my zombie rpg let me show you it

Fresh Brains: Zombie Pickup RPG
Version 0.1
by Nate


The Concept: a fast paced pulp pickup zombie survival game where you can expect to play multiple PCs, because they'll probably get bitten a lot.

The world: Your standard Zombie apocalypse, a combination of Max brooks, Left 4 Dead, etc.

The System: is adapted from the Snakes on a Plane RPG, and Descent, with some differences 

Character Creation

You have five stats, ranked from 1 to 9.
GUTS: How tough and strong you are. Also indicates how slowly you'll turn if bitten by a zombie.
NERVE: How quickly you react; reflexes and coordination. You'll use this to dodge zombies.
WITS: How smart you are on your feet, and how likely your traps and fortifications are to work.
CHARM: How attractive and charismatic you are. Works better on people than it does on zombies.
GEAR: How many weapons, how much food and ammo, etc have you got with you? You can spend GEAR to gain other stats at 2 for 1.

Distribute 25 points among these stats; minimum of 1, maximum of 9.

In addition, your character gets a 1 line story and 2 tropes from tvtropes.orgThis page is a good place to start - find 2 tropes you like and link to them from your character sheet.


Each scenario involves the GM and 1 or more PCs. Link your character sheet at the start of the scenario. For each scenario, we keep track of the number of nearby zombies, (THREAT) and the time. As time passes, more zombies arrive. Zombies can be ONSTAGE or OFFSTAGE. ONSTAGE means that the zombies have line of sight to the PCs and are not impeded by fortifications. If there are zombies onstage, the game is HECTIC. Otherwise it is CALM.

The game is played with a map on a grid that can be updated by any player or the GM. The map can include FORTIFICATIONS that are found, maintained, or destroyed by the players.

During Hectic time, play proceeds in rounds. Once each PC has taken an action the next round starts. After each PC's action, all zombies move 1 square. After a player takes an action, all zombies adjacent to that PC attack that PC. A player may always pass instead of making a roll, but this still counts as taking an action as far as the zombies care.

Scenario End Conditions: If the THREAT drops to 0, the players are considered SAFE and the scenario ends. The scenario also ends if the players reach a safe location, are rescued, or if they all die.

Task Resolution

Rolling Dice
When you roll a stat, roll as many d6 as points in that stat. Every 5 or 6 you roll is a SUCCESS. (When attacking zombies, each success means one dead zombie.) Each 1 you roll is a point of NOISE. For every point of NOISE the GM may either take 1 THREAT, or may move 2 zombies ONSTAGE. If your roll more NOISE than SUCCESS, that's called a BLUNDER. When you roll a BLUNDER, the GM rolls on the Zombie Attack Table.

Being Quiet
If you don't blunder, you may spend 2 SUCCESSES to cancel 1 NOISE, as long as this doesn't turn the roll into a blunder.

Arbitrary tasks
When things are CALM, you can do whatever you want. Some actions may require action rolls; if so they can grant NOISE normally. BLUNDERS when it's CALM double the NOISE, but do not merit a roll on the zombie attack table.

When things are HECTIC, everything you want to do, other than talk, requires a roll of 1 of the 5 stats.

Killing Zombies
You can make an attack against any nearby zombies with any of your stats, as long as you can describe it in a way that justifies the use of that stat. Every Success you roll is one dead zombie, but you can't kill more zombies than you can reach with the attack.

When you describe what you want to do, be awesome. Use the environment, use other PCs tropes, all that jazz. You get extra dice for doing so. A good description of using your basic stats gets you 1 extra die. Using the environment or another PC's trope gets you 2 dice. But each aspect can only be used once in this way per scenario per player. Assigning bonuses: PCs may assign themselves bonuses. The GM or other players will let you know if you're not being reasonable.

Using Your Tropes:
You may invoke each of your tropes once per scenario, for a bonus 3 dice. Your description must justify the use. Stunts stack with Tropes.

If I'm using a bloody axe to chop zombie head off, I attack with GUTS. If my GUTS is 5, I roll [5d6 = 56 36 36 26 16] In this case I kill 1 zombie but I also make 1 NOISE.

If instead of just attacking, I duck under the table at the last second, causing the three nearby zombies to lunge onto the table when I pop back up on the other side and casually chop their heads off as they lie prone, then I can attack with Nerve, and I get a +2 bonus for a stunt. If my Nerve is 6, then that's [6d6+2d6 = 66 66 56 46 46 36 16 16] Since I got 3 successes I kill all three zombies.

