Monday, February 4, 2013

ATZ Campaign, Day 44: Requiem, part 1

All day Robb had stood by the window, peering out at the empty streets of his neighborhood.  Empty, like his house now that his girlfriend Irene had perished at the hands of a zombie who had nearly killed him and Erin, one of the few people they had met still alive in River City, had left him then to go find her missing family.  For hours he had stood, motionless and silent, looking out the window.

Robb glanced down at the black-bladed machete he held in his hand.  It's dull blade reflected the evening light.
"What's that Belle?  You want to go for a walk?" he said to the long knife.  "Okay."

It's day 44 of the zombie apocalypse, and Robb desperately needs some good luck or else this might be the end.  Basically I'm going to have him go out and explore in hopes of getting some potential teammates either through the PEF's or by getting a "Defining Moment" in a building.  The chances of that are so low, however, that I'm more concerned that Robb will be overwhelmed by zombies in buildings instead.

Starting off, the Red PEF is Rep 4 and in zone 4, the White PEF is Rep 4 and in zone 4, and the Blue PEF is Rep 2 and in Zone 5.  River City is a suburb, so it's ER 2.

Starting off, I roll 1d6 for initial zombies and get a lowly one!  It's off to Robb's right, behind a building.  We are off to a very, very good start.

Turn 1: Robb 3, Zombies 6

The streets seemed eerily quiet as Robb made his way down towards the small shops at the end of the street.  He was hoping to find something to drink.  He needed a drink.

The Blue PEF is immediately in sight, but a 0d6 on the result means it is nothing.

Turn 2: Robb 2, Zombies 6

Robb continued down the street, glancing around the corner.  He could have sworn he heard some noise, but there was nothing there.

Robb moved into LOS with both the Red and White PEF's, but both passed 1d6, meaning the ER of the encounter was now 4.

Turn 3: Robb 4, Zombies 3

Robb slowly entered the store, but not cautiously enough to keep the bell mounted to the door from tinkling. Within the small market, two zombies wheeled towards him.  Robb fired a shot in each of their general directions.  The first shot went through a zombie's chest and it fell to the ground, but the second clanged off a metal shelf.  The drooling figure lurched towards Robb, but Robb was there with the machete.  Robb's swing was too soon, and it barely scratched the zombie's chest.

Entering the building, I rolled 6d6 and got 2 zombies.  Not the zero I was hoping for, and now Robb's in for a fight.  The zombie surprise total was 6, Robb's was 9, so he'd get off a shot.  I thought I'd go ahead and split my shot between the two and hope to get two Obviously Dead's, but only one shot hit.  Despite the Easy to Kill Rule, I rolled too high and the zombie was just knocked down.
Melee began with Robb getting 2 successes to the zombie's 2, and the melee was locked in place.

Turn 4: Robb 1, Zombies 6

Robb kicked out at the zombie, knocking it backwards over his fallen compatriot.

In melee, Robb got 3 to the zombie's 2, and of course didn't roll a 1, so now both zombies are knocked down.

Turn 5: Robb 6, Zombies 6
Turn 6: Robb 6, Zombies 1

Both zombies got back to their feet and rushed at Robb.  Robb held one back with the hand holding the pistol, and managed to get the machete in his left hand up under the chin of the second.  It's face went slack and it fell to the ground.

On the zombie's activation, they recover from Knock Down and re-engage in melee.  Robb got 3 successes to 3 on the first, but 4 successes to 0 on the second, getting an Out of Fight that becomes an Obviously Dead in the case of a zombie.

Turn 7:  Robb 6, Zombies 6
Turn 8:  Robb 6, Zombies 3

Robb shoved the zombie backwards with the butt of his pistol.  It fell backwards again to the ground.

Robb beat the zombie 3:2, and once again got a Knocked Down result.  Can he capitalize on it?

Turn 9:  Robb 5, Zombies 5

The Colt .45 ACP in Robb's right hand barked out with a loud shot, and the zombie's head exploded in a gush of gore and bone.

Robb turned away from the still figure on the ground, walked behind the counter of the store, and grabbed a large bottle of brown liquid.  He moved back towards the store's entrance.

