About this project
THANK YOU EVERYONE!
It's not too late to order. The Kickstarter campaign has ended, but you can still get it all via Paypal. CLICK HERE.
SO CLOSE YET SO FAR, LESS THAN $2K TO GO! HELP US REACH OUR STRETCH GOAL: FULL COLOR!
• • •
For every thousand mindless, moaning, infectious corpses, there is one that is special: one that is conscious. You are that one in a thousand - a zombie with a soul.
You are much more than a stumbling, feeding machine: you are cognisant and capable, a master of death and the dead. Once you learn to manage your disease, you could potentially live for an aeon, but most of us barely manage 20 years. I could invite you to join us, but if you are reading this, it’s already too late.
Live fast, die young, and leave a gruesome corpse.
Welcome to the party.
Those first few years are a bitch. Before you were contagious you may have looked upon the world and judged it to be fair, reasonable and quantifiable. You were wrong, and now that your flesh is loose and veins are throbbing, you know it. The world is rumpled and creased, and you are a part the malignant mucus that permeates these hidden ridges.
You know who you are.
• • •
"Let me dip into role-playing games for a minute... because I'm so taken by the sheer velocity and intensity of this project that I wanted to poke you in the eyes with it and have you see what I've seen... Over-the-top grindhouse art, corporate parodies, commercials for Taint-A-Way zombie control liniment, WWII-style anti-zombie posters, and much more – even if you have no interest in being a zombie (and who would really?), the level of commitment and energy involved in this project is impressive." - W. Eric Martin, BGG.com
You are an infection, and your existence is a secret to most of the Breathers; there are those who seek to isolate and sanitize you. The government has been lying to everyone for decades, outbreaks happen, and then are covered up.
Flesh eating bacteria? That was us. Chemical spills? You guessed it, us too. The Black Death? That was the big one, guilty as charged. Mad Cow disease? Yeah … that’s not us.
Listen close, it’s very simple, if you cause an outbreak, BLEACH is going to Supermax you. So pull it together Tox. If you want to survive, you need this manual. If you want to be a hero and change all this, you really need it.
Whoever you were or whoever you intend to be, you need I AM ZOMBIE.
"It all began when I was rummaging through the shelves in a Greenwich Village bookstore,” recalls Mark Rein•Hagen. “There it was, the historic first edition of I AM ZOMBIE: Manifesto of the Risen, squeezed in amongst the shelves where they keep all kinds of zines, old journals you’ve never heard of, mimeographed rants, and the like. I was a dumbfounded and completely fascinated by this strange little book. There was a P.O. Box address on the back page; this was our jumping-off point. I think the store wanted $3 for it, but a copy goes for way more than that now .”
The book that Mark had found was the first edition of the I AM ZOMBIE printed in 1962, for a covert community of plague bearers living in the cracks and recesses of the modern world. They call themselves Toxics, and are neither truly part of, nor separate from, our world; scratching out a living on the periphery, they are hounded and hunted by associations of clandestine, government operatives.
Further research revealed that I AM ZOMBIE was so obscure that Google turned up zero hits for the book, much less its authorship or anything about its publisher, Purgatory Press. Rare book dealers provided little help, but a few more months of digging Mark secured the rights to adapt and reprint the eccentric text.
“There are still mysteries, even in this day of Google everything. Call them search voids, or social media holes, nobody ever mentions them anywhere online. Sometimes, as we found out, it’s because someone doesn’t want them to be found. I AM ZOMBIE was like that, but finally, thanks to the people at Purgatory Press, we’re going to get to give you the guided tour of a world living below the surface of our own.”
As CEO and founder of Make Believe Games, simply reprinting the book was not enough for Mark, he wants to turn it into a game experience.
“We are going to attach a roleplaying system to the end of the book so that you can play out this bizarre artifact. You will take the role of a Toxic, one of these zombies, exploring the world described within the guide’s pages, prevailing over its hostile elements, and mastering the disease ravaging your body. But be warned, the original authors take this subject very, very seriously - to them its not a game at all."
In fact they want you to know this:
I AM ZOMBIE is a roleplaying game of horror and survival, set in a twisted version of the modern world, layered with secrets and mysteries. However this is a world of rationality and science, not fantasy and magic.
You are a Toxic, a victim of an age-old disease, the Scourge. The cycles of your life revolve around picking up and getting rid of Odium, a by-product of that which ravages your body. Odium build-up threatens to transform you into a mindless zombie - a Skag - whilst granting physical prowess. You might half-dead, but if you control your Odium, you can retain your humanity, at least some of time.
When your Odium is high you start to rot and decay, accumulating syndromes - symptoms of various human diseases: a bad rash, blotchy skin, boils, gangrene, and even necrosis. When Odium is absent, such as after the ritual of Purgis, you will look nearly human and the best possible version of yourself. For a few days you can live like a rock star, but then, inevitably, you decline again.
