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All Elfs must be Eaten

Started by Jared A. Sorensen, May 21, 2001, 06:32:00 PM

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Jared A. Sorensen

This is from a post by Hardcoremoose in the "art of game design" forum.  It's really funny and Moosey has yet to re-post it, so...

Take 'All Flesh Must Be Eaten', keep its central premise, and maybe some of the Deadworld Creation ideas, and then scrap the tacked-on system. Then apply Ron Edwards' 'Elfs' system to the game and you're good to go.

In this new game, you would get to play the Zombies. Elfs' mechanics for resolving multiple courses of action is a natural fit. The Zombie will want to zombie things - eat human flesh, eat bugs, stare at themselves in mirrors, shamble aimlesslessly, etc. - but the player may want the zombie to do something different (amything bordering on semi-intelligent, for example). The rules adjudicate this easily, determining who gets their way. And because the system is fairly scaleable, you can decide in character creation what kind of Zombie you want to play - a fairly capable undead cannibal (like in 'Return of the Living Dead') who is able to balance its nutritional needs with other concerns (like self preservation), or a shambling braindead thingie which can only occasionally, and briefly, shrug off the fog of undeadness long enough to do something vaguely human-like (like Bub in 'Day of the Dead').

And all Zombies are permanently stuck in Oral Stage. Like you needed to ask. :smile:

jared a. sorensen /


This is a really, really cool idea; I never cared much
for elfs (the creatures, not the rules), but using the mechanic for zombies seems just too cool for words.

I suspect I'm going to wind up having to get Elfs, so I can try this out.

Ron Edwards

I wrote Elfs for two reasons: (1) completely satirize and hose traditional assumptions about fantasy role-playing, and (2) base a game almost wholly on Director stance.

That #2 is widely applicable, and although I don't think the Elfs system is the be-all and end-all version, it's mighty fine.

Just always include the URL with your mentions elsewhere so I make Lots and Lots of Money.



Ron -

I feel like I'm going to have to take this to a convention (our local group has an idiom of always taking a zombie game, no matter what the rules, to local conventions.)

I'm even going to have to call it "All Elves Must Be Eaten", I think. It's just too good a title.

So the issue is, people are unlikely to be familiar with the "Elfs" rules, and so I feel I'm pretty much gonna have to do a handout on how it works (note that I haven't gotten them myself, yet, so I don't know to what extent this is true.) But I'm a big believer in handouts that cover the basics of the rules.

My question: what's your stance on this? I'm perfectly willing and happy to put on the rules synopsis handout who wrote the game, where they can buy it, etc., if you like.

                              - James

Ron Edwards

Hey James,

Sure man, feel free to Eat Some Elfs at the con. Just put a little "system inspired by Elfs by Ron Edwards" with the URL in there, and I'm happy.

Also, if you don't mind e-mailing people you don't know, get in touch with a guy named Sean Wipfli, who goes by "unodiablo" at GO, at He's a big giallo and zombie-flick fan who wrote a GREAT zombie RPG recently, the best I've ever seen. He might slide you a copy; tell him I sent you over.




I'd like to see said Zombie game, as I'm a huge fan.  If it's as good as you say, I'd be remiss to overlook it.

Glad everyone's getting such a kick out of the All Elfs Must Be Eaten idea.  I just love the idea of trying to play a zombie from a Romero flick, and while you as player are earnestly trying to get something done, your zombie (being just an mouldering lump of flesh, afterall), stops in the middle of whatever it is he's doing to pick the beetle off the tree and eat it.  Sure, this is Elfs backwards (where what the player wants to happen is paramount), but the system is workble in either direction.  

And if anyone needs help writing anything horror-related, I'm willing to go toe-to-toe with anyone out there as far as that genre goes. It's one of the things I take real pride in, even more so than my gaming.  We're talking underground domestic cinema, Giallo, Eurotrash, and even Japenese minimalist stuff like the Guinea Pig series.  I'm not familiar with every film ever released, but what I don't know I can fake pretty damn well.  :smile:

[ This Message was edited by: hardcoremoose on 2001-05-22 00:17 ]


OK, so I've read the rules at this point, and I have to say that they're extraordinarily good. I thought that the strong point of Sorceror was sort of meta-rules, ideas about running a game, using humanity as a core idea, etc. For Elfs, the rules are very, very strong.

Thinking about conversion to a Zombie game:

Spunk works fine (although I'd rename it to keep in genre) and dumb luck works fine as well (even with the same name). Low cunning in the Elfs game is intended to enforce genre conventions (and is an outstandingly clever idea). So I'm trying to think of how to redo it to enforce genre conventions for zombies - elfs get a bonus when they're being vicious and backhanded, it seems, so what do zombies get a bonus to do ?

                                  - James

Jared A. Sorensen

Spunk: Guts!
Dumb Luck: no change -- used to have the zombie do funny/gross things and maybe smart things as well (by mistake of course)
Low Cunning: Basic Instinct! -- used whenever the zombie is trying to sate its NEVERENDING HUNGER!!!

jared a. sorensen /
indie game design from beyond the grave

[ This Message was edited by: Jared A. Sorensen on 2001-05-22 14:27 ]
jared a. sorensen /

Blake Hutchins

Not having gotten Elfs (yet), let me nevertheless add a twist to Jared's suggestions:

Spunk = Hunger

Low Cunning = Shards of Memory ("Send more paramedics....")


I intended this mostly as a joke, but I'm starting to think of games I could run with it.  I personally would jump on the film Cemetary Man, because, in it, the humans are almost as stupid as the zombies.  They have such a passive approach to the undead, and the film itself runs deep on socially relevant commentary...

Either that or Dead Alive.  Talk about the use of Dumb Luck and Low Cunning, that film has both in spades.

Moose :smile:  


Your opportunity to play a mindless, rotting corpse.

I'm thinking Guts, Dumb Luck, and Hunger, and add in a few ways of 'customizing' your zombie.

Still thinking about a fun plot - I'll have to watch some of the ones you suggested.

I've got the photoshop of the above, much larger and still in layers so the titles can be rearranged, if anyone wants it.

                                       - James


I just keep flashing back to "Bad Taste" (which by the way, is a wonderful movie... in a special little way).



Hey Zombie Fans! :smile:

My 'lil Zombie RPG is still up on Jared's site.

You can check out DEAD MEAT at:

If you like it, start a post or send me an e-mail!
a/k/a unodiablo
Home of 2 Page Action Movie RPG & the freeware version of Dead Meat: Ultima Carneficina Dello Zombi!