Dungeon Generator Comparison: Dungeon Bash

I’m feeling a bit under the weather this week, so no 28 Months Later this weekend. My fallback option is the Savage Dungeons thread and solo dungeoneering, but in honesty I’m not feeling up to that either; so I shall just generate a dungeon for comparative purposes – the plan is to do one for each generator I have, then pick the best one for the continuing solo dungeon crawls. (In way, this is a kind of review, I suppose.) You can look here for the sort of dungeon Warhammer Quest creates; here is a basic example from Dungeon Bash, which was written by The Other Game Company for D&D 3.5. I would link to the TOGC website, but it seems to be down at the moment.

I decide to generate a basic dungeon for 1st level characters; this means simple room shapes and no fixtures and fittings. An initial % roll of 87 determines that the mission is Scattered Symbols; the party has to find three quest items and retrieve them from the dungeon, with a reward of 700 gp for so doing. I won’t work through the detail of dicing up the dungeon, but here is the map that resulted, rendered in Dungeon Crafter 1.41. Just generating the dungeon took me about half an hour, so a two hour exploration session seems quite feasible.

Example dungeon generated with Dungeon Bash

Key:

  1. One skeleton, guarding (possibly wearing?) a suit of leather armour and 300 gp.
  2. First symbol. (In this mission all large rooms generated are “Quest Rooms” and contain one symbol each. Quest Rooms in DB are where the mission objectives are, and usually they cannot have exits, but in this mission they can.) The symbol is guarded by one 2nd level hobgoblin fighter and one 1st level goblin rogue.
  3. Basic arrow trap. 350 gp.
  4. One dire rat. 280 gp.
  5. One dire rat. 350 gp.
  6. Second symbol. Guarded by one 1st level orc cleric, and two 1st level orc barbarians. 260 gp.
  7. Third symbol. Guarded by one 2nd level hobgoblin fighter and one 1st level goblin rogue. 280 gp. We’re done, but I press on and see what’s behind the exit, and discover a small room with no further exits.
  8. One zombie. 190 gp.

As you can see, Dungeon Bash generates boxy dungeons with no diagonal corridors or strange-shaped rooms. The advanced options bring in slightly odder room shapes and random bits of debris. I’m OK with that, because I have never got the hang of mapping diagonal corridors. The system also lends itself well to play with modular dungeon tiles. However, each dungeon is a single level – no stairs or chutes here. That would be easy to change, though, by adding a couple more entries into the random generation tables.

I have generated many dozens of dungeons with DB, and after a while they do become a bit repetitive. Some of them are really small; it’s possible to generate one which has only one room. Others are great sprawling affairs which lurch off the graph paper in all directions. The average one is about the number of encounters you need to go up a level, and I expect that is by design.

Since this dungeon was mostly rooms, the random encounter tracker didn’t really come into play; DB does this quite cleverly, with the chance of an encounter gradually rising until combat occurs, at which point the noise draws more and more opponents, but once combat ends, the chance drops way down as the fighting is assumed to have collected everyone in the vicinity.

Other things that DB does well are the NPC encounters (none of which came out this time) and the pregenerated statblocks for PCs, NPCs and monsters – I thought it was worth getting for those alone. There was talk of expansions for city and wilderness adventures, but that discussion has gone quiet since D&D 4e came out. I’m hopeful that they will still see the light of day eventually.

Savage Dungeons: Tizun Thane, Part 2

Today should have been a day for playing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying with some old friends, but one of them is stuck in Holland due to the volcanic eruption which has grounded flights in UK airspace, and the rest of us decided to wait for his return before pressing on. So, I gathered the children and we continued their exploration of the Halls of Tizun Thane under the Savage Worlds rules. Old school dungeon crawling with no figures, no tiles, nothing but the dice, the DM’s notes, and the character sheets.

Nick’s fighter led the rats he befriended into an ambush to dispose of some giant ants he encountered, luring them into the area and then locking them in with the foes. There were fights with troglodytes, more giant ants, and a pile of blankets – Nick barged into a laundry cupboard, and for some reason wanted to “mince the bedding”. That was the point when he discovered it was infested with fleas.

The party encountered a band of goblins come to negotiate with Tizun Thane, now sadly deceased, and persuaded them that the best option was to leave peaceably.

They have now explored about a quarter of Tizun’s old palace; I hope we can complete the adventure before the summer holidays. Meanwhile, I’ll see if I can dig out my notes of Nick and Giulia’s earlier adventures – the Quest for the Golden Hedgehog – and post those.

