My gaming plan for the year calls for me to switch systems each quarter, so I’m starting to think ahead beyond the April to June period which was in theory set aside for 28 Months Later and the All Things Zombie rules.
Next up will be Savage Dungeons, and a range of solo dungeon crawls. One thing that solo games turn out to be very good for is learning the rules; I suspect they will be equally good for running those campaigns I will never get around to otherwise. Specifically, one thing I’ve wanted to do for a few years is run the adventures from Heroquest, Advanced Heroquest, and Warhammer Quest as one long dungeon crawl campaign. I ran my kids through the basic Heroquest scenarios as a D&D 3.5 campaign some years ago, and it worked pretty well. So, the plan for July to September is to start that, although there are too many adventures to finish it in this quarter, especially since I intend to run each one three times; once under Savage Worlds, once under Warrior Heroes, and once under D&D 4th Edition.
Dramatis Personae: D&D 4e
- Barbarian: Human Fighter, using the Great Weapon Fighter build. This is the closest you can get to a barbarian if you’re only using the basic Player’s Handbook, and as I’m starting with the Heroquest adventures, in which the Barbarian carries a two-handed sword, this is the obvious build. He has a two handed sword.
- Dwarf: Dwarven Fighter, using the Great Weapon Fighter build. I can’t immediately see how to give him the detect and disarm traps, which were racial abilities in Heroquest. He has chainmail, some rope, and a two-handed axe.
- Elf: Eladrin Paladin, using the Protecting Paladin build. In Heroquest, the elf carried a healing potion and could cast some spells, but was also viable in combat, and was hard to pin down in melee; so this seems like a good match, with Lay On Hands standing in for the Potion of Healing. The Elf (sorry, Eladrin) has a longsword.
- Wizard: Human Wizard, using the War Wizard build. What can you say, he’s a wizard, and he shoots arcane projectiles. He has a dagger and a spellbook. He also has a ritual book containing the rituals for Comprehend Languages, Magic Mouth, and Tenser’s Floating Disk.
- Dungeon: Will be generated using the D&D 4th Edition dungeon generator.
- Monsters: Will require more thought, as D&D subscribes to the Sorting Algorithm of Evil and none of the other games do. I’ll make that up as I go along.
Dramatis Personae: Warrior Heroes
I’ll assume all of these chaps are Stars, Elite trained, starting with Rep 4, Hardiness 1 and SS 2. Except the Barbarian, who is made up to match the Heroquest figure, all of them take their statistics from the Random NPC table on p. 15 of the WHAA rules.
- Barbarian: Rep 4, AC 2, Alignment TW, two-handed sword.
- Dwarf: Counts as a Thief due to his proficiency with traps. Rep 4, AC 3, Alignment RM, weapon “various” which I shall interpret as two-handed axe, hur hur hur. I’ve boosted the armour from AC 2 as in Heroquest the Dwarf starts in chainmail.
- Elf: Counts as a Healer to explain the healing potion he gets in Heroquest. Rep 4, AC 2, Alignment SS, Sword.
- Wizard: Obviously a Caster; Rep 4, AC 2, Alignment TW, Dagger. I’ve reduced the standard NPC spellcaster Rep of 7 to 4 to bring this character in line with the others.
- Dungeon: Will be generated using the WHAA lair generator.
- Monsters: Are pretty much all in the Rules As Written, except fimir. I’ll worry about that when I meet one.
Dramatis Personae: Savage Worlds
Last because they take up the most room in the post! Some slight changes from the direct conversion in the original trial, to make them a better match to my personal view of the tropes. These are built using the basic Savage Worlds rules and the free web supplement Wizards & Warriors.
- Barbarian: Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d10, Vigour d6. Skills: Fighting d6, Guts d6, Notice d6, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d6, Survival d4, Tracking d4. Charisma 0, Pace 6, Parry 4, Toughness 6. Hindrances: Greedy, Loyal: Friends, Overconfident. Edges: Berserk, Brawny. Gear: Greatsword: Str+d10.
- Dwarf: Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d10, Vigour d6. Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Repair d6, Shooting d6. Charisma 0, Pace 5, Parry 5, Toughness 8. Hindrances: Greedy, Loyal: Friends, Slow, Vengeful. Edges: Brawny, Low Light Vision, Tough. Gear: Great Axe: Str+d10, Chain Hauberk: +2, Rope (30′).
- Elf: Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigour d6. Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d6, Healing d6, Notice d6, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Survival d6, Tracking d6. Charisma -2, Pace 6, Parry 6, Toughness 5. Hindrances: All Thumbs, Enemy: Orcs and Goblins, Greedy, Outsider. Edges: Agile, Low Light Vision. Gear: Bow: 2d6, Short Sword: Str+d6. The Elf gets Healing skill in lieu of the Healing Potion he would get in the boardgame; because spellcasters in Savage Worlds all have access to the same range of powers, there’s no need to make the Elf a pseudo-cleric.
- Wizard: Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigour d6. Skills: Fighting d6, Guts d6, Healing d6, Knowledge (Arcana) d6, Notice d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Spellcasting d8. Charisma -2, Pace 6, Parry 6, Toughness 5, Power Points 10. Hindrances: Loyal: Friends, Outsider, Overconfident. Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), New Power: Detect/Conceal Arcana. Powers: Bolt, Deflection, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Healing. Gear: Dagger: Str+d4, Staff: Str+d4.
