Review: Zombieslayers

Posted: 6 February 2013 in Reviews
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Here’s the last of my Dungeonslayers reviews, at least for now… Zombieslayers is a free-to-download, 10 page supplement for Dungeonslayers by Daniel Vallee, which lets you use the Dungeonslayers core rules for modern survival horror roleplaying, specifically, gaming the Zombie Apocalypse. You can’t expect me to resist that.

Of the 10 pages, three are covers and whatnot, leaving 7 pages for actual rules.

Character creation follows Dungeonslayers, except that (a) all PCs are human, and (b) the core classes are changed to Brawlers, Scroungers and Tinkers, which except as otherwise noted behave like Fighters, Scouts (read "thief" or "rogue" depending on which edition of D&D you grew up with), and Spellcasters respectively, (c) there are no spells, and (d) instead of money, you start with a number of "scavenging rolls", which can be traded for items on the supplies tables – just another form of gear purchase, really, except it underscores that money no longer has a value. You can choose your items (which generally uses more than one roll per item) or roll dice to see what you get.

There are a dozen new talents such as Nurse, Machinist and Virus Resistant, intended to tune the rules for a more modern setting. Frankly, though, once the power fails, you’re back in the stone age, so mediaeval talents are just fine for the most part. (To refresh your memories, modern power grids require constant attention; once people start to ignore them, say because zombies are sucking their brains out through their ears, the grid will start to fail within 90 minutes, the backup generators are out of diesel fuel within a week, and diesel fuel itself is pretty much unusable after a year. Are you scared yet?)

Rules mechanics are limited to adding half-a-dozen new standard checks, and the attributes and abilities one rolls against to succeed at them.

The supplies tables are also intended to be used when scavenging in the ruins, and take up a goodly percentage of the supplement. Speaking of scavenging, Dungeonslayers doesn’t really bother keeping track of supplies; Zombieslayers adds some simple rules for what you need (food, fuel, etc) and what happens to you when you haven’t got it. There’s also a short section on using supplies and tools to fortify your refuge against the zombies chewing on the doors, and another on healing – which uses First Aid rolls and supplies. You’re going to spend a lot of time scavenging in this game.

We’re up to page 7 by now, and the Game Mastering section. Here we find rules for making zombies your own; there’s a standard zombie template, which you then customise by adding one or more features, which adjust the basic 49 experience a dead zombie is worth to you. With a dozen hindrances and a dozen improvements, each of which has several levels, you can build pretty much any zombie. Some examples:

  • 28 Days Later zombie: Basic template plus Fast and Infectious Bite.
  • All Things Zombie zed: Basic template plus Head Kill, Plodding and Infectious Bite.
  • Left4Dead Tank: Basic template plus Ridiculously Strong and Super Zed.
  • Zombieland or The Walking Dead zombie: Basic template plus Easily Fooled, Plodding and Infectious Bite. (The two settings are wildly different, but the zombies are much alike.)

CONCLUSIONS

I love the scavenging tables and the zombie customisation rules. I’m not sure why anyone would want to play a Tinker, as they’re basically spellcasters with no spells, but maybe if I had played Dungeonslayers (rather than just read through it) I’d get it.

I rather like Zombieslayers, and might appropriate the supply tables and zed customisation for my All Things Zombie games, at least on a trial basis. On that basis – "I’ll cannibalise it and add it into an existing campaign" – it gets…

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5.

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