Wednesday 15 August 2012

Panama - All Things Zombie - Final Fade Out

"So, uh, what's so different that you have to do an update for ATZ - Better Dead Than Zed?"
Weelllll, let's go over some things - presented as the first half of this AAR - Panama.

We start with Billy Pink and Carolee cruising down the open road.

Push the button. You know you want to!

Billy Pink and Carolee are cruising along in a rural area when they spy a semi and what appears to be a wreck. Slowing down they approach the scene. There's six zeds wandering about and three PEFs - Possible Enemy Force markers - unseen by the duo.

First up, we've overhauled the vehicle rules. Vehicles are always moving both when active when inactive. Word of advice, as you're going to be moving just as fast when inactive you'll do well to plan your move and learn how to drive.

As the car moves on the Zed activation portion of the turn the PEFs also move, staying out of sight.

PEFs. What's become a staple in THW games isn't in ATZ-BDTZ. We've got four different PEF contact tables in FFO to be used at various times during the game. All are time and area sensitive to better reflect the differences between the first 30 days. And yes, we've also included the PEF contact table for after 30 days.

 Billy and Carolee activate and roll to a stop. A zed appears from behind the Walmart truck just in time to get popped.

In ATZ - FFO you start life as a Citizen. That's right, a Citizen. The Police show up the first week, then the National Guard. By the time the Army shows up you'll have to decide if you're a Ganger or Survivor as the Citizens slowly disappear. By the 30th Day the zeds are out in force and that's all that's left as the authorities pack it in and choose sides as well.

The zeds start to move closer as Billy and Carolee turn back to handle the suddenly increasing numbers of undead. When the zeds activate  two PEFs reach the truck, still unseen.

Carolee has got it right. Zeds can be PEFs now and even more interesting, zeds are rolled for and placed as the event happens. So if you pop off three shots at some zed head you roll three d6 to see if you generated zombies. No more rolling at the end of the turn
Hoping to stop attracting zeds Carolee melees the last one. She wins the melee but it's closer than usual.

"Yes Carolee, they are a bit tougher." Good news is you can only fight one zed at a time now and no longer have to split melee dice. Bad news is they're tougher in melee.

 As the zombies activate again one PEF comes around the corner and into Billy's sight. A quick resolution results in nothing "but something is out there". The Encounter Rating rises to 2. When active Carolee pulls open the trailer and Billy shoots the lone zombie inside. A quick search finds some Food but nothing else as the truck has been picked clean.
Many tables have been dropped and replaced with quick dice mechanics. No more paging through the book to find the table that tells you who's waiting inside that building or what you found.

Another zombie activation and another PEF comes into view. A quick roll resolves it as three women. They immediately begin to negotiate. They tell Billy and Carolee that they want to barter for items but Carolee isn't interested. do (failed Meet & Greet Test). Being a bit of a lady's man I figure Billy will try a People's Challenge with Carolee (another Star) to get her to agree with him to ask the three girls to join them. Carolee isn't interested in adding three more women to the group so that stops that idea (failed People's Challenge - success would be let's ask them to join and the failure was  Carolee saying "I don't think so.".


With the PEFs wandering on the table you'll run into other humans now and not just in when buildings like before. Now you can be in the open and run into friends, neutrals that you can interact with and of course, enemies.

 The three girls and the two Stars part ways. They head off towards the ambulance (?).

Sometimes the NPCs will join you, barter with you for items, or in some cases just exchange pleasantries and go about their business. We've added two new skills to go along with your Rep. People Skill for interacting with NPCs and Savvy Skill for those mental challenges that may come up.

 As the trio leave Billy and Carolee have a bad feeling about the whole experience and with good reason. I always try and stock my games with recurring NPCs complete with motives, etc. These three girls specialize in setting up fake accidents on lonely highways. Then when others come by and stop to check it out they rob or murder them. Just an example of what you can do with the ATZ-FFO campaign system.
But things may not always be what they appear to be. In FFO a neutral can turn into an enemy the next time you run into them. Or a pre-planned enemy waiting for the right time to spring a trap!

As the girls and our Stars head in  opposite directions I already have my next Encoutner planned.

Final Fade Out is a mechanically smoother game yet still provides more tension than before...and that's a good thing, right?


