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Archive for the ‘Zombies’ Category

escalade_offroadOur last session ended in a wild escape through a zombie infested World of Fun amusement park in an SUV packed full of 18 survivors, including a dozen children. In the process of rescuing the children, they discovered a hastily erected military base in the fields behind the park, using the flashing sounds and lights to conceal their true activities. In the course of the rescue, the survivor’s discovered stealth bombers landing and taking off like clockwork. long line of semi-trailers held huge bombs under tarp, two to a trailer, which were being loaded onto the bombers. The convoy of trucks was protected by soldiers in humvees and helicopters with spotlights.

The night began with a tank shell whizzing past the Escalade and exploding into a nearby clown tent, creating a meteor shower of flaming giant shoes and red flashing noses. Behind the wheel, Zooey Zubezu led them out of the park and into a mesa of concrete. The convoy of trucks blocked was an impenetrable line at the far end of the parking lot. She sped up and approached at an angle, hoping to find a break in the line. Suddenly the last semi came into view with a rear gaurd of troops. They stared open-mouthed as the SUV roared past, their fight with the walking dead forgotten for a moment at the strange sight of a beat up and bloody Caddilac careening out into the infested darkness at full speed. Even the zombies paused in their insatiable quest for brains to witness the event.

convoy-nightA humvee pulled out of the line and went after the survivors. the video store clerk was in the back, watching the headlights approach as the military vehicle gained on them. At the end of the lot, Zooey was forced to turn onto the highway onramp, even though they knew the highway to be clogged with stalled vehicles and hungry dead. Luckily, most of the indfected had abandoned the highway for the flashing lights of the amusement park, and Zooey was able to zoom along the highway, two wheels on the gravel of the emergency lane, steering around open doors, stalled vehicles, and other dark objects suddenly appearing in the beams of her headlights, while she tried to keep the vehicle from sliding down into the gully at the highway’s edge.

The night was dark, the sky an inky, roiling black, and the temperature was dropping. The gritty grey snow covered everything, fallout from the meteoric event. The rising, restless dead were another kind of fallout. Apocalypse had come to the world, by way of a nameless rock on an eternal voyage through space, and the strange radiation it emitted.

The video clerk heard a low thumping, the sound of a helicopter, though the sky was a void. “We’re gonna have company!” he shouted to the others. The softballer Mary-sue saw a flash in the sky behind and above them, and everyone heard the rocket streaking towards them. Zooey jerked the wheel to the right. They shot down into the gully, bouncing over the uneven ground. Jay the clerk had a plan. The SUV hauled a motorcycle on a small trailer, and they had connected it so that the tail-lights worked on the trailer. If they could disable the lights, they might escape. He had only a few second, so he shoved his wirecutters into the diminutive Italia’s hands, told her the plan and held her legs while she pulled aside the tarp and leaned out. They were bouncing and jouncing over the open ground beside the highway. Jay grabbed her ankles and down she went, trying to find the wires. It was a frightening moment but she pulled it off, and the escalade went dark just as the rocket blew up a stalled vehicle on the highway.

The car bounced over a curb and then they were driving nearly blind down an outer road that ran parrallel to the highway. They whooped in relief when they saw the helicopter circling the burning wreckage behind them. They had escaped. Looking down, Zooey realized they were nearly out of fuel, and they turned onto the next crossroad they found, which led to a small rural town. The power was out, and the main features were a pair of gas stations. The dozen children were all wailing to use the bathroom. They needed to get out and go, but no one was willing to use the public restroom so all the kids had to get out and pee around the car.

Aside: This might be the first time a basic bodily function became an element of play in a role playing game that I am aware. The fact that it was a bunch of freaked out kids in subfreezing weather, too afraid to use the public restroom was pretty jarring. I had to lighten it up a bit.

One kid couldn’t go. He said his mom always holds his hand, so Zooey takes his hand and say now go. He says he can’t because everyone else cansee him. She takes him behind the car, ]but he says he needs more privacy. Can they go behind this nearby tree? Zooey gets suspicious. Boy starts crying. Zooey looks around frantically. A screech from above and a green-glowing eyed gull sweeps down towards them.

