Down Among the Dead Men

I’m taking a break from Beasts & Barbarians and the Arioniad, and returning for a while to All Things Zombie – the first THW game I bought, and in many ways still my favourite. However, I want to stay current with Savage Worlds as well, so I’m running both a Star under ATZ and a PC under Savage Worlds in parallel. The SW PC will use ATZ as a GM emulator.

ATZ: MIKE BLACKMAN

Creating an ATZ avatar is very straightforward; you choose the Rep, decide whether he’s better with people (Pep) or things (Sav), roll dice to determine one attribute (in my case Poser), and select another (in this case, Rage).

My ATZ Star is called Mike Blackman, because when ATZ: FFO was the guest game we used the pawns from the Zombies!!! boardgame as our figures, and I had the black one. He’s a Rep 3 Citizen, with Pep 2, Sav 1, Poser (diced at random), Rage (chosen by player).

My experience to date suggests the optimum tactical group size for ATZ is three people, so I now recruit two grunts. As per p. 20, I can only recruit Rep 3 Citizens at this point, and rolling on the Citizen tables on p. 74 I get Citizen 12 on the 1-3 table, and Citizen 8 on the 4-6 table. They make most sense to me as Mike’s son (whom I shall call James) and wife (Jenny) respectively, so Mike is in the Mature age bracket himself.

As well as the shotgun (at least, I assume SP is a typo for SG) and pistol that the Grunts have, Mike has 7 items (2 x Rep +1 per Grunt not recruited); I select a shotgun, a crowbar, a knife, a backpack, a sedan and 2 food units.

SW: DON SAVAGE

Don Savage is the SW PC; he begins as the Leader Archetype from SWD p. 18, and I select Code of Honour, Loyalty and Vengeful as his Hindrances – the first two to fit the character concept, and the last to generate interesting scenarios later. I use the three spare skill points to give him d4 in Driving, Healing and Stealth; the first one because it’s hard to imagine a modern Western adult without it, and the others because I think they will be useful. As for gear, he starts with $500 which I use to buy a kevlar vest, a shotgun, a crowbar, and a backpack; with Str d4, that’s as much as he can carry without penalties, so he has $40 left over which won’t be much use. The skills and edges suggest to me that Don is a military man, and the low Str suggests he is recovering from wounds.

ATZ AS A GM EMULATOR

After some experimentation and thought, I now have a set of rulings that will let me use All Things Zombie as a GM emulator for Savage Worlds; rather than list them all in this post I’ll point them out as I go along in encounter reports, which I think will be both clearer and more interesting. However, a few highlights:

SW zombies can run, and shoot. If they can see a human target, they will run towards it, and make a wild attack in melee if they can; and during days 1-20 I’ll roll to see what they were before they turned – if their former incarnation was armed, they can shoot, relying on muscle memory; after that they run out of ammo and drop their weapons. Anyone who ends a combat round Wounded by a zombie counts as Incapacitated and Bleeding Out; if Bleeding Out results in death, on the following turn the character rises as a zombie.

Update : Playtests "off camera" have shown this version of the zed virus is too harsh, so I’m now using the Infection monstrous ability – anyone Shaken or Wounded by a zombie must make a Vigour roll to avoid infection, failure means they turn into a zombie after 1d6 turns.

For unopposed trait rolls (like healing someone or picking a lock), failure counts as pass 0d6, success as pass 1d6, and a raise as pass 2d6. For opposed trait rolls (which replace things like Meet & Greet rolls), failure counts as pass fewer d6, success as pass the same number of d6, and a raise as pass more d6.

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4 thoughts on “Down Among the Dead Men

  1. ATZ does a decent job of handling the Campaign bits and Zombie movement. I have used it for years to run skirmish style zombie games with Savage Worlds. We often use the archetypes from All Flesh Must Be Eaten for our characters. I do wish more products like the ATZ cards had been released. We love using the deck for our games.

    As for emulators we either decide amongst ourselves (usually) or use the Mythic emulator if we are indecisive.

    • Yes, that’s exactly what I’m aiming for – the campaign and zombie/NPC interactions and movement from ATZ, the combat and characters from SWD.

      I hadn’t thought of All Flesh Must Be Eaten for archetypes, I generally use the ones from SWD; maybe I’ll try that at some point. Thanks for the idea about Mythic too; I’ve used it before but hadn’t thought of using it with ATZ.

  2. A REP 3 Poser? Good luck with that Andy! Don’t get too attached to Mike, I don’t think he’ll be with us for long. :-)

    • Actually, it’s the Rep 3 that’s the problem. The disadvantage for Poser is “Will roll only 1d6 when taking the Received Fire and Man Down Tests.” However, both those tests are labelled “Star may choose to pass 2d6, 1d6 or 0d6,” so I think he dodged the bullet there. Greedy or Slow would be worse.

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