Each week the success of our zombie apocalypse survival horror campaign continues to amaze. There have been issues for sure, many of them related to the sudden shift out of heroic fantasy and into something more modern, gritty, and “realistic,” but despite these bumps, the game is providing tons of fun for me and, I hope, the players as well.
On the menu this post-Valentine’s was meat and bread, with optional cheese. More steaming, dripping, details would do well to spice up the savory meal, but that should be left to the reader’s imagination, as the story must go on. Let it be said that all present were well sated, and that with good company, good food, and good drink, good times must perforce progress. Even an incompetent zombie master such as yours truly is counted amongst the capable when such circumstances prevail — which said zombie master knows well, and is thus able to contrive his own success beforehand, thereby putting truth to the lie. Or something. On the other hand, it was the player of dr zara zhar who brought such bounteous meat, and that of buzz lombardo who supplied the loaves, so while the key to a successful evening might well be in the hands of the incompetent master of dungeons, the many doors and locks insure that real success lies in cooperation, in life as well as in a role playing game.
Enough philosophy, let us bust some heads.
When the survivors escaped from the Broadway bridge the previous night, Buzz Lombardo and Scarlet Harlowe were separated from the rest. Scarlet and Buzz made their way across the highway and to the swanky apartment of Scarlet, Briarcliff Meadows, which stood on a bluff overlooking the river and the city and the highway. As the night progressed, they had a view of the chaos spreading, and watched as the infected victims clogging the highway below turned into a maniacal mob. They could hear the screams as the thousands of stranded fought and struggled against the initial wave of green-eyed infected. The TV continued to warn of dangerous weather fallout, until local news switched after midnight to a call from the mayor for anyone without decent shelter to make their way to the center of downtown. Then the lights went out and they knew they had to flee.
Dressed in the warmest clothes they could find, they set out into the night on Buzz Lombardo’s motorcycle. The problem was that the apartment complex was surrounded on all sides by the highway system, which was crawling with crazed lunatics who seemed unimpeded by the frigid temperatures, though the skin of these unfortunate victims turned various shades of blue from the cold. The more they drove, the more zombies the bike attracted, until they found an underpass and made it into the nearby suburb of north kansas city. by this time they had attracted a large mob of zombies staggering slowly after them.
Outside the hardware store, the rest of the survivors were finishing packing necessities into the newly absconded Cadillac escalade sport utility vehicle. They heard the approaching motorcycle and were re-united with the co-passengers of ill-fated google flight 666 from the nigh before. Safety lay in numbers, and after all the escalade comfortably seats 10. Lombardo didn’t want to lose his harley though, and so he and Amber quickly found and mounted a small trailer as Lombardo’s mob of zombies began appearing at the end of the street. the survivors pulled out onto the street with time to spare.
It was 10 am, and as dark as 10 pm. The temperature was well below freezing, and the sky was a mass of roiling dark clouds, full of black ash from the passing asteroid. All night long snow and sleet had glazed the world in a dirty grey layer of ice and driving was treacherous.
The jazz singer Zooey Zubizu took the wheel and navigated the vehicle through town. Their goal was the local amusement park, Worlds of Fun, where Mary Sue’s church youth group were stranded. Unfortunately the softball star was ill in the back seat the entire episode, due to an unfortunate encounter with a meatball sub, but she, as well as the player who played her, were there in spirit. (The show must go on!)
Zooey pulled the lumbering SUV onto the main thoroughfare in front of the hardware store. The streets were abandoned, and power was out most everywhere. Cars were stranded in the road or on the side, many with their doors open or with shattered windshields. Occasionally they would spot a silhouette or two lurching along in the darkness. They did not slow or stop for any of these forlorn figures. Once or twice they spotted headlights down a side-street, until a big truck, a hummer actually, pulled up behind them and started flashing its lights and revving its engine.
Zooey was not about to stop, so Buzz Lombardo rolled down the window and was like ‘what?’ a man’s voice shouted for them to pull over. he was like, ‘i dont think so’ and the guy said ‘i want that harley’ and rammed into the back of the trailer with the harley. luckly, it was secured well, and rattled around but the trailer and the bike survived the impact.
