Sunday, March 6, 2016

AFMBE discussion

The question of where to start with All Flesh Must Be Eaten came up in a FB group. I was asked to provide some input. I thought I would share it here, as well, for anyone who may be interested. 

Let me start with, what works for me, may not work for you.

First, you have the corebook and that is all you need for gameplay. The other books may help, and we'd love the sales, but you only need the corebook.

Please keep in mind, the game was originally designed for one-shots, not campaigns. Having said that, I've run 2 or 3 campaigns that lasted over a year, each. 

Have you read the Deadworlds section of the AFMBE corebook? If so, which setting are you thinking of using? My suggestion is to go with something modern. If it's easier to sell your players on a different setting, then do that. 

Decide when you want the game to start, in regards to the rise of the zombies. Right before, during, or after the fall of man. If you are trying to ease an apprehensive group into the game, my suggestion is during or after the fall. This eliminates the work of building up to it and working through the reality breaking, "OH my god, there are zombies!" part of the game and moves it into, "Oh sh!t, zombies. Run!!!" aspect of the game. I have started with right before and during the rise, for campaigns. For one shots, I've done all three. 

Decide where you want the game to be set. Is it where you live? The advantages are everybody knows everything about it. The disadvantage is the same. I usually try for a larger or large city. Jacksonville, Atlanta, NOLA, Chicago, etc. It gives you more room to play, but the players can still leave the city for the country, if that's what they prefer. Use real cities whenever possible. Yes, it's fun to make up towns and such, but if you use real cities, you have info at your fingertips. What was this town known for? Are there pictures of this building that sounded really cool in Wikipedia? Goolge maps is your friend.

After the rise starts, the real problem is other people. Let's assume, for now, the player characters will all get along. Well, introduce them to other people. In Dawn of the Dead (2004), we get other people in the mall making terrible decisions. In 28 Days Later, we get a military who does not care what you think or want. In TWD, there's an idiot in charge of Hilltop, there's Negan, the relationship between Amanda and Dale is troublesome, there's Terminus, etc. 

If the players get to a safe place, take it away from them, or encourage them to give it up for something that appears to be better or the right thing to do. If we go back to Dawn of the Dead, they tried to help Andy in the gun shop. That went sideways real quick. Chance exposes risk. 

If the players hold up in their "bunker" and refuse to leave, then bring the party to them. Have they started a fire, giving off the smell of smoke? Have they run a generator, providing a smell and sound? Do they hunt for food? Have they fired a gun or started a car. All of these things draw the attention of others. Other people, other zombies. Just like your player characters may encounter a "wandering monster" in D&D, NPCs looking for supplies may enouncter your player characters as their own wandering monster. Imagine a group like the Wolves or the biker gang from Dawn of the Dead (1978) finding the place. What would stop them from trying to take it from the characters or burning it to the ground if they can't have it? Don't forget the Governor. 

Keep in mind, unless you want it, there's no magic in this game. Yes, there are rules for magic, but you don't have to use them. Just like there are rules for various types of zombies, but you only need to use one type. I rarely use more than one type. The time I did,it was due to the cause of the rise mutating the zombies.

The zombies serve to force the players to:  make decisions, get along or not get along with others, move to a different location. They are the vice that clamps down when the players are doing too well. 

If your group is apprehensive about the game, don't lie and tell them they are playing something else. It tends to irritate players when you suddenly switch games on them. 

What else may help you? If you are looking for books by Eden Studios, I would start with 
 - The Zombie Master Screen (comes with a scenario set in modern time). 
 - After that is One of the Living for material orientated for after the fall of man. It comes with a sample community set up in a jail (there's a TWD tie-in if I ever saw one). Given your background, you can likely improve on the setting. 
 - If your players struggle to make characters of if you eat through them like a character funnel, Book of Archetypes 1 is great for modern games. The second BoA focuses more on genre book archetypes. 
 - Eden Studios Presents volume 2 includes "Dead Ops," a scenario for military characters. 
 - After that, it comes down to genre books. 
 - There's a demo pack for AFMBE that may help you. Link is at the end of this post. It includes a quick synopsis of the rules, archetypes for players, and a scenario. It may give you ideas. 

I do not recommend purchasing non-zombie books from Eden Studios (says the guy helping publish books), until you are comfortable with AFMBE. Buying non-zombie books will only give you more ideas that may not necessarily help you. Now, if you really want magic in your games, go buy Dungeons & Zombies or download WitchCraft. Start there. Several of the other game lines are not designed to contain zombies, but the rules are all very similar, so the books work with each other. 

Character sheets and ammo trackers
AFMBE demo pack

Random charts:
AFMBE page
Texas Zombie and Evan
Right here on Harvester