Follow TV Tropes


Tabletop Game / Dead Reign

Go To

Dead Reign is an RPG tabletop game made by Palladium Books and set in a worldwide Zombie Apocalypse. Things all started with The Wave, a mass sickness that quickly spread across the planet and killed millions of people, who then came back as zombies. No one is sure exactly what caused The Wave, be it germ warfare gone awry, an act of god or even the result of dark magic. No one is sure, but most of humanity doesn't really care at this point. With 99% of the Earth's population now turned into ravenous monsters most of the survivors have only one thing on their mind: survival at any cost. This won't easy by any means, in addition to the legions of zombies that have taken over the planet are various death cults, bandits, raiders and even zombie worshipers that make life in the post-apocalyptic world even more hellish than it was to begin with. Still, what is left of humanity won't go down without a fight, that's for sure. The question is, do YOU have what it takes to survive in a world ruled by death?


This tabletop game provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: When the wave illness hit hospitals filled with patients were one of the first things to fall to the zombies and are very popular adventure locations. (All those zombie doctors and nurses don't really need their medical supplies and equipment much these days...)
  • Abandoned Mine: A very common location type in places like the United States and Australia. (Though some might not be fully abandoned...)
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers are apparently big enough for vermin, zombies, survivors and even death cultists to take up residence inside them.
  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: Since Dead Reign was made by the same company that did Rifts it uses many of the same mechanics and abbreviations found in that game such as P.P.E. (Potential Psychic Energy) and O.C.C. (Occupational Character Class).
  • Advertisement:
  • Action Girl: Several female survivors are this. Female player characters and Road Reapers are pretty much this by default.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Completely inverted with the Reapers, who are one of humanity's last major standing forces against the walking dead. They are even available as a player class and their leader is the much respected Big Good of the setting. Evil bikers do show up occasionally, but they get lumped in with the generic bandits and raiders.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The Death Cults, which regularly do things like feeding people to zombies or conducting dark rituals in the name of death. Rumored to worship a dark deity and the walking dead they serve as the primary antagonists of the setting and are arguably an even greater threat than the zombies they idolize.
  • Attractive Zombie: Pretty Zombies are variants of the basic Slouchers (though they can also be more elite types like Fast Attackers as well) that know how to keep up a more human appearance to lure in unsuspecting survivors with their beauty.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most military equipment and weapons. On one hand, they are often very powerful, fun to use (Who doesn't want to ride around crushing zombies in a tank?) and just really cool in general. On the other hand, these items are often extremely rare, require special skills just to use and are almost exclusively found in one of the most dangerous types of location in the game. About the only worthwhile military items are grenades and MREs.
  • Badass Biker: The Reapers are a massive motorcycle gang led by a man named Brad Ashley who banded together during the early days of the apocalypse, survived and wrote a guide about their many trials to help others survive as well. Naturally, they are also a player character class that specializes in being both a Badass Biker and deadly zombie killer.
  • Batter Up!: Baseball bats are common and make decent weapons. There is a lot of artwork depicting survivors wielding one.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Black bears and grizzly bears have spread out in the absence of humanity and a few have even managed to turn rural homes into dens for themselves and their cubs. Grizzlies in particular can easily dispatch even Juggernaut zombies with ease and pose a serious threat to survivors traveling through their territory.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The game includes a special rescue table for when the players get in over their head. Depending on the specific scenario the rescue may end up going south later on or go off without a hitch and earn the player group some new friends.
  • Big Good: Brad Ashley, leader or The Reapers, asskicker of the apocalypse and saver of more lives than possibly anyone else in the world. If not for him and his guide countless innocent people would have been lost to the undead and other menaces a long time ago.
  • Blood Knight: The game has both heroic and villainous examples of this trope with the Zombie Killing Maniac and Zombie Deathbringer NPC classes. ZK Ms are berserkers who can enter a frenzy where they ignore everything around them but the zombies and brutally try to destroy as many as they can. The ZDB is somewhat similar, except without any empathy whatsoever and will happily gun down anything that even looks like a zombie, not caring in the slightest if they accidentally kill an innocent.
