If you enjoy best-quality schlok-horror, 'Troma'-style zombie action, this product will help you bring it to unlife in your D20 Modern game. The Introduction explains that in this reality where zombies are found, there are some folks who - for fun or for mere survival - set out to hunt them down. A sidebar story - rather awkwardly distributed throughout the work but well worth the effort to read - details how two young men find themselves thrust into the zombie-destroyer role when, in best horror-movie style, they thought they'd landed jobs in a new hardware store.
The first chapter looks at suitable characters for use in a zombie game. The Occupations listed cover all the typical characters from a classic horror movie - the dumb muscle-bound college jock, the cheerleader, the 'scream queen' and, yes, the gawky awkward kid who works in a hardware store. The Advanced Classes are mostly more suited to NPCs (unless you have very disturbed players), being in the main the sort of people able to create zombies, but there's also a specialist Zombie Hunter in there as well. The chapter rounds out with a collection of feats that will stand the aspiring zombie hunter in good stead.
Chapter 2 looks at the actual craft of zombie hunting, with some of the equipement an aspiring zombie hunter might want to load up with, and some tricks and tactics he might want to use. I say 'he' on purpose, now I am ancient enough to use 'he' as it's correct grammar but in this book a very traditional horror movie stance is taken, it's the lads who do the shooting and the fighting while the lassies do the screaming and being rescued from fates worse than death bits. Of course if your campaign is a bit more liberated it will be easy to give your ladies the weapons and skills to deal with the zombies for themselves.
This chapter also includes the necessary rules for determining damage dealt to a zombie - including a delightful table to aid the GM in giving appropriately gory descriptions of what happened to your target after you revved up the chainsaw and had at him with it. Oh yes, the uses of chainsaws are thoroughly discussed so you can recreate all your favourite bits from those horror movies... There are also rules for the inevitable loss of sanity that will ensue, allowing the GM to ensure that the characters do not wade blithly through the gore and emerge unscathed. Finally, there's a mention of 'trust' - if you aren't quite sure how the zombie state occurs, how do you know who's going to be next? The fellow who got bitten? The one who got spat at? Or just the whole lucky lot of you who are in the wrong place at the wrong time?
The third chapter looks at FX - which it keeps separate from everything else, if you don't use FX in your campaign but want some zombies from a non-magical source, just skip this bit and you can use the rest without difficulty (except the FX-using Advanced Classes). If you do want FX available to either yourself as GM or the whole game, there are various spells and devices that mostly would be used by the sort of evil guy who has raised a flock of zombies to do his bidding. Unless your players are into the zombie-raising business there is not much for them... although you might wish to leave a few spellbooks, the sort that make you go mad if you read them, lying around.
Finally, Chapter 4 presents a whole range of zombies, written up with full monster statistics. The notes include details of how they prefer to fight and what their motivations for attacking the living are - from being ordered to do so by Master to an insatiable desire to feast on human brains. Different types derive from different sources, so you can pick which one is the 'zombie' in your game depending on how you decide that the zombie threat came about in the first place.
Depending on the nature of your campaign, you may decide that zombies are just one of the threats your players will face, or the campaign may centre around zombies. In the latter case, you may wish to use the organisation provided, the National Centre for Reanimation Prevention and Control - although this seems to be more suited to a more modern, high-tech approach to zombies than the one supposed by the rest of the book, which is more in the classic horror movie 'small town gets a zombie problem' mode. Whichever route you choose to zombie madness, this supplement will provide plenty for you (or the zombies) to chew on. The whole thing is presented in a laid-back, readable style and is available in both portrait and the rather awkward landscape format (which I don't like on screen, let alone on paper!). It's an excellent presentation of horror-movie zombies and well worth getting.
Return to Blood and Brains: The Zombie Hunter's Guide page.
Reviewed: 7 April 2005