Stable Build: 41.78.16 | IWBUMS Beta: 41.78.16 | Version history | Wiki
Follow us


May 28, 2024

RPZ #2: Pandemonium

Welcome to the second entry in our on-going investigation of Project Zomboid’s roleplaying scene!

This time, we’re taking a wander around the strange Pandemonium server, an area cut off and forgotten by the rest of the world, surrounded by impenetrable fog and filled with otherworldly monsters and phenomena (which exist as custom-made tiles, placed by the moderators for special events), along with the usual hordes of the infected.

Rather than typical “seasons” of events, Pandemonium uses “Books” with different rule sets and lore. My journey through the server took place in Book 3, and Book 4 began on May 10th.

Many systems, including combat, use a dice system, and the system has seven skills: Charm, Brutal, Resolve, Sharp, Deft, Wit, and Luck, all of which come into play throughout the game.

The biggest settlement is Alton, and two of major groups are the Red Brigade (a Communist group led by Imran Al-Hakim) and the Barrel Dogs Motorcycle Club (led by Skitzo).

But it’s a smaller group that I first make acquaintance with, as I am mysteriously teleported into Camden County by means unknown to science…


Pat_Bren outside with Sofia and Vero.

When I join Pandemonium, I’m outside, in a small town, with blue grass everywhere. Luckily, there are two friendly women nearby to fill me in on where – and when – I am. I’m in a town called Alton in Camden County, New Jersey, in the year 2005.

My two new friends, Sofia and Vero, lead me into their house nearby. Sofia asks me to take my shoes off as I enter. I do so, even though my Oxford brogues are famously kept in pristine condition. They offer me a beer to drink and chair to sit in, and I eagerly accept both.

Pat_Bren with the two others in their kitchen.

They tell me of the strange monsters in the world – giant “teeth worms”, beings posing as people, others that are full of acid – and portals in the area, through which all these monstrosities arrived. Two men, Jimmy and Damon, enter. They seem friendly, and the nearby radio crackles into life.

There’s trouble at a lake near a place called Ingles. I smell a story, and volunteer to join the excursion. They give me a knife and a baseball bat and we all head to the lake in a minivan and a car. It’s a long drive, interrupted by an attack on a horde of the infected, their skin lit with strange blue glows (re-textures of PZ’s vanilla zombies).

Five scattered vehicles stopped, their occupants standing around, typing.

We finally reach the lake and prepare for battle. I’m excited for the story of a lifetime, the magnum opus that will win me a Pulitzer… but then I am told that the combat could take 3 hours due to Pandemonium’s systems. I would do almost anything for a story, but I draw the line at staying up past my bedtime. So I reluctantly leave, my dreams shattered.

Thankfully, when I return the next day, I have a guide, Voices in the Wind, who has set up a demonstration fight for me between two characters, Quinn and Amber, over someone called Prudence. Firstly, they use text commands to roll dice to see who will take the first turn. They continue to “roll dice” for attacks and defence, and the insults fly fast. Quinn fires a nailgun at Amber, but then a busted Sheriff’s cruiser arrives, driven by a scarred man called Skitzo, who tells them to end the fight.

Two people watch two others standing and fighting at a gas station.

My guide brings me to another base, where I learn of other groups like Montgomery and Babylon, along with the Barrel Dogs and the Red Brigade, who are constantly in conflict. But first, we head to interview Malice, the head of Montgomery, and I find a story which is interesting in another, spookier way.

Malice brings me to a room where a white plastic chair sits behind two sets of prison bars. This is where they kept a creature they captured, a nine-foot-tall “gobbler” with a mouth in its stomach. The scope of my story expands into another dimension as Malice tells me how an entity named “Erebus” took over the gobbler’s mind, a being who seems to be a shadow god controlling all the events in Camden. The gobbler made the room freeze, hypnotised a group member who “hasn’t been the same since”, and then snapped its own neck.

(Like a lot of roleplaying, I have to use my imagination, and assume this scenario was a mixture of custom tiles, and the dice system to figure out the storyline.)

