"Look, you’re the one who got me out in the armpit of the world chasing your galloping cadavers." – City of the Living Dead
January 18th: Z+28
"Bex? You clear on what we’re doing?"
"That is the tenth time you’ve asked," she sighs. "All right, if I must… We check the buildings one by one. We don’t go in if there are more than two zeds inside. We stop searching when we have three man-months’ worth of food or one man-month and a vehicle, and then bug out for Zeebrugge, whatever that means. We run between buildings. We stop when we get to a building and check we’re both ready before we go in. We face different directions so we can’t be surprised. Did I miss anything?"
"You’ll do. One up the spout, safety on? Okay then, let’s go…"
"You know, Don, you really know how to show a girl a good time."
Continuity Error: Last time, Don should have had an assault rifle, not a shotgun – he picked up the AR on Z+7, but gave his shotgun to Lisa, and didn’t retrieve it on Z+14. I’ll correct that going forward. I’m not sure what sort of assault rifle this is, but for game purposes the M-16 stats will do well enough. (I’m also dropping his $40 is cash because, really, what can he buy with it now?)
Rules Updates: First, as per SWD p. 76, one cannot conduct a Wild Attack with a ranged weapon, as the bonus to hit applies to Fighting skill – oops. Second, I have been forgetting my house rule for combat in buildings – in a building, figures move at half Pace, but are treated as being in light cover if moving, and medium cover if stationary. Third, I’m going to start labelling tokens so I can look them up easily on ATZ pp. 74-75 – the first letter is the type (e.g. G for Ganger), then a number which is the position on the relevant table, then a final letter which denotes the table if necessary – A for 1-3, B for 4-6. (So for example Bex, as Citizen 9 on the 4-6 table, would be C9B. I reckon they only deserve names and personalities if they survive long enough to talk to Don.) Fourth, I note from SWD p. 73 that using an improvised weapon is at -1 to Fighting and Parry, and by comparison to similar items in the weapons list, clubbed longarms should do about Str+d4 damage.
Finally, I will henceforth only detail dice rolls the first time they come up, as the posts are getting a bit long.
Don and Bex need food and a vehicle. Due to their misadventures last time, they both have one Wound as they enter the board along the road in section 8. It’s daytime, in an urban location. Don and Bex have three bennies each, the zeds have one between them.
PEFs: Rep 5 in section 5; Rep 6 in section 1; Rep 3 in section 5. Zeds: 8, at Don’s 10, 6, 4, 4, 8, 6, 2 and 10 o’clock, rotated as necessary to fit.
Don and Bex can see the two PEFs in section 5 right away, so I resolve them both. One is four zombies, the other is three gangers (number 8 on the 1-3 table, and numbers 7 and 12 on the 4-6 table). Since there is no building in this section, both PEFs are placed in the middle of section 5, then resolved; this makes most sense to me if they are already in melee with each other, and given where the initial placement zeds wind up, those gangers are in real trouble. Excellent, the zeds and gangers can kill each other off and then Don and Bex can loot the bodies. Of course, Don would never think such a thing, and his Code of Honour will probably force him into action.
Initiative is important right away, as it may influence which way the zeds move. Don draws Spade 9, the zeds Club King. The zeds in section 7 bump into the wall of the building and turn (house rule: by the least acute angle) to move along it. The Possible Enemy Force sneaks closer. Most of the zeds run at the gangers and wild attack them. The two in the doorway of the building in section 9 charge Bex and almost get into melee – that decides Don and Bex on their actions. Bex will back up and fire her shotgun at one zed, while Don will step away a little to get a clear shot and burst-fire his assault rifle at the other.
However, the gangers and zeds are going first. Two zeds attack G8A, who has Rep 4, thus Fighting d8 and Vigour d8, hence Parry 6 and Toughness 6. They roll 3 and 5 respectively, and add +2 for their Wild Attacks and +1 gang-up bonus to get totals of 6 (hit) and 7 (hit). The hits do 1d6 damage each; both roll 3, +2 for wild attack is 5, and fail to Shake or Wound the ganger. The ganger has a SMG, but can’t shoot as he is in melee, and is forced to use it as an improvised club. He rolls Fighting d8 (7), -1 for improvised weapon, and gets a 6; this is greater than or equal to the zed’s Parry of 5, so he hits. He rolls Strength d8 (4) plus 1d4 for an improvised weapon (2), and as the total (6) is less than the zed’s Toughness (7), no harm is done.