- Dungeon: Will be generated using Advanced Heroquest, with the optional rules from Terror in the Dark. This lets me retain the Heroquest missions without knowing what the board layout and encounters look like in advance.
- Monsters: Are in the basic Savage Worlds rules for the most part, or the Bestiary Toolkit. I’ll have to get creative with fimir, a kind of reptilian Cyclops which has vanished from later Games Workshop games; but other than that, we’re good.
It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon, and I decided it was about time I introduced my son (a keen Warhammer 40,000 player) to THW. Chain Reaction 3.0 is the place to start, so SG-13 is sent through the stargate to scout an abandoned village for signs of Goa’uld activity. (The family mostly plays in the era of season 5, before the Goa’uld are deposed and the Jaffa freed.)
SG-13 for this run consists of:
- The L-T (Nick): Star, Rep 5, Agile, Nerves of Steel.
- SSgt Stoner (me): Star, Rep 5, Born Leader, Nerves of Steel.
- Davis: Rep 4, Runt, Medic.
- Evans: Rep 5, Agile.
All armed with grenades and assault rifles except Davis, who has grenades, a BAP, and a first aid kit. This session took 45 minutes including setup and knockdown, and used 4 friendly figures and 7 hostiles. However, because I wanted to keep the action fast, furious and violent for Nick (that’s how he likes his games) I didn’t keep detailed notes of die rolls this time.
Initial Setup: UAV overflight indicates three Probable Enemy Forces in the village. The LT spreads us out on a 60 metre front and we advance cautiously. The LT takes the right flank (I see I missed him in the picture), Davis the far left, and Stoner and Evans advance towards the main street.
Turn 1: Everyone fast moves, the LT and Davis hoofing it up the flanks while Stoner and Evans take cover behind a courtyard wall. PEF 1 moves out into the open, but it turns out to be a goat, obviously harmless.
Turn 2: Stoner and Evans sit tight, covering the main street. Davis and the LT continue to move up at a trot. The LT rounds a corner and resolves PEFs 2 and 3, each being a single Jaffa. They In Sight and open up, but miss because he’s fast moving and their die-rolling is useless. The LT fires back, dropping one Out Of the Fight and forcing the other to duck back inside the nearest cover, which is Building 1.
Turn 3: The LT, Davis and the Jaffa sit tight. Stoner and Evans break cover and fast move across the street towards the next courtyard, intending to advance on the staff weapon discharges they can hear at the end of the street. Unfortunately as they enter this new board section they encounter more Jaffa, hidden to date, who In Sight test, open fire, and hit Stoner, who goes OOF and drops in the middle of the street. Davis throws a grenade at the Jaffa, then ducks into the courtyard. Two of the three enemies go OOF, and the third is stunned, staggering about the street like a drunk. The jaffa in Building 1 realises enemies are advancing up the street and moves back a couple of yards so they can’t shoot him through the door.
Turn 4: Davis sits tight. Evans puts a burst from his assault rifle into the Jaffa who survived his grenade. The LT fast moves up the right flank to get line of sight into Building 1 through its window.
Turn 5: Everyone fails their activation. All groups keep low and scan the area for hostile activity.
Turn 6: The LT moves closer, and lobs a grenade through the window of Building 1; the Jaffa inside is rendered OOF. Davis moves up the left flank, and surprises two more Jaffa (previously hidden) lying in wait for the main advance up the street. He drops both with his BAP, one dead and one OOF.
Aftermath: Stoner is OOF but will recover. The rest of SG-13 is unhurt and has completed its scouting mission, capturing two wounded Jaffa for interrogation into the bargain.
That went well, to the point where Nick now wants to bring zombies, his sister and her fiancée into the game. So the next family wargame should be ATZ – coming soon to a blog near you, I hope.
This is an oldie but goodie… North at the top of the map; one square is 5 feet; S = secret door, visible from the side where the S is shown; W = wandering monster; rubble squares are a dead end, usually where I run out of room.
As I’m just using the basic rules, the only full set of matrices I have are the ones for the beginning quest, which means all the monsters are skaven. (I do wonder how the skaven manage to remain secret to the point of being considered a myth, you can’t move in a Warhammer World game system without tripping over one.)
- A normal room. There is a hidden treasure cache of 60 gold crowns.
- A hazard room, full of poison mould. No hidden treasure.
- A lair, containing 4 skaven warriors, 2 skaven champions and a skaven sentry. They have 100 gc on their persons, and the room also has a treasure chest containing 10 feet or rope and 30 gc. If the lair hadn’t been generated as having doors, the sentry would override that and introduce a door, through which he could duck in search of reinforcements.
- A quest room, containing 2 skaven warriors, 2 skaven champions and a skaven warlord. They have 120 gc on their persons, and the room also has a treasure chest with a screech bug (which can be used to kill bats encountered in hazard rooms) and 50 gc inside. In a proper game, this would also have some item vital to the success of the group’s quest. From this point on, the dungeon would be complete, except that AHQ allows the group to search any wall section (once) to find a secret door.
- A normal room. No hidden treasure here.
- A normal room. No hidden treasure.