  1. I really like the re-occuring NPC concept.

  2. I like the changes, but I love the vehicle move change!

  3. Let me tell you folks, ALL of the changes are for the better! FFO is a very different beast to BDTZ.

  4. All the changes sound for the better

  5. Looks cool. I just wish I had played at least one game or even read all the way through my copy of BDTZ. I guess I still could.

  6. Sean, I would read through it to get some idea of what to expect and to play Day One at least.

  7. Zeds are tougher in melee now? I don't know, I always hate getting up close with zeds now.

  8. Well they are and they're not. No more piling on more than one zed at a time. And they can win a melee but not automatically hurt you. Still better to shoot them from afar.

  9. What? "...No more piling on more than one zed at a time..." Does that mean if three Zeds charge into melee I can only fight one of them?

  10. Nope, it means you fight the first, if he knocks you down and stuns you...they eat you.

    If you beat him then the next guy comes up, and the next until all four have had a whack at you.

    If you tie a zed then the following zeds get to add 1d6 for each zombie you're evenly matched with.

  11. Ah, Ok, so does that mean you get your 'full' compliment of die to battle each Zed in-turn? (Hence the 'no more splitting dice' comment?)

  12. Correct. Here's an example.

    Billy Pink starts with 5d6 and has a knife so counts a one hand melee weapon. He'll be rolling 6d6.

    Three zeds charge and Billy gets a chance to fire first. Bam! Miss.

    Now it's melee time. First zed Rep 3 rolls 3d6. Counts as improvised weapon so not unarmed so no minus.

    Billy rolls 1 success. But humans get 1 auto success versus zeds. Adrenaline, better motor control, whatever. So he has 2 successes.

    First zed scores 2 successes. Tie. Billy is now evenly matched.
    Same turn, next zed attacks. Rolls 4d6 counting +1d6 for Billy being evenly matched.

    Tie again. Third zed rolls 5d6 (+2 d6 for the 2 evenly matched results.)

    Zed wins by 2. Uh oh. Zed now rolls versus the differences in successes scored. Rolls a 4, Billy goes down and takes Knocked Down Test. Rolls 2d6 passes 2 so is stunned.

    Star Power and other Star Advantages do not work against zombies.

    Let's say he activates first. Stunned so can't move but recovers. Now counts as Carry On but prone. Three zeds charge.
    Billy fires and kills one. Other two attack.
    Billy counts a -2d6 for being prone. The evenly matched mod no longer applies.

    Hope this helps.

  13. Got it, many thanks Ed, can't wait for FFO to be released.

  14. Looks fantastic! Do we have an ETA on FFO?

  15. About the end of September, October. Have some surprises in the fire for it.

  16. I can't wait for this one. Bring it on!

  17. Do I see my old suggestion of always keeping vehicles in motion unless stopped used again? I am really curious what made you change your mind and make vehicles move even while inactive, Ed.

  18. When ATZ was being play tested way back in 04 vehicles were constantly in motion and people kept running into things and complaining that it wasn't realistic. That's why we went to move while active.
    Letting them move while inactive gave the player too much of an advantage as it doubled their actions as well.
    With the new In Sight mechanic both sides take the test so it puts them at a disadvantage I can live with and if you don't plan your movement right you can crash into things or make contested turns. Driving in ATZ will take some learning so when someone crashes they will say, "This isn't realistic" and IO can tell them with certainty, "You're just a lousy driver."

    The key is to thing of driving as one long turn with an active and inactive part. Decide where you want to go when you're active and not when you're inactive.

  19. Thanks for the explanation, Ed. I think it was the old cavalry rules that put me on the track of vehicles moving regardless of their active/inactive status. I may be wrong now but I think there was something like this in the old rules.

    Plus one thing which kept happening to me in my games: vehicles driven by low Rep drivers being easily outrun by pedestrians. This is only a short explanation, which makes it lose a lot of its flavor and sense but this was one of the things always made me use this variant for my vehicles.

    Glad to see it officially implemented in some way (again?).

    Now the question is - will there be any official/suggested way to backport it to 5150:SA? With 5150:NB it's easy, but I wonder if it will make any sense with 5150:SA...

  20. With 5150SA there's not much of a need as vehicles are usually moving towards the enemy but it would easily fit.