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War of the Dead game report - Updated 4/16 - Final Session
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jcayer
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:34 am    Post subject: War of the Dead game report - Updated 4/16 - Final Session Reply with quote

Tonight we started our War of the Dead campaign. I've been wanting to run this for a while and there was definitely some excitement among the players. I have a fairly large group to deal with, some of whom play remotely over google hangouts, so it was definitely a challenging session tonight. To make things interesting, I let them start the game as themselves.
In attendance:
Jeff: chemistry teacher, good physical condition
Bob: analyst, good physical condition, EMT
Aimee: social worker, bad knee,went to bed early
Adam: computer administrator, poor physical condition(sorry buddy)
Remote:
Mike: Salesman, outdoorsman, EMT/Paramedic
Kris: nurse, good physical condition
Joel: accountant

Once they boarded the ship, I gave them the opportunity to explore a bit and introduced everyone to one NPC. I figured this would give me the chance to hook these NPCs back in and give the victims some faces. FYI, all of the NPC names were generated here: http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm Thanks, I think to Jordan, for suggesting a list of NPC names. I planned to do that, but his suggestion solidified it for me and it made things so much easier.
Aimee spent some time at the pool where she met Mrs Treymore who was vacationing with her family
Joel opted to visit the casino where a successful gambling roll netted him a bit of coin. He encountered Ted Milnes, a professional gambler.
Jeff went to the gym to workout where he made friends with a very attractive woman, Tabatha Thaler.
Bob(recently wed), spent the afternoon, alone, with his wife.
Adam met Billy Haynes at the bar. It was an easy way for me to introduce Billy.
Mike opted to go skeet shooting and met Benjamin Moore paint salesman, Jessie Wait
Finally, Kris went to book some excursions where he met Javier Betton, an avid adventurer

With the first afternoon coming to a close, the group prepared to attend the celebration ball. Copying Ferret, I also played Luck Be a Lady Tonight(from youtube) as Mr Forthington was introduced. I took it so far as to have a glass and tap on it with a small stick. It really did the trick for getting their attention. I also used a picture of Richard Attenborough to give them an image for Forthington. Shortly into the celebration, Bob raised a toast and Billy Haynes accidentally bumped into him, causing him to spill his drink. Billy, being the man he is, couldn't resist buying the table a round to make up for the accidental bump and before anyone knew what was happening, I had the medical guys make a Notice check. Mike and Bob both noticed his unsteady gate, sweating, and shortness of breath. As soon as he collapsed, they swung into action performing CPR and trying to assist. In the meantime, Jeff and Kris went looking for a defibrillator. I wasn't prepared for them to save him then and there, so they didn't find one. The Medical Team from the ship was quick to respond and whisk Billy away. Mike offered to join them, but was assured they did not need his assistance and that he should enjoy the party.

As the party drew to a close, the group decided to hit a club to check out the night life on the ship. This was a very convenient time for them to bump into Mrs Haynes who was returning from the infirmary. She was beside herself, confused, and terribly upset about her husband. Some of the group comforted her as best they could while the rest found a concierge phone and called for assistance. Once again, a member of the medical crew showed up to escort her to her room. When asked about Billy's condition, he stated he had just come on duty and did not know anything. Some gentle prodding here by me resulted in no interest to investigate the infirmary. I also stole from Jordan(I think) here and used the aurora thing at night. The group would later learn that disrupted communications.

The next day dawned early and Mike and Bob decided on a run up on deck to start the day. After that, they thought to stop in and check on Billy. Arriving at the infirmary, they found the waiting room empty of staff or visitors. Instead, they were greeted by the terrible stench of death and blood and gore splatters throughout the area. Mike went to call security from the phone on the table and the remains of Mr Haynes walked in from the back room. He was dragging part of a medical assistant and munching on its intestines. This of course, required a guts check. Mike succeeded, but Bob failed, resulting in him freezing up in fear and shock. Next up, I gave it my all and gave them the moan. I think it was pretty good and definitely unsettled the players. Cards were dealt and Mike got to go first. He grabbed Bob and basically dragged him out of the room. They were able to quickly outdistance the zombie, but not lock the doors as they didn't have the keys.

Mike and Bob ran up to meet the rest of the group at breakfast where they told them the story. The rest of the group were very concerned and decided they needed to act. Some were already discussing getting off the ship. Jeff contacted the Matre d and asked where security was and if he would call medical to see if anyone was there. Jeff wanted to be sure Bob and Mike had not hallucinated or something like that. The matre D returned and told them there was no response from medical. At this point Bob, still reeling from his failed Guts check, was trying to climb on a table and convince people they needed to get off the boat ASAP. Kris and Jeff managed to subdue him enough that the few people who saw him thought he had some sort of mental imbalance or was playing a joke.

The group headed to security where they met the receptionist on duty, Shirley. There was a veiled reference made to Airplane the movie that named her. After Bob and Mike tried to explain what they had seen to her, she was not real receptive. She wasn't sure if she was on some prank show,or if there was something wrong with the two of them. Finally, Jason Kirkman(played by Liam Neeson) came out of his office. Like Shirley, he had trouble believing their story. In retrospect, I should have let it go at this point and just said he would investigate. However, I wanted a bit more, so when Bob failed his persuasion check, Jason insisted Bob go with him to investigate. He felt the story was so absurd that if Bob was going to waste his time with a prank, Jason was going to waste Bob's time as well. Bob was extremely frustrated with Jason at this point and was not afraid to let him know. Video surveillance cameras showed stains on the floor that could have been anything, but no motion. Bob would not go with Jason, however, Mike, Jeff, and Adam agreed to join him. Bob, Kris, and the rest of the gang would return to their cabins to see what happened.

Once they arrived at the infirmary,they could see blood splattered all over the reception area, but before they could investigate, they heard, the moan and a scream from around the corner. Looking around, Jeff found an axe(Ferret again) and Adam a fire extinguisher. Racing over there, they got a front row seat of zombie Haynes dining on a security guard Kirkman had radio'd to meet them there. Jeff and Adam both failed their gut checks. After an enormous breakfast, Jeff was almost sick, while Adam unloaded everything he had stuffed in his gullet for breakfast, and then some. The zombie advanced but was far enough away that he could not reach them on the first turn. Adam dropped the fire extinguisher and retreated down the hall. Kirkman pumped a pair of rounds from his Glock into the chest of the creature, that didn't slow it down. At this point, Mike said aim for the head....I let him have it as it was obvious shots to the chest were ineffective. The creature attempted to attack Kirkman, but missed miserably. Jeff then stepped up and buried the axe deep into its neck. So deep, he couldn't get it out. At this point, Jeff was able to hold him in place long enough for Kirkman to bury a slug in Haynes' head, dropping him in his tracks.

Mike went to check the dead security guy and was promptly attacked. I rolled a one on the attack, which made it pretty pointless. Jeff was there to back Mike up, and swung his axe...snake eyes, critical failure. How could I resist? The zombie shifted at the last minute, moving Mike into the oncoming blade. Fortunately, Jeff continued to roll ones and rolled snake eyes for damage again, one for damage and one for strength. So Mike lived to fight another day as Kirkman took this one out as well. Mike wanted the gun from the dead guard, but Kirkman refused to give it to him. Like Bob, Mike's frustration with Kirkman was brimming over, and Mike was done with the mess. Once he rounded up the others, his intent was to steal a lifeboat and escape. Kirkman did give Jeff the radio, and Mike pocketed some handcuffs. Kirkman then insisted they return to their rooms so his men could get the situation under control. Although not happy about it, they complied with the intent of agreeing with Mike, and stealing a lifeboat and taking their chances on the high seas.

Back at the rooms, Bob had everyone packing a small bag and preparing to leave. Once again, I wanted to keep the players on the boat a bit longer, so I had Kirkman radio them and ask for their help. Mike and Adam both have the Heroic hindrance so you can bet I used that against them. They agreed to meet Kirkman in his office where he asked for their help, offered to make sure their loved ones were safe,and arm them, if they would help him. They agreed, but now that they were armed,half the group was ready to jump ship. Before giving them the weapons, the scene with Forthington, Kirkman, and Romero had to play out. Forthington and Romero bust into the office and Forthington tells Kirkman he is not allowing Romero to contact the coast guard and that the problem should be handled internally. Kirkman is furious with the statement but wants to keep his job. The players don't care about that and Mike handcuffs Forthington as they lock him in the brig. Kirkman agrees to arm them, Romero returns to the bridge to contact the coast guard, and the players escort their loved ones to the secure area. Kirkman earned big points here by "changing sides" and giving the players what they really wanted...guns!

