Flack stands impassively at attention before the big oak desk. The senior officer behind it says, "Captain Flack, owing to the present… situation, your court-martial has been postponed indefinitely."
"I have a job for you." The officer rises, and walks over to a map of the town and surrounding area, hastily pinned on his wall, and covered in esoteric military graffiti. "There’s a valuable asset trapped here, outside Phase Line Bravo;" he taps the map for emphasis. "A Doctor Margaret Grant. I want you to get her, and bring her back here. She may hold the key to what’s going on out there."
"Sir." Flack acknowledges. "Equipment? Rules of Engagement?"
"Take what you need, Captain, and do whatever you have to do to bring her in. Clear?"
"Sir." Flack salutes and leaves. His face remains impassive, and he is monosyllabic as ever; but if the boss is sending him into downtown Hereford fully tooled up with a de facto shoot to kill order, things must be worse than the TV news is letting on.
The same board as last time, and the Escape! scenario from p. 68, although for no very good reason I use a different diagonal to cross the board. Again I’m after a quick game, so Flack is alone and on foot. PEFs rock up in sections 3, 4 and 6, with Reps 5, 6, 6 respectively. Flack marches 8" onto the board from the corner of section 7, and the fun begins. Four zeds this time, and a bit more spread out than usual. An urban area in daytime, giving it ER 5.
Activation: Flack 3, zeds 5. Flack decides not to mess around this time, and fires one round at each of the zeds in front of him. After skimming p. 16, I decide there is no need for an In Sight test, as the zeds are already clearly in view. He rolls 1d6 for each shot and adds his Rep, to get scores of 6, 9; the 6 misses, and the 9 hits. He rolls 1d6 vs Impact (3) for the hit and gets a 3; the zed is Out Of the Fight, which for a zed means goodnight, Vienna. However, I roll 3, 6 for shots attracting zeds, and a new one pops up, which I assume has just come into sight around the corner. Let’s call that a draw, shall we?
Belatedly, I notice Flack has Line Of Sight on the PEF in section 3, and resolve it; oh goody, it’s two more zeds, right outside the asset’s house – that’d be why she hasn’t reported in. Unless she’s one of them?
Flack decides not to move; let the zeds come to him.
Activation: Flack 6, zeds 3. Everybody activates – while Flack is Rep 5, he has Initiative, and counts as Rep 6 for activation while he is alone. Flack decides to draw the zeds around a corner, intending to fast move past them to the target at a later point. Clearly shooting them isn’t going to help, they pop up as fast as he can slot them. Obligingly, they follow as he intended.
Activation: Double five – since this is the area’s ER or less, we get a random event (p. 59). I roll 3d6 and get a 7; a random building has caught fire, attracing 2d6 extra zombies. That turns out to be 10 zombies. And yet again, an apparently simple outing for the Star goes right to hell early in the game! In this, ATZ is entirely faithful to the genre.
Activation: Flack 3, zeds 5. Flack holds his ground, hoping to lure the zeds in close and then fast-move past them. Just because you can activate doesn’t mean you have to, and while shooting a couple of zeds might help, it’s likely to draw more.
Activation: Flack 6, zeds 2. Wait for it, Flack, wait for it… This would be a very risky strategy with a low-Rep Star, but with an effective Rep of 6 I think I can pull it off. The zeds close in, while one PEF moves away.
Activation: Flack 2, zeds 6. Flack declares he is fast-moving and fires a burst at the zed blocking his most direct route, scoring 8, 13, 10 and landing two shots – one of these rolls 1 for damage, Obviously Dead, dropping the zed in its tracks. Two more zeds appear, but not in unreasonable positions. Flack now fast-moves; he rolls 3, 5 vs Rep 5 and doubles his movement, hurdling the zed’s body and charging through the gap he has just made. If he doesn’t win the initiative next turn things will get very iffy, but with effective Rep 6 for activation he should be OK.