Attack of devil birds is happening

Attack of devil birds is happening


The treetop explodes into a black cloud of hundreds more devil birds. The birds form up into a swirling cloud above the vehicle and begin divebombing the survivors.

Mary Sue was pumpling gas from a manhole cover into a 5 gallon gas can, while Zara Zhar was pouring another one into the vehicle. children were all around the vehicle doing their thing, Jay the clerk stood around watching over things, pistols holstered and a steel bar (or something) in his hands when the birds attacked.

Zooey holds off the first bird with her backpack. she feels wet warmth all over her shins as someone finally decides to go. (Too far?) The second bird lands on the SUV in front of Zara. She attempts to hit it with her karate, but doesn’t want to spill the gas, and misses her target. The devil bird leap in and plunges its beak into her left eye. Her last view (with that eye) is of a slightly opened beak and a long sharp tongue about to pierce her pupil. The bird pulls back, and with a gulp, her eye is swallowed. She screams in rage and pain, but does not spill the gas.

The next gull swoops down on Mary Sue who quickly shoves the fuel hose into the nearest kid’s hand and pulled out her trusty softball bat. The gull’s head explodes with a satisfactory sensation and she continues in a 360 degree arc to bust open the next bird to swoop down. They call for all kids to get in the vehicle. Italia holds off more and more birds trying to get thruough the tarp covering the open back window, and pulls her samurai sword. Jay has some sort of weapon he wields.

when_birds_attack_2The next round two more birds swoop down upon each of them. Mary fills up the can and decides it is time to go. Three more apiece are right behind the two. As the survivors retreat into the vehicle, each must confront their personal demon birds. Zooey loses and eye. Jay loses anjeye, and comes an eyelash away from being blinded. One child is mauled by a zombe gull and loses both eyes, but it is later found (after a heated argument with an increasingly appalled player – my wife that is) that his eyelids were torn but his eyes were saved. (Still legally blind heehee)

Evil aside: Yes I go into realms of pure evil at times, and my players are loath to be there when it happens. Things tend to happen, like tonight’s blinding party. It was pure luck and chance that anyone has any eyes left after this debacle. The gulls had a 2 dice pool to pluck an eye, no modifiers, or if they could not reach an eye they did one point regular damage. Then when I started attacking and blinding children (I had gulls left over what could I do?) it reached a tipping point where some people (like my wife) started to complain. It is always fun and games, laughing and joking, but like a bad movie, almost exactly like a bad movie, I take things too far regularly. Since we have kids in the game, I have to reel things back at times. I will resist any attempts to cry foul or too far, but only for so long. I usually end up one toke over the line, as the phrase goes.

Finally the phantasmagorical horrorshow was over, and one-eyed, Zooey pulled out into the night, with a quarter tank of gas and a car full of bleeding moaning survivors. They were in serious trouble. Out of the darkness she spots a house off the road. It is surrounded by a tall fance with privacy bushes, and she spotted the yellow square of a open doorway at night. At the open front gate she spots a waving figure. They pull to a stop.

The person is gone but the gate and front door are still open. There is an inviting fire burning in the hearth. They make their way through the yard, leaving the car running, with the kids and Zooey still inside. The yard is covered in the same gray snow, but the walkway has been cleared. There are holes dug in the yard, possibly made by a dog, and they hear a whimpering as they ascend the front porch. Oh no, what’s with the animals? Is it undead or undog we’re fighting here?

Okay okay, Mary Sue looks under the porch and finds a scared whimpering dog with a spike collar. Its alive! They pull him out and name him Spike. He is cared and runs inside. They follow, make a quick search of the house, noticing a backdoor and a door to a dark cellar which they do not bother searching because it is obviously empty. There is a old half-eaten dinner on the table, and the fire is very low. Looking out the back door they see a long yard with a big tree at the far end. The yard has even more holes dug, maybe as many as a dozen. This dog must really love burying bones. Or digging up bones?

zombiehookerThey tuck the kids into the three upstairs bedroom, and one after another the kids start crying that the see a ghost. Then they hear a sound from the front yard, and a face appears in the glass. It is the decayed face of a woman. Just then they see more undead decayed women wandering around the back yard. They look like dead prostitutes, and they realize they are in the house of a serial killer, and are seeing his risen victims. Just then the ghost of the serial killer shrieks that they will never leave his home alive. Zara and the kids are coming down the stairs and he pulls the rug out from under them, casing them to tumble down the stairs. Luckily no one was hurt.

