RPG First Look: All Flesh Must Be Eaten
One of the consequences of international travel is screwed up sleeping for a few days. It’s 5:45am now, and I’ve been awake on and off for about 3 hours.
On the plus side, I looked at the goodies that were waiting for me: a copy of the All Flesh Must Be Eaten revised rulebook together with One of the Living, Atlas of the Walking Dead, and Eden Studios Presents (vol 2) which is a sort of digest for all of their Unisystem lines (and in many cases shows how they interoperate).
Kurt Wiegel of Gamegeeks is a self-confessed Unisystem fanboy. Gamegeeks’ first review was AFMBE. There are a load more reviews for AFMBE products on their site. And I am a self-confessed Gamegeeks fan – Kurt’s reviews are (nearly) always positive, well informed and entertaining.
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Like the Angel RPG, I bought AFMBE on the strength of the value proposition in the reviews. And although I have only skimmed the books, I haven’t been disappointed yet. Just like Angel, AFMBE really manages to balance flavour, setting and system in a very concise fashion. The editing is good quality – no screeds of bad prose (hello, World of Darkness), no ambiguity, no digging through a thousand words of text for one crucial fact.
The book size is a hair larger than my copy of the Savage Worlds Explorer Edition, which makes it much better to hold when reading. The all black and white internal art is the only questionable part of the game (well, that and the list of zombie films – no 28 Days Later? Come on!).
The best part of the system is Zombie Creation. It’s a very flexible, high value system for making up antagonists, geared towards zombies but could be used for any genre. Categories include weak spots, how fast the monster moves, and how it transmits the zombie virus. It’s point based with the overall intention of matching monster power with PC ability, which is a rare thing.
The other commendable area are the Deadworlds – game or campaign settings. There are a bunch in the core book and more in One of the Living. Basically they give a particular concept for a campaign (where the infection came from, how people react), the zombie antagonist for that world, and some brief adventure ideas. Perfect for someone like me who doesn’t need a scenario, but does benefit from ideas. The Deadworld concept doesn’t go into creation in the way the Zombie Creation is points based, but it’s a good start. (I wonder if the Wild Talents chapter on building superheroic history could be applied here).
I’ve been thinking about a zombie game for a few years now. The problem is it’s a genre that (I believe) cannot be run in a narrative style simply because the GM needs to be able to kill their PCs. It needs fear checks, and it needs players to keep track of ammunition. I didn’t have time to develop something that did all of this, and was also fast. AFMBE gets these details right, and it fits right into the Unisystem line – even giving some scope for a cinematic unisystem zombie game, which would be my preference.