Last month, I released Mall Zombies on itch.io, a mini-RPG on scavenging supplies in a shopping mall during a zombie apocalypse, which doubles as a satire on police brutality. It is a storytelling game for 1-5 players, requiring a deck of poker cards and writing materials. Today, I managed to test the game, and here is the play report.
There are two sides to this game; side A being about scavenging supplies in a mall during the zombie apocalypse, and side B being protesting at a mall in a police state. For today's game, I picked side A.
The more scavengers you have, the better the odds you are going to make out with the scavenged supplies. To give the colony a better chance, I played three scavengers. Character creation is simple; all you need is their name, pronoun and a trait. You expand on their backstory as you play the game. I made careful Andy (he/him), daring Janice (she/her) and wise Robin (they/them).
Next, I wrote down five needs for the colony. They need food, and people are not too picky in the apocalypse. People get sick in the colony, and they need medical supplies. There is probably no clean water from the tap anymore. Boiling the water with a kettle can make it safer to drink, and you can't survive in the apocalypse without a nice cup of tea. The morale in the colony has been quite low, so getting some entertainment in the form of DVDs would help. Someone specifically requested the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. The colony also needs candles, which is a good light source and can be use as a heat source in an emergency. Also, the scented candles would help elevate the mood.
Andy was the first to go scavenging, and made food his priority. I looked through the card numbers and their associated prompts, and chose the shop with the card 9 (Luxury). It was a shop that sells caviar, dry-cured ham and other luxury food items. It brought back memory of Andy's childhood; his parents are filthy rich and would throw lavish parties for their friends. The smell of caviar and truffle reminds him of a time of comfort, when his parents would take care of everything for him. He then realised that the smell of caviar was too strong, since they had been rotting since the power of the fridge went out. He went behind the counter and kicked down the door to the store room, and found a whole leg of ham still covered in shrink wrap.
Janice headed for the pharmacy (8, Health) to look for medical supplies. Before the zombie apocalypse, she was actually a pharmacist. The store she worked in had a similar layout, and she quickly found the supplies she needed. (The three cards in the pile forms a Straight, and she didn't even need to Push Her Luck.)
Robin went to electrical shop (6, Electric) to look for a kettle. Robin was a geek who tried their best to keep up-to-date with the latest technology, and they felt like a kid in a candy store. They weren't successful in their search at first, because they kept getting distracted by all the new gadgets. They snapped themselves out of it, and finally found the kettle that the colony needs.
With a leg of ham on his back, Andy went to the music and movie store (5, Wisdom). We went back to the flashback at his parent's parties, and his dad was actually a movie producer, throwing parties for famous Hollywood stars. As Andy walked through the stores, he recognised a number of movies his dad produced. When he walked past the bargain section, a zombie burst through from a heap of discounted DVDs and attacked Andy.
Janice heard the scream from the music and movie store and rushed there, but she was already too late. She saw the zombie munching on poor Andy's remains. She picked up the leg of ham from the floor, and swung it at head of the zombie, splattering its brain everywhere. Right at the bargain bin, she found what she was looking for, the box-set of Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Because a Three-of-a-Kind was drawn, what Janice scavenged was better than what she expected, so I decided that she found the limited edition DVDs with the director commentary.
Robin headed to the candle store (3, Warm) for the last supply. Aside from being a geek, Robin also practised in witchcraft. In the flashback, we saw them lighting candles in a circle and then meditated in the centre. Unfortunately for Robin, the store was already looted by some other scavengers. They went around the store and found a door that says "staff only", and there were some candles inside.
With the supplies, Janice and Robin headed for the exit. A small swarm of zombies have gathered around the mall entrance, and a few of them have caught sight of the duo. (A joker was drawn from the deck, which triggered a zombie attack.) Janice managed to find a scissor lift used by the cleaners, and got them out of harm's way for now. (J was drawn from the zombie deck, so Janice survived) The zombies couldn't climb the platform, but neither could the scavengers leave. Janice had an idea, that she could distract the zombies while Robin make a run for it with the supplies. (Flush was drawn, which means a PC needs to be sacrificed for the others to escape) Robin didn't want to agree to it, but there was no other ways. They saw Janice made a dash deeper into the mall and the zombies chasing her. There was an opening to the exit, and Robin made it out with the supplies that the colony needed.
We see the colony improving. The leg of ham held the hunger at bay; sick people were getting better; the survivors gathered together to watch the Pirates of the Caribbean. Robin was hailed as the hero of the colony, but they were riddled with survivor's guilt. Andy was remembered as the rich kid nobody liked who was killed by zombies. The camera pans back to the mall, and we see Janice as one of the zombies. She shambled to the counter of the pharmacy, almost as if some muscle memory retained from her past life.