Now you’ve seen how that works, by a similar process, G7B is Shaken, but manages to hit one of her opponents, killing it. G12B is well ‘ard, so survives the attacks on her, but fails to injure either zed.
Bex rolls Shooting d6 (4) and Wild d6 (2), chooses the 4 as it is better, then adds +2 for firing a shotgun to get a 6 – a hit, since the target number at this range is 4. Shotguns within 12" do 3d6 damage; she rolls 1, 3, and 1 for a total of 5, and since this is less than the zed’s Toughness of 7, it suffers no damage. Oops.
Don rolls Shooting d6 (3) and Wild d6 (2), chooses the 3, and adds +2 for firing a 3-round burst. This is greater than or equal to 4, so he hits. A burst-firing assault rifle does 2d8+2 damage; he rolls 7, 6 and gets a total of 15 damage. As this is at least 4 more than the zed’s Toughness of 7, he succeeds with a raise, which Shakes the zed and inflicts one Wound. As the zombie is an Extra, this incapacitates it, and it is removed from play ("up, down, or off the table").
Four shots have been fired, so I roll 4d6; each result of 4-6 means a new zed is drawn to the noise. I roll 4, 4, 6, 5 and get 4 new zeds, one of which appears at Bex’s 12 o’clock, and the rest at Don’s 12, 10 and 8 o’clock respectively.
"Bex, we have to help those guys, the zeds are going to kill them!"
"Don, we can’t help if we get killed! Remember how much trouble we had with a handful of zeds? How many do you see here?"
Turn 2: Don Heart 8, zeds Diamond Jack. The zed previously charging Don is now closer to him than Bex, so it changes target and makes a wild attack on him, Shaking him. A couple more zeds run towards Don, and three march to the sound of the guns, but most of them pile in on the gangers, who are closer; that melee is inconclusive, with the only damage being G12B, who is Shaken - but G7B recovers. Bex can’t get a clear shot, so steps in and flanks the zed attacking Don; they both roll to hit with a +1 gang-up bonus, and Don manages to Shake the zed.
Turn 3: Don Heart 7, zeds Heart 4. Don and Bex run for the building in section 4, as any other destination leaves them in charge reach of one or more zeds, and the ones in melee with the gangers will stay there. As an afterthought, I notice this means the gangers are now closer to the two zeds in pursuit than Don or Bex, so they go for the closest meat. A short conga line of zeds moves around the building in section 9 (I must give these buildings some names, I think) – they can’t see Don or Bex any more, but can see the gangers, so join the general feeding frenzy. While Don and Bex stack up ready to enter the building, the lone remaining PEF sneaks up right behind the door.
Turn 4: Don Diamond 2, zeds Club Jack. G12B recovers from Shaken and can act immediately as she succeeded with a raise; the Shaken zed fails to recover. The gangers decide to withdraw from melee and run, as there are now four zeds apiece either in melee with them or about to be so. This gives 7 zeds a free hit; one manages to Shake G12B, so she only retreats at half Pace. The others make a single running roll, and get a measly 1, so only move 7" to G12B’s 3". To minimise zed contacts, G8A and G7B move southeast, while G12B staggers northeast, drawing 8 zeds after her while the others are pursued by three. Another three start charging towards them as well, then realise Bex is closer and turn to her, one getting into melee but fortunately missing her.
One of the 8 zeds clustered around G12B brings her down with a lucky hit, and they begin to feast on her body; this will last 4 turns, until the end of turn 8. Bex now takes a Fear check as she is Seeing the Feast for the first time; she rolls Spirit d8 (8, which is an ace, so she rolls again – 3 – and adds the scores and +2 for being Brave for 13) and Wild d7 (6, roll again – 4 – and add +2 for being Brave, total 12). Bex succeeds with two raises, and quite frankly wonders what all the fuss is about.
Meanwhile, two more zeds have caught up to G8A, and one Shakes him.
Don fires a short burst at one of the other two in that group to thin them out, and kills one. (Unfortunately this generates another zed at his 12 o’clock.) Bex meanwhile strikes back at her opponent in melee, killing it outright.
