The Gauntlet meetup: Online session of The Final Girl

The Gauntlet

The Gauntlet is a great little indie RPG community you can find in the land of Google plus. They've got a couple of great podcasts out there, including Discern Realities (a Dungeon World RPG podcast) and +1 Forward (a Powered by the Apocalypse RPG podcast), as well as a few others.

One aspect I love about this community is that they are actively promoting and running games online. I mean, constantly. And they try all sorts of independent press RPGs (not just Apocalypse World based stuff), which is just up my alley.

The Final Girl RPG

The Final Girl is a role playing game by Bret Gillan of Gas Mask Games. In their own words:

The Final Girl is a horror movie roleplaying game meant to emulate slashers or any other horror movie where the characters are picked off one by one until only one survivor remains to confront the killer.

It's a GM-less game, which means no one is running the overall story. Instead each player takes turns setting scenes, or playing various characters in the story. Sometimes the scene directory also plays the killer, whatever that is.

This game was being run by David LaFreniere, one of the Discern Realities hosts, and was played by myself and another named Tim. First, we started with a basic premise. We ended up deciding on a Bass fishing competition, the Granite Lake Fish Off, happening up in the remote, high-elevation mountains. The killer? Some good ol' Cthulhu style fishies, not to be confused with Bass:

We started by defining 12 characters in the story. You take turns defining characters, so each of us got to create 4. We had a few competitors in the tournament, a wanna-be news anchor, the sweaty camera man (who is always eating hot dogs), a slick sales rep, a competent local sheriff, a buxom trophy queen, a paranoid cat, and the passionate conversationalist. Sounds like a great line-up!

 The Google Doc we used to record our characters from the movie.

The Google Doc we used to record our characters from the movie.

It was a cool little game. Very open ended as far as the theme and character generation. The scene creation and assignments felt very similar to Forget-Me-Not, one of my favorite easy-to-play RPGs (that I've written of previously). Similar to that game, no player has any ownership of specific characters, so we all get a chance to play any variety of the roles involved.

The first few scenes set some relationships (important in character survivability), and then there is a massive die-off as the killer gets going. As the game starts getting into second gear, every scene involves 2 or more people, with generally about one survivor, as people get picked off one or more at a time!

Hence the title: The Final Girl. The point is seeing who lives to the end, if anyone at all. Doesn't have to be a girl, and in our case it wasn't. It was the conservationalist Mikolas Jampot. And this is what was brilliant, was the ending character gets decided for you through luck, cards, and tragedy. One player gets to narrate the ending; the player who had more of their characters killed off during play. As you can see in the above table, Tim was killed off 5 times (we left our player colors on those characters that died off while we were playing them).

In this case Tim gave us a beautiful end, where Mikolas goes out to thank the creatures from the bottom of the lake in helping him preserve nature by killing off all the humans. It was glorious.

All in all, I highly recommend the game. It was very free-form, and provided us a campy horror movie. That said, I can see how you could do something more suspenseful, like an Aliens, or even a Funnel-style fantasy game (similar to Dungeon Crawl Classics funnel). If I was playing with completely new players, I might lean towards Forget-Me-Not, as this provides a little more guidance, and less pressure to be "creative". But all-in-all, good fun.