  • Body of Bodies: The Walking Grave. Its the result of dozens of corpses fusing together and is a giant mass of limbs, faces and other body parts. Out of the five encounters Brad Ashley has had with them he only managed to take out two, the other times he was forced to flee. Even then, he had backup from several other Reapers during the battles and suffered heavy casualties by the time the abominations were finally put down.
  • Body Horror: Good lord, where to begin? This game has everything from super decayed insect infested walking corpses to nightmarish monstrosities made of fused together cadavers with dozens of limbs and appendages. Even the healing rules are loaded with extensive descriptions of necrotized flesh and the like. This is not a game for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.
  • Booby Trap: Several books have sections detailing various types of booby traps players may encounter on their adventures. Some are merely annoying, but most are extremely dangerous if not outright fatal for the unaware.
  • Burn the Undead: Fire is the only thing zombies fear and actively try to avoid. Even a small torch can keep several at bay due to the Horror Factor alone.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: One of the adventure scenarios from Graveyard Earth centers around a small group of American and Russian spacemen that were on board the International Space Station when the zombie apocalypse began. All are highly trained and skilled individuals, but need to make it back to the earth before they can become proper survivors... and there's no telling where they'll actually end up once they land either...
  • The Cartel: One of the last surviving factions in the territories south of the US border. Apparently their drug money allowed them to afford enough guns and soldiers to give the zombies a good fight after The Wave wiped out most normal forms of law enforcement and government in Mexico.
  • Celebrity Survivor: Random survivor leaders can be created from a table that includes famous celebrities, politicians and professional athletes. The players themselves can also be this depending on how they create their character.
  • Chainsaw Good: Chainsaws make excellent weapons for slicing up the undead, especially in the hands of certain NPC characters like the Dead Rats who get a bonus when using them.
  • Code of Honour: Road Reapers adhere to a strict code of honor that advocates protecting the innocent, watching out for fellow members and living life without fear of death.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Several types of these guys exist with attitudes ranging from "selfish, but willing to trade supplies with other people" to "utterly insane madman willing to kill anything and everything that comes near him or his stash."
  • Creepy Basement: Featured heavily. Player characters can development phobias or even obsessions with basements that affect their behavior whenever they are close to one. Basement areas also get their own special loot table, so it's not all bad, at least. Just watch out for dormant zombies that may be lurking in the shadows...
  • Crowbar Combatant: Crowbars make good weapons, especially the large ones.
  • Daylight Horror: Since the zombies can detect humans better at night players are encouraged to do most of their adventuring during the day.
  • Death by Cameo: The Palladium staff and freelancers appear illustrated in a nice two page spread... as a horde of ravenous zombies! Said graphic can be found in Sourcebook 3: Endless Dead along with a list of names so readers know who's who.
  • Doomed Hometown: Chicago was this for the Road Reapers. After arriving at the city limits to rescue friends and loved ones they found a city under siege from the growing legions of the dead. After several days of fighting alongside the local national guard they were forced out by a combination of zombies and massive casualties. From there they headed back out onto the road with some of the remaining soldiers and became the force for good they are know as today.
  • Elite Zombie: Par the course of any good Zombie Apocalypse genre.
    • Crawlers are normal zombies who lost their legs, thus they can only crawl. The problem is that they can now go into small spaces and lurk practically anywhere.
      • Trash Crawlers are a variation on normal Crawlers but tend to be even more heavily damaged and use trash and garbage to hide themselves and set up ambushes.
      • Sewer Crawlers may be the nastiest variation seen yet. They are extremely common in sewers and have even learned how to swim to an extent among many other nasty abilities.
    • Pattern Zombies are zombies with residual memory of their past life, and they're stuck repeating their actions in life.
