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[WotD] Ongoing game report - Spoilers alert
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wibbs wrote:
Overall I think the session was a success, but I am regretting not making the group's infiltration of the base a little tougher. I console myself with the fact that all hell is going to break loose when they attempt to make their escape Twisted Evil


Hey, you can ALWAYS make up for it next time if things are too "easy" now. Things getting harder is pretty natural; the tougher thing to pull off is when you find that things are TOO HARD and you want to ramp back the difficulty, because then it's more likely to stand out. (At least, in my experience.)

Sounds like quite the session, in a good way. I'm sorry if I missed it earlier, but what was the justification for keeping Samantha's immunity a secret?
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Wibbs
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jordan Peacock wrote:
I'm sorry if I missed it earlier, but what was the justification for keeping Samantha's immunity a secret?


A good question. Donald saw Samantha as the only person in the group that didn't dislike him, and he took personal responsibility for looking after her after the ordeal at Dalesbury. I think he viewed the immunity as a bond between them that he didn't want to share. I also think there's something about his personality that revelled in the knowledge that he knew something so powerful that noone else did. (I played Samantha has effectively having been traumatised by the experience, and not understanding what 'immune' really meant, so she never brought the subject up herself).
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wibbs wrote:
I also think there's something about his personality that revelled in the knowledge that he knew something so powerful that noone else did.


You know, that has been a hassle for quite a few of my games, where one PC would get a piece of useful information ... and then SIT ON IT for reasons only known to him- or herself. For whatever reason, this happened to me a lot, back when I'd take the time to pass notes to players across the table, any time a player discovered something that not everyone should automatically notice at the same time. I'd leave it up to the player whether he or she wants to share this information with others, and how. A surprisingly large portion of the time that the information DID get shared, it would get mangled, like a kid game of "telephone" done to the extreme at times.

(Some other players would just read the note aloud to the others, without bothering to personalize it as if the character was actually revealing this information. But then, some folks just don't go for the "dramatic reading" angle of RPGs.)

More recently, I've just basically told someone across the table, and it's up to the player whether he wants to share it with others (in which case we can consider it SHARED without forcing the player to repeat everything), and if the player doesn't ... well, then, I trust the other players to respect the difference between in-character and out-of-character knowledge. (And if they don't, I'll step in and remind them.) On occasion I'll pass notes, but it's generally only for stuff I expect the player to have a legitimate reason to keep to him- or herself (i.e., information gathered privately, for personal side-quest stuff).

This seems to have cut down on the "irrational information-hoarding" considerably (to the point where I can't think of the last time it happened that someone sit on some critical information and I couldn't for the life of me figure out WHY). Either that, or it's just because I have a much different group, so perhaps it was just a curiosity particular to a few players.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know what you mean, and its one of the reasons I flatly refuse to use secret notes as GM. I impress on my players the need to keep character and player knowledge seperate, and am lucky that the group I have for this game are able to do so.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Planning for the Next Session

So it's time to plan the session for Monday. The PCs are just about to get in various humvees/vehicles and try to escape from the raider base intact.

The way I see things going, I intend to split the session roughly into three parts.

The first will involve the escape the area in and immediately outside the base itself. This will include antics with the tank, the vehicles coming under small arms fire, trying to smash through a security fence and the first phase of what I am going to turn into an extended chase. There will be somewhere between 3 and 5 vehicles after them at this stage.

The players have already indicated their intention to immediately return to Hirschbeck Estates. On the way they will get communication from the people there that they have been under attack from the base's helicopter but that its now left and could be on its way to them. I'm using the attack on the community to thin out the supplies they have a little, particularly weapons and ammunition. I'm not sure how the players will react to this, as they might decide to draw the raiders' attacking forces away from the community.

The second phase will continue the extended chase (using the rules from SWEX as I prefer these). I've made a rough map of the roads between where they are and Sanctuary (Fayetteville), including a few small towns and forest tracks. This is intended to give the players flexibility in how they approach the chase and the direction they want to go. I've also got a few generic incidents for them to encounter on the way depending on what they do.

The third stage assumes they've dealt with the raiders and got to the outskirts of Fayetteville. Once they follow the instructions to get to the Junkyard they will find they can only get so far in their vehicles, with the rest having to be done on foot. This will give them an interesting challenge with getting non-combatents and supplies from their vehicles to the safety of the storm drain. As I have no idea how they will go about this there's not a huge amount planning I can do.

Thoughts?
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wibbs wrote:
Thoughts?


Just wanted to let you know I've read this, and I'm thinking! Wink

I agree on using SWEX chase rules over SWD. SWD Chase rules work for dogfights. I've gotten very frustrated reactions from players when I've used them for what would've normally been covered by the SWEX Chase rules, especially with the extreme abstraction of relative positions and the "advantage" concept.

Are there any particular problem-areas you're focused on?
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The part I need to develop most is the third, where they've got to Fayetteville. I'm not sure how to handle this, and how much detail to put in.

