Shoot or Run?

Left 4 Dead

After playing Left 4 Dead the other night at a friends i started wondering just how you could fit a setting like that into game. The suspense side of things could easily be handled i feel but I’m more concerned about the combat mechanics where dealing with 3-4 characters and upward of 30 enemy at anyone time with almost constant waves hitting you is the norm. Whatever mechanism you use would also have to take into consideration the attention the ‘special monsters’ you would come across such as the boss ‘infected’ in the computer game.

Zombie films and computer games have been done to death over the years but I’ve yet to come across a game system that portrays zombies as anything other than slow moving mummies without their clothes on. I’m sure it’s the mechanics that’s stopping a game like this from being produced as every system I’ve tried struggles to deal with anything more than 10-15 enemy at once. In saying that I haven’t tried the current version of Dungeons & Dragons which seems to me able to handle small hordes which may work for a fantasy setting but I’m not sure how it would hold up if you ramped up the number of bad guys and added automatic weapons.

It’s more than just a curiosity I have in how this might work as part of the campaign I’ve been trying to write for Nanowrimo this month involves hordes of bad guys and if I can’t find the right mechanics I may have to rewrite the enemy a little but it will take away from feel I’m going for.

Has anyone came across a system that handles this sort of thing well?

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  1. PatrickWR says:

    Savage Worlds has a sweet combat system that deals with hordes of “extras” while still leaving room for more powerful “wild card” enemies. It leans heavily on miniatures and a battlemat, but the system itself is streamlined and elegant, adding a minimum of bookkeeping to combat.

    PatrickWRs last blog post..Cautionary Tales from the Sandbox

  2. mxyzplk says:

    Feng Shui originated the mook concept in RPGs and much of its gameplay centers around the difference between hordes of mooks – the nameless hordes of bad guys you see in HK action movies and now increasingly in other genres – and “named characters,” the equivalent of ‘bosses.’. Bosses had hit points like PCs did; mooks you just had to hit hard enough. A variety of official and unofficial mods to mooks gave you every kind of different mook behaviour you wanted.

    My favorites were mook “wads” – where a group of mooks would make one attack, but at a bonus equal to the number of mooks. That way, even though individual mooks were not dangerous they could be en masse. (Although zombies arguably are a case in which you should not do this). There were several zombie/vampire implementations in Feng Shui.

    4e uses this concept somewhat with the “minions have 1 hp” rule, but this isn’t the most elegant implementation.

    mxyzplks last blog post..Ten Games You Have To Play Before You Die

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