Posted on February 4, 2011 by spikexan
Available at RPGNow.com
You can go many ways with a zombie. Desperate horror is just as likely as Romantic comedy anymore. They are seriously everywhere, which is probably why they are such a threat.
I’m not going to overanalyze them. People much smarter than me have already done that. What I will do is say I ran a super hero zombie one-shot for some friends once and enjoyed the Hell out of it. I also played a convention game where zombies were the main attraction (liked that too). For the most part (and this isn’t fair really), zombie games have a one-shot feel to them. Some games like Zombie Run (an excellent Savage Worlds adventure) and the zillion plus supplements for All Flesh Must Be Eaten suggest ways to make longer campaigns, but I always felt like zombie games were filler (like a blockbuster summer flick) than a campaign (like Walking Dead). I’m hardheaded and wrong, which this book quickly points out.
The artwork in the book all comes from Tony Guaraldi-Brown and this consistency gives it some bite. Overall, I like the artwork and layout. It has a feel similar to the Nightbane artwork. Some, like the piece on page 13, are a little garbled, but still works to capture the feel for this book. I don’t mind art leaving things to the imagination as long as it doesn’t look shoddy. Mostly, the pieces are good, not great. One last mention . . . zombie baby scares me.
The book is broken up into five chapter, an appendix, and a scenario. Each chapter fixates on an aspect of the zombie game and works to detail it. The appendix offers stats on everything from zombie animals to zombie zookeepers (use the cop template and I’m right). The final “chapter” is an American Civil War scenario with zombies! You think you’re cocky with a semi-automatic against the undead masses? How would you do with single shots or six-shooters?
Chapter One (Zombie Origins) is straightforward ideas on various ways to bring zombies into your campaign. Did God do it? Space rocks? The military machine? All of the classics are here. Some are well-traveled ground while others prove fresh. With the subject matter, it’s hard to be totally original. Rohan shows a knowledgeable overview of the most likely candidates for a zombie outbreak them and gives them adequate face time. He knows this is familiar, which (I assume) is why he devotes only six pages to it.
Chapter Two (Zombification) details how the process is spread, possible resistance to it, and the changes to characters transformed by the process. The coolest thing about this chapter are all the options you have with creating zombies. Want a zombie to retain their intelligence and skills? You can do that. How fast do you want that bite to infect? Days? Seconds? There are rules for that too. The various graphs have a neat look to them as well (wrinkled paper). It doesn’t get in the way of the read and is well-organized.
Chapter Three (Survival) lays out how to make it in a world gone zombie. Sanity rules, the pros and cons of staying in groups, and more is found in this brief chapter (8 pages). I expected to find something about weapons here, but . . .
Chapter Four (Fighting Zombies) investigates every weapon picked up to kill a zombie, no matter how odd. From letter openers to Napalm, readers will find way to utilize these weapons for Savage Worlds. By the way, be careful with the explosives . . . Savage Worlds can be unforgiving. What you won’t find detailed much are guns. This is okay though, since the corebook (which you will need to get the most out of this book) handles those rules already. Standard weapons aren’t really in this book. It’s more about the special ones you either pick up off the street or at an abandoned military complex.
Chapter Five (Scenarios) is my favorite chapter. There are numerous scenarios established here with various traits to define how many players should play, what kinds of rewards are available, and how likely it is that all the players will die. They bounce all over the place and throughout time. Renaissance adventures are detailed next to wartime ones. These mostly support my one-shot bias towards the genre, but some have long-term usage.
I’ve already detailed what I need to about the Appendix, so let me jump to the adventure at the book’s end. There is a brief Civil War primer, weapons list for weapon from that era, setting descriptions, and much more. Although it’s the most fleshed-out scenario, it really isn’t too long-term in design either.
Overall, this is a useful supplement for fans of the genre and Savage Worlds. It has a great deal of material to mine if not use whole cloth. Accessible and fun, it can be useful in a gaming pinch when you need that excellent convention game (especially a late night one when the attendees start resembling the subject material). My scores for Zombacalpyse are:
Artwork/Layout: Four out of Five dice (the layout knocks it up a point)
Writing: Four out of Five dice (solid)
Overall: Four out of Five dice (could be popular with various groups)
Review by Todd Cash