28 Months Later: Stoner – January 2013

This one is ATZ in a phone booth; a 16″ x 22″ battlemat, and one Star vs zombies. It started off as I wondered what would happen if a classic action adventure movie hero wandered into the world of ATZ, and then mutated as I wondered what a game on my desk would be like, and how ATZ would work in such a small space; if that works out, it will be useful for the next time my employer sends me to work away from home for a while – hotel rooms generally have desks, but not regulation 4′ x 6′ wargaming tables. So here we go. The protagonist was chosen because I thought the figure looked appropriate, and is:

Stoner: Rep 5 Survivor Star; Nerves of Steel, Stone Cold. Protected, SMG, flash-bang grenades. (I’ve given the character what the figure is carrying.) Stone Cold means he will roll 3d6 for reaction tests rather than the usual 2d6, and Nerves of Steel means that he will not duck back, regardless of reaction test outcome. I have picked these two because there is no-one to help him, which means hunkering down would be a death sentence. Strictly speaking I should start him as a Civilian, but as an action movie hero I feel he should be a Survivor.

Objective: Make it across the board lengthwise and exit alive, which I shall treat as a Discover encounter (p. 41) during Daytime.

This game lasted about 45 minutes, including setup, knockdown, and figuring out why my camera wouldn’t work. It used one human figure, and 9 zombies.

Setup: One Star means 1d6 +1 zombies, namely 4 + 1 = 5. I roll 4, 4, 5, 5, 6 on the Zombie Placement table (p. 30), which shows me that 4 of them are 12″ towards the bottom table edge, and the last one is 12″ away towards the left table edge. I rotate them clockwise until they fit on the map, which results in them all clumping up down a street to the left as shown. Red pawns are “live” zombies, green pawns are “dead” ones.

Game Start: "This town ain't big enough for the both of us."

Turn 1

Activation: Stoner 3, zombies 4. Both activate, zombies go first and move 6″ towards Stoner. Stoner tries to fast move, rolling 2d6 vs Rep; 5, 6 vs 5 means he passes 1d6 and moves 150% normal, or 12″, winding up just outside a door.

End of Turn 1: "Open the door, or take the zombies?"

Turn 2

Activation: Stoner 5, zombies 6. Stoner activates and zombies don’t. At this point Stoner could walk right off the board, but where’s the fun in that? So he enters the building to see what he can find. I don’t need to move the full 8″, and it costs him 2″ of movement to go through the door, so he just steps inside and rolls 2d6 on the What’s Inside? Table on p. 43. The dice score 8; add +2 for being in an urban area, and deduct -1 for it being daytime, gives a result of 9. That’s 1/2d6 zombies; I roll a 6, so 3 of them. I now move to p. 44 to work through this sub-encounter. The three zombies split themselves evenly between the humans, so Stoner gets all three. As this is Stoner’s first game, and he is now within 3″ of zombies for the first time, he takes a Zed or No Zed test (p. 33). He rolls 3d6 vs Rep (5): 3, 3, 3 so he passes 2d6 and recognises the threat – but, because he rolled a double, the zombie is someone he knows, so this counts as passing 1d6; the zombies charge and Stoner takes a Being Charged test (Survivor reaction test table in the QRS at the back of the book). He rolls 3d6 vs Rep (5): 2, 2, 5 so passes 2d6, he will thus fire and melee normally.

The Zombie Surprise Total is 1d6 + number of zombies (3) = 4. The Human Surprise Total is 1d6 + Rep (5) = 10. Stoner may fire or move away, and opts to fire once at each zombie. I’m not sure whether I should have taken this test before the Zed or No Zed ones, but since Stoner beat the zombies in all the tests it doesn’t matter, so I’m not going to bother about it just now.

I move to the Ranged Combat tables on the QRS (at the back of the book) and roll 1, 5, 6; adding Stoner’s Rep (5) to each makes those scores of 6, 10 and 11 respectively. I now roll 1d6 for each successful hit on the ranged combat damage table, getting a 3 and a 6; both of these exceed the SMG’s Impact (1) so two of the zombies are knocked down. As per p. 32, this means they use their next activation to get up. The third zombie now engages Stoner in melee. It rolls 1d6, and he rolls 5d6 (Rep); both are aiming for dice with scores of 3 or less. The zombie rolls 4 and fails; Stoner rolls 3, 4, 5, 5, 6 and passes 1d6. This is one more success than the zombie, so he renders it Out Of the Fight – since it is a zombie, this escalates to Obviously Dead. Scratch one zed, and Stoner has now both seen zombies and killed one.

Shots were fired, so I roll 1d6 per shot, results of 4+ indicate zombie reinforcements. I roll 1, 2, 5 and one new zombie joins us; a die roll of 5 shows it turns up 12″ towards the bottom table edge.

End of Turn 2: "Die, zombies, die!"

