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Shambles $14.99 $7.99
Publisher: A Terrible Idea
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/29/2010 11:07:00

Subtitled 'The Wholly Unremarkable Life of the Living Dead' this game proves that, within these pages at least, being a zombie might even present a bit more interest than being alive. Read the Introduction and see how a humdrum existance can be changed, if not for the better, into something worth playing a game about. The aim is for the characters' "pre-zombie" life to be quite dull and unexciting - they are not the people you'd generally play in a role-playing game (unless it's the mythical Papers & Paychecks of course). However, that's the default setting, readers are encouraged to play the game with whatever setting they please - Old West, out in space, wherever.

Next, System. It is a custom one, designed to be fast, simple and flexible. Called LAFFS (Light Adaptable Fast Furious System) it is not as frivolous as the acronym might suggest. Using d6s, you roll the appropriate number of dice (based on an apposite stat) against a GM-set difficulty, and your sucess gets better the more dice that are rolled over that difficulty. And if the dice won't cooperate, you have LAFF Points to add to your roll - you get them by doing something positive towards the game (but can lose them for sins like rules-lawyering, wibbling about other stuff instead of role-playing, or arguing with the GM). You can use them to cancel someone else's successes too. The whole idea is to keep the story moving along, and fun for all the players (their characters may disagree, but hey!)

That understood, a bit more detail on making characters. Some background on previous life is suggested, with an eye of course to keeping it dull and humdrum: you may not particularly WANT to be a zombie but the base concept is that it's a bit more interesting on a day-to-day basis than whatever you did before. You get six stats to describe your character, each rated from 1 to 6; and you can either point-assign or roll for them. This section rounds off with a few sample characters to give you the idea. And then on to the notable feature of zombies: they decay over time, however careful you are. Fortunately you can stay the loss of hit points by eating brains, each brain eaten means you keep a hit point you would otherwise have lost. There's also Gore, which is a measure of how scary you look, and a bit about how to use severed limbs to best effect (and that duct-taping them back on is established zombie practice).

Next, Combat. Bound to be the odd brawl, especially when pesky human beings (the still-alive sort) want to keep their brains inside of their skulls. It's quite basic - you either hit things, grab onto them, throw something or use something in an attempt to cause damage. The object of the exercise is to get brains...

This is followed by a note on role-playing. Depending on the sort of game being played, it can be as serious as attempting to hang on to the tattered remnants of your former self, or a good mindless rampage played for laughs. A discussion of how life as a zombie is likely to be moves on to GM resources, starting with a reminder that like real life, interesting things do happen to the living - just not those ones who are now the zombies. They never did get invited to the best parties, and certainly won't get in smelling and looking like dug-up corpses. As well as some ideas, should you feel the need for them, about what causes zombies in your world (although they just ARE will suffice), there are some organisations that may hinder or help our zombies on their merry way.

Finally, there is a sample scenario should you feel the need for that much structure to your game. Basically, a group of zombies decide to go to a punk rock gig. Maybe they like the music, or maybe it's just the thought of all those brains (mmm BRAINS!) gathered in one place. Or indeed, that they'd bought the tickets prior to becoming zombies and don't want them to go to waste.

That's it. Fast, fun, and perfect for a night when nobody feels like serious role-playing but fancy a game of something rather than just sitting around chatting. It gets the spirit of every zombie movie ever shown but with the twist of the characters being the zombies rather than trying to escape from them. Mmmmmm... BRAINS!!!!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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