A guest blog by James Mullen.
I’ve wanted to run a zombie apocalypse game for a long time and the release of Dead of Night, 2nd edition seemed like the ideal opportunity to do so. The game I had in mind would riff off Max Brooks’ World War Z and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, so it would be a long-running soap opera with Zombies, spanning weeks, months or even years of the characters’ lives in a post-apocalyptic world.
It was readily apparent that no one had ever run any sort of campaign using Dead of Night before, so the question was: would it work? My experience of running and playing in one shots suggested a high mortality rate and the rules only suggest refreshing 2 Survival Points for each character who survives to appear in a sequel session. If I was going to keep the characters alive for more than a session or two, I was going to need something extra to assist their survival.
That extra thing is Baggage: at character creation, each player chooses one or two pieces of Baggage for their character, with each piece being something the character is holding onto that they value as much as their own lives. Examples of Baggage might be a relationship with an NPC, an ideal they are tyring to live up to, a dream they are pursuing or a valued possession. In play, each piece of Baggage gives you two advantages:
– When you make a Risk check that relates to or involves a piece of Baggage, you roll 3d10 and pick the best two results.
– When your PC is about to die, you can check off a piece of their Baggage instead and gain 2 Survival Points, but losing that Baggage should be a dramatic scene that changes the character’s life significantly.
The Baggage created by the players in the first session ranged from holding onto to some new found self-respect to an engagement ring not yet given to its intended. Those are now plot-hooks for those characters which I can target instead of just threatening their lives the whole time: the Zombies aren’t the only source of Risk checks after all. By the end of the first session, having fled an armed siege at the courthouse, escaped the Zombie uprising in the centre of town and performed some very dangerous driving, the characters had holed up in a farmhouse, minus a lot of Survival Points and one piece of Baggage. We plan to pick up in the next session with the caption ‘3 Days Later’ and I’ll be declaring Martial Law; good times.