Nonetheless, there is one initial bit of preparation that the GM is recommended to undertake, and that is to give a bit of thought as to where and when the adventure starts. Does the game begin just as the zombies start to emerge, or years after, when civilization has all but crumbled? What sort of zombies are the players going to face: Romero-style ghouls or the fast-moving runners of Boyle and Garland? Who are the player characters and why are they together at the start of the game? These basic concepts will set the mood and style of your game. As GM, you need not go into excessive detail; the adventure concept can be as simple as "characters are co-workers stuck in the office when the (slow) zombies attack".
In order to assist novice GameMasters in starting a new adventure, a random adventure generator is provided below. This can be used to set the stage for the adventure. These tables provide a quick way to create a setting (time and location), opponents (type of zombie), and some starting details about the players (who they are, what equipment they might have, and any goals. More experienced GMs may find the tables useful to provide quick inspiration for a new adventure. Once you have set the scene for the players, simply add zombies and watch the fun begin.
The tables below are divided into six sections, each one dedicated to a specific interrogative: When, Where, What, Who, How and Why. Roll a die for each section. Some sections may require additional die rolls to further flesh out the details. A selection of example adventure starts - with the die rolls that were used to generate them - are provided after the tables.
Defines when the adventure begins in relation to the zombiepocalypse. Adventures that start at the outbreak tend to be easier because there are more survivors - not to mention functioning government - also trying to keep alive.
1-2) Outbreak – The player characters are the some of the first people to encounter the undead plague
3) The First Days – People are aware of the problem but civilization is still struggling to cope
4) First Month – Most of the trappings of civilization are gone, except in isolated pockets
5) First Year – Civilization has essentially collapsed, leaving random survivors wandering the undead wastes
6) Years Later – The few survivors are trying to rebuild
Determines the general location where the players start the game. Roll once to determine the general region (Wilderness, City, etc) and then again on the appropriate sub-table for a more specific area. Wilderness and rural areas tend to have fewer undead, but also lower concentrations of aid and resources. Urban and sub-urban areas have more plentiful resources but significantly higher numbers of zombies.
1) Wilderness – Deep in the woods, or the mountains, or the desert
2-3) Rural – Farms and small towns
1 Small family farm
2 Large industrial farm
3 Small isolated homestead
4 Home in small town
5 Business sector of small town
6 Isolated Business (big warehouse or wholesale store)
4) Suburban – Small to medium towns
2 Public Building (Police Station, Library, School, Hospital, Cemetery or church)
3 Town Center / local store
4 Small business office
5 Industrial park or warehouse
5) Urban – cities of varying sizes
1 Large office building
5-6 Roll on Suburban table
6) Special – Exotic locations or GM's choice
1 Reroll “Where”
2 On the road (reroll twice, the players are on the road somewhere between those two locations)
3 On the water (boat, submarine, oil platform, etc)
4 Military or government base, or a prison
5 On a plane
6 Outer Space or somewhere exotic
This category is used to determine the sort of zombies the players will be facing off against. It merely specifies the most common type of undead and does not preclude the use of other forms. The type of zombie greatly influences the style of gameplay; for instance, against runner zombies, most players will tend towards a more stealth based approach because escaping them is so difficult.
1-3) Shamblers - Slow lumbering monsters clawing their way out of the ground
4-5) Runners - A plague of fast moving angry ghouls
6) Grotesques- Strange mix of mutated monsters (pus-zombies, titan-zombies)
Determines the relationship of the starting player characters; who are they and why they are together at the start of the adventure.
1) Family and Neighbors – Players lived together or nearby
2-3) Friends and Colleagues – Knew each other beforehand
4) Strangers – Just met each other
5) Survivors – Strangers beforehand, but have worked together to survive
6) Mission – Have been assigned a common mission, which may or may not still be in progrss
Determines the amount and quality of equipment the players have access to at the start of the game.
