Sunday, December 22, 2013

Subway Zombies

Time for more zombies via All Flesh Must Be Eaten. I may pick up Rotworld in the near future out of curiosity and to help out Dan. If I do and I can handle the system, I'll be sure to start double-statting these write ups.

photo by Sunil060902
The Subway

The subway tunnels were a good idea. I had my flashlight, but Dante’s stopped working last night. He still had it taped to his grandfather’s old shotgun, in case we found batteries. We ran down here hoping to find a good place to hide and let things cool down upstairs.

There were shamblers on the platform, but they were feeding in a crashed subway car. We sprinted past and ran down the tracks. We tried every single door we found. They were all locked. Eventually, we came across a hallway that looked to lead to another set of tracks. We squeezed into it and snuck our way towards the other tunnel. Maybe halfway there, we see a portion of the wall has collapsed and an opening in the wall awaits us.

We began to hear a sucking noise as we grew closer. I covered my flashlight with my hand, reducing the amount of light. Dante snuck up to the edge of the collapsed wall and looked into the hole. He yelled, jumped out from hiding, brought his shotgun up to fire it, and bent over retching. I reach out to steady him, but another hand beats me to him.

photo copyright Alumy

Before the Fall
Entrance to the subway requires use of a pass card (employees) or ticket (customers). There are several types of turn-styles throughout the subway system. Which system is in use is mostly dependent upon when the platform was built. The oldest platforms have a full body turnstiles. Newer platforms and replacements in the older platforms use a simple half-body turnstile. Both require a pass card or ticket to be inserted into a slot before the stile will unlock and allow one person to pass through the gate. Once there is no electricity left, these devices will no longer operate, becoming locked doors.

The subway system has several layers to it. The top-most layer is where riders of the subway typically spend most of their time. This level consists of platforms, tunnels for the subway cars to transport people, administration offices, elevator shafts, and transfer platforms often have retail shops and restaurants. Mechanical rooms can be found throughout the tunnel system. These rooms serve various functions. Some are simply machine rooms where parts can be fixed. Others have electricity and water pipes running through them, with controls for both on the walls. There are also very large rooms containing major electrical relay stations.

Descending what feels to be two or three stories of stairs, the next floor down consists of platforms, tunnels, and mechanic rooms. There are very few platforms on this level. The lower level platforms are the “express” platforms. The subway cars connect from areas of dense residency to areas of dense businesses. There are tunnels that connect the express platforms to the standard platforms. These platforms are also the oldest, going back to the early part of the twentieth century. These platforms and tunnels are also the least clean and most dangerous of the platforms. Gang tags and graffiti cover all of the walls, most of the ceiling, and the occasional floor section. Gangs use different platforms as meeting places and drop points. They have also taken over several mechanical rooms in the tunnels. Hallways on this level connect to the upper level via long ramps. These hallways often serve as a way to move from one block, under a subway tunnel, back up to the first level platform on the other side, granting access to yet another subway system.

Scattered throughout the platforms are gates which can be strewn across openings to block access to hallways, stairwells, and the turnstiles. These are used when areas are under construction or repair, to limit access when filming of movies is taking place, or if there is a safety concern the administrators want to keep isolated from pedestrians.

Hallways wide enough for a single person to walk through connect all of the various platforms, levels, mechanical rooms, and tunnel systems. These hallways have no light source outside of exit signs above doors. The floors, ceiling, and walls alternate between brick, concrete, and cinder block. All are cold to the touch.

Access points to the sewer system can be found throughout the tunnels. Rung ladders leading up to manhole covers at the street level can also be found in the tunnels.

image copyright Monochrome

During the Rise
The subway system was a dangerous place before the fall of man. Now that the dead walk the Earth, one’s personal safety has only worsened below ground. During the rise, several groups of people thought they could barricade themselves in different sections of the subway system. They failed to realize whole platforms were already overrun by the hordes. These hordes eventually began wandering the tunnels in search of fresh flesh.

As if the wandering zombies were not a large enough problem, those attempting to survive often struggle with other humans. The gangs have claims to territory and some of them are still in control of their areas. Smart gang leaders will set up guards at entrances. Those lacking in leadership and survivability will simply collect their henchmen around them on the platforms as they contemplate what to do next. An original group of people who survived a subway car crash are in one of the large mechanical rooms. The subway cars crashed near the mechanical room. A police officer led the survivors of the crash to this room and used the landline to call for help. No one is answering the other end. Several people have left the mechanical room, but none have returned. A handful of people are severely injured. They are currently stabilized, but if they do not receive treatment soon, they will die.

