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Dead Meat in play

Started by Demonspahn, August 13, 2002, 09:34:06 AM

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Hi everyone.  Just wanted to let all you GenConners know that some of us on the other side played games this weekend as well.  :)

We had an unusual session Sunday night.  Our fledgling Dreamwalker GM canceled at the last minute and two old friends just "showed up" making our count five, including myself.  

We had been rotating GM's (easy to do with Dreamwalker) but Mark was going somewhere with the campaign and I didn't want to interrupt his flow.  Besides, there was no sense making characters for these guys because who knew when they would show up again.

What to do, what to do?  I'm sure you've guessed by now.

I broke out my four page download of Sean Wipfli's Dead Meat: Criminica Fizosa (or something just as unintelligible)*, gave them some blank "character sheets" that I had printed out a while back and had each one make three characters.  

Just to prove that no system is sacred, I had already designed a few homebrew rules for Dead Meat.  Each player plays one character at a time.  When that character dies, we work his next one into the story.  Also, when a character is bitten by a zombie, he must continue to make occasional Guts rolls or else lose another Guts die, his condition worsening as the zombie infection takes hold.

I had the players make their three characters and not tell anyone what they were.  Then they folded the sheets and we put them in a bowl in the center of the table.  The idea was that everyone would pick one at random to start with, and then as they got eaten/zombified, they would draw a new character until all of them were gone.  This ended up being extremely amusing.  

The setting was an amusement park---Busch Gardens, Williamsburg to be exact, probably my favorite place in the whole world (it's a childhood thing).  It helped those who had never been that I had the map for it, pictures, brochures and everything.

We had some interesting characters turn up---the owner of the park (placed by myself for plot reasons), a French acrobat, a Channel 8 news reporter (we will never forget Guy McNichols, narrating the events as they occurred into his pocket tape recorder, right up until the moment of his death), a sassy ticket girl, "Mr. Panda" (complete with balloons and giant Panda suit) and several men of varying age and on this I must say that in all the zombie flicks I have watched, I have never seen such an abundance of homosexual protagonists pop up.

The plot was pretty straightforward for a zombie flick---a strange cult planted biochemical bombs throughout the park, then informed the news of their intent to blow it up.  The military quarantined the park.  The bombs went off, simultaneously killing people and releasing the zombie creating chemical agent.  The dead began to rise, shamble around and eat the stunned and/or freaked out tourists.  The cult members also died but they had taken a special chemical to make them come back as sentient living dead (smart and fast as humans), identified by their purple scarves.

The characters took to the rooftops at first.  They scoured the map for a way to escape, then took to the wooded areas, trying to leave by tour boat.  They bumbled into a zombie who killed one of the characters as the rest escaped.  They got to the river and saw the boats had been blown up in one of the explosions and now zombie tourists were shambling out of the water.

At this point they realized they needed to find some weapons so they located a maintenance shed, lured the zombie maintenance guys out of it, then picked it clean of "weapons".  One of the characters stayed outside the shed while the rest searched it.  I _so_ wanted all of them to go inside.  

Anyway, they found some tools---a shovel, a monkey wrench, some screwdrivers and some gasoline.  They took off again through the woods, only stopping because they heard the park tour train coming and thought it would be safer to ride than walk.  Unfortunately one of the cult member zombies was conducting the train, which was packed full of regular zombies who attacked on his command.  The cult member killed a character but was himself decapitated.  The rest of the characters ran away from the horde.  

They reached the fence to find the military on the other side, in full gas masks and biochemical gear, ready to shoot anyone who tried to climb over.  They went down the length of the fence and hooked up with a few people, one of them a small boy who actually became the focus of the story as they all wanted to see him get out safely.  

Some more traipsing around through the park/woods, some more zombie encounters, some more character deaths.  Finally someone picked out the owner character who knew of a secret underground subway that led to the Anheuser Busch Brewery.  They eventually reached the subway, found the cult leader and some of his zombie lieutenants down there.  There was a small fight that ended with Guy McNichols valiantly sacrificing himself while the others boarded the train and escaped to safety.  ("This is guy McNichols, signing off")

So in summary, there was a _lot_ of running away, plenty of zombie encounters and a few good ole, "character comes back as a zombie" scenes.  

All in all it was hell of a time.  In total I have played three sessions of Dead Meat and I can't say enough good things about it.  Each time the game ended with smiles all around.  The rules don't actually state an objective but I have learned that you have to have something for the characters to do, even if it is only to escape.  I plan to plot out a more "Resident Evilesque" scenario for the next time we play.    

While I like reading AFMBE, I've had some problems running an actual campaign.  This game (Dead Meat) is great for quick play and absolutely _perfect_ for newbies.  My wife had never roleplayed a day in her life and enjoyed it immensely when I tested it out on her last year.

I plan to run Dead Meat again on Halloween night, along with a homemade version of Once Upon a Time (but set for horror).  

Great game Sean.  I seem to recall you working on a new version.  How is that coming along?