The next couple hours are spent rounding up injured people and bringing them to the security office, now set up as a temporary infirmary. I should have run a couple small encounters here, but it was getting late. Things settled down a bit, but then Kirkman lost contact with the bridge. Everyone converged there to find a dead zombie, dead security guard, and damaged radio. They asked Romero if he had been able to contact the coast guard and he said he had not because of the interference in the atmosphere from the aurora. With that, an explosion rocked the ship, sending it into darkness. Romero commented how Forthington had some controls wired to his personal suite and this could be a result. Kirkman's attempts to raise the security office failed. The group agrees to go there with him, but are very close to cutting their losses and steal a lifeboat. Arriving at security, they find it overrun with zombies.


I called for a break here as we came much further off the rails than I was prepared for. So next session, either next week, or the week after will pick up here, with a battle.

This link will be provided to my players, so please, no spoilers. save those for the other thread that I'll use for prep ideas: http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=37819


Last edited by jcayer on Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:35 am; edited 13 times in total
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:33 pm    Post subject: Re: War of the Dead game report - session 1 9/25 Reply with quote

jcayer wrote:
The group headed to security where they met the receptionist on duty, Shirley. There was a veiled reference made to Airplane the movie that named her. After Bob and Mike tried to explain what they had seen to her, she was not real receptive.


Heh. Not real receptive. ;D

jcayer wrote:
Jeff then stepped up and buried the axe deep into its neck. So deep, he couldn't get it out.


Was this a Critical Fail of some sort? Or just a "trapping" in that Jeff failed to land any further attacks for the brief remainder of the battle? Or something else?

jcayer wrote:
Although not happy about it, they complied with the intent of agreeing with Mike, and stealing a lifeboat and taking their chances on the high seas.


Heh. With something like this going on, even though the option terrifies me, I think I would rather take my chances on the high seas in a lifeboat as well. So, at this point, if the unthinkable happens and our heroes DO have to abandon ship, about how many people are in their "group" total at this point? (PCs + dependents + NPCs who seem to be hanging with them?)

jcayer wrote:
Kirkman earned big points here by "changing sides" and giving the players what they really wanted...guns!


A sure crowd-pleaser! Very Happy


jcayer wrote:
I called for a break here as we came much further off the rails than I was prepared for.


Well, I'm not sure if this really qualifies as "off the rails" so much as covering more ground than I'd normally expect in a single session. Anyway, it looks like a very eventful session, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.
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jcayer
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The axe thing was just some flavor I threw in. His hit had some decent damage, but I knew Kirkman would take the shambler down next. So I left him attached to the axe. I liked the visual of it.

I will admit, after writing it up, it wasn't as off the rails as it felt while we were playing it. For a group that is usually happy to get on the train and enjoy the ride, they did spend a lot of time throwing sand around in the sand box.
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jcayer
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:05 pm    Post subject: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Reply with quote

One of the benefits of having a former English major in the group is we get the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Bob takes a few key points from the session, spruces them up for us and it's always worth the read. On a really good day, like today, we also get a series of the best quotes from the session.

Enjoy:

Good:

The creature in the hallway was barely recognizable. Billy Haynes was once a beefy, smiling Texas oil tycoon with a taste for fine scotch and a friendly southern drawl. Now he had been transformed into a grotesque ravenous demon, covered with blood and gore. Around his (it’s?) mouth was a crusty reddish ring, where pink bits were flecked with white and red. Its eyes were milky and dead. No sign of anything but an overwhelming desire to bite and consume anything that moved.

It lurched towards Jeff. Jeff gripped the axe he had taken from the stairwell (he broke the glass because this sure as hell was the case of an emergency!). He took a swing. The axe embedded itself up to the Billy Hayne’s neck. The creature didn’t even make a sound. It slowly turned towards Jeff - the two of them connected by an axe handle - and cocked its head, much in the same way a dog stares quizzically at its owner.

“Oh crap,” muttered Jeff, now unwilling to let go of the axe because it was the only thing keeping the creature away at arm’s length.

“Stand still!” barked Kirkman, squeezing the trigger of his Glock twice.

Two sharp retorts sounded and suddenly two holes appeared in Billy Hayne’s head. Billy Haynes slumped to the ground, dead. For the second time this week.

Bad:

It had been a good morning. He loved getting up early during vacations. It made him feel productive, like he was extending his vacation by a few more hours each day. And with all the temptations of the cruise buffet lines, he could stand to get a few runs in this week and work off some of those calories. He and Mike chatted companionably as they made their way to the medical office that morning. The sun was rising to the east – an unbroken line of blue ocean intersected by ethereal pink rays. It was going to be a beautiful day.

As they entered the office they noticed two things: First – they noticed the blood. Lots of it. Bright red, it covered the back half of the room in a pool and led a path to the back of the office behind a closed door. It was fresh. They glanced at each other, confusion and concern on their faces. Second – they noticed there was no one in the medical office. Not a single soul.

Without speaking, Mike went to the phone. He got no more than two steps when an unearthly inhuman groan emanated from the back room of the office. It was loud. It felt like fingernails on chalkboard. It spoke to anguish, pain, and played upon those things primal and atavistic within oneself. It was a horrible sound. That’s when the door swung open. It shambled forward, lurching, dragging behind it half of a medical officer. Intestines unspooled from within the stomach where it had been ripped (gnawed?) in half. They trailed behind, leaving the door open a jar. It was covered in blood.

He was frozen in his tracks. He once read a book about rabbits called “Watership Down.” In the book, the rabbits talk about the long flat hard paths made by humans called roads. Sometimes a rabbit would cross one of those roads and terrible lights would shine down upon them from a distance. Some rabbits would freeze up. Unable to move as the lights from a human vehicle drew closer. They had a name for it ­ for that terror that consumes you and paralyzes you, preventing thought and movement. It was called “going tharn.” It was instant death for rabbits caught in the headlight glare. It would be instant death for someone caught in the wake of the lumbering undead as well.

Bob had gone tharn.

Ugly:

Jason Kirkman put down the radio and looked at those gathered in the room: a ragged collection of deputized tourists combined with some of his own security men. Those who had survived, at least. He hadn’t expected anything like this. With a compliment of 3000 passengers and 300 crew, the most he could expect in a typical voyage was two or three heart attacks. Few people knew that two or three people died each time a cruise ship of this size went out. It was his team’s job to ensure that such events were kept quiet, minimizing their capacity to ruin the experience of any of the others who had paid so much to enjoy their time on board. Maybe they would find a domestic dispute, or heated words or a fistfight among those who drank too much. But this – this was too much.

Over sixty injured and counting. At least 20 dead. Many of them his own good men and women. He had ordered all the injured be relocated to the security office. Passengers were confined to quarters. The power had gone out. His boss, one the owner of the cruise line and one of the richest men in the world, was now in the brig. He had deputized some of the tourists. Even given them weapons. Oh yes, things were going to hell in a hand basket alright. How the hell had it come to this? He addressed the room:

“We’ve lost contact with the Security office. It could be nothing – but we need to get down there and check it out. I want you folks with me. “

They made their way down two floors to the security office. Before they could get within 20 feet of it, they heard horrendous groaning and screeching. Dozens of recently dead or wounded were lurching out of the doorway, pouring out into the hallway.

“Dear God,” he heard someone behind him say.

He didn’t think God had anything to do with it.


Player Quotes:

(1) Bob: Does the room have free wifi?
Josh: Yes.
Bob: I switch my phone to the wifi, I don’t want any roaming charges.
Josh: Okay.
Jeff: Joel tries to switch to Wifi and fails to do so.

(2) Joel: I go to the craps table and play craps.
Josh: Roll your gambling roll.
Joel: (rolling) I made it.
Josh: You win. You win $100.
Jeff: That money is going to be SO useful over the coming weeks!

(3) Kris: Well, we’ve survived so far!
Josh: Yeah. You’ve survived 27 minutes.

(4) Josh: The cruise director calls for your attention in the center of the ballroom.
Jeff: What’s he wearing?

