Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zombie Dice and Jewish Holidays

Me: In honor of Passover, we're going to fight zombie Nazis today.
Kid 1: This makes no sense.
Me: Of course it does, Passover is all about fighting zombie Nazis!*
Kid 2: Shut up. I want to kill zombies.

I have recently come into the possession of a box of zombie dice and was eager to give them a nice rotten airing. While this simple little dice game is quite fun in and of itself, I felt it also had some roleplaying potential. Today I was proved right.

I like to do unorthodox, routine-breaking, holiday-themed adventures for Passover. Today I have chosen the classic Passover subject of Nazi Zombies, mostly because I wanted to play with my zombie dice. Because it was a one time affair, I didn’t bother with a complex system or plot.

The three possible outcomes of meeting a zombie...
The kids played Jewish partisans who have received a tip about “mysterious radiation” picked up by Red Army radars. Their NKVD contact informed them that this mysterious radiation was of top interest to Soviet science and the PCs were asked to investigate and to report back ASAP. 

Every kid got five points to distribute among stuff he’s good at, each point being a single re-roll for the session. Unlike last year, this year’s choices were disgustingly practical – mostly firearms and engineering with a sprinkling of martial arts and explosives. I asked if anyone even considered taking Diplomacy, Espionage or something more subtle. One kid answered, “Can we talk the Nazis to death? If not, I really don’t see the point...”

As for weapons, each kid got the following
  • Grenade or landmine
  • Kar98k long rifle or PPSh-41 submachine gun
  • Hunting knife or byonet
  • Survival gear

The rifle could fire wasn't automatic, but was precise and reliable. The submachine gun was full auto but was inacurate and kept jamming. Two kids chose rifles and three kids chose machine guns.

Now as the above picture demonstrates, zombie dice have three possible outcomes: brain (fail), feet (meh), and blast (win). Red dice have more blasts (easy), green dice have more brains (hard) and yellow dice have equal distribution (normal). I used this quality to represent difficulty levels.

So, if you want to spray your foes with a submachine gun, you roll three dice and examine them from left to right. Because a machine gun is less precise, you roll yellow dice for nearby targets and green dice for distant targets. A jam cancels all the dice to its right and forces you to spend the next round attending to your weapon. A long rifle never jams and uses red and yellow dice instead of yellow and green, but allows only one shot per round.

The Assault
Proving again to be the most pragmatic kids to ever walk God’s green earth, the party crept to the source of the radiation, a ruined barn guarded by four German soldiers, and sent a scout to sniff around before the attack. He returned with news of a strange humming coming from inside the barn and two cars parked in front of it: a shiny black Rolls Royce and a Volkswagen truck riddled with bullet holes... and moaning.

This didn't happen... yet
The kids decided to steer clear of the truck and go straight for the barn. However, first they had to remove the guards. Their tactic was unsophisticated but sound enough. They hurled two grenades and opened automatic fire as soon as the grenades exploded. The attack was successful, but one kid was shot in the stomach and fell to the ground bleeding profusely.

Probably because of their D&D mentality, the kids didn’t feel this event deserved their attention and pressed on, forgetting about their injured comrade (“one bullet is not going to kill you, just use a healing surge next round”).

After a couple of rounds, I took the kid outside and told him that he’s died from his injuries, animated as a zombie and was now hungry for brrrrrainz. The kid kept a perfectly straight face and shambled toward the group, which meanwhile defeated the Nazi guards and approached the barn.

Enjoying his role too much, the kid dropped a grenade near the moaning truck, releasing four more zombies that suddenly attacked the group. At this point I took another kid outside and told him that everything was fine. The group still didn’t decide if they want to shoot him or not.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll tell you how it all ended in two weeks.

Meanwhile, live long and eat brains!