Archive for the ‘World of Darkness’ Category

leprechaun_of_the_deadThis being the Friday before St Patrick’s day (he was a saint!) we celebrated Irish style, and on the menu we had corned beef and cabbage, lots of it. Two point-cut briskets baked in the oven were the main course, while a pair of cabbages, one green and one purple, were cooked to perfection 3 different ways. I steamed cabbage by putting it in a colander over a pot of boiling water, with butter and salt. I sauteed cabbage in a large pan with grilled onions and butter, and finally, I tried a new way. I put cabbage in the pan with the baking brisket for the last hour. This type of cabbage I referred to as ‘slaw’ since it contained some bits of fat, brisket, and other tidbits. It was arguably the best of the three.

Having found out this week that I am half Irish on my mother’s side, Hatfield of those Hatfields, this was an especially important holiday get-together for me. With some rolls and cupcakes provided by guests, we had a great irish feast. There was a lot of cabbage left at the end of the night, but only a pile of pink fat where the briskets once reposed. Good food, good times. Oh, and we also played some role playing games.

The group was a little smaller and more laid back this week. For awhile now, I have been using a new method of play, where I focus on the players at the table and don’t wait around or go in search of anyone who wanders off from the table. This method seems to work wonders, everyone who stays at the table is interested and having a good time. Even during combat, if it is somebody’s turn to go, and the seat is absent, I move on to the next person. They might just be away for a moment, in which case we assume the character “delayed their turn” until their return, but if a round has come and gone, then delay turns into missed turn. To offset this, “absent” characters are rarely attacked or harmed. I like to think of them as the ghost-form of a character, standing there doing nothing, like some online games use when the character is dead or incapacitated. Their character blinks from transparent blue into vivid color the moment the player sits down and asks what they can do.

Okay then, onto the game for real this time.

The survivors left the bleak house of the suicide serial killer and his yard full of undead hookers poste haste after burning the body and banishing his evil ghost. They drove all night and as dawn broke, the clouds began dispersing, warming the land and melting the ash-laden snow that covered everything, they arrived at their destination: The Church of the Prior Day Saints.

This church was a mostly unknown offshoot of the Church of Latter Day Saints(C) which was founded in the Kansas City area. The Prior Day Saints believe that the savior walked among our neanderthal and cro-magnon ancestors. Otherwise, they are a pretty crazy, cultish bunch. This building was the churches main chapel, and it looked like a small gothic cathedral tucked onto the corner of main street and Mayberry in downtown Smalltown America, an actual town in northern Missouri. Across the street was the town hall, and next door was a bar, the Winchester, and next to that was a free clinic. Around the far side of the street could be seen zombies of ill repute, like drug addicts, junkies, hookers, pimps, and teenage girls. Around the other side of the street were zombies wearing t-shirts and bearing placards with slogans such as “We believe in creation!”

The chapel was surrounded by a black wrought iron fence and the gate was locked. The church itself was stone, with thick iron-reinfoced oaken doors, and tall narrow windows. It also had a small cemetery in the back yard, which held the remains of the churches earliest members. Well, not the cave man ones, but a hundred or two years old. They were once buried there, but now holes in front of the gravestones attested to the dozen or so skeletons meandering on the wrong side of the fence. The skeletons looked black, with a supple leather skin covering them, as though their dessicated flesh had mummified. The scientists in the group pondered the unlikeliness of this situation, but they were reassured once an explanation was made, regarding very dark energy and very dark matter that has been “ionized” by the Zeta radiation emitted from the near miss of Asteroid Z.

No Warm Bodies here

No Warm Bodies here

So, the group formed a corridor of two fighters on each side, while the dozen or so children were passed over the locked gate from the roof of the escalade. Each fighter was attacked by a skeleton, on one side we had the Scarlet Harlot with her customized nail gun (it ran on hate and rage) and her protector, the dauntless Buzz Lombardo, the unsuccessful second cousin of Buzz Lightyear. He flunked out of astronaut training and spent the next 12 years at the university, mostly going to frat parties, while attempting to get a masters degree in Humanities. He will never complete his degree now.

However, they fought well together, and more than once, they helped one another. The scarlet harlot blasted a zombie in the skull with her nail gun just before it bit into Buzz’s neckbeard. Another time, She hit a zombie in the temple with a high speed nail, but it didn’t slay the beast. One of its green glowing eyes started flickering, but the other eye glowered as menacingly as ever. Buzz had a shovel (a fine melee weapon, used similarly to a bohemian ear spoon in close combat) and he used his shovel to pound the nail further into the skeleton’s skull, shattering it.

