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[WOTD] "Sanctuary" (Season 2 - SPOILERS)
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:00 am    Post subject: [WOTD] "Sanctuary" (Season 2 - SPOILERS) Reply with quote

Some time ago, I ran Chapter 1 of "War of the Dead," a zombie-apocalypse campaign from Daring Entertainment. Or, rather, I'll call that "Season 1," borrowing a cue from DGMiller (and referring to "Episodes" instead of "Weeks").

I made a few tweaks to the setting, and let my group get "off the rails" at several points, using WOTD more as source of inspiration than a strict "script." Even so, things went off so far, due to intra-party conflicts and a player who had a strong allergic reaction to NPCs with "plot armor" (i.e., our campaign's "Samantha") that at Dalesbury the group split (one player getting a replacement PC to stay in the campaign) and veered off into a modified "Zombie Run" campaign, headed for Arizona, without a huge convoy of survivors to worry about.

War of the Dead, Season 2:
Time has passed. I've run a "Pirates" campaign in the meantime. One player was interested in the further adventures of his priest PC (Father O'Shaughnessy), and seeing where WOTD would have led. Now I'm picking it up again with "Season 2," but with some changes. This post is as much for me to sort out my thoughts about what I'm doing this weekend, as it is for me to bounce a few rough ideas off other WOTD GMs to see what they think. (I realize this is a spotty description, but I can elaborate further as needed. This post is running rather long.)

1) Advanced Timeline to Justify Breakdown:
Season 2 features at least THREE instances of cannibalism (not counting the monsters) in the sewers, in the airport, and in the elementary school. Furthermore, there is the strong implication that the PCs start off on foot, and they can't just hot-wire a car with a full tank of gas any time they want a ride. This is all happening a mere two months after the initial outbreak. My idea? Advance the timeline to TWO YEARS after the outbreak -- spring of 2014, after a prolonged and bitter winter (due to the "nuclear winter" effect from all the burning cities and un-checked wildfires).

2) Sanctuary is a Goal, Not an Incident:
Rather than forcing my PC group to migrate westward by killing off all the NPCs and taking away all their stuff, I figured I'd let them part on more amiable terms. Rather, the crowds of NPCs that Father O'Shaughnessy helped to save have set up a semi-permanent settlement in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Somehow they hear of a place called "Sanctuary" -- perhaps via ham radio -- with a surviving UniMed research center. A small group is sent out to Sanctuary to take the "immune" survivors there for further study in hopes of developing a cure or a vaccine.

3) Season 2 Shuffle:
I'm not committed to running Seasons 3 and 4; I don't know that I can hold interest for that long in a zombie-apoc campaign. Under my battle plan, Sanctuary is the end-point ... and I'm turning things all topsy-turvy by STARTING Season 2 with Episode 11, Act 2, at the airport, going on through Episode 13 (more-or-less), THEN going back around to Episode 1 with the Hirschbeck Estates and everything else leading up to Sanctuary.

This cuts out the big army convoy and the tanks. I'm also leaving out Alexandro, because I used him and his team in my "Zombie Run" campaign (I worked in a couple of WOTD one-shots). And, as things are all shuffled around, I won't have a scripted doom for "Samantha" and Caitlin at the end of Episode 13, because the CAUSE for that doom hasn't happened yet.

...

So, the rough game plan:

This Sunday: Santa Land!
This Sunday, November 4th, I start up my campaign again, and see how many interested players actually show up. I don't know yet whether I will actually have a very large group, or whether I'll be scraping by on attendance, since "I'll be there!" doesn't always translate into an actual player actually attending. Wink Thanks to my prep for Necronomicon, though, I've got more than enough pre-gen PC character sheets handy.

I plan on running a "set-up" scenario that sort of sets the stage for Season 2, and wraps up a few loose ends of Season 1 (as I presented it).

Expected PCs:
* Father O'Shaughnessy: Catholic priest with medical training.
* "Boone" McCoy: Leather-crafter, hunter, and trapper, native to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
* "Gary": Ren-faire enthusiast and close-combat specialist.

... possibly one, MAYBE two more. (I've only received one RSVP after my reminder this week, so I can't be sure.)


The Jacksonville Convoy escaped Dalesbury after rescuing its abducted members (who had been taken to the secret research lab) during the zombie siege. While the more violent members of the group headed southwest, the bulk of the Jacksonville Convoy headed for the Blue Ridge Mountains, hoping to exploit the broken ground to bolster defenses against mega-hordes such as those that had overwhelmed Jacksonville and Dalesbury.

I was originally going to just hand-wave this as part of the "back-story," but this Sunday I am thinking of running the "Conquest of Santa Land," as the Jacksonville survivors take part in a clean-up operation in the Happy Holidays RV Park, the Santa Land theme park, and surrounding areas, in hopes of taking out the zombies, securing supplies, and finding a suitable place to settle in for the winter.

Basically, I've got an evil "Santa Claws" mini, an undead Horrorclix reindeer (rare virus mutation instance), a holiday O-scale train set, and some holiday-village scenery that I could get some use out of. I'm sure it'd be even better if I ran a scenario like this over the holidays -- but that never happens, because usually I can't get a group together through most of December anyway.

This will mostly be a chance for the heroes to make use of the stockpile of M-16s, Molotov cocktails, and other "goodies" and have a nice, fun, zombie-slaughter (and for new players, if there are any, to catch up on the setting).


Fast Forward to 2014:
After this, my plan is to fast forward to two years after the outbreak. The "solar max" is long past, but GPS is out, cars that have been sitting out in the elements are beyond a simple "hot-wire and go" utility (with the gas turning to moisture-polluted sludge while sitting in the tanks), and I can feel a little more justified in having spots of survivors turning to such desperate measures as cannibalism to get by.

Somehow, either through a ham radio, or by a wandering group of survivors, the group (Camp Holiday?) learns of Sanctuary, and of the existence of a medical research center where they're trying to research a cure or vaccine for the virus. A team is put together to FLY out to Sanctuary -- or, at least, to the closest airport -- and get the two "immune" members (Father O'Shaughnessy and our "Samantha" -- Sabrina Ford) to that facility.

In this way, we can move forward and get a "clean slate" without having to kill off all the NPCs. Heavy equipment gets left behind because there's only so much you can put on the plane. The heroes will probably still start with a pretty free selection of weapons, but that's hardly a balance concern, considering just how widespread M-16s and Desert Eagles seem to be in WOTD in general; I'll just have to give everyone a strict weight limit so the plane doesn't get overloaded.


The Airport:
After my "Santa Land" intro, the plan is to start things up at Episode 11, Act 2, with the Showdown at the Airport, except that instead of going to the airport to find fuel for tanks in a military convoy, this is simply where the heroes touch down, and then cast about for ground transportation. Perhaps transportation was supposed to be waiting for them (if they got in contact with Sanctuary via radio), but the escort ran into trouble (ambush by heavily-armed cannibals?).

I have NPC reference cards made up for all the survivors at the airport, turning a lot of their "backstory" information (the stuff that might be gleaned from observing or talking with them) on the backs of the cards. That way, when the heroes are making their way out, I can distribute the NPC cards to "controlling" players who are in charge of them, and the players can get an overview of their personalities and backstories, before I spell them out more explicitly with "NPC chat time." I also have a number of miscellaneous "random survivor" cards ready, in case the trend continues of players playing the "meet a new survivor" Adventure Card every time it comes up.


Unfinished Business: Where is Sanctuary?
Given all the NPCs with "layovers" at the airport, this needs to be a bigger "hub" airport. Cincinnati, Chicago-O'Hare, or Atlanta come to mind. I'm biased toward some place I've actually visited. I'm not sure what to do about the "cafeteria," since most airports I've visited have little cafes and restaurants and at most a mini-food-court, but I guess I'll tweak it based on what sort of airport map I can get to work from.

Timelines will have to be tweaked, especially in light of the pregnancies of two of the NPCs. In my version, there has been a "survivor camp" at the airport for a much longer period, originally with a much larger number, but dwindling. The "cannibal" crowd got booted out earlier, but they have been picking off members of the airport survivor group as they've been forced to go out on scavenging runs for supplies.


Morrison & Alicia:
We'll be minus the tug-of-war between Commander Morrison and Alicia, but I'm fine with that. I'm not a fan of having the players sit and watch as a couple of NPCs argue among themselves and make the group's decisions for them (rather than the PCs being the "leaders" they're supposed to be).


Richard, Hailey, and Philip:
This part of Episode 13 bothers me. At one point it seems not entirely clear that Philip is really a rapist. Certainly, it came out of the blue, and he's DEAD and beyond ability to share his side of the story by the time the PCs come on the scene.

For all I know, maybe it wasn't just that Hailey's "walk" just happened to take her to the barn where Philip was lying in wait, and Richard just happened to arrive in time to be in the knight in shining armor, but rather that Philip had the bad luck to stumble upon Richard and Hailey in the hay, and Richard, being the creepy-twice-her-age-controlling-stalker-boyfriend type "protected her honor" by smashing Philip into paste -- and Hailey made up the "rape" claim to protect Richard.

I'm not particularly attached to the "airport crowd," or to the plot armor they seem to need in order to survive to their respectively scripted dooms in Season 3 -- since I may not GO to Season 3 anyway. So I might give this one a different spin. Sorry, Richard. You just plain creep me out.


Back to Season 2, Episode 1:
Once we get to Episode 13, any remaining airport survivors can stay behind at the house. Neither Morrison nor Alicia are around to tell the heroes otherwise. Our heroes have a mission to get to Sanctuary, through hazardous territory; they can send help back later.