(5) Mike: While Kris is doing CPR on the guy who collapsed, I nick his wallet.
Josh: What?
Mike: Wait, wait, wait – wrong character!! That’s my thief. This isn’t D&D!

(6) Josh: Mrs. Haynes emerges, hysterical, crying, terrified, and shrieking. You notice her left arm is bloody. She doesn’t respond to your questions, she keeps shouting, “He’s dead!” “He’s dead!”
Jeff: Is it still the 1970’s? Can we slap her to bring her to her senses?


(7) Josh: So you head back to your rooms. It’s an uneventful night.
Kris: Huh? What are you talking about? Except for a dude having a heart attack and his wife all bloody and hysterical in the hallway.
Josh: Except for that.

(Cool Mike: I get up earlier and run around the ship in the morning before breakfast.
Josh: You run now, Mike?
Adam: Do you run for no purpose, Mike? No one is chasing you? That makes no sense!

(9) Jeff: You could stop by an ancillary buffet and have some fruit before you run.
Adam: Are you calling Bob a fruit?
Jeff: A fruity run?

(10) Kris: This whole situation is bad. I don’t want to go in a room. I want to be in an open space with exits on all sides.
Mike (dead serious): Dude, you’re in a boat. There are no exits on any side.

(11)Adam: I don’t want to follow the security guy and you guys and go to the medical office.
Jeff: Come on. It will be fine.
Adam: I don’t want this. I don’t want to go. I’ve ruined my shirt when I threw up. I’m staying in the back.
Josh: Is your shirt red? Worried you might be a redshirt?
Adam: No, but my pants are brown!


(12)Josh: You look around for makeshift weapons. You find a fire extinguisher and an axe.
Jeff (quickly): I take the axe!
Adam (a split-second behind): I take the a--- Damn.

(13) Mike: I grab the extinguisher, and as a firefighter of 14 years, being familiar with these, I pull the pin. What kind of fire extinguisher is it? Is it chemical, water, CO2?
Josh: Uh..It’s water.
Mike: Why is it a water can? That makes no sense. It should be a carbon dioxide can on a ship. That’s all they use.
Josh: Fine, it’s a CO2 can.
Adam: Why did you even ask if you knew?!?!

(14) Kirkman (over the radio): If you all come to security I will outfit you with weapons, as long as you promise not to leave.
Jeff (over the radio): Okay. We’re coming.
Adam: Are you guys really going there? Seriously?
Jeff: No, but we need guns. We humor him till we get guns.
(pause) Uh. Obviously, I say that with the radio transmitter button turned off.

(15) Kris: At this point, I’m staying on top decks and not going into hallways where power is out where it’s dark and creepy and like a horror movie where things can bite me and kill me.
Adam: So you’re going to split from the group and venture out on your own, unarmed, with no allies and a potential threat everywhere and no one to rely on?
Kris: Uh. On second thought, I’ll stay with the group

(16)Bob: These guys are incompetent. I report a murder and they claim I’m hosting a candid camera prank session. They tell me to join them to the scene of the murder. Then I refuse and protest and they threaten to put me in the brig. Now they’re asking us for help. The level of incompetence here is staggering.
Adam: Uh. Security Director Kirkman is standing right behind you, Bob.

(17)Bob: It’s not our jobs to be security for the ship. We don’t get paid for that. We have our families to think about and their safety.
Adam: But what about the safety of the 3000 people on the ship?
Bob: My wife and family, my nephew and my brother Kris come first. And so do yours. We shouldn’t be headed down to the security office right now to investigate why the communications have cut out. The power is out in the ship. It’s time to cut our losses and take lifeboats while we still can.
Adam: No. They’re getting control of this situation. It’s getting better.
Jeff: The best thing we can do for our families is to help security, Bob. We help the 3000 people and our own families as well.
Josh: You head down to the security office. Before you can get within 20 feet of it, you hear horrendous groaning and screeching. Dozens of recently dead or wounded are lurching out of the doorway, pouring out into the hallway.
Adam: Bob, you are so right. Let’s get the hell out of here!
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:52 pm    Post subject: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Reply with quote

jcayer wrote:

Mike: Wait, wait, wait – wrong character!! That’s my thief. This isn’t D&D!


I laughed out loud when I read this one. Very Happy


jcayer wrote:
(13) Mike: I grab the extinguisher, and as a firefighter of 14 years, being familiar with these, I pull the pin. What kind of fire extinguisher is it? Is it chemical, water, CO2?
Josh: Uh..It’s water.


Heh. In situations like this, if I don't have a ready answer, or confidence as to what it SHOULD be (e.g., I'm drawing upon personal experience), then these days I'll typically follow up with a question for the player -- some variant along the lines of "Where are you going with this?" or "What are you hoping to do with this?" Sometimes a seemingly arbitrary question has a more practical question right behind it (e.g., "Can I use this item for a particular purpose?") -- and often I'm quite happy to accommodate if it seems reasonable enough. I've had too many incidents where I have inadvertently squashed a perfectly good plan with a totally arbitrary (and quite possibly wrong) answer made on the spur of the moment to fill in the gaps.

Anyway, I love the quotes! It makes me wish I could get someone to write down the more memorable ones during my sessions. (Once upon a time, with a previous group, someone was pretty good about that. Hmm. Maybe I should institute some rule that if someone makes a good, in-character quote, he or she gets a Benny for WRITING IT DOWN FOR LATER.)
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jcayer
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was actually very nice about this. I gave him CO2 and then he said I spray it around so the zombie can't see us. My response was, so Kirkman can't shoot it then? His rebuttal was, "I carry the extinguisher back down the hall, unused."
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jcayer wrote:
I was actually very nice about this. I gave him CO2 and then he said I spray it around so the zombie can't see us. My response was, so Kirkman can't shoot it then? His rebuttal was, "I carry the extinguisher back down the hall, unused."


Hmm. I suppose he could have just sprayed the zombie in the face. That wouldn't have necessarily made Kirkman's job any harder. Perhaps handle it as a Trick to occupy the zombie with the ever-so-slight chance of Shaking it (or at least making it a little easier to walk up and shoot it in the head with the Parry reduction). I'm not sure whether it would make more sense to handle it as a Smarts-based or Agility-based Trick, though.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is where my group's savage worlds experience falls down. This was only our 3 or 4th session. That would have been an excellent trick. At least we're learning, thanks.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jcayer wrote:
This is where my group's savage worlds experience falls down. This was only our 3 or 4th session. That would have been an excellent trick. At least we're learning, thanks.


I don't know if it's really "rules as intended," but I've gotten to the point where a lot of the time, if a player tries some sort of offensive action that isn't clearly an attack, and isn't clearly a Taunt or Intimidate, then failing all else ... it's a Trick of some sort. The mechanics are pretty simple to resolve, after all. I just might reserve the right to tweak the effects of a success or raise, depending upon the situation -- for instance, replacing a "Shaken" result for a raise with some other desired effect. If the player is making what I think is pretty clever and effective use of his environment, I might give a one-time bonus of +1 (or in very rare instances, +2) to the attempt.

For instance, in a Pirates campaign, fighting against nigh-indestructible skeletal undead boarders, a tactic soon developed that if you can't KILL the things, then at least you can KNOCK THEM OVERBOARD. So, I'd resolve it as an Agility trick, but with the proviso that multiple crewmen could apply Gang-Up bonuses to the attempt. On a simple success the skeleton was merely off-balance (reduced Parry -- yawn), but on a RAISE, and if the skeleton was within 1" of the edge, then he went overboard and into the water (where animated skeletons aren't much good at SWIMMING).

When I made a brief foray into Zombie Run (where the original zombie stats were pretty powerful, and a single zombie could keep the entire party occupied trying to kill the thing), I encouraged players to be creative with whatever desperate tactics they might make, especially employing the environment to their advantage. In this case, rendering a zombie Shaken was pretty amazingly useless: The zombie stats in my (older) copy ZR gave a zombie a Spirit of d8, and +2 to recover, so odds were good a Shaken zombie wouldn't stay that way for long.

