Disclaimer: Chuck and I are friends and I offered to do a review of his book (he gave me a copy of the beta awhile back as a gift). He also promised me a OTPHJ if I gave him 5 stars.
So What IS Gary VS the Monsters?
Here is the summary from Drivethru RPG
This ain’t about brooding vampires, misunderstood werewolves, or repentant demons. This is about monsters that want to drink your blood, rip off your face, and eat your soul. The only thing that stands between the world and the Armies of Hell is you and your vast experience in the fast food industry. That plus a chainsaw, a shotgun, a six pack of brews, and some duct tape.
Includes four classes: The Survivor, The Normal, The Mystic, and the Psychic. Random Starting Equipment Tables. Plus classic campy horror movie monsters and more.
Gary vs The Monsters is an old school campy cinematic horror RPG based around the White Box rules of that most popular fantasy roleplaying game.
Gary VS the Monsters was written by Chuck who has released several titles under his company, Magic Pig Media. The introduction let’s you know right away what you’re in for; it is a game of shlocky horror using a hacked version of the awesome and rules-lite White Box rules . Right away it makes me think (and want to run a game) of Evil Dead, Pumpkinhead, Hellraiser, and Shaun of the Dead.
The book has four classes. Each has a few abilities to make them unique and fun and able to contribute to the party’s antics.
The four classes are: the Survivor, the Normal, the Mystic, and the Psychic.
This are all pretty self explanatory and fun. My favorite it the Normal- totally like Shaun in Shaun of the Dead, or Xander in Buffy.
Here is my favorite ability for each class:
The Survivor: Last Man Standing (pg 11): Survivors gain a cumulative +1 bonus To-Hit and damage for each player character killed (by monsters) during the current combat encounter up to a maximum of +4. These bonuses last only for the duration of the current combat.
The Normal: Weird Magnet (pg 12- and my favorite ability in the game): If there’s a cursed item to be found then you’re the one who finds it. Evil spell book sitting in the library? You’re the one who pulls it off the shelf. If the monster needs some special thing to complete its world-ending ritual then you’ve got it or are it. It’s not that the monsters want to kill you but you always seem to have what every one wants. You’re at the center of things gone weird. Lucky you.
The Mystic: No ability, but casts magic that fits the feel of the game. Able to cast 5 spells only… However I would have liked an minor illusion spell, also something like Pyrotechnics, and 1 small damage spell like Ray of Exhaustion or something that does 1d6-2 points of damage. This is a minor thing and as a GM I can easily add it to the game.
The Psychic: Sixth Sense (pg 16): Psychics can get “a bad feeling” about a person, place, thing or event with a successful Saving Throw.
Psychics are very simple and cool. They have a few abilities that they can use X number of times per day.
Both the Mystic and Psychic are low magic, but totally feel the setting that Chuck is conveying.
I also like that there really isn’t armor, but instead that a character’s armor class increases slightly as they level up- showing that they become more skilled at fighting and evading shit.
After you create your character you roll on the Brush With the Supernatural chart- which is a quick and nifty table to jump start your character (and it provides a few bonuses) and how they got in this mess to begin with.
Chuck also provides a break down of how to earn XP and my favorite is gaining 50 XP for blurting out corny one-liners. This reminds me of the fun “movie” posters in Left 4 Dead 1 and 2.
Later Chuck talks about insanity from fighting horrors and things that go bump in the night. Insanity is broken down into two categories: temporary and permanent. By and large everything does temporary insanity. To avoid it, you make a saving throw; if you fail roll on the chart. If a creature has an ability that does permanent insanity and you fail your roll, that’s it- the character’s done.
Gary VS the Monsters has some cool tables to get your starting gear. Roll three times for a few mundane items, roll twice on a chart for items that are slightly more useful (IE- a flashlight), and once on the weapon table. Boom- then you’re done and ready to get killed by a horrible nasty creature.
Weapons and are straight forward if you’re familiar with any version of D&D. I like the reload mechanic; don’t track bullets, after each shot roll 1d6, if it’s a 1- reaload.
Death is also familiar fair- reduced to zero and you’re dead. I do like Gary’s HP regain mechanic- ” . If a character can take several hours to rest, relax, grab some beer and pizza, and shower off all the blood and gore then the character regains all of their HP. (pg 25)”
Later on Gary delves into magic ritual and several tables for generating cool rituals on the fly. Gary also has a few pages of magic items that fit shlock horror perfectly.
The monsters in Gary VS the Monsters are fun and both familiar and new. My favorite is the Evil Clown (IT and Killer Clowns From Outer Space) and the Demonic Car (Christine).
The last section is for the GM and has several tables and bits of advice on how to run a game.
Gary VS the Monsters clocks in at 57 pages and really does give you every thing you need to run a shlocky fun horror game. It’s cheap and worth the entry fee to nab it.