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In the previous couple of posts, I wrote about running a Zombie Apocalypse game. One of the arguments made against running a long-term zombie game is that the mindless horde of zombies becomes predictable and boring. One way to change things up is to include a variety of zombies, as I did in my last post. But, as I thought about it, I thought it would be cool to have the virus mutate into a different strain that created vampires. This idea is inspired by the great book by one of my favorite horror writers, Richard Matheson. Of course, I am talking about I Am Legend. In the book, the apocalypse produces vampires instead of zombies. These vampires are some nasty, feral vampires that resemble rat-like creatures more than bats.

At the end of the last “episode” I presented in the game I ran. I thought it would a good cliffhanger for Dr. Frank von Stein to say as he’s leaving the heroes to fight his altered zombie, “Good luck! If you do survive, I’ll give you some advice. Watch out for nightfall and the Sundowners”.  Then he pops back into his armored car and drives away. Then you just let the players slowly figure out that there are vampires as well as zombies to fight.

Here are the stats I created for the Sundowners as well as their king.

Sundowners

I also created stats for Dr. Frank von Stein and the next iteration of altered dead he’s working on.

Dr. Frank von Stein

 

 

The Savage Zombie Apocalypse game I ran while camping was a hit. In the last post I mentioned that I would share some of the products I created for this game.

To begin with, I created 4 pregenerated characters and my roster of zombies to throw at the group:

Zombie Apocalypse Characters

Zombie Stats

The setting I chose was The Walking Dead (TWD). While Rick, Daryl, Michonne and the other characters from TWD T.V. series are in the Southeastern USA fighting zombies, my game was set in the same universe, but in Colorado.

I added an additional Derived Statistic to the characters’ sheets that I got from Rodney Orpheus here:

The Savage Dead

This stat is called Humanity and I like that a person can lose their humanity as they encounter or do horrible things in the game with actual mechanics tied to it. I think this adds tension to scenes where a friend gets infected and the other characters have to struggle with whether or not they will put the person out of their misery with a potential for it to affect them. Sanity can be handled many different ways, but I chose to just stick with the Horror Companion’s method of dealing with it.

Because TWD zombies have certain characteristics associated with them, I customized my basic zombies to match them exactly. However, I did savage some extra zombies because fighting the same old types of zombies becomes predictable. Each zombie lists in their Special Abilities the rules I used for how to handle infections and the chance that a wound could result in being turned into a zombie.

In TWD, everyone is a carrier of the virus and if they are killed, they will become a zombie. Being bit only accelerates the process of turning.

The other zombies I created beside a basic zombie are:

  • Hardy Zombie – similar to the basic zombie but a little faster and tougher.
  • Mutated Zombie (Frenzied) – these are more like the zombies in World War Z.
  • Mutated Zombie (Slimer) – a zombie that has additional effects because of the mutated disease.
  • Mutated Zombie (Chubbo) – a Slimer Zombie that has become “ripe”.
  • Mutated Zombie (Wailer) – basically an annoying zombie that attracts other zombies.
  • Mutated Zombie (Big Boss) – a Frenzied Zombie that happens to be a huge badass.
  • Mutated and Altered Zombie (Frank von Stein’s Monster) – the toughest mother trucker on the block.

 

The Mutated Zombies are taken from the board game Zpocalypse 2 (see previous post) except for Frank von Stein’s Monster. He came out of the WWII A!C/Dust game I’ve been running.

Before I lay out the plot it’s important to point out that I didn’t give the players any details on the world they were playing in. They had to discover for themselves that all zombies need to be taken out with head shots for them to permanently die. They had to discover the nature of the infection. It really wasn’t until they encountered Dr. Frank von Stein that they realized they were in TWD universe.

For this setting I used Gritty Damage. This also actually helps the players because there is a chance they’ll get a head shot without doing a called shot to the head.

The story opened with my In Medias Res Rules for Savage Worlds example of the pawn shop lock picking task. The only information I gave the players was that they were the only four survivors of a tiny town in the Rocky Mountains and they had exhausted their resources in the small town. They had decided to venture into the city of Castle Rock for more supplies.

