Nov 3, 2013

The Halloween Tradition Continues

As I have mentioned several times on this site, ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE was birthed one Halloween many, many years ago as a diversionary adventure run for the benefit of my D&D-playing friends. Since then, it's become a yearly tradition to play "that zombie game" on or around Halloween every year. 2013 was no different, and myself and three others gathered in a darkly-lit living room, dice clutched in our sweaty hands as we faced off against the undead hordes.

This year I was able to introduce the newest revision of the rules to my colleagues, which had a number of significant changes since the last time we played. Most significant were the alterations to the die rolls; for examples, in previous games, a successful "To-Hit" was indicated by a 1-3 (now it's 4-6). This change was made to standardize and simplify the rules for new players but for our group, used to the old way, it added a bit of confusion. Less popular was the new Slot-based Inventory system. Prior versions of ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE didn't have any defined rules for inventory and this new addition was seen as a cumbersome and unnecessary abstraction. For experienced players more interested in having a fun bit of zombie-slaying, I agree but stand behind the Inventory rules as necessary to prevent the system from being gamed by roll-players, munchkins and rules-lawyers.

Nonetheless, the general attitude was favorable towards the evolution of the game; most of the issues were more a resistance to change than disagreement with the direction I was taking the game. Since this is the group that helped invent ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE, their consent was very welcome.

The adventure was itself unique; I dubbed it "Tales From Zombiepocalypse" and in fact it consisted of four separate adventures. Essentially, I began the group in one location but - as their characters inevitably met a gruesome fate - did not allow replacements to take up the slack. Rather, when the last party member finally died, an entirely new adventure began. This allowed me to showcase many of the changes to the rules.

We began in a military base, months after the outbreak; it was soon overrun by a herd of mutated undead, leaving the defenders broken by the immense onslaught. The next Tale took us back in time to when the zombies first began appearing; set in a major metropolis, the characters fled through street and subway tunnels as ever-increasing numbers of undead hunted them. Once those characters bit it, a new group wandered through small-town America a few weeks after the outbreak; you can read a (heavily edited) version of part of their adventure here. Finally, we concluded with our final heroes trapped on an oil-platform a year after the outbreak; once a safe haven, it turned into a deadly trap after another survivor unexpectedly Turned.

Although none of the adventures allowed for much role-playing, we all had fun and agreed that - while simplistic and short - it was an interesting experiment. The main complaint was that there was too much downtime for some players between when they died in one adventure and when they finally re-spawned in the next (I tried to alleviate this by allowing them to run any NPCs or zombies we came across) We all loved the city-adventure the most (largely because it was based on our own home town, New York), with the first and last adventures being the least popular (the former because as a general rule our group is not fond of zombies other than the shambling Romero ghouls, the latter because it was too much a deadly deathtrap).

In the end, our session was a definite success and I expect this tradition of slaying zombies to continue for years to come.

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