Chasing, Killing, Eating. Who says Romance is dead?
This life is a balance between physical superiority over ordinary people, and the threat of extermination by the CDC and BLEACH, a clandestine, militarized disease (Zombie) control government agency, determined to do whatever it takes to protect humanity from the “final outbreak.” They are a ferocious and tenacious adversary, wielding high-tech gear and are determined to control and eventually eradicate the infection.
An uneasy treaty exists between the infected and the forces that seek to sterilise them. Your movements are restricted, but Hospices - the heart of the zombie community - are tolerated. These bunkers, dotted throughout the world, serve as centers of politics and technological research. They house powerful older Zombies - the Profane - and their thralls and are protected by Skag hordes and terrifying carrion-fiends.
As long as you keep it clean, you’re left alone, but if you cause an outbreak, you’re targeted for termination.
Few humans know you even exist. Governments collude to stop and cover-up outbreaks, but they fear that a final, globe-spanning outbreak in coming, provoking ever more extreme measures of containment. For you this means a life of struggle. Increasingly intrusive government regulation and surveillance has cut-off the majority of the zombie community from legitimate sources of income and sustenance. As freedoms and resources deplete, all the Toxics compete fiercely for control of the underworld. Will you embrace the competition and claw off a slice for yourself? Or will you end up an Odium-riddled wad of flesh, putrefying in the gutter?
"Mark Rein-Hagen's games rocked my world and that of my friends in a way only a handful of classic games did before. When I designed The One Ring, Vampire was one of the books I revisited - I stole his skills-as-dots little trick wholesale! Now, I'm curious to see what IAZ has in store. Using cards for character creation and bump chips as rewards really intrigue me as a game designer, and I think that's only scratching the surface."
- Francesco Nepitello, Lead Designer of The One Ring RPG & War of The Rings
Forget about laborious mechanics, tedious calculations, and pages of charts. I AM ZOMBIE uses the Axiom system, which is elegantly simple, yet intricate and dynamic. The system is designed to make introducing people to roleplaying as fast and easy as learning a party game, while letting experienced roleplayers enjoy manipulating the system and finding the advantage.
Beginning with the approach to roleplaying championed by the Storyteller system and many popular indie games, Axiom takes things a step further with the introduction of Character Cards. These make character creation so effortless that players can whip up rich, detailed and unique characters in a matter of minutes. The 112 starting character cards include human occupations and avocations plus Zombie Cartels, Rackets, Lineages and Syndromes.
To create a starting human character, a player picks 7 human cards.
That’s it. You’re ready to go. Let the Outbreak begin!
The cards are not a game mechanic, they are a character sheet, but one that is interactive, modular and tactically dynamic; providing higher depth of control over both your alter ego and your game play.
Your Attributes and Skills are printed at the top of the card, and your personality and background (advantages and disadvantages) are presented as bullet points at the bottom of the card. Grindhouse style art portrays the core identity of the archetype. Taking damage causes you to fill with Odium, represented by flipping over a card to reveal its “Zombie” side. The art on this side is far more gruesome, and your skills, abilities, advantages and disadvantages have changed to represent your heightened monster state.
Running a game is made easy and intuitive with most booking eliminated. But unlike other lean game systems, this game is not just about "storytelling" (although that's a big part of it). I AM ZOMBIE incorporates many game-play elements and has a great deal of strategic decision making. This is a deliberate attempt to perhaps bring a new style to role-playing: simple but elegant rules that give the player a board game experience without getting bogged down by the old school minutiae of charts, indexes and rule exceptions.
Watch an online I AM ZOMBIE game session.
What do I roll?
The Character Cards come in five flavors: Social (green), Mental (yellow), Mayhem (red), Physical (blue), and Toxic (black). The game uses a dice pool mechanism that will be familiar to Shadowrun and Storyteller system fans, but on a smaller scale. Depending on your card selection and the feat you are attempting, you may roll dice of various different colors, but can have only as many successes as you have cards of that color, representing your potency in in that area. You want to make a roll? Take bunch of D6 and roll them. You got 5s or 6s? Good, they’re Successes. You’ve got 1s? They subtract from your Successes. Get more 1’s than Successes and it starts as a glitch but can end as a disaster. By the way, we're not selling D6 this Kickstarter, you can more easily find them on your own. Our friends at Chessex.com have exactly what you need.