Also, zombies had high Toughness, could only be killed with an attack to the head, and unlike WOTD or the Horror Companion did not take any extra damage from a head shot. We had one zombie with two axes stuck in its skull and one shotgun blast to the face, and it was still going. So, when someone tried to tackle the zombie's legs to knock it Prone, I treated that as an Agility Trick, but swapping out the Shaken result from a raise (which nobody cared much about at this point anyway) with knocking it Prone (+2 bonus to attacker's roll to hit it in melee). Another character Grappled the zombie with the express purpose of rendering it subject to an Unarmed Defender penalty (+2 to attacker's roll to hit). This at least made it much easier for everyone else to land those called shots to the head with a greater chance of scoring a much-needed raise for the extra damage, since our heroes weren't equipped with battle-axes or chainsaws.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:49 pm    Post subject: Meet the Players Reply with quote

Hey folks,

Man - the zombies from that campaign sound brutal. Hope we won't be running into anything like that anytime soon! I'm one of the players in Jcayer's campaign. Thought you might want to know more about the characters in the campaign. They were entered into a contest and won tickets to the cruise thanks to Aimee's husband. They have all known each other for five years collectively as they have a longstanding bi-weekly game night session.
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FightingForLife
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Joined: 29 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:55 pm    Post subject: Character Bios Reply with quote

And here are the characters in the campaign and their stats:


Jeff - High school chemistry teacher, married, father of four. Been doing P90X for the past year. On the cruise alone. Family stayed home. Joel is his cousin. Aimee is his sister in law. Breaking bad, anyone?
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxyIIMgC2OGxVVRaUVNOejhKM3M

Aimee - Social worker, married. Mother of two. Bad knee. On the cruise alone. Her husband is back home with the daughters. Jeff is her brother in law.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxyIIMgC2OGxY2M5dEhrVWRYM3M

Adam - IT professional, married. Father of two. Wife is on the cruise with him. His children are back home with the grandparents. Works with Mike.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxyIIMgC2OGxR0xEdGRtT1VkU0k

Mike - Software salesman and paramedic. Has one girlfriend back home, not on the cruise. A survivalist type with lots of gun knowledge. He's been preparing for something like this his entire life. Works with Adam.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxyIIMgC2OGxdXF3RFZKM3FPa0k

Kris - Nurse, married. Father of three. His oldest son, Jake, 18 years old - is on the cruise with him. His wife and two other children are back home. He is younger brother to Bob.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxyIIMgC2OGxMzA4bklUZDJxZ2c

Bob - Credit Card Fraud consultant and EMT. Newlywed. Married just last year to Andrea, who is on the cruise with him. Bad eyes and knee. He is older brother to Kris.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxyIIMgC2OGxSEt4blN5a0JoRFU

Joel - Accountant, not married. Father of one. His son is back home with the grandparents. Cousin to Jeff.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxyIIMgC2OGxVlNrc0ZmMThTRjA

Total Players: 7
Total NPCs: 3
(1) Bob's wife of one year. An engineer who graduated with a degree in quantum physics.
(2) Adam's wife.
(3) Kris's 18-year old son Jake. Bob's nephew.

Total in group: 10
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jcayer
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:04 am    Post subject: Session 2 Recap Reply with quote

WotD Session 2 game report
When we last left our unfortunate vacationers, they were racing from the Bridge down to Security, as contact with that section had been lost. Rounding the corner and coming down the stairs, the section was overrun with creatures. On the way, Kirkman had mentioned he had another 350 or so rounds in his office and Joel had come forward to state they should make some effort to rescue Forthington, who had been locked in the brig. If they didn't, they had effectively executed him themselves.

I dealt the players action cards. Among them were included "Fade to Black" - which would take one character who was wounded grievously and have them go unconscious, removed from the scene, and appear with the group some time later miraculously unharmed. Boom Head Shot - Which converted any normal hit retroactively into a head shot. Momentary Distraction - Which creates a loud noise, like a car alarm, at a perfect moment, distracting all enemies in the room.

Cards were dealt and the passengers all came out ahead of the shamblers. They took some pot shots, not hitting anything and began retreating almost immediately. Mike, the only trained shooter in the group drew his glock, squeezed the trigger, and snake eyes, critical failure. I was going with some sort of malfunction and flash blind him for a few rounds. But Mike knows far more about guns than I do, and said that pretty much can't happen. I said, fine, the gun malfunctions, blowing up in your hand, you’re able to drop it, but it’s a useless hunk of metal now. Strangely, he was ok with that solution. In the end, everyone retreated during the first round of combat and then made a run for it during the second.

The players began to realize just how difficult it was to headshot a zombie. With a -4 to hit the head, and a standard difficulty of TN of 4. That effectively made a headshot an 8 or better with no other tricks to assist. Until this point, they had been much more confident about their abilities in combat.

As they retreated, the last man at the bottom of the stairs, Kris, was too close to three of the undead. They moved adjacent to him and we saw the first instance of the wild attack plus ganging up combination. They hit him and the party almost had their first death. Kris used a bennie to soak the two wound's worth of damage. The players realized just how easily they could be taken out. They realized that for Kris to escape, he would have to sustain three attacks to step away from the creatures. The players then decided to use their "Momentary Distraction" card. Bob suggested that distraction could be that a person could walk out of an adjacent internet cafe with headphones on, and be devoured, buying them time. That seemed too grim indeed and morally questionable. Instead I opted to have one of the player's missed shot hit the fountain and cause it to malfunction in such a way that it began bubbling, cracking and popping, temporarily distracting the undead. The group used this opportunity to run away the next round.

At this point, Kirkman admitted he didn’t have much chance of regaining control of the boat. Most of his security guys were not answering their radios and they were running into these things everywhere. He then told them he would take them to their loved ones so everyone could get off the ship. He was not yet willing to sound the abandon ship alarm as it would make it almost impossible to make it to the crew quarters and their loved ones. Besides, that was still the captain’s job.

The players at this point were extremely animated. There was a LOT of talking. Some wanted to ransack the local shops on the promenade. Others wanted to make for the skeet shooting range and commandeer the shotguns up there. Still others wanted to fashion a bomb out of alcohol at the liquor store and throw it against the 20 undead near the security office. The players talked for more than 15 minutes about next steps before agreeing to head for their loved ones in the crew quarters. It is easy to see that there are a lot of strong personalities among this group, and I expect future heated discussions as they progress. Bob used this moment to retrieve two sturdy knee braces from his backack and put them on during this discussion, given his weak knee and torn ACL.


Kirkman suggested heading through engineering as that was probably the least populated deck and might be free of the zombies. Bob and Mike were not big fans of that idea and in the end, Kirkman said he’d try to take them the most direct route he could. What followed was several of the “random” encounters in the adventure. In truth, I chose the ones that I liked and thought would be the most entertaining.

Almost immediately, they ran into Ms Hartten, played by Kathy Bates. She would not leave the characters as they had weapons and could help protect her. She spent most of her time rambling on about the “Will of God” and him “Cleansing the Earth” The characters quickly tired of her, but she would not leave them.

Heading down another corridor, they stumbled on 3 zombies who had cornered an old woman in her nineties. She was managing to keep them at bay with her walker, but was tiring. Realizing she had little to no chance of surviving without their help, they opted to attempt to save her. Most of the players had acquired axes while traversing the ship, so I let them have the drop on the creatures, so they could easily rescue Ethel, played by Estelle Getty. Ethel, much like Hartten would not leave their side. When asked about keeping up, she poked Adam and said, I’ll keep up with the fat guy, don’t worry. She never fell behind….as an NPC, she was barely mentioned, but she made it.

A couple minutes later, they ran into Jon Treymore and his family. Wife Ellen, and three kids, ages 6, 9, and 12. Aimee had met Ellen earlier, while the were sunbathing around the pool. Treymore had an axe and Mike persuaded him to go up to the lifeboats as that was the eventual destination of the party. Mike took a moment to explain that the group had so far determined that aiming for the head seemed to work best. Nothing else stopped them. And he also cautioned against exposure to blood or being bitten. At this point the group was beginning to get a better understanding of the dangers they were facing.

Not a minute later, a man carrying a young child bumped into the group. The child was bitten. Bob offered to tend to the child while Mike let the father in on the grizzly truth, the child was doomed to become a zombie as a result of the bite. As Mike was telling the father, Bob was pretending to bandage the her, but was actually tying her up, in case she turned at that very moment. Eventually the man would no longer listen to Mike and said he was leaving and taking his daughter with him, to which Mike and Bob said no. They wanted to keep her nearby, just in case. Ultimately, the man grabbed her and raced off, down the corridor.