1-2) Scavenged – The characters start with nothing and only will have what they can find or steal during the adventure
3) On Hand – The characters have a small selection of equipment on hand
4) Base – The characters start with little or no equipment, but know of a nearby location where they can get more
5) Allies – The characters start with little or no equipment, but know of an ally - or several allies - who will be willing to provide them with more along the way
6) Mission – GM assigns equipment specific to a mission (which may or may not be in progress anymore)
This category is used to provide a starting incentive for the characters at the beginning of the adventure. Note that it is not necessary for the players to follow up on this goal, and replacement characters will likely not have the same goals. This section is merely to provide an initial impetus for the characters.
1) Survive! – The characters are just trying to keep going until tomorrow
2) Escape! – The characters are just looking for a way out of town, hoping to find someplace safe
3) Find! – The characters are looking for somebody specific (for instance, another family member or friend)
4) Fortify! – Looking beyond simply surviving, the characters are searching for a safe place to hole up or a rumored safe zone.
5) Gather! – The characters seek other people or specific equipment to aid in long-term survival or to help rebuild civilization
6) Mission! – Players have been assigned a common mission (for example, to find a cure to the zombie plague)
Example Adventure Starts
The following are a selection of adventure starts using the random generator and an interpretation of what those numbers might mean.
When:2 (Outbreak) Where: 4/5 (Suburban / Industrial Park) What: 6 (Grotesques) Who: 5 (Survivors) How: 2 (Scavenge) Why: 2 (Escape)
It's the outbreak of a swarm of strange mutated undead-like monsters. The players meet in an industrial park having fled from the monsters and join together rather than face the danger alone again. Surrounded by the zombies, they hope to find a way out of the factory and get to (a hoped for safety) using whatever weapons and tools they find.
When: 5 (First Year) Where: 5/1 (Urban / Office Building) What: 3 (Shamblers) Who: 3 (Friends) How: 5 (Allies) Why: 3 (Find)
A year after the zombies burst from the ground, the players – a small band of friends from “before” - find themselves caught in a high-rise office building while looking for a lost colleague. Poorly equipped, they know if they can get to a nearby outpost they can get re-equiped by allies... assuming they survive long enough.
When: 1 (Outbreak ) Where: 3/4 (Rural / Home) What: 5 (Runners) Who: 2 (Friends) How: 3 (On-hand) Why: 2 (Survive)
A bunch of friends are hanging out together at one of their homes in a small rural town when they see a horde of rage-fueled zombies marauding down the street. Barricading themselves in as best they can, the group can only hope to survive with the few tools and weapons they happen to have on hand (farm implements and a rusty shotgun).
During the adventure, there might sometimes be a lull when the GM is not sure what to throw at the players next. Below is a sample table of random encounters which can be used to keep the players on their toes.
1-2 Zombies: Aware of the characters and heading towards them
3-4 Zombies: Unaware of characters
5 Survivors: May be hostile or helpful
6: Environmental Effect
1 Nearby Explosion or other loud noise that may attract the undead
2 Thunder or lightning flash which may attract undead and highlight the player's position
3 Nearby crash (automobile, plane, building collapse, etc)
4 Animals running by
5 Distant Sounds of survivors (car driving by, gunfire, yelling, slamming door, etc)
6 Change of weather (rain, sunshine, fog, dawn/dusk, etc)
ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is still in development. Although playable, the system is not complete. Not all the rules have been written and those that have been are subject to change at any time. And editing for clarity and readability is low priority. Despite being made available to the public on this website, ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is still considered to be in beta form. You have been warned.Notice 2
The Roleplaying Game System currently known as ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is being made available to the public for free for their enjoyment and use. However, the author maintains all rights towards its distribution and development. You are free to view or download the rules and make use of them in any game sessions for the personal use of you and your friends. You are not free to redistribute the rules in any way, nor are you allowed to make any derivative works from it.
In English, this means you are free to download this game and play it amongst friends. You are not allowed to give the rules away to anyone else (redirect them to this website instead), nor can you take these rules and create a derivative work from them.
For more complete licensing information, please see our License page.
(c) 2013 Spalls Hurgenson