"Every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them. It gets up and kills. The people it kills get up and kill." – Dawn of the Dead
January 4th, Z+14: Don Savage is back in town, stocking up on supplies, because things are obviously going to get worse before they get better. His objectives, worth one experience point each, are: Leave the board from section 1 without any Wounds inflicted by zombies; pick up at least one Item or Food Unit; kill at least one zombie. If he runs or fires a weapon, the police will be called out.
Normal text is the game in hand, italics are explanations of how I’m using ATZ as a GM emulator, and in-character dialogue is in blue block quotes. You’ll see more in-character stuff and less rules discussion as the story develops.
Don has his kevlar and backpack on, and his crowbar and knife where he can get at them in a hurry. It’s still not bad enough for him to be on a "war footing", carrying longarms openly.
The ATZ rules give me PEF4 in section 5, and PEF5 and PEF6 in section 3. (The numbers in their designations are their Reps.)
Turn 1: Normally in SW, one would not draw initiative cards at this stage, as who goes first is not massively important. So I don’t this turn. Don was going to walk straight out to the road, but in a change of plan I walk him around the back of the building in section 9 and he enters it, while the PEFs mill about outside.
All PEFs pass 2d6 and move 12" closer. I use the Defining Moment rules to find that there’s no-one home, but the Encounter Rating of the area increases from 5 to 6. That means every PEF from now on will be a real contact, and there will be someone waiting in every building.
Turn 2: Now it starts to matter who goes first; Don draws a Joker, and the PEFs draw a 7 of Hearts. Don goes first and steps back out of the building to get a good look at PEF6, the most dangerous one. It’s a brace of zombies, who in a former life were Citizens 4 and 9 on the 4-6 table, so one has a rifle and the other a shotgun. Meanwhile, PEF4 moves away and PEF comes closer.
Turn 3: Don – Club 5. Opposing Forces – Club 9. The zeds run at him, firing. Each rolls Shooting d6, -2 for running, +2 for a wild attack, and the shotgun gets an extra +2 for being a shotgun. The riflezed rolls a 2 and misses, the shotgunner rolls a 3 and hits, inflicting 3d6 damage (14) at this range, +2 for the wild attack – ouch, 16 damage, 7 more than Don’s Toughness of 9 (5 for him, +4 for kevlar vs bullets); success with a raise and therefore shaking him and inflicting one wound. I’m not having that, and Don spends a benny to make a soak roll. He rolls 1 on his Vigor d6 and 4 on his Wild d6; a success. Each success and raise negates one wound, so Don’s wound is scrubbed, and since Don is no longer wounded, his shaken condition is also removed.
Let’s go crazy, shall we? The wild attacks have dropped the zed’s Parry to 3, which is a good time to belt them with the crowbar. Don steps in, rolls Fighting d6 (3) and Wild d6 (6, which is an ace so he rolls again – 4 – and adds the two for a total of 10). We’ll take the 10, as it hits with a raise and inflicts an extra d6 damage. Don rolls 2d4+1d6 (Strength d4, crowbar d4, raise d6) and gets 13 in all beating the zed’s Toughness of 7 by 6, and thus hitting with a raise. The Bad Guys have one benny (they’re facing one PC and have no Wild Cards), and it seems a waste to use it for soaking on a zombie at this stage, so the zed takes a wound – and since it is an Extra (NPC mook) it is incapacitated, and removed from the table.
Frightened by this martial display, the PEFs move away as far as they can.
Turn 4: Initiative: Don – spade king, OpFor – diamond 6. Don goes first, steps in and clocks the next zed before its Parry improves again (the reduced Parry lasts until its next action). He hits, does 18 damage, and it’s goodnight zed. Don loots the bodies, gathering up a bolt-action rifle, a shotgun, 2 food units and a unit of luxury goods. (Well, if the zeds can have guns, they can have the other things too.) The Possible Enemy Forces are now cowering in a corner in the next building.
Turn 5: Initiative is irrelevant at the moment. I figure that although Don has already been into the section 9 building, the loot is still there, so he steps back inside and scavenges, coming up with an item of his choice; let’s call that a unit of medical supplies. The PEFs grow a pair and move back towards him.
Turn 6: Initiative matters now, as Don wants to burst out of the door and see what’s just run past the window. Don – heart 3; OpFor – diamond 2. Don executes his plan, and finds himself facing one zombie, formerly PEF5 (and National Guardsman number 4, assault rifle and body armour), and a lone citizen – a young girl with a knife (number 7 on table 1-3) – standing behind it, formerly PEF4. It seems most logical for Don and the girl to join forces in killing the zombie before they decide what to do next (using the ATZ Meet & Greet table), so they both attack – gaining a +1 gangup bonus. The girl is rolling Fighting d4 with no wild die, so it’s no surprise when she misses; Don hits but does no damage. The zed makes a wild attack on Don, but also misses.
Turn 7: Don and girl – Jack of Diamonds, zed – 3 of Diamonds. It’s clobberin’ time; a repeat of the previous turn, embarrassment all round.
Turn 8: Zed – C5, Don – 3S. The zed hits Don thanks to its wild attack, but does no real damage. The girl hits with a raise and shakes the zombie; Don hits, shakes it again, and it’s toast.
Turn 9: Don and the girl eye each other warily – time for an opposed Persuasion roll (to represent the Meet & Greet mechanic in ATZ). Don rolls Persuasion d6 (4) and Wild d6 (4) – a success whichever die I use. The girl rolls d4-2 and gets 0, so Don succeeds with a raise as he has beaten her score by 4.
"I’m Don," says Don, not unkindly. "What’s your name, miss?"
"Lisa," she replies, then blurts out: "Take me with you. Please."
Don pauses to strip the zed of its body armour and assault rifle. "Do you know how to use a gun?" he asks. She shakes her head. "Start with this one, then," he says, handing her the shotgun, "It’s hard to miss with these. Just don’t point it at anything you don’t want to kill, OK? And put this on, it’ll help." He hands her the dead soldier’s body armour.
I call the game at this point, since Don and Lisa have resolved all the PEFs and met all Don’s victory conditions; if it wasn’t so late I’d loot all the buildings, but with the ER at 6 there will be a lot of carnage if I do that, so let’s move on.
Don did everything he set out to do, which is worth 3 more experience, taking him to 5; enough for an advance, and given the amount of melee going on, increasing his Strength to d6 is a no-brainer. As per Savage Worlds p. 81, I roll 1d6 to see if Lisa gets an Advance – but she needs 5-6 to do so, and rolls a 3, so not this time.
Don’s little team now has 2 Food, 1 Luxury, and 2 Medical units, plus personal armour and weapons.
Finally, another opposed Persuasion roll to see if Lisa stays or goes before the next encounter; she rolls a 3, Don gets a 5 – a success, but not by much; she’ll stay for now.
And the post title? Click here for explanation…
I keep thinking I ought to change the terrain a bit, but I’ve lost the original Hexographer .hxm file. Plus, any time I spend on new maps is time I’m not playing… For those other THW fan readers: How often do you change your table layout around? Do you always use the same urban setup?