Don Club Queen, zeds Diamond 8. Don burst-fires at the remaining zed close enough to melee Bex, rolls 23 damage, and starkly annihilates it. The noise creates two more zeds at his 2 and 6 o’clock. Don and Bex ready themselves to go through the door next turn; bursting in now with Don’s action for the turn already gone sounds like a bad idea, although Bex checks the door and discovers it is unlocked. Two zeds charge Don and Bex, so it looks like next turn could be another melee. As gangers are specified as being interested solely in their own welfare, G7B breaks and runs off down the alley behind her – anything else brings her into zed charge reach. G8A attempts to follow, but the free hits from zeds as she withdraws from melee Shake her and she can only move 3"; the zeds follow, catch her, get their normal attacks, and bring her down; another feast begins, lasting 5 turns – until the end of turn 10.
I could have used the NPC Movement table for the gangers, but it seemed so obvious what they would do that I didn’t bother.
Don thinks about calling the surviving ganger over, but she’s running the other way now and frankly that’s better for her. His conscience pricking him, he gets ready to open the door.
Turn 6: Don Diamond 4, zeds Heart 3. Don and Bex step through the door, and are immediately face to face with PEF6, so I now resolve it – I roll 2d6 vs area ER (5) and get 6, 6 – nothing there. However, as there was a PEF in the building, I don’t need to roll for zeds or any other occupants. Perfect. Don and Bex use their action to close and barricade the door, increasing its DV from 1 to 3; two zeds arrive outside and busily reduce it to 2. Meanwhile, outside the feasts continue and G7B runs off the board while the zeds eat her pals.
Turn 7: Initiative doesn’t matter this turn. Don and Bex search the building while the zeds outside reduce the door’s DV to 1 – they’ll break through next turn. Each human rolls 2d6 vs area ER (5); they both find a Food Unit and hastily stuff the tins and packets into Don’s backpack.
Turn 8: Don Heart Jack, zeds Heart 9 – excellent. The couple run for the back door, rolling a 5 and increasing their move from 6" to 11" this turn – by my house rules that is halved and rounded down as they are in a building, so 5". That takes them right to the door, and I roll 1d6 to see if it’s locked; a 5, so it is. Bex has the Universal Key, so blasts the door – she hits, and does a lousy 6 damage. As per SWD p. 71, this is not enough to break through a light door (Toughness 8), so she makes a mess, but nothing more. Since that has failed, Don burst-fires his assault rifle at the lock, hitting and causing 14 damage, shattering the door and allowing them out next turn. The noise draws two more zeds (at Don’s 8 and 10 o’clock) and alerts a third, ambling past outside, which moves to just outside the door, as well as the eight which have just finished their feast across the street (Don was hoping to wait until they dispersed and then loot the bodies; oh, well). Meanwhile, the zeds right outside break through the door and charge across the building.
Turn 9: Don Club 7, zeds Club 6 – thank heavens! Don yanks the door open and is immediately confronted by a zed, which Bex blasts to bits. The noise draws another zed at her 4 o’clock. Our Heroes now leave the building and run around the building into the alley between sections 4 and 7 and flatten themselves against the wall, hoping to dodge the zeds. The zeds shamble, or run if they could see humans at the start of the turn, towards the last sighting or source of the last shot.
Turn 10: Don Club Queen, zeds Spade 6. Don and Bex run 9" around the corner and up to the back door of the building in section 7, but discover it’s locked; there’s a zed inside, but it can’t get out, so it turns and shambles back towards the other door. The zeds outside move by the usual rules, meaning one charges as it can see Bex – fortunately it’s too far away to get into contact – and those across the road finish the second feast.
Turn 11: Don Spade 5, zeds Heart 8. Three zeds charge into melee this turn, two on Bex and one on Don. (Most of the rest amble through the open door into the building in section 4.) Bex is unharmed, and destroys one of her assailants. Don and his opponent are evenly matched, and neither injures the other.
Turn 12: Don Joker, zeds Diamond 10. Don smashes his foe to the ground, Bex does likewise (handy, those Joker bonuses on die rolls), and as the door is locked they run around the corner before anything else notices them. Only one zed can see them; it charges, but is too far away to reach them. The zed inside the section 7 building discovers both doors are locked and starts battering away at the one leading to the main street.
Don and Bex look at each other.
"Let it come to us," says Don, "Then we’ll brain it. I think noise attracts them."
