So we met yesterday with the intention of playing Savage Worlds, War of the Dead. You know, continuing on in the campaign. Well, it kind of worked.
The entire thing started out with Sue almost ready to come back from Inbredlandistan, keeping ‘Merica safe on her secret mission to “watch her daughter’s cats while her daughter was in training”. Yeah, right.
Well, let’s back up. The party spent a lot of time not doing the game. People were late. I am not naming anyone, but Eric and Rob were on time. Mike came a few minutes late, and the rest of the group showed up really late. Not that I am naming names, but the “rest of the group” may be Collin, Shari and Bill. That is OK. I am not on a timeline. But between the late start and the general conversation at the table, we didn’t get started until about an hour and a half after we were supposed to. Now, most of that time was BS’ing, along with gossip.
So backing up, I had a busy week at work. I went to Houston Texas, well actually Sugarland Texas for several days. Now I have a love / hate relationship with Texas. I dislike the politics they have on display. I don’t hate their politics, but I disagree with the conservative things that they do. The people are really nice. Whenever I interact with the people, it shows me that decent, kind people could have very different politics than I believe in.
The heat and humidity (and cockroaches) are enough to make me want to run away screaming. I can take dry heat. I can take cool and humid. I don’t like hot and humid. Even air conditioners only do so much, since you still have to walk outside, or get into a hot car. And there are cockroaches.
I don’t understand how people can live there. I don’t understand why people live there. It was 80 degrees and pretty darned humid while I was there.
I did do some interesting things while I was there. I stopped at a game store I randomly found on Google. It was Golem’s Gate in Stafford, near Sugarland. The game store was small, but had a good selection of board games, and surprisingly, a really nice selection of RPG’s. They had hard copies of several Savage Worlds games, along with the usual D&D game books. It was surprising that Pathfinder was not represented, but World of Darkness was.
I wonder if D&D 5e is undercutting the Pathfinder dominance of the industry. Paizo had a huge runaway hit with Pathfinder. It was easy, approachable, and eventually (in my opinion) sagged under its own weight. I mean, in order to keep the monster fed, they have to come out with new books and modules regularly. Do we really need 6 official bestiaries? To be fair, all you need to run a good game is a core book and Bestiary 1. There are two extra books that add new rules for races and classes that are pretty nice. I have four bestiaries, along with several after market monster manual books. I haven’t bought bestiary 5 or 6 , since I have so many RPG books, I just haven’t felt the need to get them. This probably says something about me, since my functional problem with things is that I am a completist. If I get into a game, I want to get everything for that game. This is problematic when I have the following current major RPG lines…
- Dungeon Crawl Classics
- Mutant Crawl Classics
- D&D 5e
- Call of Cthulhu
- Amazing Adventures
and so on, and so on. You see the problem… It bugs me when I don’t have all of the supplemental product for every game I have. Now I have large PDF libraries for other games. For instance, when I see something that is on Drivethru, I will buy it in PDF, and may print it out for easier reference. That is what I did for Star Frontiers. Now, I had most of the stuff for that game when I was a kid. When I found it in PDF format, I grabbed it. I bought the entire V1 set of books and modules for Twilight 2000 a few months ago. It was about $40, but I played the heck out of that when I was in high school. I will eventually print it out and bind it to have it available for easier reading, and maybe force it on one of the gaming groups I participate it in.
This week, I grabbed the entire PDF set for Aftermath, a serious Post Apocalyptic game series. I played this in middle and high school also. It required a flow chart to play. It was super detailed. The game was a little much, but it was a hard science version of post apac that was more serious than Gamma World. Think more like Traveller in seriousness and science fiction. I didn’t like the game system for Aftermath. But I would mod the ideas into Gamma World and Morrow Project.
Yes, that is the flow chart from Aftermath.
The game system was not for the faint of heart. The ideas were pretty awesome, and could be folded into other games with a limited amount of work. Kind of like how you can take just about any fantasy RPG module, and with a little amount of work make it work within any fantasy RPG system.
