RPG Review: 'Hell Follows' -- a supplement for Palladium's Dead Reign
The zombie-themed tabletop roleplaying game 'Dead Reign', which Palladium Books released in 2008, is certainly well-supported -- support books for the game include 'Endless Dead;' 'Civilization Gone,' 'Dark Places' and 'Graveyard Earth.' One book, 'Fear the Reaper,' focuses on a particular character class -- a group of outlaw bikers/modern knights errant.
The latest supplement, 'Hell Followed', delivers everything you would expect for this particular game such as new zombies, character classes and details on the setting. It does its job, but while I enjoyed the book, it may not win over role-players that have yet to be sold on the game or its system.
The book pushes the theme of hope amidst hopelessness. Quotes from NPCs and tips from the game designers seem to push this idea (there is actually a section titled 'Be the Good Guy).
There is a section full of NPCs called masked lunatics that can only be described as superheroes/costumed vigilantes customized for a zombie apocalypse -- possibly one of the most bizarre parts of the book (the most bizarre is a new kind of zombie that is actually a gigantic body composed of several smaller zombies and afflicted with conflicting personalities).
The book is thorough enough to contain a section on natural or man-made disasters and how they affect the setting. This includes tables used for percentile dice to get the possible results of flash floods, volcanoes and other calamities. This pattern of percentage-based tables is also used in sections on the internal structure of governmental enclaves that have survived Armageddon and the content of relief centers.
The book also provides new character classes such as drone-pilots and a sort of all-purpose good guy template called the one-man army. There are also several new zombies introduced, including one that leaks toxic waste and another that wears makeshift armor.
There is a nice section on rumors that could provide ideas to creative game masters. This section and a short story at the beginning introduce the idea of outer space as a potential setting or plot ramification, but the idea is left vague. This section also introduces a new bad guy group, the Phoenix Group chapters, but provides only basic information on them. Perhaps future supplements will expand on these ideas.
There is also additional information on cults apart from the Death Cults introduced in the basic game. But it seems oddly constrained when considering the amount of detail lavished on other sections of the book. More information on FEMA or the CDC would also have been useful, but good game masters could hypothetically get this information on their own.
This book is definitely useful for people that already own ‘Dead Reign’ and it remains generally true to the zombie genre’s tone and conventions (the idea of a zombie in a film inexplicably targeting a specific character, for example, is actually worked into the game courtesy of a new zombie type). But parts of the book may not impress players seeking a purer zombie apocalypse game.