Game Mechanics


AFMBE is a Unisystem game of course. Both the core rules and One of the Living player’s guide are in play. I’ve at least paged through all the supplements and they seem okay with the exception of a few Qualities. Most of their differences revolve around how they handle gifted characters and that isn’t an option in this game. I also have all the other Unisystem games (both Classic and Cinematic) so their are a few elements that make their way over from the other games.

Basically I’m going for a light, quick-to-play, realistic survival horror game for 2-4 players each session. I feel like each combat round goes pretty quick so no player has to wait too long until they are rolling again. I’ve also standardized a combat round on 2 seconds. I think the rules say 2-6 seconds but I feel like a longer round gives whoever goes first way too much advantage.

It is a pre-heroic game where characters are norms.

Player Characters

Players are presented with a pile of everyday victims with few if any survival skills from which to randomly pick their character. AFMBE provides lots of 1 page pre-generated characters and I pulled out all the most useless examples to be the player characters. This has proven to be so much fun we have stuck with it a year later although I have recently upgraded the victim pile to “regular” norms with some skills and equipment. My group has great role-players in it so it was a fun, usually hilarious, challenge with everyone being equally ineffective. And when they lost a character they could show up in the next round playing someone else in the crowd. Readers will see many examples of a character dying and coincidentally someone in the next room joining the group in the adventure log. Of course eventually the party stabilized and now even their secondary characters have grown into survivor level characters, so there hasn’t been as much character death. The secondaries are important to have when the primaries are healing from the inevitable injuries.

Sometime around maybe 2.5 years ago I upgraded the pile of useless Norm character replacements to Norms with actual helpful skills so there was not such a huge difference in capabilities. Later, somewhere around 3.5 years in players began picking from a pile of Survivor character types. I write “players” but really it has been just one player killing off his secondary character.

Spending Experience

I do enforce the justification principle when spending experience. Based on the wording of the text, it takes using a skill or attribute for three sessions before it can be raised. So new characters can’t raise anything until their 4th session (many never lasted that long) and older characters have to keep some sort of note about what skills they’ve been using. I don’t police this so it is really up to the players.

Next time I’d include a caveat that a skill can’t be raised by more than 1 at a time. After all it doesn’t seem justified to go from unskilled to hand weapon (club) 3 or suddenly getting Good Luck (5) overnight because they had 11 XP to spend,


Zombies in this world are made up in the sense that they don’t come straight from a collection of zombie aspects found in the rulebooks. And the cause of the zombies is still up for debate. There is a long list of zombie theories among the survivors at the start of the apocalypse. To keep the players on their toes, the zombies are not all the same. Most dead become “runners” but there are several distinct zombie types that have been encountered. They have learned that how a person was in life has some affect on how they come back. Normally that is as a generic runner because most people are pretty generic, but at other times they might turn into something more interesting..

Non-Lethal Hand to Hand Damage

We use the optional non-lethal damage for hand to hand combat. Punches and kicks come off a player’s EPS total. This works great as the danger of being killed is still there but a good night’s rest will heal the character fully. Also partway through the game I instituted a rule that zombies only take half damage from HtH attacks.

Enhanced Gun Realism

*The Guns are Loud optional rule is used meaning firing a gun in a confined space may stun nearby people.
*Not specifically guns but the “I’ve been shot” rule is in play; not for every hit but when it seems realistic.
*People untrained in firearms do need to make some Int checks regarding accidental/negligent discharges and using the safety.
*9mm in handguns and .223/5.56 in rifles is the cutoff point for cumulative -1 vs -2 on subsequent shots. Also have a house rule that .22 LR has a static -1 on shots after the first.

Departures from rules as written in House Rules.

Game Mechanics

Dec 21, 2012 big_g