15 May 2007

The Infected (ashcan edition) by Eric Provost

Another new purchase, this is a beta test version of the game. It's designed to replicate films about zombies (and things kind of like zombies). Essentially, any horror film in which people turn into monsters.

It's an easy sell for me as it's designed for zero-prep, one-shot play. It's a short read, with no excess. Just the rules and play advice, with a few pictures in there. Some are evocative although a few (apparently from an older, different version) seem a little out of place.

Play is pretty simple. Players get given a card which randomly sets your character's motivation - they're pretty broad things, like "family" and "justice." Characters are then generated, by picking a goal related to your motivation and coming up with a name and background. Player characters don't really have any stats - just some tokens that count how far you are off achieving your goal.

The GM gets to design the monsters at this stage - their origin, purpose, how they infect people, what the transformation is like, etc.

There are also six NPC cards that go in the center of the table. They start blank, and get names as they appear in play. The NPCs start giving players a big bonus and the GM a terrible one, but as they help people this reverses. They also can become infected or monsters, as play goes on.

The GM gets a cup with some infected dice in it, which are used to have monsters attack people.

Then everyone takes turns setting up scenes. It looks like players will generally want to set scenes to allow them to reach their own goal, while the GM will want to generally cause chaos and infect the NPCs that people care most about.

Play occurs in three reels (or acts), subsequent ones starting when the GM runs out of dice. Each reel, they get a refresh of more dice. This will put a strong incentive to work hard to get your goal quickly, as it seems like it will be easy to run out of time.

The NPCs also have a nasty sting... you can get them to help you do stuff, for a big bonus. However, if you screw up then the NPCs can get closer to being a monster and thus turning on you. Plus the GM can spend infected dice to have infected or monstrous NPCs hinder you.

And you can get infected too. If a PC gets infected dice, they can use them any roll they want... but this involves letting the infection bring out some inhumanity in you. And you might end up infecting the others too.

Together, this all looks like it will lead to a tense, fun, zombie (or zombie equivalent) game with some nice inter-group conflict over the goals and NPCs.

I cannot wait to play this one, it looks great.

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