“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."
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!"
Activation: Stars 4, zombies 5. Neither moves.
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."
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!"
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.)
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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!"
Activation: Stars 6, zombies 3, gangers 3. Nobody activates.
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.
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!"
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.