The final “random” encounter was an open cabin, with a crying baby inside. The mother was dead on the bed, being consumed by 8 zombies. The baby was in a crib in the corner, crying. I expected there to be a “bit” of contention by the players about how to handle this. As it turns out, “Bit” was an understatement. Adam was first to approach the door and see into the room. He immediately shouted out to get the creature's attention. Bob and Mike were behind him and looked into the room. Mike's first response was, "Really? Did you really just do that?" to which Adam replied. "It's done. I've already shouted. Deal with it." Bob and Mike(despite his Heroic hindrance) did not want to get involved. Adam, on the other hand, could not leave, due to his own heroic hindrance of having a soft spot for all children. Despite Bob’s best effort to close the door, Adam burst in, screaming and yelling at the creatures, attempting to distract them away from the baby. It succeeded and the zombies began to follow him out into the hall where the other players were waiting. Bob wasn't prepared to face eight zombies, however, and initiative was drawn between Bob and Adam. Bob won iniative with a Queen and ran forward and closed the cabin door. Adam went next with an 8. He prevailed upon Kirkman to unlock the door with his security card. Kirkman unlocked the door and Adam re-opened the door. At this point the undead were now directly at the door and stumbling into the hall.

In this case, I gave the players “the drop” as it was an easy way to handle someone waiting outside a door, with a glock, ready to blow someone’s head off.

This encounter could have been over fairly quickly, but really degenerated into a difficult exchange between players. Adam was adamant about saving the baby and Mike was threatening to shoot Adam since he put the group in danger. "If you ever do that to the group again, Adam, I will shoot you in the head," Mike warned. Bob was also very upset with Adam and things were not made easier by Ms Hartten calling the two of them(Mike and Bob) the “spawn of the devil” and other like names, since they wanted to leave the baby behind. She praised Adam, Joel and Jeff as "Angels of God." A quick search of the room did yield a baby carrier and a backpack with formula, diapers, etc. Adam accused Bob of being heartless and a monster for actively closing the door and attempting to allow a six month old to be killed. It was reprehensible. As he spoke he became even more upset. Bob responded telling Adam his priority was getting back to his wife and making sure she was safe. Bob said that should be Adam's priority as well, as Adam was the other member in the group who's wife had joined the cruise. Adam asked, "Who was hurt in that? Did anyone get hurt there? No! No one got hurt!" Bob told Adam he couldn't save them all. He asked Adam how many zombies would it take for Adam to close the door - 16? 30? It was clear that Adam's own extremely heroic hindrance of having a soft spot for children did not sit well with Mike or Bob. Words became heated, and Kris warned that the raised voices would attract more creatures to the group. Adam walked away, furious. The players were feeling real emotion here - they really got into it. Adam actually stood up and I had to bring the volume level down for fear of waking my wife.

Kirkman said they were almost there when they came to a deck that had been completely overrun with the creatures. They had no good way to get past them. Every route to the crew quarters seemed to be blocked. Kirkman continued to say he thought going through engineering would be the best choice until finally, they agreed.

They made it to the engineering deck without further incident and descended a ladder into complete darkness. Luckily, Kirkman had a flashlight with him. This was a pretty intimidating map as I used Fog of War and Darkness in Maptools to really limit what the players could see. The group heard a low, long moan from somewhere within the room, and they knew they were not alone in the dark. The undead was among them. As they prepared to begin crossing the room, automatic gunfire was heard on the far side of it. Mike looked at Kirkman who replied, “I don’t have any automatic weapons. I don’t know where they came from, but I would certainly like to get my hands on a few.” Moments later, a klaxon sounded and was followed by a message directing all passengers to report to the auditorium immediately.

Once the announcement was over, Kirkman began swearing. When asked, he replied, ”Captain Romero is probably dead. That alarm sounds when sensors installed in the ship detect anything that sounds like weapons fire and when there is another boat within 50 feet of the ship. The alarm can be suppressed on the bridge, or from security. If that alarm is going off, it means a ship is nearby, there’s been gunfire, and there is no one on the bridge to stop the alarm. It was designed to get passengers into the auditorium, which can be sealed and used somewhat like a safe room.” Once I get you to your loved ones, I need to get to the auditorium to try to get everyone there into the lifeboats. Bob spent a significant amount of time trying to convince Kirkman his plan to visit the auditorium was foolhardy and that there would be terrorists there, but Kirkman would hear nothing of it. He had a duty to protect these people. Even his own friends were getting impatient and exasperated with him, and the group spent a lot of time attempting to convince Bob it made sense to escort Kirkman to the auditorium after they had reconnected with their loved ones. Bob eventually relented, but not until he suggested that perhaps he should split from the party with his brother and meet them at the lifeboats. He decided it would be best to stay with the group. Despite being a group of friends, I’m curious if they would stay together long term if such an event happened.

With things going from bad to worse, the group was unwilling to brave crossing engineering. In their minds, terrorists or pirates had also invaded the ship and had automatic weapons. At least one or two where down in engineering, along with an unknown number of dead, and the possibility of a crying baby. I had really wanted to run engineering in a horrorish role, but they really didn’t want to stay, so I took off my conductor’s hat and let them find another, much longer way, to the crew quarters and their loved ones.

After doubling back several times, avoiding any combats they could, and taking almost an hour, they ran into a Miami policeman who had been on vacation. Stephen McDermont was a gruff cop who had seen a lot in his career. He was described as a God-fearing man. He had already acquired a gun from a dead security guard and a nasty gash on his arm from someone who was using a piece of broken mirror as a knife. Mike and Bob wrapped the arm, inspecting McDermont for signs of any bites or wounds that could be infected. They found none. And Stephen joined the group. Moments later, they dispatched a few zombies that were outside crew quarters and they were reunited with their loved ones during which Bob and his wife Andrea shared a kiss so passionate it made the one at the end of the Princess Bride look like a peck on the cheek.

Kirkman briefed the two remaining security guards about his plan to get to the auditorium and get anyone there off the boat. Once again, Bob spent significant time trying to change his mind, but to no avail. Kirkman told everyone there was a back staircase from the crew quarters that went past the back of the auditorium and then up to the deck. Again, Bob did not believe this was a sound plan. He had concerns terrorists would be in the auditorium. Even after being reassured the staircase was only known to the crew and they didn’t actually need to enter the auditorium, Bob still objected to the plan. He pointed out that an auditorium filled with hundreds of people only required one infected person to make the place extremely dangerous. He spent significant time trying to change everyone’s mind, but no one would budge, they all agreed the staircase was their quickest/safest way to the top deck and lifeboats. In the end, Bob caved to stay with the group, but he was definitely not pleased.

Moments later Kirkman and his remaining security guards said their goodbyes to the passengers as they parted ways. Kirkman went to the auditorium and the rest of the group went up to the decks and hopefully a lifeboat.

At the top of the stairs, chaos reigned. Dozens of zombies crowded the deck as a small group of survivors struggled to winch a lifeboat down to the water. The two guys who were trying to operate the winches were under pressure from zombies. Two members of the crew were separated from the group and would soon be surrounded. The group came out at the top of a staircase and were able to avoid immediate detection. Several lounge chairs lined the deck, and there was a wooden bar approximately one hundred and forty feet away. The group counted dozens of undead shambling on-decks. It looked insurmountable. As they looked down the stairs, a group of zombies gathered at the bottom, looking upwards.

Taking a quick inventory of the situation, Bob told Andrea he loved her and ran off to try to create a distraction to allow the rest of the survivors to get to the lifeboat. Mike opened fire, dropping the closest zombie with a headshot. Jeff advanced, picking up the corpse and throwing it at two approaching zombies. Thanks to a great roll, he knocked them both prone. Several of the others ran halfway down the stairs and attempted to leap the railing, with varying degrees of success. They did manage to bring down one of the zombies pressuring one of the winch operators.

By this time, Bob had made it to the bar that was on deck and jumped on top, yelling and screaming, attempting to draw the zombies to him. Unfortunately, only some of the zombies turned their attention to Bob. That's because just at that moment, the baby began to wail and scream. The crying infant, combined with the sounds of gunfire from the top of the stairs, served as an equally powerful distraction. As the round progressed, some lucky rolls dropped more of the zombies by the lifeboat, allowing the gang to close in on their salvation. Adam took over one of the winches while the rest of the gang worked to clear a way to the other winch.

