Dead Stop Walking is a roleplaying game of horror and conspiracy set in an alternate, darker version of the 1920s. Much of the world is still recovering from the Great War (1914-18), which saw some of the bloodiest fighting in human history. To make things worse, during the war, when the Allied and Central Powers hit a huge stalemate (what we now call Trench Warfare), necromancy was used to break the deadlock. Dead Stop Walking is about dealing with the consequences of that. Because of the magic which was unleashed, the world is very much a darker and unstable place.
A phenomenon, known as Spontaneous Resurrection, now plagues much of Europe and many other parts of the world. As the name suggests, this causes the dead to rise spontaneously, something which is bad news for everyone.
In the aftermath of the conflict, many struggle to deal with an altogether different war for magical supremacy between the cults and secret societies which have slowly risen to power, a war named The War of Ascension. The game is very much about dealing with the unforeseen consequences of unleashing something that is not entirely understood, something which will hopefully resonate with the world we live in today.
With all this in mind we here at breacher18.com had a few questions for the guys behind Dead Stop Walking:
Richard Extall – Writer and Game Designer
Allen Farr – Writer and Game Designer
Phil Moss – Illustrator and Game Artist
What made you decide to go from a player/DM to creating an RPG?
I think the majority of roleplayers get the urge, at some point, to create their own roleplaying game. However, thinking about it and actually doing it are two, very different things. Dead Stop Walking is the result of my own ambition to do the same, although it has taken a long time to get to the point where we are now. Ever since I first played Call of Cthulhu and started reading the stories of H.P.Lovecraft, I have been an avid fan of horror roleplaying. For me, writing Dead Stop Walking is a dream coming true.
Is Dead Stop Walking a game based on an existing RPG system or is it a whole new system?
Dead Stop Walking will use our own system, which is still under development. Without giving too much away at this point, the system uses a degrading dice pool mechanic. As the characters progress through the story put before them, their individual dice pools will reduce, forcing the players to take risks and/or play more tactically. This in turn creates a sense of tension during game play, something which is important to any horror game.
Using our own system also means we don’t have to worry about licensing or work with established game mechanics that don’t quite work when used in conjunction with our own, very specific setting. It gives us a lot of freedom to do what we want. It means more work, of course, but ultimately I think the finished game will be more rewarding.
What were your main influences in creating DSW and was it always your intention to create a horror genre based RPG?
I’ve been roleplaying for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of rule trends come and go, from very intricate and complex rules systems, to more free-form, story based games. At their core, most horror games are there to tell a story, so with Dead Stop Walking we have taken that same approach when writing the game, both mechanically and narratively.
I wanted to tell a story of tragedy, loss, conspiracy and pursuit of the truth. Dead Stop Walking is about all these things, and more. It isn’t just a game of Humans vs Zombies. It’s much more of a complex game on lots of different levels. It has intrigue and a real sense of history, on top of the obvious horror elements.
As far as the horror/zombie genre goes; I have a love-hate relationship with zombie films. I really like watching them, but at the same time, I have a real fear of zombies, or at least the idea of them. And I don’t think I’m alone in that regard. I also love military history and the 1920s era, and in essence, Dead Stop Walking is a combination of all three of these elements. Of course, we have added our own dark spin on things, to create a game background which is interesting and immersive.
The artwork is amazing, how did that partnership come about?
Thanks. We are very proud of the artwork we have produced for Dead Stop Walking so far.
Most of my commissions come about through word of mouth and recommendations. Richard had heard my name from a former client and arranged a meeting to see if I’d be interested in the Dead Stop Walking project. Richard was very much interested in traditional, non-digital, art for the game, as he wanted it to have a hard, realistic and gritty feel. Digital art can sometimes have a ‘soft’ appearance, which wouldn’t have suited the artistic vision for this game.
After discussing the project, we began with two pieces to see if our ideas would work out, which they did. Since then I’ve been working on all the character art and internal illustrations for the finished game. My colour works for Dead Stop Walking are all produced using traditional oils, with the monotone pieces done using inks. I have also worked in digital format as well, on other projects for other clients.
I began my career with historical illustration, and that still holds a strong influence in all my work. I very much see the world of Dead Stop Walking as the real early 20th century with add-ons, and so I wanted to give the art a touch of that ‘Imperialist’ military style. The Dead Stop Walking game is great fun to work on and it’s exciting to see it evolve towards the finished product.
Dead Stop Walking is a game that draws heavily on actual historical events, which have been twisted slightly to create a rich, alternate history that is dark and immersive.
Unlike most zombie genre games, Dead Stop Walking is set during an unfolding zombie apocalypse. However, this is a slow, creeping doom as opposed to a sudden catastrophic event which is usually portrayed. Importantly, there is no biological contagion involved with the walking dead in Dead Stop Walking, but instead a magical one. This helps keep things in line and changes the emphasis of the game from one of survival to one of investigation, an important paradigm shift for a game that follows the zombie apocalypse genre.
It’s the creators hope that this take on things will appeal to gamers who are looking for something a little different.
Please leave a comment down below and also check out the links 🙂
Images are Copyright © Richard Extall and are used here with permission.