Stepping outside the back door, the ghost slams it behind her. She sees a corpse hanging from the tree at the far end of the yard, and undead prostitutes filled the yard between her and the tree, but she knew she had to destroy the corpse or they were doomed. She sprinted across the yard, and climbed into the tree. The corspe started swinging around wildly and twice hit her full force, but she held on, until she could climb the limb under which it hung. She tried various methods of dispelling the evil spirit, including prayer which failed miserably. Finally she decided to burn the motherfucker and that worked perfectly.

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Step right up to the zombie apocalypse!

Step right up to the zombie apocalypse!


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.

wofThey 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!

inspired by zombieland

inspired by zombieland


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?

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westlake

So the game night fell on my 41st birthday, which was pretty cool. I got me some presents, also cool, and got to pick one of my favorite meals, choosing taco crunch, which is basically like taco salad but with tortilla chips. yum. Not as much gaming got done as
I had hoped but that was mostly my own fault, for having too much fun, oops. Thanks to my players, who keep coming back.

So anyway, we ended the last session with safety found, when the survivors arrived at the softball princess Mary-sue’s house, and foreboding, when she remembered that her entire church youth group was trapped at the local amusemment park, and must be saved. But first, they must wait out the night. Zooey was injured – a pretty deep scratch, and no one was prepared for what lay ahead.

They made sleeping arrangements and set up for the night. mary-sue, zooey and amber shared the one bedroom, and were kept awake by branches scratching the window. The curtains were drawn and furniture was piled against the window, but the scratching continued and eventually grew worse. a thump and something else was scratching at the glass. it was the corpse bride’s hand, scratching at the peeling wood around the edge of the windowpane. Mary-sue eventually filled a cooler with water and wrestled the hand into it. it was frozen solid the next morning, the cooler quietly thumping about.

The television continued to warn of dangerous weather fallout from the meteoric event, with plummeting temperatures and dark skies. local news broke in after midnight with the mayor proclaiming that the downtown area was being converted to a safe zone and that anyone who could, should make there way within the perimeter, naming off the streets where all police officers, firemen and other rescue workers should report. This however , was all happening south of the river, and the bridges were all impassable. At 3 am the station stopped transmitting, and bad weather prevented satellite and cell phones. They were cut off but thankfully still had power.

The next morning, rifling through mary-sues closet revealed boxes of matching pink and purple sweat suits advertising 8 years of Bible Thump Baptist Youth Camp. thus they set out. a corpse groom staggered down the middle of the street, his rotting top hat still clutched in a skeletal hand as it dragged its feet slowly along. though the world was covered in a grey sheet of ice and it was at least 20 below freezing, the flesh of the corpse was blue and moved as if it werent frozen, what little remains. the cracking of its bones could be heard from the front porch.

Before going to worlds of fun to rescue a dozen screaming kids, the survivors needed to equip themselves. in the neighborhood was a small convenience store, named chang’s, and a tavern called the winchester. At the end of the street was a cadillac dealership, a pawn shop, and a westlake’s hardware.

chang’s was a funny incdent. a bunch of corpses outside the door but the open sign is lit up. ding-ding, they enter to see an old chinese man with a shotgun behind the counter. ‘no shirt no shoes no life no service!’ he shouted. They bought gloves and some snack food and went on. about this time I gave up and let them go shopping. first of course was the escalade, then came the guns in the pawn shop, and a radio. they tuned to the local stations but could only hear confused shouting between emergency workers about containing a riot.

