And thus ends my biweekly All Flesh Must Be Eaten game. . .
The party left the military convoy with which they were traveling. The goal was to hit Cape Canaveral, meet up with the Navy, and head to Hawaii. Having no proof that such an idea was a great option, they decided to go rogue and investigate an odd facility back up near Beaver City.
At the facility, they found a shed full of zombies, a building for observing zombies in a closed environment, two living quarters, a garage facility, a radio tower, and an office building. The entire complex was surrounded by ten foot tall fence line topped with razor wire – an easy feat to beat when your mode of transportation is a helicopter. They killed the shedful o’ zombies, discovered an underground tunnel system that connected the buildings, and a scientist.
The scientist confirmed what they had been told by an insider, that there was no known cure and everyone else had given up on finding one.
While investigating the tunnel system, they were set upon by zombies that were released into the tunnels. As it so happened, one of the zombies was carrying a 9mm handgun and knew how to use it. He managed to incapacitate one of the party members and nearly incapacitate a second. In the process of escaping the tunnels, the incapacitated party member died and took a bite out of another party member. Luckily, another member of the party was able to put the zombie down before he could do more damage.
Moving from the heat and into the fire, the cast was taken prisoner by the insider and her military squad. Quick thinking by the party led to an escape that resulted in no more PC deaths, but brought about the death of the NPC nurse traveling with the group.
The party fled back to their rendezvous point and an NPC they met a few nights prior came by (via the dead PC’s player). It was apparent that the informer and her military squad had tracked the party to this rendezvous point. All of the NPCs left behind with the gear were brutally killed and some supplies were taken. The party decided to head back to a fuel tank that they had stashed at an old farmhouse in order to fuel up their helicopter. They took a giant dump truck, Suburban, and the cable guy’s work minivan with them.
Arriving onsite, they discover the barn where the fuel truck was hidden to be chained and locked shut. They took the easy route and shot the lock off the door. With two party members in the Blackhawk helicopter, another in the dump truck several miles up the road, yet, and a fourth waiting in the Suburban, the fifth member of the party opened the door to the barn. Peering inside, he saw the fuel truck, several other trucks and tractors, plus what looked like feral human males, including an eight year old boy. The boy quickly turned and shot a .22 rifle at the party member. The other feral males brought their shotguns and rifles to bear and the party member ran for cover. Thus, started the end.
The helicopter came closer to the barn as the boy stepped outside the barn, chambering another round into his rifle. The door gunner cut a path with bullets in front of the boy, who shot at the helicopter and did no damage. The men inside the building began shooting at the helicopter, but not hitting it or the door gunner.
The party member in the Suburban grabbed bow and arrow, left the Suburban, and scrambled through a field to get behind the barn. The first party member poked out of hiding and shot the child.
The dump truck came rumbling on scene at this point, drawing fire from a nearby farmhouse. The dump truck pointed itself at the house and aimed to run down the woman shooting at it.
With the boy no longer in the way, the party member who had opened the barn door snuck in and to the side. He kept low and behind tractor equipment – staying away from the fuel truck.
The helicopter pilot brought the chopper closer to the ground, allowing the door gunner to start shooting at the feral men with long arms. The pilot’s only words to the door gunner (with 2 Life Points left to his name) were, “Don’t shoot near the fuel truck.”
The dump truck roared closer to the farm house. A farm house less than 50 yards from the barn.
The party member inside the barn shot and killed one of the feral men.
The party member with the bow and arrow managed to prop open the back door to the barn. He deftly put an arrow through the lung of another feral man.
The driver of the dump truck pulled up short and to the side of the house, providing cover for said driver to jump out. The plan? To sneak about and kill this feral woman with a shotgun who had retreated into the house.
The helicopter pilot kept the Blackhawk in place as the door gunner’s player BOTCHED his roll to near negative 20, spraying M-60 bullets throughout the barn. Several of them pierced the fuel tank on the fuel truck before a last bullet scraped metal somewhere near the leaking fuel, causing the rest of the fuel tank to go up in a massive explosion.
Faster than the speed of love, the barn exploded in a shower of splintery death. The feral men, bow and arrow PC, the PC who had snuck into the barn, and the door gunner were killed instantly. The helicopter pilot fought to maintain as much control of the bird as he could. The force of the explosion pushed it away from the barn and towards the farm house. It tore through the farm house, digging into the dirt just in front of the dump truck.
As we pull away from a close up of the dump truck driver pulling the unconscious helicopter pilot from the wrecked Blackhawk, we see the carnage of the explosion, the destruction placed upon the farmhouse, the ruined vehicles in the drive, and the giant smoke plume rising into the air as if to tell any zombie who can see it, “Come, there’s food here and it’s fresh.”
In retrospect, I picked up on a few of what I consider my old, bad habits as a ZM. I naturally prefer “sandbox” style games. The problem is that I usually don’t have any rails designed, so the cohesiveness of the party (or lack thereof) gets in the way of moving the story along in the right direction. Once the party got out of town and holed up at one of the party member’s country home, it because more driven. That stalled at one point, but then it picked up, again, with gang bangers coming out to play.
I put in too many NPCs that I wanted to be important. That resulted in very few of them being important to the players. There were a couple of moments, but it wasn’t until they met up with the military that the party would really start to interact with the NPCs. I need to let go and let them interact with the NPCs. I needed to develop more personality traits.
So, my lesson from this game is to remember not to dial the game out to the 10,000 foot level. Keep it dialed in, let the players dive deep if they want to and it bothers none at the table. Slow the pace down, unless it’s a race against the clock or combat. Make more interactions meaningful by bringing out the personality side of the NPCs. This will force me to have fewer NPCs that I want to be important.
Next up, I think I’m staying with modern, but not post apocalyptic. We will be heading into modern supernatural with horror. The group seemed keen on that, so I will send out the usual email asking for some feedback on ideas and see where that goes. I plan for it to be more structured than a sandbox and be more of a controlled setting. I suspect I will be pulling from source material such as Unknown Armies, The Esoterrorists, and Mutant City Blues.