If there is one benefit to Robb's situation, it is that he as the "Initiative" attribute, meaning he reacts as if his Rep was one higher, IF HE'S ALONE.  Since the zombie is down, Robb can finally "pop the weasel."  What's more, no zombies are summoned.
Searching the building (now at ER 4), Robb passes 2d6 and finds a luxury item.

Turn 10: Robb 2, Zombies 1

Robb opened the door.  A zombie, dressed in the tattered remnants of some hospital gown roared at him with ghastly teeth.  Robb looked blankly at it, fired two shots, and then stepped over the slightly twitching body.

Robb opened the door to discover the one zombie at the beginning of the game had finally made its way to the building's entrance.  He fired twice, hit once, and got the OD.  No zombies were summoned.

Turn 11: Robb 6, Zombies 4
Turn 12: Robb 1, Zombies 5

With nothing else in sight, Robb moved across the street towards another small restaurant.

Turn 13: Robb 2, Zombies 5
Turn 14: Robb 4, Zombies 2

Robb pushed his way into the building.  The place looked empty, and Robb began to move towards the back where he hoped to find some food.  Suddenly from the coat room two zombies surged at him.  Robb swung out with his machete, knocking one of them back but the other enveloped him in its arms.

Again, the 6d6 showed two zombies in this building.  I guess it will be harder to find people than I had hoped.  The zombies surprise total came up 7, while Robb's came up 7 as well, meaning he wouldn't get off a shot.  In melee, Robb beat the first 3:1, getting a Knock Down, but tied the second at 3:3.

Turn 15: Robb 1, Zombies 1

The random event, generated here, was meaningless in this context.  I moved on.

Turn 16: Robb 5, Zombies 5

With a wordless growl, Robb heaved the zombie off of him.  It fell back against a table.

Robb beat the zombie he was locked in melee with 5:3, getting a Knock Down result.  It is very tough to actually kill a zombie in close combat, especially when you are Rep 4 and using a one-handed weapon in your off hand.

Turn 17: Robb 5, Zombies 3

Both zombies rushed Robb together.  The first managed to get himself tangled in Robb's left arm while the second fell heavily against him, driving him to the floor.  The back of Robb's head slammed against the floor of the restaurant.  His vision began to blur.  In the back of his mind, he could hear a voice calling to him...a woman's voice...

Robb remained in melee with both zombies.  He tied the first 2:2, locking him into combat.  The second one, however, defeated him, with Robb only getting 1 success and the zombie getting three!  The result was a Knock Down, which against zombies meant that Robb must now roll to see if he is infected (again)!  I took a deep breath, realized this could be the end, and rolled...

A five!  Robb would avoid being infected!  But now he had bigger problems!

By my understanding of the rules, Robb was now stunned and needed a full turn's activation before he could move again.  I ruled, somewhat on the spot, that if the zombies activated either on the turn he recovered being stunned or before he activated a second time, they would kill him and it would be over.  I began to think about a possible "After the Horsemen" campaign, and started rolling.

Turn 18: Robb 3, Zombies3

Okay, a random event.  Rolling no less than three 1's, the result would be that no more zombies would be summoned in this encounter.  That was great, but first I needed to have Robb survive the next few seconds.

Turn 19: Robb 1 Zombies 6

Robb's eyes fluttered open.  Above him, staring at him inches from his face, was the yellowed eyes of a decaying zombie.  His eyes widened in awareness of what was happening.

Robb's recovered from being stunned.  Now, will he get an activation, or will he meet his final end?  For the sole purpose of creating drama, you'll have to follow after the break.

The Split Level, and some Pre-Endgame thoughts

First, sharp-eyed observers may have noticed that there was a new house on the block during the episode "The Neighborhood Watch," namely the "Split Level" house by Stoelzel's Structures.

Not as easy a build as the "Raised Ranch House," and I'd suggest doing the Ranch House first if you are a beginner like I am.  The house has three levels: the ground level, a small second level off to the side, and a third level above the ground level.  It's a interesting layout, but challenging to build.  In particular, there is a cardstock stairwell that has to fit precisely in a gap that has three separate sides: the vertical wall, the floor of the second level, and the floor of the third level.  Do a better job pre-fitting these pieces than I did.

Also the instructions suggest just making the roof out of cardstock.  No way.  I used a piece of taskboard, which is a sort of matte board that is easy to cut and sand but it still very thin, as the foundation for the roof, then cut two foamcore braces using the cardstock braces as a template.  It's a lot more sturdy than just a cardstock room, and you can barely see the edge.