I was the only person in my gaming group in middle and high school that had a paper route, so I had a steady source of income. Everyone else had to wait for their parents or other relatives to buy them stuff. They tended to want to play one game, or possibly two games because they didn’t have the income to go and buy new game systems. The games tended to be D&D (1st Edition) and Star Frontiers. That is because for a nominal fee, you could buy the core books for those games, and have a lot of fun. I liked those fine, but I also wanted to play other stuff.
TSR had good ideas, but other gaming companies had good ideas also. I found that I could weave into the D&D or Star Frontiers horror, wonky post apocalyptic ideas, etc.
Yes, I was usually the DM, since I had the money from the paper route to buy the books. I also liked the books and modules. I would read them and imagine what I could do with them in the games we played.
I actually never really played RPG’s much. I usually ran them. I like running them, and kind of framing the story that we are all involved in, I do like playing too. I am having a lot of fun with Pun Pun, the kobold trapmaker in our Thursday game night.
Where was I? I was prattling on about games…
When I was at Golem’s Gate in Stafford, I found amongst the RPG’s two copies of the original Deadlands DM screen, and one copy of the paper character cutout standees. They were $15 apiece. All brand new, never been opened. I texted Loren to ask if she wanted one. Then I called Loren… I am not a stalker, but this was pretty cool. Loren later told me that she was in Safeway, and her phone doesn’t work inside that store, so she didn’t get back to me.
I bought all three, just on the off chance that Loren wanted the DM screen. I wanted one of the DM screens and the standees for me. Later Loren told me that she already owned the DM screen, but we could go in it halves and give it to Daron. Daron seemed to think it was pretty all right when we gave it to him.
The trip to and from Texas was bleh. I don’t really like flying. I am not afraid of it, I just find sitting in a small seat for hours on end truly unfun. I have traveled a lot. The thrill is gone. Maybe that is because when I traveled for work, I went to places like Lubbock Texas, St. Louis Missouri, and so forth. Not that those places are bad but if I were going to the Bahamas, that might be better.
I returned with little fanfare. The dogs were very happy to have me come home. The kids and wife were happy also, but they didn’t bark excitedly at me or for me when they saw me, like the dogs did.
Friday was a pretty quiet day. I spent it in quiet recuperation with the dogs. Then Saturday came. As were were getting ready to out the door, we get the following from Sue, who was still on her secret patriotic mission in Inbredinistan
We weren’t sure what that meant, so I chose to send Mike thoughts and prayers. I created a poll on Facebook Messenger to see if we could come to some sort of understanding of how to be nice to Mike today.
I figure that if that is enough for the Republican Party after a horrific school shooting, that should be more than ample for an RPG session.
We meet at Dice Age Game emporium, and wait. And wait. And wait. Well, it wasn’t really that long, but the Harer family is getting coffee. Evidently, they had to grow the beans and roast them before the coffee was able to be served.
Meanwhile, we were starting to get bored. So we did the only thing that people do when they get bored. They start thinking. I have a bright idea that we need to tease Collin about Gloomhaven being so AWESOME!
Quickly, in some odd way, a plan is hatched. Well, we actually took more time trying to find a marker that we could insta-tat on Mike’s arm than we spent thinking about the overall project, but through desperation, inspiration came through.
Mike covers up the fake tat, and waits for the Harer’s. And waits. And waits. Then waits some more. Evidently, the Harer family is still playing Gloomhaven.
Finally, the Harers show up, all of about 5 minutes late and Mike shows the tat to Collin, who has the following reaction:
I am not sure if this is fear, angst, gas, or what. He seems to like the tat, and mutters about how he should get it in permanent manner on his back.
Things seemed to go downhill from there. We really need Sue back to get us back on track.
