Ravenous Reviews: Dead Scare

Just the Facts

Title: Dead Scare

Author: Elsa S. Henry

Publisher: Exploding Rogue Studios

Price Point: $15.00

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DEAD SCARE is a tabletop roleplaying game by women, about women and children killing zombies in McCarthy-era America. It’s based on Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker, and combines subverted 1950s American idealism with a blood-spattered zombie apocalypse.

It began when President Truman was the first public target of a Russian bio-weapon the Russkies designed to turn people into flesh-eating zombies. Everyone watched it on TV that night, and nothing in the good ol’ US of A will be the same ever again.

Cover Art

Score: 4 out of 5

The cover art really evokes the feel of 1950s USA where women and children must slay zombies. I’m kind of confused about what’s going on in the “head area” of the illustration, that’s why I’m dinging it a single point. I think it’s trying to evoke some “motion” or “action” or something like that with a roller-pin wielding person getting their head smashed in. I could be way off base on that, though.


Score: 4 out of 5

In the character creation process, the various playbooks presented are wonderfully put together. While I have yet to play the game, the “experienced gamer gut instinct” tells me these playbooks are very well balanced and no one playbook will overshadow the others. At the same time, I can see where each one will get “spotlight time” during the game, and this is a fantastic thing about a game. When you can see this right out of the gate, you have high hopes for the rest of the mechanics. Speaking of which, the high hopes I had for the rest of the mechanics in the book did not disappoint. Yeah, they’re “light” in the rules area, but those that do exist are there to support the wonderful narrative this world can create. This is very much more of a narrative/storytelling game than a tactical simulation of zombies vs. housewives in the 1950s. If you’re a number-crunchy person, then this game might not be for you. However, if you’re someone who likes rules to guide the conversation in the story being told, this is right up your alley.


Score: 5 out of 5

The postcards that make up the last thirty (or so) pages of the book are fantastic. Some great writers were pulled in to write these little vignettes that really build out the world and events that are going on. This is fantastic. The rest of the prose in the book sets the scene, really builds up what is going on, and helps the reader keep things in mind as to what is going on and what is at stake.


Score: 5 out of 5

The layout is clean and easy to read. The different header styles make it easy to know if you’re starting a major or minor section of the book, and the text flows nicely. The table of contents appears to be scant at first glance since there’s a decent amount of whitespace on the single page. However, I found myself using it quite a bit to find different sections of the book with ease. Bonus for the PDF being hyperlinked in the table of contents!

Interior Art

Score: 5 out of 5

The artwork is a strange dichotomy of whimsical and creepy. The creepy part comes from the sheer lack of eyes on any of the illustration. That gives me a ook factor, which is appropriate for this game. The zombies and depictions of damage to the horrors is somewhat lighthearted and not as dark and vile as most zombie-based RPGs. This is quite refreshing, to be honest.

Bonus Points

Score: 4 out of 5

This is such an original take on the typical “zombie outbreak” theme that I can’t help but throw in some bonus points here. I really like this quite a bit. Yeah. Zombies are a bit overdone these days, so I couldn’t give a full five bonus points because of this.

Overall Score: 27 out of 25

Overall Thoughts

If you’re tired of the “same old zombie genre” you really owe it to yourself to check this out. It’s amusing, refreshing, and just some down home goodness when it comes to slaying the strange undead roaming the world. I even love the fact that they (mostly) skip calling them “zombies” and use the moniker “zed” instead.

SPECIAL NOTE: I was given a preview copy of the PDF by the publisher for the purposes of this review. They did not pay me for the review (I wouldn’t do that!), so the only way I make any gains off of writing this review is if you go out and purchase the book using the link provided with my affiliate ID intact. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the link for your purchase, and it’ll allow me to build up credits to use on future purchases for future reviews.

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