Blood of the Zombies getting a revision

Seems that Blood of the Zombies is getting a revision; from the horses mouth –

@ian_livingstone: Blood of the Zombies quickly out of print. The Zombies appeared to be winning so Initial STAMINA increased to 2d6+20 for the 2nd edition

Nice to see that they care about the product and are willing to take on board constructive criticism. Also nice to see that I wasn’t being a pussy in saying the book was too hard! I thought I’d maybe slipped behind the abilities of my 7 year old self when it comes to these books.

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Blood of the Zombies – A few thoughts

First things first, Blood of the Zombies was a really fun book and a very worthy addition to the Fighting Fantasy series. It didn’t take itself too seriously and played around with the zombie theme in a way which would generally annoy the Romero-purist, but fitted the style of the book, nothing too deep, just cheap & cheerful.

There are a couple of criticisms I’d like to raise though. While I understand that the combat system was re-vamped to make it more exciting, facing large groups of zombies, it made combat an almost sudden-death situation. Make a bad roll and you could be getting hit for a huge amount of Stamina damage, not the 2 points we are used to. Even with the limited use grenades killing 2D6+1 zombies per attack round, there are instances where you could be taking well over 10 damage. Combined with the fact that there didn’t seem to be many ways to actually get Stamina back, Medi-kits being in very limited number, I spent a lot of time with basically no Stamina left. Yep, it’s a game book, not a novel, but I don’t have time to re-read it because I rolled a double 1 in a healthy state and got killed in one hit.

I was also a little concerned by the ending ‘puzzle’ regarding the number of zombies killed… now, spoiler-spoiler, but I counted 350 zombies felled at the end of my game. This was incorrect… fair enough I thought, I know there are things I missed. But a little Googling told me that the number was in-fact LOWER than this! Was I supposed to count every zombie, or just the ones in combat? Was I counting Yurr? Was I counting the one that killed himself in the clock-tower? What if somebody forgot to record a few? I know back in the day I never used those ‘Encounter Boxes’ on the adventure sheet… Just seemed like there is a massive margin for error and misinterpretation in making the ending work this way. Still, having said that, it’s a pretty cool idea in principle but could have maybe been worked a bit more clearly. The ‘bad’ ending that I got was pretty cool too!

Lots of things must have passed me by in the book too, the essential flak-jacket that alluded me, not to mention all the cool artwork I saw that indicated scenes I never encountered; a zombie playing drums being the one I wanted to discover the most! I did like this piece of artwork in particular though, a zombie eating fish from a tank –

Maybe I’ll give it another read one day, my map might help me find zombie drummer next time!

 

 

Blood of the Zombies – Part 3

Having looked back, we left off with the death of Boris, our friendly store-room salesman, at the hands of a group of twenty seven zombies, and now having scrambled back through my notes and my map, I can inform you that the next step was into a lift at the end of the corridor. Following swift deaths of  the seven zombies hidden within, I struggled to get the buttons taking me to the castles different levels to work, seemingly only being able to access the 1st floor. Exploring this area took me into another ornately furnished bedroom, a number of letters were found, all addressed to ‘Amy Fletcher’, the girl in the pendant I had found earlier. It transpired that Amy had moved here from New York as a cook, these letters from her Aunt Helen showed increasing concern as Amy’s letters had apparently become more frantic as she uncovered the macabre goings on at the castle. Along with the letters was a diary, similarly starting with enthusiasm, the diary entries descended into fear and confusion over the the uncovering of Gingrich Yurr’s horrific plans. Thankfully, her scrappy notes also included a trick to getting the lift controls to work correctly.

Turns out though that I had certainly gained the attention of Mr. Yurr and his undead cronies by assisting in the detonation of his clock tower, running around on the roof of his castle and jumping on his bed. Yurr himself and a ‘human’ shield of  four zombies were waiting for me on the ground floor! Zombie shields don’t last long though and as the final one fell, Yurr pushed one holding a grenade as I frantically closed the doors. The flak jacket that I absolutely, definitely was wearing… …took the blast and I continued my descent down the lift shaft to the basement.

This particular area was one I would spend a significant time in as the story starts to come to its climax, certain areas being reused and revisited under different circumstances. My first task though was to find out whose footsteps I could hear approaching. Naturally, they belonged to a small group of zombies, the part I hadn’t expected was that one of them was Boris! Seemingly, he kept some humanity as he reminded me to ‘kill them all’, so I duly took his advice and blew his head off. Taking an exit from the basement corridors I was in a fridge area filled with hanging meat, a short moment later and a chainsaw wielding zombie decided to emerge from the hanging carcasses, but I soon relieved her of her weapon, earning myself a 2D6+3 monster.