Then, it's on to Episodes 1 through 10. "Samantha" in my campaign is older. She needn't have "plot armor," as she'd be scripted to die in the adventure as written anyway. She's mostly just insurance in case the unthinkable happens and Father O'Shaughnessy gets killed, so there's still one "immune" character to take to Sanctuary.

"Samantha abduction events" can be minimized or skipped outright. Jeff Murray can just abduct his OWN kids. Caitlin doesn't need to horn in on the PCs' territory as a "surrogate mom" for "Samantha." The PCs' goal is to get to Sanctuary, and if they take a few detours on the way, that's fine; if the PCs decide "This is none of our business," and they move on and skip some encounters, that's fine, too.

If we cut a few corners, I can make up for it by expanding upon their time in Sanctuary with some scavenging and hunting missions. The ultimate fate of Sanctuary will be up to the PCs, rather than a scripted fall just as they arrive.

And ... that's what passes for a game plan for right now. Smile

My primary concern (aside from setting things up for Sunday's afternoon game) would be to settle upon WHERE Sanctuary is, and WHERE the airport is. Sure, it isn't "important" to WOTD per se, but I'd like to be able to drop a place-name. It'll help to inform what sorts of other things might be in the area, and adds a little extra authenticity, rather than "Anytown, Anystate, USA." It'll also help me to figure out what Google maps I need to print off, and to pin down a map for the airport (since that would make a nice handout).


Obligatory Pictures:
If I have time tomorrow, I might touch up the PC miniatures a bit more. I've been mostly relying on re-based HeroClix for Season 1, but I went on a Reaper Miniatures binge a while back to bolster my zombie-survivor supplies.

One of my players gave me a miniature he purchased at our "Friendly Local Game Store," as I'd offered to paint and convert any PC miniatures. It's a Warmachine "Sea Dog Rifleman," which I re-based with a War Cast Studios (http://www.warcaststudios.com) "industrial" resin base, and modified with some epoxy putty.

"Boone" McCoy, Post-Apocalyptic Hunter/Trapper (Warmachine 41049 Sea Dog Rifleman, converted):

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Last edited by Jordan Peacock on Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick notes on cannibalism: It's an incredibly short-term "solution" that people only enter into during a desperate period between "things are going wrong" and "we've figured out how to survive".

Two months into the apocalypse? People that have only been living off of salvage, without bothering to learn about long-term supply (or incapable of establishing a food source), are going to be getting desperate since they ate all the easily found food. Some of the crazier ones are going to resort to murder-cannibalism, while the saner types will eat every food-like object they can find before they resort to cannibalism.

Two years into the apocalypse? The only ones regularly engaged in cannibalism are dedicated cannibals; and the zombies. After two years, people have either figured out long-term food sources or they have starved to death. Some unusual situations (hundreds trapped in a high-rise, surrounded by the dead, or as they call it "free range meat") might be subsisting on cannibalism, but anyone striving for genuine survival has focused their resources on growing actual crops. Human (or zombie) might be their primary source of meat, but it's not their primary source of food - and most folks will go Vegetarian long before they go Cannibal.

Oh, and fun fact for population levels: If 1 human provides 100 food-days (quite a stretch, but possible), then a population of 100 million will consume about 1% of the population per day. After 5 years there will be 1 human left.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then maybe I adjust the time-scale to the next year after the Apocalypse, after the first winter. Since I put my Apocalypse in late June 2012, and we might look for a spring thaw in, oh, March or so, then we're talking around 9 months after the outbreak. In my particular model, I assumed that not everything quite collapsed JUST as soon as the zombies started biting. (It took a few weeks, at least.)

It's still a bit of a stretch for me that there are just so many cannibal incidents, and it's only two months. We're not talking about populations of hundreds of people resorting to such things as all the supplies are picked over. In the airport scenario, by the time the heroes show up, there are 5 cannibals and 12 holed-up victims, holding out in an area that used to have hundreds or even thousands of people in the general vicinity, in a big enough airport that people were stuck there for layovers between flights (so it wasn't a "satellite" airport with puddle-jumper flights).

When the heroes reach the sewers under Sanctuary, the folks there have already eaten all their children. As a group -- not just some isolated instance of someone going mad with hunger.

In the elementary school, we've got some guys who are hacking parts off of still-living victims (apparently taking off the limbs a bit at a time to keep it "fresh") -- and apparently they're comfortable enough with the threat posed by roaming zombies to herd them toward the PCs as part of an attack.

All of these incidents are encountered in the span of just Season/Chapter 2, and there are more cannibals to come in #3, and then we have idiot kids chopping off zombie fingers for a light snack in #4. (Seriously? Okay, so that wasn't about hunger -- just suicidal stupidity.) Add in the "Food for Thought" one-shot for WOTD, and the novelty wears off quickly.

Sure, desperate people make a run on the grocery stores, and they're going to be picked over, but it's not as if all these people just instantly devoured every canned good item they could get their hands on. Those stocks went somewhere, and the implication seems to be that the overall still-breathing human population drops rather quickly ... and once people "turn," they seem to lose any and all interest in operating can openers or chewing on much of anything that isn't still squirming when they bite into it.

I'd feel a little more comfortable with more time-distance between "things bad start happening" and "ZOMG LET'S EAT OUR BABIES!"

I have some experience with getting better-acquainted with what's in the canned-goods pantry when the power goes out for a couple of weeks, thanks to hurricanes, and I could probably get by even longer with what I typically have stored. And, if we assume that I'm one of those unreasonable lucky ones who for some reason hasn't turned zombie, and my neighborhood's population is typically decimated -- or maybe I move on and scavenge -- there are likely to be several pantries left untouched by my zombified former-fellow-beings. Sure, the milk will spoil pretty quickly, but some of this stuff will keep a good long time.

What's likely to be a more immediately problem for me would be clean drinking water, and that isn't going to be solved by chopping up the neighbors.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jordan Peacock wrote:
It's still a bit of a stretch for me that there are just so many cannibal incidents, and it's only two months.

You're right; the frequency is a bit nuts - documented cases of survival cannibalism showcase the general human reluctance to engage in it. Most incidents don't start until about three months after most of the food ran out - in the interim people try eating shoes, blankets, and whatever else is available.

Of course, modern murderer-cannibals showcase that crazy people (who are bizarrely good survivors of mass traumas) will resort to cannibalism a lot earlier than most. But it is a stretch to find that many groups in that short a span of time.

The only factor that might explain higher incidences is the example of the zombies. There is a person-like being eating people; setting the example and shattering the taboo, ever single day. It's hard to not let the idea creep into your mind when you've got that around. Still, that shouldn't shave more than two months off of the delay, and many areas have more than 1 month of stored food around.

Re: Sewer Cannibals
The only way this part made any kind of sense to me was the "kill them clean before the monsters can get them" madness. After they've killed them, they have to decide what to do with the remains, and for various reasons (to keep their kids close to their hearts, to honor their memories, or because they're sickos that always wanted to eat a baby) they consumed the remains. And the monsters never came. After that sanity-shattering event, they were perfectly willing to eat anyone.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny you've brought this up, because as I've been running through the War of the Dead story, one of the main changes I've made is to remove pretty much any reference to cannibalism at all for the same reasons - it just doesn't make sense.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:40 am    Post subject: Re: [WOTD] Season 2 (SPOILERS) Reply with quote

Jordan Peacock wrote:
Some time ago, I ran Chapter 1 of "War of the Dead," a zombie-apocalypse campaign from Daring Entertainment. Or, rather, I'll call that "Season 1," borrowing a cue from DGMiller (and referring to "Episodes" instead of "Weeks").


Thanks!


Jordan Peacock wrote:
This will mostly be a chance for the heroes to make use of the stockpile of M-16s, Molotov cocktails, and other "goodies" and have a nice, fun, zombie-slaughter (and for new players, if there are any, to catch up on the setting).


My plan to allow this is to run a modified version of the Dead of Night freebie from Daring. I'm thinking along the lines of the group running into a small enclave of cabins (Camp Crystal Lake?) in the woods somewhere around western North Carolina. As they explore for supplies, they find a small band of dirty, hungry survivors, with children. They also find the single guy that's protecting them, a la the scenario as written. He's leading them to a place that he's been taking other groups of survivors, Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, NC (saw an article on it a few days ago, which gave me the idea to use it). Just a thought so far.


Jordan Peacock wrote:
Fast Forward to 2014:
After this, my plan is to fast forward to two years after the outbreak. The "solar max" is long past, but GPS is out, cars that have been sitting out in the elements are beyond a simple "hot-wire and go" utility (with the gas turning to moisture-polluted sludge while sitting in the tanks), and I can feel a little more justified in having spots of survivors turning to such desperate measures as cannibalism to get by.


Since my game started with the beginning of the cruise on July 15th and they spent several weeks on the lifeboats, it is getting to the point where it would already be winter out west. This, I feel, necessitates me having the group pass the winter somewhere, then setting out once things are thawed for the journey west. They may initially think the cold killed all the things off, but find out that's not true.

The inspiration for me in the opening scenes of Season 2 is the opening episode of The Walking Dead, Season 3, where the group is disheveled and almost mad with hunger before finding the prison. They're almost feral. I may show that to the group (some have seen it).

Like you, I'm REALLY trying to find a good location for Sanctuary. It needs to be far enough west, but not too far.