Realizing his distraction was over, Bob lept off the bar and took several attacks as he tried to make it to the boat. He soaked a couple wounds, acing on two vigor rolls and then his luck ran out, he took a wound he couldn’t soak, taking 21 points of damage over his toughness of 5. In the end, he used the adventure card, Fade to Black
, which allowed him to wake up safe and sound after the battle. Bob took over running Stephen McDermont to give him something to do. Jeff also took a pair of wounds from a particularly ferocious attack, acing on his vigor roll and probably saving his own life. Luck was with him as he managed to soak both of those wounds as well. Joel attempted to fire at a zombie, despite never having used a gun in his life. Rising to the occasion, he made a perfect headshot, destroying a zombie by the winch. Next to that zombie, the man who had been managing the winch fell to his knees. He was infected and could no longer control himself. Jeff raced over and pushed him overboard.

With the battle winding down, Jeff took over running the other winch after pushing the recently bitten former operator overboard. Mike, Stephen, and Joel provided cover as Kris and McDermott attempted to make it to the ship. During the battle, Ms Harttel, the baby, Ethel, and numerous others safely made it to the lifeboat.

As time was running out and everyone prepared to get into the lifeboat, Joel saw Jon Treymore, carrying his youngest daughter, 6 year old Monica. His wife and sons were nowhere to be seen. He was dodging and weaving and trying to make it to the boat. With seconds to spare before they dropped the boat, he made it to them. With tears in his eyes, he handed Monica to Joel. He didn't move. A second later, the reality of the situation set in: Jon had been bitten, and after losing his wife and sons, had given everything he had to get his daughter to safety. My players, chatty and engaged the entire night - were stunned speechless. Joel offered him his gun, but Jon refused. He looked to Mike and as Joel took Monica into the lifeboat, Mike pulled the trigger and made sure Jon Treymore would never become a zombie.
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jcayer
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:05 am    Post subject: The Good, Bad, and Ugly - Session 2 Reply with quote

The Good, Bad, and Ugly – War of the Dead, October 2, 2012

Good:

A wall of lurching corpses stood shoulder to shoulder, blocking the group from safe passage to the lifeboats. Safety and the lifeboats were tantalizingly close.. but with dozens of the things on the ship deck, there was no way to get buy without being harmed. The scene on deck was total chaos. Lounge chairs lay strewn about. Packs of the creatures chased down one man. Within moments, the man twitched and rose to join their ranks. Jeff stepped forward to the corpse of a creature Mike just took down. Months of P90X training had prepared him for this moment. He picked up the corpse and hurled it down the stairs at a group of three. The body slammed into them with clockwork precision, staggering them and knocking two to the ground. The way was clear!

For the moment.

Bad:
Six of the eight zombies had been felled, but the two in the cabin remained. And they were closing in on the infant. Desperate to save the child, Adam quickly realized he couldn’t run far enough to reach the creatures. Adam frantically ran into the room as far as he could, then threw his fire axe with an urgency borne of utter desperation. The axe flew head over haft. For a moment it looked like it was going to connect. And then it flew harmlessly past the creature, bounced off the wall and clattered back in the same direction from which it had been thrown. It skidded to a halt just four feet out of Adam’s reach, taunting him. Adam looked down at the axe. He was now defenceless.
On the plus side, the zombies were now advancing against him.

Ugly:
Joel stood in front of the lifeboat holding his glock uncomfortably in his hand. He had just nailed a zombie between the eyes, but he doubted he could do that again if his life depended on it. Almost everyone in his group was on board now. Adam and Jeff were lowering the winch. Joel was encouraging more survivors into the boat. Through the fray, Joel spotted a middle-aged man carrying a six-year old girl, ducking between clusters of attackers. Joel recognized him almost immediately. It was Jon Treymore, father of three and loving husband. Except now there was just his daughter. His wife and sons were nowhere to be seen.
Coming to the cleared area in front of the lifeboat, Joel nodded. “You made it! Quickly, get into the lifeboat!” John shook his head no. Instead, he pressed his daughter into Joel’s arms. “Take her,” he responded. John pulled up the ragged sleeve of his shirt. It was slick with blood. It revealed a bleeding forearm with teeth marks in the shape of a bite.
Joel’s eyes met with Jon’s. There was a long pause.
“Take good care of her for me.”
Joel knew at that moment Jon would never see his daughter again.

Player Quotes:
(1)Josh: When we last left our unfortunate vacationers....
Aimee: This used to be “When we last left our intrepid heroes”- you’ve changed it to vacationers!
Adam: This is the vacation from Hell.
Mike: Literally.

(2) Mike: I suggest that whatever we do, we don’t tie ropes around ourselves.
Josh: In our last campaign, whenever we made a rope check, Bob always failed.
Adam: How many rope checks did we have during that five year campaign?
Jeff: Six.

(3)
A woman who looks distinctly like Cathy Bates approaches you from one end of the hallway. She’s older, but not elderly. She is shouting loudly. “Oh praise the LORD! WE ARE SAVED. His Saviors are here before me. In this time of Judgment. In these end times, GOD has shown me a band of protectors. GOD has shown me the path.”
Josh: The woman introduces herself as Mrs. Harten.
Kris: (whispered to Mike) We need her in case we need to shoot her in the leg later.
Mike grins.

(4) Jeff: What are we thinking? We didn’t check the bodies of the dead creatures for loot.
Adam: We could have checked in the old lady’s room for treasure.
Jeff: Mike – where were you on that?
Mike: I’m a different character now!

(5) Upon seeing a baby crying, surrounded by eight zombies, Adam without any thought whatsoever fearlessly goes to the door entrance and begins to distract and egg on the zombies to ignore the child and come to him.
Adam: Hey, Hey, you guys – Come on!
Mike: Seriously Adam?
Adam: It’s done. Deal with it.
(collective groan from the team)
Mike: I shoot Adam in the leg.

(6) Adam: I try to draw off the creatures away from the crying child.
Josh: They start to shamble after you. Then the child emits a high-pitched scream. They stop and turn back to her.
Kris: Do I have line of sight to the baby? Can I see the baby?
Josh: No.
Kris: Ok. Guys – I can see the baby from here. It’s bitten. Let’s go.
(7) Joel: I run into the room within three feet of the zombie and sort of wave my hands and start moaning – woooah. I’m trying to distract the zombies so that the next person will have a better chance of hitting them.
Josh: This is a trick. We’ll say it’s your smarts against the creatures’ smarts. That distracts the creature.
Kris: Do zombies laugh?

(Cool Josh: This is a trick. We’ll say it’s your smarts against the creatures’ smarts.
Jeff: Uh..That’s the opposite of smarts.

(9) Josh: You can do a notice check to see what sort of boat it is.
Mike: I roll a .. four.
Jeff: You notice it’s a boat.

(10) Josh: You meet a gruff black man. He’s got a weapon. His name is Steve McDermott. He’s Miami PD.
Jeff: How close to retirement were you?
Bob: Getting too old for this sh*t?

(11) Josh: The baby is fussy.
Adam: Does it smell?
Josh: It doesn’t smell.
Adam: Okay. It’s probably hungry. Is it a boy or a girl? We haven’t checked yet.
Josh: You haven’t checked yet.
Jeff: Let’s call it Pat.

(12) Joel: I try to bring down the winch.
Kris: See, now that’s weird. In D&D “wench” has a whole other meeting.”

(13) Josh: The father is bitten, trembling. He asks to put a bullet in him.
Mike: I’m really sorry for what happened.
Josh: You shoot him.
(Grave silence in the room. Everyone is speechless.)
Bob: Joel, wait – you should have told him to use a benny to soak the damage!!
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jcayer
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone know how I update the original title to this thread to reflect another session has occurred?
Thanks in advance.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:40 am    Post subject: Re: Session 2 Recap Reply with quote

jcayer wrote:
I dealt the players action cards. Among them were included "Fade to Black" - which would take one character who was wounded grievously and have them go unconscious,


Just for point of clarity, those are "Adventure Cards." I've had some confusion in my own group whenever anyone mentions "action cards," as those mean the same thing as "initiative cards." (Because for some reason many of my players get "action card" and "adventure card" mixed up, I refer to the "initiative deck" rather than the "action deck," to try to get the terms as far apart from sounding like other as seems reasonable.)

jcayer wrote:
I was going with some sort of malfunction and flash blind him for a few rounds. But Mike knows far more about guns than I do, and said that pretty much can't happen. I said, fine, the gun malfunctions, blowing up in your hand, you’re able to drop it, but it’s a useless hunk of metal now. Strangely, he was ok with that solution.