Now onto some thoughts about the last session.  Looking back, I realized that I made a deliberate choice near the end to forego some shooting in fear of summoning more zombies, something that had happened all that day with remarkable frequency.  I had really hoped I could have Robb (and then later Irene) handle a single zombie, but that guy turned out to be one tough cuss.  I should have had Erin shoot him.

I have to say, despite losing both Erin (who I knew was a flight risk after she got a higher Rep than Robb) and Irene in a single encounter, I loved the dramatic feel to the whole thing.  It felt like a season finale of a zombie-themed television show.  I like how groups don't have stable membership, but instead constantly suffer at least the threat of people leaving either by death or departure, and how if the leader doesn't stay "large and in charge" the group will react accordingly.

As a side note, the real life Irene is glad she died trying to rescue me, and feels that the real life Erin would not only grow in ability quickly, being a very intelligent and resourceful woman, but would also have left me at that point to find her family.  Nice to see art imitating life.

But all this got me thinking about what the endgame of this campaign would look like.  There was a discussion about Rep 7 Stars over at Colgar6 and the Infinite Legion, and I've thought that hitting Rep 7 would probably influence game play a great deal, to the point where maybe it would get to be too easy.

So basically, I told myself I'd run the ATZ campaign until either Robb or Irene hit Rep 7, or both of them were dead.  We're halfway there now on the latter.  I have no idea if it is more likely Robb will find his untimely end or if he can scrabble through to epic hero-dom.  He seems almost incapable of getting a Rep increase, so I could end up throwing zombies at him for a long time.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

ATZ Campaign, Day 43: The Neighborhood Watch

All day, Robb and his two housemates had been on edge.  Someone had been spotted moving behind the curtained windows of their house, and a zombie had approached and began banging on the window.  When it didn't wander off, Robb's girlfriend Irene had rushed out with her bat and clubbed it to death and then ducked back inside.  The whole experience had rattled everyone, and as a result Irene had been even more hyper than normal, while Erin seemed to sink into a deeper depression.

Finally, Robb decided to act.  "We're going to work the neighborhood and clear out as many zombies as possible."
"Is that safe?" asked Erin.
"Not particularly, but it will thin out the number of zombies around us, and maybe we'll find survivors living in the nearby houses."
"And," said Irene with a grin, "there's always the chance to pick up stuff in other people's houses."

It's day 43 of the zombie apocalypse, and Team Robb is going to canvass the neighborhood.  This is a simple "Search" mission where the team is going to check a few houses on the table in hopes of finding loot or, even better, other survivors.

The table is a suburb, making it ER 2.  The red PEF is Rep 4 and in zone 1, the white is Rep 6 and in zone 3, and the blue PEF is Rep 2 and in zone 1.  Every one of the team has slept well and suffered no problems.

The 3d6 rolled for zombies at the start get us seven, four off to the right of the team, two straight ahead, and one off to the left.

In this encounter, Robb and Irene are Rep 4, which Erin is Rep 5.

Turn 1: Robb 1, Zombies 3

"There's lot of people out on the street today," commented Irene dryly.  She aimed her shotgun at the crowd approaching by the side of house to their right.  The blast took the head off of one and knocked down to others.  Erin aimed her rifle at another and took its head clean off.  Robb fired two shots at another, one of the shots clunking into its chest and staggering it into the ground.

Robb ran over to one of the zombies still standing and swung his machete into its skull, killing it instantly.  Erin fired her rifle into the skull of one of the zombies lying on the ground but still moving.  "We're off to a good start," said Robb.

Irene hit 3 but only OD'ed 1.  Erin got hers easily with her new Rep of 5, and Robb hit once with two shots but only got a knock down.  Between all the shots fired, a grand total of four zombies were summoned.  Not good!
In melee Robb got 3 successes to the zombie's 1 and got the Obviously Dead.  Erin "popped the weasel" on one of the Knocked Down zombies.

Turn 2: Robb 2, Zombies 1

One of the few zombies still on its feet rushed towards Erin, who fired off a shot from the hogleg and dropped it.  "There's still a few around," said Robb, "let's get inside quick."

