Shotgun Diaries using Zombie Dice

Originally Published at on 2010-05-28.

Have you seen John Wick’s zombie survival RPG Shotgun Diaries? How about Steve Jackson’s dice game Zombie Dice? Am I the only one who noticed that the green dice have one shotgun blast on them and thought, “That’s a natural 6 on a d6, the same mechanic that one requires for success in Shotgun Diaries”? Maybe I am but it was that very idea that inspired me to write this article. A small rules re-write of Shotgun Diaries to use Zombie Dice instead of normal d6s!

A Study of Zombie Dice

Lets start this article off with a look at Zombie Dice. Each cup of ZD has 13 dice; 6 Green, 4 Yellow, and 3 Red. Each die  features three images, an icon for Feet, and icon for Brains, and an Icon for Shotguns. Every color has two feet but Green Dice have 3 Brains & 1 Shotgun while Red Dice have 1 Brains & 3 Shotguns and the Yellow Dice have 2 of everything. There are also more Green Dice then Yellow or Red Dice; 6 Green, 4 Yellow, and 3 Red. For the rest of the article we’ll be abbreviating, 6gd, 4yd, and 3rd. I’m sure you can figure it out.

New Rule: Dice Pool Cap

We’re going to start by setting the 13 Zombie Dice as our pool cap. You can never roll more than 6gd, 4 yd, and 3rd. If you’re ever in a situation where you would roll more than your pool you may upgrade unavailable dice at a 2:1 ratio up the ladder: 2gd = 1yd, 2yd = 1rd. Again, you can only do this if you’re rolling more dice then you have for your current color pool. You can not upgrade 2gd for 1yd if you can’t still roll all 6gd.

Rule Change: Taking Risks

Roll a number of dice equal to your Survivor type, plus tools\weapons, plus diary bonuses, other survivors, plus anything else that increases your pool. Again, start with Green and upgrade where appropriate. If any of your dice rolls a Shotgun, you get to say what happens to your Survivor. If none of your dice rolls a Shotgun, the Narrator says what happens to your Survivor.

Rule Change: Tools & Weapons

Tools and weapons give you a specific bonus listed as “Yellow” or “Red”. They allow you to roll Yellow or Red dice directly and not just after upgrades.

Rule Change: Fear

Get rid of Fear Ranks. We’re all scared now. We’re always scared.

Whenever you make a risk, there is a chance to roll Feet.  If you ever roll more Feet than Shotguns, you must use your success to hide, run away, or otherwise save yourself.

New Rule: Calm

You need to keep it together. You need to stay cool. The others need you not to panic right now. Keep your shit together, man. Ok. Ready?

Your character starts with 3 Calm Ranks. Calm allows you to ignore rolled Feet. So, if you have 1 Calm and you roll 3 Feet and 1 Shotgun, you get to treat that roll as if you just rolled 0 Feet and 1 Shotgun.

You can never have more than 13 Ranks of Calm but you can have 0 Ranks of Calm.

Rule Change: Fear Checks

Whenever your Survivor sees specific events, roll Dice equal to you Calm. If you roll more Shotguns than Brains your Calm rank decreases by one. Gather dice starting with Red, then going to Yellow, and lastly going to Green. For example; If you have a Calm of 2 you roll 2rd, a Calm of 5 would have you rolling 3rd and 2yd, and a Calm of 9 sees you rollings 3rd, 4yd, and 2gd. The same set of circumstances apply for these rolls that would for Fear Checks.

Rule Change: Diary Benefits

Every entry raises your Calm by one but you can never have more than 13 Ranks of Calm.

Final Words

It was intentional not to give you enough rules to really play the game. Just the variants you’d need to know if you already own Shotgun Diaries. Replacing Fear with Calm does change the game in a fairly significant way and since I haven’t play tested any of this I’m not sure how mechanically sound my concepts are at the table. Let me know what you think and if there are any rules I overlooked.

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