Undead On Arrival

best friends create zombie-battling role-playing game

Emily Albrent, photos by Andrea Paulseth

SOMETHING TO SINK THEIR TEETH INTO. Craig Sieracki (left) and Matt Scott are the creators of Chomp!, a role-playing game in which players must battle zombies hordes.
SOMETHING TO SINK THEIR TEETH INTO. Craig Sieracki (left) and Matt Scott are the creators of Chomp!, a role-playing game in which players must battle zombies hordes.

Grab a plant or a coffee pot: It’s time to pick a weapon and prepare for a zombie invasion. Do you think you and your friends could use everyday objects to defeat the dead? Now is your chance to give it a shot and get creative.

Two locals embraced their creativity and nerdy side to create a tabletop role-playing game called Chomp! that will put you in the middle of what they call a Zombieland situation. Craig Sieracki and Matt Scott – best friends and creators of the game – wanted to invent a game that was fast and easy to set up.

“I wanted to make a game that we could play in a matter of two to three hours, start to finish just like a board game, but has that role-playing aspect so we can never grow up,” Sieracki explained. The game requires a minimum of two players, but there’s no maximum number; get crazy with it if you want, although the creators suggest capping it at five. Each player is assigned a random character, traits, and skills, and that’s where the game really begins: The stories and situations created are all your own. What if a zombie is crawling through your window? Will you fight or will you run to your car? Whatever you chose to do – no matter how “out there” it may seem – the outcome is determined by a roll of dice and a game card that directs you to the next situation.

While role-playing games typically have a specific type of audience, the creators wanted Chomp! to be something everyone could play. “Role-playing is generally not a really female-oriented field so I made sure that of the five survivor types, three of them were depicted females,” Sieracki said. “We tried to get people of different races and make it more inclusive. The other thing that’s really nice about this game is that it’s really rules light, so people who don’t generally play role-playing games can get into it easier.”

When Sieracki and Scott play, they use inspiration all around them, including their neighbors, and they encourage people who play the game to do the same. “It does add a little twang, versus saying ‘Oh a zombie came up’ – no, it’s really his next-door neighbor with his leaf blower. He is a great guy,” Scott said.

Some household instruments players have chosen to fight off the dead can get a little … odd. Some have used a fake Christmas tree or a Wii remote. “The stuff people come up with is highly random,” Scott said. “People will be breaking the barstools apart, I grabbed a couch one time – it didn’t work out – stuff like that adds a more personal feel.”

While a Wii remote and a couch may not seem like the most practical zombie defense tools, that’s OK: “In our game it doesn’t matter what you attack with,” Sieracki said. “It’s your attack roll that matters.”

After all the long hours put into this project, Sieracki said one of the best moments was when they sold their first book online. “It was like two minutes after I put it up, and that first day we sold seven books, and two of them were to England,” Sieracki said. “We went international in a matter of 20 minutes.”

Along with the highs can come some challenges. While they would love to have the 50-page guidebook printed and physically displayed to the public, at this time the game is only available to be purchased and printed online. Because it’s online, Chomp! can be bought and played anywhere in the world. While this means people can create their own stories in their own towns, that didn’t stop the creators from putting a little Eau Claire flare into the game. “This is as locally made as we could make a game,” Sieracki said. “We wanted to have as many ties to Eau Claire as we could. This game has a pretty strong Eau Claire root system even if it not expressly written.”

To learn more about Chomp!, visit www.facebook.com/Chompzombiegame. To buy the game book and other related products, go to rpg.drivethrustuff.com and search for “Chomp.” Volume One readers can get a special discount on the book by going to tinyurl.com/ChompDiscount