Turn 3

Activation: Stoner 3, zombies 4. Both activate, and zombies go first. The two in the building with Stoner stand up. The ones outside move 6″ directly towards the nearest human; they can’t see him, so they move towards the most shots fired within 24″, which amounts to making straight for him. Time to go, Stoner; he rolls 2d6 vs Rep (5) to fast move away; 1, 6 so passes 1d6 and moves 150% of normal, i.e. 12″. Passing through the door costs an extra 2″. As he exits the building, he sees a group of zombies, but since he is active at the moment he doesn’t take an In Sight test. It’s tempting to go for that truck, but if it won’t start, or Stoner misses an activation, the zombies will be all over him. Better to retreat in good order, and live to fight another day – if ATZ teaches you anything, it’s when to cut your losses and bug out for Zeebrugge.

End of Turn 3: The Better Part of Valour

Stoner didn’t find any resources, so doesn’t get to roll for improving his Rep. This was an experimental session, and not part of the main story arc (which features Reed and family, Drew, and Captain Flack’s Trumpton SAS, of whom more anon); so I may or may not use Stoner again. Now that I upload the pictures I see that they’re bigger than I intended, but c’est la vie.

Savage Dungeons: The Halls of Tizun Thane, Part 1

In another attempt to bring the kids over from D&D 4E to Savage Worlds, I generated some archetypical characters for them, dug out one of my favourite scenarios from the past – The Halls of Tizun Thane from White Dwarf 18 – and ran an old school dungeon crawl; no battlemats, no figures, just narrative description. It went well, and we should continue later this week. The characters:

  • Nessime (Giulia): Paladin – a fighter with Arcane Background (Miracles), Healing and Smite.
  • Turelio (Nick): Bloodthirsty fighter in plate. He has put all his points into being the best fighter he can conceive of, so he is very good at that, but not much use at anything else.
  • Tenchi (Tenchi, Giulia’s fiancée who joined in the session by MSN Messenger): Classic rogue, built around the Thief edge.
  • Veon (currently NPC but will be my PC if I can get anyone else to GM, or if I can figure out how to run the game same-side, possibly by using THW): Wizard, built with Arcane Background (Magic) and the three beginning powers I consider most useful – Bolt, Deflection and Healing.
  • An as-yet-unnamed ranger (Anna): A fighter type built around the Woodsman edge.

Tizun Thane is essentially a murder mystery, borrowing elements from a number of the Conan stories by Robert E Howard. Arriving in the village of Cahli, the adventurers find it terrorised by the Night Things which come up from the south now that Tizun Thane, a local wizard of note, has disappeared. Nick’s barbarian fighter decided to ignore the warnings and spend the night in the open, whereupon he was duly assaulted by Night Things (I used Orc Chieftains with the serial numbers filed off, the Construct ability added, and a trapping of “they’re made of black marble”). Much to my surprise, he managed to fight them off – I’ve been running this scenario since the late 1970s, and this is the first time anyone has managed that; maybe I need to make them tougher.

The next day, our heroes follow the trail south to a water-filled extinct volcano, where they find Tizun Thane’s mansion. They gain entrance, using a password they found on a dead body on the way to the volcano, and an iron golem guard leads them to Tizun Thane’s body, in a hall of mirrors. Nick immediately started smashing the mirrors, but to my relief did not get them all, as they form one of the main ways to extend the scenario into later adventures. Anna’s and Giulia’s characters found significant clues on the body, although they have not yet realised their import.

A short bout of exploring left Nick’s fighter feeding trail rations to a pack of giant rats, who have inexplicably taken a liking to him based on some improbably high reaction dice. At that point supper stopped play.

28 Months Later: Reed – 5 January 2013

“I wanted to keep some kind of record. Knowing accurately what the date is has become important to me, for no logical reason… It’s nearly two weeks now since the outbreak. There’s no electricity. There’s no water, although it looks like the sewage plants are leaking into streams and rivers – pump failures I suppose. There are packs of zombies and starving dogs everywhere. I don’t know if the dogs would eat us, or if there is still some vestige of loyalty to humans; I don’t want to risk finding out. The zombies would definitely eat us.

There were a lot of riots the first couple of weeks, but they have mostly died down now. National government seems to have disappeared, I can’t tell if that is because of the riots or not. Local councils and police are trying to fill the void, without much success.

We still have laptops, running off car chargers; they’re useful for navigation and (frankly) entertainment; but without power, the servers are down so we can’t connect to anyone else. Mice and rats fill the supermarkets ankle-deep. They’re still eating the dry goods though, they aren’t hungry enough to go after us yet. Even so, shopping – I suppose looting, really – is a deeply unnerving experience. I’m concerned we may be in a fallout plume from spent nuclear fuel rods – the storage facilities probably blew up when the coolant pumps failed – but I haven’t told the others; there’s no point, we can’t do anything about it. We’ll be lucky if we live long enough to get leukemia, anyway.

