The last few installments of On the Table have focused on Wizards of the Coast products so I’ve decided to switch it up a bit. Even though I have the Sword Coast source book sitting on my desk, and I’m yearning to tell you all about it, in this installment I’m going to write about The End of the World: Zombie Apocalypse from Fantasy Flight Games.
The End of the World is a RPG series created by Fantasy Flight Games that focuses on what you would do in different scenarios that bring about the end of the world. This first book focuses on what would happen if that doomsday scenario is a Zombie Apocalypse. Subsequent books in the series have asked gamers what they would do if they felt the Wrath of the Gods, followed by the third book Alien Invasion, and lastly there is a fourth book due out about the Revolt of the Machines. We could see future installments too in the form of plague outbreaks, nuclear war, or robot chickens.
This book has an easy to read layout. It’s broken up into three chapters and contains a short introduction for players new to the series or new to role playing games in general. Chapter one contains the rules you’ll need to know as a player. This chapter is only about 20 pages so there isn’t too much information to take in. Chapter two is for the Game Masters. This is only an additional 10 pages of information here for the people that are running the game. The game manages to keep all the rules pretty easy to digest. There is nothing overly complex. Chapter three contains five different prebuilt scenarios for the GMs to use.
The End of the World: Zombie Apocalypse is quick to get into and easy to play. In addition to the GM it’s recommended that you have at least two players. The book contains the character sheets at the end and you are welcome to make photocopies of it or you can download the character sheet as a PDF for free from Fantasy Flight Games website. You’ll also only need a handful of six sided dice. No other polyhedral are required for this one. A key feature to The End of the World is that the character you play is you. You don’t have to worry about how to roleplay a dwarven Cleric, Orc decker, or all of the information that goes along with it. You just need to know how you would react in certain situations when your life depends on it!
In most RPGs there is a system in place to determine the outcome of an action that you want to attempt. The End of the World is no different. Fantasy Flight refers to these actions or tasks as a “test”. If you attempt a task that has a chance of failure you will be tested and will roll a set of positive and negative dice. The Game Master establishes a difficulty number and you roll dice that have negative and positive modifiers. When you total up the positive and negative dice if you at least match the difficulty number the GM has established you pass the test. Players can receive positive dice from other player’s assistance, equipment, situational benefits, and positive features from your character sheet. Negative dice are awarded from danger, negative features on character sheet, traumas that you have suffered in the game, and situational hindrances. Players are encouraged to haggle for more positive dice by finding the positive qualities in their surrounding but the GM can, and often times probably will, shoot you down.
Another interesting feature to this game is that players do not have hit points like some RPGs. Instead players take damage and suffer different forms of Traumas. Traumas can be either physical, mental, or social. Some traumas can take a day to heal while others can take up to a month of game time and have lasting, or even permanent effects, such as the loss of a limb.
The End of the World focuses heavily on the theater of the mind aspect of RPGs. This isn’t a miniatures heavy game that will have you bogged down in combat minutiae. Not that there is anything wrong with those types of game. This just isn’t one of them. If you are looking for a game that is heavy on imagination, where you are the actual character, and has a stream lined combat and task resolution experience The End of the World will be to your liking. I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5 stars. You can find it at your friendly local gaming store with an MSRP of $39.99.