Robb threw the door to the green house open and stepped inside.  Erin and Irene followed behind.  "Hello, if the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, would you be ready?" Irene quipped.
"Quiet!" Erin hissed.
Suddenly several zombies rushed out from a back room.  Erin got off a shot, killing one of the zombies.  Robb and Irene were too slow to fire, but Robb got his black-bladed machete up in time to take the head off the zombie rushing towards her.  Irene smashed another in the jaw and it fell back.  Erin stabbed another through the eye with her knife.

A zombie charged Erin, who easily passed her being charged test and got one shot, getting the OD easily.  The white PEF showed up, but it was nothing.  
Entering the building, I rolled 6d6 looking for 5's or 6's and got a shocking 4.  For the zombie surprise total, I rolled a 3 for a total of 7.  Robb got a total of 6, Irene a total of 6, and Erin a total of 9, meaning she was the only one who could fire.  She fired once with her rifle, getting an OD on the charging zombie.
In melee Robb beat the zombie 3 to 1, but managed to get an OD.  Irene beat her zombie 2 to 0, but got only a Knocked Down.  Erin beat hers 5 to 1, and got an OD.

Turn 3: Robb 6, Zombies 6
Turn 4: Robb 4, Zombies 5

Robb slashed down with his machete and killed the zombie that Irene had knocked to the ground.  "That's the last of them," he said.  "Let's look around and see what we can find."
A quick check found quite a bit of food in the kitchen.  The group stuffed as much as they could into their bags.  "Shall we look upstairs?" asked Erin.

Robb beat the prone zombie 4 to 2, and then managed to roll a 2 on the melee result, getting an Out of the Fight, which becomes an Obviously Dead for a zombie.
Robb, Erin, and Irene all got 1d6 on their looting result, meaning three food parcels.

Turn 5: Robb 1, Zombies 4

Robb tiptoed upstairs, trying to make as little as noise as possible.  At the top of the stairs of the split-level house, Robb spotted three zombies moving around in the hallway.  Irene quietly pushed Robb aside.  "Three all together like that?  That's tailor-made for my shotgun."
She fired, the closest two tumbling to the ground.  Unfortunately neither had been hit in the head.  Robb fired awkwardly down the hallway, missing both times.  Erin fired a shot past them both, killing the one still standing.  She and Robb ran forward and shot the two that Irene had hit previously, making sure that they stayed down.
They searched the bedrooms on the upper level.  Robb and Erin found stashes of chips and other snack food tucked away in the bedrooms, while Irene found several liquor bottles in the drawer of a nightstand.  "A little something to help them sleep, I guess."

I handled the upper floor like a separate building.  Rolling 6d6, I got three zombies.  What's with all the 5's and 6's?  The zombie surprise total was 5.  This time, Robb got an 8, Irene a 10, and Erin a 7.  Irene shot first, getting to Knock Down's.  Robb missed with two shots.  Erin got one with her shot.  That Rep 5 is really, really nice.
With both zombies knocked down, Robb and Erin could "pop the weasel."  Finally the dice were a little kinder, giving me only one zombie summoned by the shooting.
Looting gave Robb and Erin another food parcel, while Irene got a resource.  I decided it would be a luxury item.

Turn 6: Robb 5, Zombies 1

Outside the house many zombies were gathering, attracted by all the gunfire.

Turn 7: Robb 3, Zombies 6

"Okay, we're done here.  Back downstairs.  Be careful."  said Robb.

On their activation, Team Robb moved back to the lower level.

Turn 8: Robb 4, Zombies 4

Robb and the others stepped back outside the front door.  They quickly took in the many zombies staring at them hungrily.  "Where did they all come from?" asked Irene.  She fired her shotgun at the most closely-packed group.  One fell back clutching its face, but the other two just fell backwards.
"It doesn't matter.  We can't let them overwhelm us." growled Robb as he fired twice at another.  It's head blew into pieces.  Erin shot another in the head.

Irene got 2 KD's and 1 OD her shot.  Robb shot twice and got one OD.  Erin got another one.  She was on a roll today!  But three more zombies were summoned by the shots.
Note: the zombies didn't activate because at the time of the roll, no humans were visible.  I'm not sure if that was the right call, but there it is.