    • Flesh-Eating Zombie is exactly what it sounds like, in contrast to the 'standard' zombies' Vampiric Draining.
    • Fast Attack Zombie are much faster, and can be identified by their twitching motion before they break into their sprint towards you.
      • Twin Speedster Zombies are two Fast Attackers that are fused or bound together in some way. They are highly aggressive and move in even more quickly with their attacks than normal Fast Attackers.
    • Thinker Zombie has problem-solving skills which makes them much more dangerous than your garden variety. Notably, they can open doors, use tools (even firearms!), set ambushes, and act as Mook Lieutenant to the other zombies. Death Cultists often make deal with them; in return for Life Energy, the Smart Zombies would relay orders to the horde to follow the Cultists' biddings.
      • Impersonator Zombies are rare Thinker variants that can impersonate human voices like a parrot to lure survivors to their doom. Because of its nature it tends to stay in one spot to set up traps rather than wonder around and has an extended range at which it can detect humans.
      • Spare-Parts Thinkers are Thinkers that have learned to cram scrap metal and other study bits of trash and junk into their own bodies to serve as makeshift armor. This makes them extremely deadly as the items they stick in themselves are also often sharp and gives the zombie a deadly weapon to use against survivors.
    • Mock Zombie is the most enigmatic of all. They possess their original personality and intelligence, and do not believe they have turned into a zombie. They might try to pass themselves as someone who's different in appearance, but inside they are still the same person, and given that they are able to talk articulately, you might believe them. But this isn't Fallout Ghouls, the Horror Hunger is real, and eventually they will eat one of you and they will try to deny the act. Worst of all, with sufficient meals, they could revitalize their appearance to pre-zombie levels, although this will deteriorate over time.
    • Juggernaut Zombies are a variation on the basic Slouchers but with more fat and/or muscle mass which makes them a much deadlier foe. Somewhat similar to a Thug or Tank.
      • Parasite Juggernauts are formed when several smaller zombies are absorbed into the Juggernauts flesh, which increases the monster's bulk ever further and gives it several new limbs and appendages. Needless to say, this is not something that even the most seasoned zombie slayers would want to face alone.
    • Pretty Zombies are another variation on the basic Sloucher (though they can also be Fast Attackers or Flesh Eaters) that is in better physical condition than most normal zombies and knows basic ways to groom itself and keep up a beautiful appearance. True to their name they attempt to use their looks to distract and ambush survivors who approach them.
    • Bug Boys are Slouchers that have decayed and rotted so much that their body has become a home for insects such as cockroaches, mosquitoes and centipedes which is so disgusting and scary that they have a higher Horror Factor than most other zombies. These bugs can also spread nasty diseases just on contact and can be a major pain to deal with, as such this one one type of zombie that is better off avoided.
    • Worm Meats are similar to the Bug Boys in almost every way, but have a few of their own special abilities. The key difference between it and a Bug Boy is that instead of insects its entire body is covered, or even encrusted with, maggots, leeches and/or worms. Nasty to look at, but even nastier to deal with.
    • Fast-Slow Zombies are a fusion of Fast Attack Zombies and a slower (usually Sloucher or Juggernaut) zombie. Because of their different movement speeds and agility they often fight with the stronger of the two deciding their movement. Because of this it can be very beneficial to kill one to slow the other down or even back up a perusing horde.
    • Fused Zombies are one or more zombies fused together by fire or something else combining their flesh. If each head isn't destroyed the remaining zombies will drag around the corpses of the others until they are put down.
    • Multi-Zombies are similar to Fused Zombies but are often much more diverse. A Multi-Zombie might have two heads on one body or half a dozen arms or three legs. Each type is different and very dangerous.
    • Silent Slouchers are Sloucher zombies that don't make any noise, not even the Zombie Moan. Because of this they can't summon other zombies to their location, but it also means that they can easily sneak up on players for a surprise attack.
