One of the big tropes of survival horror involves resource management. You only have 18 bullets so you'd better make it count! In the weeks leading up to the big adventure, I ensured the player characters were quite aware that what they brought would be all they had. So they built guns, sourced ammunition illegally, bought boxes of ammunition where they had the right permits, created body armour (Lore of Forge) though not enough, and decided on what they were bringing.
Since the other issue of survival horror is realising how handy it'd be if you'd brought that one thing (they had three gas masks, only brought one, and it came up), it's important to be firm that they only have what they've stated they were bringing.
To reinforce the importance of this, I actually went to the admittedly anal and perfectionistic lengths of creating item cards and laying it all out in front of them. They could see at a glance what they had on them and what they could use. When they ask me if they might have something, I ask them to check what they had in front of them. Some of them even brought food (which came in handy) and water (which certainly did).
While I don't suggest that everyone turn their player's inventories into item cards (it does take a lot of room and isn't always worth the time investment), I do suggest creating weapon cards (with the rules on them if need be), armor and flashlights that might be traded between player characters. It saves on having to erase it from your own sheet and transfer it onto someone else's.
Ammunition clips or shell pouch cards are even more handy! I printed off some little details on the ammunition on one side, and ammunition silhouettes on the others. I used a lead to shade in how many bullets they had (up to 12 bullets per ammo card). They erased the bullets from the weapon card as they used them, then erased them from the ammo card as they reloaded the gun. Yes, it sounds rather clunky but it worked out surprisingly well and smoothly ... which says a lot since my players aren't the note-taking, pedantic types (like me) and yet they found it all pretty easy to do. I'll be keeping the ammo clip cards for later use.
The other Resource Management thing I did was actually check their carrying capacity (25lbs per point in Strength, items were assumed to be 1lb or more and roughly calculated) and give them all little tokens for their willpower and faith (using the little brain and love heart tokens from the Call of Cthulhu board game).
I didn't give them any health tokens because I was going with the Invisible Health rule from Armory: Reloaded and keeping the health level damage a secret and only telling them the actual injuries and penalties they were on unless they made a Wits + Medicine check to take a look at it.
Wow, writing that all up makes me really surprised that the players took to it so readily! It sounds like it's a lot of effort but it actually worked out very easily. Passing Faith and Willpower tokens back and forth is way easier than damaging your sheet with an eraser and a pencil.
At any rate, they enjoyed it and it really brought out that Survival Horror vibe.
Anyone else done something similar? How'd it go? Anyone planning to do it in future?
Oh, also, you can find a list of the other articles in this series here.