- This passageway would run into some other sections, and become a dead end; but to get to it we have descended one level, so it runs directly underneath them instead.
- A normal room. There is a hidden treasure cache of 60 gc.
- A normal room. No hidden treasure.
- A quest room, occupied by 3 skaven champions and a skaven warlord. They have 120 gc on their persons, and guard a treasure chest which holds 150 gc.
- A hazard room, split in two by a chasm (represented by the darker stripe of floor). On the far side (assuming you entered from room 10) are 3 skaven warriors, with their treasure chest, containing a Potion of Strength and 50 gc, and a further 50 gc on their persons.
- A quest room containing 6 warriors, one sentry and one warlord. They are carrying 140 gc, and in the room with them is a treasure chest containing two flasks of Greek fire.
- A normal room, with no hidden treasure.
- A lair, with 6 warriors, one champion, and a warpfire thrower team (ouch). They have 80 gc on them, and a treasure chest which holds a magic helm (in AHQ it would grant +1 Toughness).
- Another lair. This one has 4 warriors, 40 gc, and a chest containing 10 feet of rope and 30 gc.
- A hazard room. In the middle is a grate, leading to another room directly below this one (not shown on the map).
- A normal room, directly below 16. No hidden treasure.
Left to itself, the AHQ generator is prone to long, rambling sections of corridors leading nowhere, but by searching for secret doors you can make the room density pretty much whatever you want. The fact that everything comes in one or two standard sizes lends itself well to using dungeon tiles, which is the way the game was intended to be played. For me, it strikes just about the right level of complexity in room contents and dungeon dressing, especially if you add the optional rules from Terror in the Dark (which I didn’t in this dungeon).
I don’t think the first example for Dungeon Bash was representative, so with an unexpected half hour spare tonight, I created another one. No monsters or mission tonight, just a more representative DB dungeon. I slightly misplaced rooms 10 and 11, but you get the idea. Rubble squares, as usual, show where I ran out of room.
“I could write more about the breakdown of government and technology over the last few days, but what is important to me at the moment is that we buried Annie and Jules today. Was it my fault? I don’t know. Was it my responsibility? Absolutely. This is how it happened…” – Reed’s Journal.
Reed & Co still need to go shopping. We’re starting to feel the lack of firearms. We have improvised two handed weapons, which have an impact of 2, but having to mix it up with the zombies in hand-to-hand is a bad approach, and it will get worse when we have to take on other survivors. So, it’s back into town. This will be a discovery scenario in daylight. Annie’s attributes were undecided, so I decide to give her a new one I shall call “First Aid”, meaning she can count as a nurse for purposes of recovery tests.
The party numbers four, so as per p. 29 there are 4d6+4 zeds when we enter the board. As usual when I enter the table from one edge, the zeds clump up as shown in the first picture…
Activation: Humans 1 (activate), Zombies 6 (fail). Reed & Co move towards the nearest building, intent on searching it, which is also away from the zeds. On reflection, this is where things went wrong, tactically speaking. As our heroes are Rep 3 and the zeds are Rep 4, over the course of six turns on average the zeds will activate four times and move a total of 24″ towards us; the humans will activate three times and move 24″ at base move rate; and if we fail two activations in a row, which is not unlikely at this Rep, the zeds will be on us. The lesson learned is that the protagonists should fast move all the time, and I should also remember the rules for Born Leader, Athletic and the Leader Die, which between them would pretty much guarantee a double move each turn. Perhaps I would miss less of this stuff if I player more often, and before 10 at night…
Activation: Humans 2 (activate), Zombies 4 (activate and go first). The zeds start to close in while the humans continue to move towards the building, still not running.
Activation: Humans 5 (fail), zombies 4 (activate). The zombies continue to close in.
Activation: Humans 4 (fail) zombies 1 (activate). The zeds will get into melee this turn. When they are a short distance out, since zeds always Want To Charge, the humans take the Being Charged test. I use Reed’s free will (he is a Star) to pass 1d6, as retiring and hunkering down would be lethal. (Post-game note: Rereading the rules shows that hunkered down figures are invisible to those that caused them to flee, so had I chosen to pass 0d6 at this point we would all have got out alive, using the same approach I eventually got to in turn 9. Another tactical error.)
The zeds now close to melee. Nick and Annie have two zeds each, and Jules has three. They have to split their melee dice as evenly as possible between the combatants; each human has 4d6, except Reed who has 5d6. Nick rolls 1, 3 vs 3 against the first zombie, which rolls 4 vs 3 in return; since Nick has two more successes than the zombie, he kills it. Glossing over the detailed die rolls, Nick draws against his second zed, Jules kills two of hers but is knocked Out Of The Fight by the third, and Annie kills both of hers.
As Jules has fallen, we now need to take a Man Down test, but Reed uses his free will to pass 2d6 and his Born Leader to force everyone else to do likewise, so everyone Carries On in good order. I was too engrossed in the game to take a picture at this point.
Activation: Both sides roll 6, so we consult the event table and learn that the humans’ car is out of fuel. We’re on foot, so that’s no problem just yet – might be later, though.
