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So I have been remiss in posting last week’s episode.  I have no excuse.  I took a week off from work, and had plenty of time…  Well, I took a week off two weeks ago, and worked last week, but last Saturday’s episode occurred at the end of the week off.  I should have been adequately rested, after taking a week off to hang around with the dogs, my wife, the kids, painting minis, reading books…  But no, after gaming Saturday, I savored Sunday, and didn’t bother writing the blog.  The next thing I knew, I was deep back into work, catching up on about 200 emails that needed responding to, and that was after sifting out about 800 emails that didn’t need responding to.

So here I am, trying to remember what happened a week ago.  I trust that the party will forgive me if I don’t get the details right, and everything is slightly skewed.

On another note, I did start putting together my Kill Team for Warhammer 40K.  Gavin and I bought the starter box.  He wanted the Tau.  I wanted the Space Marines.  You see, I don’t like the standard Space Marine colors.  Blue, black, green guys.  BORING.

Here is a standard GW painting of Space Marine troops.  I think this is the Kill Team starter set.  It is ok.  But, meh.  BORING

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I saw some pink Space Marines somewhere on the Interwebs.

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and thought, yes, that is pretty cool.  But, instead of flowers, they need Hello Kitty

I saw this, and said… YES.

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and this solidified everything for me.

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OK, so it isn’t original.  But, I like it.  And since they are my minis, I get to paint them whatever way I want to.

You see, too many people who play Space Marines are entirely too tightly wound about their guys.  The lore is all about tough battle suit guys.  I have talked about this with some of the people at Dice Age.  Some of them think it is a good idea, while some just twitch a little.

So I have been assembling the Space Marines in the Kill Team box.  A few comments about these models.  I don’t really like the space marines, because they are pretty much copies of each other.  There isn’t a lot of variation in the posing.  They all pretty much stand straight on two legs, either the legs are at parade rest, or they cock one leg to look like they may be walking.  The chests have the ability to swivel around one axis, but not much movement as though they are bending.  this may be because they are in power armor.  Most of the guys have arm pairs which must be holding their weapon in both hands.  A very few of the guys can hold one weapon in one hand, and something in the other.  After building so many minis that have more possibility, these guys are a little disappointing.

Now the real disappointment comes from the crappy casting.  Most GW minis in plastic are extremely well cast.  These guys have significant slop on all of the mould joints.  Add to that that most of the pieces have sprue points that connect the plastic on visible parts.  A much smarter thing would have been to have the sprue connect to the piece in a location where the gluing of parts would have covered any rough surface.  This means that the poor casting and the sprue clean up means a lot of extra work.  I expect this when I am purchasing cheap models, such as models by Wargames Factory.  I expect better model results from GW, since they are expensive.

But, that is not what I am here to talk about.  I am here to talk about last week’s adventure.  More zombies in the War of the Dead.

The party all went on a nice cruise which was interrupted by some truly rude cannibals.  At first, it appeared to be just one or two, but as the evening progressed they saw that the cannibal faction increased exponentially.  It appears that a large number of these horrible people all came to the cruise, and didn’t quite time their beginning of their cabal of horror.  It started out with one cannibal, and quickly they all realized that the time had come, and then seemingly normal people started eating the flesh of others.

The other thing that the party figured out is that these cannibals must be on PCP, or some such drug.  When they are shot with a bullet in a location which should at least drop the person to the ground, if not kill them, the cannibals keep coming and coming and coming.  So far, the only way that the Party has found to kill the cannibals is to shoot them in the neck, severing the spine.  This is only a partial fix, as the heads keep biting even with a snapped spine.  These must be some pretty good drugs.

This is the key to the world of War of the Dead.  George Romero never made his Night of the Living Dead movie.  The entire post 1968 zombie craze never happened.  The game players need to play their characters in a way that they have no knowledge of the “gotta head shot them to kill them”.  The party has been shooting at the cannibals, but anyone trained in shooting a gun at a person is trained to shoot center mass, not the head.  You always shoot at the largest body part – the chest / gut, not the head.  That is what the military does, that is what the police do, that is what self defense training trains.  Therefore, the party has no understanding that the only way to kill the zombies / cannibals is to head shot them.

Now in Savage Worlds, a head shot is a “called shot”.  It is a minus 4 on the roll, but does +4 on damage, which allows for a high likelihood of shaking the bad guy.

So we picked up last week, and Kirkman, the security guard took the party off to a problem at the infirmary.  It was kind of interesting.  The players didn’t want to go.  However, in an adventure like this, it really isn’t a sand box.  It is really kind of a scripted adventure, so the Party needs to follow along with the plot and script.  These players are used to running in a plot line, or sand box type of campaign, so when their spidey senses tingle, they want to go another way.  Danger to the left, we go right.  It took a while with some discussion before everyone wanted to go to the danger.  This is a flaw in this adventure.  If we were playing Marine Force Recon, or Army Rangers, or some other type of heroes, then our instinct would be to go towards danger, and fight it, at least to some extent.  In this case, the players are normal people.  They are not trained to turn towards the danger and deal with it.  The natural result of danger would be to get away.  I get it, the plot is the plot, but it is a little hard to believe that the players are supposed to be heroes on the first week of playing.  Now after becoming seasoned veterans, I can see changing it up from being cautious to being more aggressive.  It would make more sense, that as the players all came to the realization that dealing with a potential problem directly, or indirectly is better than hiding from it… That takes experience and time, not on week 1 or two of the adventure.  The play would be more realistic if things happened around the party more, and allowed the party to figure out that they needed to deal with problems, especially at first.

