Free Role Playing Game Supplement Review: The Waking Dead

The Waking Dead by Jason Vey is a free role playing game supplement published by Eden Studios for use with the All Flesh Must Be Eaten game which runs on Unisystem. This is an introductory game kit that provides everything needed to start a game using the system, but can also be used by more experienced players as well.

The supplement is available as PDF from RPGNow which is the version reviewed. It can also be had in a printed form from sites such as Amazon. The PDF has 34 pages, two of which are the colour front and rear covers, one is the front matter and two are adverts for other products.

The supplement starts with an introduction, giving an overview of the game, which is played by the Cast and run by the Zombie Master (GameMaster in other words) and explaining what dice are needed, the general nature of All Flesh Must Be Eaten games – there is no specific setting – followed by a description of archetypes, which are essentially classes.

The Waking DeadNext are six pages with a single archetype to a page. These each give the archetypes abilities and their personality.

Next up is The Rules. With this being an introductory game kit, there is a summary of all the rules, enough to play the game. How outcomes are determined – which are open ended rolls, both positive and negative; fairly unusual – fear, combat, the effects of injury and how character stats are affected are covered.

Next is The Waking Dead, the actual adventure itself. Each player archetype comes to in a hospital to find that the world has been overrun by zombies, although they do not necessarily discover this immediately With them being in a hospital, no character has any of the equipment and items listed in their archetype; they will have to scrounge for them. Conventions for listing hints for the ZM and showing stats are given in this section.

The adventure itself is in four scenes. The first sees the players trying to get out of the hospital. The hospital isn’t mapped; instead there’s a random table for what they might discover, including zombies.

The second scene sees the players in the overrun city, the third sees them following dreams to a survivors’ enclave and the final scene is a showdown between the survivors and a force which controls the zombies.

There is a page of vehicle stats, two for the primary friendly and enemy NPCs, two pages of tables, one for close combat weapons and one for ranged and one page for recording ammunition usage.

The PDF is bookmarked, but poorly enough that they are effectively useless. The front and rear covers are bookmarked, as is the first page, and that’s it. There isn’t a table of contents either. Navigation is therefore extremely poor.

The text maintains a two column format and no errors were noted. There are a number of black and white illustrations inside the book, including one for each archetype. Most appear to be stock images related to zombies, rather than particular to this adventure.

The adventure itself is very sandbox in nature. Once the players exit the hospital, there is no real limit to what they can do, as long as they follow the dreams (which have an interesting twist). No maps are provided, so at least some may need to be obtained by the ZM. The final battle at the end is intended to simply serve as a backdrop to the actions by the players but, for those more experienced with the system, the use of the mass combat rules in Band of Zombies is suggested.

This supplement is intended to be a complete game in a booklet, and that it is. The rules needed to run the adventure are all provided; the only thing that might cause an issue is the lack of maps. The Waking Dead is a good introduction to All Flesh Must Be Eaten, enough to determine whether the game is the thing for you, and it can be found for free by clicking here.

 

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