Activation: Humans 2 (activate), zombies 4 (activate and go first). Jules is down, so all unengaged zombies which can move to her and feast. Those which can’t move around the flanks to engage the rest of the humans. (This was also an error, due to my thinking there was a stacking limit – there isn’t, there is no limit to how many zeds can pile into a feast.) As per p 31 I roll 1d6 to see how long Jules will occupy them; this turns out to be two turns. Meanwhile, elsewhere the melee continues; Reed faces off against three zeds, killing two and drawing against the third; Nick kills one, draws against another, and is knocked down and stunned by a third; Annie kills one but is knocked down and rendered Out Of the Fight by the second. This is going downhill fast.
Now it’s the humans’ turn, and Nick uses his activation to recover from stun before the zeds can pile in and feast on him. There is however a feast going on, so everyone takes the See The Feast test; Reed can’t use free will on this, but can use Born Leader to roll an extra die and force everyone to follow his lead. He rolls 1, 4, and 5, passes 1d6, and everyone ducks back into the nearest cover within 6″ (there is a crater nearby, which doesn’t show up well on the pictures, but that’s where they go) and take a Sanity Test: Rolls of 2, 2, and 1 mean Nick and Reed pass 2d6 and are stunned.
Activation: Humans 2 (activate), zombies 3 (activate and go first). The zeds now pile in on Annie and Jules, whichever one is closer, and feast again. Annie will occupy them for 3 turns starting now, Jules will last until the end of this turn. Nick and Reed use this activation to recover from stun.
Activation: Humans 3 (activate), zombies 5 (fail). Reed uses his Born Leader to force passing 2d6 on a Wanting To Charge test, and he and Nick barrel into the zombies. (In game terms, it’s already too late, but from the figures’ viewpoint I figure Civilians wouldn’t just leave their friends, they’d try to do something about it; so in they go. By the time the protagonists switch to being Gangers or Survivors, they probably would just use this opportunity to slip away.) At least they have the sense to go for outnumbering the enemy in terms of dice count; Reed takes on two and kills them both, Nick drops all four of his dice on one zombie and kills it.
Activation: Humans 1 (activate), zombies 2 (activate and go first). Those zombies not already dead are feasting on Annie, so I decide a second See The Feast test is called for. This time Reed rolls 4, 5 and 6, passes 0d6, and he and Nick retire to the nearest cover within 12″ (the crater again) and hunker down.
At this point the game is over. The remaining zombie can’t see them, as it was what caused them to hunker down, so it will wander off in a random direction. The humans stay hunkered down until someone comes to rally them. So, I picture the other group members frantically searching for them until nearly nightfall, then finding them in shock, hiding in the crater and driven nearly mad by what they’ve seen. Camp will not be a happy place tonight.
This session took 90 minutes from start to end, including setup and packing away, and used four human figures and 14 zombies. As ever, THW rules are merciless in their punishment of bad tactics. Tonight’s lessons are: (1) Keep moving, fast; (2) use all your figures’ attributes to best advantage; (3) split the party into at least two groups, so that if one hunkers down the other can rally them.
Number four in the series of random dungeons, using the dungeon generators from various games; this time, the 800 lb gorilla – D&D 4e.
The only key item requiring explanation is (4), which in each case represents a false door with a trap.
This generator is fast, simple, and easy to use. However, no monsters; the Game Master has to prepare a deck of monster cards or something similar to populate his dungeon with traps, treasure and vile beasts.
The map generated was more interesting than I expected, and I welcome the reduction in the number and type of dungeon trappings from D&D 3.5. By comparison with the other generators, this one creates very large rooms, which the Dungeon Master’s Guide explains is deliberate, to encourage more tactical play and use of the environment. Obviously, this means fewer chambers on any given piece of graph paper.
Actually, cracking open the DMG and reading a couple of Dungeon magazines has made me think about restarting a D&D game. I wonder if I could broaden out the rules for dungeons without a DM to a whole campaign somehow? I can’t be the only one who has thought of that. Time to hit the search engines…
Exterior, day. A Land Rover pulls up outside a fence topped with razor wire. It’s hard to tell what this facility was, but judging by the wreckage and bloodstains, it’s something else now. Half a dozen soldiers pile out of the vehicle into a defensive perimeter. When he is satisfied that all is well, or at least as good as it’s going to get, the leader calls softly: “On me!” and they gather around him, eyes darting here and there in search of zombies.
“Right,” says Captain Flack (for it is he). “Cuthbert, McGrew – stay sharp, stay with vehicle. McGrew – stay awake this time; may have to leave in a hurry. Dibble, Pugh – no, not you, other one – secure line of retreat. Pugh, Grubb – with me. Questions?” There are none. Flack, Pugh and Grubb double time over to a shattered door, and dart inside a short hallway, past the half-eaten body of a security guard slumped over his desk, telephone still in hand to call for help that never came. At the end lies a lift shaft. The three force the doors open, and Grubb rigs a field expedient sling seat for them to lower themselves into the darkness below.
“Good,” says Flack. “Descend!”
Meanwhile, outside, Cuthbert has rolled back the canvas over the rear compartment and is scanning the area with his SAW. McGrew has his beret down over his eyes, arms crossed, feet up on the dashboard – clearly the unit’s “get-out artist”. Pugh and Dibble are checking the wire-enclosed area around the entrance for nasty surprises.
“So, Pugh,” asks Dibble. “What do you think we’re here to get?”