On emerging the fridge, I discovered a human, the same blonde girl I had seen previously in the locket, running from a pack of zombies and through a door. After cleaning up her mess by killing the pursuit, I convinced her that I was friendly and got her to open the door up.

The idea that all of Yurrs zombies had to be killed was reiterated by her (I could see where the end-game ‘puzzle’ may be heading) as well as the idea that Yurr was set to turn himself into a zombie. We took the time to explore the room though, which turned out to be Yurrs office and study area. A nice Easter Egg was put in here, a short birthday note reading ‘Happy 30th Zagor’ was signed by Yurr and left in his desk; of couse, Zagor is a certain warlock from Firetop Mountain. Only one useful tidbit came from the office and that was the location of a hidden emergency exit, Amy seemed to know where to go and so this was our next destination. However, things got a little silly first, with the sudden arrival of Zombie Kong, a hulking zombie, complete with Donkey Kong style tie, that was supposedly the undead darling of Professor Roznik, the head scientist behind Yurrs plans. Amy helped me take him down with her pistol, which is just as well as he hit HARD.

Taking a left out of the study area into the original corridor I entered, we made our way to what was the location of the emergency exit we recently learned of, using an electronic key pad, a hidden door opened and Amy was finally able to make her escape. I gave her back the pendant I found and sent her on her way as I still had zombies to kill. After we parted ways, I stumbled across a telescope which looked out across the courtyard, still crawling with zombies. Looking through it, I found the telescope pointing up at a balcony where Gingrich Yurr was apparently getting pissed…

…although on actually reading the text, he was apparently sitting with a Browning machine gun whilst simultaneously drinking and injecting zombie infected blood into himself. Yurr is totally metal. What followed was a detailed description of his transformation into a zombie and my sharp exit. Another big cheese was then encountered as back in the corridors of the basement I had apparently found the laboratory area as through some rubber swing doors I could see a bunch of scientists, including Professor Rosnik.

The chance for a ruse presented itself as I had nicked a white lab coat earlier from Yurrs bedroom, so in I wandered pretending to be one of them. The ruse quickly fell apart though, not because I was rumbled, but because I essentially lost patience, pulled a gun on them and locked them in some nearby vacant cells. The laboratory held a number of containers full of what appeared to be the inflected blood, the source of the outbreak, so this was safely disposed of, as were a large number of zombies. Leaving the area through a nearby door though managed to trigger a fire alarm and got me chased up a flight of stairs by a huge group of zombies back up to the roof. Sailing across the zombie infested courtyard on a zip-wire, I landed in the balcony where I earlier saw Yurr transforming, complete with Browning machine gun (2D6+15!), which went something like this –

A huge amount of zombies fell, a silly amount, but not all of them as Yurr appeared across the courtyard to the sound of an air-raid sired with an even bigger toy than my Browning, a bazooka, which he launched at the balcony I was firing from. Jumping, I managed to avoid the blast, landing in the courtyard, but having been caught off-guard, all my belongings except for a handgun had been left up on the balcony and destroyed.

Not long after, I heard the sound of a car engine as I approached the castle garage and was greeted by the sight of Yurr in his Austin Healey, barely able to remember how to drive, lurching out at high speed, racing towards me. Taking a few pot shots at the car, a lucky shot hit Yurr and sent the car crashing into the castle, up in flames and then into an explosion. Relief was short-lived though, as any good or bad horror movie will tell you, he isn’t dead yet, and true to form a burned, blackened zombie Yurr came stumbling out of the wreckage only to be beaten to death by my own bare fists. Grabbing a nearby bicycle, I got the hell out of there. On the way back, I came across Amy, walking along the road-side and we headed towards a nearby village together and the mythical page 400.

Now, 400 did not represent the true end of the book… the idea of killing EVERY zombie was a very literal one as the zombie tally I recorded was to be translated directly into a page number. Unfortunately, my tally did not provide me with a relevant passage and so I was forced to get what must be considered the ‘bad’ ending. Zombies leaked from Goraya Castle, rampaging through the countryside and infecting locals, their numbers would rise back up and by morning light I was finally to become one of them myself. My adventure was over.

Blood of the Zombies – Part 2

We pick up the story by taking a slight step back to Boris and Gregor, before I left, I was offered the chance to buy some items to take with me. I had $5 of Otto’s money remaining and all of the items on sale cost $1 each, so I could pick 5 of the following, a fairly cool ‘what would you take into a zombie war’ scenario.

