House Rules

House Rules


This is not so much a house rule as an extension of the zombie decapitation rule. A limb will be considered amputated or otherwise rendered permanently useless If the damage it receives is greater than the person’s maximum life points. Since an arm or leg is considered to have 1/3 of the total body’s life points this can be restated as 3x enough damage to cripple the limb, amputates the limb. Removing only a foot or hand requires just 3x 1/4th of the total life points.

Brawling and Martial Arts vs Zombies

I have had this rule from the beginning but as of April 2015, zombies take only half damage from Brawling and Martial Arts attacks.


A measure of the physical power of the character, Strength determines how much weight he can carry, and how powerful he is. It also helps determine how much damage and exertion the character can withstand before collapsing. Consult the table below. This is the weight someone of that Strength can lift without much effort. Higher weights can be lifted with some effort (assume a maximum lifting weight — for brief periods — equal to double the Lifting Capacity). A character can “push the limits” and try to lift more by passing a Simple Strength Test. Every Success Level achieved allows the character to lift an additional 10% of his maximum lifting weight. This effort costs the character D4 points of Endurance for every Success Level in the Test. A failure on the Strength Test causes D4 Life Points of damage — the character strained himself and tore something up.

1-5 50 lbs/25 kg x Strength (Strength 5: 250 lbs/125 kg)
6-10 200 lbs/100 kg (Strength – 5) + 250 lbs/125 kg
11-15 500 lbs/250 kg x (Strength – 10) + 1,250 lbs/625 kg
16-20 1,000 lbs/500 kg x (Strength – 15) + 5,000 lbs/2,500 kg

Maybe I missed it but there doesn’t seem to be rules for encumbrance besides simply how much can be lifted. So using the Lift Capacity rules for strength above, here is my tentative rule of thumb for encumbrance. We’ll see how this works and adjust as necessary.

Updated: Compare the weight/encumbrance of what you are carrying to your regular Lifting Capacity. Take that percentage and reduce your dexterity by that amount for dex based skill checks (if it is logical) and in recomputing your speed. So a person with a 2 Str has 100 lbs normal lift capacity. If they are in fact carrying a 100 lb load that is 100% of their lift capacity. They would have a 100% penalty to their Dex, temporarily dropping it to zero. Their movement is re-computed to be (Dex + Con)*2 = 4.

This also means that if they are carrying above their regular Lifting Capacity (up to twice or “pushing the limit”) then their Dex could be adjusted below zero. So a person with Dex 2, Str 2, a regular Lifting Capacity of 100 lbs, and a Max Lift of 200 lbs could pick up 200 lbs but their effective Dex would be -2. Their movement is zero and they’d have to use the Push the Limit rule above to take some baby steps. If they were in hand to hand while trying to fight and dodge reduce their Dex by 200%. If they were instead carrying 50 lbs reduce by 50%.


I give out less XP than suggested because if I gave out roleplaying xp for every instance of good roleplaying that would be waaay too much. Characters usually earn between 3 – 5 xp per session. There have been some higher and some lower. If a character wasn’t played but had to make a roll (perhaps an absent player’s character drove and stayed with the car or first aided when the other characters returned to base) they get 1 point. They also get a point or two for participating online here in between games.

What I have found over this multi year campaign is experience and character improvement needs to be adjusted. It is too easy to advance and too few Qualities. Eventually every character ends up with the same list of Qualities that matter in a fight.

Fear Tests

We use a 1 roll Fear System that is similar to what is used in Ghosts of Avalon with a more detailed fear results table. Zombie fear tests are difficult tests and regular fear tests (gunfire, surprise, etc) are easy fear tests.


I’m too much of a gun geek not to try to make guns more realistic in this game.

  • I’ve changed hollow point damage to add one to the multiplier instead of tripling piercing damage. Hollow points are great but they aren’t magic and they don’t make handguns do more damage than high powered rifles.
  • Buckshot has been changed to piercing (doubled) damage. Birdshot damage remains undoubled since it is for killing little birds.
  • Birdshot doubles the AV of anything it passes through.
  • .22 LR weapons have a non-cumulative -1 to hit after the first shot. Basically there is so little recoil the usual -1 for subsequent shots is not cumulative.
  • This hasn’t come up yet but the maximum number of shots in a 2 second combat round equals their gun skill or Dex whichever is higher. For .22 LR the maximum number of shots in a 2 second combat round equals 2 plus their gun skill or Dex whichever is higher.
  • stun guns are basically touch weapons and very easy to use. An attack action is resolved as Dex + hand weapon (stun gun) + 4 or Dex + Brawling +4. The bonus is just because all you have to do is touch the contact points to the target. The results of a stun gun attack are evolving. I’ve been giving the stunee a difficult Con check to determine whether they are stunned for just 1 round or more rounds if they fail. I do something similar for pepper spray.
  • reloads: still evolving. (Just like in real life, reloads don’t happen all that often in street shootings)
  • semi auto reloads: it takes a round to reload a mag fed gun.
  • revolver reloads: It takes a round, to reload with speedloaders/moon clips otherwise reload a max of 2 cartridges per round. Slower if loose rounds are being fished from a pocket.
  • shotgun reloads: max of 2 shells per round. Slower if loose rounds are being fished from a pocket.
  • guns as contact weapons. It hasn’t come up yet but a character in hand to hand can use a gun as part of a strike. In other words, if it is more benficial to use Dex + Brawling (instead of Dex + weapon (pistol)) to jam a handgun into someone’s gut and pull the trigger then go for it. See next.
  • dodging guns. Normally gunfire can’t be dodged; only Duck and Cover rules apply, however if someone is using a gun at hand to hand distance then it can be blocked with martial arts or dodged.
  • Todo: modify some gun ranges to be more realistic.
  • Todo: modify some gun damage modifiers at different ranges to be more realistic.
  • Todo: figure out an easy way to incorporate shotgun spread and multiple targets.

Skill Checks

Like any other game system penalties or bonuses can be applied to modify the difficulty of an action. Rather than declare a penalty to a hard task, I usually announce that I am looking for a certain number of success levels. For easy tasks, instead of a set bonus I usually declare it an Easy Skill Check and let players double either their attribute or their skill level whichever is more beneficial. For very easy checks, I’m just looking for a critical failure or sometimes just a natural 1.

Untrained Weapon Use

There is no penalty to use a (non-handgun) weapon you don’t have skill in (with some caveats for firearms). After all you should be able to hit something with an axe more often than not even if you have never swung an axe before. There is a mishandling chance with guns but surprisingly nobody ever shot themselves in the foot or couldn’t figure out the safety. Handguns are inherently difficult to use though and if the user cannot default to another gun skill at -2 then the -4 non-proficiency penalty applies.

House Rules

Dec 21, 2012 big_g