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Stephen King's "The Stand"

A Roleplaying Game

Stephen King's massive novel, written in the 1970s, is now badly dated. Yet it tells a truly epic tale of Good vs. Evil, and there have been two very popular incarnations of STD on CompuServe's Role-Playing Games Forum.

This will be the third attempt to run a Stand game (the second by me). Although previous players are invited to bring their old characters back, we will be starting all over from the beginning, so you get to experience the end of the world one more time.

As before, we will start in the present day, which this time means 2002. Post 9/11, with war with Iraq on the horizon.

STD will be run in its own Dreamlyrics forum.

Your characters should be basically normal people. As in previous versions, I invite people to play themselves, or characters modeled after themselves. This is not a requirement, but one of the things that has made STD successful in the past is getting people to identify with their characters by really picturing themselves in that situation.

In any case, you should not create "adventurer" type characters. You don't have to play a helpless wimp, but remember that the theme of the game is ordinary people suffering through the end of the world. I am not expecting to see Navy SEALs or Shaolin Monks...



The Setting

If you've read The Stand, seen the TV miniseries, or played either of the first two games, then there won't be many surprises in terms of the storyline. Something horrible gets unleashed on the population, and in a matter of days, over 99% of the human race is dead. Cosmic forces of Good and Evil then begin making their presence known, primarily through human (?) intermediaries, and the survivors must choose which side they will stand with.

Many elements will be familiar both from King's novel and from my previous game. I will probably reuse some of the same characters. There will be a Dark Man, though he may not be named Randall Flagg. And particularly for those of you running the same character as before, some scenarios may be similar initially. (How many different ways are there to roleplay watching your friends and loved ones die?)

However, I will also change some things. I will not be following King's cosmology strictly, and there do need to be some surprises....


Character Submissions

I do need a character sheet (see below), but that's less important than a character description.

First of all I'll need the standard biographical information -- age, appearance, where you live, job, family, etc. I want details about friends and family and where they live, particularly the ones your character is most likely to try to contact when the outbreak begins.

You should also include the following:


Character Sheets

The game system will be Fudge, which is very simple. Fudge is available free online, but you don't need to know anything more about Fudge than what's on this page, since I will be running the game mostly systemless. I do like to have some numbers for those occasional situations where I want to roll dice, but usually your character sheet will just be used as a guide to what you can or can't do.

Scale

Everything in Fudge is rated on the following scale:

Attributes

There are six attributes in The Stand: Body, Intelligence, Intuition, Charisma, Will, and Spirit. The default for all of them is Fair. You get three free levels to raise attributes (i.e., you could raise three attributes to Good, or raise one attribute to Superb, etc.). You can get additional attribute levels by trading another one down on a one-for-one basis (e.g., if you have already raised three attributes to Good, you can raise a fourth to Good by lowering another attribute to Mediocre).

Body

This represents your overall physical ability; strength, toughness, health, speed, etc. Combat in The Stand is not going to be terribly detailed (if you get shot, it will hurt a lot and if you survive, you probably won't be doing much of anything physical for a while), so think of Body as an overall rating of your athletic prowess. (You can of course buy skills to be good at something specific in the physical realm.)

Intelligence

This is how smart you are. Not book-learning, but basic intelligence, ability to figure things out, etc.

Intuition

Perception, and the ability to guess things without having all the facts. Really smart people can be rather oblivious, and people without much smarts can nonetheless be very perceptive.

Charisma

This is your ability to handle social interactions. It has little to do with physical appearance, but rather how good you are are "reading" people and getting them to react the way you want them to. A high Charisma could mean you're very likeable, or it could mean you're a con-man who's good at manipulating people, all depending on your personality. Likewise, low Charisma might mean you just lack social graces, or it could mean you are an unlikeable jerk who rubs people the wrong way.

Will

This measures your nerves, your courage, and your willpower, and is important when trying to overcome pain or fear, or avoid going into shock or losing your marbles when confronted with something horrific.