Yeah, I'm not sure in what situation there would be a "flash-blind" sort of effect with a gun like that. Having the weapon malfunction to uselessness seems like a pretty straightforward crit-fail effect, and also leaves a lot of leeway as to how exactly it came about, so I can see why that'd satisfy willful suspension of disbelief.

jcayer wrote:
The players began to realize just how difficult it was to headshot a zombie. With a -4 to hit the head, and a standard difficulty of TN of 4. That effectively made a headshot an 8 or better with no other tricks to assist. Until this point, they had been much more confident about their abilities in combat.


A few tips for fighting zombies with ranged weapons:
1) Take time to Aim for that +2 to hit. Shooting twice as often does you no good if you're missing most of the time. Aiming can give even Extras a fighting chance to be useful in a firefight.

2) If you have a semi-automatic pistol such as a Glock 9mm that hasn't jammed or malfunctioned, don't forget Zombieland Rule #2: Double Tap! Yes, you "waste" two bullets that way, but, again, it's worth it for that +1 to hit and damage if otherwise you're missing regularly or failing to beat your target's Toughness.

3) Even better, if you pick up an M-16 or other weapon with the feature, 3RB (three round burst) for +2 to hit and damage. You can get the same benefit if you find a shotgun and use buckshot (+2 bonus to hit).

4) If you have an opportunity to force a zombie prone (such as getting behind a barrier that a zombie has to crawl under to get through), you can get that +2 bonus to attack a Prone target. (Rare, but occasionally useful, such as if you're unwisely hiding in a bathroom stall and a zombie starts crawling under the door.)

So, an Extra with d6 Shooting skill with an M-16 or shotgun who Aims first has a 50% chance to hit a zombie in the head.

Anyone who is fighting with a pistol, however, probably wants to pick up a melee weapon as an off-hand backup. If the zombies close on you, your pistol isn't a valid melee weapon (even if it CAN be fired in melee), and they'll get the "Unarmed Defender" (+2) bonus against you.

jcayer wrote:
Bob suggested that distraction could be that a person could walk out of an adjacent internet cafe with headphones on, and be devoured, buying them time.


Haw! Pretty cold, but very horror-movie-ish. Very Happy

jcayer wrote:
It is easy to see that there are a lot of strong personalities among this group, and I expect future heated discussions as they progress.


Heh. Well, at least in this campaign, if the players spend too much arguing, you can always break things up with "*CRASH!* Attracted by the sound of your prolonged and increasingly loud arguing, a horde of zombies breaks down the door and starts pouring into the room! Draw initiative cards!" Very Happy

jcayer wrote:
What followed was several of the “random” encounters in the adventure. In truth, I chose the ones that I liked and thought would be the most entertaining.


I think that's only fair. Random encounters make sense for journeys the PCs will be making multiple times -- e.g., a "forest encounters" table for a fantasy realm, so you have something to fall back on when the heroes are going between dungeons on the main map, and a fair way to make sure that rare encounters are actually rare, and common encounters stay common (via the distribution on the table). For War of the Dead, if the heroes go through Zombieville (just making this up), they're likely only making the journey once. The GM might as well pick the encounters that make the most sense, or best suit the situation. (For my own game, I saved "unused" encounters for when the heroes would strike out on their own on self-created "side-quests" -- for instance, to go hunting for specific supplies before continuing -- and then I'd try to pick them to best fit the area the heroes were exploring.)

jcayer wrote:
In this case, I gave the players “the drop” as it was an easy way to handle someone waiting outside a door, with a glock, ready to blow someone’s head off.


Yeah, in my campaign, "The Drop" happened a lot whenever the players bothered to lure zombies into any sort of trap situation; considering that zombies have pretty much nil sense of self-preservation, it just made sense in a lot of situations.

jcayer wrote:
This encounter could have been over fairly quickly, but really degenerated into a difficult exchange between players.


Ouch. Sounds pretty intense. I can imagine on the one hand someone going, "Oh joy! Such great roleplaying! Such great exploration of morality!" And yet on the other hand, I think of the situations when I've been a GM running a group and this sort of thing comes up, and I can just see my group tearing itself apart. Sad

jcayer wrote:
This was a pretty intimidating map as I used Fog of War and Darkness in Maptools to really limit what the players could see.


Oh, I love the visibility options in Maptool. Very Happy Sometimes it's a bit buggy, but a lot of the time it really does wonders for atmosphere. (I wish there was some way I could peg certain tokens to be "always visible" to a player, however -- I've had some trouble when I have NPCs who under a player's "command" fall out of line of sight because the PC marker went around a corner, and then the player can't select the NPC tokens to move them -- because they're no longer visible.)

jcayer wrote:
Bob eventually relented, but not until he suggested that perhaps he should split from the party with his brother and meet them at the lifeboats. He decided it would be best to stay with the group. Despite being a group of friends, I’m curious if they would stay together long term if such an event happened.


I've had this sort of problem crop up a lot in my own campaign, especially as WOTD seems designed to throw quandaries at the players that have no clear perfect moral solutions. (While this might be thought-provoking, it's also quite harrowing to try to moderate this when things get out of hand.)

jcayer wrote:
I had really wanted to run engineering in a horrorish role, but they really didn’t want to stay


Heh. Zombies in the dark, terrorists with machine guns, potentially unreliable NPCs in your midst who will probably be noisy at the wrong moment ... yeah, I can't blame them! Very Happy

jcayer wrote:
Bob took over running Stephen McDermont to give him something to do.


We had a lot of this in my campaign -- either due to characters getting knocked out or "off-stage" due to various reasons. There were just a number of situations where there was some plan where it would make sense for one PC with a critical skill to stay behind -- to keep NPCs safe while the others scout ahead, for instance -- and in order to avoid one player having to sit things out, I'd temporarily promote one of the NPC sidekicks to Wild Card status and let the "sit-out" player take control. (He could use his own Bennies if desired -- and would still earn Bennies for roleplaying, etc. I reason that Bennies go with the player, not the character, in this case.)

To my disappointment, I sometimes had to establish further rules on "proxy PCs" when it seemed I had players abusing the situation. (E.g., don't turn your "temporary PC" into a mouthpiece for whatever disagreements your normal PC has with the rest of the group. You'll get plenty of time to argue with your own character, without "possessing" an NPC to carry on the internal strife. Grr. I think one or two of my players just love to argue. Wink )

jcayer wrote:
He looked to Mike and as Joel took Monica into the lifeboat, Mike pulled the trigger and made sure Jon Treymore would never become a zombie.


Ouch. Quite the note to end things on. Sad Still, it sounds like you really brought out the drama of the situation.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jcayer wrote:
Anyone know how I update the original title to this thread to reflect another session has occurred?
Thanks in advance.


Go back up and edit the original post at the top of the thread, and change its Subject line. That should change the Subject for the entire thread.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, thanks, Subject updated.

A couple of comments. First, with Treymore. I read that in one of the other play descriptions(was it your's Jordan?) and as a parent found it pretty moving. So I really wanted to include it. I had hoped Aimee would still be awake for it. As my wife, I know she would have been really moved. As it worked out, she's decided WotD isn't for her, so Joel happened to be in the right place at the right time to receive Monica. In over 4 years, I've never seen the group respond like it did. There was absolute stunned silence. I had pushed the group and we played late to get to that point...starting a session with it wouldn't have worked, so I could not have asked for much more.

Thanks for the shooting tips, I'll pass them along.

I was a little concerned about the incident with the baby, but the guys bounced right back a minute later. They managed to keep game and real life separate, which is tough considering they're playing themselves.

Maptools is so worth the effort to learn and use.