Finally, I'm likely going to eliminate the cannibalism in the elementary school. I'll be tweaking that scene to be more like the scene where the group finds the nursing home in Atlanta in The Walking Dead. As written, the elementary school scene adds nothing to the story. The airport CAN be done as two rival groups of survivors fighting over some disagreement that seems important to them and distracts from the real threats. Cannibalism need not be a factor. I will be keeping the cannibalism under Sanctuary, though.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:51 am    Post subject: Re: [WOTD] Season 2 (SPOILERS) Reply with quote

DGMiller wrote:
He's leading them to a place that he's been taking other groups of survivors, Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, NC (saw an article on it a few days ago, which gave me the idea to use it). Just a thought so far.


Funny you should mention that! Just the day before yesterday, I stumbled across a web site for that. Back when I lived in Asheville, and I'd make the trek westward to the "lowlands" to visit relatives, one of the "landmarks" I remembered was Maggie Valley, and I sort of wondered why one particular valley would get a special name, what with so many of them around. When I was trying to zero in on the general area I envisioned for setting up the survivor camp for the start of my campaign, my first stop was to locate "Maggie Valley" in Google Maps (since that was a landmark that sprang to mind, and I couldn't remember the exact spelling of "Santaland"/"Santa's Land"/"Santa Land," etc.), and noticed "Ghost Town in the Sky."

I pondered doing something with that, especially since it seemed interesting, what with the "wild west" area under construction, and the stated claim to build a "Holy Land" area atop a mountain at some unspecified time in the future. Maybe I'll use that for some OTHER post-apoc game. ;D

Quote:
Like you, I'm REALLY trying to find a good location for Sanctuary. It needs to be far enough west, but not too far.


Somewhere east of Colorado, at least. Very Happy And since I already ran another "branch" of this campaign based on Zombie Run, and that's technically all "canon" for my campaign, I'll personally want to steer clear of Arizona as well.

Quote:
Finally, I'm likely going to eliminate the cannibalism in the elementary school.


I'm really undecided. I know I've been meddling with things so severely already, but I feel like if I go too far, it won't really be "War of the Dead" anymore. It's a rather mushy guideline, I suppose.

Maybe I could "hang a lampshade" on it. After all, everyone is, in a sense, already "infected." Perhaps the transformation into the Living Dead is multi-pronged. On the one hand, there's the "transformed into walking dead" part. But then on the other, there's the "craving fresh human flesh" part. Perhaps in most people, the "crave human flesh" part is so abhorrent that they'll push it down, and it doesn't even register. It's overwhelmed by the gag reflex, the sheer revulsion of the idea.

However, perhaps with select others, that "urge" manifests even before turning into the Living Dead -- perhaps among psychopaths, and people further along the scale in that direction, those who are less able to feel sympathy for others and are more focused on the self and one's own base needs and instincts. For them, when the first tickling of the urge arises, there is no mental need to slap it down -- only, at most, to HIDE it from others, for fear of being ostracized. Get a group of such monsters-in-the-making together, however, and soon it's all out in the open.

Perhaps I could hint at the /unnatural/ nature of this in dialogue with the cannibals. For instance, in the elementary school segment, it's made evident that they're keeping the current victim alive, "filleting" off bits of the legs at a time. I'm reminded of Marvel Zombies here, where Black Panther was kept alive by Giant Man as a source of food -- Giant Man would cut off bits of Black Panther in order to have a fresh meat supply. If, however, he'd simply bitten Black Panther, the Black Panther would turn into a zombie and no longer provide a viable food source.

Inspired a bit by that gruesome scenario, I imagine someone from the airport cannibal crowd saying something like, "Oh, please, won't you come with us? We won't eat all of you right away. Just a bit at a time! It has to be fresh. Nothing else will do anymore!"

Or something like that -- my idea being that the cannibals have, by giving in to this darker desire, undergone changes, much like the pseudo-living-dead from the "Food For Thought" One-Sheet. They hunger for (still-living, still-human) flesh, and somehow recognize that feasting on each OTHER will not satiate this hunger (or else surely such a group would turn on itself in short order, if denied another source of fresh meat). To further emphasize this (sledgehammer of subtlety!), I'd give them dark patches around the eyes, discolored skin -- features reminiscent of the mutated "Infected Newborn."

Thus, the high frequency of cannibals might not seem quite so shocking; it's just another manifestation of the Infection.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Might have been the same thing I read about Ghost Town In the Sky. It was only a few days ago and was about couple celebrating anniversaries there.

The NPC in the "Dead of Night" one-sheet is a real cowboy type (supposed to be set in Texas) and I'm picturing him as a guy who sees himself as sheriff/gunslinger of the "ghost town." Unhinged, but basically a good guy.

I'm thinking maybe Arkansas or Missouri for Sanctuary...
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DGMiller wrote:
I'm thinking maybe Arkansas or Missouri for Sanctuary...


Well, the main thing that's giving me trouble figuring out exactly where to place Sanctuary is that when the heroes LEAVE Sanctuary, they've got a convoy full of tanks and other gasoline-hog vehicles, and when it occurs to them, "Hey, we need to get some gas! How about an airport?" the airport they go to has a bunch of people who were there because of layovers on cross-country (New York to California, Florida to Las Vegas) trips, so it has to be a fairly major airport. (You don't generally get sent to satellite airports for "layovers.")

For an example, I've used Expedia to look for a theoretical flight from New York City to San Francisco, deliberately checking for flights with one or more layovers. Locations that come up include:

* Dallas (DFW)
* Denver (DEN)
* Washington (IAD)
* Chicago (ORD)
* Cleveland (CLE)
* Charlotte (CLT)


For Miami, FL to Las Vegas, NV, layovers include:

* Los Angeles (LAX)
* Dallas (DFW)
* Houston (IAX)
* Phoenix (PHX)
* Tampa (TPA)
* Charlotte (CLT)
* Atlanta (ATL)


Charlotte, NC seems like the wrong direction. Dallas is tempting, as that's a lot closer to Colorado.

If Sanctuary were somewhere in Arkansas, I suppose that if it were somewhere west of Little Rock, I could imagine the convoy taking a trip that takes them toward Dallas. If Sanctuary were actually *IN* Little Rock, or somewhere east of it, though, if they want to head eventually toward Colorado, then heading north and west through Oklahoma would seem to make more sense.

Hey, the town of Hope, Arkansas is in the southwest of Arkansas, pretty close to Interstate 30 (which would take one on to Dallas, going southwest). Maybe that would make for a poetic place to put Sanctuary? (It doesn't really seem like the natural place for the national headquarters of a major pharmaceutical firm, though. I suppose there's the national headquarters of WAL-MART in Bentonville, Arkansas, but that's not quite the same thing. Wink )
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking DFW for the airport too. Hope, as a town name, is only a slight jump from Sanctuary. Also, don't underestimate the power of tax breaks and other subsidies determining where a company locates their headquarters. I like it.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, I need to re-read Wibbs' play through of Hirshbeck. He made some small changes I liked. At least I believe it was Wibbs.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I tweaked a few bits and pieces to cover what I saw as a few plot holes, particularly around justifying how Jeff could get away with the kids with absolutely noone noticing.

I also added a spotlight scene/event for each of the characters and used these as a way of fleshing out some of the NPCs a little more.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hirschbeck Estates
I really liked ferret's take on the Hirschbeck Estates (as detailed in this thread -- http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=28266&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=140 -- scroll down to "Chapter II, Week 15"). In my opinion, it made the situation "grey" enough that Jeff Murray's action was at least a little more plausible.

As it was, ferret avoided the kidnap/rescue scenario -- which depended a great deal upon the PCs surrendering any surrogate-parent role to "Samantha" (Emily in this campaign) to Caitlin, whom they had just met. (In fact, a LOT of what happens to "Samantha" really depends on that, and considering how often Samantha gets abducted while under someone else's care, and the heroes have to rescue her, it's a wonder the PCs don't keep her under constant guard.)

Since I'm not planning on having "Samantha-capture" scenarios happen left and right (and in my version Samantha is 14 and has had a couple of precious Advances invested in her progression by other players), if this plays out close to plot, it'll be where Jeff only takes HIS OWN kids. I hope that if I do a good enough job of fleshing out the kids, that will be good enough reason to mount a rescue -- but then, I also feel a bit depressed that if the PCs go for it, it'll be a pointless endeavor. (If for any reason they DO NOT opt to go on the rescue mission, Caitlin will go on her own, and that'll be the last they see of her -- and if they STOP her, she'll part ways with them at the first opportunity.)
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Immune People Taste Bad?
Ah yes. I just remembered something that has been bugging me.

In the Sanctuary saga (I forget which Episode/Week), there's yet another "Samantha-capture," under the presumption that, yet again, the heroes leave her unattended, and the Ragers grab her and a bunch of other kids, dragging them all off to the sewers.

The other kids are all doomed, being turned into zombies. However, it indicates that Samantha is covered with bites, but apparently the zombies, upon having a little taste of her, don't proceed to tear her apart any further.

This seems to imply another feature of being "immune" to the infection that was not advertised earlier, and it could be pretty important to know about: If a PC in the party got the lucky draw/roll and has the "immunity," then if he were swarmed by zombies and left alone, presumably they might give him a few nibbles (an initial Wounding attack?) but otherwise would leave him alone, rather than tearing him to shreds. That's important, because otherwise I would assume that he'd be just as doomed if left to the zombies, because if he never turns, he would still register as "fresh meat" to them, and they'd keep right on chowing away until there was nothing left but broken marrow-sucked bones. (Blargh. Bad imagery.)

And apparently you "taste bad" to the Ragers, too, though in the adventure-as-written, this is hardly a kindness upon Samantha, given what happens to her later.