“I think this is where it all started – you know, the zombies. Stands to reason there’s a good chance of finding a cure here, too. If we can get it back to HQ, maybe the boffins can, you know, culture it or something. Make more.” Dibble snorts.
“If it exists. If it’s still here. If they’re still alive at HQ when we get back. If we get back.”
“Your trouble, Dibble, is you’re too optimistic for your own good.”
One of the things I love about ATZ is the continuous flow of scenario ideas it generates. Here we see Captain Flack, erstwhile adversary of Drew & Co., conducting a search of a secret underground laboratory a few weeks after the outbreak. Can you say “ATZ dungeon crawl?” I knew you could…
The squad (all protected, with assault rifles and flash-bangs):
- Captain Flack, Rep 5 Military. Born Leader, Stone Cold.
- Pugh, Rep 4 Military. Knifeman.
- Pugh, Rep 4 Military. Nerves of Steel.
- Barney McGrew. Rep 3 Military. Transporter.
- Cuthbert. Rep 4 Military. Athlete. Has a SAW instead of an assault rifle.
- Dibble. Rep 4 Military. Ambidextrous.
- Grubb. Rep 4 Military. Knifeman.
And we’re back in the ‘phone booth because (Dining) Table Mountain has got stuff on it. If this gets to be a habit I may shift to 15mm figures on smaller maps. This map is from one of the French expansion packs for Cry Havoc, and I’m counting one hex as 2″.
Capt. Flack’s orders are to search the underground facility (which I shall treat as a discover encounter inside a hospital) for The Cure. In a rural area such as this, we begin with 1/2d6 zombies per human, and I have 3 humans on the board. I roll 1, 3, 6 and halve the scores rounding down to get 0 + 1 + 3 = 4 zombies. I now roll 1d6 per zombie on the table on p. 30, and because of the rolls and the fact the play area is so small, the zombies clump up just out of Line Of Sight for our heroes.
Activation: Humans 4, Zombies 5. Humans activate and zeds don’t. I expect this will be a lot easier with heavily armed and armoured Rep 5 troops, but who knows? Moving cautiously (no fast move) Flack’s team move up to room 6 and peer in through the bars. On such a small map I decide to treat each room as a separate building for encounter purposes rather than using the Large Buildings rules on pp 48-49. I roll 2d6 for the room, deduct 2 for a rural area, and add 2 for night-time as I reason that deep underground with the power out is more like night than day. On a modified score of 2, the room is empty. However, Flack can also see into another room, so I roll for that too. Unbelievable – a 3, so that is empty as well. Put on some creepy music and imagine the scene as the troopers’ flashlights sweep over the abandoned lab area.
Activation: Humans 4, Zombies 2. Both activate but humans go first. Flack splits the team with hand signals to search the two empty rooms, using the table on p. 48. I decide to treat the area as urban for this purpose as otherwise there is no chance of finding The Cure. Room 6 turns up empty (roll of 5, +2 for urban = 7), and the larger room likewise (roll of 4, +2 for urban = 6). The zeds start shambling towards them.
Activation: Humans 4, zombies 4; neither activates. The troops continue to search their areas, but so quietly that the zombies have no noise to home in on, and pause.
Activation: Humans 1, zombies 6. Humans move and zombies do not. Flack gathers his men by gesture and they creep off towards rooms 2-5; I pause the action when they round the corner as this gives Flack line of sight into rooms 2-4. Checking contents gives room 2 a 6 (1/2d6 humans with a 1 counting as 0, I roll 1, so nothing); room 3 gets a 5 on 2d6 (1/2d6 humans from the What’s Inside? table on p. 43) followed by 2 – a single human; room 4 gets a 7 on 2d6, 1/2d6 humans, followed by a 2 – one human. I roll for Who They Are (table p. 43) and get a pair of 4s – gangers. I then check the table on p. 9 for specifics, and get 2d6 rolls of 4 (Hard Case, Rep 5) and 11 (Wannabee, Rep 2). I roll 1d6 for each to see what weapons they have; the hard case rolls 2 and adds his Rep (5) for a 7, SMG; the wannabee rolls 4 and adds Rep 2 to get a 6, machine pistol.
I decide to go to the Meet & Greet table; Flack’s men are highly disciplined, and the gangers have seen flashlights earlier (which zeds don’t use) so they are not surprised.
Flack’s torch plays over the two figures in the cells, and the troops move stealthily closer. Everyone knows by now that making noise is a bad idea when there may be zombies around. Flack finishes his move with line of sight into room 5, so I check that as well; a 2d6 roll of 5 +2 -2 on the What’s Inside table (p. 43) shows another 1/2d6 humans; a roll of 3 gives us another one (I’m halving and rounding down, which isn’t explicitly in the Rules As Written but does match a roll of 1 being zero people). A 1d6 roll of 3 gives us another ganger, 2d6 on the Ganger table (p. 9) gives a 6 (Banger, Rep 4) and a further 1d6 roll 2 + Rep 4 = 6 shows he has a machine pistol. For simplicity, I decide to treat these as one group led by the hard case. As usual, rather than multiple rounds of rolling dice, I decide to go with whatever successes occur on the first set of rolls. The Gangers roll 3 d6 (5d6 for boss Rep 5, -2d6 for being gangers), and the soldiers roll 5d6 (Flack’s Rep). Flack rolls 1, 2, 2, 2, 6 vs 3 and passes 4d6; the hard case rolls 2, 4, 4 vs 3 and passes 1d6. I consult the table (p. 45) and see that as Flack has scored three more successes than the gangers, they will join the group under Flack’s control.
