Wizards ‘n Zombies II

Wizards ‘n Zombies Part 2

This week’s comic is a continuation of the story begun here in last week’s comic. We are playing Fantasy Flight Games’ ‘End of the World’ RPG series. As I alluded to in last week’s blog post, the USP of this RPG is that the character you play is based on yourself. In fact, it’s more than just ‘based on’. The character you play is yourself.

You can find a complete (and very interesting) article on character creation here but, briefly; there are three categories: physical, mental, and social. Each of these categories has two different stats: physical, for example, has dexterity and vitality. Working from a limited number of points, you assign values to each of these stats. Then, the group you are playing with votes on whether to adjust these, i.e. they decide that no, you aren’t an Olympic level athlete and reduce your vitality to a reasonable number.

Even more fun is then introducing a unique characteristic in each of the three categories. What this will be is up to you. Short-sighted, grumpy, tire easily, great sense of direction, martial arts.

The only thing that then remains to decide is what gear or equipment all of your characters have. As the game begins with everyone sitting around a table at their current location, your items are easy: what is currently in your pockets?

Of course, this kind of character creation is absolutely not going to be for everyone. Typically, roleplaying is about creating a character from imagination. It’s about playing a role, after all, and this is exactly the opposite of that. It’s an exciting, funny, and fun prospect for me, but I understand it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

The system does allow you to just create a character from your imagination if you choose, but if you want to do that, there are probably 100s of other RPGs to better suit your taste. In the coming years, I hope to explore more than a few of those RPGs myself.

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Wizards ‘n Zombies

Wizards ‘n Zombies

Fantasy Flight Games’ End of the World line is an incredibly cool sounding series of RPGs. The different manuals in the series each focus on a different apocalypse scenario: zombies, aliens, robots, petting zoo uprising, that kind of thing. Regardless of how The End came about, the scenario you find yourself in will be familiar: a ragtag group of survivors trying to escape the city/find help/make it home.

What’s different about these books is the character creation. In the ‘End of the World’ series, the character you play is yourself. The character creation process is an honest appraisal of your own strengths and weaknesses, which are distilled into usable attributes in the game. The game you will be playing is as if the apocalypse had actually landed on your own doorstep, and you and your actual friends need to get to safety, with nothing more fantastic than the tools that might actually be to hand.

More on that next week though, as this is part one of a two-part comic! Wooh story arc! Kind of. While I don’t want to spoil what’s going to happen next week, long time readers will know that both Gary and the word ‘zombie’ appearing together can really only mean one thing. Here’s a hint or two, if you are unfamiliar.


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Groundhog Gary

Writer_smallerBetter Dead than a Gnome?

Oh, Gary. With your winning ways. We miss you already. And not just because Zombie Gary is useless at X-Wing. Always knocking over ships and chewing on the cards. The fact of the matter is, you were important to us as a player in our Imperial Assault campaign, and now we will have to replace you, much like we have had to replace the gaming table that got covered in, um, zombie stains, shall we say.

We are both feeling better this week, but we are catching up on a lot of work, both comic-related, and real life related. So no gaming, and very little news. I did back the Near and Far Kickstarter. I’m a sucker for a campaign game, and this looks to be excellent. And wow, that artwork. It’s just gorgeous, and that makes such a difference.

Every now and then another miniatures game comes along and I think -oh, that looks really great. Or it will have a really interesting, new mechanic; something that shakes things up, or sounds fascinating. But I’m deep into the Galaxy Far, Far Away with X-Wing (also deep out of pocket) and I still have a small Bolt Action army waiting to be painted. So I always manage to resist the urge and let that small amount of common sense I still have left in my head prevail. Or, even better, I show it to a friend I know it will appeal to so they will buy it and I can play for free.

The point I’m getting at is, miniatures games are a no-go and I’ve been really good at avoiding temptation. I haven’t even thought twice about the Warhammer 40K Escalation campaign my friends are playing. I prudently avoided watching Shut Up & Sit Down’s video playthrough of Infinity. Day after day I resist the urge to look at the skirmish rules for Imperial Assault and buy a whole carpet of Wookies (it’s their collective noun).

