We spoke with Izak Tait of Stormforge Productions about the company’s zombie-themed tabletop RPG ‘Z Land,’ which was released in late July.
Can you describe the premise of Z Land?
In short, it is what would happen to real world (as it currently is) if a zombie apocalypse happened. We tailored everything that we could to make it as believable as possible. We spent a long time looking at how the world could become infected nearly all at once, what a "realistic" zombie plague would look like, and how the world would respond. Z-LAND, at least in the first time-frame, is a game where you can play as yourself when the zombie outbreak happens and see if you could survive.
What distinguishes it from other zombie-themed RPGs?
We take the survival aspect of the survival horror very seriously, it’s the cornerstone of the game. You will see you character weaken from hunger and slow from thirst. Forcing you to make decisions you otherwise wouldn't in the real world. Those hard decisions should you take them might have mental repercussions to your character. Every cause has an effect many of which you'll want to avoid. Our timeline and lore stretches from Day 1 to year 150 and well beyond that with three distinct eras The Fall, Terra Mortis and New Genesis. Each Era has its own dominant factions and mechanics that shift and change with each, it’s not going to be so easy to find that box of ammunition 65 years after the world's fallen apart
How was the game developed?
The game had its origins in an old zombie campaign we played. We didn't quite like the system we were using, and sought to find something better. By that point, we in Stormforge Productions had already made the Runed Age and its core engine the Sigil System. We decided that the gritty and lethal nature of the Sigil System would work perfectly in a zombie apocalypse game, to highlight the brutal nature of a world suddenly without laws, and where we were no longer on the top of the food chain. We started building on the Sigil System, creating the survival rules and working on the zombies we would need. We created a Kickstarter campaign and were amazed at the response we got, not just the money that was backed, but the amount of people who were eager to play. So we put out a beta and started playtesting. Z-LAND has changed a lot since then, and the feedback we got from our own playtesting and from everyone playing the beta versions had a major impact on how Z-LAND ended up the way it is now.
Will there be support material?
Oh yes, definitely. We are already starting to work on the first supplement, which will be the Player's Guide. This was one of the Kickstarter stretch goals and that should come out in an early access form soon. After that we have already had players asking for some themed and genre style books, so you might see a fantasy-Z-LAND or sci-fi-Z-LAND out as well. On top of that, there is a lot to explore in the 175-year future-history of Z-LAND and a lot of factions that deserve more lore, so expect world/campaign/setting guide to see the light of day eventually. There is always going to be ongoing support for Z-LAND. It's our undead baby and we love it.
What in your opinion is the appeal of the genre?
I think at the heart of it, it is the purest form of escapism. Everyone has wondered what they would do and how they would fare if the world suddenly ended; if there were no more laws or civilization, and it was only them against the world. It's a great form of catharsis where you can take all that real world frustration and vent it on hordes of zombies who want nothing more than to eat you.