As written the adventure doesn't cover how they get supplies into the sewers, and I'd like to include something about this and also making sure non-combatants get there safely. I reckon that I'll give them the length of a battlemat (about 36 squares) between where their convoy stops and safety, but would welcome any ideas as to specifically how to run this.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the scenario itself SEEMS pretty straightforward at first, but....

1) Distance: The heroes have 36" to cover. I'd litter the area with a few obstacles to represent junk/debris, but otherwise make sure this doesn't greatly increase the amount of distance the heroes have to cover due to "detours."

2) Props: If it's a scrap yard, there could be stacks of squashed cars, and various bits of debris. Makeshift "club" and "spear" weapons should be easily obtained from the junk, for anyone not already armed. NPCs who don't have their arms full with supplies might naturally grab something to try to fend off the dogs & zombies. (Having a "spear" or "staff" would give a very useful +1 Parry bonus.) Exact contents might be left vague, but if players try to do stuff like push over debris to block paths for pursuers, or to try to crush enemies, I'd try to accommodate; it's more fun if the heroes can make use of their environment vs. just "fight or flight." There could be a number of instances of low debris that more agile humans can crawl over or even just swing one leg over and then the other, whereas Shamblers will have trouble negotiating it.

Maybe have a few remains of bodies -- zombies that have been torn apart by the dogs. I wouldn't throw too much in, though, as I wouldn't want to encourage anyone to "stop and loot." The point is to keep moving here.

3) Dogs: One small problem I see here is with the dogs, and what to do with them. I'm not sure what their "motivation" is. There are dogs already among the wrecks, growling at the group. The assumption seems to be that a fight commences, but it doesn't specifically say; after all, why would the dogs be attacking living, breathing humans, if they're UniMed dogs?

My supposition is that the dogs are initially growling to warn the humans off, but someone in the group is going to open fire. Once it's clear that the humans are hostile, all bets are off, and the dogs attack without restraint.

In the unlikely event, however, the PCs all hold their fire, and someone uses a Persuasion or Intimidation check to keep any NPCs from opening fire on the dogs, I think I'd have the dogs back off, bounding off elsewhere (off-map), effectively letting the PCs through, but still audibly growling somewhere in the darkness. The second "wave" of dogs would still show up as scripted on round 4, but primarily focus on the zombies. The heroes still wouldn't know for sure that the dogs AREN'T out to get them.

4) Moving Cargo: Surely anyone at Hirschbeck Estates has had mobility in mind when loading up their goods. Some stuff might have to be abandoned in the vehicles, but I imagine the NPCs at least would be carrying supplies in duffel bags and backpacks. For larger, bulkier items, two might work together to carry an item, one in front, the other in back, though it's hard to imagine successfully RUNNING like that. Also, oversized suitcases on wheels. I wouldn't worry too much over the exact details, except to mention in passing what people are carrying all the stuff in. They've got supplies; exactly HOW much is probably not that critical at this point, except that anything that can't be carried in some way is going to have to be left behind. I suppose this would mostly affect the PCs, if they have any prized bulky equipment they've been carting around in their cars up until this point and then suddenly they're forced to abandon their vehicles to proceed.

(On the plus side, there's little reason for the zombies to bother the abandoned vehicles, if there's nobody IN them. There's at least the *theoretical* possibility of coming back for the important stuff later.)
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Wibbs
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey,

Thanks for your post - I'd not really thought of the motivation for the dogs to attack, and what you say makes a lot of sense.

With the moving cargo, I'm really torn as to how much detail to go into. On the one hand I want to keep things moving, but equally I want to give a sense having to make hard decisions as to what to take with them and at least some sense of urgency.

Time to jot some ideas down and see what they look like...

Thanks again,

Wibbs
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wibbs wrote:
With the moving cargo, I'm really torn as to how much detail to go into. On the one hand I want to keep things moving, but equally I want to give a sense having to make hard decisions as to what to take with them and at least some sense of urgency.


Hmm. Well, you could write up a "crash-list" of various items you could imagine being part of the supplies -- some bulky, some not-so-bulky. Most of the details aren't likely to get used, but at least you have something to reference if a player comes and says, "Well, hey, what is in THAT backpack? If it's not all that important, he could drop that and help us carry this instead."

Random ideas for the sake of brainstorming:
* Duffel bag of paper products ... mostly toilet paper and paper towels. This is bulk, not so much weight, which some kid has taken the initiative to pack. Not "necessary" to survival, per se, but it can be appreciated. Wink Plus, could be a useful commodity for trading with other survivors for more essential supplies.

* Portable generator. Weighs a WHOLE LOT. Would take 4 people to carry at a decent pace. Probably a good contender for leaving behind and coming back for later.

