The Walking Dead The show has been around for over a decade and has become a media franchise that nearly eclipses the comics that the The TV series is based on. Beyond the Critically Acclaimed Telltale video game sagathere were several board and card games, a theme park ride, and novels that spanned the comic book universe of Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Tony Moore. However, one area the franchise hasn’t dabbled in before is tabletop role-playing, but that’s about to change.
By PolygonFree League Publishing partners with AMC to publish The Walking Dead Universe role-playing game, whose Kickstarter will launch in spring 2023. The award-winning publisher has also created TTRPGs for franchises such as blade runner and Extraterrestrial, with its original games Mork Borg, its sci-fi spinoffs Cyborgand Coriolis. The game will be led by co-founders Tomas Härenstam and Nils Karlén. As senior editor, Nils Hintze, Martin Grip and Gustaf Ekelund its main artists.
The Walking Dead the game will use the publisher’s Year zero system (from Mutant: Year Zero TTRPG), which Free League said Polygon was a “perfect fit” for the zombie franchise, especially its Threat Meter system. “It’s a really tangible and effective way to manage the presence – and threat – of nearby walkers,” Free League said. “Mechanically, walkers aren’t treated as individual monsters, but rather as a constant stream of death and dread.”
Alongside the tabletop game, AMC announced plans to create and distribute an Actual Play series. Actual Play allows players to tell their own stories using tabletop game systems, such as Dungeons & Dragons (see: critical role, Rating 20). Helping to guide this eventual series will be ex-TWD showrunner (and the franchise content director) Scott M. Gimple. This series will be an original story that Free League and AMC hope will see some of the cast from the series make an appearance and roll the dice.
“If the stars are aligning (literally and figuratively), tuning into each live game episode to find out which fan-favorite characters, settings and events might appear should be part of the fun,” Free League said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for this live game for sure.”
With the popularity of Real game genre has become, and with the industry size TTRPG has exploded, it makes sense that AMC would want to enter this market. There is no doubt that it will not resonate with Walking Dead fans on the same level as the spin-off shows, or maybe even some of the video games. But it’ll be more interesting to see what that means for the broader media franchise landscape, which has expanded TV series through things like official rewatch and recap podcasts.
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