It didn’t take long and Eric steered us down the old S&M path. He decided that all of the minis needed to be roped together into some form of ritualistic orgy…
And then Mike started playing with the barf bag I grabbed for him on the plane.
I really can’t explain why I got a barf bag for Mike. It started several years ago. I think it was about 12 years ago, when I went on a business trip to California, and Mike asked me off the cuff if I would bring him something cool from Anaheim CA. In desperation of looking for something cool, while at a conference for traffic engineers, I found nothing. So I grabbed a flyer from the hotel that was for the Richard Nixon library in Yorba Linda CA and a barf bag from the airplane and gave it to him. Mike seemed pleased with the gift. Ever since then, when I can grab a barf bag from the airplane, as in when I remember to grab a barf bag from the airplane, I give it to Mike. This is a true test of the concept of “it is the thought that counts”.
After I posted a picture of Mike playing with the barf bag puppet, Sue responded on Facebook Messenger with:
Not getting into any specifics of what we did to her husband, Mike seemed to enjoy himself, a lot.
Where was I? I think I adequately described the pregame show. Now onto what we actually did.
You see, this was intended to be a session where the party could actually rest and recuperate. They were provided an idyllic setting where they could rest up, and prepare for the next few chapters. It provided the opportunity for a base of operations where they could be well taken care of.
Did they take advantage of this?
Not at all.
Rails? Who needs rails?
The adventure started out just where it left off the previous week. Bad things happened. As Collin was driving the van, an Apache helicopter crashes right in front of the van, causing Collin to swerve to try to evade the helicopter. Well, Collin is kind of a poor driver who has moments of brilliant inspiration. This was not one of those moments.
Collin is unable to swerve out of the way with his sweet 1973 Chevy Van. He crashes into the helicopter, and destroys the van. Everyone in the van is seriously injured due to the crash. The party looks outside, and sees that the burning helicopter is right in front of them, and sadly, there are a large group of zombies shambling towards the crash scene. Help is on its way! Not so much.
Mike’s Luchador bravely hops out of the van, and is quickly surrounded and dies. Shari runs away. Just as things are getting bad (as if Mikes character dying in the first encounter of the session), four large 4X4 trucks drive up with two men with rifles in the back and they dispatch the zombies.
Mike pulls out a pregen character, who is a glam rock star, whose weapon is a guitar. I don’t remember the glam rock star’s name, but it is something like Jem
Or maybe one of these guys.
or one of these guys.
Whatever the story is, I think that Mike’s character should be on a never ending quest for Aqua Net. I mean, how else can he have hair like this in the zombie apocalypse?
It is about this point in the game where we start getting trolled by an 8 year old girl who is in the store. She hangs around the periphery of the table, listens to what is going on, and offers her opinion about things. Mike loses it. Not in a bad way, but everything this girl says causes Mike to laugh uncontrollably. The girl has strong opinions, and is perfectly willing to express them. The girl hangs around for the better part of a half hour and keeps Mike in stitches the entire time.
The people in the truck offer to take the party to their town, so they can recuperate and possibly join them.
Now for some reason, several of the party members seem to think that this may be a trap. After all, no one helps out in the zombie apocalypse. Right? Eric keeps referring to the Governor and the Walking Dead, as though there is some sort of connection. How could a group of nice people actually exist in this day and time, much less nice people in North Carolina? We all know that no one in North Carolina is nice. Just like we know that there are no basements in Florida, and all boats have canopies on them.
The party goes with the people in the trucks, but only after securing all of the medicine that they could from the wrecked van.
The people in the truck are friendly, and they drive for a while and end up coming up on the town of Dalesbury, which is surrounded by a wall made out of junked cars, tractor trailers, farm vehicles and the such. There is a gate, and people with guns are manning the wall.
The gate opens and the four trucks pass through, and they drive down the main street of the town. There is one street, and a dozen or so crossing streets. The town has a movie theater, a post office, two bars, a grocery store, a hardware store and many houses.