I guess this is a very special situation, but I'm wondering if it should be the case. (If War of the Dead is ever re-released -- or if these factoids are canonized in "World of the Dead" -- this is an important detail that probably should be spelled out for the GM right up front.)
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In locating Sanctuary, I'm looking first at potential military locations for the base the raiders have taken over. Here are my two strongest possibilities:

Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX. It is the appropriate distance from DFW.

Or...

Fort Chaffee, just outside of Fort Smith, AK. The base has been mostly deactivated, but is still used for training and housing some equipment. Large sections were destroyed by fire in the late 90's and early 00's and never rebuilt. It's a little stretch on the airport, but it is the appropriate distance from Will Rogers World Airport (OKC). While not a hub, it does receive flights from all over the country. I'm thinking that as things started falling apart, flights were grounded at non-standard airports, so this makes OKC a viable location for the airport.

I'm pretty sure I'll be using the second option. More direct route to Colorado. Also, I like the Stephens, Inc. HQ in Little Rock for a photo of the UNIMED tower.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I ran my "interlude" adventure today. I had 6 players show up, including one who was totally new to Savage Worlds (but he caught on pretty quickly).

I'm settled upon going with Sanctuary being in the vicinity of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, due to the likelihood of DFW as a plausible hub where the survivors in the airport might have ended up on layovers, and also because it's not terribly far from Colorado.

As for "Sanctuary, Texas" itself, I'm fictionalizing the town, making it a bigger deal than the real-life Sanctuary, Texas. It just seems too poetic to pass up, that there's an actual town by that name pretty close to a spot that would work for me. (However, for general WOTD usage, it's questionable, since Sanctuary is WEST of Dallas/Fort Worth, and more likely the convoy would be heading northwest or westward upon fleeing Sanctuary, not heading back east. But then, maybe they simply don't have much CHOICE which direction they flee in when they leave -- since roadways are often blocked, and all that.)

My one-shot "Conquest of Santa's Land" was unabashedly silly, to the point where I figure there's little point in writing it up. I explained to the players that this is NOT what "War of the Dead" is going to be like. This was just my way of "easing in" to the setting after such a long hiatus, and giving everyone a chance to "blow stuff up real good" in a way that isn't likely to be possible once things get "serious."

I'll give it a shot anyway.

A couple of house-rule notes:

Pre-Gen Temps:
I let new players "test-run" some pre-generated heroes I wrote up (originally as convention one-shot characters), since I had a couple of surprise additions to the group. Anyone who went with a pre-gen would have the option of sticking with that character, *OR* writing up a new character for the campaign -- and keeping any XP earned from this session to roll over to the new character.


35 XP:
All PCs, whether veterans or new, start at 35 XP. For one of my "veterans," that meant dropping down a few XP, and for another it meant going up a couple of XP. All new characters would start at 35 XP, with $1000 worth of gear.


No More "2 Bennies for Critical-Fail Reroll":
I used to have a house rule wherein if you rolled a Critical Failure or a Malfunction or Complication ("1" on the skill die in a case where there would be some terrible consequence for it regardless of the Wild Die), you'd have to spend TWO Bennies to reroll it.

Then, to make things even more complicated, if you KEPT a Critical Failure rather than rerolling it, I'd give you a compensatory Benny.

No more. It got too complicated, and I'm not even sure what I was really trying to accomplish. Do I really want my heroes Critical-Failing left and right? This made more sense for a silly campaign like "Ghostbusters" -- not for an ostensibly serious setting such as War of the Dead.


Benny Miss:
Did some mook with d4 Shooting skill at Long Range manage to Ace on his roll and hit you with a raise even while you were in Cover? Spend a Benny and you can force an enemy to reroll his attack against you, and take the worse result. If the new result is a hit, so be it. If the new one is a miss, all the better.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

November 4th, 2012 -- Session #1 (introductory/interlude scenario, not based on any particular "Week" from Chapter 2)

Primary Survivors:
* Father O'Shaughnessy (Digital_Rampage) -- Catholic priest with medical training, who had been on board the cruise ship Pinnacle when the outbreak occurred. He has a resistance to the zombie infection, but at the price of terrible dreams and sometimes even delusions when more intelligent specimens of the Living Dead (most notably the so-called "Generals") are nearby.

* Sabrina Ford (HZ) -- 14-year-old junior-high track athlete, former passenger of the Pinnacle, now orphaned after her parents zombified and her father attacked her. She survived, and like Father O'Shaughnessy exhibits resistance to the infection -- but her right arm (which had been bitten) is horribly deformed, and she has unnatural cravings for fresh meat (and, oddly enough, dog food, which she hoards when the chance arises). Although naturally right-handed, she usually keeps her malformed arm hidden in bandages, forcing her to awkwardly favor her left, normal-looking hand.

* Ashley J. Williams (JZ) -- With a prominent chin, dark hair, chainsaw and "boomstick," he bears a striking resemblance to the protagonist of a cult-classic quirky movie ... and seems to share the character's gift for jury-rigging make-shift weapons out of whatever is at hand. Maybe it's all just an act, but he seems to think it's the real deal (and, incidentally, refers to the Living Dead as "deadites"). He also may not realize it, but he's developed a resistance to the "Deadite" curse. (Translation: For new PCs, I had everyone draw a card. He drew a joker.)

* Gallup (Randy) -- A former college student and sometimes street-musician with a real talent for "people skills" and encouraging others. Since the outbreak of the Living Dead, he's had to develop a few more combat-appropriate skills as well, such as wielding a shotgun.

* Daniel "Boone" McCoy (AKA "DJ," for some reason) (CH) -- A resident of the Blue Ridge Mountains that the Jacksonville Convoy encountered while looking for a place to set up for the winter. He's a skilled leatherworker, trapper, and hunter, and also a capable marksman.

* Gary (SV) -- A Renaissance Fair enthusiast decked out in a mish-mash of modern and quasi-medieval gear, he's most definitely a close-combat specialist, deadly with a greatsword, but also a bit "touched" by his experiences and not quite coming to grips with how the world has changed, at times seeming like a child in a man's body.

...

The Conquest of Santa's Land:
With the help of "DJ" and a small band of local survivors, the Jacksonville Convoy has found a potential place to set up camp for the winter -- and perhaps a long-term settlement, depending upon how things play out.

West of Asheville, along Highway 19, the convoy has divided into teams to clear any zombies out of the nearby area, with orders to fall back and regroup if they encounter any forces too large to handle. One team of heroes has set upon "Santa's Land Theme Park and Zoo," expecting to do a bit of "mopping up," but they find a large number of shamblers wandering around. After considering their options, they choose to press on rather than falling back and asking for reinforcements.

Santa Squad's Transports -- UniMed Hummer and Converted Ambulance:


They observe that somewhere on the premises must be living creatures that keep the shamblers in an agitated state (but which they can't readily reach). Because the shamblers keep stumbling into things and creating noise of activity, they don't instantly react with "The Moan" to every little noise -- though loud noises do prompt shamblers in the vicinity to slowly wander over to investigate now and then.


Train Crossing


The team elects to take its chances, and decouples the "Santa's Special Car" from the back of the first rideable train at the "station," working as a group to push it along, while using the car itself to shield themselves from the line of sight of the shamblers. As they go along, they quietly snuff a few "crawlers" on the tracks -- shamblers that had apparently stupidly wandered onto the tracks and fallen over before the train came to its final stop back when things broke down at Santa's Land during the outbreak.

They come to a stop at another engine. Ash investigates it and finds that despite a few trappings to give it a "steam engine" look, the basic mechanism reuses components from a propane-powered forklift, with sound effects and "steam whistle" that are just electrical noisemakers run off of a rechargeable battery. He finds some tools in the engine compartment, and gets to work to see what he can salvage.

Meanwhile, Father O'Shaughnessy decides to experiment to see what can be done to lure a few of the zombies at a time without drawing the whole horde. He uses his first aid kit to extract some of his own blood, and soaks a rag, then ties it to some thread and a stick, to go "zombie-fishing."

(GM Note: I treated this as a Smarts-based Trick, with the provision that FAILURE could mean that he gets the zombie's attention -- and a bit more than he bargained for. I kept rolling a "1" for zombie Smarts most of the time, or a "2" at best, so these just weren't very smart Shamblers.)

Using this method, and occasionally having to "refresh" the blood used as bait, Father O'Shaughnessy was able to goad a few Shamblers into stumbling into a trough of stagnant water at the base of a water slide. After a couple of "Bloaters" (Shamblers that had continued to feed themselves to the point of nearly bursting, post-zombification) stumbled into the trough and ruptured, Ash dubbed the trough "zombie soup," and nausea checks were made all around.

The team continued to make its way around the perimeter, working over toward the zoo. The buildings had been heavily damaged by fires, but the "monkey house" was still largely intact. Finding a suitable corridor to "bait" zombies through, the team lured zombies, one or two at a time, either with Father O'Shaughnessy's "blood-and-bait" method (which did not always succeed in getting their attention, if it wasn't fresh enough -- and Father O'Shaughnessy was starting to feel a bit drained by this point), or by making noises for the zombies to investigate. Once a zombie would shamble through a doorway, the whole group would set on it, hacking it before it could manage to moan an alarm.

When it was clear that there might not only be a few more zombies in the Monkey House, but quite possibly several sprinter monkeys.