On the other side of the line stood Dr Zara Zhar and the the video clerk one-eye Jay. They combined forces in much the same way, with Zara blasting limbs off the skeleton with each karate strike, and then Jay would blast their skulls to smithereens with his twin 44 mags. One of the last skeletons was attacking Buzz, and Scarlet was unable to help since she grappled with a fiend of her own. Dead eye Jay turned around, and tried to aim through the children as they were being passed between them. Child, child, child, SPACE, child, child, child, SPACE then BOOM its a hit, the last skeleton’s head exploded into dust.

They front door was locked, so Buzz tried picking the lock… with a fireman’s axe. It wasn’t working, so they went around back and found an unlocked fire exit. They also heard faint praying coming from a tiny cottage in the back corner of the lot, and in it was Father Mmkay, the priest of the chapel. He seemed dazed and said he had seen no one since the dead came to life and has been on his knees praying for the past day and night. He also feared for Abbot Scotty, his assistant priest.

irishcelticcrossThey went inside and checked the ground floor. No zombies, just a big empty chamber with pews, a stained glass window, and an ancient looking stone cross, that looked like a cross with a small circle inscribed near the axis. It was one of the foundational icons of the Church of Prior Day Saints.

Upstairs housed a small domrmitory with bathroom and showers, as well as the abbot’s chambers, which were empty, his bed unslept in. Downstairs had a kitchen and a room for playing bingo, and a locked steel door that led to, you guessed it, the crypt. Four levels of buried dead, all peacefully resting in. Riiiiight…

Luckily, the priest assured them were nothing more than ashes in urns.

The survivors debated whether they should search all four sub-basements, and in the end, they decided it was worth it to be sure. Every level was just row upon row of ash-filled urns, until the very bottom, which was empty except for a stack of crates containing unused urns. Next to that was an old dusty deep freezer. The power was out, so whatever was in there would surely be bad, right? Dr Zara Zhar opened the lid to find out.

It was bad. What happened next has been deemed to vile to ever mention again, so let us wrap this up with the knowledge that while none of the survivors were killed by what leapt shrieking and mewling out of that deep freezer, none were left unscathed, either.

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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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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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Here we go. This was it. The dead have risen.

Stuck on a freeway clogged with vehicles into darkness, the Survivors had no choice but to flee into the dark shadows of the railyard. Already they had faced the crazed infected and could hear screams and violence from up and down the highway. The scientist Dr Zara zhar had lost a shoe in their flight, and Zooey the jazz singer had on only a sequin dress and high heels. Luckily they had some bandages from a lost medical kit, and so fashioned some padded footware for the journey. Zooey did not want to damage her favorite heels and Zara felt chagrin at the lost of her cross-trainer. She had to special order them, where would she find a replacement? A bubbly blonde in a softball costume chance met on the highway promised her house was just on the other side of the railyard, in North Kansas City. It was a two bedroom walk-up with a chain link fence. She pointed across the railyard to the lights of the suburb, like stars in the darkness. They set out.

After crossing a slow moving coal train, they came to a space of a hundred yards between tracks. The next train was a cattle car, clanking and creaking in the dark. The sky above was becoming overcast, hiding the black expanding scar high in the atmosphere above the clouds, the meteor’s trail. It was very dark, with only a few railyard lights high and far between to light the place. It was becoming increasingly cold and windy, and grey flakes of snow mixed in the blown dust. The weather was interfering with cell phones, and the last radio message before leaving the highway was a public service announcement advising everyone to seek immediate shelter sue to extreme weather “fallout” from the passing meteor. No mention of infected maniacs surviving gunshot wounds and trying to feast on the brains of the nearest uninfected.

As the snaky line of survivors reached the middle of the field the jazz singer head a scuffling in the gravel in the darkness to her left. A low moaning sound followed. Peering into the darkness, she saw the outline of a cow, its head lowered, and whispered “just a cow” to the others. The line continued. At the word “cow” the mighty bull raised its head, showing a rack of horns hidden previously, and charged. The horns nearly caught Italia d’Italia, but Zooey was not so lucky, and she was gored and lifted high in the air. She grabbed its ear in one hand and its ringed nose with her other and attempted to pull herself from the horn as she was whipped around but lacked the strength.

Suddenly two shots rang out as the quiet kid with the backpack full of dr who videos let loose with two fist full of fury. Two red blossoms bloomed on its shoulder blade. Another crack sounded as the erstwhile softball princess broke the bulls foreleg. The bull staggered Zooeys daughter Amber was able to pull her mother of with Dr Zhar’s aid. They pulled her clear of the bull and watched, mesmerized as the bull slowly toppled face first into the gravel. It snorted and pawed with its back legs, slowly inching itself forward muzzle first and they saw a pale green reflection in its eyes. It was infected.