After they completed the task, I used the Interlude Results Table (found on page 49 of Savage Tales 6 Zombie Run). This is a good player facing method that encourages the players to craft the backstory of how they came together.

After the pawn shop heist the characters were free to do some more exploring. A good tool to facilitate this is the scavenging tables found on page 40 of the Apocalypse Campaign Guide as it is customizable to the size and type of store the group is exploring.

During this part of the game I only threw Basic Zombies at them. After scavenging a couple of stores, I threw a couple of Hardy Zombies into the mix and they began to realize that not all zombies are cookie cutter zombies.

Then I threw a hoard at them. Many of the zombies were held back by fences that had been erected in the city. The great thing about this is that the fences have a Toughness rating and the zombies pressed up against the fences have a chance of knocking down a section of fence and funneling through.

As the action progressed, the characters found themselves in a section of the city surround by fences and a massive hoard of zombies pressing in. By this time I had introduced several Mutant Zombies.

And that’s when Dr. Frank von Stein arrived in an armored car blasting a swathe through the zombies. The vehicle pulled up just outside the fence and he emerged from a hatch in the top. The Doc led the players to believe that the cavalry had arrived. As they talked, he divulged that he had come from the South and the players finally gathered that they were in TWD universe from this conversation. The entire plague was all the machinations of this one, horribly mad scientist. Since starting the plague in the South, he had journeyed through the midwest to Colorado and was now creating new mutated and altered zombies more ruthless than before.

The Doc then backed the armored car up to the fence, opened a gate, and lowered the back hatch. Into the area where the players were trapped was released Frank von Stein’s Monster – the Doc’s newest creation. And the final battle was on!

Feeling particularly inspired by the posse from the Wild Die Podcast and their recent episode on Zombie-themed games, I decided to put together an on-the-go zombie game to take camping this weekend so I could introduce a few new people to Savage Worlds.

Wild Die Podcast Episode 27

To begin with, I chose the following products with which to build my game:

Apocalypse Campaign Guide for Savage Worlds (Daring Entertainment)

Campaign Guide

Savage Tales 6 Zombie Run (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)

Classic Zombie Run

I must mention a couple of other good sources for your zombie game:

The Quiet Year (Avery Alder)

Quiet Year

Wrath of Zombie (Mike Evans)

Wrath of Zombie

I also stopped by my two favorite gaming stores to find some materials. My first stop was by Gamer’s Haven where I found a board game to totally savage.

Zpocalypse 2: Defend the Burbs (Greenbrier Games)

Zpocalypse 2

It has some great tiles, wild dice, and minis to use on the fly. I threw in my zombie-themed deck of cards and dice. The dice bag and tiny Bennies came from Hobby Town.

I also liked that Zpocalypse included Wild Card zombies to use as well. I created their stats and can share those later.

And, I threw in some extra miniatures just in case I want to add more baddies to the mix.

The last thing I wanted to do was make everything compact. I went to Staples and found a nice binder with pockets.

It also has a nice front pocket just right for my Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition and The Horror Companion.

I also threw in the graphic novel Zombies: A Brief History of Decay (Insight Comics) because I like for players to have some visuals for inspiration.

The final on-the-go game is very light and easy to pack for camping!

Today I released a new album of Cthulhu Mythos music called “Grand Guignol”. I have been working on this project for many, many months and it is finally complete! My compositions are a mix of traditional and classical instruments with electronic sounds and techno-style beats. All the compositions are in dark keys but have more upbeat rhythms which merge to create a unique listening experience that are good for creating a melancholic ambience.

IMG_3430

Grand Guignol

In the spirit of immersing oneself within stories, I would like to direct attention to a book, an RPG, and a Podcast that I have found quite interesting as they force you to ponder the nature of creating or discovering greater depths of the stories we humans weave:

The Art of Immersion

Microscope

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff

Dave