Having quite enough of that, they decided that there was probably little worth looting in a zombie-monkey-infested building, so they made a strategic retreat, and set the building on fire, with the intent to set up an ambush for any zombies who came to investigate. They had noticed that, without Father O'Shaughnessy's direct goading to prompt them to stumble into the water-slide trough, Shamblers instinctively wandered around the trough, creating a potential bottle-necking point they might exploit.

Setting the Roof on Fire!


Ash, displaying McGyver levels of talent, had cannibalized the propane tank from the little "locomotive," to make a makeshift flamethrower -- though one he warned would only work once, if at all.

Unfortunately, even if the zombies were unable to see the heroes directly, they were agitated enough by the Monkey House setting on fire (and the flaming zombie monkeys leaping out) to begin "The Moan." This rattled the team quite a bit -- even when they thought they had been fairly desensitized to the threat of zombies -- but they managed to recover well enough to set off Ash's trap.

(GM Note: And then, thanks to the "A Little Left in 'Er" Adventure Card, he was able to fire it off [i]again. It was, to say the very least, very devastating for the zombie population, especially since going through that bottleneck had them rather nicely lined up.)[/i]

What zombies weren't immediately reduced to cinders by the makeshift flamethrower were picked off methodically by snipers atop the (now-disabled) locomotive, while Gary and Sabrina dispatched those few Sprinters and Sprinter Monkeys who broke out from the horde quickly enough to be a potential threat to the sniper position.


Five Golden Rings!


(I was using "golden rings" as Shaken markers. Getting into the Christmas spirit, Sabrina's player sang out, "Fiiiiiive golden riiiiiings!" when the five "lucky" zombies who somehow survived the flamethrower onslaught got "on fire" tokens and "Shaken" rings.)


The next order of business was to go back to "Santa's Special Car" and break in to finish off a few Shamblers hiding inside (who had apparently barricaded themselves inside at the time of the outbreak, using a display of toys and other gifts, but then someone must have "turned," and set upon the others with tragic results). Through coordinated efforts, the heroes quickly finished off a few ordinary Shamblers, then tore through the sample "gifts" to see what could be used, digging into their own stores of spare batteries to use some of the toys as noisemaker decoys.

The Carousel ... of DOOM!


Noting that the Shamblers displayed a tendency to head toward random noises (such as car alarms, radios, etc.) and at times even attack, Ash and DJ worked together to rig up some makeshift Molotov cocktails and improvised explosive devices with electronic noisemakers. The idea was that they'd toss (or in the case of RC vehicles, DRIVE) the decoys into the midst of zombies, then snipe the Molotov cocktail (or other explosive) from a distance. In this method, they thinned out several of the "wanderers" on the grounds, and drew out a few Sprinters (and an Infected Newborn) that had been hiding near the Carousel and Gift Shop.

At last, they headed back to the rest of the zoo ... and let out some monkey-bitten, zombified reindeer.

Nine Tiny Reindeer


The result was a slaughter, with both Ash and Gary, who'd climbed up the side of the stables, leaping off onto zombified reindeer backs at the very rear (Donder and Blitzen) -- beheading their "rides," and then tumbling to the ground as the reindeer collapsed. The others made a game of calling their targets ("I've got Rudolph!") and head-shotting them with the advantage of elevation, causing a pile-up as the head reindeer fell, with the others close behind.


Sabrina Ford, Mutant Survivor


Sabrina, meanwhile, found a holding area for animals from the petting zoo, some of which had apparently survived only by cannibalizing others of their own kind within their enclosures, and all of them looking rather starved. She, overcome by a moment of extreme hunger, reduced the menagerie by one (non-infected!) squirrel ... and resolved not to tell the others about this. In any case, some of these animals, if properly cared for, might serve as livestock.


Santa the Claw


Lest there be anything possibly resembling a tone of seriousness in this adventure, we finished off with the costumed remnants of the staff of Santa's Land in "Santa's Workshop." That included a masked "Crampus," the hideous Santa himself ("Mrs. Claus" had succumbed to one of those exploding toys earlier), and a few poor "helper elves" (mostly former teenagers who'd had the misfortune of being here, working summer jobs, when the outbreak started).


Finally, after clearing the grounds of active zombies (and delivering "coup de gras" to any still-animated heads of decapitated zombies in the fake snow), and staking out supplies of use to the convoy, the group radioed in the all-clear for non-combatant civilians to arrive and help in the clean-up and in carting away the bulkier goods. Once some suitable barricades had been set up, and a camp could be set up in one of the more intact buildings, with a radio, a forward lookout post would be set up to watch for activity along Highway 19 and report back to the main base (back in the Happy Holidays RV camp and Wolfetown Village) of any raider or zombie groups.

...

Fast Forward to 2013:
"Camp Santa" is established as an outpost, with stables for a few rescued horses. "Camp Wolfetown" is the central base, with fortifications built up around a walled community, and another small settlement at "Camp Holiday." The winter is hard, and not all of the animals survive (though thankfully it seems that as of yet, when non-primates die by normal causes, they stay dead rather than reanimating).

The solar flare activity subsides, but navigation via GPS is no longer a possibility. Still, ham radios still work: The survivors are able to verify that, yes, there are others out there. They realize that not everyone out there is a friend; they make a point of NOT giving out their location or telling others about their strengths or weaknesses for the time being. Nonetheless, they learn of a survivor settlement in Sanctuary, Texas, in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area. The headquarters of the UniMed corporation is there, and apparently the corporation has been working on developing medical solutions to the outbreak -- on developing a cure or vaccine, or new methods of defense against the Infected.

Father O'Shaughnessy is fascinated by these efforts, as he still has the decrypted files from the UniMed research station that had been set up in Jacksonville before its fall -- and he can't discount the possibility that his own blood may hold a key for developing a vaccine.

He consults with the other survivors, and they in turn communicate with survivors in Sanctuary. A scout team reaches the Jackson County Airport in Sylva, NC, and confirms that the air strip is still workable -- and they secure a usable aircraft with sufficient fuel and range to reach DFW in Dallas/Fort Worth. The plan is that a small team of survivors will make the flight to Dallas, where they will be met by a motorized escort from Sanctuary. From there, it's only 41 miles to Sanctuary.


Prepping for the Journey:
In addition to those in the survivor group believed to have some sort of resistance to the infection, a few volunteers sign up to join the team to see them safely to Sanctuary. There's a limit on what equipment can be taken with them (no more than 80 lbs of gear per person), but with any luck it shouldn't matter, since they'll have an armed escort waiting for them at the airport....


Next Session: Saturday, November 17th, 2012.

Additional GM Notes:
I warned the players, incidentally, that this "Santa's Land" shoot-'em-up game is NOT AT ALL representative of the tone of "War of the Dead." There may be some wacky moments when the dice are weird, or someone plays an Adventure Card to mix things up, but they can expect that there will be a lot of hardship and angst on the way.

"Sabrina Ford" has been upgraded from "plot device NPC" to pre-generated PC. The player has opted to stick with "Sabrina." This had previously been my "Samantha" character for the campaign, but by this point, she's not really essential to drive things along. Whether "Sabrina" lives or dies is now in the hand of the player!

"Gallup" was one of my convention pre-gen characters. The player felt that while it was an interesting character, he didn't feel that he could do much with a role of "street musician" to make him stand out from just being another guy with a gun. He is new to Savage Worlds, but he plans on writing up a replacement character (with XP from this session carrying over) to join the trip to DFW.

The other players seem to be happy with their characters. Players of "Ash," "Father O'Shaughnessy" and "Gary" are all veterans of my Chapter 1 run through "War of the Dead." The player of "Sabrina" was in my campaign once I took it into "Zombie Run" territory (where strange things such as "zombie bears" ended up becoming part of the canon for my weird campaign). The player of "DJ McCoy" was in my Pirates RPG campaign as "Habib" and "Keelhaul Henry."
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturday, November 17th, 2012 -- Gameplay Notes

I'll write up a proper "summary" of the session later, but I just thought I'd give a rough overview and a few notes on some of the game prep, and a few things I experimented with to try to get things rolling better.

This is my first attempt to get "back on track" with Chapter 2, though in a topsy-turvy way: The session is loosely based on Chapter 2, Week 11, Act 2, at the airport.

DFW Tarmac, Courtesy of AT-43:


I regret that when Rackham came out with the Oni Army Box (ZOMBIE ARMY!) I did not have the foresight to actually grab one, since at the time I wasn't even thinking of running a zombie-apocalypse campaign. However, I've managed to get a few bits and pieces, including the play-mat that came with the box, and some reversible floor tiles. While I enjoy using 3D terrain when I get the chance, I'm not above printing off some floor-plans, or even using boards or other elements from other games, all in the name of communicating an environment to the players (with a minimum of work and required storage space, if possible).

Here, I supplemented the mat with an older Matchbox toy set that I got on clearance years ago, to try to abstractly represent a luggage cart, parked plane (minus the wings and with a "cut-away" body), and other obstacles of unknown import. The Humvee transport trucks are a variant on my older Humvee papercraft design, with a blue-grey "winter/urban" camouflage design, and the UNIMED logo.

Oops!


One moment I had to get a snapshot of was when Ash, after taunting the pilot into pulling up a little closer to the terminal so they could get a good look at potential looting opportunities, ended up leaning out of the opened hatch and taunting the zombies who showed up to investigate ... and rolled a Critical Failure.

I was at a loss for how you'd Critically Fail a Taunt, but general consensus was that he ought to fall out of the airplane (and the player was a good sport about it). Fortunately, there was a pile of luggage right there, breaking his fall!

Scattered about the tarmac are little papercraft suitcases I made, with a few spins on the color wheel for quick variety. Cutting them out and gluing them together was a bit tedious, but it paid off: the piles of luggage became perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the battle against the zombies.