The subway system during the rise becomes a special kind of hell. Electricity works in some places, but not in others. This not only affects lighting sources (how long do you really think that cell phone app is going to work without a way to recharge it?), but also whether or not the tracks are “live” with electricity. Those lights which are currently working often flicker and pop as other systems go offline or jump back online. Smoke and fire are seen and can be smelled. Crashed subway cars have destroyed power lines, causing a very real danger in the way of fire. The smoke from the fire obscures vision and wreak havoc upon the ability to tell friend from foe or zombie. Crashed cars may also result in water pipes being damaged. Pooling water near working sources of power can only result in bad things.

The sound of crackling fire and burst water mains are not the only sounds echoing throughout the tunnels. The moans of the dying are heard, some louder than others. The shuffling of feet can be heard just around the next corner. Do they belong to an injured person or a zombie? Dare you call out to find out? Some find the silence to be worse than the sound of the dying. Does the silence mean there is nowhere or thing out there or does it mean whatever is out there is being silent, just like you?

photo by Jonathon Warren

After the Fall
Once mankind has fallen and the zombies have wrested control, the subway tunnels become empty caverns. Footfalls echo on platform walkways. Elevator shafts are empty and only provide a place to die, cornered by slavering mouths and rending fingers. There are no light sources. All of the burst water mains have run dry. Crashed subway cars block paths. Zombies wander the tunnels looking for their next meal.

Survivors will be tempted to make a base of operations in one of the mechanical rooms. The entrances to these rooms are generally within a quarter mile of a platform. Gates and turnstiles can be used to keep the zombies out of the general vicinity. Subway cars can be scrapped for parts:  pads from seats and couches for sleeping on, sheet metal for reinforcing doors and other barricades, metal pipes for weapons, etc.

There is a good chance a mechanical room once held other people trying to survive. The door may already be barricaded or locked. Once the door has been breached, the smell of dead bodies will overwhelm the characters attempting to access the room. Depending on how the former residents died, they may be zombies awaiting dinner or they may be bodies to be removed before disease can take hold of the new community. If the door must be breached, how will the party re-secure it?

Survivors who stay too long in one of these rooms will find themselves cornered by a horde. Due to the number of tunnels, hallways, and random access points, zombies (and rats!) will find a way through various barriers set before them. If the survivors do not cover their tracks well enough when egressing or digressing the underground hideout, they may leave clues that other survivors may read as potentially leading to a new home for themselves. Does this new group just want a place to hide out for a night or two or are they willing to fight for their own place here among the tunnels?

image by bigNickel Posters at Etsy

Random Subway Generator
To create a subway line, roll 1d6+4. The result is the number of platforms in the line. Give each platform a name (most often the street where the subway lets out) and write them horizontally or vertically on a piece of paper. For example, a result of 7 platforms could be created as such:

Sheridan                Addison                 Belmont                 Central                   Division                  Ashland                 Pine Grove

Or even as:

1                              2                              3                              4                              5                              6                              7

We will call this the “312 Subway Line.”

Then, for each platform, discern which other platforms are connected. To do this, roll 1d6 and interpret the results as such:
1d6 Result
Connected to the next platform
Connected to the second next platform
Connected to the third next platform
Connected to another subway system and the next platform

If the die result moves the line past the final platform, wrap the line back to the first platform and continue counting.

For our example, we start with Sheridan. A roll of “1” connects Sheridan to Addison. A roll of 3 or 4 connects Sheridan to Belmont. A roll of “5” connects Sheridan to Belmont. A roll of 6 connects Sheridan to another line. Re-rolling the die, a “2” results in connecting Sheridan to Addison. Once the first platform’s connection is known, move on to the next platform and continue until all connections are known.

Continuing to roll the die, the 312 Subway Line develops into this format:
·         Sheridan connects to Addison
·         Addison connects to Central
·         Belmont connects to Central
·         Central connects to Pine Grove
·         Division connects to Ashland
·         Ashland connects to Pine Grove
Even though the 312 Subway Line does not have tunnels which connect to other subway lines, there are always hallways to connect the lines.

