March 7

Zombie simulator lets you plan your own apocalypse

It was only a little while ago that I wrote about Zombie infection spread table for Savage Worlds and I gave you a link to an article containing a complex mathematical formula for modelling a zombie outbreak.  Since then Alexi Alemi of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and his colleagues have developed an interactive simulator.

The New Scientist website has a link to the story and also the simulator in question and you can read all about it here:

February 27

Chopping Maul

One of my guilty pleasures is watching B movies and I’ve had a lot of enjoyment from them and I can’t help sometimes thinking if I could use the film as an inspiration for a game.

Recently I got hold of Chopping Mall a film about a mall that employs robots as night time security. This sparked my creative urge and I wondered what a mall patrolled by robots would look like in a zombie apocalypse scenario.

Adventure seeds.

Empty and patrolled.

In this scenario the mall is controlled by a small group of individuals who have overcome the malls defences before being able to reprogram the massive mainframe computer that governs everything.  The security doors are permanently locked and the robots patrol their designated areas but leave the survivors alone while they have their lanyards and identity cards on them.

This means the building is very much abandoned with only the robots moving at night.

The dead walk

The lower level still has the exterior doors locked against intrusion but there are a few dozen zombies wandering the lower level, the upper levels have the robots constantly on patrol; they are able to go down in the lifts when required and the dead leave them along since they aren’t a source of food.  There are still humans living here but they don’t go down to the ground level unless it is an emergency.

Everything is under control

In this scenario the outer doors are left unlocked during the day and the robots bring zombies up to the top floor which has been converted into a lab.  Here experiments are performed on the dead, including implanting them and turning them into cyberzombies and hooked directly into the mainframe.

These cyberzombies are free to patrol the mall and also venture outside as a robotic drone to gather whatever the controller needs from them.


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December 27

RPG Blog Carnival December 2014 – With A Twist


This month the Campaign Mastery blog plays host With A Twist .

Sometimes you need to do something with the characters to keep the players on their toes and throw them an unexpected surprise or two.  I may have perpetrated a bait and switch in my time and this is by far one of my favourite techniques to challenge both the players and myself as I have to be prepared for the results of my actions.  I don’t do this all the time otherwise it would lose its impact and the players would come to expect it so it would no longer be With A Twist but rather mundane and the norm.

Take the classic damsel in distress, what if the damsel is really an evil character who has charmed or cajoled a dragon into taking her hostage and what if she wants to inveigle herself into a position of power?  By having a group of misguided adventurers rescue her she can achieve these goals or some other nefarious plot?

How about an adventure in the fabulous Dream Park or some other similar reality where holographic recreation is an accepted pastime.  Having the characters enter a scenario before having it glitch and replaced with an entirely different adventure can cause some people to relish the challenge but you may have a player cry foul and yell for the exit so that they can play something they want to.

I have mentioned before about doing a similar thing with Twilight 2000 and All Flesh Must Be Eaten and this is still an idea I would like to explore with the right group of people.  Until then I shall keep working away at my current ideas until something comes of it.



October 22

Twilight 2000 Must Be Eaten

Or All Flesh 2000 🙂

While looking for the pdfs of Dark Conspiracy I got from the Bundle of Holding I came across the pdfs of Twilight 2000 I purchased a little while ago.  I bought them with the intention of running it with the group as I thought it may make a change of pace from what we’d being doing beforehand.

Then I remembered what happened the last time we’d try to play it.  Jonny Nexus had bought two copies of the first edition Twilight 2000 reprint volume and cut one up as a players guide for us to use and one copy for himself.  We proceeded through character creation and my PC was abysmal to say the least, he failed to make any of the front line roles and had to settle for being a mechanic in a support function. We ran through the initial encounter and had started on finding out about Operation Reboot when the game took an unexpected turn for the worst.

I managed to identify the person we were looking for as Jonny had given us his photo from the adventure and left his real name on it and not the alias; which didn’t help; things went from bad to worse after that and we lost interest in this game and it was forgotten about; until Jonny moved.

Rather than shifting stuff he no longer wanted he asked us if there was stuff he had that we wanted and after pawing through his stuff I found the Twilight 2000 books, maps of Poland he’d bought, figures and dice.

