The revised version of the core rulebook begins with an Introduction by Shane Lacy Hensley, in which he discusses the popularity of zombies in movies, books and role-playing games. This, like much of the content, is similar to the original core rulebook, but everything is honed by five years of development and feedback. Chapter 1: The Dead Rise continues in similar vein exploring what the whole zombie concept is about, including a fascinating history of zombie stories through the ages. It also looks at some of the innovative rationales that have been used in various films to explain why zombies are all over the place.
The first four chapters are useful for both players and Zombie Masters, but the last two are appropriate for the Zombie Master alone. Chapter 2: Survivors covers character creation using the Unisystem rules. Archetypes are provided if you don't want to grind through the entire process, but if you do it starts with Character Types (which lay out guidelines for the rest of what's needed), then you need to sort out Attributes, Qualities/Drawbacks, Skills, Metaphysics (if any magical or superpowers are available) and Possessions. There are three Character Types: Norm (like you or me), Survivors (extraordinary characters stronger and smarter than normal), and Inspired (complete with supernatural powers). Those seeking a scary game should opt for Norms, or you might prefer a mix of Norms and Survivors providing character balance isn't important to your group. If you really want to take the fight to the zombies, go for Survivors or a mix of Survivors and Inspired (who have the same number of build points, just distributed differently). Whichever you choose, you get various build points to use to create the characters themselves using a point-buy system. There are plenty of details and examples to help you through the process.
Chapter 3: Shambling 101 covers the rules you need to play the game (task resolution, combat, character advancement and so on). If you're already familiar with Eden's Unisystem you can skim through this, if you're new to it you will soon find it all falling into place... even those new to role-playing should not find it too much of a challenge although it helps if you have someone more knowledgeable to helo you get started. Then Chapter 4: Implements of Destruction provides the equipment and weapons characters need to survive.
In Zombie Master territory, Chapter 5: Anatomy of a Zombie discusses what zombies are like, providing a wealth of options to help you make your zombies distinctive. Depending on the nature of your zombies, they may have different vulnerabilities - perhaps a head shot doesn't do the trick, they have to be dismembered and burned before they'll stay down. Good for catching out those players who have seen loads of zombie movies and think they know it all. They way they 'feed' and how (if) they can infect others are also discussed. Finally Chapter 6: Worlds in Hell provides a full eleven settings in which to stage your very own zombie apocalypse. Each one includes an underlying rationale for zombies being there and plot ideas galore to get you started. Most are contemporary/near future, but there are also World War 2 and even a mediaeval setting to choose from as well. This is one of the great joys of this game: the only constant is that you have zombies - how they are created and what they are like is left to your discretion.
At the end of the book there are some excellent summary tables encapsulating all the information that you need to create and play characters (or zombies for that matter) as well as conversion notes for those who want to play using the D20 Modern ruleset instead of Unisystem.
You may have been wondering why a revised core rulebook was needed. There are no real changes to content but everything's been streamlined, honed, made more player-friendly without losing the appeal of the original. Be it a one-off game of gory mayhem or a campaign that you are planning, this will set you off on the right path. Good luck avoiding the zombies...
Return to All Flesh Must Be Eaten Revised Rulebook page.
Reviewed: 12 June 2017