A second set of die rolls results in eight platforms and 3, 5, 2, 4, 6, 1, 5, 1 on 8d6. The results for the Golden Line are:
·         Wharf platform is connected to Hide
·         Bay Street connects to Downtown
·         Hide connects to the Aquarium platform
·         Aquarium connects to the Financial District
·         Downtown connects to the 312 Subway Line and the Financial District
·         The Financial District connects to the Mason platform
·         Mason connects to Bay Street
·         California platform connects to the Wharf platform

If these results are confusing and circuitous, it is okay. The underground should feel odd and disorientating until the characters map it out. By creating a high level view of the subway line, a Zombie Master can better develop different obstacles among the various tunnels. If the characters need to gain access to Mason platform from the Downtown platform, it may be quicker to go through the tunnels via the Financial District platform and on to the Mason platform. However, this route may also contain the most zombies. Going through the tunnels to the Bay Street tunnels and on to the tunnels leading to Mason may take longer, but it may also be the safer of the two routes.

Next, determine the type of platform. Any platform with only one connection rolls 1d6 and compares the results on the first table. The second table is for any platform that connects to more than one other platform within the same line or a different subway line. These platforms use a d10 to determine type.

1d6 Result
Platform Type
Standard platform
Standard platform with administration offices
Express platform
Standard platform with retail stores and restaurants

1d10 Result
Platform Type
Transfer platform
Transfer platform with administration offices
Transfer platform with retail stores and restaurants
Transfer platform with an express platform
Transfer platform with administration offices, retail stores, and restaurants
Transfer platform with administration offices and an express platform
Transfer platform with retail stores, restaurants, and an express platform
Transfer platform with administration offices, retail stores, restaurants, and an express platform

The 312 Subway Line has the following platform types

Platform Name
Platform Type
Standard platform
Standard platform with retail stores and restaurants
Transfer platform
Standard platform with administration offices
Standard platform
Pine Grove
Standard platform

The Golden Subway Line has the following platform types

Platform Name
Platform Type
Transfer platform with administration offices, retail stores, and restaurants
Bay Street
Transfer platform with administration offices and access to an express platform
Standard platform with retail stores and restaurants
Standard platform with retail stores and restaurants
Transfer platform with administration offices, retail stores, restaurants, and an express platform to another subway line
Financial District
Transfer platform with retail stores, restaurants, and access to an express platform
Transfer platform
Standard platform

There will be die rolls whose results make no sense. In those instances, simply re-roll or make an executive decision on the platform type.

First floor basic platform – This is the basis for all other platforms. There are subway lines going both directions. Depending on the subway system, there may be a wall between the two lines (Chicago’s red line under the River North neighborhood), there may be no visible way to get to the opposite platform from here (go back, go down and around, go up. . .like some of the subway platforms in NYC), or the platform may be in the center of the two like an island. Before the fall, there is ample light and plenty of people here. Depending on the city and the subway line, trains will typically arrive every fifteen or thirty minutes. A police or security officer can generally be found at most platforms.

Second floor express platform – This platform is a level below the first underground level. Due to the structure needed for support of the first floor, this level is two to three stories below the first. An elevator shaft descends at one end of the platform, a staircase twisting around it like a helix. An escalator for both directions is at the opposite end. The lights for this level are fluorescent and more than thirty feet above the platform. Pedestrians descending are often blind to anything on the platform level until they are below the lights. Then, once they are on the platform, everything becomes shadowed and grey-tinged from the fluorescents. Police and security rarely come down to this level. After the fall, this place is a death trap. With no light source and no electricity, it is impossible to see anything. Zombies lost in these tunnels are often starved and emaciated. Survivors on this level are either the nastiest bunch you ever met or scared waifs looking for a way out.

Transfer platform – The transfer platform is much like the first floor basic platform, only larger. At least two subway lines converge on this platform. This increases the number of people in the area, the amount of crime, and the likelihood of a zombie outbreak going horribly awry. Transfer platforms have more visible security or police. They also have security cameras watching the crowds. Long, wide hallways will guide passengers between the two subway lines. A passenger can expect to walk five to fifteen minutes between platforms.

