Friday 8 June 2012

ATZ: Event Cards


Any reader of my earlier articles should have realised that I'm a great fan of game aids for the various systems that I play.  This is mostly because I host games for a large and varied group of youngsters at the Helensburgh games club; it's much easier to have pre-prepared collections of the information needed for each type of situation.  You've already seen my designs for ATZ character cards.  At some point in the future I may describe my Encounter cards (though that's still a work-in-progress).  For now, here's another of my ATZ game aids: event cards.

Random Events in ATZ

The basic rules for All Things Zombie: Better Dead Than Zed (ATZ) has a section on random events (p.52).  This is great, but I find that in the middle of a hectic game it's not easy to find the right table, even if I can remember in which rulebook the table is located.  In any case, I feel the need to tinker by adding new events of my own and also removing or adjusting ones that don't work so well for me.

So here's what I've done: a card has been created for each event.  Each card has a full description of the event it represents as well as a picture to give it some flavour.  All we need to do when a random event is indicated is draw a card and read the result.  Simple!

Production Method

So far, I've produced the cards as PowerPoint files with 9 cards to each A4 sheet.  These are printed onto thin card which is then laminated and cut.  Warning: it's remarkably difficult to align the front and backs of cards on a cheap home printer!  To counter against errors in registration, it's best to produce designs where it won't matter if the front and the back of the sheet are printed several millimeters differently from each other.

My goal is to collect enough events to make it worthwhile making a custom deck through Artscow or a similar service.  They will print a deck of playing cards with your own images for both the back and for each front for a fairly reasonable price.  Also, they often have promotions with deep discounts, if you can wait for the right deal to come around!  However, since a standard deck has 54 cards (52 suits plus 2 jokers), I still have many more events to collect.  If anyone cares to share their ideas for new entries then I'd be more than happy to hear them!

The Cards

So, with no more ado, here are the designs for the cards.  Most of these are for the standard random events from ATZ:BDTZ, but I've added some of my own.  If you're sharp then it is possible to spot several of these events occurring in my ATZ campaign games so far:

Here are some extra events for which I haven't yet designed any cards.  In some cases, I haven't even thought through the effects properly and the event is just a title (for now):
  1. Nearest zombie to a random character is recognised as a loved one.  The character must take the "zed or no zed" test immediately (even if they've taken and passed it before).
  2. The street lights go out (or come on).  [what effect would this have?].
  3. A door, window, fence or barricade fails and presents no further obstacle to zombies.  Either it was poorly made or the weight of zombies collapsed it.  Or maybe the zeds just found a way around/over/under it...
  4. All quiet: from now on all rolls to attract more zombies have a -1 modifier to the dice roll.
  5. Thousands of them!  From now on all rolls to attract more zombies have a +1 modifier to the dice roll.

Update: I've posted a quick experiment with the card style here:

Update 2: the finished deck of ATZ event cards is described here.


  1. If lights go out, play the game with night rules, if you have this option in the rules. If lights go on...why would lights go on? :P I guess you could attract extra zeds, because of all the lights.

    And great work on the cards, the work you guys are doing with ATZ really makes me want to buy that rules, too :P

    1. Go on - buy the rules! You know you want to :-) .

  2. The cards look good and are a good idea. My suggestion would be give each card a little bit of padding so that there is a white edge. I made a set of fate cards for Age of Blood you can have a look at the PDF at and if that direct link doesn't work try and look for AoBfatecards2.pdf, I used a taable in open office and then exported to PDF.

    1. Your Age of Blood cards look a lot better than my ATZ ones! I'm not an artist or designer by training (any small ability I have is entirely self-taught), so any tips or suggestions are most welcome. Thanks.

  3. I like what you've done with these. A full deck of 52 (54?) cards would be awesome. It would be hard to come up with so many events on your own but I'm sure other followers ought to be able to help you out. I'll have a think myself and I'll see what I can come up with.

    1. 52 or 54 separate events is certainly a lot! I have considered some tricks to make it easier, though I'm not completely convinced by either of the following:

      - Have multiple copies of some cards (thus altering the probabilities and making those events more likely than others).

      - Adding a "reshuffle" card, just like the ATZ "Risks and Rewards" deck.

  4. I have only word to say: MORE!

  5. I like this idea a lot. Whenwould thecards be used/drawn ? - On a die roll or at a regular interval?

    I'll put my thinking cap on for some ideas to add to yours but off the top of my head what about an out-of-control car/vehicle barrelling down the length of the table ? Maybe a recently dead, turning or undead at the wheel ?

    52 events should be easily attainable with a little help and imagination from fellow bloggers.

    1. The ATZ:BDTZ rules suggest that a random event is drawn when both sides roll a '6' for initiative at the start of a turn. That works well enough for me, though obviously you could tinker with the mechanism for triggering events if you desired.

      Hmm. Your suggestion of an out-of-control car has started me thinking. How about a flat tyre/blowout, requiring a driver test to stop safely? Maybe there's a lot of debris on the post-apocalyptic road, or perhaps the vehicle is unreliable after having run down too many zombies in the past?

  6. Damn fine work sir. So if you did get the full deck done, would that be available to others?

    1. Probably :-) . I imagine that I'd upload all the cards to or somewhere like that to have them printed for myself. I believe that sites like that can make a deck design public, so that anyone who wants can order their own copy of it from the same supplier.

      The only possible problem that I can think of is the legal one. You may have guessed that the artwork I've used isn't my own - it's all stuff I've found on the internet. I've tried to ensure that all of this is royalty-free and free-for-personal-use, which is fine so far. However, I'm not familiar enough with copyright law to know whether it would be acceptable for others to use such work for their own personal needs, even if I make no profit from it.

      So, I'm not really sure what will happen in the end...