The Dead RPG

A game idea I kicked around for awhile. An attempt to create a zombie survival RPG. I’ve had new thoughts on the genre since I wrote this but there as still some ideas in here I think are super nifty.

The Dead RPG is played with a standard deck of 54 playing cards. The cards are separated into two decks; number cards plus aces and face cards plus jokers. The number deck is used for checks while the face deck is used to determine damage.

Damage is dealt similar to the Dresden Files RPG – Each character has three wound slots: Jack, Queen, & King. When a face card is drawn, damage is applied to the slot associated with the drawn car. If the slot already has damage, the card is ignored and discarded. Jokers are wild damage and are dealt to the slot of the player’s choice, but they must be dealt to an empty slot. If a character ever has all three slots filled, they are killed. Once drawn, damage cards are discarded until any one of the slots is healed. As soon as a slot is healed, the drawn cards are re-shuffled into the face deck.

Players have two sets of attributes, Renewable and Permanent. Permanent attributes give a flat bonus to actions taken while Renewable attributes are spent and must be replenished.

The game has scalable granularity presented within the book. There are Four levels presented for various aspects which can be applied at group discretion. Story Level is the most basic scale, things are simplified into broad categories mostly based on function. For example; Food, Ammo, Supplies, etc. The Action Level is the next step up the latter, things are separated into more specific groups but everything still serves one function. For example; Food, Ammo, Medicine, Fuel, Clothing, etc. The Survival level is yet another step up, things are separated under umbrella groups and there are multiple items that serve similar functions. For example: Food – Solids & Water, Ammo – Pistol, Rifle, & Shotgun, Medicine – Physical, Psychological, & Recreational, Fuel – Unleaded, Diesel, Propane, & Wood, etc. Finally, the Management Level steps everything up to 11.There are multiple groups provided that can all apply under the same type of function. For example: Food – Water, Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats, Vitamins, & Minerals, Ammo – 0.20, 0.204/5mm, 0.22/5.56mm, 0.24/6mm, 0.25/6.35mm, 0.26/6.5mm, 0.27/6.8mm, 0.28/7mm, 0.3/7.62mm, 0.303/7.62mm, 0.323/8mm, 0.357/9mm, 0.4/10mm, 0.45/11.43mm, 0.5/12.7mm, 12ga, 20ga, & 28ga.

Regardless of granularity there is a universal Renewable attribute: Relationships. Relationships that are rated on a scale of 0 to 10 and can be replenished by kindness, friendship, and generosity. When a relationship is used it’s pushed down a point, this represents a strain on the friendship. You can lean on your friends more than strangers, but even your friends will eventually get sick of your shit if you don’t treat them like friends. Users don’t last long in groups as they quickly burn through friendships and find themselves in a group of enemies.

The number deck represents a character’s energy level. As you take actions, you draw and discard cards from the deck. Things like eating and sleeping allow you to reshuffle cards back into the numbers deck. If you ever run out of cards, you collapse in exhaustion.

Checks are made by drawing a number card, adding any appropriate Permanent attributes, and comparing the total against a Target Number determined by the Game Master. For example; Rick and Shane are trying to clear an abandoned house of Walkers. The GM determines that the TN is 9 to clear the house safely, TN 6 to clear the house and draw a single Damage card, TN 3 to clear the house and draw two Damage cards, and failure results in three Damage card draws. Rick has a Firearms skill of +3 while Glen has a Firearms skill of +2. Rick draws a 7, adds is +3 Firearms skill for a total of 10; safely clearing the house. Glen draws a 6 and adds is +2 Firearms skill for a total of 8. He then draws a single Damage card for only passing TN 6, and it’s a King. Glen then marks off his King damage slot as he and Rick finish clearing the house.


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