The zeds, meanwhile, fail to activate; the PEF in section 4 passes 2d6 for movement and barges out of its building right up behind Flack, who is facing the other way. The last remaining PEF is in Flack’s Line Of Sight anyway, so since it passed 2d6 it will move right up to him on the other side. This looks like a good time to resolve them, so I do, by rolling 2d6 for each vs ER 5. The one behind Flack passes 2d6, and a check on the Contact tables (p. 61-62) tells me it is two more zeds; fortunately, zeds cannot activate on the turn they are placed. The one in front is a lone Survivor, Rep 4, with an SMG, so I immediately take a Meet & Greet test, both sides rolling Rep d6 and looking for successes. Flack gets 3, the Survivor 1, so Flack can choose whether to Talk the Talk (engage peacefully) or Walk the Walk (go to In Sight test and start shooting). There’s no advantage to shooting the survivor, so Flack Talks the Talk.
A lone survivor bursts around the corner as two more zeds emerge from a building right behind Flack. "Zombies!" cries Flack, pointing behind himself.
Activation: Flack 5, zeds 3. Flack goes first and fast-moves towards his objective, again passing 2d6 and getting a 16" move. The zeds and the survivor move simultaneously; the survivor rolls 2d6 vs Rep on the NPC Movement table (p. 65) and gets 4, 3; he passes 2d6, but since he is neutral to Flack and they have already interacted, he counts as passing 1d6. While there is a building available, which he should enter, it is on fire, so I decide he moves away from Flack instead. Given that there are about to be zeds all over him like white on rice, he fast-moves, directly away from Flack and the zeds, passing 2d6 and moving 16", which takes him off the board.
I decide that the zombies will follow whichever human is closer to them, and move them accordingly.
Activation: Flack 1, zeds 3. Flack enters the building in the corner of section 3; I was going to skip the Defining Moment as I knew the asset, a human, was already inside; but I decided to do it anyway, as the genre is full of such surprises. We start (p. 47) by rolling 6d6 for zombies; 112346 = two more zeds inside, and then each side needs a Surprise Total. This is 1d6 + Rep for Flack, in this case 10, and 1d6 + number of zombies for the zeds, in this case 7. As a Star, Flack gets the choose his reaction, and burst-firing the L-85 seems like a good choice; he scores 10, 10, 8 and hits each zed once. In both cases he rolls 4 for damage, and as this is more than the weapon’s Impact, the foes are knocked down. Being zombies, this means they are knocked prone but not stunned. Flack seizes this moment to advance into melee and rolls 7d6 against the first zed; 2445566 is not his best roll ever, but including the extra success for attacking a zed, he has two successes. The zed rolls 335 and also has two successes; they are evenly matched.
Outside, the other zombies are closing in. I decide that the fast-moving survivor is now at least 24" away, so all remaining zeds will make for Flack.
Activation: Flack 6, zeds 4. Since they can’t actually see a live human at the moment, their Rep is not boosted to 4, so the zeds don’t activate. Flack melees the two zeds inside, and since they must activate to move and thus stand up, they are both still prone. He gets 3 successes better than the first, knocking it down again by rolling a 4 for damage, and 6 better than the second; he can’t fail to roll less than or equal to a 6 on 1d6, so the second zed is toast.
Activation: Flack 1, zeds 3. Flack goes first and attacks the zed at his feet, which will stand up again this turn but not until after Flack has put the boot in. Sadly, he only manages to knock it down again.
As the zeds move towards where they last saw Flack, namely the still-open doorway, three gain line of sight and charge into melee from Flack’s rear. Oops. The -2d6 modifier for being charged from behind mean Flack passes 0d6, while the zeds auto-pass 1d6. The three zeds attack, Flack can’t fire and counts as Unarmed this turn. I’ll spare you the numerous die rolls, but Flack knocks down the first zed, is knocked down by the second, and knocked down again by the third.