Zombie actions:
After each PC action, in order:
1. Every Zombie adjacent to that PC makes an attack by rolling on the Zombie table
2. All zombies move 1 square towards the nearest PC.

The Zombie Attack Table
1: The zombie tries to bite you. Lose 1 point of Guts as you shove it away.

2: The zombie grabs at you. Lose 1 point of Nerve as you wrench yourself away.
3: The zombie surprises you and you freak out and scream. Lose 1 point of Wits for not being able to focus.
4: The zombie claws at your face. Lose 1 point of Charm for your mussed hair and bloody nose.
5: The zombie rips at your clothing. Lose 1 point of Gear for the gadget that fell off.
6: Reroll and double all point values lost; you stumbled onto a lot of motherfucking zombies. Reroll and double every time the die comes up 6.

Once you subtract the point or points from your relevant trait, you have killed the zombie. If a trait is at 0 and you are asked to subtract points from it, the zombie kills you.

Passage of Time:
During HECTIC time, Every round takes 1 minute. During CALM time, passage of time is adjudicated by the GM depending on the actions. Depending on the scenario, THREAT increases linearly with time. (e.g. 1 THREAT per 5 minutes.)

Spending THREAT and NOISE
At any time, the GM can spend 2 THREAT to move 1 zombie ONSTAGE at an UNEXPLORED or EXTERIOR point.

When NOISE is generated, the GM may spend 1 NOISE to move up to N zombies ONSTAGE, where N is the number of players (PCs + GM), spending just 1 THREAT each to do so. (if there are 3 PCs, the GM may spend 1 NOISE to spawn in up to 4 zombies for 1 THREAT each. OR the GM can convert the NOISE into THREAT (1 to 1) instead of bringing zombies ONSTAGE.

All DOORS and FORTIFICATIONS have a THREAT cost. The GM may spend 1 THREAT per action (or N per round, or N per minute, where N is the total number of players) to destroy that fortification. FORTIFICATIONS typically hide EXTERIOR areas, which means that the GM will be able to easily move zombies ONSTAGE at this point.

Maybe there are other ways for the GM to spend THREAT. Special Zombies, environmental hazards, WHO EVEN KNOWS. If the GM is spending threat, look out.

Making Noise
A PC can spend an action to lure nearby zombies. Use a stat roll, but instead of rolling, just count the total dice. The GM must move that many zombies onstage at a cost of 1 THREAT each. If the GM runs out of THREAT the PCs win.

Other things

Unexplored Areas
Might contain zombies! The GM may spawn in zombies anywhere the PCs have never seen (for interior areas), or anywhere they can't see right now, if there's an exterior area there.

Exterior Areas
Areas the PCs cannot access may contain zombies. The GM may spawn zombies there at the normal price.

The PCs can move through doors, but zombies must bash them down. An average door takes 3-5 THREAT to break down.

The PCs can find, repair, and destroy fortifications. Repairing a fortification requires roll, even when it's CALM. Every 2 successes repairing a fortification increases its THREAT cost by 1. Every success spent dismantling a fortification reduces its THREAT cost by 1. When it's worth 0 THREAT it's considered destroyed and the players can move through it.

Finding stuff
The PCs may increase their stats by finding GEAR lying around places. When they find a piece of GEAR players may either take the GEAR, or trade 2 points of GEAR for 1 point in another stat.

Equipment mostly exists to give you flavor and let you use it in stunts. You can play the game without specifying your equipment, but if you specify it you can stunt with it. Your GEAR stat loosely governs what equipment you can have.

Weapons mostly affect the flavor of the attack you can make, and it's range, and what is considered reasonable or justifiable. Your maximum weapon level depends on your GEAR stat:
0-1: simple/improvised melee (chair, shovel)
2-3: appropriate melee (axe, pitchfork, prop sword)
4-5: small handgun or superior melee
6: shotgun, samurai sword, chainsaw, rifle.
7-8: assault rifle, auto shotgun, sniper rifle
9: man whatever the heck you want.

If your GEAR level drops below the level of your current weapon, consider it either out of ammo, or wrenched from your grasp and lost, or jammed by zombie tendons, as appropriate.

Armor and clothing:
Your gear might include armor. This will help you stunt the use of GUTS instead of NERVE to move across a
HECTIC room, but has no special effect for reducing damage.

Environmental Hazards
There will be some times when the only way forward is going to be either noisy or time consuming, or both. The GM should let you know approximately how much NOISE you can expect to make for a given set piece. 

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