(The scene doesn't really portray it, but as the heroes stubbornly held their ground, we had waves of zombies -- but thanks to Sweep, First Strike, Counterattack, M-16s with three-round burst (and aiming) and multiple Extras almost consistently rolling 4 or higher on their Shooting rolls (3RB/Aim cancelling out called shot to the head), the heroes held their own.


HeroClix "SWAT Specialists" and Friends


I realized that I did not have any suitable miniatures to represent the soldiers. My backup plan was to use some AT-43 UNA troopers to represent the UNIMED security forces (as I said, I tweaked things a bit), but I realized that I had a bunch of HeroClix "SWAT Specialist" figures, and that they were probably the closest figures I had to modern-day soldiers. (I have Reaper's "Delta Force" soldier on order from the store, but it still hasn't come in yet -- and, besides, that would just be a "special" model, not enough for an entire squad.)

The evening before the game, I gave the soldiers a quick modification, painting the areas of dark blue with a mid-tone grey instead, and then I added some splotchy black squiggles to try to hint at urban camouflage, and to touch up those boots and other areas where the grey "splashed." Re-based onto a few 25mm rounds I had handy, they seemed to do the trick.

One catch: THEY ARE ALL IN THE SAME POSE. If I'm distributing the troopers for the players to control, it becomes a problem if it's unclear which models are controlled by which player. I ran into that trouble in my Pirates RPG game, with the players controlling portions of the regular ship's crew, and my workaround was to deliberately pick models with similar features and assign to each player. (E.g., "Hajib gets all the pirates with the turbans. Barnacle Ben gets all the pirates with stripey pants. Philippe gets all the pirates in the blousy white shirts. Cooke gets ... the leftover pirates.")

I tried writing names of each soldier on the bases. I found that this largely worked, except for two things:

1) If the name is on just the front, where I can see them, that means the PLAYERS can't see them.

2) If I'm not very varied in my naming conventions (e.g., "Winters" and "Winthrope"), if the base is angled just so, it's harder to tell them apart ("Win*").

However, I have thought of a workaround. (Paint the name on both sides!)

I did something similar for the 12 NPC Extras the heroes find at the airport.


One-Page Cheat Sheet / NPC Cards


"Here, have an NPC!" In order to more easily facilitate assigning NPCs to players, I made "NPC cards." I used images from the "Paper Dead" figure flats, plus some additional customized illustrations I've made since then, to illustrate the cards (although the correspondence between miniature and card is often tenuous at best), and put "super-brief" stats for the characters. (That is, things are fairly abbreviated, and Edges/Hindrances are NOT spelled out in detail, except to list any flat modifiers.) On the flip sides of the cards, I put "mini-bios" -- basically the blurbs for the NPCs from WOTD Chapter 11, with a few other notes I added in (for those with more sparse descriptions) to flesh them out a bit -- presumably only information that the PCs would fairly easily learn after a bit of talking with the survivors.

Not shown, but I also made a mini-deck of "random NPCs" -- NPC cards for those times when someone pulls a "New Recruit" card, so there's a character a little more interesting than "John Doe #3."

On the left is part of my one-page "Cheat Sheet" -- a Word document with abbreviated stats for various of the zombie types and a token bad guy ("raider") for my campaign, tweaked to my own tastes. I don't need to list extensive rules for things such as "The Moan," because that's something I've got worked out anyway. More important is to have some sort of reminder of which zombies can outrun the heroes, which can only keep pace, and which just have to hope the heroes get cornered, who's a decent fighter, and so forth.

I printed out several copies since I invariably LOSE these references in the shuffle. I can fairly easily fold a sheet into eighths and stick a spare in my shirt pocket for backup. (I often use a shirt pocket for such a purpose when I have little "cheat cards" with names of NPCs and factoids, and "cues" on major events and such.)


New Problem: I entrusted the players with keeping track of the NPCs. I repeatedly reminded players to mark off ammunition, and some faithfully did so, but some of the cards I got back are conspicuously FREE of any note indicating even a single bullet fired. Alas, I did not take notes on who was in charge of what NPC, so I'll just have to offer a general reminder next time. Three-round-burst and full auto become no-brainers if you're miraculously NOT USING AMMUNITION with each attack.

I might need to modify the cards with an "ammunition track" along the bottom, or at least a formalized place to write in "bullets remaining," etc. That might help to make sure that if notes are kept, they're kept in a consistent place, so the next person who picks up the card can figure out where the ammo supply left off.


Zombicide Tray Organization

I found that the Zombicide box is a pretty convenient supply of zombies (not much of a surprise). I've been using the plastic that came in the box to house the zombies, to keep them organized, so I can easily pick out the "fast zombies" (sprinters!) from the "slow zombies" (shamblers!), and, of course, the big guys (I treat them as regular shamblers, only with increased Strength and Vigor). The trick is in figuring out which figure goes back in which slot. To address that, I've found that it's useful to paint a letter on the bottom of the bases, going across the rows "A" to "H" from left to right (which means all the "big guys" are "D," for instance), and then mark the trays with the corresponding letters.

Also, at a glance, it's hard to pick out the "sprinter" zombies from the "shamblers" since it's just a matter of pose. To help them "pop," I painted most of the zombie bases "pavement dark grey," but for the sprinters, I painted yellow "street divider" stripes -- either double lines, dotted lines, or other markings for variety, but the important thing being that there's some BRIGHT YELLOW on the base for a quick visual cue. This has helped immensely both in games of Zombicide, and in my airport scenario (where the PCs had waves of zombies coming at them as they kept triggering more encounters -- and I only got 25% through the airport's finite "zombie pool" by the end of the session).

More on that later.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

War of the Dead Season 2, Session #2 -- Loosely Based on WOTD Chapter 2, Week 11, Act 2
Overview: Our heroes travel to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to meet up with an escort force sent out by the survivor community in the town of Sanctuary, Texas. There, our heroes' eccentricities get them into trouble in what could have otherwise been a fairly straightforward transfer -- but in the process, they discover a few things at the airport they might have otherwise overlooked.

The Cast:
* Ashley J. Williams (JZ): S-Mart sports-goods salesman and all-around handyman, armed with a "boomstick," a modified chainsaw, and a big mouth.
* Sabrina Ford (HZ): 14-year-old high-school athlete, survivor of the SS Pinnacle, with a horribly disfigured right arm that she keeps hidden to avoid uncomfortable questions.
* Gary (SV): A huge mountain of a man and Renaissance-fair enthusiast who fancies himself a knight, insulated from the horror of the Apocalypse by his unshakeably naive and child-like outlook.
* Fletch (R): An able and stealthy bowhunter who hunts game and zombies with equal ease.
Not present this session, but part of the campaign:
* Father O'Shaughnessy (Digital_Rampage): Roman Catholic priest with experience in animal handling and medicine; he believes he has received visions warning of incursions by the undead.
* Daniel "DJ" McCoy (CH): Mountain man, trapper, and hunter, acting as a scout and anti-zombie sniper for the group.

Winter Hardship:
After establishing a foothold in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the "Jacksonville Remnant" has transformed itself into three closely-packed settlements at Camp Santa, Camp Wolfetown, and Camp Holiday. With the onset of winter freezing temperatures, the survivors find that the Shamblers and Sprinters grow slower and slower, until at times they can be found frozen en masse and easily dispatched before any of them can manage even the faintest of moans. Still, supplies are in scarce supply, and the bulk of the Jacksonville survivors are people helpless without the support of civilization; the good of the many rests upon the shoulders of a few skilled and over-burdened few. Without the constant need to keep on the road, always on the run, and with hunger gnawing at their stomachs, many of the survivors push back against the redistributionist tendencies of their benefactors and self-appointed authorities. While there are plans to save many of the animals from the Santa's Land zoo, in the hopes of breeding farm stock, at one point a man breaks in and steals a couple of sheep and slaughters them for food (very messily and wastefully); when caught, he defiantly claims that the sheep belong to no one, and he has as much a right as anybody to them -- in fact more so, since he has two "starving children who need meat in their diet, not just burnt bread and canned veggies." This doesn't sit well with the caretakers who'd lost their own children in the outbreak. Violence nearly breaks out, but Ashley and Gary prove capable, in their own ways, at dissuading the would-be combatants.

While there is enough food to get through the winter, the rationing is very unpopular, and morale runs low. The winter is long and hard -- harder than expected, apparently due to a "nuclear winter" effect from all of the fires raging unchecked around the world with the collapse of civilization, the bombing of cities in last-ditch attempts to contain the hordes, and without organized firefighters to put them out.

GM Note: In Chapter 2 as written, the heroes would start off Fatigued to reflect the hardship they've been through. In my experience, however, Fatigue levels are a real pain to deal with; as an alternative, I've been using the Sanity rules from the Horror Companion, and using this to reflect both Sanity and Morale. I called for Spirit or Vigor rolls (player choice) to determine how much Sanity/Morale was lost in the process. The efforts the heroes went through to help supplement food supplies gave a bonus, but even a simple Success still meant -1 Sanity.

Hope of Sanctuary:
Although the radiation levels have gone down, as the "solar max" event subsides, communication with the outside world is limited at best. Satellite networks appear to be disabled, cell phone systems are down, and even radio is unreliable as an unforeseen consequence of major changes to the weather system. (Ash's explanation: "It's probably due to that 'El Ninja' thing in the Gulf.") Still, someone has gotten a HAM radio operational, and contact is occasionally made with other operators -- thanks to the signal bounce, in surprisingly far quarters at times. It's a hopeful sign to learn that at least somewhere out there, there are others hanging onto life. Among these survivor settlements is one situated in Sanctuary, Texas, west of Fort Worth. This is home to the US headquarters of UniMed Pharma, a multi-national corporation, and researchers there have been diligently working on the development of a vaccine against the infection, studying cases of people who have natural resistance or even immunity to the virus.

