Monday, January 14, 2008

Zombie Scenario: The Basics

I've held off over a week on this post, hoping that one of my players would get me the pictures he took of the game table as we were playing. Alas, I never received the pictures. But I still want to post something short about the scenario itself.

There were four player characters, two of whom played the characters I have on this site: the thug and the rookie cop. The other characters were a high school track coach and an old vietnam vet who worked as a streetcorner hotdog vendor. They all began the session just past a moment of crisis -- the city in which they lived had been the target of a terrorist attack which leveled the downtown area. However, that attack had been a cover for a more insidious assault. A biological weapon had been released, slow acting but very dangerous, which caused people to get feverish, fall into seizures, and then rise up as feral, bestial beings with little higher thought. Essentially, they arose as Zombies.

The police and medical communities referred to these creatures as Carriers, since they were not only infected by this bioweapon, but could infect others with whom they'd come in contact. Saliva, blood, and any prolonged or significant contact with a Carrier's bodily fluids could result in infection. The city panicked, and in moments a population nearing a million people overburdened the exits from the city.

You see, the City is an island bordered by an ocean on one side, and a massive, waste strewn river on the other. One of the last news broadcasts within the City warned against crossing the river -- it seems there were Carriers, or something worse, within the waters. The only viable exits were the bridges out to the mainland, most of which were downed with traffic, dead from accidents, or leveled in the first, explosive attack.

Of course, the government involved itself very quickly. Black helicoptors flew patterns over the city, and massive loudspeakers were set around the coastal mainland and on ships anchored in the waters on the ocean side. People were told every half an hour to make their way to the only accessible bridges remaining in the city. People were told to avoid all contact with the Carriers. People were told to leave their belongings, loved ones, and pets behind. It was every man for himself.

But a few people remained in the city. Some were police, striving to save as many stragglers as possible. Others were the old, the sick, or the insane. And some just had no flipping idea what was happening. Time wore on, the regular messages put forth from the government stated that at 8 PM, the city would be sealed. Who the hell knew what that meant?

However, the messages has stopped coming on schedule. It had been 2 and a half hours since the last one.

Thus we began. It was 4:30 PM,in an upscale neighborhood. Two high rise apartments towered over a large, wooded park, beyond which was a construction zone for a third tower. A police box, information kiosk, and snack stand stood at the north end of the park. A highway ran alongside the river, about 60 feet up a high, rocky cliff. However, this highway was still, the cars backed up a dozen deep behind an accident begun by a jack-knifed trailer truck. All of the cars were empty. As were the apartments.

We began with the characters in appropriate situations. A single "Crackhead" (read, Carrier) ambled toward the food cart. From there, they noticed something strange about the person... Once gunshots were fired, other Carriers in the woods converged on the source of the sound at a full run. The Player Characters had to put down the horde of zombies without themselves succumbing to infection or without killing each other (a cop and a violent criminal in the same group, go figure). During all of this, they tried to find a working vehicle, some fuel, and clear a path to get a car through the park and back down the road to find another avenue to a bridge out of the City. The cop even managed to use his radio to try and listen for other survivors. He caught flashes of conversation from another group of people on another end of the island, and even managed once to hear another cop calling for help as he was overrun by zombies downtown (foreshadowing what was intended to come).

In play, everyone survived the fight. Although many bennies were spent to make sure that happened. Mix one part role playing, one part humor, one part teamwork, and a lot of dice luck and things seemed to go well.

Unfortunately, time was getting away from us so we could not play through the next scene of the game -- in which the PCs had to skirt the ruined edges of downtown and somehow get through a massive assemblage of Carriers clustered in the road attacking a small group of survivers. Instead we narrated as a group what we felt should happen, and everyone agreed that they survived to get on a bridge -- only to be gunned down by the military, unwilling to take any more risked of infected persons crossing over. It was my intended ending anyway, so things worked out well.

As far as game mechanics were concerned, I used a slightly modified version of the Zombie from the Explorer's Edition book, beefing up its STRENGTH to a d8, removing the Shooting Skill, and adding an ability for it to infect people.

Potential infection occurred when a character was subjected to any body fluids of a Carrier, who were generally covered in blood anyway. Exposure occurred if a character was wounded by a Carrier or exposed to its blood in a significant way (attacking it with a chainsaw, punching it repeatedly, reaching inside one, having one explode on you, etc.) and required a VIGOR roll at the end of the round. A failed roll meant the character was infected, and infected characters had to make a SPIRIT roll every 10 minutes or succumb -- falling into seizures and arising as a Carrier a minute later. Wound penalties applied to all of these rolls.

All in all, this was a fun scenario which exposed two new players to Savage Worlds and allowed three others (including myself) to play again after over a year. I definitely made one convert because of the session, and he's already singing Savage praises to other gaming groups he knows.


1 comment:

Michael Young said...

Wow. Sort of the ultimate in a one-shot adventure (pun intended). Sounds like everyone had a good time. Our weekly group used to play a lot of SW, but we've kind of gotten away from it over the past few months. It's still my favorite system to play and especially my favorite to GM. Can't wait to see the pics and more PC's. Keep up the good work.