Sunday, 28 October 2012

ATZ-FFO Character Record Sheets


I will soon be starting my ATZ-FFO campaign (next month, hopefully) but I have quite a bit of prep work to do beforehand. One of the things that I wanted to add to this campaign was character record sheets (CRS) for my Stars and Grunts. The main reason for this is that I want to add a greater degree of complexity in my game with regards to skills. My friend Joe/Zabadak began a discussion on the Board of the Living Lead forum about how unrealistic it was that Rep is used to cover so many skills - shooting, melee, driving, initiative, leadership, etc. I totally agreed with him and that got me thinking. I realise that the reason for the all-inclusive Rep stat is to keep the game's mechanics simple and speed up play. I was happy to go along with that in my ATZ-BDTZ campaign, but now that I am making a fresh start with FFO I want more complexity in my game. I'm aiming for somewhere in between the simplicity of BDTZ and the complexity of GURPS.
So to that end I am giving my characters six skills that are separate from their Rep. They are Driving, Melee, Shooting, Fitness, People and Savvy. Rep will be used for Initiative and any tests not covered by the other six skills. In After The Horsemen, Fitness, People and Savvy were separate skills from Rep but in FFO, Fitness has been incorporated into Rep and is used for Physical Challenges. In my game they are all separate skills.
The stat scores for the six skills are worked out as follows - three skills are chosen at the same level as the character's Rep, two are chosen at Rep minus one and one is chosen at Rep minus two. To show this in action, I present to you my CRS for Vampifan as he will appear on Day One of my new FFO campaign.
The CRS that I designed measures 5" by 3" and is printed out on 190gm printer paper, which is quite thick. I have a small box designed to hold 5" by 3" index cards in that I use to store my CRSs. Most of the info on the CRS is relevant to gameplay. Extra info like Items owned, Resources stashed away at home and perhaps a brief biography or a list of encounters that the character has taken part in could be recorded on the back of the CRS. I'll probably list these separately on my computer. The star symbol * that appears after Vampifan's name is just a quick reminder to show that he is a Star (thanks for that tip, Joe).
Vampifan is my alter ego in FFO. He is like me in some respects but he is much more an idealised version of how I'd like to appear in a zombie apocalypse. Plus, by setting my campaign in Mayhem City, USA, certain changes were necessitated. In real life I don't drive, fight or shoot. In FFO, Vampifan drives to work most days, he practices kendo once per week and he is a keen member of his local gun club. He still likes to eat too much junk food and spends too much time working on his computer, hence his pitifully low Fitness score. His People skills are high, due to his many meetings with clients and staff members, whilst his Savvy skills are about average. I kept his Slow Attribute as before but I gave him the Born Leader attribute to boost his chances of keeping Team Vampifan together at the end of each month. With regards to Attributes, I prefer to choose the Attribute that I think best represents that particular character, rather than dicing for it and getting something inappropriate. Is that cheating? No, it is not. It is creating the characters that I want to best tell my story. For the most part, I stick with the Attributes listed in FFO, but for a few characters I have chosen ones that appear in ATH.
When it comes to increasing a character's Rep or Skill, I shall stick with the rules as they are in FFO, with one slight change. Normally a person can roll to increase their Rep or a skill. Because I have greatly increased the number of skills I will allow a character to increase their Rep or two separate skills, provided that both skills were used successfully in the encounter. The exception to this rule that a zero-level skill can be increased in place of a successfully used skill. As per the rules in FFO, no skill can be higher than the character's Rep score. Grunts are limited to having no skill or Rep higher than six. For Stars, there is no limit. Due to the number of skills I'll be using in my campaign, character  advancement will be slower than in a normal game of FFO but I don't mind that. Sometimes advancing too quickly can derail a game.
I am a fan of the rule in FFO for "loading up" your own PEFs with pre-generated characters. As a consequence, I have been spending a lot of time these past few weeks designing my own Grunts to use in my campaign and I now have a nice selection of Survivors, Gangers, Civilians, Police and Military folk to choose from. Each of them has their own CRS.
Here are the CRSs for Big Sil, Angie and Gap as they will appear on Day One of the new campaign. Note that all of Team Vampifan are now presented with their full names as well as their nicknames, something I never did in my BDTZ campaign. Big Sil and Angie are Rep:4 because they have had a tough upbringing and have had numerous scrapes with other gangs and with the police. Gap is just a typical civilian office worker and so is just Rep:3.
I realise that this post will be of little practical use to most (all?) of you, but it was important to inform you of the house rules and changes I will be making to my own ATZ-FFO campaign. The beauty of the THW games is that they are yours to do with as you wish. 

36 comments:

  1. Those look great! I've been considering something similar with my characters. I wonder if you would be willing to make a blank of your CRS available for the rest of us to use? Maybe a Word file or some such that we could fill in ourselves?

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    1. Thanks, Ironmonk. I honestly did not think that there would be any interest in these. However, I'd be more than happy to provide you or anyone else who wants them, with blank CRSs for you to fill in yourself. Just drop me an e-mail and I'll send you the Excel file that I used to create them. You can get my e-mail address from the "About Me" section at the top left of this page.

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    2. You're very welcome, Darrell.

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  2. This is great! I was going to add in more ATH to my FFO game, and your changes have done a great job in reflecting what I'd like to do.

    I like the reference sheets a lot. I think a lot of people are going to be hitting you up for them. I'll be sending an email directly..

