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Sunday, 26 September 2010
ATZ Supplement - I, Zombie
I'll take a closer look at what's inside, along with my views. Most of the new rule changes are logical and worth adopting. The new Fast Move rules (roll 2d6 and add the result (limited to up to twice your Rep) to your Move value) are fine but neglect to mention those with the Athlete or Slow Attributes. I'd recommend rolling 1d6 for those who are Slow (like Vampifan) and 3d6 for those who are Athletes. The Rep limit would still apply, of course.
The first of the new rules is Phobias and Quirks. They provide a bit more flavour and personality to your Stars and Grunts and like all of the stuff presented here are entirely optional. To gain a Phobia or Quirk you roll 2d6 at character creation or whenever you gain a new Rep and add your Rep score to the total. Easy enough. But look closely at the table on p.8 and to get the best result you'd have to roll double 6 and be Rep:12! Rep:12? WTF? I know Ed said there is no limit to how high your Rep can go but I do think the numbers on this table need revising! I may use these rules but only if the relevant table is amended.
The only advantage of using the new Fame and Fortune Points rules is to make it easier to get a Rep increase. If you do use them you just might get that Rep:12 character! I don't think I'll be using them.
The new rules that deal with buildings are definitely welcome and I like them a lot. For me though, the floorplans you are meant to draw to represent a building's interior are unnecessary, given the amount of interior detail I include in my model buildings. Whilst I won't be using the floorplans, I will be using the rules. For those of you using the likes of model railway buildings, these will be a godsend. Ed helpfully provides numerous examples of building floorplans.
The rules for bicycles, boats and swimming probably won't get much use in my campaign but I do like the new rules for lack of sleep. Unless your heroes have a permanent place to spend the night, lack of sleep will be a constant threat.
The Lazarus Project rules are probably what most of us zombie fans have been waiting for. The goverment began working on ways to reverse the zombie outbreak from the start of the apocalypse. On Day 13, they made their first breakthrough. Those infected who were exposed to the antidote seemingly made a full recovery within 24 hours. Production of the Lazarus Virus went into overdrive and by Day 21 the government were ready to distribute the antidote by spraying all of the major cities from the air. On Day 22 the planes took off and discharged their payload. It was a complete and utter failure that only worsened the crisis. Instead of curing folk, it created two new types of zombie - Ragers and Smarties.
Ragers are fast and deadly in melee. They do not feed on victims but instead rip them apart. They will attack humans or zombies but not other Ragers. The really bad news about Ragers is that if you defeat one in melee combat you may still end up being infected and turning into a Rager. Nasty!
Smarties are by definition cleverer than normal zombies. They can use firearms and melee weapons but are notoriously bad shots. Regardless of modifiers they only ever hit if you roll a 6 on a d6 followed by a roll of 1,2 or 3. It works the same as Rep:3 humans who are Pitiful Shots. It is possible to play a smart zombie as one of your Grunts but I doubt if non-party members would see the wisdom in fighting alongside a zombie! Even so, smarties can be a serious threat to a party.
Next up, we are introduced to the Big Ass Worms. These creatures are the ultimate predators with a Rep of 6 and 9d6 to use in melee. It is almost impossible to hurt them because of their incredibly tough skin. I will not be using them in my campaign as they do not fit in with my vision of my campaign world.
Finally, in this section are the rules for Psykers and psionics. These seem to be a straight copy from the rules in the 5150 sci-fi game and some will say they should have stayed there. Not me! I must admit that when I think of psionics, I think of sci-fi games but I can see the merit of including them in ATZ. It is probable that I will include Psykers in my campaign at some point in the future. That is something that will more likely happen later down the line than sooner.
The second half of the book is devoted to running a campaign and these new rules are the best reason for buying this supplement. I can't stress enough how good they are. Adding PEFs to ATZ is an inspired move. These will certainly be used in my campaign.
If you do decide to set your campaign in the setting provided be aware of some important facts. First, the campaign is set three years after the zombie outbreak. Secondly, the zombies won! The human population is a mere fraction of its number prior to the outbreak.Thirdly, humanity lives a day to day existence with survival being the major priority for most people. Lake Havasu City offers a place of refuge but it is not all sweetness and light within. It is run by a cruel and despotic governor, with his private police force who are little more than thugs in armour who carry lots of guns. Entertainment is provided by Governor Newness in the form of zombie racing and pit fights between humans and either zombies, ragers or other humans.
Of course, you don't have to use the setting provided, you can design your own. The thing is, Lake Havasu City provides you with a template to design your own setting and there are rules aplenty to accomodate most folk's vision of the future. I think it highly unlikely that I'll be using the Lake Havasu setting in my own campaign. It'll be interesting to see to see just where Team Vampifan are in three years after the outbreak, assuming they are still alive!
I'll close this review with a few words from Ed Teixeira, the book's author. "What started out as a Zombie game has evolved into a post-apocalyptic game with Zombies in it. And after playing I, Zombie you'll realise there is a difference. The ATZ world will give you hours of fun at any level you want. Remember, it's your game so use as much or as little of the rules as you feel like. And yes, there will be more ATZ scenarios to come in the near future."
Well, hooray for that. I had high hopes for I, Zombies and I must say, I am not disappointed. This supplement was everything I was hoping for and more. Go buy it now, if you haven't already! It costs $25 for the book version or $20 for the PDF version from the THW website. Those who buy the book version (like I did) will get a free copy of the PDF version.
One final comment before I leave - did you see the results of the Readers Poll on the TMP Forum? ATZ:BDTZ won first place in the Best Sci-Fi Rulebook or Codex for 2009. Who said zombie gaming was a flash in the pan and dying? Many congratulations to Ed for a very worthy winner. I just look at all the new blogs devoted to this game that have sprung up this year and realise that ATZ might be undead but it certainly isn't dead! Long may it continue!