Greetings! I’ve mentioned before that we’re doing these blog posts as a lead-up to the launch of our Undead Kickstarter on October 3rd. I had initially planned on using the first one, on July 17, to kick things off and talk about the undead in general, but then George Romero passed away and I felt it was better to do a little tribute to him. Since then we’ve had some great guest posts talking about various Chill-related things, but for today I thought it would be good to talk about the Undead book a little.
Why the Undead?
Why do a book about the undead? It’s easy to think of “the undead” as “zombies and vampires,” but interestingly, neither of those things are going to figure into the book much. Well, zombies do, but probably not the zombies you’re thinking of.
There are reasons for this both in and out of the game universe. In-universe, SAVE classifies “undead” separately from “vampires,” because although vampires are technically undead, they’re specific enough and have such cultural weight that they merit their own category. Out of universe, we had a sourcebook for Chill 2nd Edition called Vampires. It’s available for purchase in PDF here, and although it’s for the previous edition of the game it’s held up really well. I’d rather break some new ground than try to improve on something that strong.
As for zombies, when most of us think of them we think of the infectious, shambling eating machines that we see in The Walking Dead and movies ending with “of the Dead,” for which we can thank Mr. Romero once again. I love zombie movies, but they’re a different kind of horror than we’re going for in the Undead. Zombie movies create an “ark” (not an “arc”) – they isolate the human protagonists and let them become their own opposition. If you want an RPG about that, I recommend All Flesh Must Be Eaten from Eden Studios, Shotgun Diaries from John Wick Presents, and the upcoming Zombie World from Magpie Games.
The zombies we’ll be seeing in Undead, though, are more like the ones that we saw in the old EC horror comics, or in both Creepshow movies. They’re dead people that walk around and do violent things, sure, but they’re usually solitary and they’re typically focused on something.
In fact, as I was outlining Undead for my authors (whom you can meet here!), I chose to break down the categories by the motivation for coming out of the ground, rather than classifying by powers or using terms from legend. So here are the types of undead you’ll see in our upcoming sourcebook:
- Vengeful: Undead that return for revenge (see the trundler in the Chill core)
- Unhallowed: Undead that return because they were improperly buried or honor after death (in the Chill core, mummies are a good example)
- Forlorn: Undead that return for love (the stone baby is the closest we’ve come in Chill so far)
- Possessive: Undead that return to guard, protect, or watch over something or someone
- Bestial: Undead animals
- Servitors: Undead that return under the control of another creature (in Chill, these are the classic animated corpses)
- Unbidden: Inhuman creatures of the Unknown possessing a human body; different from other undead in that there’s nothing left of the person whose body they’re using
- Zombie Masters: The lesser and greater zombie master (the GZM is actually a unique being, but it makes sense to discuss it here. Zombie masters are in a class by themselves; by motivation they generally sought power.
Those are the rough categories, but within them, who knows what horrific sights we’ll see? I don’t, yet, because my authors are still busily working away! I hope you’ll join us on October 3rd for the next Chill Kickstarter!