Father O'Shaughnessy, upon hearing of this, volunteers that his blood has been tested and found to be resistant to the "Living Dead" virus, and that he also has recovered a laptop with research files related to the virus. He volunteers to journey to Sanctuary in order to deliver the files himself, and to offer himself up for testing.

Plans are made for a trip to be made by air rather than over land, securing an airplane at a nearby secluded air strip. Ash volunteers to fly the airplane, but after some testing of his ability, it soon becomes quite clear that he really doesn't know a thing about it, and it's just a matter of his overconfidence that he can do anything if he puts his mind to it.

"It's just like driving a car," insists Ash, "but with wings!"

"And a chance of exploding if you try to pull it over the wrong way," says Sabrina. "It's not that I don't trust you, but I just want to be sure we won't fly into a rock."

"Iraq?" responds Ash. "There's fat chance of that, missy! It's way over in the Middle East, next to Afghanistan! We're flying to TEXAS!"

Fortunately, they recruit "Old Pete," a veteran aviator, to serve as the pilot ("Eh, I'm probably going to drop dead anyway one of these days. Might as well go along with you crazy kids on your suicide mission!"), and a team of volunteers accompanying Father O'Shaughnessy on his journey. The airport at Dallas/Ft. Worth is picked as the best destination, as it's within range for the aircraft, and scouts from Sanctuary believe it's possible to clear it for a safe landing.

Volunteers for the flight are given weapons and travel-friendly rations for the trip, though there's a weight limit on just how much they can take along. Alas, this means that Father O'Shaughnessy's humvee and ambulance and his large stocks of weaponry and miscellaneous equipment will be left behind. As it so happens, once they get word that the Sanctuary escort team has reached Dallas-Ft. Worth, and has begun securing the site, and the weather looks clear enough to fly, it's Monday, April 1st.


DFW -- April Fool's Day
On the flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth, the team keeps in radio contact with the escort force sent out from Sanctuary to clear the tarmac at the airport. They occasionally catch snippets of gunfire over the radio, as the guardsmen and militiamen unload with a .50 cal gun -- and run out of ammunition. ("Bets on how many of them are still alive when we get there?" Ash offers.) However, when they make the fly-over, it's clear that their escort team is still alive, and has done a fine job of taking out some fifty or so "roamers" (as the Sanctuary-ites call them) and moving them off the tarmac. There are actually multiple strips to choose from, and the aircraft puts down without incident -- but due to the strong winds and the pilot's unfamiliarity with the field, he chooses to fly into the wind rather than with it, which means that when he puts down, he's at the far opposite end of the field from the escort force and their two transport trucks.

"Dallas," Ash comments. "It sure looked a lot better on TV."

Old Pete opts to keep the airplane out in the open, engines still running, and well away from any structures, so he can just let the two trucks come up to him. However, as he explains his actions to the others, Ash (who has been exchanging barbs with him for the whole trip) eggs him on, suggesting that they ought to pull closer to the terminal to get a good look inside -- and implying that Old Pete isn't doing that because he's "chicken." "Come on, you only live once!" claims Ash. ("Not here," Gary says. "That's the problem!")

Old Pete, unfortunately, has a short fuse, and so, in order to show Ash up, he opens up the throttle and taxis the airplane over to Terminal B. "See? Want to get a good scenic view of all the spatter and gore? Fine! See what good it does ya!"

Of course, there are a bunch of zombies over nearer to the terminals that now stir out of their spring-time torpor to greet the airplane. Before Old Pete can get the craft turned around to pull away, Ash, with unbridled bravado, pops open a hatch to taunt the zombies. However, he neglects to realize that this particular hatch doesn't have hinges, and he loses his balance and falls out ... fortunately, right into a pile of luggage to break his fall, but -- not so fortunately -- not far from a couple of "Deadite" stewardesses.

GM Note: Critical Fail on Taunt -- and somehow by this point Ash was out of Bennies.




Clearing the Tarmac
With Ash overboard, there is little for the others to do but to join the fray. Gary leaps down into the luggage beside Ash, wielding his replica claymore and beheading a couple of undead stewardesses. Sabrina and Fletch provide ranged support from the door of the aircraft -- though Sabrina is at a marked disadvantage, as she's trying to use an M-16 left-handed, with her right arm heavily bandaged up so as to hide it. In frustration, Sabrina disembarks and charges a zombie that had fallen over prone (while trying to clamber through the pile of luggage to get at Ash), bayoneting it in the spine. Her dog (which she'd brought along on the journey) joins her, going for the throat.

The soldiers finally catch up, disembarking, taking up positions, calling their targets, aiming and carefully dispatching zombies with three-round bursts to the head, focusing on the further-out zombies so as to avoid any chance of friendly fire. Meanwhile, they're suitably impressed at the gouts of zombie gore sent flying as Ash finally regains his feet and wades into the fray, chainsaw buzzing, alternating with Gary as they cut their way through. Wave after wave of "shamblers" continue to pour in, but at last they dispatch the last of those responding to the noise of the airplane.


Signs of Life (and Death)
After defeating the zombies, our heroes take the opportunity to loot through all the luggage that everyone was tripping over (mostly the zombies, though). Sabrina discovers several "valet bags" and other containers that have, of all things, costumes. She searches until she finds a "cat-girl" costume in it with large oversized "cat paw gloves" -- and she commandeers one to cover up her arm in the hopes that she can actually USE it without people noticing the deformities in its shape. (If someone wonders at why she's wandering around with a single oversized "cat paw" costume element, she reasons that she can just claim it's a makeshift bracer for fending off zombie bites.) The soldiers, with their superior survival training, prioritize things and find some water and shelf-stable food items (nuts, crackers, chips, etc.) from supplies intended for restocking the planes.

Gary notices a glare of light aimed at his eye, and it belatedly occurs to him that the reflected light is blinking. He also notices a body that has been crudely crucified nearby, with a spray-painted message of "TRATOR" (misspelled) beneath it. (One might reason that if you add an "I" you'd get "Traitor." Gary reasons that it's missing a "C" and it says "TRACTOR," even though that makes no sense. That's just Gary.) Gary roughly sums up his discoveries, pointing to the crucified body and declaring, "Dead body," then pointing at the terminal building and declaring, "Shiny thing. I'll go find it." Without giving anyone any further explanation, he rushes off toward the terminal.

Ash, in a moment of sobriety, as everyone's rushing after Gary with no plan at all, informs the soldiers that they're investigating the terminal as part of their "mission," and that they should stay with the trucks to guard them, and to see that the airplane can take off safely. (Despite Ash's off-beat way of communicating this -- e.g., "All right, GI Joe! We need you to wait here and watch for Cobra!" -- he's demonstrated his competence at dispatching zombies ... and they didn't witness his unceremonious fall out of the airplane while they were driving over.) The soldiers remain to unload the gear and supplies from the airplane over to the waiting trucks, and to help Old Pete top off the tanks from a fuel truck, so he can make the return flight to North Carolina. Sabrina investigates the crucified body, and finds that it has been mounted on a makeshift "cross" made from scrap, at such a height that its lower half has been largely eaten away by what zombies could reach it, while its head and eyes show signs of being picked at by birds (a very rare sight anymore, as even crows have the sense to avoid dead humans these days). There's no evidence of a head wound, but the face shows signs of deformities, such as extra, pointed teeth growing in and displacing the original teeth. Father O'Shaughnessy is able to observe that some of these features are similar to what he observed in a few of the sprinters that attacked Jacksonville, and reminiscent of the mutations in the "demon babies." By all appearances, this person died by some means other than a head wound, and did not reanimate upon death.

GM Note: This particular phenomenon deviates from the "War of the Dead" model, but is inspired by the developments in the "Food For Thought" One-Sheet adventure for WOTD.

GM Note: Also, I indicated that Father O'Shaughnessy and "DJ" McCoy would be staying out with the soldiers, narrative-wise. Presumably they'd be helping to move the equipment, and to keep the tarmac free of "roamers."


Showdown on Concourse B
Gary finds an alternative entrance at ground level that leads to a stairwell, which in turn leads up to the main level of Concourse B. There, he and the others stumble upon ... lots and lots of Shamblers. It seems that when the outbreak first manifested back in June of 2012, that happened to coincide with the end of the last A-Kon in Dallas -- and it just so happens that there are several zombified costumed con-goers in the terminal. Several zombie children "play" at the Aquafina Junior Flyers' Club play area (just beyond security), while two uniformed customer service representatives are dormant, having wandered back to their posts after reanimating. Of special concern is that there are a few of what the group has come to term "bloaters" -- shamblers that managed to consume a lot of flesh after turning, to the point where they're nearly bursting, since they don't actually metabolize what they consume. (Ash dubs one of them "Sailor Moon-Pie," as it is dressed in the ill-fitting remains of some sort of "anime character" costume. This alone prompts Guts checks all around.)

