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Reviews - Floor Plan 4: Mall of the Dead
by Matthew Pook

Floor Plan 4 coverTitle: Floor Plan 4: Mall of the Dead
Floor Plans drawn by Heather Oliver
Cardboard Heroes drawn by Tom Bionodolillo.

Floor Plan 4: Mall of the Dead is the latest in the series of game aids from Steve Jackson Games, which are suitable not just for their own GURPS purposes, but for any game. To date they have provided us with a set of maps for a Haunted House, an Underground Laboratory and a set of Salt Flat plans -- that's utterly blank map sheets to the likes of you or I. Each of these locations is useful to almost any RPG, zombies or no. With the fourth installment of the Floor Plan series, gamers can hit the mall.

For your $16.95, you get a zip-lock bag containing eight large double-sided map sheets. These sheets are marked with a one inch square grid on one side and a one inch hex grid on the other. There's also a sheet of Cardboard Heroes for use with the maps, and a four-page leaflet. Page one of the leaflet doubles as the cover, but inside there's the map keys, the statistics for the new monsters Mall of the Dead introduces, as well as four adventure seeds on the back.

The eight sheets are all clearly laid and marked out, though in places the tiling which decorates the floors of the mall's various stores make the furniture difficult to discern. This is a small sized and roughly T-shaped shopping complex, with just three floors and a basement. Just about every shopping taste is catered to, including a games shop that stocks imported DVDs, games and the like, and a bookshop that sells occult and offbeat titles. Besides these, there's the usual range of fast food joints and clothes shops. In the basement can be found the delivery area and truck tunnel, janitor's office and boiler room, as well as the mall management offices.

The new Cardboard Heroes include a range of shoppers, store employees, security guards, a giant tentacled undead thing in purple, and naturally, a zombie or two. Amongst the best of the sheet has to be the zombie biker on high handled motorcycle -- though it would have been nice to have the bike and zombie included separately. Better than those are figures for Santa Claus and his Elf helpers, plus their zombie versions! The leaflet provides the stats not only for the Zombie Santa and the Undead Tentacle Monster under the GURPS rules, but also for Eden Studios' zombie-fest, All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

The four adventure seeds can be run under either system as well. Two of the seeds focus upon the zombie angle -- "Holiday Shopping Blues!" and "Kill 'Em All and Let Us Sort 'Em Out!" -- while a third, "Security Guards in Retail Hell!" looks at playing renta-cops in a low point GURPS Cops game. The last seed, "Monstrous Mall!" turns the setting on its head and gives it a fantasy flavor with dragon-generated steam driving the elevators and demons operating the gift shop! None of these do more than skate along the surface of their subject, but as places to start from, they are good ideas.

There are going to be times when a game needs a mall, and this one certainly fits the bill. Mall of the Dead could easily be used with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, a modern day Call of Cthulhu session, or numerous other systems. With some work, the maps could be used as an alternative setting for the Zombies!!! board game, or SJ Games' Frag. Finally, with WizKids producing HeroClix, a miniatures combat system for superhero comic lines, the one-inch squares will be perfect for battles using their figures as well.

Heather Oliver has done an excellent job with this game aid, both in the writing and in the cartography. Floor Plan 4: Mall of the Dead is a solid addition to the line, which with this release has all the kinks knocked out.

The author would like to thank Roj at Wayland's Forge for his assistance


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