28th January 2013: Z+38.
Don and Bex are sitting quietly, watching the stars and huddling together for warmth. At least, that’s Don’s excuse, and he’s sticking to it.
"Don, where do you think this all started?" Bex asks, idly.
"The zombies? I don’t know, but it must be somewhere close by."
"You’ve seen people get bitten, and turn, right? How long does it take?"
"A few seconds. Minute, maybe."
"There you go. No incubation period. It’s not like you get bitten, hop on a plane, and then bite someone in another country three days later. No, you get bitten, and you go looking for someone else to bite right away. So, it spreads slowly, at the speed of a walking zed. We saw zombies within a few days of the outbreak, so it must’ve started near us."
"What a comforting thought. Not."
"Well, yes, actually. It means people far enough away had some warning, some time to prepare. Maybe in France, or Brazil, or somewhere, they still have a civilization going."
"I don’t think so. When was the last time you saw contrails? If anyone was still okay, they’d send planes to take pictures, wouldn’t they? If only to find out how bad it was?"
Rules Updates: I see I’ve been short-changing the zombies on recovery from Shaken – they may only have Spirit d4, but as Undead, they roll at +2.
This is a daytime Take Back encounter in a rural area. Don and Bex have enough food for a while, and they’re looking for somewhere to call home – at least, until they’ve used up all the resources in the area and have to move on. As usual, comments in italics show where I’m using ATZ to supplement Savage Worlds.
The map is The Watermill from Cry Havoc Fan – I’m sticking with one inch per hex, which makes it a small map, but that won’t break the game, just speed it up a little. Don’s objectives, worth one experience each, are: (1) Survive without either Bex or himself being Incapacitated or turned into zombies; (2) clear all buildings on the map and resolve all Possible Enemy Forces; (3) kill all zombies on the table and drive off all opposing humans.
Don and Bex walk their Pace (6") onto the table and look around. PEFs: Rep 1 in section 4, Rep 6 in section 6, Rep 5 in section 4. Zombies: 1d3 per person, namely 3; they are 12" away at Don’s 12, 10 and 10 o’clock, respectively.
The couple can see PEF6, so I resolve it right away; I roll 2d6 vs Encounter Rating (1) and get 5, 4 – just a case of nerves, there’s nothing there really. I remove the PEF.
Don draws Club 7, Opposing Forces draw Spade 7. Spades trump Clubs, so the zeds and PEFs go first. PEF1 astonishingly passes 1d6 and moves to the table edge, then turns left. It is still hidden from view.PEF5 passes 2d6 and would like to close up, but can’t without breaking cover. The zombies shamble towards Our heroes, that being the way they were set up facing, and one gains line of sight on Bex, so it starts running. It runs 1d6" on top of its Pace of 4" – it rolls a 1, and this is hardly noticeable. It’s now 7" away from Bex and will likely be all over her next turn, so she blasts it with her pump shotgun.
She rolls Shooting d6 (3) and Wild d6 (1), picks the 3 as it’s bigger, and adds the +2 for a shotgun at close range – 5, a hit, since the Target Number is 4. She rolls 3d6 for damage and gets 11; since that is 4 more than the zed’s Toughness of 7, she succeeds with a raise, inflicting one wound on it – as it is an Extra, this kills it. I roll 1d6 to see if another zombie has been attracted by the noise and get a 2; no, it hasn’t. I note that Bex has killed her third zombie, and need only hurt a real person now to be promoted from Citizen.
The pair move to put their backs to a wall on general principles, but can’t see anything else right now, so Don has no target.
Don Club Ace, OpFor Diamond 6. Don and Bex go on hold; let the zeds come to them first. PEF1 passes 0d6 and stays put. PEF5 passes 1d6 and moves away.
The zeds run 5" extra this turn, or 9" in all, and as they break cover Don makes an opposed Agility roll to interrupt them and shoot one as they charge. The zombies make a group Agility roll (p. 63) and get an 11, against Don’s 5; they’re just too fast for him, and they’re into melee before he can squeeze off a shot.
Fortunately only one can reach him this turn; it makes a wild attack, rolling Fighting d6 (6, that’s an ace so it rerolls – 2 – for a total of 8, then adds +2 for the wild attack to get a 10). That beats Don’s Parry of 5 by at least 4, so the zombie gets an extra d6 of damage for hitting with a raise. It rolls 2d6 (Strength d6 plus 1d6 for the raise) and gets a 13, adding +2 for the wild attack for a total of 15, beating Don’s Toughness of 7 (5 for him, 2 for his armour) by 8 and thus threatening a Shaken condition and two Wounds. Don spends a benny and makes a Vigour roll to soak the damage. He rolls Vigour d6 (1) and Wild d6 (1) for an abysmal total of 2; I’m not having that, so I spend a second benny to reroll and get a much better 10 thanks to an ace – each success and raise soaks one wound, and since that means Don has no wounds left, he is not shaken either. Don now smacks the zed with his rifle; he rolls Fighting d6 (5) and Wild d6 (1), and since the zed’s Parry is reduced by 2 for the wild attack, from 5 to 3, he hits. He rolls Strength d6 (3) and improvised weapon damage d4 (3) and gets a 6 – this is less than the zed’s Toughness, so he inflicts no damage.
Bex walks calmly around the melee and fires at the second zed running towards Don, hitting with a raise to inflict 4d6 damage, and blowing it to pieces.
Don Heart 5, OpFor Spade King. PEF5 moves in again, PEF1 stays put.The zed makes another wild attack on Don, hitting with a raise again and threatening one Wound. Don soaks this, as in the country the PEFs are quite likely to resolve as nothing to worry about. He soaks one wound and is fine, then counterattacks, killing the zombie.
