We’ve skipped a couple of our usual Saturday sessions, due to the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Christmas, so I’ve spent some time thinking about PEFs for the co-op game. I want a way of creating PEFs quickly during play, without having to prepare beforehand or slow the game down by looking things up; and I want some factions in the play area, to keep things interesting for my players in the long term – a sandbox environment to generate adventures, if you will.
Rather than look up the tables, I decided to use a simple die roll to select groups from my collection of eM4 prepainted figures:
- Police. Used to represent gangers after Day 30. (Don’t read anything into that, I just don’t have enough gangers otherwise.)
- Recce Squad. Used to represent survivors after Day 30.
- Recce Squad. (I have two Recce Squads, thanks to a sale at my FLGS.)
- Chequers Gang. Gangers.
- Mercenaries. Citizens.
- Roll again, at least until I get some more figures. Or I could use the Aliens set if I wanted to worry the players.
Then, I just haul out the relevant group, and that’s what the PEF is. To my mind, each of the eM4 groups has an obvious leader, who will be Rep 5, Pep 4, Sav 3; an obvious runt of the litter, who will be Rep 3, Pep 1, Sav 2; and three normal guys, who will be Rep 4, Pep 2, Sav 3. Most groups picked this way will be 5 figures, but this is the same pool of figures that gets raided for Stars and their Grunt sidekicks, which will mean some groups enter the table short-handed. I’ll adopt a rule from earlier versions of ATZ, and not bother with attributes for NPCs. (For Savage Worlds, I’d rate the leaders as Experienced Soldiers, and the Rep 3 or 4 members as Soldiers.)
Gear: THW games often suggest you pick a figure for your Star, and he or she has whatever the figure has. I’ll extend that to NPCs; they have whatever the figure has. Three of the figures have medical kits, so they have medical supplies; none of them have obvious food or luxury items. Too bad, the Stars will have to loot buildings for those. To compensate, though, there are a lot more figures with body armour than the tables on pp. 74-75 of ATZ: FFO would suggest. One or two of the figures have backpacks, which I will allow players to search as if they were buildings, so long as what they claim to find would fit inside a pack.
Zeds: I’ll use the Mongoose Battlefield Evolution figures for zombies until I get some proper zeds. They’re the only ones I have enough of, and I need to replace the red and green pawns with something that shows facing – facing is important in ATZ. Or maybe I’ll try the free download zed standees from Pinnacle’s website.
SIMPLIFIED LOOT TABLE
This is more for solo play, really; it allows me to run games using just the encounter tables in the QRS, without looking up what’s on the bodies in the main rulebook. I crunched some numbers about who carries what, and came up with this as an alternative to looking up loot on ATZ: FFO pp. 74-75.
When a figure is vanquished, roll 1d6 for each of Food, Luxury, Medical and Body Armour to see what it’s carrying. (Actually, I suppose I should roll for armour when the figure appears, as it may affect combat.)
- Food: 1-3 figure is carrying one unit, 4-6 it has two units.
- Luxuries: 1-2 none, 3-6 one unit.
- Medical supplies or Body Armour: 1-5 none, 6 one unit.
That doesn’t give the correct relative frequencies, but in the long term it averages out at roughly the right levels.
The lazy way to add these is to say that each encounter table (for example, Gangers 4-6) is one faction, a recurring ally or enemy. I did some analysis of who has how much of what compared to the averages, picked some likely-looking leaders for the groups, and let my mind wander for a bit. I won’t bore you with the percentages, but this is what I came up with; numbers in ( ) show which group member I mean when I say someone is the leader.
Citizens 1-3: The Commune. Led by a council of four equally capable leaders, David (2), Kim (3), John (10) and Michelle (11), the Commune has no surplus of anything, and is short of everything; charitable players could easily befriend them. They have more women than most groups, however, and if things get bad enough they might be tempted to swap them for something edible; any of the ganger or survivor groups would be credible partners in that trade.
Citizens 4-6: The Farm. Led by Robert (10), a Born Leader, who has three right-hand women; Amy (2), Angela (4) and Melissa (11 – a medic). This faction has more female members than any other; they also have a surplus of Food, which they will trade for Luxuries or Medical supplies.
Gangers 1-3: The Kings. Led by Chris (7), a Greedy old man. The heir to the throne is his Fast grandson Will (4). They prefer to trade Food to get Luxury goods and Medical supplies, although they have no actual medic.
Gangers 4-6: The Jacks. Nominally led by Brian (2), who is Dim; the power behind the throne is Tammy (12), Brian’s young mistress. While she is the ruthless brains of the outfit, though, its heart is Mark (8), a badly injured (Rep 2) but charismatic consigliore. The Jacks would also offer Food and ask for Luxuries or Medical supplies.
Survivors 1-3: The Righteous. These are led by Mary (12), a mature but Agile female, whose second in command is Richard (2), a young male Brawler – I picture him as heading up the Arm Militant, who defend the rest of the Righteous. The Righteous are intended to subvert the post-apocalyptic trope of the mad, vicious fundamentalist Christian group; these guys are indeed fundamentalist Christians, but they have retained their essential decency. (That will please those of my group who are devout Christians, and worry those who play Silent Hill.) The Righteous have a surplus of both Food and Luxuries, but need Medical supplies (and a medic who can use them).
Survivors 4-6: The Libertarian Militia. The Militia is a group of doomsday preppers who have been waiting for this day for years. They are well-equipped, well-prepared, and well-organised. They are nominally led by Jeff (12), a mature male Poser, but the real power is with Scott (2), a young male and a Born Leader. This group has the lowest number of female members, and if they cannot adjust their gender imbalance by civilised means, at some point they will probably raid one of the Citizen groups and steal some women. Like the Righteous, the Militia have Food and Luxuries, but want Medical supplies – they had envisioned an apocalypse, but not one with this much disease or this many injuries.
So, short version: Everyone wants Medical supplies, and almost everyone would swap Food for them. If the campaign gets sufficiently grim and dark, Citizens 4-6 might offer women to Survivors 4-6 in exchange for Luxury items, while Citizens 1-3 might offer women to Survivors 4-6 for Food, and any of the ganger or survivor groups could raid either of the citizen groups for women. (It would be equally valid to say that all groups are ~50% female, but preferentially send males out scavenging, so the players meet more men than women; but a darker interpretation lends itself better to the classic damsel in distress scenario and is more in line with my original inspiration, the movie 28 Days Later.) Less disturbingly, any of the 1-3 groups might offer any of the 4-6 groups Items or Resources to gain access to their medical skills; and Stars with that skill in their tactical group could probably find employment too.
I did think about doing a large-scale map showing which faction was where compared to the Stars, but lacked the motivation to do so. Maybe later.