“They’re everywhere!” says the hard case. “You have to get us out of here, man!” Flack considers for a second. They are not very good civilians, but they are civilians, and he is sworn to protect even such as they. Also, real live people are scarce commodities. A few months’ training will turn them into useful group members.
“Come with me if you want to live,” says Flack. (Another beer for those playing Trope Bingo.) “Expect you searched. Find anything?” But searching has to wait for the next activation.
Activation: Humans 1, zeds 2. Both activate, zeds first as they rolled higher. They each shamble 6″ towards the nearest human by the most direct route, which means one rounds a corner and walks into Pugh’s flashlight beam. Pugh rolls 5, 3 vs Rep 4 and passes 2d6 on an In Sight test (quick reference charts). As a Military figure, this means he holds his fire because the zombies are more than 6″ away. He taps Grubb, who signals to Flack. Nobody takes the Zed or No Zed test (p. 33) because no-one is within 6″ of a zombie. Flack gives orders with curt gestures, which in the case of the gangers is limited to “shhh”, and steps into room 2. Time to search.
(I roll 2d6 four times for resources found, once for each room, adding 2 each time for location. 7 = nothing, 6 = nothing, 5 = nothing, 4, nothing. Oh well.)
Activation: Humans 2, zombies 3. Both move, zeds first. It is at this point that I notice there are now zombies between Flack and the unsearched rooms, and also between Flack and the elevator. Oh dear. Pugh and Grubb are now within 6″ of zeds for the first time, so take the Zed Or No Zed test on the Military QRS. I now notice I have moved Flack more than 4″ from his men, so he can’t help them with the test. Ouch. Note to self, don’t build a Star around a concept and then move him so that he can’t use his powers! Pugh takes charge of himself and Grubb in this instance, and rolls 2d6 vs Rep 4: 3, 6 = pass 1d6. The zombie charges and Pugh and Grubb take the Being Charged test, 2d6 vs 4: 3, 5 = pass 1d6. This means they cannot fire but can melee normally – gunplay is a bad idea at this point, so I’m happy with the result. I’m not quite sure how to handle this, but after reading p. 31 a couple of times I think the zombies Pugh can see now move into contact.
Pugh has two zombies on him, each rolling 1d6 in melee. He has Rep 4 and an improvised melee weapon, giving him 5d6, but he must split those – 2d6 on one zed and 3d6 on another. The left hand zed rolls 2 vs 3: Pass 1d6. In return Pugh rolls 2, 5 vs 3: Pass 1d6. He’ evenly matched against that zed. The other one rolls 1d6 vs 3: 4, pass 0d6. Pugh rolls 1, 3, 3 vs 3 and passes 3d6. Since this is at least two more successes than the zed, he kills it. (Again, I’m counting successes from the first round of die rolls rather than following the Rules As Written.)
Flack and the gangers move up in support. Grubb moves into contact with Pugh’s zombie – this requires a Wanting To Charge test vs Rep 4, Grubb rolls snake eyes and goes into Hero Mode – as per p. 14 this means he automatically passes certain types of reaction test for the rest of the game. Having passed 2d6, Grubb charges into melee. He has 5d6 (Rep 4 with improvised weapon) rolls 1, 3, 3, 5, 6 vs 3 and passes 3d6; the zombie rolls 4 vs 3 and passes 0d6, so Grubb creams it.
Activation: Humans 2, zombies 1. Both activate, humans first. The humans start to move around towards room 7, but this brings Grubb to the point where he can see another two zombies – In Sight test! He passes 1d6, and snap fires – oh dear, and things were going so well. Three shots, each with 1d6 + Rep, gives us totals of 7, 6 and 5. All of those miss.
And this is the point where the family needs my attention, so I pause for the night. Fortunately, one side effect of doing these write-ups is that I have pictures to reconstruct the current state when next I can play.
Later… I dig everything back out of the cupboard and use photos intended for this blog to reconstruct the situation. I get hung up for a while on the question of whether the humans can carry on moving after Grubb has fired from his In Sight test, but decide that they can. As the group moves past the doorway into the largest chamber, Flack calls a warning and lobs a flash-bang into the room, aiming for the rear zombie’s location. He rolls 3, 5 vs Rep 5 and passes 2d6; the grenade table on p. 19 informs me that the grenade lands just where he wanted, so we move to the results table on p. 20. The zombies halt in place and lose their next activation. Flack rolls 1, 2 vs Rep 5, passes 2d6, so is unaffected. Pugh passes 2d6, as does the ganger. Grubb passes 1d6 and is stunned, as do the wannabee and (surprisingly) the hard case. The turn now ends and I dice for extra zombies drawn by the grenade (counts as 12 shots) and gunfire (3 shots). I roll 1d6 for each shot, and since this is a rural area each 6 generates a zombie. There are three of them, and the zombie placement table plus the rules for placement if they would be off-map drops all three in the place the first lot appeared. I realise that Flack and Pugh should’ve taken the Zed Or No Zed test, Flack does so now and passes 2d6, and uses his Born Leader to force Pugh and the gangers to do so as well. Nobody has to worry about that again.