I check the rules, but can’t see anything that would stop Don moving now he has killed his opponent, so he and Bex move across the river (which I count as difficult terrain, an extra 1" of movement required per hex) – he walks as he didn’t declare running earlier, and Bex walks as she might want to shoot. I decide to give the PEFs the benefit of the doubt and don’t resolve them yet.
Don Diamond Ace, OpFor Club Jack. Don goes first this time, and he and Bex move up to gain line of sight on the PEFs, which I now resolve. PEF1 is nothing in and of itself, but does increase the local Encounter Rating by one, to 2. PEF5 is just nerves. I remove both PEFs from the board.
No need for initiative now; Don and Bex take a leisurely stroll back to the watermill and enter (the door is unlocked, as per my usual 50/50 chance). I now roll 6d6 for zombies, with each 6 indicating one is present; three of the blighters. Two of them attack Don in melee, but they both miss – the third one can’t get to him. Don returns the compliment.
Don Heart 9, zeds Club King. The zeds make another wild attack, and one hits, but the claws scrape uselessly at Don’s armour. Bex moves away, so that Don can back up, giving her a shot into the zeds. Don goes on full defence and withdraws from combat; he rolls Fighting d6 (9) and Wild d6 (17 thanks to a couple of aces) – he uses the higher of these instead of his normal Parry (5) until his next action. Parry 17 ought to be enough.
Don Club Queen, zeds Spade 5. Bex blasts one of the zeds to bits. Don runs across the stream to join her, and also covers the doorway. The zeds boil out, running 10", and one gets into melee with Bex and Don – the other can’t quite make it as I rule each hex moved inside a building counts double. The zed misses, and Don swipes at it, connecting thanks to the +1 gang-up bonus granted by its fighting both he and Bex; but he fails to damage it.
Don Heart 6, zeds Club 2. Bex clubs her zed, hitting it and shaking it. Don swings at it as well, but misses. The zed rolls a 1 to recover from Shaken, and even with the +2 for being undead, it fails to recover. The second zed moves up and attacks Don, as he is closer.
Don Diamond 9, zeds joker. The shaken zed recovers, and thanks to the joker can act immediately. It makes a wild attack on Bex, and hits thanks to the total +4 bonus (+2 joker, +2 wild attack) even on a roll of 2; however, 5 damage (1 rolled, +2 for wild attack, +2 for joker) is not enough to get past Bex’s Toughness of 6 (it went up one last encounter when she improved her Vigour). The other zed clocks Don, and also fails to damage him. Don’s return swipe hits on a 3, as the zed’s wild attack lowered its Parry, and he kills it thanks to an ace on the damage roll. Bex counterattacks, hits with a raise, and kills hers.
There’s now nothing to stop Don and Bex looting the watermill; I reason that although they have entered it before, it can still be searched as no-one else has been there since. The ER is now 2; Don rolls 4, 3 and passes 0d6, while Bex rolls 1, 1 and finds an Item – this can be anything I want except a weapon or body armour, and I decide it should be a motorcycle, for two reasons:
- Travel between areas costs one food unit if on foot, or the vehicle’s Bash Value in fuel units if driving. Motorcycles have a Bash Value of zero. Hur hur hur.
- I can’t resist the thought of roaring through a post-apocalyptic wasteland on a motorcycle laden with guns and a hot chick riding pillion. If the thought of that doesn’t bring a grin to your face, check your testosterone levels immediately.
Experience: All objectives achieved. Don gets three experience, taking him to 12 and gaining him an advance; I choose Fighting. Bex rolls a 1, and since as a NPC she needs 5+ to advance, she doesn’t. never mind.
Keeping It Together: Don and Bex make an opposed Persuasion roll to see if they split up or not. Don rolls Persuasion d6 (4) and Wild d6 (1), so scores 4; Bex rolls Persuasion d4-2 (0) and Wild d6-2 (0) and gets a 0 overall. Don succeeds with a raise (a result at least 4 higher than Bex’s), so Bex is a permanent addition to his tactical group and will not need to make this roll again.
Don and Bex sit in companionable silence for a while, staring into the flames of their carefully-concealed fire; then Bex starts singing, in a smoky contralto.
"Our house… is a very, very, very fine house; with two cats in the yard; life used to be so hard…" she stops suddenly and turns to look at Don, surprised at herself.
"Our house? You’re staying, then?"
"Yeah, I suppose I might as well. Don’t get cocky, though," she smiles. "It’s just until someone better turns up." Don offers her an arm to lean into, and she accepts. The odds of her finding someone better out here, he reasons, are not good. And if she does, Don can always shoot him.
Don Savage * Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigour d6. Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d8, Healing d4, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4. Charisma: –; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 7/9. Edges: Command, Natural Leader. Hindrances: Code of Honour, Loyal, Vengeful. Gear: Kevlar vest, assault rifle, crowbar, backpack. XP: 12. Advances: Strength, Fighting. 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: 5. Edges: Brave, Hard to Kill. Hindrances: None. Gear: Pump shotgun. Advances: Vigour. Progress: ZZZF – still using Citizen tables, in case it ever matters.
Team Resources: Food 5, Fuel 0, Lux 4, Med 0, SMG, Assault Rifle, Motorcycle.
You know, I’m not sure which is more fun; plain vanilla ATZ or the ATZ/SW hybrid. Fortunately, I don’t have to choose, I can keep playing both until something shinier catches my eye.