They backed away, applied a bandage to Zooey’s side – fortunately just a flesh wound, though her dress was ruined – and continued. The cattle cars were becoming more active, and booming sounds could be heard as the cows hurled themselves against the sides of the train cars. The survivors passed through safely and entered the outskirts of the town.

They passed through a silent area of factories and warehouses and into town. It was mostly empty but alarming sounds of chaos could be heard echoing through the streets: screams, gunshots, sirens, the screeching of tires, breaking glass, explosions. Turning into the residential district, they saw a four way intersection ahead. A police squad car, lights flashing, blocked the intersection, and an old station wagon idled in the middle of the street with a dark bundle in the pavement in ront of it. One headlight was out. The softballer’s house lay at the end of the street, they had the option of cutting through the small park to their left, an old cemetery actually, or to go through the intersection. Zooey, in pain, asked them to consider the short cut, but prejudice against the dead won out, and they came to the scene of an accident.

The police car was on but empty, its front doors left open. They could see a silhouette in the back. The other car had a crashed fron end and a body lay in the street. All four doors were open and standing around the body was a family of four. Two teens looked on in disinterest, as a middle aged man and woman argued about what exactly happened. They looked up and waved the others over to them, with a warning.

They had a strange tale. Mabel was driving, they were trying to get out of town for the holidays, when out of nowhere a someone popped up in front of the car. She slammed on the breaks but it was too late, and struck the body. It was a woman in a wedding dress. A woman who had obviously been dead for a long time, and was little more than rags and bones. Her skull lay crushed in front of the dented fender, arms outstretched, rotten silk trailing in the wind. There was no pale green light in those dark sockets. Bob and Mabel and family got back into their car after hearing the survivors tale of mayhem on the highway.

The players meanwhile were inspecting the police car. They found no weapons but a long flashlight. They planned to drive the police car down the street to the blonde’s house. Zooey waited int he drivers seat while teveryone got situated, including sticking the video store clerk in the trunk, ad her eyes were fixed on the corpse. She noticed a few fingers start to twitch, and the hand started dragging itself forward. She watched the fabric tear, speechless, as the arm pulled itself out of the socket and continued to crawly slowly toward her, free of its body.

“We gotta go people, we’re gonna have company!” she wailed as she looked up to the open gated of the Shady Rest park and cemetery. Dead bodies were pulling themselves from the dirt within and beginning to stagger out of the gates. Mabel apparently saw the same incredible sight, and hit the gas, leaping forward, crushing the corpse bride, and slamming into the back end of the police car. Thankfully no one was hurt but the axle was damaged and the wheel threatened to come free with every rotation. Zooey gave it as much gas as she dared, but the police car rolled along barely faster then the walking dead.

Six corpse made it out of the gate and into the street as the police car slowly rolled past. They reached out with skeletal fingers and grasped whatever they could, pulling themselves toward the windshields as the lost balance and were dragged along. Yhey clinked their rotting teeth against the glass trying to bite their way through. Somehow the disembodied corpse hand had found itself up onto the hood of the squad car and was gouging screeching scratches into the paint as it pulled itself toward Zooey.

Amber used some deft work with the wiper blades to fling the hand free of the car, while they timed a suddenly burst of speed with the opening of the car doors to fling the rest of the zombies free. It worked for all but one, who clung on the whole ride down the sreet to the blonde’s house. When they arrived, the were able to quickly exit the vehicle and get into the house before it regained its feet. It followed them up the front porch and started scratching against the door. They needed to do something about it, so with a bat and some well placed kung fu kicks from the scientist they reduced it to a quivering mass of rotting flesh and broken bone. It was still quivering though, so they got out the hose and washed it off the porch and into the yard. Who knows what that will do for the roses next spring.


As they were sorting out sleeping arrangements, one of the survivors realizes with horror that her church’s youth group was having a lock-in at the local amusement park, Worlds of Fun, and that they needed saving. There was nothing she could do to help them survive the night, other than pray, but they had a plan for tomorrow – ad next week!

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Here are zombies. What do you do?

Here are zombies. What do you do?

The great inspiration for this campaign happened as we were sitting around the table towards the end of one game night and we started talking about what we wold do if there were a zombie apocalypse, like right now. Of course, many of us have had similar conversations, and when they happen around a gaming table, it is natural to take it to the next level: well let’s play it and find out. that is exactly what we set out to do.

This article, in lieu of a session retold in story form, will focus on what has gone wrong so far, of which a huge ruined pile grows ever larger week by week. However, to be fair, that is consistent with my style of sub-par dm’ing. It is only the resilience and fortitude of my long-suffering players that have enabled us to stagger on this long. This game is beginning to strain even those strong bonds, for completely ridiculous reasons that I probably should have thought of in the beginning.