Then they moved on to the hardware store, and whatever crazy thing they thought up I had them make a survival + attribute check to find. there was some pretty good stuff,which i made sure they wrote down – if it isnt written down you don’t have it! Of course they all thought that meant whatever they wrote down they had. That is the kind of players I have.

Oh at some point they raided the subway next door and made 24 footlongs, and a crate of 50 uncooked sandwich hoagies. Mental note – next week should be footlong week.

One funny thing, Italia’s player was like, yeah I want a chain with nails in it! And i was like, ok you can get length of chain and a bunch of nails, then later on you can put them together. and she was like, oh…

They got all sorts of stuff, loaded up the back of the escalade, which seats 9 comfortably, and then we ended, since we managed to waste a whole session (or half of one really since we started so late) on such shenanigans. Still fun though.

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Broadway Bridge at night

Broadway Bridge at night

Dec 21, 2012

The day has been hectic as planes try to evacuate as many people as possible from the city before the impending arrival of the meteorite. Dubbed Meteor Z by the media, it was expected to safely pass by the earth until it passed between the earth and moon and gravitational forces caused a chunk to break off. Now its trajectory has changed, and it is projected to skirt the upper atmosphere right above a swath of the united states from Washington state to Washington DC. Evacuations are being attempted in the affected areas with only twenty four hours before the meteor streaks across the night sky. Chaos and anarchy ensue.

The midtown airport is just across the river from downtown and it is choked with people trying to leave. Every little plane and jet is being crammed full. Other planes fly in to take on passengers, but never enough. It is chaos, no security, but people can only take small handbags with them, no luggage.

A small galaxy class passenger jet with a big Google splash painted across the side is the next to be loaded. It holds 30, with 10 on one side and 20 on the other. The players all end up on the same single seat side. The other side quickly fills up. There are 2 first class seats, facing toward the rest of the cabin. after take off, the lead character Bunny McGunny realizes that the seat in front of her is taken by none other than bill gates. (weird story that) Suddenly another 20 people cram into the aisle and the pilot pulls away from the van-stairs before the plane can be swamped with more. It has trouble gaining altitude and the pilot comes on to say that now would be a good time to start praying. everyone else, buckle your seat belts. do they? they do.

It makes it into the air, but just barely, and points its nose on a steep trajectory as it banks towards east, giving the players a view of the nightime city: emergency lights at every corner, streets congested and crowds everywhere. Then there is a flash a green flash, so deep, yet so bright, the same instant the plane seems to drop 50 feet. More flashes in a strobe-like affect lasts a few seconds as the chunk of meteor bashes its way through the upper atmosphere, emitting a sickening green light as it twists and spins across the vault of the night scar leaving a dark expanding scar in its wake.

The people in the aisle crash towards the player characters, knocked out, bleeding, and in pain. Rolls for bashing damage. Miraculously the plane tries to regain altitude, heading towards the broadway bridge. The twenty passengers on the right side of the plane all appear unconscious or dead, while most of those who were not strapped down are knocked out or crying out in extreme pain. Bill gates is speaking quietly to himself, his lips moving, his face serious and still as he grips the chair with all his strength. a single google employee/stewardess was in the other first class seat, and she and somehow switched her loyalty from google to microsoft the instant she finds out who he is.

Then the wing clips the bridges first span and is torn off, the plane crashes into the second span and slide across and down into the valley between the second and third span, cables and beams snapping, tearing gouges in the walls and shattering the windows. Miraculously no player character is injured, but a beam slashes into bill gates thigh, injuring him severely.

The plane is 10 turns from crashing into the surface of the bridge, nose first from where it hangs a hundred feet above. Every turn more cables and beams snap and it shifts. anything not held or strapped down has a chance of falling towards the front of the plane. the door is closed and it is near the tail. the windows are too small for any but a child to fit through. lights are flashing, a fire in the cockpit and in the engine on the remaining wing. The bodies of the previously standing passengers are piled in phantasmagoric motley of limbs,bodies, and heads, sealing the cockpit.