Turn 13: Don and BEx are On Hold, waiting for the charging zed to reach them. Unfortunately, a second one rounds the corner, sees Don, and charges into melee, where it and Don miss each other. Bex steps in and Shakes it. Zeds with no line of sight to Our Heroes continue to mill about as usual.
Turn 14: Don Club 3, zeds Spade 9. Finally, the zed shaken some turns ago recovers, and shambles closer to Don and Bex. Another one charges into melee and hits Don, but his armour turns the claws. The lone in-building zed breaks down the door and emerges onto the street, moaning. Another zed gains LOS on Don and starts running towards him. More aimless shambling elsewhere. Meanwhile, Don and Bex fail to injure their opponents.
Turn 15: Don Heart 7, zeds Diamond 3. Don and Bex both fail to damage their zeds, who return the favour. A run of bad melee rolls here. To make matters worse, two more zeds get LOS on the couple and charge into the dogpile. Elsewhere, the zeds are shaking out into their traditional conga lines; one going clockwise around the board, and two more going both ways around the inside of the building in section 4.
Turn 16: Don Diamond 8, zeds Heart 5. Don and Bex go on full defence and withdraw from melee; once the zeds outnumber you, it gets really messy, even in a system as forgiving as Savage Worlds. To do this, each makes a Fighting roll, and if this is better than their Parry, they can use the roll instead this turn. It does Bex no good, but Don boosts his Parry to 6 this way, dodging the incoming claws (it would have gone up to 7, but there is a -1 penalty for using an improvised weapon, namely a clubbed assault rifle). Luckily, the only zed who can strike at Bex is Shaken and forfeits his attack. The pair now run off 8". Those zeds who saw them go charge after them, but zeds are on average slower than people. As Don and Bex round the corner, the board-edge conga line sees them and turns in pursuit.
Turn 17: Don Diamond 2, zeds Club 9. Curses, foiled again. Had Don gone first, he and Bex could have escaped the zeds by running down the alley, but as it is, three of them get back into melee, two with Don and one with Bex, and the Shaken one recovers, though it can’t attack this turn. Don’s Parry is still 6, though, as he hasn’t gone yet. One hits Don and Shakes him; I’m saving his bennies for now. Don goes first and rolls Spirit d8 (2) and Wild d6 (6, that’s the maximum possible on that die – an ace – so I roll it again and add the scores; a 3, for a total of 9). Don takes the 9, as that is higher, and since it is at least 4 more than the standard target number of 4, he has succeeded with a raise; that means he recovers immediately and can act this turn. Saving the benny is looking pretty smart right now. He hits one zed with a raise and Shakes it. Next turn Bex will be surrounded by zeds, so she aims her shotgun at the door behind them and blows it open with 18 damage. Even better, the noise doesn’t attract any more zeds.
Turn 18: Don Spade Jack, zeds Club King. Both humans are attacked by two zeds, and Don’s both hit, causing 17 and 9 damage respectively; Don’s effective Toughness is 7 (5 for him, +2 for the kevlar against claws), so the 17 Shakes him and threatens two Wounds, while the 9 just Shakes him. There’s no option but to soak the first, spending one benny to make a Vigour roll; he rolls Vigour d6 (2) and Wild d6 (1) – no good, so I spend a second benny to reroll and get a 4, which soaks one Wound. He may need his third benny so keeps it in reserve. He is now Shaken and Wounded, at -2 to all rolls. The second Shaken result stacks with the existing one to cause a third Wound, and Don is now at -3. Things are looking bad. However, he rolls a 16 on the Vigour check to avoid infection, and at least won’t turn into a zombie. Where was that 16 when I needed it, eh? Anyway… another one hits Bex but does no harm. Now Our Heroes act; full defence and withdraw again. First Don rolls to recover from Shaken, and gets an 11 – phew! Even with -3 for his Wounds, that’s still a success with a raise. Next he rolls to boost his Parry, but fails (not surprising considering his Fighting is now at -4). Bex also fails. It’s time to get the Hell out of Dodge, and they fall back into the building at a run.
Turn 19: Don Spade 10, zeds Spade Queen. The zeds charge after Don and Bex, but can’t quite catch them. The other door was already broken down by a zed in a previous turn – I need to start marking that somehow in future games – so they can run right out, and do so, making it halfway across the road – Don has his eye on the remains of the feast, hoping to get some loot from the corpse.