The skies are clearer, both night and day, with no city lights and no pollution. It would be interesting to see if that has really affected the climate, but there’s no way to tell. It feels colder than it should.

We’re going to need more supplies, and better weapons than those we improvised from garden tools and kitchenware. So zombies or not, we need to go into town.”

- Reed’s Journal.

In tonight’s episode, Reed and family go shopping. One of the commonest questions on the THW forum is how many figures are needed; this little escapade used 31 zombies and 7 ordinary figures, and lasted 95 minutes including setup and knockdown.

This will be a Discovery mission during daylight. The protagonists are all Rep 3 Civilian Stars with improvised melee weapons:

  • Reed: Rep 3 Civilian Star, Born Leader, Brawler.
  • Annie: Rep 3 Civilian Star, haven’t decided on attributes yet.
  • Jules: Rep 3 Civilian Star, Athlete and one as yet undecided attribute.
  • Nick: Rep 3 Civilian Star, haven’t decided on attributes yet.
  • Connie: Rep 3 Civilian Star, Transporter and one as yet undecided attribute. Connie is held off table in a 4WD as a getaway driver in case things get really rough, which they well might.

In addition, I figure we probably had houseguests over Christmas, whom I shall call Ernie and Wilf. They’re Rep 3 Civilian Stars as well, attributes unassigned, and won’t take part in this game – they’re holed up with two other 4WDs guarding our stash, which I have decided includes all of the resources from a suburban area, namely 35 food, 8 medical, 15 fuel, and 15 usable cars of which we have liberated three. This being the UK, I have ruled out body armour and guns – I know of exactly one set of body armour and two sources of guns within 50 miles, and I suspect somebody else would get to them first. Having mined out the suburbs, we move to the nearest big city.

Left to right: Annie, Reed, Jules, Nick.

Tonight I’m using some city maps from Wydraz, eM4 figures, and some 30mm pawns (also from eM4) to represent zombies. Before the game starts, I roll 1d6 + 1 for each human to determine the number of zombies, which turns out to be 17, and place them according to the table on ATZ: BDTZ p. 20. Since many of them wind up off table, their placement rotates clockwise until they fit somewhere, which means they clump up in two big groups.

Start of turn 1: "Never mind the zombies, we need more beans. And toilet paper."

Turn 1

Activation: Stars 2, zombies 5. The stars activate, the zombies do not, and the stars move up to the nearest building, intent on getting inside and looting it. In an earlier game I learned that it was a bad idea to stream in through the door one at a time so we pause just outside before entering as a group.

End of turn 1: "Left side door breach, stack up!"

Turn 2

Activation: Stars 4, zombies 5. Neither moves.

Turn 3

Activation: Stars 3, zombies 4. Both activate, zombies first. The zombies move 6″ towards the stars, and I realise that due to sloppy placement on my part they can melee Jules. As they close to within 3″, we take the Zed or No Zed? Test – first time any of us have seen zombies for real. Reed is a Born Leader, so uses 3d6 rather than the usual 2d6, and all friendlies within 4″ react as he does. (There’s a reason I keep picking that attribute for my Stars.) Rolls of 1, 3, and 6 mean Reed recognises the threat and all carry on.

I overlook the Being Charged test in the excitement, and two zombies melee Jules. Each zombie rolls 1d6: 6, 6. Both miss. Jules must split her 3d6 between them; one gets 2d6 (4, 2) and the other gets 1d6 (3). In both cases she beats them by 1d6, which would put them Out Of the Fight, except being zombies they are Obviously Dead instead. Way to go Jules! She has now both seen a zombie and killed one. She only needs to See the Feast and she’ll graduate from Civilian to something else. However, as things stand that would mean one of the rest of us dies, so let’s not bother with that just yet.

End of turn 3: "Don't get her riled, zeds. You wouldn't like her when she's cross."

Turn 4

Activation: Stars 1, zombies 2 – both activate and zombies go first. Three each shuffle up into position to melee Jules and Nick.(See, you have to keep moving, far enough away from the zeds that if you blow an activation they can’t reach you.) Jules rolls 3d6, 1d6 against each zombie – not good odds. 4 vs a zombie rolling 1; it scores one more success than she, so she is OOF. The second rolls 3 to her 5, and again she goes OOF – fortunately the effects don’t stack. The third one rolls 6 to her 1 and is brutally decapitated. Jules drops, triggering a Man Down reaction test. Reed abuses his Born Leader and Star attributes, choosing to pass 1d6 on this test and forcing everyone else to do likewise. This means they duck back into the nearest cover, namely the building whose door they are outside.