What do you do?

broadwaybridgeplanecrash

The first thing that happens is a round of triage. The hardboiled ambulance driver takes one look at bill gates gashed leg and decided he had 5 minutes to live. meanwhile, the dead passengers were beginning to writhe and grasp out with their insanely strong hands. Their eyes glowed a pale green. The charcters each began climbing over seats, towards the rear exit. Italia the cat burgler was able to open the emergency door, and a rubber slide deployed fifteen downward towards the deck of the bridge fifty feet below. She then supplied a rope which allowed them to climb down to the bridge.

Once they got down, they had to decide to run north or south. The downtown area was jsut south of the bridge, or they could go along the south side of the river towards a firestation. To the north, one side was the airporst they recently departed, still with thoudands waiting for evacuation. On the other side was a trainyard. They chose the trains, but had to spring between two hundreed feet of cars clogging the bridge.

Each of them was sujected to a zombie attack when they ran between the lanes of cars towards freedom. The first to be grabbed was the spunky reporter known as the scarlet harlot, whose upper-arm was wrenched in a painful bruising death grip. Dr Zara Zar in her trainers attempted to leap from car to car, but a zombie, I mean crazed, green-eyed car occupant who may just be tripped out on angel dust, grabbed her by the foot.

The singer/songrwriter Zooey grabbed her daughter Ambers arm and together they rthreaded their way,but Zooey was grabbed. She tol her daugter to run,but A,ber tried to stomp the arm grabbing her mother with her doc martin boots (are those still a thing?) The video store clerk and the ambulance driver each pulled out their pieces and blew a couple heads to pieces, saving the women, and they rushed to the edge of the bridge.

For some reason, throughout the whole of that escape, the only morality check I enforced was the one against Bunny McGunny the ambulance driver, who, after seeing the arm holding the reporter get shot and still maintain its vicelike grip, and who watched as the man in the car pulled her arm towards its head, she took her hunting knife (cause everyone carries a knife like that one since the crocodile dundee movie) and literally purlverized this dudes head, with six successes. His head popped like a melon. So yeah, she passed a manslaughter roll, but I dont know why, thats the only one time I called for a morality roll. I should be more enforceful of that.

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nightmare-hill-manorIn a hi-rise apartment building in Kansas City one group of friends were riding out an unusual January thunderstorm with their usual Friday game night. The storm became increasingly fierce, but the television was tuned to the national news channel which showed never-ending footage of an upcoming near miss with an asteroid.

Zooey and her daughter Amber lived on the sixth floor, as did the video store clerk Jay and the paramedic Bunny. Besides these four, Zooey had invited her friend, the legendary Jazz singer to the game, and Amber had invited her best friend Italia.

Then there was Janice. (think annoying new jersey accent, Chandler’s girlfriend in Friends). She heard that Zooey played dungeons and dragons and “Wanted to know what all the hoopla was about.” Aside – given the chance to role play characters who are role playing characters in a game, in a game, who could resist the temptation? I stopped short of actually having their characters roll up characters, and instead had them explain to Janice what she should do.

Soon she left to get food from her apartment on the 5th floor. While she was gone, Bunny tried to get the elevator to return to the 7th floor without Janice. She heard the elevator start to return then they all heard two gunshots, from above, followed by a pause, then another gun shot. Then the elevator door opened and it was Janice saying something about the fifth floor.

Everyone reached for their cell phones, but there was no reception. They tried the emergency phone in the elevator, but no dial tone. It could have been the storm, or interference from the asteroid, but when Bunny could not get her emergency radio to work, she knew something was wrong

Jackson and Amber stayed in the apartment while the rest went towards the stairwell. first they came to Jay’s room, and he picked up his matching pistols, and then they noticed an open door further down the hall. It was Keenan’s room, a quiet unassuming fellow, but his room was a mess with crazy things written in the walls in blood. Obviously the room of a madman. His bedroom was empty but for a bed and a dresser. on the dresser was a small shrine to something with candles and a little velvet stand, but whatever once sat there was now gone. They left the apartment and continued to the stairwell.