Rubber gloves,
AAA Batteries,
Hack saws,
Screwdrivers,
Pencils,
Steel pulleys,
Magnifying glass,
Magnets,
String,
Fish-hooks,
Sunglasses,
Knife sharpeners,
Glue,
Packing tape,
Scissors,

I took the batteries, screwdriver, hack saw, scissors and packing tape and left the two behind.

I’m now realising that I can’t remember what I had armed myself with at this point, I believe I found a penknife in Otto’s room. Woopie. It would allow me to kill 1D6-3 zombies per attack round and I needed this as I would soon face my first zombies. Leaving the storage room I wandered into a laundry room where two zombies came bursting out of a cupboard, my now trusty penknife took them down to Chinatown. I’m not sure how you kill a zombie with a penknife, let alone two, but I managed it without taking damage myself. Thankfully though, I found some bullets stashed away, so at least I was half-way to being armed sufficiently for the challenges ahead.

Working my way through the empty corridors I found my way into a maintenance area stuffed full of zombies, another eleven bit the dust in all, but I did take a bit of damage this time. Even with the new baseball bat I had found (1D6 damage) a pack of 8 at once was impossible to clear without taking some hits. I think we have to forget here that I should really be infected after presumably taking a few bites, but we’ll over look this inconsistency. Searching the areas resulted in finding a grappling hook and a crowbar. On leaving the area I was back in the network of underground corridors and was promptly set upon by a group of three zombies, having dispatched them I was pleasantly surprised to find one of them was carrying a pistol (1D6+2), hooray for gunpowder!

A manhole cover led me down to a sewer section, which ultimately proved to be a dead-end, but did put me in combat with a hoard of zombie rats, which took a little work to kill off as there were fifteen of the swines. I also found a golden locket with a picture of a pretty blonde girl in it, apparently named Amy Fletcher. I’m guessing she’ll be an important character later on…

Moving back to the corridors I climbed a staircase to the ground floor of the castle, away from the stark, bare walls and into luxurious carpets and paintings. A series of paintings depicted previous inhabitants of the castle, with the latest resident being Yurr.

The man looks like a complete dick.

Anyway, further investigation of the portrait revealed a door hidden behind it, and behind that was a shotgun (1D6+5) and a few boxes of shells. Groovy!

Moving on through the castle, many more zombies fell, but I did infact succumb to my second death. A zombie in a hoodie threw a grenade at me and as I wasn’t wearing a flak jackets (must have missed that one) I had to perform a dice roll, I think I got a 1 and took the full blast to the chest, my adventure was over. But a bit of page flicking restarted my adventure and all was well. I then took out my frustrations on a pack of seventeen attack dogs who I blew to pieces with a grenade and a few shotgun shells to get to some keys; my character is a cold-hearted bastard, but now he has a bunch of keys.

Things quickly got cinematic as I ascended a spiral staircase to the top of a clock tower, rising up high above the castle. Following me though was a zombie with some explosives who made his presence known at the top.

Digging through the coal in the maintenance area earlier had earned me a grappling hook and rope, this was just as well as I needed to get the hell out of this clock tower pretty sharpish. Cut to the scene of me heroically smashing through the clock face and sailing down the exploding clock tower on a rope to land roughly on the roof of the castle, showered with debris and bits of zombie. From the roof I could see a timely arrival of a sports car driven by Yurr, pulling into the courtyard below, his zombies alerted to my presence by the explosion, screaming and pointing in my direction. Things weren’t going to be so quiet anymore.

Getting out of sight seemed a pretty good option, so a nearby skylight offered an escape route back into the castle. Crashing down through the glass onto a bed below, I found myself in what appeared to be Yurrs bedroom, scavenging for anything useful before I was found, I grabbed a few items including a lab coat. It wasn’t long before I was discovered though as zombies started pouring into the bedroom and of course were destroyed by my awesome shotgun. But outside the room, I came across someone who wasn’t a zombie, Boris had obviously been doing some exploring of his own and was being chased by a horde of twenty seven zombies! A couple of grenades thinned their numbers, the shotgun finished them off. Boris was badly injured and in his dying breaths managed to tell me that Otto and Gregor were dead, the zombie uprising had begun, Yurr was preparing to unleash his undead army and I alone had to end them NOW.

And that is where my adventure rests for now… 107 zombies, 15 rats and 17 dogs slain… I’m being hunted… Yurr still at large… exciting!