It is only after they have barged in, slammed the door and bolted it that they notice there are people inside. I roll 2d6 on the What’s Inside tbale (p. 43): 5 +2 for an urban area, -1 for daytime = 6; there are half a d6 of people inside, which turns out to be 3, and a roll on the Who Are They? Table tells me they are Gangers. Ouch. A few dice rolls on the Ganger table (p. 7) reveals that they are a Punk (Rep 3) with a shotgun, a Banger (Rep 4) with a SMG, and a Hard Case (Rep 5) with a SMG. Time for the Meet and Greet table. The Ganger leader rolls 3d6 (5d6 for his Rep, less 2d6 because he’s a Ganger and we’re not – I think I’m doing that right); Reed rolls 3d6 (his Rep). As elsewhere, I’m taking the number of successes from the first round of rolls, rather than gradually dropping dice until only one side scores. Reed rolls 2, 3, 6 and passes 2d6. The Hard Case rolls 3, 3, 3 and passes 3d6. As a result, he allows us to leave peacefully, but not to loot the building on our way out.

Middle of turn 4: "Who are you?" "Who are YOU?" "Who's she?" - you have to have seen the Yellow Pages ad for that to make sense.

The stars now activate, and use their active move to shift up to the building’s other door – the one they came in by is covered in zombies.

End of turn 4: "Stop rattling that door so hard, you're making the camera shake - the picture will come out blurry!"

Turn 5

Activation: Stars 5 (no), zombies 2 (yes), gangers 4 (yes and go first). But what will the gangers do? Since it’s not obvious, and I have CR 3.0 to hand, I crack that open and turn to the NP Force Movement table on p. 28. The hard case rolls 5, 6 so passes 1d6; because the gangers are outnumbered by zombies, they take cover and hold in place. (It’s easy taking cover in a building, everyone is in cover all the time.)

Turn 6

Activation: Stars 1, zombies 3, gangers 3. As the zombies and gangers tie, neither activates. Reed’s little group use this opportunity to move off down the street, away from the zombies. I’m planning to stop and check the recovery table for Jules, but want to be sure I’m far enough away from the zeds that they can’t grab us while I miss a turn to do that.

End of turn 6: "Keep moving!"

Turn 7

Activation: Stars 2, zombies 2, gangers 3. The gangers are the only ones to activate this turn, and checking the NP Force Movement table again they pass 2d6 and seek cover from which to engage the zeds.

Turn 8

Activation: Stars 1, zombies 4, gangers 4. This looks like the perfect time to check the Recovery table on p. 22 to see if we can get Jules back into the fight. She rolls 5, 5 vs her Rep of 3, and passes 0d6 – she’s out of it for the rest of the encounter.

Turn 9

Activation: Stars 5, zeds 3, gangers 5. The gangers check the NPFM table again, pass 2d6 by rolling 3, 3 against the hard case’s Rep of 5, and continue to seek cover. The zombies use this turn to break down the door.

Turn 10

Activation: Stars 1, zombies 2, gangers 3. The gangers check NPFM, pass 1d6, and take cover but remain in place. The zombies now enter, forcing an In Sight test for the gangers; they roll 1, 6 vs Rep 5 and snap fire at the zombies. The hard case fires thrice with his SMG, rolling 6, 5, 5. We add his Rep of 5 to get scores of 11, 10 and 10 – 10 or more always hits, and lucky damage dice mean he drops three zombies. The banger does likewise, but misses all his opponents, as does the punk.

Surviving zombies continue to move up, and the gangers take a Being Charged test. They pass 2d6, so snap fire and then melee. Blazing away, they drop another three zombies between them, and only one makes it into contact, where the banger (rolling 4d6 against its 1d6) quickly despatches it.

However, all this gunfire leads to another 7 zombies being placed around the board using the placement table on p. 20. The stars decide to leg it down the street away from the shooting, no good can come of being near it.

End of turn 10: "Stop shooting you lot, I'll run out of zombie models soon!"

Turn 11

Activation: Stars 4, zeds 1, gangers 5. The gangers go first, and with zombies pouring into the building it seems like a no-brainer – they move out through the other door after the stars. The zeds, however, are close enough to engage the punk in melee as he leaves; four of them roll 1, 3, 3, 6 (one die each) and he rolls 3, 3, 2 against the first three, drawing against all of them.

Meanwhile, other zeds are drawn to the sound of the gunfire – unfortunately this means a group of them exit a building right next to the stars.

End of turn 11: "This is another fine mess you've gotten me into!"

Turn 12

Activation: Stars 6, zombies 3, gangers 3. Nobody activates.

Turn 13

Activation: Stars 4, zombies 2, gangers 1. The zeds go first; one group moves towards the stars, the rest pursue the gangers and again engage the punk in melee before he can withdraw.