* Cooler on wheels, packed with ice and recently-caught and butchered venison, with various bags and netting items strapped onto it and a modified long-handle, mostly carrying foodstuffs. Not the most practical food source if you can't start a fire, and it's not going to last terribly long. Could be sacrificed in an attempt to distract a few zombies (effectively taking them out of the action while the heroes flee for cover, if it works). (But would it work? It might not be "fresh" enough to interest them.)

* Large backpack with misc. bagged shelf-stable foods and "recycled" bottles filled with distilled water -- many repackaged in repurposed plasticware rather than leaving in heavy cans. Can opener included, for the few cans still in the stockpile. Still very heavy, slowing down someone who tries to carry it alone, but very valuable. (Maybe 200 lbs of goods, enough to provide 100 meals on "iron rations" or in other words a few days if the group is of any appreciable size.) If carried by an NPC, he's probably a "danger magnet" (most likely to get grabbed if zombies get in range) since the PCs being short on food seems to figure into their upcoming predicament.

* Several jugs of diesel for the generator. Heavy, and of questionable utility if the generator is left behind. If someone gets the "bright" idea to try to use this to make Molotov cocktails to deal with zombies, it's a waste of time. You have to heat diesel up first before you can get it to burn; contrary to the depiction given in an encounter in "Zombie Run," diesel is not roughly equivalent to nitroglycerin.

* Misc. medical supplies. Bandages, gauze, first aid kits, hygiene items, miscellaneous prescription medicines looted from abandoned medicine cabinets, sterile cutting implements, alcohol, dental tools, a few flashlights and spare batteries, some inhalers, etc., gathered together as part of the Hirschbeck Estates "community medicine cabinet." Heavy, of limited in-game use (it won't help if someone gets bitten by zombies), but practical for longer-term considerations, and for helping anyone making Healing checks.

* Battery stockpile. Heavy backpack loaded with all sorts of batteries, plus an assortment of small useful electrics and electronics (lightweight flashlights and small electric devices that could be used as improvised light sources, fuses, a random assortment of cables and extension cords), plus a few useful tools (e.g., wire cutters/strippers), electrical tape.

* Backpack Hoard of Duct Tape. Mostly matte grey or silver, but with a few oddball "designer" duct tape types (camouflage, neon pink, designer patterns from a craft store, etc.) thrown in, plus some rolls of other types of tape, assorted glue canisters, epoxies, sealant, etc. Also a few cans of spray paint in there, just because (neon orange, forest green, earth brown, grey primer, matte black, matte white), though unfortunately the ball mixers rattle when the carrier runs with it or is otherwise jostled, which might warrant stopping to dig them out at some point if anyone's too nervous about that.

* Ammunition backpack. Backpack full of a wide assortment of shells, some in boxes, some loose, along with empty shell casings, lead molds, spare primers, and assorted tools useful for packing and unpacking bullets. The NPC carrying this happens to be skilled in this sort of thing; if he's kept alive, and he gets a few hours to work with, he can provide 200 shots of whatever caliber of ammo the PCs might need, within reason, and has the skill to keep guns maintained. If he doesn't make it, but someone grabs the backpack, the PCs can scrounge 50 rounds of whatever types of ammunition are most convenient for them; the rest are in odd calibers they can't use, or are only in the form of jars of gunpowder, primers, spare lead and empty shell casings, in need of assembly.

* Bedrolls, spare clothes, winter coats, camp tents. Not absolutely essential, but if anyone's going sewer-camping, this aids in a more comfortable night's sleep (e.g., bonus to Survival rolls to get by, or perhaps Vigor rolls to avoid Fatigue the next day, a "well-rested" Benny, or however you want to reflect that).

* Camping stove and miscellaneous camping gear (including another tent, a butane lighter, some plastic wrap useful for collecting moisture or water-proofing the ground you set down on, insulating material, assorted tools, compass, local maps, small field guides). Basically useful tools for Survival checks, and a way to cook that venison in the unlikely event that it's still taken along.

* Assorted toys in what's SUPPOSED to be a bag full of food items. Some kid was entrusted with a backpack and told to pack food and other useful items, but he packed in some portable game devices, a couple of RC cars, some Airsoft pistols, spare batteries, etc., with only a few token food items (mostly candy and junk food) on top. This isn't likely to be discovered unless someone calls for an inspection. Inventive players could still make use of such items to create distractions for zombies, however. Either that, or it could be used in trade for more practical goods at a survivor settlement, as there's a chance of finding someone willing to exchange for the occasional "luxury item."

* Satchel with fishing gear, disassembled fishing rods, tackle box, "fish finder," more duct tape, a portable GPS, sun screen, a few assorted items of gold jewelry opportunistically swiped from abandoned houses, chewing tobacco, some warm beers, a first aid kit, hip-wader boots, a fishing hat, sunglasses.

* Rolling suitcase packed with clothes and mementos, most of which have absolutely no survival value. Some of the mementos (wedding rings, other jewelry) might have some trade value at a very poor exchange rate, but only if you can find someone well-situated enough in a survivor settlement to actually want such things (or be willing to take a chance that he can trade up with it). (E.g., "All right, I'll give you 12 MREs for that gold ring, and that's my final offer!")