Zooey accelerated as best she could as the hummer rammed them a second time. it was clear they needed to give fight or flight. Rummaging through the plastic tubs from the hardware store, the scarlet harlot found a nail gun. It fired five round bursts, and after a quick argument, she ended it by rolling down her window, and firing at the wheels of the hummer. incredibly two nails struck the tire and caused the hummer to swerve and slow down momentarily as he fought for control. then his window rolled down and a shot was fired. Two bullets tore through the back door of the escalade, one of the bullets grazing the thigh of Italia d’Italia. His next shot blew out one of the back windows, just above the crouching form of J the video store clerk.
All bets were off. Buzz and J both unleashed their guns on the hummer, and though most rounds missed, one bullet put a spiderweb of cracks through the windshield of their pursuer. it was all the Scarlet Harlot needed. she unleashed another five rounds of nails into the cab, blasting through the cracked windshield, and the truck quickly decelerated, turning away. Zooey did not give it a second thought but gunned the engine, leaving the stranger in their dust.
A few minutes later they were out of the town and overlooking the plains upon which Worlds of Fun was situated. Though the day was dark as a moonless night and most of the city lay in darkness, the amusement park was lit up in all its glory. Roller coasters, a giant ferris wheel, carousels, and all the other dazzling attractions of the fun park were on and turned to the max. Somehow even from this distance, they felt like they could see and hear the screams of children on that ferris wheel of doom. It was at this point that more than one survivor suggested abandoning the plan of saving the children and seeking shelter instead.
The goth chick believed she was in tune with the spiritual world, and tried to sense if there were safety or danger below. she got a big no on the safety and a big yes on the danger. Buzz Lombardo was not a fan of church groups, and besides, the chick who wanted to save the kids isn’t even here! They decided to save the kids but it was dicey there for a moment.
Then they noticed the odd site taking place in the fields behind the amusement park. A military base had been set up complete with an airfield, and lines of stealth bombers were landing and taking off. It was known that there was a secret stealth bomber base near the city, but that did not explain why they should be in this unusual spot. Besides the jets, there was a flurry of activity on the ground and there were guard towers and barbed wire strung around the perimeter and many soldiers. The camp was situated so that it was shielded from the city and the nearby highway by the amusement park, and they were using that as camouflage for their activities, or to keep the zombies away. The other thing they noticed was a long line of semi-trucks with flatbed trailers, protected by soldiers, waiting in a long line to be offloaded onto the bombers. Whatever large objects they carried lay hidden under tarps, two to a truck, two to jet.
They cautiously approached the highway, driving off-road, and found it to be heavily congested with dead vehicles, but very few if any people. they wove between cars, and saw the answer to where the people went as they crossed over to the other side and saw lines of infected individuals standing at the chain link fence that separated the amusement park from the highway. hundreds of people were lined up along the fence or staggering alongside, looking for a way into the bright and shining amusement park.
Many of the survivors knew their way around the park, and Didi the raver and Zara the scientist had a common friend who worked there, Jeffrey the technician.
They drove towards the rear entrance, which butted up against a neighborhood, rather than the main entrance which was surrounded by acres of parking lot, as well as heightened military activity. as they approached the padlocked gate, a nearby military guard tower spotted them with its spotlight. A voice told them to turn back, they were entering a dangeroud and off-limits area. Zooey ignored the sound advice and gunned the engine straight through the front gate, blasting it open as the escalade surged through and into the main courtyard. A machine gun from the guard tower chased them with its bullets.
From here they could see the ferris wheel at the long end of a winding lane full of fanciful fun. There were chidren on the ride, huddled up and screaming, as the wheel spun relentlessly around, for what must have been the past twelve hours. The evidence of that time of terror were visible in the form of a zombie, limbs torn from its body as it got caught in the turning struts or another empty car was filled with blood and gore, but no sign of child or zombie. below the children, staggering around were dozens of zombies. Many of these zombies were the parents of the children but there was no telling why the children should be left alone on the ride in the first place, while their parents became zombified.
The children being here at all was due to a special private party arranged for the youth group months in advance. Without warning of the asteroid until it was too late and the party was begun, the children were simply, tragically forgotten, and they had no idea of the sudden evacuation the previous evening until it was too late. It was also a fact known to the journalist Scarlet and J the video store clerk, that the missouri senator and previous mayor of kansas city, Emmanuel Cleaver, was holding a birthday for his grandchild here the same night. Many of the zombies looked too well dressed to be parents of a church youth group.
