Happy Bishop Games

If the bishop's happy, we're happy

Happy Bishop Games - If the bishop's happy, we're happy

Outlive Outdead rulebook now on sale

Yes folks, the Outlive Outdead rulebook is now on sale at both DriveThruRPG and Indie Press Revolution. Both are PDFs and cost $12.99. I’m still working with DriveThruRPG to provide a softcover version with their POD system, but if you want a softcover or hardcover version, send me an email and I’ll get you one.

There’s also a two-game bundle over at DriveThruRPG where you can purchase both Outlive Outdead and Triune for only $20.98.  Two great PDFs for the price of one!

Though there is another option. Over at the Kickstarter page for the Outlive Outdead Companion book, you can get a PDF of the Outlive Outdead rulebook by adding $9.00 to any reward level. That’s right! The entire rulebook for $3.99 less than the online stores! But the Kickstarter only has a few weeks left. If you want this, you’d better order it now!

Kickstarter updated

Over at our Outlive Outdead Kickstarter site, we’ve posted our first project update. Several people had asked to see a sample of the layout, pics, and art direction we’re using for the book, so we made Chapter 4: Zombie Character Creation available as a free download. This is the final version of the chapter and will give you a great idea of what direction we’re taking for the book.

Don’t forget that you can receive a unique reward for backing our game: Send us a pic, we will zombify it, and we’ll place it in your copy of the game! Who doesn’t want to appear as a zombie in a rpg book? Probably lots of people but I’m likely not speaking to them. Besides, you can always pledge less and get an non-customized edition!

Popular? Us?

Our Kickstarter campaign is going well. After just two days, we have raised 20% of our funding goal. But as anyone who’s been through high school knows, it’s not about how much you raise–it’s about how popular you are.

And we are at least somewhat popular! Kickstarter has a page of projects that are “Popular” and Outlive Outdead is on it! Of course, we have no idea what counts as popular for Kickstarter. We also don’t care. We’re somewhat popular! Now maybe those cheerleaders will finally notice us!

Damn. Projecting my adolescent failures again. I’ll try to keep that under control in the future.

Anyway, don’t forget to back Outlive Outdead and to spread the word. The more people hear about us, the more likely this project will succeed. And the more popular we become!

Kickstarter is a GO!

Now we’ve done it. We’ve started our Kickstarter project for Outlive Outdead.

Our zombie roleplaying game is open for backing. We need your help! It costs a lot to get a game book out the door, especially if you want to offer print copies instead of just PDFs. That’s why we’ve turned to Kickstarter in hopes of raising the funds.

But that’s not the only reason. We really like the idea of creating rewards for people, not just offering a product for sale. It’s also community-based instead of just shipping copies to a store. We can connect with people in a way not available otherwise. Fine, that sounds a bit hippy and whatnot but it’s true.

There is one key to success for Kickstarter: spreading the word. Please help us by talking to your friends and passing along the link.


Tell everyone you can about this game! I mean, it’s got zombies, humans, shotguns, chainsaws, running, biting, hiding bites, character motivation, character death, character undeath, and more! People can always download the playtest edition for free to see what the game is like before backing our project. (It’s an unfinished version of the core rulebook without art or formatting but the rules are there.)

We’ll be posting updates regularly about Outlive Outdead. Not that we haven’t before, but this Kickstarter will be like fiber, making us more regular.

Ick. Skip that metaphor, will you?

Death, Running Away, and More Death

CODCon is a small con held at the College of Dupage in the suburbs of Chicago. I went there to run Outlive Outdead, not as a playtest, but just to enjoy the game we’ve been working so hard to publish–and enjoy I did.

There were only four players this time but that turned out fine. It played just as well with 4 as with 6 or 7 players. At first, they all played nice together: They protected each other from zombies, trust was not an issue, and they even spent Plot points to improve each other’s die rolls.

Then things got tough, and just like the zombie movies I designed this game to emulate, the humans turned on each other.

There’s a scene in the introductory adventure where (shocker) players are beset by a horde of zombies. The humans argued over which way to go, refused to cooperate, and split. Of course, this was a bad idea. One group got swarmed and were facing death. What did the other pair do? Spend points to hurt the first pair. Meanwhile, I’m spending points to make things even worse, and the first pair got chewed on really good.

Meanwhile, the second pair had their own problems as they slogged through a muddy field with zombies closing in on three sides. They tried moving quickly but the players from the first pair kept spending points to make them slip in the mud. They escaped but just barely and with plenty of wounds.

Later, the two surviving humans are trying to escape from a mall by getting to the roof and rappelling off the side. One rolled a break while making her Flee check, which means she went temporarily insane. She reach the ground and, rather than wait for her friend, ran screaming into the night. Meanwhile, her friend tried to get down the rope too fast and fell to his death.

This is exactly what I wanted to happen! Players turned on each other, not because they’re jerks, but because it was fun to watch plans go FUBAR. Everyone enjoyed finding ways of screwing over other players, and thankfully everyone was mature enough to laugh at what happened and look for revenge. This game is working out quite nicely–in an evil sort of way.

Personalized rewards

How would you like a zombie-you in a rpg book?

As we said yesterday, Outlive Outdead will become a Kickstarter project in the next few weeks. In return for pledging money, we will be offering various rewards. That’s how Kickstarter works. But we’re putting a lot of effort into making these rewards interesting and, at the risk of sounding all hoity-toity, very modern. Post-modern. Something like that, anyway.

Of course, people will have a chance to get a copy of the game (PDF, softcover, or hardcover), but we will be offering the option of editing the introductory adventure with place and people names of your choosing. Yes, you can get a print edition customized with a zombie adventure set in your hometown!

