Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dead Reign vs. All Flesh Must Be Eaten

I may have mentioned this, but my wife's birthday is approaching. She has asked me to run a zombie game for her and some of our friends. I have two zombie roleplaying games on my shelf: Dead Reign from Palladium (which is actually my wife's book), and All Flesh Must Be Eaten from Eden Studios.

I have run AFMBE a handful of times over the years, always as one-shots, and it has never failed to be a good time. However, my wife doesn't particularly enjoy learning systems she is not familiar with, and since it's a one shot, I'd like to keep things as simple as possible. To that end, I was considering using Dead Reign, which I have not run before. (My wife didn't buy it for the rules, by the by- she bought it because she loves all things zombie.) Palladium's rule system is a little closer to what this particular group of gamers is used to: d20 to attack (roll high), d20 saving throws (roll high), ability scores in the 3-18 range that are very similar to D&D stats. We have hit points, level, even alignment. I think it is more similar to what they know. Dead Reign also has several varieties of fully statted zombies, as opposed to the AFMBE "Zombie Buffet" creation rules.

...ah, but then there's the skill system. JB, if you are reading this, I know you're nodding your head in assent.

If I had more time to do this and less on my plate (I've also got work stuff coming up for the coming school year), I'd probably just use Fudge or Savage Worlds and be done with it. However, I like that these games have zombies all statted up and ready to go. I think if I were going to run a campaign, I'd probably go with AFMBE.


  1. I love zombie movies and zombie video games (well, Res evil up till 4 anyway). But I never considered Tabletop. Hmmmm...

  2. I cannot recommend AFMBE strongly enough.
    Dead Reign could do with the same treatment of most other Palladium games: get rid of SDC for characters and trim down (or out) the goddamn library list of skills you have to wade through.

    The amount of time it's taking me to make the characters is causing me to seriously consider Fudge anyway.

  3. I've always admired AFMBE for the ease and speed of character creation and the simple elegance of the game system. I also like the Palladium system, but that's because I know how to "game" the system to make the character I want. If I'm going to be playing a campaign, I like the munchkin-y goodness of the Palladium system for many genres.

    However, having played a short Dead Reign campaign, I can say with confidence that I would never personally use the Palladium system in general or Dead Reign specifically to run a zombie game - especially not a one-shot. The complexity of the character creation system makes it useless for one-shots, IMO, and the characters - even without SDC - are far too strong to allow the tension of a good zombie survival scenario to be properly conveyed.

    Instead of worrying about building your own AFMBE zombies, why not just use the stats of select zombies from the sample zombie worlds at the back of the AFMBE book? You can easily model Romero zombies (from the "Rise of the Walking Dead" world), O'Bannon zombies (from the "After the Bomb" world), and many more. Just a thought...

  4. I don't think any Palladium games are about tension. I think they are universally about asssssss-kickin'.

  5. As the author of the Palladium Patch that kicked around a few years back, there are 2 rule mods I would make:
    1) Keep WPs and HtH skills, drop all others as written. Instead, let players spend PC skill slots to buy abilities. One slot gets you either an applicable attribute x 1% in a skill, OR + 1 to an attribute, OR + 1 to ONE combat roll. For instance, a Climbing skill that gives either PS or PE (players choice) x 3% in a skill plus + 1 to PE would cost 4 slots.

    2) Use AR as damage resisitence. PCs start with AR 4 + PE bonus. Any damge up to the AR comes out of SDC, excess straight from HP. Let players use skill slots to buy bonuses to AR and it works like a charm.

    Good gaming!

  6. I'd be very interested in seeing this patch. Do you have a link, or could you send me the file or something?

  7. Wow...I have never heard of Dead Reign. Ever. I'll have to look for this one.

  8. It's pretty new... came out in 2008. It has two supplements out, but I have neither of them.