    • The Walking Grave is hands-down the most powerful zombie in the game. It is created from a mass of corpses fused together into a massive almost shapeless form. The only way to kill one is to destroy each individual zombie that it is made up from, which is much easier said then done. Whenever one is encountered plan A is always to run and try to escape it, with plan B usually being to find a different way of escaping it. Facing one with anything less than a full group of highly skilled survivors is suicide and heavy casualties are to be expected even if the group is victorious.
  • Evil Luddite: Retro-Savages are evil groups of super religious folks that blame everything relating to the zombies as divine judgement for man becoming corrupt through the use of modern technology. As such they typically keep to themselves on isolated farms and other rural communities but will not hesitate to attack innocent survivors that wander too close to their territory if they refuse to give up their tech or show any sort of support for the old government.
  • Flare Gun: Thought it doesn't get any W.P. bonuses it can be used to set zombies on fire in emergencies. The book even includes a brief note mentioning how the flare gun is a tool and isn't really intended to be a weapon.
  • Gardening-Variety Weapon: This game has everything from screwdrivers and hand sickles to gardening shears and shovels. If its a tool used in yard work or home construction its probably been used as a weapon by a survivor at least once.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Empty bottles can be used as makeshift weapons but have a high chance of breaking each time they get used.
  • Human Sacrifice: Many of the more evil factions love doing this.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Zombies are the main threat, but there as just as many evil human factions as well, from death cultists to raiders to serial killers. This is a setting where the humans can be even more deadly than the zombies in many scenarios.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: For whatever reason, every published supplement has a title that starts with the next letter in the alphabet, starting with "C" on Civilization Gone and (so far) all the way to "I" with In the Face of Death. Why begin with C, when it's only the second book after the core rules? No-one at Palladium has yet offered an explanation.
  • Kid Hero: The "In the Face of Death" sourcebook finally added proper rules for creating child characters.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero Found Underwear: Aside from the supernatural elements Dead Reign is pretty realistic. As such, most homes and other buildings have different types of clothes for the player to find.
  • Knife Nut: Several of the more evil and psychotic character types are depicted as this.
  • Le Parkour: Added as a skill in a new sourcebook detailing city survivor communities who use Roof Hopping as a means of getting around.
  • Mercy Kill: Road Reaper code dictates that a member never allow a fellow brother, sister or innocent to turn into one of the undead and demands that they put a bullet into their skull immediately upon death to prevent reanimation.
  • Molotov Cocktail: An extremely popular weapon due to its accessibility, plentiful availability, potential to ward off zombies and because its just really cool and fun to use.
  • Monumental Damage: Graveyard Earth features a few famous landmarks getting overrun by zombies in its art to show just how far the living dead have spread.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: Mostly played straight but eventually averted with the "Cannibal Muncher" zombie variant that has no problem snacking on its rotting friends if no living humans or animals are available for it to eat instead.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: For one, the standard zombies don't actually eat you per se; that's purview of the Flesh-Eating variant. Instead, zombies would drain your Life Energy, getting drained to death is what reanimates you as a zombie, just by getting bitten does not turn you but it does infect you with various nasty diseases. For two, the draining doesn't actually need physical contact; this is how Death Cultists gain control over the zombies. By feeding them Life Energy, the zombies recognize that these humans are cattles and it's in their best interest to protect them. Finally, they are averse to fire. And this is before going into the Elite Zombie variants.
  • Piñata Enemy: Shopper Zombies are unique variants of Pattern Zombies that stockpile items they take from stores and malls. Killing one will usually net survivors some decent loot but if they can successfully tail it all the way back to its lair they'll often find a massive supply stash waiting for them.
  • Pipe Pain: Various pipes are available as blunt weapons.