But anyway, I still like the adventure.

Kirkman takes the party off to the infirmary, and they see that all hell has broken loose.  The hall leading to the infirmary has three corpses lying on the floor, with two other cannibals eating the raw meat right off the corpses.  Inside the infirmary they hear a scream, there are three people inside being attacked by several cannibals.  Kirkman asks the party to investigate, and report back.

A couple of things here.  First, the party expects Kirkman to help out for some reason…  Really, an NPC helping?  Why should he put his life in danger when he has people who can report back to him?

Secondly, the party wants knowledge that they aren’t willing to explore for.  The hall has two closed doors on the side, right near the corpses in the hall.  I heard several times from the party members questions like “what is inside the rooms on the other side of the doors?”  Now the doors are closed, and there are no markings on the doors, except for an identifier like “45-B” and “46-B”  There is no information other than that.  I ask the party if they want to step amongst the corpses and investigate the rooms.  All the while, there are two cannibals feasting on the third corpse less than 10 feet away.  No.  However, they still want to know what is on the other side of the door.

Maybe they want me to slip up and spill the beans?  The good news here is that these rooms are not part of this adventure, so there is nothing to let slip.  If they open the door, I get to make stuff up…  Behind door 45-B is… oh, well, maybe a Yochlol, handmaiden of Lolth!

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and behind door 46-C is a portal with a Horukian swamp druid ready to step through…

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Yeah… my imagination  could come up with all sorts of things.  It might be best to leave the doors closed.  After all, who is to say if they are locked or not.  Who is to say that the corpses won’t start attacking when the party tries to move them?  I keep rolling dice to see if the corpses will animate and start biting…

So, the Party was told by Kirkman to only investigate and report back.  They decided to deal with the problem.  So they waded in and started attacking.  Then the cannibals reacted and started after them.  

This was all well and good, except that these cannibals are tough.  Shari saved the day by pulling out her Deus Ex Machina card and produced a dozen geriatrics with walkers and canes who attacked the cannibals with zeal.  It seems that someone had told the grannies that their Social Security check was held up because of this outbreak and they were having nothing of this.

The party bravely left the heroic grannies to deal with the cannibals and reported back to Kirkman what had happened.

Eric, being the expert on cruise ships, since he had been on one or two, kept the party in line.  No, there was no way to do this, or that, since the cruise lines didn’t want this or that loose on the ship in case of rolling and rocking because of waves, or drunk passengers.  The topic of cell phones came up, and Eric explained that you don’t get cel reception on the high seas, you could pay lots of money and use the ship to shore radio / telephone, but a regular cel phone didn’t work.

It was kind of nice not having to be the bad guy, crushing the hopes and dreams of the party by introducing reality.  Having Eric do that was refreshing.  I figure that Eric has the potential for a great DM, as he is willing to listen to what people want to do, then crush them mercilessly.

The party makes it back up to the bridge, and reports that things are going to hell, quite quickly.  Then the main lighting on the ship goes out, and everything is lit by the emergency lighting… That can’t be good, since the batteries will only last for a while on the emergency lighting.   They hear over the radios that there is a problem in the engine room.  Kirkman leads them down to the engine room.

The engine room is about 900 feet long, almost the entire length of the ship, and is wide.  It is strewn with tools, work spaces etc.  Each member quickly finds a tool to work with.  Sue finds a nice meter long heavy piece of chrome moly steel pipe.  The problem with that is that it is slick, and needs a grip.  She figures that she can wrap it with ace bandages or something to allow her to have a grip.  Mike finds a massive screwdriver.  It is 18-inches long, and looks like a really good stabbing weapon.  The other party members find things that can operate as clubs. Some people find flashlights.

They proceed down the length of the engine room, and it is quiet.  Then they hear an explosion and automatic gun fire.  Kirkman is worried.  No one should have explosives.  The only guns on the ship are either flare guns or the pistols that Kirkman issued to the party.  Automatic gunfire should not be something they hear.  As they make their way forward, they see a group of cannibals being attacked by men in black military like uniforms, complete with web gear, grenades, and other tactical items.

There are six men suited up like Navy Seals.  They are being attacked by several cannibals.  Mike feels something grab him from behind, and they realize that they are being attacked by other cannibals.  A gun is shot, and then half of the cannibals attacking the paramilitary guys turn and attack the party.  It isn’t pretty, but soon enough the party has decimated the cannibals.

Aaand. that is where we left off.