They bypassed the 7th floor and continued to the locked steel door to the penthouse. Janice had suggested that the maintenance men on the 5th floor had a master key, but they had Italia d’Italia, master thief. even though it was a difficult lock (-3) the high class thief managed to open the door.

Italia’s story. she is the daughter of wealthy, snobby parents. one day Italia became disgusted with her parents and told them she didnt need their wealth, she was going to strike out on her own. She then began staging daring cat burglaries against her parents wealthy friends. She had a lockpick, and sprung the door to the 8th floor.

The hallway was marble tiled and nicely decorated, but dusty with age. It was bare, but for the man slumped against the wall, with brains and blood dripping down behind him. It was Keenan. There was a blood trail into the open penthouse, which turned out to be the apartment of Brian Sullivan, the eccentric old man. He lay in a pool of blood with two bullet holes in his chest. again Bunny rushes forward to detect a pulse, and this time is surprised to detect the faintest flutter. blood is pumping from a hole in his heart,and she reaches in and pinches closed his torn aorta.

Old Man Sullivan opens his eyes and whispers “there isnt much time.” Looking at his wound, Bunny grits her teeth and mutters agreement. “No,” he says, “never mind me, the ghost.” Zooey is like “the what who now?”

He gasps out that a ghost of Jonas Hill haunts the place and he has escaped and is bent on destruction and his watch must be destroyed by attaching it to the lightning rod and that Keenan stole it. He is a pretty good last-gasper, but eventually the spurting heart slips out of Bunny McGunny’s blood-slick fingers and he croaks. Searching Keenan reveals no watch. Not even pulp fiction style. Though he has been dead less than an hour, rigor mortis is already setting in.

They search the penthouse for liquor (finding wine) and more information, finding books full of old newspaper article. They all hear a scream on the 7th floor, and taking the info, head down to investigate. Upon entering the 7th floor, it feels strange, like vertigo. the hallways are very long and narrow, with ceilings almost 18 feet high. suddenly Bunny, in the lead, spots a prone body on the floor. she sees a big bowie knife embedded in his chest, and blood dripping upward to form a pool on the ceiling. After a few seconds of vertigo she shakes her head and realizes the body is pinned to the ceiling and the blood is pooling on the floor beneath it.

The five meet back up on the sixth floor, where Amber has made survival bags for everyone in case the power goes out. The droning news report anounced that the gravitational forces between the earth and moon had caused a part of the asteroid to break off, changing its trajectory which scientists were scrambling to predict.

Janice mentioned that Keenan was friends with Orlando, the son of the maintenance man, on the fifth floor, so they head down. Upon opening the door to the fifth floor, a madman comes rushing at them with a knife, another bowie knife. Bunny holds the door closed while he slams into it, then she lets him get an arm through, taking a grazing slash with the knife, before injecting him with a powerful tranquilizer from her medkit. The man falls unconscious and they drag him into the first open room to tie him up, where they find another mad man beating at a bedroom door. It was Orlando while a voice from the other side screams “I’ll kill you zombie fucks!” Orlando has three long bloody gashes and the room is a mess.

Italia leaps in with a karate chop, but fails to take him down, so Amber swings at him with a baseball bat, and also misses. Jackson Jackson steps forward with a left and a right hook, and finally they knock him out and find the pocket watch in his back pocket.

We had to end, so I quickly narrated how they went to the roof and Italia stepped out into the fierce storm to fasten the watch to the constantly struck rod, but a ghostly figure of a man in burning clothes rose up before her, so they fought and eventually she managed to get the watch hung up. It was destroyed and soon after the storm abated and the skies lightened with dawn. Most of the carnage from the night before was gone, just a hallucination, but for three dead bodies, Keenan. Sullivan, and Orlando, who it was said afterwards, were caught in a sick love triangle.

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This upcoming game night debuts a new campaign, set in our own world and time, and even our home town of Kansas City, in which a zombie apocalypse threatens to destroy all humanity. This is the tale of one band of unlikely survivors.