Reed takes a Being Charged test, and again abuses his Born Leader and Free Will abilities – he choose to pass 0d6 and retire, taking the whole group with him. This means they duck back behind the nearest cover, one of the cars abandoned in the street. Unfortunately one of the zeds is close enough to engage Nick in melee; he rolls 1, 2, 4 and passes 2d6, the zed rolls 4 and passes 1d6; Nick kills his first zombie. Another box ticked.

Meanwhile, five zombies have grappled the punk. He rolls 2, 3, 4; they roll 2, 3, 3, 4, 6 meaning that one of the ones which hit isn’t hit back, and the punk goes Out Of the Fight. The gangers now activate, and use the Recovery rules to grab the punk before they fast move off. The gangers roll 1, 4 for fast moving, so the hard case and the banger both pass 2d6 and move 16″. The punk would only have passed 1d6 and moved 12″, but since the banger is carrying him it hardly matters. 16″ is enough for the gangers to leave the table, which they do.

Turn 14

Activation: Stars 6, zombies 6. Not only does neither side activate, but the “boxcars” trigger a random event – a nearby building catches fire, drawing 5 more zombies. It seems logical that this should be the one where the shooting happened, so I use that as the focal point for placing zeds.

End of turn 14: "Gangers! WE - ARE - LEAVING!"

Turn 15

Activation: Stars 1, zombies 4. Both activate, but zeds go first.

Reed uses his Born Leader trick again (how useful is that, eh?) to force the group to retire on a Being Charged test. They fall back to the blue truck behind the brown car they have been using as cover. So that they don’t all run away after the encounter, Reed also uses his Free Will and Born Leader abilities to Rally the group, choosing to pass 2d6. He then takes a Fast Move test – rolls 3, 3 vs Rep 3 – passes 2d6, forces the rest of them to do likewise, and fast moves 16″ off the table after the gangers.

End of turn 15: "Elvis is leaving the building!"

After the encounter, Jules rolls on the Recovery table on p. 23: 1, 3 vs Rep 3 so she passes 2d6 and will return at full Rep next time. I also need to roll for her on the Harry Are You OK? Table on . p35, since she was rendered OOF by a zombie – 1d6 + Rep (3), and she needs a 9 to avoid infection. Fortunately she passes so we don’t have to cap her. I knock off 7 food units for January, a unit of fuel for the journey to the city, and a unit of medical supplies for treating Jules; we’re down to 28 food, 7 medical, and 14 fuel.

Game over, and not a tin of beans to show for it; no loot, and nobody triggered the requirements to roll for an increase in Rep. Still, the whole party is still alive, and that feels like a victory when everything else on the table has a higher Rep and better weapons.

28 Months Later: Drew, January 2013

After a long run at Larger Than Life I wanted to re-acclimatise myself to All Things Zombie, so I decided to play a quick game of Chain Reaction 3.0 to get myself back in the groove and also as a demo for a friend to whom I recommended the rules recently (hi, Tony!). The whole thing took one hour 55 minutes, including setup, knockdown, and numerous rules checks – I’m out of practice.

Scenario: It’s January 2013, a month after the outbreak, and in a rural area five undercover cops are moving in on a small group of buildings when they detect movement.

The cops (eM4 prepainted Chequer Gang) were diced up on the Police List, CR3 p. 7, and given attributes from the table on p. 6 as they are the good guys, or at least the less bad guys:

  • Drew (Star, Rep 5, Star Power 5, Born Leader, Brawler, BA Pistol)
  • Vince (Officer, Rep 4, Runt, BA Pistol)
  • Trenchcoat Larry (Officer, Rep 4, Brawler, BA Pistol)
  • Sylvia (Veteran, Rep 5, Brawler, Shotgun)
  • Kate (Rookie, Rep 3, Athlete, Shotgun)

Left to Right: Trenchcoat Larry, Sylvia, Kate, Drew, Vince

The PEFs (two prepainted eM4 Recce Squads) were diced up on the Military Table, CR3 p.7. Theoretically one does this when a PEF is resolved, but I prefer to pre-roll them for speed of play. This gave me four Soldiers (Rep 4, Assault Rifle), three Veterans (Rep 5, Assault Rifle or BA Pistol depending on the figure) and two Team Leaders (Rep 5, Assault Rifle).

I lay out the only gaming mat I have ready, The Village from Cry Havoc, downloaded from Cry Havoc Fan, printed at an enlarged scale, laminated for durability, then Scotch-taped together. This means the terrain can fold flat in a drawer when not in use. It also means I bypass all the terrain setup rules on p. 21. I decide that for this game, each hex represents 2″ so that I don’t have to measure ranges and movement with a ruler. I haven’t made or acquired any game tokens yet, so I decide I will mark OOF figures with a die showing “1″ and OD ones with a die showing “6″.

