Monday, 24 August 2015

ATZ PEF resolution

(Just to explain the title for those who are not familiar with the rules, it refers to the resolution of Potential Enemy Force counters in All Things Zombie!)

A while ago, I spoke at some length about my idea for a card deck to replace the tables in the ATZ book. My rules for this were covered here and here and a sample game was played here

The problem I've had, however, is that I don't get to play ATZ that often and I have ended up wanting something simpler. What's more simple than a deck of cards, you ask? Well, it isn't so much the deck of cards that's the problem, it's that every time I paint some figures I want to use, I have to pull out the laptop, design a new card, hope I'm not out of colour ink, print it on suitable paper and then sleeve it. Which is, I'm afraid, a bit too much work than I want to put into it. 

So what about an alternative? It needs to have roughly the same effect as the deck of cards, but be a bit more than just pre-generating a handful of encounters. 

After a bit of a think, I decided it had to do certain things. It had to allow for a decent chance of zombies being encountered. It had to provide a range of encounters of varying REP (this being the skill level of the forces encountered). It had to be easy to set up and need minimal bookkeeping. 

In the end I opted for a partially completed encounter grid. Certain aspects, such as REP, were pre-defined, as were the odds of a zombie encounter. Other aspects were defined at the start of the game by the player and allowed for variation and flexibility between games. 

I drew up a grid on a sheet of paper. Cell selection would be done by rolling d6 along each dimension. Obviously it is hard to fit a square grid on a rectangular piece of paper, so I decided that a roll of 1 along the horizontal axis would mean zombies had been encountered instead. This number could vary, but I think 1d6 would be a reasonable amount. (Personally I like to use a special die with a skull as a 1 for this axis. A nice little aide memoir!)

Next I populated each cell with the REP of the figures. Cells selected by higher d6 rolls corresponded to higher REPs and these are printed in the box as I don't expect these to change between games. Before playing, I place figures in each box, thereby pre-defining the type and quantity encountered. Going through my figures in this way takes almost no time at all and means it is easy to add in any new ones I've just painted. 

If I want any special rules or skills to apply to the figures, I can just pencil these into the box as a reminder, or just decide to roll skills up as I go. Also, if I need more encounters to be zombies, I can just mark the box as such and if that one is rolled, I can just roll up a number of zombies. Or if I don't have enough human figures to fill out all the boxes (there are 30 after all!), I could just stick a zombie or two in any left over. 

To make things more interesting, I can add a note in a few of the boxes to roll a second result and place that 1d6 inches from the first. With this additional mechanic I could stumble across a group of civilians being attacked by zombies or a pair of gangers engaging a SWAT team in a firefight. This adds an instant layer of narrative to the game. 

So when I resolve a PEF, all it takes is a simple roll of two d6 and I know all I need. Plus I don't have to manage a deck of cards or even limit what the figures are. So what was defined as a REP 5 axe wielding hero by the cards could easily be a REP 3 civilian in another game, who happened to be chopping wood when the apocalypse happened!

Simple! (Click to enlarge)

I could also happily laminate the sheet and use marker pens to note details or changes on it. And it is easy to refresh it or just print a new one for another game. Next up is a good test of the new 'system'. 

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