  • Porn Stash: Players have a 20% chance of finding one of these when searching an adult's bedroom.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: Used extensively. The Hound Master player class in particular is heavily built around this trope.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Brad Ashley, again. Most poignant is that he will actually tolerate his men bailing on him out of fear, since he fully expects that no one would be prepared to face the horrifying, crushing reality of fighting zombies. That said, he will only give this grace period once; the next time they bail on him, he won't be so merciful afterwards.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: A more recent sourcebook detailing rooftop survivor communities in cities offers guidance for creating and maintaining various types of critter farms as a source of sustainable food. In some cases entire floors of a building may be converted into a breeding ground/processing facility for various pests and varmints such as pigeons, bugs and yes, rats.
  • Savage Wolves: Due to humanity's absence large packs of wolves have slowly begun to take back territory once claimed by humans, even going so far as to hunt livestock and patrol overrun towns and cities. They are dangerous predators (especially in large groups) but will attack and kill zombies as well as survivors, which makes them a hazard or a blessing depending on the circumstances.
  • Scavenger World: Money and credit cards can be looted from dead zombies, but are generally useless since they can't actually be spent on anything. Players get supplies mainly by searching buildings or trading with other survivors.
  • Scenery Gorn: Mostly described, but words cannot do the actual pictures justice. Expect to see lots of ruined buildings, empty roads surrounded by wrecked vehicles and piles of rotting corpses and gore.
  • Science Is Bad: The most deeply held belief of the Retro-Savages, who perceive the zombies as divine punishment for mankind's sins and shun all forms of technology as a result. Normally, they'll leave other survivors alone, but if provoked in any way they'll have no problem tying the offender to a tree to be eaten. On a wider scale, science may have been what caused the zombies in the first place, though no one is really sure what happened exactly.
  • Shovel Strike: Shovels are common weapons and several pictures in the game book feature survivors wielding one.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Squads of rouge soldiers are fairly common human antagonists and usually serve as Elite Mooks or villainous faction leaders for the group to contend with. Players who choose Soldier as their O.C.C. can also become this with an evil enough alignment.
  • Tank Goodness: Survivors can find M1A1 Abrams battle tanks at military bases. They're extremely rare and players need a special piloting skill just to drive one, but its a freaking M1A1 Abrams BATTLE TANK.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Some settlements may have a zombie taxidermist who mostly does work for unhinged zombie hunters and trophy seekers. The passage discussing them mentions that they probably have a few screws loose to agree to such work, but in the zombie apocalypse most people will probably take whatever job they can get.
  • Undead Child: Several are pictured throughout the game guide and source books, which even include a zombiefied baby in a crib! Zombie enemies in the actual game can also be children.
  • Universal Driver's License: Explicitly averted. Several specialized vehicles require unique piloting skills to drive. This is one of the biggest drawbacks on military grade vehicles in particular, which have several different skills for using tanks, combat helicopters and other such equipment competently.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: Most survivors know that the cause of the apocalypse was a mass sickness called The Wave that spread across the world extremely fast, killing billions of people and making them rise as zombies. What actually caused The Wave itself, however, is completely unknown with several theories ranging from fairly plausible to complete insanity. Most survivors don't particularly care about what happened so much as they want to try and make it through another day without getting eaten, so it's unlikely there will ever be a definitive answer.
  • Villainous Rescue: Some of the random encounters that trigger when the group is being overwhelmed involve characters from antagonistic factions showing up to save the day. Due to their nature this behavior is especially common with Mock Zombies, who will often use a rescue as an attempt to get closer to the player characters or other human NPCs.
  • Weaponized Car: The game has several rules regarding vehicles and mods, which include simple things like extra armor and increased gas tank capacity to heavy weaponry such as machine guns and flamethrowers.
  • Zombie Advocate: The Zombie Lover character type, which vary in levels of craziness.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Wave has completely overwhelmed humanity and reduced its numbers by several billions, with all of the dead rising as fresh zombies. It's speculated that for humanity to survive their ongoing conflict with the undead they can't possibly hope to kill them all and instead need to wait for them to rot and decay over time until they're eventually wiped out. The humans are outnumbered roughly 100,000 to 1 and almost certainly wouldn't stand a chance in any sort of all-out war.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: