So we started a new campaign today. We had spent several weeks playing Car Wars instead of Savage Worlds. We started with new characters and the War of the Dead books.
Now, War of the Dead assumes that George Romero never made Night of the Living Dead, and since that movie was never made, no one knows anything about the walking dead, zombies, etc. No one knows weaknesses. Nobody knows head shots kill the undead, and the party must learn this. Police and military people are trained to shoot the center of mass, not heads… No one knows about bites spreading the infections. This requires that the players not play based on the peta world that they know.
Six people are playing.
Mike is playing “Lieutenant Dan”, a retired Vietnam Nam vet. He is retired, not homeless. He was a medic in the Nam, is convinced he was sprayed with agent orange, and is psychologically unstable.
Sue is playing “Moonshadow”, an EMT hired by Pinnacle Cruises to provide first aid on the cruise ship. She is a heroic pacifist who was raised on a commune, and feels a deep connection to the Earth.
Eric is playing “Fred Gonzalez”, a missionary priest who is a charismatic holy warrior. He is impoverished and has no interest in the trappings of a comfortable life.
Gavin is playing “Michael Dornbecher”, an NRA lobbyist. He is stocky, exceptionally pale, and smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. He also hands out pamphlets like these…
Collin is playing “Robert ‘Badger’ Jerwa”, a loner, paranoid, conspiracy theorist. He is a squatter / survivalist who has Macgyver skills. He is jumpy, quick and ugly. He is trying to avoid the government at any costs. He has a laptop, trying to learn hacking skills, but he isn’t very good and hasn’t learned much because he keeps turning it off to keep the big bad government from tracing him.
So the adventure starts out with the players winning free tickets to the SS Pinnacle’s maiden voyage. They will go from Miami on a week long trip to the Bahamas and back. The adventure doesn’t give a lot of detail about how this motley crew won tickets, but we aren’t arguing too much.
The people don’t know each other, so they are given an opportunity to meet shortly after boarding the ship. All of the guests have rooms in the same corridor, and they are hanging around in the same bar.
After some pleasantries, they leave port and steam out to sea. About 4 o’clock, the ship is out of sight of land, and the crew tries to interest the passengers in the life boat drill. The cruise is all inclusive, including food and drinks. Many of the passengers started drinking in port, and are continuing to imbibe while underway. Some people think that all you can eat / all you can drink is a challenge. Many of those people are here.
Now Badger notices that there are no controls to insure that every life boat is full before it leaves the ship. This is bothersome since he is doing the mental math, and is concerned that in a real emergency, he may have problems getting onto a life boat. It turns out that this isn’t a problem for Badger, but that comes later.
After the life boat drill, dinner is served. The party goes to eat. Yarl chooses to get to go food. She tells the person at the mini mart type shop that she has three kids, and gets three Lunchables containers and three 6 ounce cans of orange soda. Now Yarl notices that the Lunchables are from Mexico and their “Best By” date is six months ago. Yarl heads for her cabin and sorts through the food to find what is worth eating.
The rest of the players go to the restaurants. There are a lot of different restaurants here. Many have a version of Jamaican food, but there is surf and turf, Thai, Itallian, traditional American… Any type of ood that people could want. After all, there are 3,000 people on this ship, and only 500 of them are workers.
The party notices that the food they are being served seems to be lackluster. The meat portions are small, and very heavily seasoned. The salads are wilted. There are very large portions of inexpensive starches, like noodles and mashed potatoes. The fruit is simple, slightly off color navel oranges, bananas, and apples, all three types you would find in an elementary school cafeteria, golden delicious, red delicious (which are very NOT delicious) and Granny Smith. The drinks have massive amounts of ice. The mixed drinks are weak. The coffee is not very strong. This is all likely due to the fact that this is the first cruise, and they probably had to rush the final stuff in to get it ready for the guests, right?
During Dinner, Lt. Dan and Badger stuff their pockets and pouches with as much food as they can. Lt. Dan and Badger also pocket a couple of steak knives.
After dinner, everyone comes to the main ballroom for the formal greeting from the Captain. Captain Romero greets the passengers and tells them that the staff are here to make sure that every guest has a wonderful time. The Captain thanks Mr. Forthington, the owner for building this majestic ship. He then tells everyone to have a wonderful time and the party continues. The staff bring out champagne, the classy type, complete with a sugar cube at the bottom of the glass
After a short while, a man in his 60’s approaches the party. He has cowboy boots, a cowboy hat along with pressed jeans and a western shirt. He introduces himself as Billy Haynes, an oil tycoon and cattle rancher. On his arm is a lovely young lady, who he introduces as his latest “little philly”. The small talk goes on for a while, and he starts sweating profusely. He turns pale and sits down, saying that he must have drank more than he thought. He suddenly collapses on the floor and is unresponsive.
Moonshadow takes over as the EMT and finds no pulse or breathing. Fred and Lt Dan ask if they can help, and start CPR. Moonshadow asks the young Mrs. Haynes if he has any health problems or takes medication. She responds that the whole whirlwind wedding happened so fast that she didn’t have a chance to read the prenup. She did say that Billy took a huge bowl of all sorts of vitamins and minerals every day, and he talked about statins and blood thinners. But he also took several little blue pills a week. Moonshadow is convinced that Billy has had a massive coronary.
The EMT’s arrive with a gurney and hustle Billy and his wife off to the infirmary
Badger trails behind trying to see where they are going. He is escorted back by two sailors who explain to him that some areas the passengers are not allowed.
The Captain gets back on the microphone and explains that “the ship has top notch doctors and medical staff, so the man who was taken off will be all right in no time, in the meantime, everyone should take another drink and celebrate”
The party continues. After about 15 minutes, Mrs Haynes comes back to the ballroom, distraught. She has a grievous wound on her wrist. It is bleeding, and a chunk of flesh is missing. She approaches Moonshadow in hysterics and tells her that “Something happened to Billy, and everyone is dead, please come and help”.
She collapses on the ground, whimpering, imploring someone to go to the infirmary and help her husband.
The party goes to the infirmary. The infirmary is at the end of a hallway and has a single door into the room. The door is closed. There is a frosted glass window in the door. It is quiet. Maybe too quiet?
Badger opens the door with Lt. Dan right behind. They see a room from a charnel house. Blood was all over the floor and splattered on the walls. Four bodies lay on the floor. Moonshadow recognizes two of her coworkers, one has his throat torn out, the other has a bite taken out of his leg, and has bled out from the femoral artery. The other two people are regular sailors, the two who escorted Badger back to the ballroom. One is twitching. The other has a man in a cowboy hat, boots and jeans devouring his flesh. They found Billy Haynes.
Billy slowly rises and lurches forward towards Badger and Lt. Dan. Luckilly for them, the floor is slippery and Villy is having troubles negotiating across the four corpses to get at them.
A battle ensues. It is pretty grisly. In short, no one knows to do the head shot. Badger attacks. Lt. Dan fails his fear roll and runs away in terror. He has seen many things in war, but nothing that came close to canabalism. Badger pulls out his Ginsbu knife and attacks.
So, the Ginsbu knife attack was amazing. Billy lost an arm at the shoulder. Badger wielded the knife like a line worker at a Tyson chicken factory. Billy was moaning, but he didn’t seem to feel anything when he lost an arm to a steak knife. Everyone is convinced that the nurses either gave him a cocktail of PCP and Crystal Meth or maybe something had a major bad reaction with the bowl full of vitamins, minerals and other medicines Billy took.
At one point, Yarl tries to wrap Billy up in a blanket, to control him. She tries, but Billy rolls a 31 on a single 6 sided dice. Yes, he exploded five times in a row. Yarl exploded twice, but came nowhere close to 31.
The battle took a turn for the worse when Billy bit Badger’s shoulder and dealt a shaken and three wounds. Now Colin / Badger tried to chip it, twice. Both chipping rolls were horrible. Badger took the whole bite, and collapsed. The special rules for this setting are the bite infects the player. If one bite deal as three wounds, the player dies, and rises d6 minutes later as a zombie. If the player takes two bites from a single wound, they will die in d12 hours and rise after. If the player takes one wound, they die in d20 days and rise.
So Badger goes down. The party comes in and cuts off Billy’s other arm. Somehow, Billy is still up and trying to bite. Moonshadow notices that Billy isn’t bleeding from his wounds. His eyes also look like they have cataracts,but somehow he is able to attack with accuracy.
Fred decides to pick up the heaviest thing he can find and finds an old style microscope and whacks at Billy. Finally, the party figures out that they aren’t able to kill Billy, and Billy has no arms… Meaning he can’t open doors. They decide to exit the room. Moonshadow forages through the cabinets and grabs anything that looks like it may help in first aid. They pull Badger out, then close the door. As they begin to get their breath back, Billy walks into the door with a sickening thump /splat and leaves a bloody mess on the frosted glass. Billy keeps backing up and walking into the door, moaning.
Moonshadow and Lt. Dan try to render first aid to Badger. They apply compresses to Badger’s shoulder wound. No one notices that with such a massive wound, there is no fresh blood flowing from the wound. Badger rises. He bites Lt. Dan and does two damage. Moonshadow reaches into her bag and produces a hypodermic with knock out juice and pumps it into Badger. Nothing happens. Badger keeps attacking. The party ends up killing Badgerbefore he bites anyone else. Moonshadow pumps knock out juice into Lt. Dan and he goes down.
Here is an action shot of Mike / Lt. Dan showing off his finger math skills to determine his adder to his roll, wild attack plus gang up minus two wounds equals 1
By this time more sailors come by and tells the party to return to their quarters. Moonshadow tries to tell the sailors what happened, but they are convinced that Moonshadow is angling for more money in her paycheck, and let her know that she will get her contractually agreed to salary, and making up stories won’t help her get more money.
The party returns to their quarters, except Badger, who is left to cool his heels in the hallway
After a short while in their rooms. They hear a blood curling scream, then another. People pour out into the hallway and gawk. The narrow hallway is crowded with onlookers as they party hears more screaming. The party starts working their way to the noise, and find one cabin’s door broken down and five people in the room. A teenage girl is standing on a bed screaming “Daddy” over and over. She has a bloody arm.
In the room, three men have surrounded another man who is very pale and has blood dripping from his lips. This man, presumably “Daddy”, bites one of the three men and that my goes down in a heap. Lt. Dan has recovered from his joy juice fix. Likely because of a lifetime of substance abuse
Moonshadow and Yarl go to help the girl. She is hysterical.
Lt. Dan and Fred attack Daddy. Michael starts pushing people back into their rooms.
The attack seems to go weirdly. Daddy bites another of the extra men. Yarl pulls out the blanket from the bed that the hysterical girl is standing on. Yarl’s acrobatics roll is so high, the girl doesn’t even realize that the blanket and sheets are gone. It was pretty awesome.
Yarl uses the sheet and blanket to roll up the two downed men.
Lt. Dan goes into the bathroom and pulls down the shower curtain and comes out, wielding it like a spear. He skewers Daddy, and Daddy attacks Lt. Dan, pulling himself closer, down the shower curtain.
Fred conks Daddy on the head, and knocks out his jaw. His jaw is literally broken off, and hanging from the flesh on one side. Fred then conks him again and kills Daddy.
The party is taken by Kirkman, the head security guard to the bridge, where they witness Mr. Forthington informs the Captain to not call the Coast Guard, and instructs Kirkman to take care of this problem