* Tool cache in a rolling bin with an extended handle. Assorted handyman tools (thick gloves, tool belt, claw hammer, saw, rechargeable drill/driver, screwdrivers, Allen wrench set, socket wrench set, breakover handle, various types of pliers, level, crowbar, powder-actuated nailgun, etc.), supplies (WD-40, even more duct tape, sealant, axle grease, nails, assorted screws, nuts, and bolts, spare hoses, a few spare bulbs, etc.) useful for Repair checks when working on cars or basic carpentry, and a couple of items might work as makeshift weapons. For instance, the crowbar and hammer might be suitable as clubs if you wrap duct tape around the handle, or wear thick gloves. The nail gun would be a noisy, improvised weapon ... and I have stats for one around somewhere. (I reasoned that it would certainly have a penalty to hit as it's unwieldy, requires two hands to use, has laughable range, but if used in melee has a high AP rating. Oh yeah, and it sounds like a gun going off every time you use it. Not quite as cool as in the movies.)

Anyway, again, just for brainstorming purposes.
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Wibbs
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I don't know what to say - Thanks for all the great ideas Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Session Summary

Hugo's player unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute, so he faded to the background for this session

Escaping the Base

The group started the session deep inside the raider base, having previous released a pen of zombies to keep the raiders busy. Caitlin immediately took the two surviving children to the safety of one of the Humvees. Victor, Dr. Miller and Donald, furious with what the raiders had done to Barbara, took the opportunity to cause some chaos, with effective use of a molotov cocktail and some accurate shooting. Meanwhile, Jim rigged one of the humvees they didn't need to run straight into the melee.

Overhead, the wind had started to pick up and a storm could be seen on the horizon approaching fast.

The fun was interrupted by the appearance of an M1A1 Abrahams tank bearing down on their position, followed by attention from an increasing number of raiders on foot. As Caitlin was due to crash from the after-effects of the adrenaline shot given to her earlier, she took her seat as passenger in an armoured humvee along with the two children and Victor, and Donald driving. Jim took his pickup, with Dr. Miller and Michael Rhodes as passengers.

The 'turns' at this point were a little abstract, as I was trying to keep the whole thing moving quite fast. It was going to take them 3 turns to get to the security fence, assuming they went directly.

Successfully avoiding a number of tank shells, Donald made for the security fence with his armoured humvee, aiming to leave a neat hole for Jim to follow. Unfortunately he caught the fence at just the wrong angle, and failed to cause sufficient damage. Whilst he took the vehicle around for another attempt, Victor was dropped off to weaken the fence with some bolt cutters. The tank continued its poor attempts at shooting at the group, and the raiders on foot gradually closed distance, managing to hit Jim's pickup truck but not causing sufficient damage to do anything serious.

Donald's second attempt was more successful, but only just, because of the work Victor had done, and Victor was picked up by Jim on the way out of the base. On their way out they noted they were being chased by 3 armoured humvees and 2 military jeeps.

My rolling throughout this section of the session was absolutely appalling, and despite rolling large numbers of dice for the raiders shooting on foot I think I hit only twice. I rolled no higher than a 2 with the tank as well - so much for making it harder this week Laughing

Chase!

The chase that ensued cross country saw one of the jeeps taken out early, with Victor regularly hitting the humvees but not doing sufficient damage to trouble them. His hope was to scare the presumably inexperienced drivers into giving up.

The chasing raiders struggled to keep pace, and were badly affected by obstaces on the ground that they had seen too late. Unfortunately, so was Jim, who nearly totalled his truck hitting a protuding tree stump. Luckily he managed to get the thing started again to remain out of the clutches of the raiders. His passengers didn't do so well though, with Michael knocked unconscious and Dr. Miller getting severely battered and bruised.

Again, my poor rolling did me in here. A couple of the pursuing vehicles were hamstrung when they were dealt a club and encountered a solid obstacle.

Jim on the other had rolled a critical fail on his driving roll, which was fun, as there is a house rule that these can't be bennied - 2 wounds on his pickup truck later, he really struggled for the rest of the chase.


At around the same time the group made radio contact with the survivors at the Estates, who confirmed that the convey was on its way. They also indicated that the helicopter had taken its toll on the community, and there was no point in the group returning there, which was their initial plan. Instead, the group set about keeping the chasing raiders away from the convoy as it made its way to Fayetteville.

A little further into the chase, the remaining raiders had lost significant ground, and gave up their pursuit. The group were attacked twice by the low swooping helicopter, which had luckily ran out of rockets. On the first run, Donald was successful in avoid its fire, and on the second, Victor managed to get a very accurate shot away using one of the shotgun slugs. Although it didn't do sufficient damage, it was a close enough attempt to convince the pilot to disengage.