No game for 3 weeks. I'm thinking we'll do some email stuff in the lifeboat. But that will be discussed in the prep thread.
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jcayer
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One more thing. I'm amazed at how much ground these guys are able to cover in a single session of savage worlds. We played around 4-5 hours and ended up with a 4-5 page write up! So many things happened, it's amazing. Certainly a far cry from 4E where we'd have 2 combats and a little RP.
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FightingForLife
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:09 pm    Post subject: Zombie-killing tricks - Thanks! Reply with quote

Quote:
A few tips for fighting zombies with ranged weapons:
2) If you have a semi-automatic pistol such as a Glock 9mm that hasn't jammed or malfunctioned, don't forget Zombieland Rule #2: Double Tap! Yes, you "waste" two bullets that way, but, again, it's worth it for that +1 to hit and damage if otherwise you're missing regularly or failing to beat your target's Toughness.


These are great tips - thank you! I don't think any of us noticed that the glock is semi-automatic and that we could double tap. That +1 makes a real difference. I will definitely share this with the rest of the group.

In a way, I suppose this makes sense. Only Mike in the group has any level of competence with firearms. The rest of us have had just very basic experience. As we have just reached our first Advance, I suspect a lot of us will be improving or adding shooting skills, so now we'll know better to use the semi-automatic feature in the future.

In looking at the Glock definition in the SWD manual, I see it also says AP 1 - so that reduces toughness bonus due to armor, not baseline toughness itself. Have I got that right?


Quote:
3) Even better, if you pick up an M-16 or other weapon with the feature, 3RB (three round burst) for +2 to hit and damage. You can get the same benefit if you find a shotgun and use buckshot (+2 bonus to hit).


We look forward to the day when we'll have firepower like that to protect ourselves! It does make me wonder, though: I've already seen how guns can completely undo the player attempts to distract zombies. I wonder if Jcayer will allow us to find and use silencers, or if that would make things overpowered and unbalance the game.

Quote:
4) If you have an opportunity to force a zombie prone (such as getting behind a barrier that a zombie has to crawl under to get through), you can get that +2 bonus to attack a Prone target. (Rare, but occasionally useful, such as if you're unwisely hiding in a bathroom stall and a zombie starts crawling under the door.)


We had just started to pick up on this trick last session. Knock them over and the Parry 4 drops to Parry 2. Even better, if they attacked this round with a wild attack, then you knock them over, the Parry 2 drops to Parry 0. And as an added benefit, it costs two movement to stand back up. So these things are slow enough already with a pace of 4. So knock them over and they can only move two spaces next round. This is a great tactic, I think. Knocking them over is huge.

I wonder if called leg shots would create a possibility of knocking them over? That's easier than a head shot and possible chance of knocking prone. Could be useful. Also makes me think if we walked around in an old-school medieval fantasy campaign style with a ten or fifteen-foot pole and knocked them over before they got close.. perhaps building something specifically designed to knock them over would be interesting. A zombie sweeper.

We also started learning that with pistols in melee, your target becomes the enemy parry and not 4. For zombies with a parry value of 2, this means if you stand right next to them and pull the trigger you effectively get a +2 to hit with a pistol. We started some techniques of walking up to them, firing at their heads, then walking away to try to improve our accuracy.


Quote:
Anyone who is fighting with a pistol, however, probably wants to pick up a melee weapon as an off-hand backup. If the zombies close on you, your pistol isn't a valid melee weapon (even if it CAN be fired in melee), and they'll get the "Unarmed Defender" (+2) bonus against you.


Another good suggestion. I think the group naturally figured that out. At the start of the session, one person had an axe. By the end of the night, everyone had an axe and a gun. Except for Adam.

It's worth noting that Adam gave his glock to Mike, since Mike's gun blew up, Adam was untrained in shooting and Mike had a d8. Later, when we found another glock on the body of security guard who had been zombie-fied, Adam asked if he could take the gun. Mike refused and took a second one. Later that night, Mike fired from both weapons from two hands and I'm pretty sure still had a better chance to hit than Adam would have firing once untrained.

Do we get an unarmed defender bonus against zombies?

So now the players have reached an Advance for next time around... I've been thinking how we the players can make best use of this.

(1) If we are currently untrained in shooting, then our base chance to hit TN 4 (not a head shot, just a hit) is d4-2 = 32.29%.
(2) If we choose to buy a skill in shooting, this gives us a d4 in shooting. And now y\our base chance rises to 62%.
(3) That's a huge improvement.
(4) So.. I'm thinking that for those of us who don't have shooting as a skill, this decision might be a no-brainer. Learn to shoot. And this makes sense with the amount of bullets we wasted last session. We all got a lot of practice in.

For folks like Mike who already have a d8 in shooting, I'm wondering if the Quickness edge might be a good idea. We've learned that zombies on the cruise ship were slow, lumbering things. They could go no faster than a 5 on initiative. If you took the Quick edge, a card of a value of 5 or lower means you redraw from the deck. This seems like a guarantee to almost always ensure you will always go before zombies get to go. It requires agility of d8, though. Definitely an interesting option.

For those who have d4s in shooting, I'm trying to figure out if it's better to distribute one point each into fighting and shooting, or to just spend two points in shooting (if they have the agility) and make shooting more viable..

Decisions, decisions...Any tips there, Jordan?

The players I think are mature enough to be able to separate the game from their personal relationships. And I think everyone is really enjoying
the campaign!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Zombie-killing tricks - Thanks! Reply with quote

FightingForLife wrote:
I see it also says AP 1 - so that reduces toughness bonus due to armor, not baseline toughness itself. Have I got that right?


Correct. AP 1 doesn't make a bit of difference if you're shooting an unarmed zombie. It can come in handy, however, if you're trying to shoot a zombie in the back of the head, and it's wearing a motorcycle helmet.


(bit about M-16s)

Quote:
We look forward to the day when we'll have firepower like that to protect ourselves!


Yeah, well, okay, admittedly that's kind of useless commentary for when you're on a cruise ship. Smile I'm talking in broader terms regarding Savage Worlds modern settings in general.


Quote:
It does make me wonder, though: I've already seen how guns can completely undo the player attempts to distract zombies.


True. That's also a problem in the world of the "Zombie Survival Guide." Actually, it sounds like he's been pretty kind; when my heroes were firing guns in enclosed spaces, I was calling for Spirit checks to avoid being Shaken because of the LOUD EXPLOSIVE NOISES IN CLOSE QUARTERS.

Warning for language, but here is some amusing reading regarding certain common expectations about guns, with silencers right up front: http://www.cracked.com/article_18576_5-ridiculous-gun-myths-everyone-believes-thanks-to-movies.html


Quote:
I wonder if Jcayer will allow us to find and use silencers, or if that would make things overpowered and unbalance the game.


Well, one problem might be that there aren't any stats for silencers in the Savage Worlds rules. In effect, I imagine that adding a silencer would:

1) Add to the weight of your weapon. (Maybe 2 lb or so for encumbrance purposes?)

2) Assign some sort of penalty to Notice checks to determine where you were shooting from. Turning a gunshot crack into a "pew!" noise is beyond the ability of a real-world silencer, I gather.


Quote:
I wonder if called leg shots would create a possibility of knocking them over?


That sounds reasonable, but that would be a GM call -- not something formally dictated in the Savage Worlds rules.


Quote:
Do we get an unarmed defender bonus against zombies?


Alas, no. Anything with natural weapons counts as armed as far as the "unarmed defender" bonus goes. You might think of it like this: A zombie can "parry" with its own bare arms, because even if you're taking chunks out of those arms with an axe, the zombie isn't going to mind nearly as much as a living human.


Quote:
For folks like Mike who already have a d8 in shooting, I'm wondering if the Quickness edge might be a good idea.


Quickness is something to be concerned about if you are regularly in engagements that are going to be decided in the first round. (E.g., ONE zombie pops out, and you want to be able to blast it in the head before it can do anything.) If you're up against a whole crowd of zombies in an engagement that's going to last for multiple rounds, being first in the round doesn't really matter quite so much. However, the Quick Edge does have the interesting side effect of increasing your chance of drawing a Joker slightly.

As a random thought, if he's going to do the "John Woo" method with two guns as a preferred method for the long-term (and not just a momentary experiment), then he might want to go for "Two-Fisted," if he meets the prerequisites. That way, he doesn't have to worry about the multi-action penalty for attacking with two weapons. (But then, maybe he has that already, if he was doing that and still actually hitting things. Wink )
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