Zombienomicon (TM) was an outgrowth of my 2004 RPG Eternium, which is a superhero game set in a world as close to our own world as possible in terms of the corruption, evil scum in power, corrupt and incompetent police and so on. All that is altered is the publicity and frequency of Charles Fort’s “Wild Talents” – superheroes, supervillains and super powered randoms – who try and do the best they can in a world where as the tagline says “heroes are villains and the real villains are the rulers”.
Zombienomicon took the same basic material, already expanded in the teen-hero themed Silence Is Golden and ran with the idea of a world where predominantly supernatural powers flooded out after a single event – presumptively the finding and reading of a book of evil magic – the Zombienomicon.
Zombienomicon itself was followed by Gordian World right at the point where my game design and publishing activities entirely ceased. As of 2015 when I returned to this milieu in a small way I also thought adapting Zombienomicon into comic book form would be good, and certainly it lends itself to a bewildering variety of stories.
Gordian World added non-supernatural superpowered people and places to the Zombienomicon world, with the only possible supernatural or Fortean element to the technology being that perhaps before the Zombienomicon was read most of the technology wouldn’t have “worked” – the same shift in probably physics outcomes that permits the supernatural ecology to flourish also permits very unlikely technology to prosper.
Other than the digitally coloured figures this is all traditional art, and in fact collaged – the nineteenth century equivalent of photoshop layers I guess. 🙂
The Mighty Bill and Maeve emerge from the scene of the fight between the Bug Giant and Daemonosaur only to discover this enormous fortress, complete with impenetrable wall…
The obvious answer to what to read before creating a campaign for people to really involve themselves in and get stuck into would be – science fiction, fantasy, something “related”.
I really disagree.
I think the best genre to set up your own mind for the campaign is murder mystery, and specifically Agatha Christie.
1. Agatha Christie solves the problem of how to involve random people into adventures in a lot of her novels, particularly the non-Poirot / Marple ones. The stock pulp heroes and heroines she uses are “Dick and Jane” types who are drawn in through a single large coincidence or plucky normal people who have some odd event strike them out of the blue. If you assemble ten or so of these hooks, you have very memorable introductions to use.
2. Agatha Christie starts with observations of people- her hero(ine) sits there annoyed at a fellow traveller on the same bus, or with a character being fired from a job for being rude to the boss, or having just demobbed after a war, or home on leave whilst injured – or penniless after their father dies. These origins are instantly engaging and interesting.
3. Her villains range from the painfully predictable to the truly depraved, but she gets some essentials so right so often- criminals are not as clever as they think they are, they are selfish, and they like to hear themselves talk if they are psychotics. On the other hand people who do something for economic or personal reasons keep quiet. She also uses a good idea a few times- the real crime (or quest) is disguised by the murder (theft, vandalisation, threat) of someone not connected. That way, trying to solve what the victims have in common can never work.
4. Love affairs. She is always sensitive to the fact that people fall in love when thrust together on an adventure- but they don’t always end up with the one they initially fall for! Especially when that person is actually the villain!
The Secret of Chimneys
The Moving Finger
The Pale Horse
And Then There Were None