating the elements: "I need a cast member, " or «Does anyone want a trope for a set?» The scene begins when one player spends at least one die to get the "director’s chair, " and then plays at least one character card and a set card. A scene ends when a player with the director’s chair ends it. Scenes only occur in one set, or whenever the action moves to an adjacent set — like a chase from one room in a castle to another. Any major set change to nonadjacent set is effectively another scene.
The Director’s Chair Править
A player has to have the director’s chair to play a card (unless forced to play that card), create an extra or a set, call for a check or contest, or to make rulings relevant to the scene. To get the director’s chair, a player spends at least one die and proclaims they have the director’s chair. This can happen at anytime. Any other player can contest that by spending more dice than the other player. This can get into a bidding war for the chair. The winner then spends all their bid dice, but the loser loses no dice.
Players don’t need the director’s chair to have a character speak, have their own character perform an action, or to roll in a check or contest.
Playing Cards Править
Only a player with the director’s chair can play cards during a scene, unless a card forces another player to play a card in their possession. Playing a cast card brings that character into the scene. Casts that are known to be "elsewhere, " like locked in a dungeon or trapped in a monster’s lair can’t be invoked into another scene until «freed.» Only the player who has played a cast member can make that cast member perform actions. When a trope or sub-plot card is played, that can force players other than the director to play cast cards.
Only one set card can be «active» at one time. When the action in a scene moves between adjacent "sets, " like in a chase scene, then that forces the adjacent set card to be played. Only set cards that are deemed «adjacent» to the «active» set can be played, and only when the action moves to the new adjacent set. If a new action occurs at a new set, that is considered a new scene, and the current scene ends.
Only directors can play trope cards. That trope is then considered to go "into effect, " right then and there, and happens. Any characters listed on the trope card are considered "active, " and must be played by whoever has them. It costs no dice to play these character cards.
Likewise, when a player plays an sub-plot card, that also invokes relevant characters around the table. A sub-plot card can only be played when no other sub-plot cards are «active.» The player with the director’s chair can determine whether a sub-plot is still "active, " or not.
Create an Extra or a Set Править
It costs 1 die to create an extra, and 2 dice to create a set during a scene. The player must have the director’s chair to create an extra or a set. Bumping a set’s Screen-Time is worth 2 dice for every +1 during a scene.
Checks & Contests Править
Only the director can call for a check or a contest. There must be a conflict between either two cast members, a cast member and the monster, or a cast member and a set. Examples of conflicts between characters include fights, debates, hiding/looking, etc. Conflicts between monsters and cast include all of the above, plus the infamous "chase scene, " which is represented by a contest between the monster and the cast. Conflicts between characters and sets can be climbing a cliff-face, trying to cross a river, or enduring the weather.
Checks involve just a «one-off roll» between rivals, but contests can involve several rolls, before a clear winner is found. With a contest, players at the table are expected to embellish each roll with a detail of action — "he slips down the side of Castle Krag, but catches onto window ledge, " "she trips on a gnarled root as the vampire rushes out of the darkness, " «Blind Willy’s fingers dance down the fret-board, as the devil’s guitarist stands with mouth agape.» Any player can suggest these details, but players have domain over characters they have played, and therefore can veto any action they don’t agree with.
Making Rulings Править
Sometimes players may disagree with what is occuring or what the rules of the game are. It’s in these instances that the player with the director’s chair makes a quick, and fair, ruling to keep the action moving. Directors shouldn’t invalidate rulings of previous directors, or purposely attempt to punish other players with rulings.
The Monster Править
Playing the monster card involves some special rules. Monsters don’t just show up out of the "blue, " to start reeking havoc. Most monsters have a «trigger event» that must occur first (this is a good to use as a trope). Frankenstein’s monster had to be «created» first, werewolves only show during a full moon, and radioactive monsters arise after an A-bomb test. It could be a simple as visiting the monster’s lair. This «trigger event» must occur first.
Monsters' main purpose in life is to chase, capture and kill cast members. This usually involves a drawn-out «chase sequence» using the contest rules. Once a cast member is captured, the monster kills that character, unless the character can use a level of Escape clause. For ever character the monster kills, the monster’s Monster Dice increases 1. Monster Dice are an extra pool of dice that a player gets to augment any contests or checks the monster is involved in.
So, for example, if a monster with Monster Dice 3 is chasing a peasant, the monster’s player get 3 more dice to add to his bet dice pool.
Cast members who attack the monster in close combat are considered instantly "captured, " unless they have Escape clause. Attacking cast members who use Escape clause are rendered effectively unconscious. It is useful, though, to attack the monster while the monster is chasing another cast member. The attacking cast member roll a number of dice equal to their Screen-Time. Successes are subtracted from the monster’s bet dice pool, that is being used to chase another character.
End of a Scene Править
A director can decide to end a scene when that director feels the action in the scene has played out. When the scene is over, budget rewards for the scene are determined, cards are discarded, cards are reshuffled then traded and a new director spends dice to start the scene.
Budget rewards Править
Budget rewards are given at the end of each scene. Depending on how players handled the previous scene depends on how many dice they can add to their budget. Dice are only added to players' budgets after a scene is over.
Players get the following dice rewards at the end of a scene:
- For every trope card a player played, that player gets 2 dice
- For every sub-plot card a player played, that player gets 1 die.
- For every character played by a player that is listed on a played trope or sub-plot card, that player receives 1 die.
- For every contest a player wins, that player receives 1 die.
- Player receives no dice for won checks, or played cast or set cards.
The Climax Править
Once all tropes have been satisfied, play proceeds to the Climax. In the Climax, either the surviving cast members or the monster defeats the other. The monster is still indestructible to direct attacks. But all monsters are vulnerable to «plans of action» the cast members cobble together.
At the beginning of the climax, all irrelevant cards are discarded from the deck, the deck is shuffled, and then dealt. All cards except sub-plot cards are then played. Players then pool a portion of their budgets into two sides, «monster» or «plan.» Players can play cast members and still pool their budget into the "monster, " or pool dice into both. Players should retain some of their budget for their cast members and to get the «director’s chair.»
The plan has a Screen-Time rating of 3.
One player then spends dice to have the "director’s chair, " and proceeds with the climax as if a normal scene. The monster isn’t allowed to use «monster pool» of dice unless in a contest with «the plan.»
The object for the cast members is to draw the monster into their «plan of action.» Once the monster is being drawn into their plan, the monster and the plan lock into a contest, using their respective pools. The monster gets to add its Monster Dice to its pool. If the plan defeats the monster, the cast members are victorious. If the monster defeats the plan, the remaining cast members can attempt to devise a new plan, or they can attempt to escape. Once the cast has either escaped or been killed, or the monster has been defeated by the plan, the credits roll.