With all this stuff in hand and the recently found pdfs I wondered about spinning the game slightly.  I was thinking of using the background material I had for Twilight 2000 and combining it with All Flesh Must Be Eaten, so Operation Reboot would have dealt with animating the fallen soldiers and having them fight on.

System vs system.

I propose to use Unisystem to drive things, perhaps with the Band of Zombies book to handle some of the crunchier side.  I’m also trying to decide whether or not to use a fixed amount of cash for the players to acquire their starting gear or a package system found in Spycraft or even to allow them to have an amount of equipment based upon their encumbrance thresholds which is how Twilight 2013 does it.

I may not be able to run this with one of the groups but it never hurts to have an idea or two on the back-burner.

Which gear system do you think I should use?

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August 25

#RPGaDAY Day 25: Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

In some ways I consider myself lucky with the players I have gamed with over the years as there have been very few refusals on what to play and eventually even All Flesh Must Be Eaten got played.

Of the games I have to hand only Battlestar Galactica has yet to be run and enjoyed by my friends. I think the reason is that at the heart of the game it has a military hierarchy which can cause headaches on its own, let alone dealing with a dwindling population count.


July 14

Top 10 RPG list – number 4 All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

Since the first time I saw the ground-breaking Evil Dead movie I have been fascinated with zombies. I was still at school when this banned video nasty appeared and became the hot film to see. I can’t remember how I saw it but I recall it left a very strong impression on my imagination. Years later I got around to seeing the classic film of the genre, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. While Night lacked the gore of Evil Dead it appealed to me more as the group of people trapped in the farmhouse gives you an insight into what it means to be human and how far would you go to survive.

You could say at that point I was hooked and wanted to try some zombie survival horror gaming but a lack of systems and support for the genre made it a tricky prospect. I had tried beforehand using Call of Cthulhu but I was ultimately disappointed by the end results; CoC is a fantastic system but it didn’t handle things the way I wanted. I even tried using Palladium’s Beyond The Supernatural and this did work better but ultimately I was still unfulfilled.

I remember seeing an advert for All Flesh Must Be Eaten (AFMBE) and I tracked down a copy of the first printing. This piqued my interest as this was probably the first specifically themed zombie based RPG. So I ordered a copy from my FLGS and what I saw impressed me.

The main book is a somewhat unusual size, a smaller edition that a standard game-book with all the rules to play  within this one self contained volume; including yet another copy of the Unisystem rules. In my opinion Eden Studios could just publish the Unisystem rule in a single book and release source books that still tie into the setting, something similar to the Savage Worlds books.

Once inside the book presents you  with some background fiction which helps set the tone and a brief history of the genre including a discussion of the zombie.

Character creation is fairly detailed and flexible using a point buy system so you can get the sort of survivor you want to play. These points vary depending on whether your character is a “survivor”, “norm” or “enlightened” plus there are also a few archetypes for you to pick up and play with. To round things off there are also a selection of advantages and disadvantages. As this is classic Unisystem there are a number of skills available for selection including the combat skills but also some unusual ones; like Beautician for example.

The mechanics are solid, Unisystem uses a single D10 for resolution and add the result  to stat + skill and if the total is nine or more you succeed. Depending on the final total, different success levels are obtained and this can help by allowing you to accomplish tasks faster or deal more damage in combat.

There is also the obligatory chapter with a short list of equipment and weapons to purchase or acquire, although basic it does cover the bases needed to get up and running.

Zombie Masters Section.

The real meat of the game can be found in the game masters section along with the zombie creation rules are the various campaign settings you can play with called rather amusingly: Deadworlds.

Anatomy of a zombie.

This chapter details how to create the zombies that will plague the players, from various weak spots to special abilities; you can design them all. Whether you want the run of the mill shambling mindless flesh eater to some of the exotic zombies from popular video games it’s all here.


Each Deadworld has a write-up and explains what sort of undead can be encountered along with their weaknesses and powers. The standard Romero Deadworld is here with one or two unusual ideas about how the infection spreads; if you’re bored with being bitten then you can have the infection spread as an STI.

