Tremors (2011)

Tremors (2011)

– Print and play boardgame with players as characters from the movie against Graboids controlled by a set of automated rules
– Board is a map of the town with squares on it
– Characters have stats (Walk, Run, Climb, Shoot) and a Strength and Weakness and a little image for their hit locations (Leg x2, Torso, Arm x2, Head)
– Example Strength (for Walter Chang) would be “Store Owner” which allows him to carry +1 Items. Weakness would be “Oldest Man in Town” so -1 Walk
– Climb would be X+, where the number needs to be rolled above on 1D6 to Climb any surface. Costs 1 Walk/Run to do so, so can keep trying to Climb if failed
– Run would be X, Y+. X is a flat rate that is added to your Walk when Running. Then roll 1D6 and if it’s >= Y then double X that is added to Walk
– Also maybe only in a straight line?
– Or maybe Y+ is a flat 3+ success so Run only needs to have an X value?
– Characters can carry 1 Gun and 2 Items
– Items would be “Hydrashock Hollow Point” (re-roll Shoot), “Fresh Jeans” (+2 Run), etc. basically stuff from the movies
– Guns and Items are distributed by the player team at the start
– Graboids can be generated with custom traits (like Tough [+1 HP]) to help distinguish them or be all the same
– Create 1 Graboid per player, max players around 8 or 9 (based on characters from the movie)
– Players get the first turn, then Graboids
– Each character only gets one action like Walk, Shoot, etc.
– Remember talking between characters in-game would generate Noise
– If they are a certain distance away people need to shout instead, unless they have a Radio Item or something
– If a player dies they play as the Graboid that killed them, so there is no elimination
– Win by killing all Graboids or escaping in the blue truck
– Noise is a big part of the game. Each action generates Noise, and players track it by taking D6s from a common pool
– For example Walk would be 1D6 Noise
– At the start of the Graboids turn the players roll their Noise Dice and whoever has the highest is the target for the Graboids
– Could also roll success based instead of adding the dice up, where 3+ is a success and you compare successes
– If a Graboid is within 6 squares of a target already they might not switch targets. Roll a D6 if it’s >= the number of squares from the existing target they won’t switch targets
– ie: 4 squares away roll 4+ to keep current target, or 2 squares roll 2+, etc.
– Can also generate negative Noise with Pipe Bombs, etc.
– Some objects can generate noise all the time, like the lawn tractor or the water tower, etc.
– Graboids will attack whoever shot at them, regardless of Noise
– If two people shoot they will attack the closest one
– Each gun has a XD6 >= Y value. Roll XD6 and each result >= Y is a hit to the Graboid
– For example a rapid fire machine gun would have high X but high Y to represent many shots but low penetration
– Whereas a big bore shotgun would be low X and low Y to represent slow but high penetration
– Guns can shoot across the entire board if there is line of sight
– Perhaps roll a colored D6 when shooting, if it’s a 1 need to Reload?
– Graboids auto attack if they are touching a player counter
– Roll D6, that many locations on the player are destroyed
– The locations are Leg (Left and Right), Torso, Arm (Left and Right) and Head. 1 damaged Leg is -1 Walk, both is no Run. 1 damaged Arm is penalty to shoot, both is no Climb. Torso has no effect. Head is death.
– Could single shot kill a player
– Graboids can destroy buildings by D6 structural damage per attack
– Graboids can move super fast in straight lines but are only allowed one turn/pivot per turn?
– Average Walk would be 4, average Graboid would be 8 or 10?

Valentine McKee (Kevin Bacon)
Earl Bassett (Fred Ward)
Rhonda LeBeck (girl scientiest)
Burt Gummer (male survivalist)
Heather Gummer (female survivalist)
Melvin Plug (annoying boy)
Nancy Sterngood (pottery mom)
Mindy Sterngood (Jurassic Park girl)
Miguel (Mexican dude)
Walter Chang (store owner)
Howard the Road Worker (Yeah! road worker)
Nestor (yellow shirt guy who gets killed through tire, also pickaxe)
Dr. Jim (doctor)

Instead of trying to write what I remember now (5 years later) about this game, I’m going to quote my original brainstorm notes in my journal:

The board would be a map of the town with squares overlayed on it. You would choose a character from the movie (probably 8 or 9 available) each with their own stats and Strength/Weakness. Then you allocate weapons and items (1 gun per person and 2 items) to each player. Then you setup 1 Graboid per player on the map and off you go. It’s meant to be a cooperative game where the Graboids are controlled “automatically”. There would be Noise values and the Graboids would go for whoever/whatever made the most noise. If a player is killed they can play as the Graboid that killed them, so then no one is “out” really. The goal is to kill all the Graboids or escape in the blue truck. The basic stats would be Walk, Run, Climb, Shoot. Walk is a set number of squares you can move, and equals 1 Noise. I have a few ideas for Run. It could be ONLY in a straight line, or it could be a set bonus value like +2 squares with a D6 roll. If the roll is a success (which is generically 3+ in the game) then you can double the Run bonus. So a Walk of 4 and a Run of 2 could net you 4+2+2 if you were lucky. Run would generate 2 Noise. Climb would be a value you have to roll above on a D6 to Climb something, so it’d be denoted as 4+ or the like. Shoot would be the value of your gun. I’m still not 100% sure on what I want to do for weapons, aside from the fact that I’m trying to keep the game using D6s only. Maybe XD6>Y, where you get a set number of D6s and a success value to roll above, and each success takes away 1 Life/Wound/HP from the Graboid you hit. For Graboids I would use a hit system vs players similar to Grit from optional DC. Each player has 2 Legs, 1 Torso, 2 Arms, and 1 Head as hit locations. If they come into contact with a Graboid the Graboid rolls D6 and hits that many locations, starting form the Legs -> Torso -> Arms -> Head. So if they rolled a 3 then both legs and your torso would be damaged. Legs reduce Walk by 1 each and if both are gone mean you can’t get the bonus Run (so just the flat value). Torso does nothing (free buffer location basically). Arms reduce Shooting and Climbing somehow, with Climbing first. Head means your dead. So it would technically be possible to kill a person in a single attack. Anyways for Climbing I want a way for other players to help you up so you don’t even need to roll. You can only Climb once per turn but it doesn’t use any squares. The player turn would be all at once, so they would have to figure out amongst themselves what to do, but talking would generate 1 Noise. I’m thinking some of the Noise values would be dice based, and then you roll off at the start of the Graboid turn to see who it goes after, since then it’s kind of a tension thing. Like if you had 2 Noise you roll 2D6. And basically just grab a communal Noise D6 from the pot whenever you need to, so it’s easy to track. Adding them up might be a hassle so I might do that success based (3+) as well. If a person shoots at the Graboid then it automatically will go for them. If multiple people shoot the Graboid will go at the closest shooter. Each turn a player can do one action, so they could Walk/Run/Shoot but not multiple. Like I said each character would have special Strength/Weakness like for Walter Chang (the store owner) his Strength would be “Store Owner” (get 1 extra item) and his Weakness would be “Oldest Man in Town” (-1 Walk). The items would be stuff from the movie like “Pipe Bomb” (-5 Noise), “Hydrashock Hollow Point” (re-roll Shoot), “Fresh Jeans” (+2 Run), etc. Mostly “use once per game” type stuff. Also the Graboids could rip buildings out from under everyone, doing a certain amount of structural damage per turn or something. Probably the same mechanism where they roll D6 and remove that much from the building, and the building has like 10 total or whatever. Also you could generate special features of the Graboids, like “Tough” (+1 HP), “Fast” (+1 Run), etc. to differentiate them, sort of like how in the movie Kevin Bacon nicknamed the last one “Stumpy”. Maybe the Graboids have some reach as well so you don’t know if they’ll be able to get you or not, since in the movie he say “They have a good 6-foot reach!”. Oh and guns would be able to shoot across the entire board, so range measurements which helps. I’m thinking as part of the Graboid turn they might do something neato like draw a card and the card could be “Dive” or other special actions…or maybe they are just considered to be underground all the time (reasonable) so the first shot against them does less damage or something?

Another idea is to make the game board and pieces entirely from Lego. Genius! The buildings could actually be torn down block by block, so when a Graboid hits a building they just remove D6 blocks. Each character would be a Lego “minifig” (as they call them) and you could easily see what weapons they have. The Graboids would be longer pieces (2×5) with red pieces on their back representing HP, so they are slowly removed. I could even do something with the customizable Lego dice instead of the D6 idea. This would look really cool too since it would be brightly colored and detailed enough. I’d have to change movement a bit to include Pivots and stuff like that which happens when you have a two-legged Legoman on single dot boards. Definitely appealing. To begin with though I’m just going to use 1″ square grid paper and cardboard counters.

Lessons Learned
Enthusiasm about a project doesn’t always turn into a working, playable prototype. I was super psyched about this game, and still kind of am, and watch Tremors annually at least. But I haven’t made any progress in 5+ years. That’s why I always stress getting a crude version of the game I can playtest asap.

Also thinking outside the usual 28mm figures on a board/table/terrain can be fun, like the Lego idea in this case. Also moving away from the concept of everything I write has to be a tabletop game, when in practice it could be a fully enclosed, finished boardgame.

And finally I liked the Noise mechanic. I’ve always liked the basic idea: something you do in your turn corresponds to a level of punishment in the enemy turn. Basically attach an extra weight or meaning to choices like “I move and attack”.