Things are looking very bad indeed for Flack, and his Star powers can’t save him, but we know he is still alive at Z+50, and we also know there is an NPC ready to join his gang just off-map in section 9. So, his Plot Immunity manifests itself in the form of Dr Margaret Grant, Rep 4 Survivor with an assault rifle, who shoots the zeds standing over him and one of the ones on the floor.
I love the way the stories flow in this game.
While Flack is rolling around on the floor with two zeds, and another two stand over him ready to pounce, the Good Doctor steps out of the room where she has been hiding and plugs three of them.
"Let me guess," she says acidly. "You’re here to rescue me. I thought I’d be worth more to them than one incompetent squaddie."
Flack is still wrestling with a zed and too preoccupied to answer.
Activation: Flack 2, zeds 4. Flack is no longer alone, so his Initiative and effective Rep 6 evaporate, leaving him with Rep 5. He uses his movement to stand up, then wades into the remaining zed while it’s still down, finally despatching it (roll of 1123445 vs 245, followed by roll of 4 = OOF which slays the zed). The surviving zeds can’t see anyone so fail to activate.
"Bayonet," says Flack in some amazement as Dr Grant fixes it on her M16.
"Yes," she says, "So I’m told. Now then, I can see from the upstairs window there are a ton of zombies out there, and I’ve observed that gunfire draws them like flies. So, barricade that door – quietly – and we’ll wait for them to lose interest, then make a break for it. No shooting, understand? Hence the bayonet. Do you have one, or has the Army stopped issuing them?"
Flack thinks to himself: I think I’m in love.
Now, I can’t find any specific rules for this in ATZ, but the implication of the zombie activation rules on p. 48 is that if zeds can’t see or hear you, they move off randomly.
- Turn 12: With a double 6 for activation, nothing happens.
- Turns 13, 14: The horde fails to activate.
- Turn 15: The horde moves up to the door, which is where it last saw people; then stops in confusion.
- Turn 16: The horde activates and splits, moving off in several directions.
- Turn 17: The horde fragments continue to move away.
- Turn 18: Flack and Grant dismantle their barricade, quietly; the shuffling zombies move as far away as they can get before they bounce off the board edge again.
Activation: Flack 3, zeds 1. Flack and Grant fast-move out of the building and make for the opposite diagonal of the board. The good doctor only passes 1d6 to fast move though, so starts to lag behind. Flack moves cannily just out of the field of vision of the zeds (yes, I know you can’t tell in the picture, but I’ve just finished moving them so I remember). The zeds in section 1 shake out into a conga line as they hit the board edge, but as they turn, they gain Line Of Sight on Flack and Grant. The ones in section 4 remain blissfully ignorant.
Activation: Flack 1, zeds 6. For some reason the zeds fail to move, and Flack makes the best of it, fast-moving but holding his speed down to stay close to Dr Grant, as she picks up the pace to the full 16".
Flack and Grant are too busy running to exchange pleasantries, but the sight of the zombies halting in place, swaying from side to side and moaning softly, is disconcerting.
Activation double 2, random event. 3d6 = 16; a black chopper flies overhead, and all zombies forfeit their next activation watching it. How fortunate for our heroes!
Activation: Double 6, nobody moves.
Activation: Flack 2, zeds 3 – but fortunately they miss a turn due to the black chopper. Flack and Grant fast-move off the board to victory.
Back in the office, this time with the newly rescued asset, Flack gets his next mission.
"Dr Grant here tells us there is vital material at a secret research base here." He taps the map again. "Get a squad together, Flack; you’re going to recover it for us…"
This episode takes Flack up to the point where we first saw him on 28 Months Later, so I’ll now skip ahead to Z+60, just after the latest adventure on his timeline.
I think I’ll add Dr Grant to the pre-loaded PEFs pile. She’s going to be fun.
Credits: Maps – Wydraz. Figures and pawns – eM4. Statistics: The map is 21" x 32"; the scenario used three human figures and 22 zombies.