Notes: I originally intended this to be a short story about zombies, but as I began adapting it into a game, I saw the potential for some creative storytelling on the part of the players and made it a general survival horror theme with an improvised plot line.
"They said it was the 'Ship of Dreams' " Donatella Fulci said in her thick Italian accent, staring blankly out the window of the hotel room.
I was a rookie reporter, desperate for my big break. Even if it meant listening to a crazy old lady, I was going to find a story worth telling.
"...but for the last Forty-Nine years, it has brought me nothing but nightmares. You say you want the story of a century, eh? Well, this one is, as you Americans like to say...a doozy. Before boarding Titanic, my partner and I were given intelligence suggesting that someone was developing a weapon, and it was hidden somewhere on the ship. Our mission was simple; find the weapon, and steal it. My partner's mistake, however, unleashed an unimaginable horror upon us all..."
Players: 3 - 6
Background: Each player plays a spy from a different country aboard the RMS Titanic. All spies have been informed that there is a mysterious weapon on board, and they must find it. Unfortunately, it's now the morning of April 14th, 1912; the weapon has not been found yet, and unbeknownst to everyone, the ship is heading straight for an iceberg. Yay!
Act One: The Search - Phase one of the game is a Clue-like deduction game where players try to deduce which of the locations on the ship is hiding the mysterious weapon, and which country is the culprit. The twist, however, is that it is also a race against time. If the weapon is not found in a predetermined number of turns, history takes it's normal turn of events; the ship hits the iceberg and a "normal" Act Three commences.
Act Two: The Decision - If a player discovers the location of the weapon , it ends up in their possession. At this point, they get to determine what exactly the weapon is and does. They can do this by drawing a 'Weapon' card at random (weapons could be anything from a Zombie Virus to an atomic bomb prototype to an archaic tome that grants the reader god-like powers), or just getting creative and coming up with their own Idea (i.e. "The weapon opens a portal to another dimension, causing a soul devouring demon to come forth and slay anyone in it's path."). It can be anything from the horrifying to the hilarious. Then they get to decide what to do with it. Will they turn evil, and release the weapon upon the unsuspecting passengers and crew? Will they try to escape via lifeboat with the weapon? Will they trip over their own shoe laces and accidentally drop the vial of zombie gas? What happens next is up to them.
Act Three: The Escape - The players now try to escape the ship and any unspeakable horrors that may have been set loose. If the winner of Act 1 chose a pre-written weapon scenario, the scenario card will have rules as to how the players are affected. (Example: The Zombie Gas Vial might say something like "The winner of act 1 gets to place 3 zombie tokens anywhere on the board. Each of the losing players get to place one zombie token anywhere on the board. Each player may move one zombie: one space per turn. Zombies bite anyone in the adjacent space, and turn them into a controllable zombie." ) If the player make's their own scenario, it becomes a "(insert player idea here) chases you down and kills you..." scenario, unless the players can unanimously agree on basic rules for the weapon. The players try to get their spy to lifeboats on the perimeter of the game board and, as history would have it, there are not enough for everyone. If the ship begins sinking (if the weapon is not found, for instance), parts of the game board become impassible, starting with the bow and heading aft. Players caught up in the flooding are eliminated. As the flooding passes each lifeboat station, it no longer becomes useable.
The End: The game ends when all spies have either died or escaped the ship.
Additional possibilities: Each player could have cards they can use at opportune moments (perhaps picking them up in Act One) that can hinder other players, complete with cheesy flavor text. Example 1: Lifeboat Accident (played on a player that has entered a lifeboat) - "Congratulations: You Successfully made it to a lifeboat! However, the crew begins lowering another lifeboat on top of the one you're in. Roll a die. On a 1-3, the lifeboat crushes you and the other passengers. On a 4-6, you exit the lifeboat just in time, but you're back on board."
Example 2: Detonation - "You've had enough. It's time to create your own luck, with explosive results! You've planted a bomb by the ship's hull. Choose Bow, Stern, Port, or Starboard. Your bomb detonates here, beginning flooding that spreads towards the opposite end of the board"