To determine how many dice and of what colour to roll, refer to the three traits listed at the top of each card. For example, a player wants to bash a door down, and the narrator asks him to make a roll. The player is using his strength and body weight to break through, and because you always roll a combination of two traits, suggests that he roll Strength and Vigor. The Narrator agrees. The player counts up the number of times either of these two traits appear in one of his card stacks (see below) and rolls 3 dice for strength, 2 for Vigor (a total of 5). The player rolls 3 Successes and 1 Botch. In this case, an aggregate of 2 Successes is enough to knock the door down. If the player had rolled more 1’s than Successes, things would have got messy. If it was just a single extra one, this would mean their opponent would get some an extra die for their retaliation, but if it was more the narrator would be free to get creative (and let's face it, we love it when they do).
The Most Dangerous Game
Player all roll at the same time and then have to figure out how to work together to complete their task, they use their successes to help each other in different way. You can use either white D6, or 5 different colors of D6, it works much the same either way.
A character is kept in three stacks of cards, in any combination you desire (5/1/1, 3/3/1, 2/2/3, etc). As your character develops and learns to better harness their infection, you will add more cards, up to a current maximum of 15 (more powerful cards will be added in the future as supplemental decks). Players can swap their cards between scenes or in low-stress situations to adjust themselves for anticipated events. This compels players to be creative and strategic during play, and in their selection of new cards. Tactics and strategy are vital if players want to survive and flourish in I AM ZOMBIE.
Note: If you hate cards, we have a traditional character sheet you can use. If you don’t want to buy cards, complete versions of ALL the cards can be downloaded for free. With the Axiom system you get to choose which rules you want to use, and which you want to ignore.
Bump-chips are not required to play I AM ZOMBIE, but they add additional level of strategy and fun to the role-playing experience. There are three main reasons why:
1. They’re an intermittent reward which the narrator can use to gently push players towards how they want them to play: good roleplaying, intense storytelling, and clever puzzle solving. Running a game can be like herding cats, Bump Chips are your catnip.
2. Players love game advantages, it gives them better control over the game and it adds yet another layer of strategy because they must decide when and how to use them.
3. Bump Chips provoke a whole new kind of game play, one centered around real human emotions and situations. The remind good roleplayer to express their character emotions instead of just their words and thoughts, and encourages the others to at least try.
In most roleplaying games the only way characters change is through advancement through levels: they just keep getting better. In I AM ZOMBIE characters can change laterally as well, a player may switch out one character card between each game session as long as they can explain it in storytelling terms. This kind of change is not only true to life, it's a core truth in many of the greatest stories ever told. Character development is not always about becoming more powerful.
The Character Cards can be used to play Live Action Roleplaying and core rules will be provided in the Field Manual. Advanced rules will be released steadily online after the game comes out as we are able to playtest them at conventions and in the field. LARP rules do not use dice or RPS, rather you bid/bet your cards/stacks and take Odium when you lose.
MARK REIN•HAGEN is the leader of this madcap team and the creator of the game. He was co-founder of White Wolf Publishing, creator of the world-famous omnimedia franchise known as THE WORLD OF DARKNESS, creator of several bestselling games including Vampire: The Masquerade, and co-producer of KINDRED: THE EMBRACED, Mark is sometimes known in the game industry as the “Prince of the Vampires” (not really) because of the influence he has had on subsequent Vampire movies and TV shows. He lives in Tbilisi with his wife and two children and is prepared for the end of the world as we know it. Recently he gave a TEDx talk on games and learning.
Purgatory Press is the only known Toxic-run publishing company in the world. The story of how they avoid being shut down by the FEDs has yet to be told, and they ain't talking. They publish all manner of guides and papers relating to infection and the infected community. Their newest venture is Purgatory Club, a Braaains Emporium.
Screw heroin, brains are the ultimate drug: Live a whole life in one trip.
Make-Believe Games is an innovation-focused game company producing board, party, card, and roleplaying games. Our mission is to produce social games that combine the thrill of strategy with the engagement of storytelling. Our motto: Play Is Serious Fun. Make-Believe Games is a international company, with offices in Tbilisi (Republic of Georgia), Lampertheim (Germany), & Louisville (Kentucky).
Eschaton Media is an American game company focusing on game related trans-media properties. Eschaton Media came onto the scene with the release of the Dystopia Rising LARP network, and Dystopia Rising tabletop game properties two years ago. Since then, Eschaton Media has continued its focus on game lines that cross between the realms of alternate reality gaming, live action role playing, and traditional tabletop roleplaying games. Eschaton Media has thirteen publications, either already released or set for release in 2013, ranging from novels, to RPGs, to card games, and film scripts.
Following are some of the completed character cards, consider becoming a Solomonari to to get your image, or your characters, on a card!
• Uncut Sheet Character Cards - $50 (Add Shipping: USA +$7, Canada +$14, Other +$25, for each poster)
This is a limited edition uncut sheet of either one of the Character Decks, Human or Toxic, suitable for framing. Signed and numbered.