Spirit

The Stephen King universe does have supernatural elements in it, and sometimes you may interact with them. Spirit is a measure of how "connected" you are to the metaphysical realm. It will rarely have much effect in the physical world. A high spirit has advantages and disadvantages. You will be more resistant to certain malign effects and beings, and better able to take advantage of certain things that might happen during the game. On the other hand, those malign effects and beings are more likely to notice someone with a high Spirit. A low Spirit means you don't have much of a "presence" on the metaphysical level. You won't be able to do things that someone with a higher Spirit might be able to do, but you're also more likely to be ignored by things you'd really rather have ignore you...

Skills

For The Stand, I am using very broad skill categories. The list below is not comprehensive -- you can have something not on the list if you like. You may optionally specialize in a skill, giving you an effective +1 level within your specialty and -1 outside of it. Examples of specializations are in parentheses.

Your default in all skills is assumed to be Poor. You get 10 points to select skills. Costs are as follows:

LevelCost
Terrible-1
Poor0
Mediocre1
Fair2
Good3
Great4
Superb5

You can get an extra point by reducing a skill category to Terrible, but should only do so if there is a particular reason why your character is naturally incompetent in that area. Most people at least have some idea how to use a computer, how to swing their fist, how to drive a car, etc. A Terrible skill level would mean you've basically never encountered the concept and couldn't even begin to guess what to do.

Gifts

A Gift is any character quality or ability that doesn't fit as an attribute or skill. Gifts are very open-ended, so the list below only provides a few examples. You can define any Gift you like, within reason. Everyone gets one free Gift. To get an additional Gift, you must choose a matching Flaw (see below).

Sample Gifts:

Supernatural Gifts

Although I don't want a lot of supernatural abilities, this is the Stephen King universe, so some people may have supernatural Gifts. In the King universe, such powers tend to be weak and/or uncontrollable and/or have undesirable side effects. A supernatural ability will count as at least one Gift, and possibly two (meaning you'd need at least one Flaw to compensate). Any ability powerful enough to count as three Gifts (for example, Carrie-level telekinesis or Firestarter-level pyrokinesis) will not be permitted for PCs. Any supernatural Gifts will require GM approval.

Flaws

Flaws are disadvantages or handicaps. Like Gifts, they are open-ended and can be defined by the player. Some examples:

Flaws are optional (you don't have to have one), and can be used to offset an extra Gift. I may allow a Flaw in exchange for extra attribute levels or skills, if you have a real need for them, but this isn't GURPS, so don't plan on stacking up extra abilities and Gifts and then paying for them with a bunch of Flaws.


Adult Content Warning

This is a horror game set in the Stephen King universe, so Bad Things can happen. While I am not going to run it in the Adult Section (I think having an Adult Section on a private web board is stupid -- it's far too late to bowdlerize the WWW), I do consider this an adult game. Sex, violence, and profanity may occur, though not gratuitously or unnecessarily graphically.

Bad Things can happen to your character. This includes death, dismemberment, torture, insanity, enslavement, even rape. I will never have such things happen casually, and never in such a way that your character doesn't have a reasonable chance of escaping such a fate, but when civilization collapses and monsters (human and otherwise) are set free, it would make for a pretty watered-down apocalypse if the threat of such things didn't exist.

If you, for whatever reason, are not willing to have your character suffer such a fate, let me know when you submit your character. (And let me know if you consider it sensitive enough that you don't even want your character to be threatened with such things, or if it's OK for the threat to be there as long as it doesn't actually happen in a thread.) Otherwise, I'll assume you're willing to accept whatever consequences may arise from a particular course of action, and that you trust me not to abuse PCs capriciously.

However, keep in mind that even if you choose to exclude your character from horrific fates, other PCs may not be excluded, and certainly NPCs won't. So such events may arise in some threads.