The trucks stop in front of a doctor’s office, and the people are led into the office. The doctor introduces himself to the party as Doctor Lewis. Doctor Lewis seems like a pretty OK guy. He has each of the party members go into a specific exam room in the office. Each party member is followed by two town members with guns. The town members explain that they are not trying to be rude, but since the party is new to town, they really don’t trust them, and it is possible that they could be bitten, or want to create problems. They apologize for the treatment, and ask that the party consider the position from the town’s perspective. The doctor heals several of the party’s wounds, and asks about the medicine that they brought, is it available for others in the town, or does the party want to keep it for their own.
The response from Eric and Collin is reassuring but noncommittal. Doc responds that it is OK, but if the party decides to stay with the town, then all resources should be shared. Once again, no specific response that agrees or disagrees from the party.
The Doctor tells the party that they will be put up in Elanor’s house. Elanor lost her husband in the beginning of the plague, and she has a large house with lots of rooms.
This is where important plot points could have been included, in the event that (a) corporal Hauser, (b) any one of the three soldiers that accompanied the corporal, (c) the little girl with the flu, and / or (d) the father of the girl with the flu would have allowed for some more information to be described to the party. But since none of these people were living any more, that doesn’t matter.
As the Doctor finishes up his examination and healing, the party is approached by the Doctor’s brother, who is the mayor of town. The mayor seems unimpressed by the people that were brought in. A glam rocker, a person dressed as a Roman centurion, a Hispanic priest, a young girl and a white man.
For some reason, Eric’s character, the Hispanic priest takes umbrage to everything that the mayor says. It doesn’t seem to matter what is said, the priest takes it as an affront. It seems that the priest has a chip on his shoulder. The priest figures that the mayor is a bigot and a horrible person who does not value anyone who is not white. Well, he may be right. The priest gets more and more frustrated as the Mayor slights the priest in every way and opportunity possible. It seems that the Mayor is not happy to have people like the priest here. Eric is pretty sure that the Mayor is upset about him being Hispanic, but it could be that the priest is not of the correct version of the faith.
As the party is walked to Elanor’s house, they notice that everyone is armed, but no one has tried to take away the guns from the party. They find out that the town has several generators that they keep running, and they need to find fuel to keep things going. The town has gardens where food is grown.
Elanor is happy to have the company. She has a nice and tidy home, where the living room is in various colors of violet, and the sitting room is in various shades of dusty rose. Elanor makes over her visitors, and tells them that she would like them to rest until lunch, and she will have a very nice beef stew to eat.
The party rests until lunch, and then comes downstairs to a delicious beef stew for everyone. Elanor is a good host, and has pulled out all of the parsnips, rutabagas and turnips from the stew, leaving a delicious beef stew with carrots, potatoes and celery, allowing the party members to add the other root veggies as they desire. Elanor knows that not all people like these types of veggies in their food, so she thinks it is better to allow people to add them than try to figure out how to politely not eat them.
Elanor is a beautiful woman in her early 30’s, and talks about how she and her husband wanted to start a family, but he was not able to fertilize her seed. They were talking about adopting a baby or five before she was left behind and her husband ascended into heaven. She is sad because she thought that she had lived a righteous life, and would have been called with the other believers in the rapture, but that was not so. She tries to put on a brave face, but knows that for some reason, she is destined to an eternity in hell, because only the righteous were taken when the seventh seal was torn asunder. She hopes that if she continues to live a good live, a godly life, that she will be allowed to at least glimpse a view of heaven before she is thrown in to the pit of hell. Maybe a short glimpse will be enough to keep Satan from entirely owning her soul.
Eric consoles her, telling her that some people were taken in the rapture, but others of true faith were left on this mortal coil to minister to the wicked to hopefully give others the ability to also ascend to heaven. Maybe Elanor’s faith is what kept her here after the rapture, to help others, and show the truth of faith.
