One Foot in the Grave by Robert Nolan from Creepy Doll Studios [Review]

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There are four main pillars most of my gaming career is based on… Fantasy, espionage, Cthulhu and zombies. Usually any RPG I play in falls into one of these broad categories. In addition, I tend towards long-form gaming over short-form, preferring campaigns over multiple sessions vs. one night games.

One Foot in the Grave - Creepy Doll StudiosThough there are zombies involved, One Foot in the Grave from Creepy Doll Studios may change my mind on the whole one night game thing. Who knew that a game involving Bingo and elderly folks in a retirement home could possibly do that? :)

In fewer than 50 pages, Nolan describes the system and a starting scenario that could quickly be adapted to a ton of fun scenarios. You could play a game based on Cockneys vs. Zombies, Bubba-hotep, or something of your own sick and twisted devising.

The heart of the system for the old folk and the zombies is a simplified turn mechanic… Spot > Yap/Groan > Reckon > Grip > Shuffle > Scuffle/Chomp. You can’t do anything unless you spot it first. You can’t grip something unless you figure out where it is (Reckon). And you can’t move along unless you have a good grip on the situation… Simplifies things greatly and reduces things from “I can do 9 things this action” to “I do X, now I’m done”! :)

When a PC (or zombie) chooses to perform an action, they spend “Wind” (or “Chunks” if you’re a zombie). PCs can run out of Wind eventually and can take a break to get it back. But when a zombie is out of Chunks, they’re done. One action takes at least one Wind or Chunk, but they can also spend extra for additional effects.

The player gathers a dice pool (of D6’s) for an action based on the ability used, equipment, and other qualities. These become the “oomph” pool. And they add one die (usually a different color) as an “oops” die. Roll all of them, count up any successes (evens) and ignore any odds except if the oops die lands on a 1. If that happens, the PC rolls a d6 to determine a random disability like a hearing failure (“Eh?!”), gasseous emissions (flatulence), sudden drop of energy (nap time), etc.

Every action has the potential to generate noise, which can then draw zombies if they “spot” the characters. But beyond that, PCs have to struggle with their environment (stairs could be tough) as well as the zombies and their fellow retirees to get things done.

The opportunities for role playing these old folks is huge and could be hilarious. I have this image of a “chase scene” involving a group of elderly folks with walkers racing down a hallway in their retirement home chased by a bunch of stumbling, bumbling zombies ready for a snack. And all along the way, the retirees are grumbling and trying to figure out who’s slowing them down the worst…

Oh, but I forgot the Bingo angle! Every player gets a Bingo card. If they roll all 6’s on any roll, they get to roll two more dice (one d6 for the 10’s and one for the 1’s) to have a number called out. If they have the number on their Bingo sheet, they cross it off. Should they get a Bingo… a run of 5 numbers diagonally, horizontally, or vertically, they should shout “BINGO!” and that player then wins the game. Suddenly a military or police group charges the retirement facility taking out all the PCs and zombies EXCEPT for the Bingo winner. :)

For such a small game, One Foot in the Grave offers a ton of roleplaying fun. I think Nolan has come up with a great little system.

For more about Creepy Doll Studios and One Foot in the Grave

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