*The name of the game is actually> Dead Meat: Ultima Carneficina Dello Zombie!   :)

Ron Edwards

Hi Pete,

That was a fantastic post. I love the "characters in a bowl" idea, as it's fun, easy, and solves some of the hassles we ran into with the three-character logistics.

Sean, I do believe it's time for Dead Meat to get ... um, resurrected.


Ron Edwards

Hi Peter,

Have you seen my Dead Meat review? I'd be very interested in your comments on the points I make in there, based on your experience of the game. Although it ought to be stated that my review was of an earlier version of the game.



Hi Ron,

I just now read your review of Dead Meat and it looks like you guys also had a really good time.  I think there's just something about this game that brings out the smiles.  

I didn't get the player creates three of the same type of Personas from the rules, but maybe that was the earlier version you suggested.  

The "characters in a bowl" worked _really_ well.    I couldn't imagine trying to keep track of 12 Personas at once and I think from an acting standpoint, the players had more fun staying "in character" with one at a time.

Although I hadn't given it as much thought, you were pretty much spot on with your comparisons between AFMBE and Dead Meat.  Although I really like (prefer?) 90's style design games and AFMBE (especially some of the writing), I've had problems sustaining a campaign.   However I do think that AFMBE complements Dead Meat very nicely in that it outlines so many different scenarios for zombie infestations/movies.  This makes the replay value of Dead Meat even greater and makes the game even more interesting.

We did go into depth with the gore and wounds.  Part of the fun was the healthy Personas (characters) warily watching the wounded ones, just waiting for them to turn, and the wounded ones snarling that they were fine.  Like I said, I had wounded characters make occasional Guts rolls with failure meaning they lost another Guts point until they eventually reached 0 and died/turned.  I think now I should have had them make those rolls secretly so the other Personas might not know of the turning until it was too late.  

Which brings me to another aspect of the game that brought a lot of laughs.  I let the players roll attacks for their zombified Personas and it soon became a matter of pride to see which one was the hardest to take down.  The award goes, hands down, to Mr. Panda.

I like your suggestion of using Links.  In addition to positive modifiers, I wonder if negative modifiers could also be incorporated between Personas that are not Linked as in NotLD with Mr. Cooper (the guy in the basement)  being reluctant to help Ben (the black guy) and therefore doing a half-assed job of it.  I can see this causing some genuine interplayer rivalry in play when one player refuses to help another because his Persona only has 1 Whomp dice instead of his normal 3.   This would be perfect for the genre.  I would also think that characters have the option to not be Linked to anyone (they just want to survive as best they can) and therefore retain their normal stats.

I said above that the characters need some kind of goal to work towards besides just survival for 90 minutes---of course our session lasted over four hours.  Another area I can see that might improve the game (for some groups) is some type of arbitrary reward system, not so much static tournament point play, but more for roleplaying the different Personas effectively.  I don't really know how this would work _and_ be fair while retaining the movie genre feel (which I feel is most important).  Perhaps achieving the goal is enough.  

Anyway, I plan to run it again this Halloween and I will probably try to somehow incorporate Links into the play.  We have some newbies/2nd timers and I don't want to add in too many additional rules but I think they should be able to handle this.    

I sincerely hope Sean does more with this game.  Right now it is playable, with a little bit of work, but I would love to see it with some gruesome art and some scenario/zombie movie adventure seeds of its own because I doubt Eden Studios wants AFMBE to be billed as a "great supplement for Dead Meat".  :)


PS - Congratulations on the Diana Jones Award.  You've got to be beaming.  Do you get to keep the trophy?


Thanks Gents,

Glad you had fun with it... I do indeed have a fair amount of a new version done. It streamlines the system so there aren't so many buckets' o' dice to roll, and focuses the game more on fear and violence. There are a couple added things that do most of what Ron suggested - chips given out as bonuses, and others handed out as penalties...

I've been chipping away at it slowly. This year has been pretty rough, but things have been good lately... I'm not rushing it out or making it a big priority, but I did talk to the artist I had worked out an agreement with at GenCon, and the two local guys are still interested in doing art as well.

Pete, if you'd like my rough version 2, send me a PM here on the Forge, and I'll send you a copy to check out.


P.S. The Book of All Flesh rocks! (AFBME Anthology) I picked it up at GenCon and read the entire thing already... Another good Dead Meat supplement from Eden Studios! :)
Home of 2 Page Action Movie RPG & the freeware version of Dead Meat: Ultima Carneficina Dello Zombi!

Gordon C. Landis

Quote from: DemonspahnPS - Congratulations on the Diana Jones Award.  You've got to be beaming.  Do you get to keep the trophy?
I'm not Ron, obviously, but I'm pretty sure that the trophy moves from person to person over the years.  We were joking about how every winner was going to want to keep a little piece of it for themselves (even spotted an  irregular edge on the pyramid and said "See?  That's where Adkison took his piece!), and so in 20 years or somethin' there'd be almost no trophy left . . .

Gordon (under construction)