Turn 20: Don Diamond Ace, zeds Diamond 6. Huzzah! The guys move 12" this turn and make it right up to the corpse of G8A, which they use their action to loot, picking up one Food, two Luxury items, and an SMG. Even better, the zeds only move 5" this turn. Actually, that looks like we can loot the other body as well; entering buildings is too dangerous in this state, though.
Turn 21: Don Club Jack, zeds Diamond King. The zeds are starting to emerge now, so Don and Bex had better be quick. They run 10" to the zeds 5" this turn, and make it as far as the body of G12B. They strip the body, gaining 3 Food, 1 Luxury, 1 Medical and an Assault Rifle.
Turn 22: Don Spade 7, zeds Spade King. The zeds run 7" this turn and are getting worryingly close; time to go. The pair run 10" towards the edge of the board.
Turn 23: Don Spade Ace, zeds Heart Ace. Spades go before Hearts in the case of matching face values, so Don and Bex run 8" away, taking them off the board and ending the game.
Damn, these guys are lucky. For the second half of the game, they were one die roll away from disaster the whole time. Another tense game, and a real feeling of success to get them off-board meeting all their victory conditions for a Search scenario (get away without being Incapacitated, pick up some goodies, kill at least one zed). Three experience to Don, taking him to 9, and Bex rolls 1d6 for an advance – however, on a 3 she doesn’t get one.
They use up their new unit of Medical supplies treating Don’s wounds. Now, if Don rolls, he’ll be rolling d4-6 (three Wounds, doubled because he’s treating himself), the same as Bex; d4, -2 for unskilled, -1 for her own wound, -3 for Don’s. In both cases they are at +2 as they have 21st century medicine, so an effective d4-4 either way. However, Bex has three bennies left, and after using them all up, she manages to get a 13 thanks to aces – that drops to a 9 with the bonuses and penalties, but it’s still a success with a raise, so he recovers two Wounds and is now on -1. Don returns the favour, and is now rolling at d4-2; d4 basic, -1 for his Wound, -1 for her Wound, +2 for 21st century techniques, -2 for no more supplies. Even using his last benny, he can’t help her.
There’s another week before their next adventure, though, so they can both make natural healing rolls; those are ordinary Vigour rolls. Both succeed and recover fully.
Finally, an opposed Persuasion roll between Don and Bex to see if they stay together. Don rolls Persuasion d6 with a wild die and gets a 3; Bex rolls Persuasion d4-2 (no skill) with a wild die, and also gets a 3. I count that as "same number of successes", so again Bex stays with Don for another encounter.
"You know what’ll happen if we stay together," says Bex. "I’m not sure if I’m ready for it. There’s just been so much death…"
"I understand," Don replies. "But, let’s stick together at least until we get out of town, okay? You’ve seen what it’s like out there. We’ll have a better chance together."
The city is too freakin’ dangerous by half, so Don and Bex burn a Food Unit each and march out into the countryside, where they will begin their next encounter. I was hoping to find a vehicle, but I don’t want one badly enough to go into town again. We’ll start with a Take Back encounter to find somewhere to live, then synchronise encounters with calendar months.
Don Savage * Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigour d6. Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d6, Healing d4, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4. Charisma: –; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 7/9. Edges: Command, Natural Leader . Hindrances: Code of Honour, Loyal, Vengeful. Gear: Kevlar vest, assault rifle, crowbar, backpack. XP: 9. Advances: Strength. Progress: ZZZF but using ATZ Survivor tables if necessary; as a PC ("Star") he was automatically promoted on Z+21.
Rebecca "Bex" Smith * Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigour d8. Skills: Driving d6, Fighting d6, Notice d6, Repair d4, Shooting d6. Charisma: -. Pace: 6". Parry: 5. Toughness 6. Edges: Brave, Hard to Kill. Hindrances: None. Gear: Pump shotgun. Advances: Vigour. Progress: ZZF – still using Citizen tables, in case it ever matters.
Team Resources: Food 5, Fuel 0, Lux 4, Med 0, SMG, Assault Rifle.
I’m not using random encounters, and at this stage not feeling the lack of them either. If I want to add them in future, I’ll rule that a random encounter occurs if a joker is drawn.
The Hexographer map is working well, but I can make some improvements; first, name or number the buildings, and second, make the road up the middle dark grey instead of black – I can’t see the hex grid against it.