• Mini Art Poster - $25 (Add Shipping: USA +$7, Canada +$14, Other +$25, for each poster - FREE SHIPPING if you have already ordered a Field Manual and don't mind us folding the poster for that "Authentic Grindhouse Feel."
A limited edition 11"x17" art poster, suitable for framing, featuring art from one of the Character Cards (your choice).
• Extra Bump Chips - $18 (Add Shipping: USA +$1, Canada +$2, Other +$4 - for each additional set)
- Extra Character Card Decks - $14 (Add Shipping: USA +$1, Canada +$2, Other +$4 - for each additional set)
- T-shirt - Only $20! (Add Shipping: USA +$1, Canada +$2, Other +$4 - for each shirt)
- Mouse Pad - Only $12! (Add shipping: USA +$1, Canada +$2, Other +$4))
I AM ZOMBIE: Field Manual: A lavishly illustrated and dazzlingly produced book designed in same over-the-top, no-expense-spared way we approached our books at White Wolf. The first ⅘th of the book will be setting material, written by Zombies for Zombies, the last ⅕th will be all the rules, all concisely collected in one place. The Glossary and index will be combined into one extensive reference section, making it a breeze to not only find what you need, but understand what it means.
At least 288+ pages long, it might be even more if we break a key Stretch Goals, and might even be in full color if we break another.
The goal is to make this a book you would be not only proud to display but you can carry it around as an in-game prop. This book not only describes the world, but exists in it. This print version is going to be something you will treasure. Signed versions of the book will be numbered in the order in which you, as contributors, pledge your support. ONLY Kickstarter contributors’ will get signed & numbered books. The higher your reward level and the earlier you become a backer, the lower your number.
TeamZ - You will officially made a member of TeamZ. You will be on our mailing list for ALL special offers, you will gain TZ-xp (TeamZ experience points) even if you buy our game products in stores, which is status and access in our online game. As we move steadily into the LiveAction/Free Form game arena, TeamZ will be in the forefront.
Character Cards - If you have six or less players in your group, and you don't want them to have to have coinciding cards, you only one of each deck. However, if you extra cards for NPC's or you have plans for players to be connected to each other by having cards in common, you should got for one of the DEACON levels, which gives you six decks of cards at a discount price.
Vectors: Zombie Powers
"Vectors are the unique powers which the Profane, and a few Toxic have the ability to master. The ideas behind this categorization system have been developed over centuries, however we here at Purgatory Press have put a final gloss and organization to the system. We are proud to say that our ideas have been widely adopted in the last twenty years."
Skags are very limited in their ability to communicate. All they have is a small list of noises they can make. But even these can hold meaning to those who are paying attention or who perhaps have been there...
• Aaaagh - This sucks.
• Ahm-nahm-nam - This tastes great!
• Blagghhhag - Got you now!
• Ghaaaagh! - Ah ha! I got you!
• Ghrrrrh - Hungry.
• Mrhh? - Why, when & how? An existential reflection on existence.
• Urhk - Hello.
• Zbrrhrragh - Please kill me.
• Zzzzhhh - Shit, food got away
$37,000 FULL COLOR!
The I AM ZOMBIE: Field Manual will be made FULL COLOR. Basically I am giving this one away! Heck, we’re losing money on the proposition, but I just can’t help myself. I see the world in color.
$47,000 Bigger! 352+ Pages!
I will expand the main rulebook. I had been thinking about 288+ pages, but we'll make it at least 352+ pages. This means considerably more setting material, background detail, Axioms, and, of course, even more gorgeous art. The new rulebook will include a 10 Page intro story, Into the Maw.
So please, become a backer and now and help us break these goals wide open!
Risks and challenges
There are always risks involved with any Kickstarter (production delays, illnesses, shipping problems, etc), but we believe that we have taken what measures we can to get a step ahead of such issues.
At this point, I have learned quite a lot about the Kickstarter process, especially fulfillment date estimates. I've done this before, and we made mistake number one: we went with vendors we didn't know, and didn't have a relationship with.
This time I have done my absolute best to provide realistic shipping costs through research and consulting with other successful Kickstarters and moving the project back home. We are printing in the USA this time and are thus very confident we can get this product out by May 2014.
For safety's sake, this estimate also includes nearly six months of playtest time that, at this stage, we do not anticipate needing in full (we are pretty far along in the process now). This could actually be the first gaming KIckstarter project that ships early... But don't count on it, I put in the extra months just to make sure we NAILED our deadline.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Each Reward level lists the price for shipping for 3 different destinations. 1: Inside the USA, 2: Canada, 3: The Rest of the world. All Add Ons also have these prices listed. If you have any Add Ons you simply add those shipping prices together and then add to your reward levels shipping price.
After the Kickstarter is over we will send out a questionnaire which you will fill out detailing exactly what you want. If you didn't pay enough you can what extra you owe via Paypal or Money Order.
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