But then Warlord Games went and announced pre-order of the first packs for their upcoming Dr Who miniatures game. I didn’t even know they had the license. I didn’t know there was a license to be had for a Dr Who miniatures game. I am sunk! Done in! Trapped! I have no choice. I don’t even know what type, kind, or scale of miniatures game this is. Will I control but a few Daleks, or a whole Parliament of the mindless fiends? On what form of battlefield will I exterminate Cybermen, Sontarans, Silurians, Zygons, Time Lords and pathetic humans? All I know is Warlord Games have checkmated me once again.

It’s Dr Who. What choice do I have?

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A vote for victory

Writer_smallerWinter is coming (back)

This comic is pulled from a game we played over the weekend, and is exactly why we love Dead of Winter.

A little after we did our last Dead of Winter comic, the game was running a little thin for me, due in no small part to playing it at every given opportunity. Returning to it has been a revelation. I felt the game needed a rest because in terms of what players can do, it’s relatively simple. The mechanics works perfectly well, but are too straightforward to allow for the depth of strategy that I tend to prefer in games. But that’s missing the point. In Dead of Winter these mechanics are not the foundation of the game. They are simply a scaffold that supports the real game. Focusing on the mechanics is missing the point, in the same way that zombie games which focus on the zombies miss the point of the genre.


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(Dead of ) Winter is coming

Writer_smallerDead of winter

She arrived at the colony early on, when everyone was still happy to have another pair of hands to help out, and less worried about another mouth to feed. She was a doctor, of course, which helped a lot. So much so that no-one minded that she brought baggage. But I mean, she was a doctor, so even if her companion was sick, that was fine. She could help out with everyone. I mean, who wouldn’t want a doctor around in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, in the dead of winter?

If she demanded everyone kill more zombies so she would have samples to work on, to help cure the zombie plague? Sure, I mean, no-one was going to say no to that, to some small sliver of hope that there might be a cure, a way out of hell. In those days, hope was worth more than food, or even medicine. In those days they didn’t know how hungry they could get.

It was when her companion started to get really sick, to blister and bleed, that was the sign they should have seen. Not the bleeding, or even the pus. But the fact that she decided to kick him out, to simply throw him to the wolves rather than keep trying to save him. But they all voted, so maybe they didn’t want to think too hard about what they had been complicit in. Maybe they needed to keep moving. It was easier to think about the food shortages, the barricades that needed to be erected to keep the undead out. What was one sacrifice compared to that? If the barricades weren’t maintained, no-one would survive. Keep moving, keep working, and not think about how bad things were getting.

If their humanity was being eroded, like toes to frostbite, well, that wasn’t the only sacrifice they would have to make. And she was looking for a cure, right? I mean, they all saw her, tinkering in the shed. They didn’t understand it, but they knew science and medicine when they saw it being practiced.

Maybe those were all good enough reasons. Maybe not. Maybe they only had themselves to blame. Maybe not.

I mean, they weren’t entirely wrong. She was experimenting. It just wasn’t the zombies that were the subject of the experiment. And when she told them all what she had done, that she had made a smarter zombie, a better zombie, and once they were all infected, they would have just enough of their minds left to obey her completely? Well, she had already poisoned the colony’s water supply. The deed was done, and blame was yesterday’s problem. They had kept the zombies outside the door, sure. They just let something far, far worse in, and now it was too late. The colony was lost. Everything was lost. Now there was just hunger.

But not like they had known it before.

That was our first playthrough of Dead of Winter. That is exactly how it played out, how the betrayer crept in and ended it for everyone. I’m not filling in blanks, joining dots, making parts up. That’s the game we played, that’s the story we told.

Who was to blame really was up for question. I’m not sure our game of the year is anymore though.

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Zombicide – Practical survival wear for the zombie apocalypse

Writer_smallerOn a more serious note

I hate that guy at the counter of the comic shop who rolls his eyes when someone comes up with a copy of the Walking Dead volume 1. That guy who only thought it was cool when no-one had heard of it, and has no time for newcomers, dilettantes, and people just dipping their toes into the hobby. The guy who is arrogant, condescending to new customers, and generally just ignorant. I have nothing but contempt for the shop owner who allows his staff to chase away new business; to actively discourage people from taking up the hobby. I love comics as much as I do board games, and I want everyone to play games and read comics. I want to share my hobbies, to open their worlds up to everyone who is interested.


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