The chase went on quite a while in real time, and with my poor rolls I was unable to gain any real ground for quite some time. In the end, I decided to call it a day, and things were summed up by the ineffective helicopter.

Fayetteville

With the chase over, the group were free to rendevous with the remains of the convoy on the outskirts of the city. Out of the six vehicles that left, only three made the distance, with 15 surviving Hirschbeck residents and Father Kenneth lost.

With the rain coming down in sheets, accompanied by thunder and lightening, they found death and decay, with the roads rammed solid with broken down vehicles. More worryingly were the hordes of thousands upon thousands of zombies stood completely still, moaning in unison - this was behaviour that had never been seen before.

Once they had followed directions to the scrap yard, where they were to meet members of the Sanctuary community, they found they would have to make the last part of the journey on foot. Whilst deliberating over what remaining supplies to take with them, they were met by Ian and Geoff McCurdy, the community's leaders, who made it clear what they would find useful.

The session ended with the group preparing to transport the supplies, along with the unconscious Michael and crashed Caitlin, 10 non-combatent men, women and children through the scrap yard to a nearby storm drain, with the sounds of barking dogs heard getting closer and closer.

Other comments

The chase took far longer than I anticipated, although this wasn't due to slowness of the players, more just with a lot of stuff going on that needed to be worked through. Tthe extra planning I'd done and custom obstacle tables really paid off though, and all the players really enjoyed it.

One other thing I was pleased with was getting the players to hurry their decision making a little, particularly when in-game circumstances meant they would be pushed for time. The whole session proceeded at a good, brisk pace, and I think it was very successful.
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to hear the last part turned out well! Smile
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, unfortunately we didn't have quite enough time for their jaunt through the scrap yard, so we left that for next session. I've decided I'm going to ramp the difficult of this encounter up a little to make things interesting, especially as they'll all be rolling Vigor at -4 for Fatigue when we start. Also, with their two best combatent NPCs incapacitated, Donald crashing from his injection in the next couple of hours, and Dr. Miller at 2 levels of fatigue, I think they'll really start to feel the effects of the relentless pace of what's been happening too them.
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wibbs wrote:
Yeah, unfortunately we didn't have quite enough time for their jaunt through the scrap yard, so we left that for next session. I've decided I'm going to ramp the difficult of this encounter up a little to make things interesting, especially as ...


Wait, it sounds like you're saying that the PCs (and NPCs) are all really hurting at this point, but you're going to increase the difficulty of the scrap yard beyond what's in the adventure as written?

Hmm. Well, if you've got a lot invested in the idea of the scrap yard run, I could imagine wanting to focus more on it, but I personally just looked at the scrap yard situation as a mere short encounter, with a little token foreshadowing of the strangeness of the Unimed dogs. I.e., "Panic! Time to run from point A to B!" and then start a new set of troubles in the sewers.

However, if I were focused on making more out of the scrap yard scene (for instance, if I'd put so much work into making my new papercraft car wrecks and really wanted to give them a bit more "table time" Wink ), I think I'd want to balance out any increased difficulty elements with a little more "fun factor."

What exactly qualifies as "fun factor" varies from group to group. For my games, it usually translates into "environmental area-effect opportunities" (AKA "stuff waiting to go boom"), "chance for Player A to use his heavily-invested but under-utilized skill," or else "extra loot."

In this case, the last one ("extra loot") is likely to be counter-productive since we're trying to herd the heroes on to the next scene quickly rather than encouraging them to hang around and dig through the junk. The middle one ("under-utilized skill") is extremely group specific, and I have to be careful with it, because it can go badly if I don't think it out properly.

But, hey, just about everybody loves a chance to blow things up in these games.

So, for the sake of brainstorming on how to amp up the difficulty AND add some "fun factor":

Rather than JUST being a scrap yard, this spot also happens to be the site of a "last stand" of a number of survivors against the zombie onslaught. Some of the structures have been deliberately set up as fortifications, and this also includes some passive "traps" that help or hinder the heroes.

* BARBED WIRE: Barbed wire and sharp pointy barricades are set up with the hopes that zombies would tear themselves up trying to get over them, though they only still stand in patches because of being knocked over and not being maintained. To emphasize this, there are a few chewed-on body parts still impaled or dangling from these structures in the worst-hit parts. Only someone running blind runs a risk of running into these (1d6 damage; not likely to do more than cause a Shaken result ... but likely to provoke worries of infection, if zombies have been tearing themselves up on the same defenses).