For my current campaign I had the players select from the characters in the excellent starter adventure Coffee Break Of The Living Dead, as I wanted to get the game up and running with a minimum of fuss.

Since the success of AFMBE several other games have appeared on the market. I would list them here but I haven’t really had a good chance to read through them all yet.


Honourable mention:

War of the Dead.

Billed as a campaign epic for Savage Worlds and published by Daring Entertainment it certainly has a lot of meat on the bones. Each chapter is designed to be an evening entertainment and there are thirteen or so chapters to each of the four volumes in the series you have a years’ worth of play ready to go. It shouldn’t take much work to create the various characters in AFMBE and that’s what I plan to do at some point.


If you have a favourite game then why not leave a comment below and I’ll check it out.

May 3

Roll20 macros

Better automation through macros

So I’ve spent the best part of a day unlearning some bad habits when I set up the Roll20 sheets for my players.  I wish I’d spent some more time getting to grips with the documentation before I set down to create but I realise the campaign was based upon one of my first fumbling attempts at getting Roll20 to behave how I wanted.

Why Macros?

A macro is a statement that tells Roll20 to execute a string and in my case I had defined attack macros, dodge macros and damage macros.  What I forgot is that you can create a central pool of macros for all to use rather than creating them individually in each characters journal.  When I set the journals up I used the former method rather then the latter.  The downside was that as I read the documentation I learned more about how to write an effective macro and I was faced with the realisation that I would have to change it for each character that had a journal entry.

Why Change?

I changed because my players deserved better than me saying “Ah, I haven’t set that macro up yet on that character” and since I had some free time this weekend I did just that.  I scrapped the individual macros and harnessing the power of the language I re-wrote the macros while taking the time to improve them into something more functional.


So I present to you an example macro from the library that my players have access to, a simple ranged combat macro:

/em @{selected|token_name} fires my handgun!
/roll 1d10 +@{selected|Dexterity} + @{selected|Guns (Handgun)}  
+ ?{Additional Attack Bonus/Penalty?|0}
!ammo Pistol ammo

I also created them as token specific which means that you have to have a token highlighted before it will correctly execute.

The first line has the token announce the name of the token and what its doing.  The second line rolls a d10, adds the values of Dexterity and the handgun skill together before popping up a dialogue box asking if there are any other miscellaneous modifiers to add to the roll; say a situational modifier for someone that has been aiming long enough to obtain a bonus or if they are using a scope.

The final line calls a script which decreases the value of an attribute called Pistol ammo by one.  This way the player can see how much ammo they are going through as I used one of Roll20s radial buttons for this task.

There are more things to be done, but I hope that my players will see the benefits of a well written macro.


April 21

Z Day +2

Following on from the last session.

The intrepid survivors make an unscheduled stop at a truck stop so they may repair a damaged tire on the bus.

While there they encounter two members of a motorcycle gang plundering the truck stop. After brief negotiations the group secures needed supplies and proceed to investigate a small shopping mall.  The mall yields some further supplies.

Heading back to the bus the sound of gunfire can be heard in the truck stop. A quick look through the front door yields a grisly sight,  a horde of zombies overwhelms the two gang members.

A decision is made and the party leaves only to return a couple of hours later to secure the truck stop, during which one of the party is bitten.

March 23

New campaign starts

So I’ve just started running a one shot with All Flesh Must Be Eaten; the game of zombie survival horror.

The idea of this was so that we would have something to run when we found ourselves down a player for whatever reason and it seemed ideal as we could handwave the reasons for the missing player; they’re off gathering fuel etc.

So I broke out the pre-generated characters that came in the Zombie Masters screen and quickly added them to the Roll 20 virtual table top software which we’re using for the other campaign.

I know many players prefer to create characters but for a game like this is wasn’t worth it and the supplied characters are pretty interesting in their own right.

Coffee Break of the Living Dead is the supplied adventure and it works very well.  I liked the fact is that it branched giving less of a railroaded outcome and I made a small mistake when I did a little map substitution but nobody seemed to notice so that’s good 🙂 .

We all had a good time despite getting the usual Skype drop-outs but that isn’t a major problem.

I have one more adventure to run before I decide to unleash them on a campaign pack I purchased, a campaign with a very definite time-line and end-game.