Busy, busy… but luckily I’m again having a bit of time to develop the English-language Arkenstone webpages. Those have been lying in a somewhat unfinished state through the autumn and winter, as I haven’t had time to create the materials to make them complete. Now I have a bit more time, though, so I’m doing nice things like board variants for Zombie Cinema. I also translated and honed a weird variant of the game that I wrote some time back – it’s a variant to add traits and more dice into Zombie Cinema – because more dice is always better, right?
This is a larger rules modification that changes the flow of the game significantly. I don’t particularly recommend or decommend (heh) it, as it’s just something I made up when idly thinking about giving the game a bit more traditional structure. In practice it does just that, the difference is a bit like playing Pool with or without traits. Feel free to play with this, and let me know how it went!
You need to add more dice into the game – I recommend 20d10 (20 10-sided dice, available from hobby shops) or perhaps d8. Remove the original dice.
You might also wish to print out some “Zombie” Cinema Cards here and put them aside for later use.
Players create characters by drawing one Cinema Card of each color. Players may trade each card once either from the deck or the other players. Each player puts a die on each of his character’s cards – these are his traits.
After character creation, shuffle the Cinema Cards and turn three face up. These cards are then available for use when players need to draw new cards. Refill as needed.
In the trait rules the players do not, per se, have dice. Instead, they control the traits of their character. When a conflict is declared, each player may put out the die from their character’s trait only if the scene at hand addresses the trait. Players may well extend free play before rolling the dice to address and access more dice.
Addressing: a trait is addressed by a scene when the scene has content specific to that trait. This doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to the player’s own character, although most of the time it will. For example, the “Independent Woman” trait is usable in conflict when the player’s own character acts to confirm or refute the trait, or when another character does so. Whether the player’s character is in the scene has no bearing on this – any scene addressing “Independent Woman” is eligible for having the trait participate.
When a trait is accessed, the player controls how the die is used – he can leave it unused, use it on behalf of his own character (who participates in the conflict) or loan it out to another player. Characters can participate in conflict or ally themselves into them even when they don’t have any dice, but each side of the conflict needs to ultimately have at least one die for the conflict to go through.
The active player may at will assign Cinema Cards to individual NPCs. A single NPC may only have one Cinema Card, and the card is discarded when the NPC leaves the scene. The active player assigns the NPC to a particular player who then has control of the NPC’s trait as long as the character stays in play. A traited NPC on the losing side of a conflict loses the trait.
The player of a character on the losing side of a conflict has the option of switching traits – he discards a trait and draws a new one. If the player does this, he immediately becomes the narrator (in lieu of the winner of the conflict) and describes how the conflict transformed his character. It’s the player’s call as to how he interprets the trait; in some cases it makes more sense to have the new trait represent an external quality, such as a relationship, rather than have the character himself transform in this way.
Death and escape narrations override a transformation narration (but not the transformation itself, note). Only one character may transform per conflict, use the order of play to determine precedence.
Players whose characters die gain a fourth trait, the “Zombie” one. This simply means that they now have a fourth trait representing death and whatever else the zombies signify in the story. This trait is used the same way as all the others, and the player can still access his other traits normally.
When the player of a dead character opts for a transformation, he does not draw a new trait – instead, he gives one of his existing traits to one of the characters who participated in the conflict. He still becomes the narrator and gets to explain how the conflict transformed the character he chose. The player cannot give away his “Zombie” trait.