RPG Review of 'Outbreak: Undead...' Second Edition
Publisher: Hunters Books
Writer: Christopher De La Rosa
Publication Date: 2015
(Editorial Note: This review is based on material sent by the publisher).
'Outbreak: Undead' bills itself as a zombie survival simulation game that allows players to essentially play themselves in the midst of a zombie apocalypse in the manner of 'Dawn of the Dead' or 'Resident Evil." The game's second edition comes with in a compact boxed set with a 160-page rule book, a bag of dice (percentile and special modified six-sided) and a deck of 80 reference cards that serve as a reference (statistics on equipment and potential threats, for example).
Character creation is based on whether you want to play a pre-prepared survivor from the game or a version of yourself (warts and all or fictionalized). The game provides a link to http://huntersbooks.com/spewai/ that asks you 40 subjective questions and your answers are used to generate your four basic attributes -- strength, perception, empathy and will power (my skills were all in the 20s', so I guess I am zombie food). Your real-life age is used to generate gestalt points for boosting your character depending on the character creation option used.
The rule book uses a version of the percentile system in which you rule a success number or less from 1 to 100 percent -- the difficulty as modified according to circumstances in the course of the game, available equipment, and your character's skills or abilities. Tasks are resolved with color coded dice and a dice pool. The percentage in increments of ten percent by which you succeed or fail in a task determine degrees of success or failure -- five degrees of failure, for example, is catastrophic).
The game is structured in many respects more as a highly realistic board game rather than a roleplaying game, although storyteller ingenuity is encouraged for developing narrative scenarios. Players are assigned missions, for example, with conditions for success that can yield benefits such as strengthening a group stronghold and providing survival points. The gambles players take can yield risk points, which game masters can use to generate hazards and enemies.
The game system seems complicated on an initial reading due in part to an over-reliance on symbols but it could very well improve in play (I am looking forward to running a play test review of the game). The list of zombies (standard Romero-esque flesh eaters, zombie animals, etc.) and potential enemies in the game is acceptable but not as expansive as I had hoped -- this is a game that may depend heavily on its supplements for longer campaigns. The game provides suggested outbreak levels for how bad the situation is but no explanation for an apocalypse.
The game's presentation is interesting. Photographs, sketches, sidebars with hand-written text and sample cards that are laid out to appear taped within the book give it the feel of a survivor's journal.
Overall, this is an interesting game that could provide a diversion as either a one-shot game or an occasional extended campaign between sessions for other games.
Our previous piece on this game may be found here.