Zooey Zubizu, almost famous lounge singer — She wears a sequin dress and heels, and carries a .38 in her clutch. She loves to sing and to drive fast cars. Her heart is full of charity, but her vice is sloth. She is addicted to alcohol and cigarettes.

Jackson Jackson, legendary horn player — With a suitcase and his sax, Jackson j came to Kc looking for a place to crash. He found it and the crash found him. He wants only two things, a good time for him, and for those around him.

Bunny McGunny, alcoholic paramedic — Talented, level-headed and disillusioned, she keeps getting pulled back into the world of people, a world she cant stand.

Dr Zara Zhar, University astrobiologist — a curious line of research for this aloof, egg-headed wonder woman who also knows kung-fu. She has a greed for knowledge, and for a bigger lab, and more test subjects, and more field studies…

Jay Jambunathan, video store clerk — with a video camera, the complete DR Who box set, and a pair of .45 calibur pistols, Jay is ready for anything. He cheats at gambling.

Amber Zubizu Zass, first year art student — Daughter of Zooey, Amber turns everything she touches to gold, except for rotting corpses. She is full of hope, and of pride. She also has a book-bag and a tablet computer.

Italia D’Italia, high class thief —
This young woman is the daughter of rich parents who struck out on her own and became a cat burglar for the thrill of it. She always has her cell phone, and a silk rope.

Donna Belladonna, goth chick —
She can sense the spirits of the dead. Now more than ever. With the power of wrath and an evil eye, and occasional hallucinations, Donna has faith that destiny will find a way for her to survive.

Buzz Lombardo, party FREAK — He is addicted to all drugs and desensitized to most, immune to others. He lives to party and has a lust for the ladies. Oh and when he has to do something useful, he knows computers, IT whatever that means. Chicks dig his bike.

Scarlet Marlowe spunky reporter — This gal always knows the scoop or where to find it. Scarlet has contacts, allies, and resources in every city in the tri-state area.

Ripley, lost little girl —
This poor girl has seen the worst, her parents killed, but her deadly curiosity drives her on a never ending search for her mommy and daddy. She can sense the dead and hide anywhere.

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WalkingDeadAs the last game session of 2012 wrapped up on Dec 21st, we discussed as a group what we would like to do in 2013. Perhaps the apocalypse was in the air, for it was the end of a baktun, and we all agreed a zombie apocalypse survival campaign would be great.

The excellent TV show (and comic) The Walking Dead was the original inspiration for this. additionally, the idea occurred to me to slowly introduce supernatural elements into the game, via events and learned or acquired abilities, akin to superpowers, gained by the survivors. The TV show Heroes was the inspiration for this, which featured regular people realizing they had superpowers, only instead of suddenly having far-reaching powers, the player characters (or “cast members”) would discover glimmers of something special, developed over time, by surviving through the apocalypse.

The campaign would be “save the world” and would include all manner or surprises along the road to ultimate salvation or destruction. It would begin as a gritty survival horror, where instant death was waiting around every corner, and actions had far-reaching, often fatal consequences. The objective of the campaign is in no uncertain terms to gather as many survivors as possible and rebuild society. An impossible task, to be sure, but anything less noble would descend into anarchy and nihilistic destruction in short order.

The original idea was for each of the players to create an “idealized” version of themselves, and the game would begin as we were seated around the table one Friday night for our usual game night. However this received some negative feedback from a few players, whom I suppose do not relish the idea of having to visualize themselves being torn apart by ravenous ghouls. There could be a high turn-over of “cast members” during the first few sessions, as the apocalypse unfolded in gory detail. After that, survivors would tend to keep surviving. the game will begin in our home town, and in a dramatic departure from my “Luke’s Diner Rule”, which states that no electronic devices are allowed around the table, the players will be able to use devices, like google street view, to inform their choices, so long as the cast members have access to such devices in good working order.

Those survivors would begin to uncover the causes of the apocalypse, and hopefully find or discover a cure, or at least a way to end or diminish the rising dead from overwhelming the planet. The plan is to allow players to play themselves, or to pick a pre-made “archetype” to use. This “normal person” will be their player character until such time as they choose another amongst survivors, or create a character to use.