Three PEFs are now placed, and turn out to have Rep 2, 1, and 1 respectively. The first picture shows the state of play as battle commences.

Game Start: "I wonder if there's anything we can use in those buildings?"

Turn 1

Activation: Cops – 1d6 = 1 vs Leader’s Rep (5) so they activate. The PEFs roll 2, 4, and 5 respectively, so PEF 1 activates, and since it rolled higher than the cops, it goes first. The other two PEFs rolled higher than their Rep, so do nothing. PEF 1 rolls 2d6 vs its Rep (2): 2, 4 so it passes 1d6. Consulting the PEF movement table on p. 26 and rolling a 6, I see this means it moves 8″ towards the enemy. It starts moving around the buildings towards the cops. The cops move up to the wall of the nearest building, thinking to use it as cover.

End of Turn 1: "Stay close to the wall! There's something out there..."

Turn 2

Activation: Cops 3, PEFs 1, 2 and 6 respectively. PEF 1 passes 0d6 against its Rep so fails to move. The cops sneak along the wall and step around the corner. They now have Line Of Sight to PEF 1, so it is resolved. I roll a 1 on the PEF Force Composition Table (p. 26) and see this is the enemy Main Body. I roll 2d6 + 3 = 8 so it has one more figure than me (How Many Of Them? Table p. 27), and a 1d6 roll of 2 means the enemy commander is in this group. Must be one of the team leaders. I replace the PEF with the relevant number of figures.

Since the cops have walked around the corner into sight, the inactive side (the former PEF) takes an In Sight test (see QRS sheets). 2d6 vs leader’s Rep (5): 1, 6 so pass 1d6. Those who can snap-fire at the cops, the others halt in place. Looking at the position of the figures, I decide that the team leader (the one pointing), the veteran (the one with bare arms), a soldier and the medic (medical bag and pistol) have line of sight. Each now rolls as many dice as their weapons have Targets (Weapons Table in the QRS), adds their Rep to each die, and looks up each result on the Ranged Combat Table in the QRS. The team leader aims his assault rifle at the three nearest foes and scores 10, 9 and 5. The 10 hits Drew (the closest target gets the highest scoring attack), the 9 hits Vince (second closest so gets second highest attack), and the 5 misses Sylvia. I roll a 6 for the hit on Drew; this exceeds the rifle’s Impact of 3, so Drew is knocked down and rolls to recover from that. He rolls 2d6 vs 5: 1, 3 and passes 2d6, so he cannot act until he has spent one full activation recovering (“miss a turn”). The cops now take a Leader Lost test as their boss has been shot; they roll 2d6 against the highest remaining Rep (5) and get 3, 4 so they pass 2d6 and carry on – Sylvia, as the next highest Rep, steps up and takes command.

Vince gets a similar result to Drew for his wound and is also down. The cops take a Man Down test – 2d6 vs Sylvia’s Rep (5): 2, 5 so pass 2d6 and carry on.

The veteran fires and scores one hit on Sylvia; she is knocked down but only passes 1d6 on the Recovery Table and so is Out Of the Fight – she’s not doing anything for the rest of the game except bleeding profusely. The surviving cops take another Leader Lost test: 2d6 vs highest remaining Rep (4): 2, 6 so pass 1d6 and all Duck Back, moving 6″ into the nearest cover. However, under the Recovering Wounded rules on p. 19, each of them is allowed to pick up a wounded comrade within 4″. Kate grabs Vince, Trenchcoat Larry grabs Sylvia, and they duck back out of sight behind the wall. The soldier and the medic now have nothing left to shoot at.

Looking back on it, there are two mistakes here. Tactically, I should either have fast-moved the group into the bushes to get into cover while gaining line of sight along the wall, or used one guy to stick his head around the corner rather than expose the whole group; in terms of rules, Drew has Star Power so should have rolled to soak the wound. Never mind, the purpose of the game is to get my head back into ATZ/CR3 combat, and this it is doing.

The former PEF now activates. In a third mistake, I overlook the NP Force Movement Table on p. 28 and decide the enemy will charge into melee. They roll to fast move (one set of 2d6 vs individual Reps), and close in on the helpless Drew.

