No roleplaying game is complete without a fascinating setting and intriguing locations. I Am Zombie: Toxicity has both in spades. This week we will discuss book three of the project: UNDERCITY & HELLHOLES.
The purpose of this book is to give Narrators a comprehensive and easy to parse list of the three main locations of this game: Up-Top, the Undercity, and the Hellholes. For each we give examples you can use to start building engaging adventures soon after you get the game in your hands.
The world of Toxicity is divided into three main parts:
UP-TOP: The golden world above is the world of the breathers. Known as Up-Top, the place once called home is now like a wilderness to the Toxic: dangerous, unforgiving, and full of unknown perils. To the humans, it is familiar and organized, but to the Toxic it has become alien and chaotic. The dead belong underground; they are barely tolerated Up-Top, and they’re often hunted and persecuted. Most dare to venture above only during the night, when their disfigurements are not so apparent.
UNDERCITY: The Undercity is where the Toxic dwell. Vast and sprawling, filthy and nearly lawless, it is still the closest thing to home. This region usually comprises the first four or five levels of the Underworld, the greater realm of the Toxic and all those infected with the Scourge. Here takes place most of what’s important for the Toxic society: Purgis, of course, but also politics, trade, manhunts, and the infamous Hellriders races.
HELLHOLES: Far beneath the Undercity lie the dreadful Hellholes. A single city might overlie numerous Hellholes, and some more dangerous and deeper than others. Such complexes are often, but not always, connected with each other via long and twisted tunnels.
These are places most Toxic dare not venture into: Most have never even been near a Maw, the deep hole that serves as the entrance to a Hellhole. So frightening are the sounds spewing forth from its depths that most Toxic give it a wide berth, choosing far longer routes to avoid its terrors. The Hellholes are polluted by Miasma and infested by Rashi and even Carrionfiends, dangerous but one of the few sources of what’s most precious for Toxic: Ichor.
The book also describes many location and encounter ideas to help Narrators populate their maps with interest points. For example:
Null Clinic: To those truly desperate for cash, one of these Null Foundation-funded research clinics might be just the place to “make a deal with the devil.” In these operations, set up in large public housing projects, researchers inject Toxic with different Ichor substances and study the effects. Getting the treatment is a quick source of cash, but side effects can make its worth questionable.
The Grindhouse Theatre: This is a chain of movie theatres, one in every Undercity, and a favorite haunt for anyone who craves a little escapism. The Grindhouse plays stolen films from Up-Top, as well as underground films made about and by Tox such as: Toxic Highway, Mr. Meatpuppet, the Honey von Vixen Trilogy (Dirty Girls & Dead Boyz, Dead Flesh, and Honey Trap), Suck My Scourge, Tunnel Race 1999, Daughters of the Defiled, Doom City, and Teenage Slut Zombies.
Odium Storms: Once in a while a huge wind blows through a Hellhole (and sometimes even the Undercity), usually emanating from the largest caverns or a Pox Forest. Such storms blow dust and Odium everywhere, and they can drive people mad. It can start Skag stampedes as well as Rashi rushes. All characters caught within risk going Berzerk. Fully sealed hazmat suits can shield wearers from the effects of Odium storms, but they cannot reduce the risk of running into enraged creatures.
On top of all this, the book provides a full sample adventure set in the Hellholes and an sample undercity location, full with location descriptions, characters, loot, and dungeon rooms. We will discuss this sample adventure in our next update, so keep your eyes peeled!