The first question as the game master, was to decide on a game system. It was quickly apparent that no version of dungeons and dragons could quite capture that level of horror and danger that the genre required. rules for wounds, fatigue, both mental and physical were required. Nor was the alignment system appropriate. An over-arching goal (save and rebuild civilization) allows a base-line for judging characters actions. This game was going to be as much about the interactions of the survivors, as it was about defeating mindless hordes. Having a cast member’s “personality” become a factor in the role playing is an important part of a character driven story. to that end, d&d just didn’t cut it, unfortunately.

A benefit of this campaign is that we get to try out a new game system. Having only played the last three editions of dungeons and dragons, our focus has been pretty narrow. For the modern zombie apocalypse I was looking into three game systems: D&D Modern D20, a modern take using the same rules we are familiar with, with the same drawbacks described above, as well as being very technical and excessively rules-oriented; The World of Darkness, a storyteller game about ghosts, vampires, and werewolves amongst us normal folk; and All Flesh Must Be Eaten, a zombie survival role playing game.

allfleshRuling out Modern D20, left two great choices, each with plenty of reasons for choosing it, and I was lucky enough to acquire the core rulebooks for both systems. At first glance, it seems like All Flesh is the natural choice, because it deals with the subject matter directly. It even has rules for minor supernatural abilities, or “miracles,” which align well with some of my own ideas on gained abilities. It presents a number of game-worlds, from the traditional Night of the Living Dead, to aliens, to an undead crusade in the dark ages. The ideas presented in the book are well though out and well presented.

I have only perused the book and will more than likely devote more time to going over all its wonderful qualities, but in short, it has almost everything I am looking for in this game, except for a complete lack of rules for morality and personality, two areas of focus for the upcoming campaign. It also has very little in the way of character advancement as play progresses. I do not think the leveling system pf D&D would be a good fit, but something more robust than adding a few skill or attribute points is definitely needed.

wodFinally, we come to the third game on the list, and the one i finally chose to use. Having realized I actually own the World of Darkness Quickstart adventure Nightmare on Hill Manor, and have the core rulebook arriving in the mail any day, I realize it has the perfect element of morality (consisting of the virtue and vice that every character possesses) and personality merits and flaws, the game is geared to run a horror styled genre, which is exactly what a zombie apocalypse would be. it is not a perfect fit, and to that end I will attempt to convert as much from All Flesh Must Be Eaten as possible.

So what do we know about the campaign so far. Well, I have the introductory encounter planned out, as well as a prelude, both of which I hope to present on the opening night of the campaign. Here is what we know. A sudden, fast moving comet is approaching the earth. its velocity, as well as its trajectory made it impossible to discover until it is a week away from bisecting the earth’s orbit and blazing through the upper atmosphere before skipping back out into space. The comet is on a ten thousand year orbit around the sun, and is filled with all manner of nasty gamma rays and such.

The Nightmare at Hill Manor is a ghost story/horror move adventure that deals with being trapped in a haunted apartment building. The wonderful beginning casts the characters as a group of friends meeting at one friend’s apartment for poker night. As a prelude to the zombie apocalypse it will be modified to fit into the larger campaign, and will take place one day after the comet is discovered, and six days before the near miss.

After the introductory adventure, the players will have the option of keeping their pregenerated chaacters, or of making their own, and then we will continue on to the main kick-off. once the prelude is done, and the weird night in the apartment is over, the group sets off together on a vacation, a trip to a gaming convention. The tickets are already bought, and so even though pandemonium is happening as the world awaits the arrival of the comet, the cast of characters are busy fulfilling their gaming duties.

The next scene is six nights later. returning from the convention the night the comet is supposed to arrive, the plane has difficulty landing at the main airport due to freak electrical storms. it diverts to the tiny municipal airport and while banking, the comet is seen above as a bright flash as it slams through the air directly above the city. the pilot is blinded or killed, as are all the passengers on one side of the plane as it overshoots the landing strip and crashes onto the main bridge connecting the airport to downtown.

Mayhem ensues.

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