NecronomiZOMBIEcon! – Just Another Game About Cthulhu and Zombies.
I tend to have a weird sense of humor, which probably surprises no one. When walking through the Dealer’s Hangar at GenCon last year, I noticed a trend that one out of every three games being advertised either had zombies or Cthulhu. Superheroes fighting Cthulhu, superheroes fighting zombies. Pathfinder with Cthulhu. OR zombies. Spaceship battles against Cthulhu… And zombies.
So naturally I come up with the idea of eliminating the middleman and have zombies fight Cthulhu. Efficiency and all that. Over a few drinks, I start contemplating this, giggle to myself and then order another. Bob and Jeff naturally ask what I’m giggling about, I tell them and they promptly cut me off. As probably they should. But the idea never leaves my head, it just gets backburnered for a little while. Over the past year, I have toyed with the idea, written a few scribbles here and there, and then put it back in the drawer while I try to work on other things. Usually the challenge of folding a fitted sheet.**
It wasn’t until the last Strategicon here in Los Angeles I thought I would give it a whirl and do the game gonzo – basically, give myself a week to actually construct the game, smoke test it once and bring it to con with no safety net in place. To be honest I was probably hedging a little by smoke testing it once. The game was christened “NecronomiZOMBIEcon” and the next seven days (okay, nights) was spent piecing today how this game would look and play out. I was actually sweating this more than the debut of Bedlam Hall that weekend, despite being a zany little game that was intended solely for a giggle. As my buddy Jeff likes to say, “Short on time before the deadline? TIME TO GET FANCY.”
Turned out the game was a lot of fun, with a couple of new game mechanics that gave me serious pause for future use. I won’t go into all of them, but one in particular tickled me that I wanted to share and recommend for others if so inclined. it’s not new of course, it’s pretty much a bastardized FATE mechanic – Every character had a move or ability that I named but didn’t define. One character for example had the ability “Not the Face!” I figured it would be used as some sort of dodge mechanic, instead the player opted to give her zombie the ability to throw her own head as a weapon. To be honest, that was better than what I would’ve come up with.
Now I don’t know if I will run NecronomiZOMBIEcon! again at Strategicon or even publish it for realsies – it does need some tinkering for the shooting mechanics. (If you are interested in beta-testing NNZC! as you read this, drop me a line.) But that’s not my point, really. My real motivation for telling you about this is to encourage anyone working their first game not to be afraid to get in front of people or wait until things are “perfect”. They never will be and you’re missing the point of it anyway. D. Vincent Baker of Apocalypse World fame suggests that you don’t need to worry about the mechanics, just get it out and play it. Probably the smoke test was most important, with a few folks who I trusted enough to help tighten down some of the crazier elements (Thanks Trish, Tad and Mike!). I wish you good luck and good gaming!
** – I have often believed that if Hellraiser Cenobites really existed, they wouldn’t need to go through the pain in the ass effort of constructing a golden puzzle box, hoping someone was motivated enough to open it. they just need to come out with their own bedsheet line and take the people diligent or obsessed enough to fold a fitted sheet correctly. Although it would make Bed, Bath and Beyond a dark and scary place. Still, we got a coupon.