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    1. Wow, thanks, Varangian! That rather blows my comment that "this post will be of little practical use to most(all?) of you" out of the water!

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    2. This also makes me think I need to seriously check out this Board of the Living Dead...

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    3. Here's the link for it, Varangian -
      http://boardofthelivinglead.proboards.com/index.cgi

      I've e-mailed you a set of blank CRSs. Enjoy!

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  3. These stat sheets look good Bryan. I've done something similar in Excel for my NMRIH stuff.

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    1. Thanks, Simon. Being a graphic designer, I have a lot of experience in designing character record sheets. It's "bread and butter" work for me.

      Oh, and happy birthday, my friend!

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  4. Great work, I'm sure these will come in handy!!

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    1. Thanks, Ray. They certainly will come in handy.

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  5. I think this will work out great. Better view of the skills. So you do not forget anything.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

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  6. Makes sense to me my friend but 35?:D

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    1. Yep, twenty years younger than I am. Hey, a man can dream, can't he?

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  7. LOL Hey I'm running my ATZ "me" from 20 years ago myself! I must also agree that the sheets are a good idea, and I'm considering adding those extra attributes as well from your sheets; at least for stars. I mean, once you break away from Rep-as-all mechanic, why not go to enough attributes to cover the main circumstances right?

    So, yes Vampifan; this post is of much use!

    Zombie Chow

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    1. Well, I did say that Vampifan is a much more "idealised" version of me. If only I could turn back the clock so easily in real life!

      I am genuinely surprised at the positive feedback and genuine interest in my version of a CRS, as I was expecting a very poor response. I can't express enough how much you guys inspire me! Thanks to you all.

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  8. Interesting house rules. I'll be interested to see how they work during play.

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    1. I'm very much looking forward to using them.

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  9. Good ideas. What is fitness used for?

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    1. Fitness is used is used for physical challenges, like jumping from one building to another, stealthy movement or brute strength feats like kicking down a locked door.

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  10. Excellent Vampifan, i'am a french player and don't understand all in book's rules.
    For help me, can you explain all you turn like the first campaign (BDTZ) and what happen when roll dice (result) thanks a lot

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    1. I can certainly do that when I post my batreps.

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  11. Neat stuff. I did something similar with by BDTZ charatcers as I tried to learn Excell. I got so far and it looked good but then I lost the ethos of Excell and the project collapsed. I amy try again and drop you a line about it.

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    1. Thanks, Irqan. If you're not familiar with Excel, a project like this can be quite a challenge. Fortunately, I have had a lot of experience in using it. Please do let me know how you get on if you give it another go.

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  12. House rules and adaptations are always interesting. I built a character generator in Excel for ATH/ATZ:BDTZ and I'm highly tempted to simply continue to use it as it has a much higher number of character quirks.

    Regarding too many zeds in buildings you could tweak the PEF results so that if you get a zed result the building is empty or you find a human instead. If that flavour is desired.

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    1. David, if you can adapt a set of rules to your own liking then that has to be a good thing. If I were you I'd keep your rules or modify them to create your own characters for FFO. It sounds like you have done most of the hard work already.

      I wonder how many people realise that there is an easy way to find humans in a building... and it's in the FFO rulebook. If your party stays in a building from one day part to another, when the next day part starts you will have another defining moment encounter, only this time it can't be with zombies. If you stay in that building long enough you will meet more humans. Just a thought.

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  13. Nice work, the cards look great, im looking forward to see the rule changes in action

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    1. Thanks, Shintokamikaze. I'm hoping to starting my new campaign towards the back end of November.

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  14. Little use to the rest of us? Apparently that was not so
    Add me to the group of people who will be doing this as well. I really liked the idea of more skills when Joe mentioned it on the forum, but working things like this out myself is not really something I'm into. I think I'll copy how you do it though :).

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    1. I certainly didn't expect this level of support, Adam. I have no problem with you copying any of my ideas. If you do want some blank CRSs to play with, just send me an e-mail.

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  15. Bryan- Thanks for the copy of the CRSs. I have probably 80 pages of these printed out (4 CRS's/ page), plenty for me to make per-generated NPCs, and to allow friends to use for their characters if we play group games. As it is right now I have 8 pages created for Killer Clowns and the Cirque du Infierno, even though I only have 10 minis for the gang right now (hopefully will be getting/ordering more this Friday). I also have the obligatory copy of these filled out for Team Vampifan, a modified version of Team Vaughn (Team Vincent, staring Erica Vincent as the mom, Helena Vincent as the Daughter and Danny Vincent as the son), and of course my team.

    Looking forward to tracking the Progress of Team Vampifan ver2.0 as I was with Team Vampifan ver1.0

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    1. I'm really glad to hear that you're getting a lot of use out of the CRSs, Doug. It's also great to know that my own characters are inspiring you. I've filled in about 100 of my own CRSs, most of which are survivors and gangers. Oddly enough, I have not created any clowns... yet!

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  16. Little use? House rules are the best! I like your
    character sheet. When I played D&D I spent much time trying to create the perfect character sheet. I still dont know the rules that well but even so your sheet stands out as very easy to access which is the whole idea. Nicely done!

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    1. Yhanks, Roger. You are a man after my own heart. I love house rules. I love tinkering with rules and I love creating character record sheets. It's obviously the graphic designer in me.

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