The plan was to turn off electricity to all but the ferris wheel, and then to find a way to get the children out and safe. To turn off the power, thy needed to go to the electric room, which, thanks to Jeffrey, zara knew to be in the back of the house of mirrors. This was the old ‘festhaus’ building on the map, which was close.
Aside – here a small argument broke out as a number of players mentioned that 1, there was no house of mirrors at worlds of fun, and that there was little chance the main power supply room is in either the actual festhaus or the so-called house of mirrors, and that nonetheless there would be a back door. I responded calmly that yes there was a house of mirrors and that yes in fact they were going into it. I added that it was directly across the street from the clown tent. clown tent? clown tent.
They pulled up in front of the house of mirrors. The eight of them emptied out of their vehicle in front of the clown tent, no sign of clowns, that was good. Zara was in the lead as they entered the house of mirrors.. (aside – she was the winner of the valentine’s day easter egg) As she wound her way through the mirrors, her head appearing large, then tiny, then suddenly she had huge feet a tiny waist and incredibly long ears, then there were ten of her, then she heard a groaning sound a a mirror near her wobbled and fell, she saw a dark form lurch behind it. she pulled out her bowie knife, from the hardware store, you know how they always have those knife displays, and she stabbed. she wasn’t very strong, or very good with a knife, and her wrist was grabbed in a big hot grip. she heard and felt heavy breathing on the side of her neck as a dark figure leaned in toward her.
‘Hey hey hey, you dont wanna go stabbin’ Jeffrey now do ya?’ he said before their eyes met and electricity flowed between them. zara remembered a time years back when she was a sophomore in college and finally went to a frat party which she always hated. this time was different and she met this handsome, charismatic, though rotund young black man named Jeffrey. They shared a bottle of wine and a night together, and she spent the next year at college trying to track Jeffrey down but never saw him again. until now. She saw the same memories flash through Jeffrey’s eyes. He lets go of her hand (do you continue to plunge the knife? um, no) and took her in his arms in a big bear hug. Zara! Jeffrey! Will you help us? Sure, can i come with you? sure!
He mentions a second group of kids on the wooden roller coaster, the Timber Wolf, and he tells them how after midnight the military rounded up the people, put the kids on the roller coaster and the ferris wheel, as distractions, and left the parents to their fate as they cordoned off the area. They turn off power to tho park, and they leave power on to the rides with kids on them.
when the power is off, the speed off to the ferris wheel, crash through the low fence and Zooey starts running down zombies, and smashing them into the platform, then backing up and running down more, while the windows roll down and each of the survivors tries to take down as many zombies as they can. the scarlet harlot uses a nail gun, the video store clerk, low on ammo, uses hairspray and a lighter, and ends up fighting a flaming haired clown from out the back window.
guns fire, wheels squeal, zombies lurch, and Zara and Jeffrey leap out onto the platform. zara uses her kung fu skills to knock zombies off the platform while Jeffrey works the gears, first turning off the incessant music, then the lights, then finally slowing it so they can remove the kids and toss them through the open window of the escalade, until all eight kids are rescued.
Zombies have come up to the open windows of the escalade and grab for those succulent living within, but the survivors manage to fend off their attacks, taking out over a dozen of them before speeding off towards the timber wolf. in the sudden silence, they can hear the sound of treads tearing up the sidewalks of the amusement park. they catch sight of a rumbling tank as they zoom through a cross-path and narrowly avoid getting blasted to the moon. we wrap it up with them getting the kids off the timberwolf (hand waved, it was getting late) and rescued another four kids. There are now 12 kids between 8-11 in the vehicle, plus the 8 adults, that is a car full of twenty living bodies. Everyone has a kid on their lap, and kids are stuffed into every nook and cranny as they speed out of the park and into the parking lots surrounding the main entrance.
As they drive off, victorious, they catch sight of the semi trucks and realize that under each tarp is a massive nuclear warhead. there are hundreds of them. they must be the warheads from the nuclear missile silos dotting the mid-west, but what are they doing, loading them onto stealth bombers, and why now?