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  Mechanic #221 - The Thing
Posted: Jun 22, 2016

Another Werewolf inspired idea where one player is a traitor, working against the others in secret.

  The Thing



Fig 221.1 - Arctic Research Base

This is another multiplayer game with a betrayal role, but based on John Carpenter's The Thing. Long story short, a bunch of players are isolated in an arctic research base searching for an malevolent alien hidden among them. One player, chosen at random, is the alien, while the other players must work together to discover his identity and stop him.

At the beginning of the game, a randomly generated arctic research base is created, and each player is assigned a scientist role. The alien is not assigned yet. So you might have a chemist who is good a mixing chemicals, a mechanist who can build and repair machines, a programmer who can access computers, a tracker who can see tracks left by others, a biologist who can find out information about biological organisms, and so on.

In the beginning, the players have a few minutes to explore the research base, collecting useful ingredients and making notes of important items and locations. After the initial exploratory phase is over, one of the players is chosen at random to become the alien. The alien is also assigned a hidden weakness, such as fire, electricity, cold, sound, proximity to other players, fear of dogs, etc.

  Player Goals

The players attempt to identify and kill the alien player. There are several ways to do this, most of which require multiple steps and multiple players in order to pull off. For instance, in order to positively identify the alien, a DNA tester may be created. It requires the help of a mechanist and a biologist to create the parts for it, and you must gather the DNA of other players to test. Similarly, a flame thrower is a good weapon, effective against fire-weak aliens, that must be assembled from various parts and fueled by canisters found around the base (additional fuel could be synthesized by chemists too).

Aliens can be killed by traditional means, but it requires a lot of efforts. In other words, a single scientist with a pistol probably won't be able to kill the alien, but a group of three or four scientists with pistols will. If the alien is put into a weakened state, such as blasting sonic waves at a sound-weak alien, damage is quadrupled and even a single scientist has a good chance of killing the alien.

Initially, the alien appears to be a scientists like all the other players, but it can be exposed in two ways. The first is to expose it to whatever element it is weak to. So if the alien posing as a scientist gets too close to dogs, the barking dogs will cause it to lose its form and expose itself. There are various things around the base the alien should avoid which may not be powerful enough to weaken it, but powerful enough to expose it. Exposed forms of the alien glow green to other players who are aware of it.

The other way the alien is exposed is voluntarily. The alien can attack and either kill or absorb the other players, but must expose itself to do so. If the alien exposes itself and its victim escapes, that alien form has become exposed to any other scientists who join the same room as the victim (or someone else who learned from the victim).

While the scientists are trying to defeat the alien, the alien is trying to escape into the greater outside world. The scientists need to prevent this as well, by guarding the various snowcats and helicopters around the base. Each one requires a key, which the scientists can hide or carry around.

  Alien Goals

The alien is trying to escape from the base, by any means necessary. This means either repairing or accessing the vehicles around the base (with keys hidden by the other players) or building a space ship to escape. This requires several parts and a secret location to build it.

To make the alien's job a little bit easier, the alien can kill or absorb other scientists. Killing is quick and quiet, but leaves behind a body that must be hidden. Absorbing a scientist is slow and loud, but at the end of it, the alien can take on its form at will. If one of the alien's forms is exposed, it can change to another to continue to hide. The alien can also perform any scientist tasks of that character while in its form (ie the alien can now do chemistry). The alien wins if all the other players are eliminated.

Players who are eliminated become alien slugs that can wander around the base, relaying information to their alien parent. For instance, slugs can go out and locate missing helicopter keys or follow other players and keep track of their whereabouts. Of course, the other players can squish any slug they find.

Finally, the alien can transform into its battle form, which makes it twice the size and twice as power, and can be used to simply attack and kill the other scientists at will. Once this form is taken, the alien can not change to any other form. It is the end game form and means the alien is enraged and intent only on killing the scientists. This form can not be taken if weakened, so it is in the scientist's best interest to find the alien's weakness before attempting to kill it.

  End Game

The premise of the game is that the players are all trying to accomplish multiple step goals that require cooperation, while also inserting the shadow of suspicion that those they are cooperating with may be their enemy. At the end, the players are scored based on what they accomplished during the game.




Click for Prototype Note.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.