Survivor: The Roleplaying Game

Outwit... Outplay... Outlast

These are my own home-brewed rules for playing a Survivor roleplaying game using Fudge rules.

Survivor is © 2004, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. No copyright infringement is intended.


Survivor Rules

Note that all rules are subject to change at the whim of the producers! While the contestants are told the rules beforehand, the producers frequently introduce "twists" into each game, confronting the Survivors with unexpected turns of affairs.

An even number of contestants (usually 16) is taken to a remote location, divided into tribes, and left to build their own shelter, find their own food and water, and make a "home" for themselves, all while competing for a $1,000,000 prize. Each Survivor is allowed to choose one luxury item he or she can bring along. (Luxury items must be small and portable, and cannot include firearms, or anything that could violate the rules of the game, such as cellphones or PDAs.) Usually the Survivor tribes are given a starting stash of supplies, food, fishing equipment, and the like, but this is not guaranteed. Once brought to their tribal site, Survivors are not given any more equipment or supplies (except for what they might win during luxury competitions). Only in the event of a medical emergency will the production staff intervene.

The division of the initial Survivor groups into tribes (usually two, but sometimes there are three) can vary from season to season. Sometimes tribes are created randomly, other times Survivors are allowed to divide themselves into tribes by various schemes (such as appointing two "chiefs" who alternate picking members). The method of dividing Survivors into tribes is revealed when they arrive at the contest location.

Contests

Initially, the two (or three) tribes compete against each other for luxury and immunity competitions. Every three days is a contest; a luxury contest, followed three days later by an immunity contest. In the luxury contests, the tribes compete for some sort of luxury chosen by the producers. This may be tools and equipment that will make life easier, a seven-course meal for the winning tribe, a few hours of R&R (and a hot shower!) at a nearby resort, or anything else the producers dream up.

While the luxury contests are important for a tribe's morale and comfort, the immunity competitions are what keeps Survivors in the game. The tribe that loses the immunity contest must go to Tribal Council, where one of their members is voted off.

The nature of the contests vary, and usually alternates between physical and mental challenges. A given challenge might involve an underwater relay race, a memory game, a trivia quiz, a scavenger hunt, putting together pieces of a puzzle, or anything else that tests the strength, endurance, and wits of all the players. Some challenges are pure tests of endurance (every season of Survivor has included some variation of "Who can remain in an uncomfortable position the longest?"), and then there is the infamous "Food Challenge," in which season after season of Survivors get to test their gag reflexes...

The Merge

At some point, determined by the producers but not revealed to the Survivors until it happens (but usually around week 6-8, after not quite half of the contestants have been weeded out), the two tribes merge into tribe. At this point, the luxury and immunity challenges become individual competitions. The luxury item may be a night at a hotel, a video from loved ones at home, or a valuable prize the Survivor gets to keep after the game, such as a new car (i.e., Product Placement....). Sometimes the winner of the luxury competition gets to choose one other Survivor to share it with, making for another strategic decision.

Likewise, after the merge, the immunity competition becomes individual. Whoever wins the coveted "immunity idol" cannot have votes cast for him or her at the next Tribal Council.

Tribal Council

At Tribal Council, the losing tribe (pre-merge) or all remaining Survivors (post-merge) comes together and is grilled by Jeff Probst, the "host" of Survivor. Usually he asks pointed questions to try to get Survivors to reveal alliances, talk about their grudges and their strategies, and generally make things interesting for the audience. Everyone gets a chance to speak, and this is frequently when those who know they are in danger of being voted out make their case (though in practice, most Survivors have probably already decided who they are going to vote for by the time they come to the Tribal Council).

Post-merge, the holder of the immunity idol has the option of giving it up to another tribe member, making that person immune to eviction (and making himself or herself eligible to be voted out).

Then each Survivor, one by one, goes to the voting station and writes down the name of the person they are voting to evict. Votes are anonymous; Survivors cannot vote for themselves, nor can they vote for the holder of the immunity idol, but everyone else is fair game.

When all have voted, Jeff counts the ballots and reads the results. (He does not always read the final vote; usually he stops when it becomes clear who has received the majority of votes.)

Tie-Breakers: In the event of a tie, the person who has recieved the most total votes in previous Tribal Councils is the one evicted. If that also results in a tie, the producers will use some other scheme to determine the evictee, which could even include a random draw from among all the non-immune tribe members.

The Jury

The first seven Survivors voted off simply go back home. However, beginning with the eighth evictee, Survivors voted off are sequestered (in a much more comfortable location!), and return each Tribal Council to silently watch as the remaining Survivors vote another member off. Communication between surviving contestants and the Jury is forbidden.

The final immunity competition takes place when only three players are left. The winner of this competition casts the sole vote, deciding which of the other two remaining Survivors goes to the Jury, and which will go with him or her to the final Tribal Council. These two Survivors will face the Jury.

At the final Tribal Council, the 7 members of the Jury are permitted to grill the two finalists, while they make their cases to the Jury. After all discussion is ended, the members of the Jury, one by one, cast public votes for the winner. (This time, they are voting not for who they want to evict, but for who they want to win.) The winner of this final vote is the Survivor, and wins the grand prize of $1,000,000.

Other Rules

All the non-winning Survivors are given a consolation prize, depending on how long they stayed in the game. The first person voted off usually gets about $2,500, while the semi-finalist wins a prize of about $100,000.

Other rules are listed here, and include prohibitions against conspiring to share the prize money, breaking the law, damaging the environment, entering the production area or interfering with production crews, or threatening or assaulting fellow contestants or crew members.


Fudge Rules

A Survivor RPG character requires a Fudge character sheet. For Survivor, character sheets will be very simple, and consist simply of Attributes, Gifts, and Flaws.

Attributes

Attributes are rated on the following scale:

There are five Attributes. Everybody starts at Fair in all attributes. You get two free points to add to your attributes (either raising one attribute to Great, or raising two attributes to Good). You can raise additional Attributes by reducing another attribute on a one-for-one basis; i.e., if you use your two free points to raise Brains and Brawn to Good, you could also raise Guts to Great by either reducing Charm and Luck to Mediocre, or reducing one of them to Poor. It would be a bad idea to reduce any Attribute to Terrible....

Gifts

Every Survivor gets two free Gifts. Gifts consists of skills or some other bonus for certain action. Note that the Survivor's "real world" skills are largely unimportant to the game. The character may be a nurse, or a pilot, or an investment banker, or a martial arts expert, but none of that matters much in Survivor, and thus those skills are not recorded on your character sheet. The only skills that are recorded are those that might give you an edge in the game, and these must be purchased as Gifts. Each Gift gives you a +1 bonus with some activity (i.e., you will treat the relevant Attribute as being one higher than it is for the purpose of that activity). You can buy multiple Gifts for the same skill if you wish. You can have any Gift the GM approves, but the examples below give an idea of the range and depth of Gifts. (Thus, do not try to choose very general Gifts like "Wilderness Survival" or "Athletics"...)

Sample Gifts:

Flaws

You do not have to have a Flaw, but you can get additional Gifts by taking a matching Flaw. A Flaw is a reverse Gift; it is some activity you are inept at. Whenever your character has to perform some action relating to the flaw, the relevant Attribute is treated as if it were Terrible, regardless of the actual score. See the list of Gifts for things that can be Flaws. The GM has final say in any Flaw, and a Flaw must be something that is definitely going to hinder the character more than once during the game. Basically, if faced with a contest where a Flaw comes into play, you can count on losing.

Survivor Links

Below are CBS's links to the first 8 seasons of Survivor: