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About All Flesh Must Be Eaten and Unisystem

All Flesh Must Be Eaten

All Flesh Must Be Eaten is probably the best zombie roleplaying game on the market. Published by Eden Studios, the core book includes pretty much everything you need for zombie adventures.

Along with the game rules, it includes standard zombie adventurer "archetypes" (character templates), and "dead worlds" (backgrounds in which you can set your zombie adventures). Characters come in three broad classes: Norms, Survivors, and Inspired. Inspired characters have supernatural abilities. If you want your zombie game gritty (like I did), simply disallow Inspired characters.

The best part of the book is the zombie creation section. This allows you to create almost any kind of zombie imaginable. You can configure the intelligence of the zombie, how the zombie can be killed, how the zombie feeds, what kind of senses the zombie has, etc. When done, the zombie will have a point value, which in turn helps you decide how dangerous it is. You can create slow shamblers from the original Night of the Living Dead, or you can have fast "zoombies" from 28 Days Later. You can also use the rules to create other otherworldly creatures.

All Flesh Must Be Eaten is pretty close to Eden Studios "generic" game system. There are a number of supplements that allow you to play games in other settings. Dungeons and Zombies throws the game into a fantasy realm. A Fistful o' Zombies puts the game in a Wild West setting. All Tomorrows Zombies allows you to play in a science fiction universe. If you take out the zombies, you have a decent generic game for that universe. All Tomorrows Zombies, for instance, has "zombie creation rules" that allow you to make up your own aliens and robots.

As well as the setting books listed above, and others that weren't mentioned, Eden Studios supports the game with an add on rule supplement (One Of The Living, probably the most important supplement to get), archetype books, and books of fiction.

For a list of the complete All Flesh Must Be Eaten game line, go to http://www.allflesh.com/flesh.html.

Unisystem

The game system used by All Flesh Must Be Eaten is called Unisystem.

Unisystem is not overly complex, aiming more toward a "rules light" approach. Characters have several attributes that range from 1 to 5 (6 is possible, but is very, very rare). Likewise, they have skills that range from 1 to 5. At its most basic, when attempting a skill a player rolls a ten-sided die (d10) and adds the result to the sum of an attribute score and a skill score. If the result is 9 or higher, the character succeeds. If the score is less than 9, the character fails.

There are also open-ended dice rolls, with a roll of a 10 allowing a reroll and a 50% chance of adding more points to the roll. Conversely, a roll of a 1 has a 50% of resulting in a negative roll. A success table explains how well a skill succeeded. Difficulty modifiers allow the game master (or, in All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the Zombie Master) to tailor the situation by imposing penalties or bonuses.

Characters have a pool of hit points. There are optional rules for hit locations. When a weapon hits, damage is handled in a unique way. The attacker rolls a die (anything from a d4 to a d10) and multiplies the die roll by a "multiplier". The more dangerous the weapon, the higher the multiplier. This generates a wide range of results in a simple system, from scrapes and grazes to instant death. Bullets, in particular, are nasty, with further result modifiers based on ammunition type.

Combat in Unisystem is dangerous, but it can be tempered by what is known as "Cinematic Unisystem". The cinematic rules are less deadly and, well, more cinematic.

One of the core aspects of Unisystem is the archetype. This is a character template. Players are free to build characters from scratch. If they want a faster system, though, they can pick an archetype and play with that. It takes very little time to choose an archetype and customize it, greatly reducing start up time.

Eden Studios has several roleplaying games that use the two flavours of Unisystem. The cinematic Unisystem games are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Army of Darkness. The first two are based on the Joss Whedon TV shows by the same name. Fox Television has decided to discontinue the license, and so these books are no longer being printed. Army of Darkness, based on the Bruce Campbell movie, is still available.

The classic Unisystem games are All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Armageddon: The End Times (a post-apocalypse game where angels and demons walk the earth), Terra Primate (think Planet of the Apes), and C.J. Carella's Witchcraft. Witchcraft is a supernatural/witchcraft roleplaying game, with an expanded magic system. It is also available as a free download! This is a great way of obtaining the Unisystem game rules. It also makes an excellent supernatural sourcebook for the other Unisystem games.

Conspiracy X is Eden Studio's game of conspiracy science fiction/horror in the vein of The X-Files. The original Conspiracy X has its own game system, which is not compatible with Unisystem. The 3rd Edition rule book is now a Unisystem product. The old source books (available from Eden and on eBay) can be used with the new version (some stats conversion is required). Eden will be releasing new Conspiracy X sourcebooks, in Unisystem, in the future.

All of the games, classic and cinematic, share a common rule system. The cinematic games are all compatible with one another, as are the classic games with each other. Want a more robust magic system for All Flesh Must Be Eaten? Simply use the system in Witchcraft. You can even port over aspects of classic Unisystem to cinematic Unisystem.

Eden Studios Presents is a set of magazine-like supplements for Unisystem. Along with additional archetypes and game rules, the books include extras that are well worth having. For instance, Eden Studios Presents, vol 1 includes details on a "science fiction setting". This setting is quite clearly Joss Whedon's Firefly universe, with the serial numbers filed off. Volume 2 has rules for combining classic and cinematic vampires. There are two volumes out right now, with a third waiting in the wings (it was scheduled to be released in October, 2006, but that didn't happen).

Eden Studios has a loyal fan base. This is good as the company is not prolific. They are well known in the industry for putting out top quality products at a glacial pace. The recent license cancellation by Fox resulted in Eden having to pay off the balance of their account with the television network, which created a cash flow crunch that delayed All Tomorrow's Zombies. The company is healthy and it has a number of items in the works, including Beyond Human (a monster/supernatural creature book for All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Armageddon, and Witchcraft), supplements for Conspiracy X and a pirate source book for All Flesh Must Be Eaten.