* PIT TRAP: A large hole in the ground with sharp rusty spikes potentially causes 2d6 damage to anyone who falls into it (and you'll need to get a tetanus shot -- not fun). It's covered with bowing particle board sheets that would easily break under the weight of anyone stepping on it, and just in case, the trap cover has been spray-painted in day-glo orange, "WARNING! PIT TRAP!" Anyone with a non-rotting brain who, despite this, still manages to step on the pit trap anyway (perhaps running blindly in pitch-black darkness?), gets a simple Agility test (-2 if the person was running) to scramble and avoid falling in. A couple of other pits are already open and obvious, having been broken open, and never maintained, with a few dog-chewed zombie remnants inside, impaled on junk. The dogs are too smart to step on the boards, but someone could taunt zombies into walking onto them by standing directly on the other side of the still-covered pit. (I assume Shamblers take the most direct move to the enemy, but retain enough sense not to walk right into an open manhole or off a cliff ... most of the time. If multiple Shamblers move onto the pit cover at the same time, they all go in, rather than just the first one. Only smart/agile zombies such as Sprinters get an Agility roll to evade.)

* KABOOM: Propane tanks are rigged up with some mechanisms (puncture the tank, strike a spark on the escaping gas) meant to be triggered by yanking wires that run all the way behind a low barricade. Evidently, the barricade was overrun before someone could fire off all of these nifty little traps; judging from the fire damage near the barricade, setting zombies on fire is not necessarily a cure-all. However, someone who spots the traps might try to set them off anyway.

Anyone who tugs on the wire at any point along its length (running from the trap all the way back to the barricade) can try to set off the trap. (It's up to the GM how many there are, but if there are quite a few, I'd suggest a significant chance of failure of the firing mechanism, such as a 1 on 1d4, though a direct hit with a high-caliber weapon could still set it off.) Ignition causes 2d6 damage to all within a Medium Burst Template, with an Agility check at -2 (Shamblers automatically fail) to evade. Regardless of whether damage is done or not, any flammable materials in blast radius catch fire; for zombies, who may or may not be "flammable," this is on a result of 4-6 on a 1d6. Flaming zombies take 1d6 damage per round unless something happens to put the fire out (they don't have the sense to stop, drop and roll).

For bonus mayhem, the tanks are each planted at the bottom of a "stack of junk," prompting it to fall over from the force of the blast. Roll 1d12 to determine the direction in which the junk pile falls (as per faces of the clock); the junk falls slowly, so an Agility check at +1 allows for evading (but Shamblers have no sense and thus automatically fail). Area of effect is a 3" line (1" wide) in the direction indicated. Falling junk pins anyone underneath (for purposes of squirming free, treat as a Grapple in which the opponent automatically rolls 10 for each opposing roll), and deals 3d6 damage (due to sheer crushing weight and sharp pointy bits).

* BARRICADE ARSENAL: There is evidence of an explosion behind some short barricades, and there are a few broken weapons, and several empty containers, but it looks as if someone must have looted anything obviously valuable. There are some makeshift weapons at the ready, however: several junk spears (treat as a basic spear, minimum Strength of d4 due to lightweight materials, but on a roll of "1" on Fighting, the welded-on or duct-tape-attached knife tip breaks off, dropping damage to Str+d4).

On a successful Notice or Tracking check (penalized as per lighting conditions), anyone spending an action to look for anything useful finds that while it looks like some improvised devices must have gone off prematurely (to the detriment of the defenders), there are 2 Molotov cocktails and one improvised explosive device that have survived. The cocktails don't come with a lighter, so they're useless unless someone has a lighter on hand, or throws the cocktail at an already flaming target.

The IED is a home-made hand grenade. It behaves like a real hand grenade, but is overly large (3 lb) and badly balanced (-1 to Throwing). What's more, it's unstable enough that it explodes on impact, whether or not the "pin" is pulled. It is a very bad idea for someone to pick this up and save it for later; anyone checking it over with Repair of d4 or greater or any Knowledge or background area related to explosives should be able to tell this is bad news and it should not be kept. (It's just asking for the carrier to trip and fall and BOOM, which is sort of what happened when flaming zombies broke through.)

Anyway, just brainstorming.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah -- another thought to toss onto the stack:

If you wanted the confrontation with the dogs to be more hostile, it occurs to me that I'm probably assuming a bit too much about the UniMed dogs and situation. Just because UniMed designed a bunch of super-smart dogs doesn't mean that they're all well-behaved, and they're all under UniMed control.

In other words, it could be that some of the dogs have "gone feral" -- perhaps with groups of humans, and the handlers died, or based at some outpost of Sanctuary that was overrun, or else a few dogs wandered off for various reasons and met up with other "feral" UniMed dogs and formed a loose pack for survival. These dogs might have the improved smarts, but this particular group has little compunction against attacking humans (though they might shy away when it's clear the humans are well-armed, since they're not suicidal, choosing instead to go after "stragglers").

Perhaps just a couple of the dogs have collars that they haven't managed to wriggle free from or get torn off yet, hinting at their former domesticated status ... but any dogs encountered as part of an organized UniMed force would have active tracking collars and harnesses, or even little Kevlar dog "vests" (insufficient to have any in-game statistical value, but intended to give the dogs some modicum of protection against biting zombie teeth without restricting their movement; actual in-game stats would be negligible, and just be another imagined factor in the randomness of damage dealt).
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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey,

As ever, your thoughts are extremely valuable in helping me plan for the session. On further consideration, I think that you are right in not trying to beat up on the PCs when they're already struggling with fatigue.

