Re: System and other advice for a Survivor campaign
You know... One of the things I'd do with first episode is to have your players actually vote someone off the island in secret near the end of the session. Have a box in another room, have them drop slips into the box one at a time and, when they're done, go grab the box and reveal who got booted.
But... Have it already decided. Fix the ballot. Keep votes in your pocket or something and slip them in instead of the actual votes. You can start off with someone obviously tampering with the results (or... not, depending on your players) and then have shit hit the fan. Now, when things start going wrong you have the tension of the person who was "voted off" maybe taking their revenge on the show. With a serial killer type scenario it might work pretty well. Like... the person is voted off, they go to pack their things while the cast and crew start shutting things down for the night and in the morning the boat's pilot is found dead and/or the boat sinking/destroyed. You could pull on all sorts of twists here. Maybe it's the voted off cast member. Maybe it's a crew member with an axe to grind. Maybe the area isn't as remote as they thought.
If you can kind of create a division between your players and clue the others in on it that'll help too. Like two members stumble across some footage of the other two making plans against them or something.
The tension is all in the story-telling. Don't force-feed it with mechanics but put the emphasis on survival. Do they have enough resources to keep everyone safe until help arrives? Do they have enough food and clean water? If a rift forms how will those individuals/groups act when push comes to shove? Like a situation where things are going from bad to worse and the group finds a loaded firearm of some kind. It'd be locked, but what if another player found the key...?
This sort of thing would work with any system. If you're using Savage Worlds I'd start hitting the characters with Fatigue levels to push the severity of the situations they're in. You could use the madness stuff as well but that's all up to whether or not you want a mechanic for pushing people over the edge.
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"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." -- Frederick Douglass