Activation: Humans 5, zombies 6. Humans activate, zombies don’t. What a waste of a flash-bang. Oh well.
Grubb, the wannabee and the hard case spend this turn recovering. The rest pile into the largest room and lay into the zeds with improvised melee weapons. 14 melee dice vs 2 is not a fair fight, and that’s just how we like it; both zeds go down under a hail of boots, fists and rifle butts. I am restraining myself from picturing Flack yelling “Fix bayonets!” – maybe next time, it looks like it would work pretty well.
The humans search the room, and find two units of food.
Activation: Humans 2, zeds 3; both move, zeds first.
The zeds move closer. The humans move through their current room towards rooms 1, 7 and 8, aiming to search the other room on the way. The formerly stunned stragglers fast move to close up, all rolling well enough on fast move to do so – yes, even the wannabee, astonishingly. Flack steps around a corner at the end of his move and takes an In Sight test on a zombie entering via the opposite doorway; he rolls 5, 6, 6 (extra die for being Stone Cold) and even the redoubtable Captain Flack passes but 1d6 and snap fires at the zombie. Scores of 11, 9, 9 mean that only one hit is achieved, but the Impact 3 assault rifle is a sweet tool and gives of its best even in these circumstances, placing the zombie Out Of the Fight. It’s now the end of the turn, so I roll for more zombies, but miraculously none arrive.
Activation: Zeds 3, humans 1. The zeds go first and shamble to the sound of the guns. They stop 4″ from Flack and he takes a Being Charged test, passing 2d6; he fires and melees normally. Three rounds rapid into the approaching zeds: Scores of 10, 8 and 7 grant one hit, which knocks down the nearest zombie.
The humans now move; calling “Follow me!”, Flack first passes his Wanting To Charge test, then barrels into the knocked-down zombie, with Pugh hot on his heels. The pair of them make short work of it. The room is now clear, so the gangers following on behind search it, finding a pistol.
Again, no zombies are generated for the gunfire. If you’re going to shoot, do it in a rural area, that much is clear.
Activation: Both sides roll 4, neither moves.
Activation: Both sides roll 6, neither moves, and there is an event! I roll 2d6 on the random event table on p. 52: 12, a cellphone rings 1d6 inches from a random character and attracts 1d6 zombies. It must be an alarm, they can’t possibly be getting a call this far underground this long after the servers went offline. The cellphone turns out to be right next to the hard case. Even worse, it attracts 6 zombies, one of them right next to the lift.
Both sides activate and the humans move first. Flack and Pugh fast move (passing 1d6) towards room 7, hoping to search it before the zeds get them. The gangers and Grubb take room 1, all of them except the wannabee passing 2d6 (he passed 1d6). The zombies close in on Pugh, he restrains himself through the In Sight test, and only passes 1d6 on the Being Charged test so doesn’t get a shot off. Three make it into melee, but through lucky dice rolls he kills two and draws against the third. Flack meanwhile frantically searches room 7 and comes up with another assault rifle; oh well, never know when you’ll need a spare.
Over in room 1, Grubb finds a semi-auto rifle and the hard case finds nothing. One room left, and then we can get the hell out of Dodge.
Both sides activate and zeds move first. The unfortunate Pugh is now facing off against four zombies. He kills one, and draws with two more, but the fourth one clobbers him good – he’s Out Of the Fight. (At this point I realise I forgot to do an In Sight test for the ganger I had carefully positioned just outside the door of room 1, ready to lay down Final Protective Fire. I guess he just froze under the pressure.)
The gangers are ready to charge to Pugh’s aid… right up to the point where they pass 0d6 on the Wanting To Charge test, and halt in place, unable to fire. Wusses. Worse, they’re blocking the door so Grubb can’t help his squadmate either. It’s all down to Flack, who shoots at the zombies, knocking one down, then wades into the others in melee, where he kills both of them in a fine display of Close Quarter Battle.
Luck is with the Captain, and no more zombies come.
Fortunately, the humans activate this turn and the zombies don’t. Flack now out-dices the remaining zombie in the dogpile 6:1, and it goes down. Grubb gets the gangers moving to room 8, which he searches, finding nothing of use.
Humans go, zeds don’t. Flack uses this turn to try a recovery test on Pugh. Pugh passes 1d6, but is not in contact with a medical professional so stays OOF for the rest of this game.
Both activate, zeds first. The sole surviving zed creeps closer, unseen by Our Heroes. Grabbing Pugh and their loot, these worthies start back towards the lift.
Both activate, humans first. We keep running. The zed turns tirelessly round and follows, bringing it into line of sight for the Rep 4 ganger, who passes 0d6 on his In Sight test so may not fire – just as well, really.
Both go, humans first. The gangers charge off the map into the lift shaft hoping for rescue, but on the way they must take In Sight tests and one of them opens up with his SMG on the zed. He drops knocks it down, and runs on. The ganger behind also shoots, doing no more harm; Grubb also shoots when he makes an In Sight, and puts the zed out of its misery.