A small prison cell with a white plastic chair.

My guide brings me to Alton Med, headed by an ex-cop called Emile. Emile, along with their second-in-command Callahan, tells me all about the hospital, which seems large and professionally run.

The lead doctor, Felicia Marsch, tells me they treat a wide range of injuries, are neutral in group politics, and that monsters are to blame for most casualties. Unfortunately, I can’t interview monsters to hear their side of the story, but the hospital does have an externally linked bulletin board with all the knowledge the group has on the creatures, a very interesting and unique source.

I have no idea if the pictured monsters on the board actually exist in the map, but this puts me into the mindset of the server, the bounds of reality and myth breaking down.

Pat_Bren standing at the front desk of a hospital, Emile and Callahan behind it. In the background is the bulletin board.
A bulletin board showing notes on various monster sightings.

My guide then brings me to the base of the Red Brigade, which is currently being attacked by the Barrel Dogs biker group. Due to being in God mode, I get an interesting “behind the scenes” look at how the events occur.

I wander around the base and see invincible (and to every non-admin, invisible) admins placing custom (static) tiles of flames and destruction all around, simulating an attack. Walls get replaced with burned ones, objects get replaced with ashes, and so on.

It makes me appreciate how much work goes into setting up all these scenes, which must all be done by hand. It doesn’t look good for the Brigade, and I log off for the night.

The Red Brigade base filled with fire.

When I return the next day, my guide has set up an interview with Skitzo, the head of the Barrel Dogs, in the bar in their base. Skitzo tells me the Dogs took over when the cops hit the road, soon after the monsters appeared. They hand out food, run a communal kitchen, and make sure everyone’s armed.

Skitzo and others in the Barrel Dogs bar.

We then talk of the raid of the Red Brigade base the night before. Skitzo is convincing in portraying the Brigade as villains, as they killed a member of the Dogs, and two civilians. The Brigade’s leader Al-Hakim was killed the night before, after being betrayed by a soldier who shot him in the leg and ran away. A large amount of ammo and guns were taken, and is now laid out on tables in the base.

The Barrel Dogs' looted guns.

Skitzo spins a good yarn, but I need to hear the other side of the story. My guide and I head to the ruins of the Red Brigade base, where we meet Ambrose Matthews, an older man with a gas mask, and a survivor of the raid the night before. He denies that the Brigade’s leader was betrayed, but says he was killed by a pipe bomb to stop him being tortured to death, an oft-used tactic of the Dogs, which went unmentioned by Skitzo. Ambrose also denies Skitzo’s story about the people killed by the brigade; he says the “civilians” had bragged about murdering people, and that their killing was justified.

Ambrose leaning on a door at the Brigade's base.

But Ambrose is a broken man after the raid. He denounces Al-Hakim as a terrorist, though he blames the Barrel Dogs for the existence of their group in the first place. The Barrel Dogs rule with cruelty and an iron fist, and take pride in their destruction, according to Ambrose, but he takes off his mask and says he’s “out” of the Red Brigade.

After all the destruction and chaos I’ve seen here, I can no longer maintain my objectivity. I urge him to try help people, and not to give up hope. Ambrose says he has to lay low, but he will start doing supply drops until he clears his name.

Ambrose leaves, and I wander around the still-smouldering ruins of the Brigade’s base. My time in the world of Pandemonium is at an end. Despite the monsters and the portals, the strangest and most frightening dilemma of all is the eternal one: why can’t people simply get along?

Why must some people be cruel and violent, while others scramble to defend themselves, in an ever widening circle of violence? Perhaps the question is one without an answer, but it’s one we must keep asking regardless, and hope for better days ahead.

Pat_Bren wandering around the ruins of the base.

This has been Pat_Bren, reporting from Pandemonium.

Thanks to the moderators of Pandemonium for assisting me in my adventures and answering all my questions! If you’re interested in joining the server, you can find out how on their website.

Stable Build: 41.78.16 | IWBUMS Beta: 41.78.16 | Version history | Wiki
Follow us