Despite Ash's and Gary's attempt to sneak over to an airport service cart (or, actually, because of it), the Shamblers soon rise from their torpor, and the air fills with the sounds of "The Moan." Ash somehow gets the motorized cart started, and tries to run down zombies with it, with Gary riding on back, but the thing is so slow (and beeps warningly as it goes) that it comes to a halt right after it knocks down its first zombie and runs into a pile of abandoned luggage -- Ash is dragged off the cart by a horde of the things, as Gary races to chop off zombie heads. Fletch climbs up to a high point atop an arrivals/departures display, and snipes "bloaters" before they can get close enough to be a real threat.

Sabrina and her dog attack nearby zombies, but higher-pitched moans herald the arrival of "sprinters" -- and she takes a desperate gambit to taunt and lure the faster zombies over toward the gate, in the hopes that she can bottleneck them and then get the soldiers outside to concentrate their fire on any that pursue her outside. Fortunately, this "bottleneck" maneuver takes several of the sprinters right past Fletch's position, where he drops a couple of "chemical cocktails" he brought with him from Camp Holiday, catching the sprinters in a dense pack, and decimating their numbers. Just as Gary and Ash manage to extract themselves from the first wave of Shamblers (and see that even more are on the way -- accompanied by the high-pitched cry of at least one "Demon Baby"), they spy the opening created by Fletch and Sabrina. Rather than continuing down the concourse and searching for Gary's "shiny thing," they opt to make a strategic retreat. The group retraces its steps back down the stairs, barricading the door on the way out with a luggage cart.

Regrouping:
They check on the soldiers (Ash acts surprised that they're still alive), and rather than abandoning the search, they opt to take another route into the terminal before the frenzied zombies disperse and resume their roaming. ("Gary, we're going to play the quiet game this time. The first person to make a noise loses, okay?" Ash says. "When is it over?" Gary asks. "When we tell you," Ash replies. Gary seems happy with this, because if they tell him it's over ... obviously that means they lose and he wins!) They sneak through a lower-level luggage-handling area, avoiding about thirty zombies, but then, when going up a set of stairs, Ash stumbles into a trip-wire just as Fletch notices it. The fast-acting archer grabs Ash and yanks him backward, just as an improvised explosive device goes off, nearly deafening everyone, and showering them with fragments. ("You lose!" Gary declares.) They recover, and rush up the stairs (despite the fear of further such traps) so they can get past a door to secure behind them, lest the zombies they just avoided come up from behind. They find other signs of post-outbreak habitation and traps, slay some feral dogs that attack them, and make their way into a barricaded mini-food-court where they find a dozen terrified survivors.

The de-facto leader of the survivors, who introduces himself as Kyle Elliot, is grateful at the intervention of the outsiders, but warns them that they must all leave, and quickly -- "They" have been emboldened by the latest disruptions, and are sure to attack again soon. Before there's much time to explain, an improvised explosive device is tossed over the barricade -- but Gary, displaying remarkably fast reflexes, instinctively catches the device. "TOSS IT BACK!" Fletch shouts, so Gary does so. They hear an expletive shouted out on the other side -- then an explosion. Another device comes over, and Gary somehow repeats the feat, laughing and thinking of this as some sort of game.

After a while, a mocking voice calls out a "chicken call" ("Brock! Brock!") and then taunts the survivors. "Think you're so clever there, do you? But you're only delaying the inevitable!" The unseen speaker goes on a rant, blathering some sort of nonsense about how nature is taking its course, with a few bits about survival of the fittest, the next stage in humanity's evolution, and such -- and the idea is pretty quickly conveyed that these aggressors are cannibals who have started preying upon their fellow survivors in the airport. The rescuers use the delay during the monologue as an opportunity to move the airport survivors over to one side, while Kyle helps roll aside a cart that serves as the "gate" into the barricaded area, and Gary charges through. The fight is intense but brief; although the crazed cannibals have more of a sense of self-preservation than a zombie would, and they're better armed, they're still no match for the battle-hardened survivors from Camp Holiday.

At last, the way is clear, and the remaining airport survivors are led back outside. It takes the remainder of their daylight to get a couple of vehicles operational, but soon they have a small convoy heading out of the airport, making their way westward toward Sanctuary. But first -- the soldiers insist that they find somewhere safe to hole up for the night, away from the airport. Returning to Sanctuary at night is just not an option, the soldiers indicate, as there are THINGS out there, worse than run-of-the-mill "roamers," that only come out at night.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GM Note: Off-the-Rails Notes

My take on "Week 11" deviated in many ways from War of the Dead as written.


Airport Objective Change
In the adventure as written, this would have been after Sanctuary, when the heroes are traveling with a convoy, and they head to the airport to find fuel. Here, I've used the airport as an entry point. The soldiers sent to escort them are meant to replace the NPC allies they'd presumably have by this stage in the adventure.


Encounters
Rather than randomly rolling or pulling cards for encounters, I assigned them by location, with multiple routes that could be used to reach the survivors inside. I was able to find maps of the terminals at Dallas/Ft. Worth online, along with indicators of various services, stores, and restaurants in them. I arbitrarily chose Terminal B as the site of the action, and used an apparent clustering of restaurants for the addition of a "small food court" in lieu of the "cafeteria" imagined in the original adventure.


Weapons
In the adventure as written, the cannibals are well-equipped with M-16s, Desert Eagles, and grenades. Since our heroes are supposed to be going into Chapter 2 with depleted supplies, I figured it wouldn't do well to have their enemies be so well-equipped (yet easily defeated), so I gave the cannibals a couple of 9mm pistols (stolen from security guards) and a number of "makeshift" weapons -- implying that they had another "McGyver" in their number. The "improvised explosive devices" were treated largely as grenades, just heavier and bulkier.


Feral Dogs
I treated the feral dogs as Henchmen (i.e., Extras with Wild Dice) rather than Wild Cards. I figured that Wild Card opponents should really be saved for something special.


Cannibals and Ghouls
In my take on the WOTD zombie "family," the reason for widespread cannibalism is that since everyone is "infected" to a certain degree, this can begin to affect the mind. For most well-adjusted people, it just means that they're a little more desensitized to the horror of seeing (undead) people munching on people than they might have been otherwise. However, for psychopaths and people with very weak socialization, it means a little more "push" in the direction to seeing your fellow human being as an optional food source.

Anyone who indulges in this behavior will begin to undergo changes not unrelated to the changes that lead to the creation of an "Infected Newborn" -- enhanced healing, growth of more "feral" features (fangs growing in, nails replaced with claws, distorted and unhealthy appearance) -- while the Hunger becomes stronger -- becoming a "Ghoul."

The Ghoul has an instinctive resistance to dining on other Ghouls, and an aversion to dining upon the true undead, but will still do so if lacking other food sources. Upon death, the Ghoul will not reanimate (as with an Infected Newborn), but it lacks the Infected Newborn's ability to influence the behavior of the Living Dead, and is just as much in danger of being devoured by zombies as any normal human being.

A Ghoul usually retains its human intelligence, but in extreme cases may devolve to such a point that it's little more than another variety of "Pseudo-Undead" (a la "Food For Thought").


Alternate Shambler Types
I mixed up the "Shamblers" with a few variant types, largely based upon what miniatures I had on hand (a number of re-based and touched-up HorrorClix models, and a box of Zombicide minis). I tried to go for a mix of "better-than-average," "worse-than-average," and somewhere in between, so as not to drastically alter the threat level.

Bloater
Shamblers do not metabolize the flesh they devour, and more "successful" Shamblers simply gorge themselves until their innards burst (and then keep right on eating anyway). A "Bloater" is a Shambler that has swollen up from gorging to an extreme, and is right at that borderline, about to burst. It has the same statistics as a regular Shambler, except as follows:
* Big: Attacks directed against the Bloater's body gain +1 to hit; this does not apply to Called Shots to the head.
* Bloat: Any physical attack that knocks the Bloater over or deals a Shaken or Wound result causes its innards to burst (see below). This does not kill the Bloater, leaving a much-skinnier Shambler in its place.
* Boom: A Bloater explosion affects a Medium Burst Template centered on the Bloater, dealing d6 damage to anyone who doesn't evade (Agility -2). This damage cannot cause more than a Shaken result -- but direct contact with the gore has a chance of infection (Vigor -2). A rain slicker, fully-encasing armor or hazmat suit protects against infection.


Shambler Child
As per a typical Shambler, except:
* Small: -1 Toughness.
* Weak: Strength d4, Vigor d4, Toughness 3.


Biggie
This fellow was particularly large in life. In undeath, he's a bit tougher to put down. As per a typical Shambler, except:
* Hefty: Strength d10, Vigor d10, Toughness 7.


Fighter
Whether an athlete, security guard, soldier, etc., this was once a person in life who actually knew how to handle a weapon. Becoming a zombie doesn't make anyone a better fighter, but this one had at least some skill to start with -- and likely has a weapon still in hand.
* Skills: Fighting d4; Shooting d4; Throwing d4; Parry 4 (2 after making Wild Attack).
* Shoot First: If armed with a gun, it shoots first (there likely aren't any bullets left) before advancing.
* Swing First: The zombie attacks with a melee weapon in hand (typically Str+d4 for a club, pistol-whip, etc., or Str+d6 for an axe), only biting once the victim stops moving. The weapon does not cause infection.


Crawler
This Shambler is missing its lower body, including most of its innards, but that doesn't stop it from silently pulling itself along by its arms, determinedly making its way toward a distracted foe.
* Ankle-Biter: Attacks against a standing victim always go for the legs without a Called-Shot penalty, and without penalty to Fighting while Prone.
* Crawl: Pace 2; cannot run or climb.
* Easy to Miss: d4 Stealth; +2 to Stealth for crawling.
* Prone: The Crawler is always Prone.
* Quiet: Cannot Moan.
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