Meanwhile, back in the House of Weird Games (as the children’s friends have christened Chez Slack)…
I think Encounter makes more sense than Episode for these little vignettes, so I’ll switch to that.
Let’s try something smaller. It’s February 2015, and our multicoloured heroes (now dubbed respectively Reed, Blaauw, Green, and Yale) decide to raid an isolated rural settlement for supplies, in the hope of meeting fewer zombies and/or trigger-happy survivors. That’ll be a “loot raid”, then.
The tables on p. 30 tell me there are 5 buildings and two vehicles on hand. Again, I run into a problem of how to determine what buildings are, which is important for deciding which ones are worth the risk of entry; I really must check the Yahoo group for that.
To show why this is an issue, let’s look at building #1. I roll 2d6 for each possible outcome, and work my way down the list in order. Is it a church (needs a 2 on 2d6)? I roll 8, so no. Is it a house (2-7)? Another 8, so no. Is it a military base (2)? 7, so no. Is it a restaurant (2-7)? A 5, so yes. OK, so I got an answer that time, but for episode 1 I went through the entire list and got nothing for half-a-dozen buildings. What were they, then? Ruins? So thoroughly looted that it doesn’t matter? Whatever the equivalent of Obviously Dead is for a house? It also seems such a clunky way of determining building purpose that I’m sure I’m doing it wrong.
By the same process, building #2 is a house, #3 is a house, #4 isn’t any of the listed items, and #5 is another restaurant. One ruin out of five seems reasonable so we’ll let #4 be a ruin, too badly damaged to be sure what it was originally. Two restaurants and two houses; that would make sense to me as a large road, with one restaurant on each side, each with a house for the former owners.
A similar process for the vehicles shows that we have a pickup truck and a semi with a trailer.
The tables on pp. 32-33 show me that the houses would be a good place to search for weapons and ammo, but likely to have zombies, and the restaurants are likely to have medical supplies, and likely to have survivors. Hey, there’s only four of ‘em; let’s just do them all and see what happens.
The Activity Level for Zombies in a rural area in phase one of the campaign is 1, so we have 1d6+1 = 2 zombies on the board at the start of the game, one 12″ to the group’s front and one 12″ to our left rear.
Unlike Warrior Heroes, it’s necessary to set the table up for each encounter. My plan was to use my Zombies boxed game, with the box halves representing the restaurants and DVD cases for the houses, and some sheets of blank paper to be the road; but my dining room table is otherwise engaged tonight, so I’m fighting on graph paper, as you can see below. I decide that the group is moving along the road, to give them the best chance of spotting zombies early on. And we’re ready to go, having spent about half an hour setting up.
Turn 1: Zombies roll 5 for activation, party rolls 2. Zombies don’t activate as they have Rep 4. Party opts to fast move, all of them pass 1d6 and so move 12” towards the nearest building, a house, hoping to get inside before the zeds turn around and see them.
Turn 2: Zombies roll 5, party rolls 6; neither side activates. Reed and his friends have stopped a couple of inches short of the building and are checking their weapons before they go in, glancing at the nearby car and wondering whether to examine that also. I decide to save that for the way out.
Turn 3: Zombies roll 4 and activate, party rolls 3 and activates (Reed’s Rep is 5). Zombies go first as they rolled higher. The closest zombie is 15” from the party (I’m using a ruler and graph paper with a scale of 5mm to the inch, if that makes sense). The zombies should now move towards the nearest human, but the party is not making noise and is not close enough to see (zeds can only see 12”). So they’re not sure which way to go. There is a wind direction table on p. 12 so I decide to use that for each zed; one moves east and one west, 6” in each case. The one moving east gets to the edge of the “table” so I decide he stops there.
Turn 4: Zombies roll 6 vs 4 and don’t activate; party rolls 3 vs 5 and does. Into the first house then; Reed and Green move in through the door, now an inch or so away, and Blaauw and Yale flatten themselves next to the door in support, watching the nearest zed, which is now close enough to see them, but there are buildings in the way so it has no line of sight. I now roll 2d6 against the Zombie Activity Level of 1 (for a rural area in phase 1 of the campaign); 3, 6 passes no dice, so although the rules don’t actually say so, I decide we meet no zombies. Then likewise against the Survivor Activity Level of 1; 2, 6 and again pass 0d6 – the building is empty. This would be a good time to loot the house; the loot table on p. 33 looks like I should roll 1d6 vs 3 for weapons (basic number of 2 in phase 1, +1 for it being a house) and 1d6 vs 2 for surplus ammo. I roll 5 and 4, and get nothing.