Blood of the Zombies – Part 1

#60

Blood of the Zombies

Insane megalomaniac Gingrich Yurr is preparing to unleash an army of monstrous zombies upon the world. He must be stopped and his undead horde defeated. In this life-or-death adventure the decisions YOU make will decide the fate of the world. Can YOU survive or will YOU become a zombie too?’

Before I get going – SPOILERS. BEWARE OF THEM. 

Zombies, then. I’m a zombie fan, but I have to admit to being a little reserved with my enthusiasm when I heard that the new Fighting Fantasy book would be zombie themed. The ‘genre’ has become so saturated over the past decade, a resurgence that seemed to spark from the first Resident Evil game, I wasn’t sure if I wanted zombies again. Especially as I tended to prefer the books with a fantasy setting. But as Ian Livingstone points out in his intro, it isn’t something that Fight Fantasy has delved into before, so it’s fair enough I suppose. In terms of bringing the books to a modern audience, I suppose it makes sense as well. I’m talking myself round as I type really!

The nature of the enemies you face shapes the combat of the game, zombies rely on weight of numbers, so they are all given 1 Stamina point each and you are told how many you will face, your weapon choice and subsequent dice rolls dictating how many you kill. The remaining zombies after each attack round each then do 1 Stamina damage. Similarly streamlined are the stats, only Stamina remains, Skill and Luck are sadly gone. But I have to admit that I did always seem to end up with 12/24/12 back in the day for every single book… funny that, huh? The Adventure Sheets are now located in the back of the book, and you get three of them, but no self respecting player would ever mark his book! Suffice to say, I would always scribble in them as a kid, rubbing out holes in the paper as I adjusted my inventory and stats. I always remember teaching a cousin of mine how to play the books, on telling him to ‘put a sword in your item box’ he actually drew a sword as opposed to writing the word, did anyone else do it visually? It never occurred to me to do it that way! Other than that though, the set-up is very familiar, a short Background section before the first page, the art in particular is in keeping with the black & white style of the past covering full page pictures as well as incidental art splitting up the ‘pages’. Also, I was overjoyed to see a nice green spine!

I decided to keep a map for my run-through and I will scan in a copy when I’m done, I have never done this before, that doesn’t mean I intend to plunder every corner, but I’ve enjoyed the sense of progress it has given me so far. It’s also going to help me remember exactly what I did!

The plot starts simply enough; you are a student investigating the potential existence of various mythical creatures around the world and end up being kidnapped in Transylvania whilst asking the locals questions about vampires. Blind-folded and chained, you’re left in a dark cell deep in Goraya Castle, told simply by the guard, Otto, that a man named Gingrich Yurr is going to kill you. This is where the adventure begins.

Managing to catch Otto off-guard as he brought me food, I made my escape by overpowering him and leaving him in the chains that held me. I wasn’t able to get much information out of him though, he seemed a little dim, just the hired muscle and wasn’t able to shed light on my current predicament. I discovered his room outside, eat his dinner, stole his money and most of his belongings, including a Jimi Hendrix bag. Otto wasn’t such a bad guy, I felt a little sorry for him. Although he had been kicking me in the gut a lot. Unfortunately, this wasn’t how it went the first time round. We’ve all held the corner of a page and looked ahead to see if instant death awaits us, and yes, I made the decision to aim a kick at Otto’s head instead of his body, missed, and ended up getting kicked to pieces before ending up being turned into a zombie. But we aren’t going to be restarting books for this kind of thing now are we?

Following my escape, I found a small storage room where I was confronted by two men. Given my current predicament, I decided neither fight or flight was the option and tried to talk my way out of this. This pair revealed themselves to be not entirely unfriendly, Boris and Gregor were their names and after greasing their palms with Ottos hard-earned money they told me even more. A relatively lengthy section describes the situation; Yurr is an insane megalomaniac who wants to destroy mankind for his own amusement by turning everyone into a zombie by exposing them to his specially created mutated human gene. Only humans in a weakened state will succumb to this and become zombies after the blood containing the gene has entered their system. You were one of many who have been left to deteriorate in a cell until in a state where you are vulnerable. Boris suggests that Yurr will eventually become a zombie himself and lead his army of followers against the world. Boris and Gregor want out, they didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for and hope to get out with the help of Yurr’s scientists before they are turned to the undead themselves.

The only way to stop this, Boris told me, was to kill every single zombie in the castle. Clued up and carrying a few choice items, I headed off into the the depths of Goraya Castle to see if I could get started on this task.