I’m calling W.H. Arthur’s Mall Zombies a two-paged RPG because there are two pages in the PDF. In practice, though, you can print double-sided and use a single sheet of paper. I think that’s the approach Arthur intends because the zombie version fits on a Side and the police on Side B.
You can pick up the game at Itch.io, where you’ll find an increasing number of indie RPGs, at a pay-what-you-want price point. I went with the suggested $2.
Character creation is straightforward; start with a name, add the pronouns you want then pick an adjective from a list for your special abilities. The special abilities let you look at the cards.
There aren’t dice in Mall Zombies; there are playing cards and writing materials. Arthur recommends safety tools like an X-card too (in case someone in your group is very good at describing gruesome zombie death).
Players take turns to scavenge, trying to find food and resources in the mall they’ve retreated to and from the zombies. The cards that you draw determine what you’ve found and whether you’ve been successful.
If you push your luck or draw a joker, then you’ve triggered a zombie attack, and you’ll probably die.
It is possible to win Mall Zombies, you can scavenge up everything you need and then manage to escape if the random card draw is kind to you.
Mostly, though, this game is about describing the dangerous and very often brutally ended lives of zombie refugees.
And the Mall Cop option?
Rather than surviving a zombie apocalypse, you’re protesting at the mall (and engaging in some tasteful vandalism too).
Rather than zombies; it’s cops, and rather than brutal deaths, you’ll leave the game after a brutal arrest.
Success in the police version is nothing to do with bringing down corrupt business owners, and just about getting back out of the mall again without being arrested. It’s just as hard as escaping the zombies.
Just a few weeks ago, an RPG called Police_Procedure also tried to look at police brutality, but in a less graceful way and kicked up a flame war on Twitter before the publisher was banned from DriveThruRPG for their behaviour. Mall Zombies feels like a more graceful game.
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