Elanor seems to take solace from what the priest says. Maybe she will enter the Kingdom of Heaven after all.
The priest asks Elanor about the Mayor. Elanor tells the priest that the Mayor is not a nice man. He only wants to be around white people. Anyone other than a white person is not worthy. It is unfortunate, but racism lives beyond the Rapture.
The party is told that they will be brought before the town members that evening. During that time, the party can tell the town members what their skills and abilities are, along with what their story is – how they survived the Apocalypse, and then the town will determine if the party should become members of the town or not.
This should be pretty easy, but the party is not going for it. For some reason, the party wants to do more.
The centurion and the Mayor get into a conversation about the centurion’s ability to fight, and pretty soon, the centurion has agreed to show his prowess by an Olympic style event. The mayor and the centurion eventually agree to letting 10 zombies charge the centurion, and the centurion has five discuses (hub caps) and five javelins and his sword. Evidently, the centurion will fight completely naked also. The Mayor wants to make sure that this is not embarrassing for the centurion, so he is told he will be chained to a spot, and will not be able to move more than 10 feet from where the chain is locked down at on the ground.
Collin wants to get in on this also. So does the priest. They all decide that the first order of business is to allow the centurion to show his battle prowess, then they will reset, and then 10 more zombies will charge at the centurion and Collin’ where Collin can uses 5 bullets in his 50 caliber Barrett rifle, then it is all hand to hand combat. Meanwhile, the priest can show his power channel through the Lord, and help out the two in the kill pocket. The Mayor likes the idea of some entertainment for the townspeople since they don’t get to do much otherwise, and the Mayor keeps trying to get more zombies against the party members. After all, if 10 can be handily dispatched, why not 20?
In the end, the games commence, and the town comes to watch the entertainment. Mike decides to play power cords on his guitar through the boom box that the town provided.
The centurion takes his place with his five hubcaps and five spears, and his sword. The zombies are let loose, and amazingly, the centurion kills one zombie with a hubcap. He kills several with spears, but this is where it gets strange. Somehow, Eric, the priest all of a sudden figured out that his character had a spell which could be used against the undead, which could turn them, or possibly destroy them. That would have been nice to use any time in the last, say, 10 sessions. Eric walks up to the fence, and proceeds to do his magic, and several zombies are stunned, and one drops dead. The crowd doesn’t seem to notice. In the end, four zombies get into combat reach of the centurion.
This is where it gets weird.
Now, I have tried to explain the bucolic, calm, nice atmosphere of the town. This is an oasis in the desert. Things are nice and quiet here. If the party plays nicely, then they will have a good base of operations to work out of for a good while.
Does the party agree? Nope. They are going to screw things up, because… rails? who needs rails?
Collin, Shari and Bill all toss the mayor over the fence, into the area where the zombies are. The mayor is in no danger, but the mayor shoots his 44 at Collin, missing him, but requiring Collin to use a chip.
Collin tells the mayor to call this thing off. He does this while somehow unlimbering his 50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle and trying to intimidate the mayor. So the Barrett sniper rifle is not a gun you can Rambo. It is a big gun. I mean big.
It weighs 31 pounds unloaded, and is almost 60 inches long.
There is no way that you can Rambo this bad boy.
Now, I carried the M60 when I was in the army. We all tried to do this…
We couldn’t effectively do it. The gun is heavy, and more importantly, there is a lot of weight in the front of the gun, making gravity want to pivot it away from you.
It is a game. So I let Collin intimidate the Mayor with his big gun.
The mayor says “fine” and walks away, not even looking at Collin trying to balance his big gun menacingly.
The zombies continue to attack the centurion. It takes several rounds of combat, and pretty much everyone giving Bill their chips, but the Centurion ends up killing all of the zombies.
And that is where we ended for the day.
Like I said, it was supposed to be a nice, quiet adventure, where the party would be able to rest, recuperate and get ready to help the town. We shall see where it will go from here.