The dice gods are kind, and none of this draws more zombies; it’s only a matter of time, then, before everyone is safely up the lift shaft. I now use the Keeping It Together table on p. 60 to see what happens to the gangers. Flack rolls 1, 2, 2, 3, 5 and passes 4d6 out of a possible 5d6. The hard case rolls 2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 6 (he gets an extra die for being a ganger when Flack is not) and also passes 4d6 – we’ll come back to him. The banger rolls 1, 2, 2, 4, 6 and gains 3 successes; less than Flack, so he stays with the troopers for now, but will reroll after the next scenario. The wannabee rolls 3, 3, 4 and scores two successes, which is half as many as Flack; the wannabee is a permanent addition to Flack’s group.
Returning to the hard case… The table says “both sides score zero successes”, but I’ll take that as “same number of successes”, which makes more sense to me. They both drop 1d6 and retake the test; this ends with Flack getting more than twice as many successes as the hard case, so he is a permanent addition as well.
I now check the recovery table for Pugh after the encounter; he passes 2d6 so returns with no permanent damage. However, he was rendered OOF by a zed so he may turn; I roll 1d6 + Rep (4) = 9, so he’s OK, though only just. Finally I check for improving Rep; the soldiers all qualify, and both Pugh and Grubb increase to Rep 5.
This has been the longest game of ATZ I’ve played to date, and took nearly four hours – but I was doing the write-up as I went. It used six human figures, and pawns for 13 zombies.
I’m still feeling unwell, so another random dungeon. For this second example, I’m using the generator from Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures by Two Hour Wargames.
As before, I won’t delve into the detail of individual die rolls. I will note that the WHAA rules only use d6, and that the first step is to select an army list for the dungeon’s defenders, as the largest base width (“W”) drives all the measurements. This means that opponents with larger creatures automatically make larger dungeon passages and chambers. For no very good reason, I select a Demonic Cult as the opposition, and decide that a Major Demon is the largest thing we’re likely to meet, and that it is on a base 2″ across. That means “W”, the basic unit of measure for corridors and rooms, will be 2″ – represented on the floor plan as two squares. Chamber areas will be measured in units of “W”; I’m uncertain how to play this but decide that if “W” is 2″, an area of “W” is 2″ x 2″.
I also need to know the points value for the intruding adventurers. I shall assume a party of four, each with a CV of 2, which seems about right for beginning PCs. As I’m only generating a dungeon, not running the fights etc, I won’t need any more than this. As I’m just testing the generator, I will ignore the rules about sentries and raising the alarm; one side effect of this decision is that only three rooms will have encounters, and thus only three will have loot and booty, since in WHAA dungeons you can only check for this after clearing an occupied room. However, I’m mostly interested in the dungeon map for this run, so that’s acceptable. A side effect of not rolling activation is that there are no wandering monsters either.
The map below is what resulted, rendered in Dungeon Crafter 1.41 as usual; this time I started a little in from the edge so that the map isn’t trimmed! One square represents one inch, which for THW games is about two scale yards. Doors are unlocked unless otherwise mentioned; north is at the top of the map.
- Level 5 trap, and PEF (Possible Enemy Force) #1. This resolves as one cultist and a petty demon. The Loot & Booty table tells me that this room has considerable treasure, granting an extra increase roll for SS, and that the target of any raid we might have been mounting is found.
- PEF #2, which again resolves as one cultist and a petty demon. Loot & Booty is a potentially magic weapon, which would need to be resolved outside the dungeon. The east and south doors are locked; opening the west door triggers a Rep 4 trap.
- PEF #3, which resolves as five cultists and a major demon. No special loot; if I were running this as a session I would have some items of interest, including at least one clue or hook to a later adventure.
- A large chamber. The west door is locked, but opens onto a short corridor ending in a secret door into the corridor between chambers 1 and 2. The east door is also locked, and opens onto a flight of stairs heading down to the second level, which since the stairs are 7″ (14 yards) long looks like it is about 40′ below this one. I decide to limit myself to one level for this test run, so I ignore what might be at the bottom.
- Both exit doors are locked.
- This was a passage 11″ long by the die rolls, which then turned 90 degrees left. I turned it into another chamber because it would have run off the map. Had this occurred further from the edge, I would have shifted it a little to the right and considered it to be running over the top of the descending staircase.
- A locked door, leading to another passageway running off the page. My normal approach to these is to say that the roof has collapsed, and the way ahead is blocked by rubble.
- The east and south doors are locked. The south door opens onto stairs down to level 2.
- This passageway ends in a secret door to the east.
- An empty chamber, slightly too large because my mouse slipped, but who cares?
- These stairs lead up a level, so they must go to the surface. Either the entrance is at some lower level, therefore, or there must be stairs or something similar leading down to it.
- An empty chamber. The east door is locked, the south door isn’t.
- Empty chamber. All chambers are empty now as I have run out of PEFs and am not using Sentries. Both doors are locked.
- Chamber. This should have been bigger with more exits, but I’ve run out of room on the map.
- Chamber. Both doors are locked.
- This passage has run into another one, so it stops and ends in a secret door visible from this side.
Overall, I’m pleased with this map. As so often with THW products, the rules are deceptively simple; I looked at the couple of pages devoted to lair construction and thought they would create very simple and boring dungeons, but I’m pleasantly surprised. Clearly I will need to use the Sentry rules to ensure more monsters and treasure, though.