The zeds now move, and continue moving in the same direction as before (p. 26). This means one moves off the table completely, so I decide he will treat it as an obstable and turn right (left also takes him off the table). The other moves forward until he bumps into a restaurant, then turns (randomly) right, which moves him closer to the party.
Turn 5: Zeds roll 3 and activate; party rolls 6 and doesn’t. Oops. Their attention is obviously distracted by looting. The zeds carry on moving as before, one bumbling up the west edge of the table and one staggering towards Blaauw. The zombie staggers partway past the car parked outside the first house before I realise it should’ve seen the party earlier; never mind, we’ll go from where it is now. There seems to be no option for zombies to charge – these are obviously the shambling kind from 1950s B movies rather than the faster and more aggressive versions recently seen on our screens.
Turn 6: Zeds roll 3, party rolls 6 – same as before. The closer zombie gets into base contact with Blaauw. I realise I should have done an In Sight test earlier, as Blaauw and Yale would have seen the zombie in the middle of last turn, but press on regardless; let’s assume they were looking into the house. It seems reasonable that Blaauw takes a “Being Charged” check, though; this results in passing 2d6 so Blaauw can fire, then prepare for melee. This is no time for subtlety, and Blaauw fires twice. Rolls of 1 and 3 on the dice give results of 6 and 8; the 6 misses, the 8 hits. Rolling 1d6 against the weapon impact (2) gives a 2 – the zombie is “Obviously Dead”. Huzzah. However, shotguns are noisy, so at the end of the turn I roll two dice per shot for the number of zombies attracted; it’s a rural area, so each 6 will bring one. I roll 2, 3, 4, 6 and get one reinforcement zombie, which is placed to the party’s left rear, 12” away, by a die roll. Zombies are attracted from anywhere on the table to gunfire, so it’s time to move!
Turn 7: Both sides roll a 5 for activation, and Reed’s group moves. We’ll duck through a side door in the house and fast move over to the first restaurant. Everyone passes 1d6 on their fast move check except Green, who passes 2d6. This gives Green 16” of movement and everyone else 12”, which is enough to get them to the restaurant, though again I have everyone pause just outside the door. The zombies meanwhile march 6” towards the sound of the guns; this means one of them turns around and moves south along the wall of a building, as they are not smart enough to open doors and move through. This is the position shown in the photograph.
Turn 8: Both sides roll 3, so a tie; neither activates. Again, Reed and friends are checking their weapons before entering.
Turn 9: Zombies 3, Reed 5; both activate and Reed goes first, into the house; only one person can enter this turn as it’s only a single door. I roll 1, 3 for zombies and 1, 1 for survivors, so we have survivors inside. I now roll 1d6 per Survivor Activity Level, with a 4-6 meaning a survivor is placed; I roll 5, so there is one in sight. A roll of 4 shows a location of 4” away from the wall Reed entered from, and a roll of 2 shows he is 2” from the wall to Reed’s left, putting him against the opposite wall – looking out of a window, no doubt, at the passing zombies.
Dice and cards reveal this survivor is Ambidextrous, with Rep 3 and a machine pistol. I now roll an Awareness Check on the table on p. 35, and even with the extra die for recent gunfire, the survivor passes 0d6 and is completely surprised. The survivor can’t roll an In Sight test, therefore, but Reed can; I roll 5, 6 and pass 1d6; Reed is the Star, so I use the Free Will rule to change this to passing 2d6 so I can hold fire. Reed can now “Talk the Talk” and does so. Reed’s group outnumbers the survivor by more than 2:1, and he has the drop on the survivor, so his effective Rep is 7. Since no die can roll higher than 6, he must pass 2d6. The survivor rolls 4, 6 vs 3 and passes 0d6. Reed passed two more dice, so strictly speaking should open fire because his group outnumbers the survivor; I decide to use Free Will again go to the Cooperation Table. Reed now rolls 1d6 vs Rep5, passing 1d6 (as he still has +2 on the roll); the groups join, and because the player side won, this is permanent. We have a new recruit; I have brown and black pawns left, so we’ll call this one Brown.
The zombies now move 6” towards the site of the last gunshots.
Turn 10: Largely because it still takes me a lot of flipping back and forth in the rulebook to figure things out, I’ve now been playing about 90 minutes and it’s getting late, so I call it a night.
“Come with me if you want to live,” says Reed. He and his four colleagues fast move off the board to the east.
Reed gets another experience point; I decide not to bother tracking experience for the others. Reed is already Rep 5, so needs 10 points to advance to Rep 6. I also decide to roll for gender of my little band; 1d6 per member, with odd numbers being male and even ones female. This tells me that Green, Yale and Brown are female, and the others male; so be it.