Also, to be honest, I'd already gone down the route of assuming the dogs were feral and had escaped their handlers, mainly for the reason that I couldn't really see a particularly strong justification for UniMed patrolling out quite as far as the scrapyard.

What I think I'm going to do is keep the basics of the encounter reasonably simple, and play up the need to keep the non-combatents safe during the journey, and the difficulties in transporting the supplies they've chosen to take by hand. The safety issue would ideally be suited to Donald, the self-designated 'Morale Officer'. I'll also design the encounter to be easily scalable up or down in difficulty depending on how fatigued the players are after their Vigor rolls.

Once again, many thanks for your thoughtful input,

Wibbs
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Wibbs
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Session Summary

The Scrapyard

The trip through the scrapyard was fraught with danger, against a backdrop of thunder, lightning, sheeting rain and the cacophony of the moaning from nearby hordes of living dead. Intent on keeping the Hirschbeck survivors, both adults and children, together, the group was hit by attacks from three packs of doberman like dogs. Taken by suprise by the speed of the animals, the first pack set upon some of the survivors, and by the time they had been taken out, a few of the group's resolves had wavered. With a pep-talk by Donald though, they were quickly calmed down.

The dogs were displaying unusual amounts of intelligence, and had strange collars on with 'Unimed' written on them. However, the group dealt with the remaining beasts relatively easily, making good use of teamwork to overwhelm individual animals. They then proceeded out the back of the scrapyard and into the sewers beneath the city.

Although the group made relatively easy work of the dogs, they were made to sweat a few times when the animals swarmed a couple of them. I think I set the difficult about right, as it was the first time for a while the group had to stop and think carefully about tactics. The speed of the dogs was particularly challenging for them, and made it difficult to get shots away before they'd closed to melee range. All in all, a satisfying encounter Smile

Into the Sewers

The next part of the journey saw the group transporting their supplies deeper and deeper into the sewer system. Along the way, Geoff McCurdy explained the current situation within the city, and the fact that he and Ian led a group of survivors living in the sewers. Above ground, Sanctuary was run by Unimed with an iron fist, drugging survivors to keep them passive, and using them to test for immunisation to the living dead 'virus'.

After a while they found their way to a larger chamber in the sewers where the ground was completely dry. Dozens and dozens of tents were pitched, and groups of survivors eyed the newcomers with fear and suspicion as they entered. The supplies brought by the group were quickly split up and sent to caches strategically placed away from the main living areas, and the group were shown to some tents to the rear of the chamber. Strangley, the group noticed there were no children amongst the sewer survivors, but this was explained by Ian McCurdy as being because they had been abducted by Unimed in earlier attacks.

It was at this time that Donald crashed after coming down from the drugs he had been fed earlier in the night. Selina, Caitlins child, who had been bitten at the raider base suddenly took a big turn for the worse, with her fever taking hold. Caitlin took her to a side tunnel away from the main living area so she could live out her last minutes in private. Samantha, Dr. Miller and Victor accompanied them, and as Selina's memory started to fade away it was clear there was not much time left for her. When she eventually turned, Caitlin was unable to put an end to her unlife, but Samantha, showing how the changing world had affected her, took Victor's gun and did what needed to be done. She then immediately broke down in tears with Caitlin.

Once everyone was back at the living area, Samantha had a shouting match with Caitlin, clearly affected by what had just happened, yelling 'You are not my mother!' and running to the opposite side of the chamber. The group took the opportunity to get their first proper rest in about 48 hours.

Four hours into their sleep, the group was woken by an explosion at the other end of the chamber. In stormed large numbers of Unimed soldiers dressed in combat fatigues accompanied by attack dogs. The group noticed they were using non-lethal weapons, and they rapidly started dropping survivors and taking away survivors, including Samantha.

Awake and with weapon at the ready, Dr. Miller made a heroic effort to give chase, but was felled by tear gas and abducted along with the other survivors. Despite Victor and Jim giving token resistance, it was eventually decided to make a tactical withdrawl, and suprisingly the Unimed forces also disengaged.

At one point I thought the entire group was going to rush into full combat and get taken down by the soldiers. This would actually have made my life a lot easier by not splitting the group, but hey ho Smile

After a short argument where Caitlin broke the nose of Ian McCurdy, the remaining members of the group fled, chased by more attack dogs. A little into the pursuit, Hugo noticed a child up ahead, on the very edges of his vision. Geoff McCurdy identified him as one of the children that had gone missing, and the group gave chase as the kid ran away.

