GAMING: 3 CLASSIC AND DEATHLESS HORROR RPGS

avatar-scottwoodard81zgv2hxg-lHorror and tabletop roleplaying games have had a strong relationship for decades. From the very beginning, the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS bestiary included ghasts, ghosts, ghouls, mummies, skeletons, vampires, werewolves, and zombies, along with specific rules for how to dispatch them all. While there are plenty of horrific adventures to be had using DUNGEONS & DRAGONS at their core (heck, the classic Ravenloft setting for D&D was completely inspired by gothic horror), games with the supernatural as their focus have also been around for many years, some of which are still creeping along to this day!

CALL OF CTHULHU

71nscrsn70lOriginally released by Chaosium Inc. as a boxed set back in 1981, CALL OF CTHULHU, inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, was the first true horror roleplaying game. So successful was this particular RPG that just this year (2016), the 7th Edition was unleashed at GenCon. If you’re interested in challenging ancient horrors and elder gods with little more than a Tommy gun and a protective elder sign clutched in your hands, then this is the game for you. Note that most CALL OF CTHULHU player characters conclude their runs either dead or insane, often within the first game session following their creation, so if the thought of spending time rolling up a new character only to have them in an institution – or in the ground – by the end of that same night doesn’t appeal, you may want to take a look at some other games.

CHILL

148433Back in 1984, a group of former TSR employees (TSR was the company responsible for the original publication of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS) launched a new gaming company of their own called Pacesetter Ltd. While they would eventually publish a variety of roleplaying games of different genres, including science fiction and time travel, their flagship title was a horror game known as CHILL: ADVENTURES INTO THE UNKNOWN. CHILL casts players in the roles of envoys working for a secret organization known as S.A.V.E. These agents work behind the scenes, battling against forces of the Unknown, including everything from Alpine Vampires to Zombie Masters. Originally released as a boxed set, the first edition of CHILL was supported with several fantastic sourcebooks and supplements (including a compilation of short adventures “hosted” by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark!) After Pacesetter met its untimely end, CHILL eventually found its way into the hands of Mayfair Games, who then released a revamped 2nd edition in 1990 that was also supported for a few years with excellent sourcebooks and adventures, until Mayfair shifted its focus to things like a little-known boardgame known as SETTLERS OF CATAN. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter, a third edition of CHILL with a couple rule additions including a clever new Token mechanic was released in 2015 through Growling Door Games, and as of this writing, this edition is still very much alive.

DEADLANDS

dlr_pg_exedAs someone who actually wrote a weird western roleplaying game – THE SIXTH GUN from Pinnacle Entertainment Group – it would be remiss of me not to mention Pinnacle’s DEADLANDS! First released in 1996, DEADLANDS embraces the concept of the “weird west” by mashing up classic westerns, albeit more in the vein of Italian spaghetti westerns, with straight-ahead horror and sorcery. Supported by a ton of source material, including books, novels, miniatures, custom playing card decks, and more, DEADLANDS presents a unique way to explore horror in a new setting devoid of things like cell phones and the internet. Like CALL OF CTHULHU, DEADLANDS has remained in print, in one form or another, in the hands of the same publisher since 1996. In its most popular current form, it uses a slightly modified version of the Savage Worlds rules and is often referred to as DEADLANDS RELOADED. Other adapted versions of the game have been released, including d20 and GURPS editions.

If you’re ready to unleash nightmares upon your tabletop, check out the links throughout the article and don’t forget your silver bullets, your holy water, and of course, your dice! And as always, visit DriveThruRPG for additional tabletop roleplaying games, and be sure to use our affiliate link below!

Huge Discounts on your Favorite RPGs @ DriveThruRPG.com

85: The Apocalyptic Conclusion – DAY OF THE DEAD Plus “Year of the Zombie” Films

By popular demand! At long last (and just in time for their 85th episode), Arnold and Scott turn their attention to one of the most apocalyptic achievements of horror cinema, the conclusion of George Romero’s first immortal trilogy of zombie mayhem, DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)! In this special tribute installment, the guys chat about favorite moments from such an oft-viewed classic, themes that resonate as powerfully in 2016 as they did in 1985, and some of the reasons why the zombies of DAY represent the apex of effects mastery by Tom Savini and his dedicated team. Head down into the salt mines (and get ready to do a lot of yelling), tell Bub to say hello to his Aunt Alicia, and have yourself one truly horrific day!

…But wait, that’s not all! After all, 1985 was “The Year of the Zombie,” so Arnold and Scott also talk about other unforgettable zombie milestones like THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, RE-ANIMATOR, LIFEFORCE, WARNING SIGN, and a number of others you might not even remember!

Check out our Patreon page and support the show!

Show Music: “Bitter Pill” (feat. Vosmoy) by Still Pluto.

We welcome all feedback at doctorofthedead@yahoo.comcontact@g2vpodcast.com, or on the G2V Facebook page! Find the show on Twitter at @DoctoroftheDead!

Zombies!!! Official Board Game Soundtrack (2016)

THE PATIENTS

Composers: Midnight Syndicate

THE PATHOLOGY

I’ve enjoyed Midnight Syndicate’s atmospheric work for many years now, and if you’re a zombie fan that has never yet sampled their unique blend of synthesized sounds and orchestrally-shaped compositions to create a themed melodic exploration of the macabre on every album, you now have the perfect way to discover the nightmare world of Midnight Syndicate. If you’re a zombie fan and gamer, well this is just about the closest thing to Heaven…I’m sorry, Hell on Earth!