Not only that, but another reward asks backers to send us a digital picture of themselves. We will perform some Photoshop magic to turn you into a zombie and then put you in your edition of the game. Again, even print editions will have a zombified you as in-game artwork!

There are other rewards (signed copies, dice, stickers, even a vial containing a “zombie-infected blood sample”), but we’re excited about offering such personalized products. In the classical book publication method, this would be prohibitively expensive. Today, it will cost us a little more through higher mailing costs but, as we will print on-demand through Lulu, the cost of printing 30 softcover editions of 1 file is the same as printing 30 softcover editions of 30 different files.

We will truly offer a unique game book. Pass that along, will you? We’re starting our Kickstarter in another week or so, and we’ll need the help!

We will Kickstarter it

That’s right, we are turning Outlive Outdead into a Kickstarter project–just not yet.

For those not clued in, Kickstarter is an online “funding platform”. That means artists, musicians, film makers, and game designers who need funds to make a project successful can post the project on the Kickstarter website. People pledge money to help make the project a reality.

It’s not like a traditional funding scheme where backers are paid back their initial donation plus a little extra. Instead, backers are given a choice of rewards to thank them for their patronage. Pledge a low amount and you can get a copy of the finished book, movie, or whatever. Pledge a lot and you can get a copy plus all kinds of extras. It’s whatever you want/can pay.

Getting our first game, Triune, out the door was very difficult financially. Our art and printing costs ran much higher than we expected, and that has hurt our ability to move forward with new games. By using Kickstarter to release Outlive Outdead, we hope to gain the needed funds beforehand.

But it’s more than just money. Kickstarter is a unique, crowd-sourced alternative to traditional publishing. It allows us to create unique, personalized rewards for those willing to back us financially. Which rewards? We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

We plan on starting our Kickstarter project in the next few weeks. Check back here for more information.


Another playtest

I’m working with Paul Baldowski on Outlive Outdead and he just ran a playtest of the introductory adventure, Finding Mr. FEMA. It was just part of the adventure, but it’s a great report!

It looks like the players had fun, which is the most important thing. One interesting emergence that I didn’t think of was using breaks to further character development. Breaks are when your character snaps from the stress. It’s a success but there’s a troubling side-effect, such as attacking a zombie well past what you needed to defeat it or refusing to let anyone touch the item you just repaired for fear they’ll break it again.

In the playtest, Paul’s players used breaks to explore their characters. When a character broke, the player created a traumatic flashback to explain the break. I always thought fighting undead zombies would be enough to explain breaking, but these are wonderful! Cheers to the players for a great idea.

You can read the playtest here. There are some spoilers, technically, since it describes the introductory adventure.

Experimenting with a torrent

As we said yesterday, we’ve made a playtest edition of Outlive Outdead available for free downloads. It’s not complete–there’s no artwork, the formatting is bland, and most of the GM’s section still needs to be written–but it’s playable. And it’s available as a torrent.

This is our experiment: To make Outlive Outdead available for free on torrent sites (such as Demonoid) in hopes that people will like what they see and buy the real thing when it comes out. Will some people grab this freebie and run for the hills? Of course! This is the internet, after all. But given how the book has limitations, we’re gambling that the word-of-mouth effect will more than compensate for any loss of sales. “Word of mouth”? Sounds too unprofessional. How about “Web 2.0 marketing scheme”? Yes, that’s better.

Over two days, our playtest edition book has been downloaded 152 times and is currently seeded by 30 users. That’s way more exposure than we would have gotten simply by offering the PDF from our site alone!

So if you’d like to know what all the hype is about, download the torrent. Or just download the PDF from our site. Either way, you can playtest the game or just read and enjoy.

As for finally releasing the game, more on that soon.

Am I close enough to eat him?

Many of the rules in Outlive Outdead are uncomplicated. One of our design goals is to keep the rules quick and fluid so players can focus on the game experience. However, distance and movement are vital to a game about zombies and need extra attention. Because zombies can only harm humans when they’re within arm’s reach, players need to know how far away the zombies are. Since you can play zombies in  players also need to know if they are close enough to eat someone.

All distance in the game is broken down into lengths. A length is purposefully vague. No counting meters or feet here. Instead, the game only worries about how distance can affect choices in the game.

Distance starts at length zero, known as “L0″. A human and zombie at L0 are right on top of each other, and more importantly, the zombie can bite the human. A bite isn’t always the way to make more zombies. That can change in each setting. See this post for more info. That said, humans will likely want to get away from L0 where zombies will always want to get to L0.

At L1, humans and zombies can still fight and hurt each other, just no bites. At L2 and higher, zombies can’t do anything but moan and try to get closer, whereas humans can shoot guns, bows, and the like. This goes on until L10; farther than that means out of range for anything that’s not a cannon.

As for movement, humans can move 2 lengths each round if they are healthy, 1 length if they are injured. Zombies always move 1 length.

All of this works to give players (and the GM) a sense of how close they need to be to attack, escape, and whatnot without bogging the game down with complicated rules. A player with a human character carrying a bat will need to get to L1 or L0 to hit the zombies. A player with a zombie character will always try to move closer, hoping to get to L0 for that bite attack.

This also provides the fear unique to zombies: the slowly closing circle. As the GM maps out the action on the table top, players will see packs of zombies slowly but surely coming at them. It always seems easy at first; just run. Zombies can only shamble. Then you realize there are 20 zombies or more, all closing in on you from different directions. Can you outrun them all? What if you get injured–will the other players help you limp to safety or will they abandon you to your death? Don’t forget that if your human character dies, you get to play a zombie. That means other players aren’t being jerks when they let your character die.