The Final Girl
DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR
Something out there is hunting us. The captain of the football team was dragged into a manhole. The class president was found dead in her shower. And everyone remembers what happened to the school janitor… and what was left of him on the first day of school. Now we're the only ones left. Will any of us make it out of this alive?
A Shorter Simpler Game With Strong Horror Ties [ edit ]
The Final Girl is not your typical RPG, but it is an RPG that knows and loves horror movies.
The game's title refers to the (usually female) character in horror films who survives until the end of the movie to face the villain. In The Final Girl RPG, players play through a pool of characters over the course of the game, with one or more dying in each scene, until only the "final girl" remains.
The rules of the game are very light. Characters are communal and extremely simple, with index cards as character sheets. There's no game master, only a rotating "Killer" played by a different player each scene. The only conflict between the players and the killer is resolved by using a deck of cards, making the game completely diceless.
In other words, The Final Girl is very much not "D&D does horror", and if you're looking for a more traditional/full-featured RPG this probably isn't the game for you. But if you're looking for a love letter to the horror genre where characters drop just as quickly as they do in cinema, The Final Girl will likely appeal to you.
The Final Girl, First Edition - Rules SummaryCollapse
Character Creation [ edit ]
Characters in The Final Girl work a bit differently from ordinary RPG characters. Instead of having just one character, each player creates at least two (and potentially three or four, if their group is small) characters.
Shared Character Pool
Furthermore no one owns the characters they create. Instead, all created characters go into a shared pool, and in each scene players can pick which character they want to play.
Players are encouraged to not get too attached to any one character, both because of their communal nature, and because this is a horror game, and most of the characters in the pool will wind up dead.
The characters themselves are very simple, and require only a single index card. To create a character, a player simply writes down a title in the form "name the adjective noun" (although it doesn't have to be exactly four words). For instance, "Wallace the gruff janitor" or “Rex, the guy who can’t stop talking about his muscles."
Relationships to other characters help characters in The Final Girl to survive, and they can have three different types: friendship, rivalry, and screwing. These are not determined at creation, but instead are decided on (mutually) by players during the game's three introductory scenes.
For instance, in an introductory scene where a group of goth characters are hanging out at a graveyard, the players playing two of those goths might decide that it would make sense for their two characters to be friends, so they would add the "friendship" relationship (with each others' names) to their cards.
Relationships can also change during play. For instance, two enemy characters who find themselves as the last survivors facing the killer might decide to team up in the interest of survival, changing their "rivalry" relationship to "friendship".
Core Mechanics [ edit ]
The Final Girl is organized into "scenes", similar to encounters in a traditional RPG (or scenes in a horror movie). In each new scene the roles of each player changes: a new player becomes the "killer", while the rest of the group chooses new characters from the pool to use for that scene.
Unlike most RPGs, The Final Girl does not have a traditional "game master". Instead, players take on part of the GM role, narrating things related to their characters actions. For instance, if a player wants their character to walk into a kitchen and find a large freezer, they don't ask the GM "what's in the kitchen" ... they just say that their character finds a large freezer.
However, someone needs to run all of the characters encountered who aren't in the character pool (ie. the more minor NPCs), as well as the story's killer, and that person is the "killer". The killer rotates with each scene, so no one is stuck with the role the whole time.
Combat [ edit ]
Since this is a horror game, there is no traditional combat. Instead, in every scene after the introductory ones, the killer targets one or more characters for death, and then the two players play a mini-game involving a standard deck of playing cards to determine who survives.
Killing With Cards
When the killer begins his murdering spree every player in that scene gets to draw a single card, plus one extra card for each relationship the character has. Then, the killer draws and plays a card; every character they targeted must play a card that beats that card, or else the killer gets to describe exactly how the character dies.
If no one died the killer then gets to pick new target(s), with the limit that they can't target the same single person twice in a row, and then the process repeats. This goes on until one or more characters die, and the killer gets to keep those characters' cards.
Relationships and Killing
In addition to providing extra cards, relationships allow players to play cards to help or hurt characters they have relationships with. Friends can play cards to help each other, rivals can play cards to help the killer, and characters who are screwing each other can do either.
Whenever a character survives a scene they get a permanent "survivor point" added to their index card. In future killing sessions the player playing that character can discard and redraw as many cards as they have survivor points.
This series of killing scenes repeats until only one character is left surviving. At that point the player playing them and the player playing the killer compare the number of cards they have (from characters they killed while playing the killer), and whoever has the most gets to decide how the story ends, and whether the "final girl" and/or the killer survive.
Other players are also encouraged to provide their own "alternate endings" to the story as well.
But is it Any Good? [ edit ]
Aggregated Review Scores
|Source||Average Score||# of Reviews||As Of|
|Drive Thru RPG||4.6 / 5||43||3/20/2022|
|RPG Geek||7.64 / 10||11||3/20/2022|
The Final Girl comes from a tiny independent publisher, Gas Mask Games, which unfortunately no longer seems to be in business (or at least have a website). However, the game is still available on Drive Thru RPG, and copies of it can sometimes be found on sites like Noble Knight.
Despite it's small publisher however the game managed to get eleven reviews on RPG Geek. That site (which is notoriously the most critical) gave it an average of 7.64/10. All of the actual text reviews were positive however, with one saying "TFG is designed to produce a single-session horror movie game that feels like a slasher flick ... it's excellent".
The game also got a lot more (forty-three) reviews on Drive Thru RPG, where only customers are able to leave reviews, and on that site it earned an even higher 4.6/5. There one reviewer declared "This should be a must own game for almost everybody!", and even the most critical review (a 4/5) wrote "We hat fun testing it, altough I feeld like there are more innovativ GM-less games out there."
In short, while there may in fact be more innovative GM-less games out there, if you're looking for a game made for true lovers of the horror genre, which can be played in only a few hours with hardcore gamers, complete newcomers, or a mix, The Final Girl will likely be a "killer" game for you.