After a short pursuit, with the dogs still hot on their heels, the group cane to a T-junction, where they had seen the child turn left. As the group entered the junction, Geoff McCurdy was set on by several creatures, and it became clear from the masses of creatures down both tunnels that they had run into an ambush of undead - a really worrying, new behaviour.

Meanwhile, Dr Miller recovered from the effects of the tear gas, finding himself deep within the above ground Sanctuary, the area run by Unimed...

Other comments

This was a slightly odd session, and lacked some of the energy compared to previous weeks. I thought things went generally OK, but again the pace was slower than I would ideally prefer.

I need to think hard about how to deal with the fact that the doctor has been split from the group, as its going to be a little while before they are reunited with the plot as written. One thing I am considering is Commander Morrison taking the doctor with him when he goes down into the sewers to try to use him to help convince the rest of the group to come above ground as Sanctuary isnt the nasty horrible place that was described to them by the McCurdys. That would mean the doctor is only absent from the ambush and follow encounter, and there are plenty of NPCs I can give to the player to keep him busy.
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tigerguy786
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey there.

I've been keeping up with this for the most part and it sounds like your players are having fun with this.

I had a question though. I haven't gotten the chance to look into the books yet, but I think I might like to eventually and I was wondering: how well can the setting be adapted to a different area? My idea is to have the group play through the game in familiar locales around here where I live, and maybe even start in the very house we play at to emphasize the appropriate feelings of dread and loss. (they won't play themselves, but it might be cool to start in a fictionalized version of the very room we're playing in)
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wibbs wrote:
The speed of the dogs was particularly challenging for them, and made it difficult to get shots away before they'd closed to melee range. All in all, a satisfying encounter


Good point -- that speed really gets the dog/wolf profile critters up close and personal pretty quickly. Add a little darkness penalty and some weather modifiers to ranged attacks, and it's going to become a close-combat proposition for sure.

Wibbs wrote:
Once everyone was back at the living area, Samantha had a shouting match with Caitlin, clearly affected by what had just happened, yelling 'You are not my mother!' and running to the opposite side of the chamber. The group took the opportunity to get their first proper rest in about 48 hours.


Huh. This sounds like it played out amazingly close to "as written." Wink I suppose I've been so used to my own player group and its dynamic (or, at least, the dynamic of certain of the more regular players) that I've taken it for a given that someone would end up "adopting" Samantha and thus making it a lot harder for Caitlin to just move into "adoptive mother" role (and ultimately be responsible for Samantha's peril and safety throughout a lot of the adventure).

Wibbs wrote:
At one point I thought the entire group was going to rush into full combat and get taken down by the soldiers. This would actually have made my life a lot easier by not splitting the group, but hey ho Smile


Now THAT is exactly what I tend to expect the "typical" player group to do. ;D So often the dynamic ends up being that ONE member of the party ends up committing the entire group to combat without any means of exit, by going all out and then dragging along all the Loyal PCs (or the players who just seem to play their characters that way as long as it's a fellow PC in the fight) with them.

Wibbs wrote:
it became clear from the masses of creatures down both tunnels that they had run into an ambush of undead - a really worrying, new behaviour.


Yeah, that's one thing I really went far astray with in my own version, since I didn't read all that far ahead into things before starting -- I introduced the concept of the "general" fairly early on and hence "zombies with tactics" wouldn't be that shocking of a surprise this far into things, with the precedents I set. Sad

Re: Splitting the Group:
Ho boy! Always a challenge. This could be an opportunity, though, depending on what you've told the players, depending on the reliability of the player, and the sort of tone you want to set.

Want to amp up the horror-movie factor of this, at least for a little while? Don't advertise the fact that he is temporarily taking over an NPC. No, this is his NEW CHARACTER. Even let him write one up, but he already has some pre-assigned, secret Hindrances. You can let the PLAYER know this isn't the case (but it's not necessarily to draft the player to make any lies for the sake of maintaining the illusion).

This character's secret Hindrances concern the fact that he is a CANNIBAL, and that his body isn't reacting well to this. He's ADDICTED to human flesh (he has the beginnings of "the hunger," which is just a prelude to nastiness yet to come), and, of course, he has a dark secret that's going to seriously impact his Charisma with anyone else (and then some) if it's found out.

The player's objective is ... to have fun. If this character dies a "horror-movie death," that's great! Just don't rush it, because it could get crazy if he runs through too many "replacement characters" before reuniting with the original one. Wink But if this character is still alive once the party is reunited, then his exit point is that he'll finally succumb to the corruption in his body and become a Pseudo-Living-Dead (as per the "Food For Thought" one-sheet adventure) at some dramatically appropriate point.

Or ... not. Just a thought. Smile It really depends on the group and the players. Some of my players jump at the chance of getting to be "on the inside" for a little while. E.g., in a fantasy campaign, "Your hero has been replaced by an evil doppelganger! Don't worry, the real you is safe. But this is your chance to play up being a bad guy, and exchange lots of secret notes with the GM! Bwahahahahahahaha!"
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