THE PROGNOSIS

ZOMBIES!!! OFFICIAL BOARD GAME SOUNDTRACK is Midnight Syndicate’s brilliant new release, offering a horde of zombie-themed tracks to accompany the long-running Twilight Creations ZOMBIES!!! game and series of expansions. It’s also one of the most enjoyable and skin-crawling musical recreations of the apocalypse you’re likely to hear, and “It Begins” with a propulsive first track that avoids heavy rock clichés, bringing us into the end of the world with a melancholy, almost heroic sound.

“Where Did Everybody Go” conveys tentative and disturbing discovery that leads into a sense of urgency – a mission begins? “They’re Coming For You…” builds slowly, incorporating unnerving ambient sounds like shuffling footsteps and barking dogs to create an unsettling soundscape of terror. There’s a definite sense that the living dead are converging and no one is safe. Hissing and groaning fills the soundscape in what feels like a night-time urban environment of gated alleyways and rainswept streets.

“Slight Miscalculation” is big and bold again, but things go even wilder and more epic in a sort of musical Rube Goldberg running out of control. There’s a never discordant but complex blend of instrumentation as the assistant at the mortuary flips the nuclear switch and then the radioactive sandwich falls into the lightning bolt (thank you, David Cross, for perfectly capturing the descent into a zombie apocalypse in one twisty sentence). The track ends with the gasping first breath of some unliving thing rising to take over the world!

“Last Day to Live” is a melodic piano-driven track set in a windswept uncertain world with a plaintive final touch. “No Escape” feels more ambient than melodic, a general suspense piece that slowly ramps up – bits reminded me of James Horner’s ALIENS score – into a more percussive action scenario. “I Don’t Think They’re Dead” begins with steady eerie breathing, but is otherwise a slightly more generic suspense track with a nice rhythm and some satisfying countermelodies.

It’s back to the rainy “Town Square” as zombies thrash about and set off car alarms, with survivors running, screaming from afar, and shooting at anything that moves. “Zombie Master” is a track to make Murder Legendre proud! This ominous, epic theme heralds the arrival of the magical malevolent will that impels the living dead, crashing together like the cogs of an unstoppable machine of terror, with a hummable dark melody that also nicely complements the album’s opening track. This is purposefulness and madness intertwined.

This is purposefulness and madness intertwined.

“Raiding Todd’s Tool Shop” is all about urgency. As strings interweave to convey speed and purpose, ambient noise and a running radio report set the mood as our survivors seek the equipment they need to make it out alive. A sudden interruption in tempo and the crash of zombies getting in signals that it’s time to leave. And watch out at the end! “Veiled Hunter” is a short but concussive blow that suggests the battle has just begun, while “Into the Abyss” returns to Midnight Syndicate’s familiar rolling percussion approach to melodic construction, with some similarities to the “Slight Miscalculation” track.

“Alternate Food Source” is frenetic, with a visceral effect as you hear the gnashing of teeth and rending of guts. “Fear” has a metallic relentlessness that suits its title. As the track gives way to a ticking motif and distorted radio warnings, time very much seems to be running out; I particularly love the pulsing rumble at the end. “Adrenaline Rush” is the musical equivalent of grabbing your stuff and running from the horde as they bear down on you. The panic builds as fast footfalls and heavy breathing mixes in with the wild piano and percussion. You’re going to build up a sweat listening to this track…they’re right behind you!

It’s an epic, suspenseful, blood-racing and bone-chilling finale.

“Dusk” is an oppressive respite from the carnage, but surely hope is fading, and in “We’re Screwed” that becomes certain. Many of the album’s familiar motifs come together in this track as the end game approaches and the horde closes in for a very messy kill. There’s one thing left to do…and that’s give up! “Race to the Helipad” takes us on one last desperate run to escape the apocalypse. It’s an epic, suspenseful, blood-racing and bone-chilling finale to a superb album that not only expertly pays homage to the zombie genre but should serve as the pitch perfect accompaniment to a round of ZOMBIES!!! or the end-of-the-world game of your choice. Do you hear that? Quick, “get to da choppa!”

RATING

08brains

HELP US BY ORDERING THE ALBUM VIA THESE LINKS!

84: Z Nation S03E04 Ash Vs Evil Dead S02E02

Well…hmm. We need to talk about that scene in the latest ASH VS. EVIL DEAD, “The Morgue!” But first, it’s time to catch up with Murphy at the Museum of Progress in Spokane and the rest of the survivors on the newest Z NATION, “Escorpion and the Red Hand!” Also, if you’re in the Evans City, PA area this weekend, check out the Living Dead Weekend and catch Arnold’s lecture – “Zombies 101: Monsters with Meaning” – Sunday at 12-1pm!

Oh, and be warned that because of the extreme subject matter in this week’s ASH, we loosened up on language a little in this one.

Check out our Patreon page and support the show!

Show Music: “Bitter Pill” (feat. Vosmoy) by Still Pluto, and “Zombie Walk” by Vince Romano.

We welcome all feedback at doctorofthedead@yahoo.comcontact@g2vpodcast.com, or on the G2V Facebook page! Find the show on Twitter at @DoctoroftheDead!

83: Ash Vs Evil Dead S02E01 Season 2 Premiere and Z Nation S03E03

Ash is back, baby! Arnold and Scott talk the amazing ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Season 2 premiere, “Home,” the latest Z NATION, “Murphy’s Miracle,” and have a chat about some even more important matters as well as a report from Walker Stalker Philadelphia and a preview of the Living Dead Weekend in Evans City, PA!

Check out our Patreon page and support the show!

Show Music: “Bitter Pill” (feat. Vosmoy) by Still Pluto, and “Zombie Walk” by Vince Romano.

We welcome all feedback at doctorofthedead@yahoo.comcontact@g2vpodcast.com, or on the G2V Facebook page! Find the show on Twitter at @DoctoroftheDead!