Turn 9: Robb 2, Zombies 4

Erin fired at another of the zombies, but the shot went low and it just stumbled down.  She and the others took off across the street in the direction of the house next door.
"Let's get inside!" said Irene.

Turn 10: Robb 3, Zombies 4

One zombie stood near the front of the door.  "Let's get him, Belle," said Robb to his black-bladed machete.  He swung it in a wide arc, catching the zombie in the neck and removing the head.
The other zombies on the street rushed towards them.  Erin frowned and fired another shot from her rifle.  The bullet went in and out of its head.  Robb's shots were not to accurate, and neither found their mark.  Irene was too busy swinging around on her skates to get off a shot.

One of the zombies plowed into Robb.  He stumbled backwards, catching his feet on the curb and tumbled to the ground.  Robb cried out in surprise, and desperately tried to get the machete between him and zombie snapping and tearing away at him.
Irene shouted "Robb!" and rushed forward.  She began pulling at the zombie lying atop her boyfriend.

Robb rushed into melee, not wanting to risk summoning more zombies.  He got 5 successes to the zombie's 1, and got the OD.  On the zombie's turn, they rushed towards them, and Robb and Erin both passed 2d6 while Irene only passed 1d6.  Erin's shot got one, but Robb missed both of his shots.
In melee, a single zombie managed to get into melee.  In the tight confines it charged Robb.  Robb only passed 2 to the zombie's 3, however!  With a roll of 5, Robb was knocked down!  
Now it was it time for a very, very critical roll.  I needed a 5 or higher on a d6 or Robb would become a zombie.  Holding my breath, a rolled...a 5!  Robb would continue to live.  For now.
Irene moved in, but only got 1 success to the zombies 1.  They were tied.  For now.

Turn 11: Robb 1, Zombies 6

The zombie atop Robb reared up off of him.  He grabbed Irene's shoulders and sunk his teeth deeply into her neck.  She screamed in pain and terror.  Her cry cut off with a wet gurgle.   Erin pulled the zombie to the ground, stabbing at it with her knife.

Entering into melee again, Irene only got 2 successes.  The zombie got 3!  That meant the Irene had also lost combat!  Rolling to see the result, the die came up with 1, meaning Irene was Obviously Dead.  Robb, sadly, recovered from being stunned.

Turn 12: Robb 2, Zombies 5

Robb gaped in shock at the terrible wound in Irene's neck.  His mouth moved, but no sound came out.  "We have to get out of here now!" shouted Erin, firing down the road at a zombie staggering towards them.  Robb howled in fury and shot the zombie on the ground.
Erin pulled the protesting Robb away from Irene's unmoving form, and they hurried back towards their home.

Things had gone very badly.  Erin shot one of the few close zombies, killing it, which Robb "popped the weasel" on the one with which he was in close combat.
Robb passed a Fast Move check, and got 1d6.  Since he was within 12" of the table edge, he and Erin moved off and the encounter ended.


Robb stumbled into his home.  Their home.  He mindlessly staggered to the sink in the kitchen, and he heaved violently into the drain.  Erin, in the meantime, began gathering her things.
"What are you doing?" he said, wiping vomit from his mouth with the back of his hand.
"I'm leaving!" she shouted.  "I'm not going to just stand around here waiting for us all to get picked off one by one!  I'm going to Heart City and finding my family!"
"But, there's got to be millions of people there!  You have no idea where they could be!  Or if they are still alive!"
"I don't care!  I'm leaving!"
"But, it's too dangerous!" Robb said pleadingly.  "And you can't leave at night.  At least wait until morning, and we can talk about this."
Erin looked at him with steely eyes.  "Okay," she said softly, and walked slowly to her room.

The next day, when Robb awoke, Erin was gone.  He stood in the silent house, alone.

In the post game check, Robb failed to increase in Rep, while Erin rolled a 6, increasing her Rep to 6.  Then in the "Keeping It Together" roll, Robb rolled only 4d6 instead of 5d6 (4+1 for Born Leader) because he had lost combat.  In contrast, Erin could roll 6d6 for her Rep. Robb only got 2 successes, while Erin got 5.  At twice the total Robb had, Erin would be leaving (and would have poisoned anyone left behind, if there were any.)

What a brutal game!  Robb nearly died, and I lost Irene and Erin.  Now, Team Robb was just, well, Robb.  What will happen next?