1 — Pixel-bitching the real world

Look if you will, dear reader, at the above map, or if you can find it on google earth, zoom in to ridiculous levels, and try to find an escape route through a zombie infested wasteland. Yes it could take all night, and it did. Players at my table are always breaking out their electronics (going against the Luke’s Diner rule) and so I wanted to turn their evil to good, by allowing, nay, expecting the use of their tablets, laptops, and cell-phones. One of the ways in which they could utilize them was by using google earth to pinpoint their position in the real world. There are so many problems with this that my head threatens to explode just recounting them. The result of actually dealing with them was far worse.

First off, it takes forever to actually accomplish something direct on the internet as opposed to random browsing to amuse, so that the game ground to a halt for reasons such as page not loading errors, and mis-clicking, to name just a few of the headaches that go along with using a computer. The delays and confusion were unacceptable, and more distracting than playing facebook games while role playing.

Along with time consuming, the arguments and discussions that arise over particular land formations can completely derail the game in such a way that the humble ZM is not able to account for in real-time. For example, in the above map there is a railroad following a stretch of highway to the north. One would think that if the highway was full of zombies, it would be impossible to follow that railroad, but one would be wrong, if one were to discover that there is a chain link fence separating the two. It took a long time and a lot of arguing before it was settled that the fence and the steep embankment separating the road from the highway would make it a possible escape route.

The fact that it was a possible escape route was awesome, but it had the dual problems that it took forever to get there, and that it was far enough out of the scope of what I had planned that it was difficult to improvise. Half of my arguments about the fence were based on the issue of scrambling to cobble together an interesting night of adventure when all of my plans were about to be moot. Improvising is half the fun of dm’ing to me, but when they depend on real world data, it becomes unmanageable. Other examples of unamageability include using real world personalities; equipment, like what is in an ambulance; and how real world physics work, like the turning radius of a small plane. Sure these things can be looked up, and stuff like that was continuously looked up, but what I envisioned being a nice little sidetrack, became the all-encompassing focus of the game. What is the thickness of the road bed? How wide is the lane? Are there any breaks in the fence. At what temperature does dead flesh freeze? The list is endless.

People play games set in the real world all the time, and so this is an issue in any “modern” type of game, but for some reason, it has become an obsession that is hard to shake. Possibly the fact that the game is set in our home town at the current time (Dec 21st close enough) that it led to a sense of hyper-realism. It is an issue that seems to be fixable, by first setting the game world in a universe that is almost exactly a reflection of our own, but not quite (which is exactly how the default New World of Darkness game world is describe.) Im sure this is a cheat many game masters use to explain why certain inconsistencies pop up:

Player: Granny’s blanket was red, why are you describing it as green? Something must be wrong with granny!

GM: (who doesnt have a flying fuck clue as to what color was granny’s blanket): Nope, it is red in our world, here it is green, next.

Issue Solved. Here is another.

2 — Play as yourselves!

Nobody wants to picture themselves, or their friends and family, torn apart by zombies. No one wants to have it described to them either, and even though I, as an evil and wretched dm, get a kick out of describing the most awful of disembowlments, players are apparently discomfited when it is their own guts spewing forth. Understandable. The solution to this is to either play a more “heroic” type of game rather than a gritty tale where lots of disemboweling happens, or to play “throw-away” characters with little personal investment.

It seems to be an irrevocable conflict of interest, in which we are attempting to play a realistic game of zombie apocalypse, yet the characters cannot in good conscience be harmed if they play themselves, and if they play other characters (after they themselves die or instead?) then the character creation process, which favors personality and complexity, becomes too arduous to keep throwing them away as the corpses pile up and then come after you.

Playing as super successful SWAT team members might be one fun type of apocalypse scenario, but the inspiration for this one was to be normal people trying to make it as est they could, and that has a much different vibe than tradition “heroic” games, which we always played in the past. There are many adjustments to be made, but one of the main difficulties will be for the players and the ZM (me) to accept and really appreciate the different type of game we are going for. It is a zombie apocalypse, after all, so there will be zombies to fight, and there will be much bloodshed. The many zombie movies, comics, and television shows upon which this campaign game is based inform us of what to expect. The best solution to this problem is to have a continuous cast of pre-made characters ready to insert into the game.

Issue: hopefully solved with ready to go characters, and an on-going understanding of exactly what type of game we are playing, with a focus on keeping it fun. I love describing people being torn apart by zombies, that is why i am a dm, but the players need to decide if they have the stomach for a game where they are not invincible heroes, but just regular people, yet still trying to do great things (like survive) and then get on with it.

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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?


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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