However, this brings them into Line Of Sight for Trenchcoat Larry, who takes an immediate In Sight test, passes 1d6, and snap-fires at the oncoming enemy, missing twice. This triggers a reaction test for them for being fired upon, but they are made of stern stuff, pass 2d6, and carry on charging. Drew passes 1d6 on the Being Charged test (rolling 1 and 6 against Rep 5), and the enemy team leader and veteran make contact for melee. Each now rolls as many d6 as their Rep, but Drew is down 2d6 for being prone, down 1d6 for having a lower Impact weapon, and up 1d6 for being a Brawler, so he rolls 3d6 not 5d6 – and he must split these as evenly as possible between the two enemies. He rolls 1, 6 vs 3 for the team leader, passing 1d6, and 5 for the veteran, passing 0d6. The team leader rolls 1, 1, 2, 4, 5 and passes 3d6. The veteran rolls 2, 2, 3, 5, 5 and passes 3d6. Since the veteran has rolled at least two more successes than Drew, and Drew is down to no passed dice against him, Drew is Obviously Dead. But wait – Drew is a Star, and thus has Star Power. He rolls 1d6 per point of Rep, hoping to score 3 or less: 2, 3, 3, 4, 4 and passes 3d6. Each passed die here reduces the damage level, so it shifts from OD to OOF to Stun to OK.

End of turn 2: "Larry, what do we do now? Larry?"

Turn 3

The cops and the troopers both activate, the unresolved PEFs do not. Troopers go first. Again I forget the NP Force Movement table, which would probably have got them to split into one group which takes cover and opens fire, and another group which tries to flank the opposition. Oops. However, I decide that the soldiers will open fire on the Trenchcoat Larry, whom they can see. The team leader scores three hits, one of which makes Larry Obviously Dead. Kate takes another Leader Lost test, passes 1d6, and ducks back into the next nearest cover within 6″, namely a tree just down a low hill. She is still carrying Vince. However, the veteran now has line of sight to her, takes an In Sight test, fires, hits her, and she goes Out Of the Fight.

Vince and Drew use their side’s activation to recover.

End of turn 3: "It's all fun and games until somebody's Obviously Dead."

Turn 4

Neither the cops nor the soldiers activate. PEF 2 does, but passes 0d6 on the PEF movement table so doesn’t move.

Turn 5

The cops roll a 3 for activation, the soldiers a 1, and the PEFs 3 and 5 respectively. The PEFs roll over their Rep so fail to activate. The cops and soldiers both activate, but the cops rolled higher, so go first. Vince pops up and fires at the soldiers from cover. This triggers an In Sight test for the soldiers, the team leader and veteran have line of sight so return fire. The team leader scores 8, 9 and 9 to hit, but all these miss because Vince is in cover. The veteran scores 8, 9, and 11; the 11 hits even in cover, and a damage roll of 6 vs Impact 3 means Vince is knocked down again. He takes an immediate recovery test and rolls 2, 5 against a Rep of 5; he passes 1d6 and is Out Of the Fight.

Things are not looking good for the home team, with Larry dead, Drew surrounded by the enemy, and everyone else OOF. Drew stands up and shifts 1″ to break out of melee, which triggers another In Sight test. The troops roll 5, 5 against the leader’s Rep of 5 and pass 2d6, opening fire. The team leader hits Drew twice, scoring an Obviously Dead (reduced to OK by Star Power rolls, although Drew loses one SP die because it rolls a 6) and an OOF (reduced to Stunned by Star Power rolls). Drew has to miss another activation.

The troops now activate, and I belatedly remember the NP Force Movement table on p. 28. Troops roll 5, 6 vs Rep 5, so pass 1d6; because they outnumber the opposition, they split into two groups. One takes cover and opens fire, and the other moves to flanking positions. Three of those in flanking positions have clear shots, so they fire. The veteran hits once, scores an OOF, but Drew’s Star Power saves him again, reducing the wound to no effect. The medic hits twice, gets one OOF, but again that pesky Star Power keeps Drew upright. Finally the soldier scores a hit, knocks Drew down, he passes 1d6 on the recovery test and goes OOF, and this time not even Star Power can save him as he rolls all sixes. To save time later, I roll on the After The Battle table (p. 20) for all casualties. Drew rolls 2, 3 vs Rep 5 and passes 2d6; he will return at full Rep. Vince and Sylvia both pass 2d6 as well, but Kate passes 0d6 so her OOF escalates to Obviously Dead.

End of game: "We all fall down."

The enemy team leader steps out of cover, looks around, and shouts “Clear!” His men move forward to examine the bodies.

“Sir,” says the medic. “One dead. The girl in yellow isn’t going to make it; she needs a field hospital, and we don’t have one. The other three should be OK.”

The team leader thinks for a moment.

“All right,” he says. “Tie up the survivors and bring them with us back to base. They survived this long; that means they have supplies we can use, and maybe they have friends to come looking for them. I’ll ask them when they wake up. We can always kill ‘em later.”

We’ll leave Drew & Co. there for the moment and switch back to Reed’s troupe. Will the two groups encounter each other later? What are the soldiers up to? Who knows?