Retail and Restaurants – The largest of the platforms will have a group of retailers and restaurants for passengers to patronize. Sample retailers include music stores, t-shirt stores, men’s dress clothing stores, barbers and beauticians, and souvenir shops. Restaurants vary with the clientele and the level of traffic. If the platform is as busy as NYC’s Grand Central Station, all types of restaurants may be found. High end wine bars rub shoulders with pizza joints serving slices of pie. Most subway lines will not be so varied. They are likely to have one or two known franchises selling hamburgers or sandwiches and one local eatery trying to make a name for itself. Platforms with retail and restaurant locations are more likely to have people passing out leaflets or asking for signatures for their favorite cause. They are also more likely to have street performers dancing, signing, or playing a musical instrument.

Administration offices – These offices can range from simple break rooms for the workers in the area to official offices for the subway line. The latter are likely to have offices for managers, engineers, administrators, and police/security.

Small mechanical room – This room is more of a closet. The room will not be larger than one hundred square feet. A table, possibly a chair, a vise clamp, and some tools are all that are likely to be found here.

Medium mechanical room – The next step up from the small mechanical room, this location is likely to have enough room to fit twenty or more people comfortably. Electrical conduits and water pipes run along the walls. This room will have everything contained in the small mechanical room and more. There are likely more tools, more tables, chairs, a box fan as the air circulation is not good, a sink, a mop sink, and potentially more affects from home. This room may be used by engineers as a break area or sleep area when on call or working long shifts.

Large mechanical room – This room operates as a small power station. Oil tanks sit around the room. Transformers enclosed by a wire fence and padlocked gate line one wall. Large water pipes lead down to the sewers or out towards offices. This room will not have many amenities, but it may have larger tools not found in the small or medium mechanical rooms. These rooms tend to have open space where larger items can be stored. Some of these rooms may sit below administration offices and have a ladder or stairwell leading up to the offices.

Tunnels – The subway tunnels are as wide and tall as they are dark after the fall of mankind. Sounds echo for long distances. The gravel you just heard move could be a friend, foe, zombie, or just a large rat. The tunnels are the quickest way to move around the underground. However, they are also the most likely to be filled with zombies, crashed subway cars requiring a climbing effort to traverse, and other survivors looking for the food in your backpack. Depending on the age of the subway line, nearly anything can be found in the tunnels. Work trucks may be parked in an open area with no tracks. Rooms stocked with bottled water, a working generator, and a fridge full of lunchmeat and frozen pizzas are just around the next bend. Urban legends claim everything from giant alligators to extraterrestrial biological entities to forgotten war experiments may be found in subway lines. There are also traps left behind by other survivors to be found. Just because the people are not to be found, does not mean their traps have been sprung. Perhaps they were rescued during a supply run and never came back. The pit trap dug around the tracks would still be there, as would the trip line to sound an alarm bell – and bring a horde of zombies! The tunnels have rung ladders built into the walls that lead to street level access via manholes. Manhole covers typically weigh over one hundred pounds.

Hallways – Hallways crisscross the entire network of the subway system. They connect platforms for pedestrians. They connect tunnels and mechanical rooms for engineers. They lead to unknown places best left alone. Most hallways not designed for pedestrians are designed for engineers and mechanics. They were also designed more than fifty years ago. The tunnels can be dilapidated, brick work patched together with newer concrete. There may be holes in walls leading to rooms with nothing but sandwich wrappers and empty beer cans littering the floor of the room. Animals may create nests in these hallways. Imagine a group of characters escaping a horde of zombies down a long tunnel, only to discover a giant nest of rats or another group of zombies wandering from the other end of the tunnel. These tunnels should be cramped, six feet tall and twenty-eight inches wide, at most. There is no fighting two-abreast here. Nor is the use of firearms particularly wise. Discharging a firearm of any sort will echo and resound throughout the hallway. The results are drawing more zombies and everyone becoming deaf for the time being. Particularly large caliber firearms may even cause permanent hearing loss.

Sewers – Sewers are never thought of as nice places to visit. Sewers below, around, and in some cases, above subway tunnels are no better. Using the sewer system is nearly as dangerous as using hallways – except there is always water. Overflow basins and water pumping plants are popular places for larger items (alligators, rats’ nests, dead bodies, zombies) to collect. These areas will be very unhealthy for the living. After the fall, when the equipment has stopped to work properly, fungi and molds grow and cover most surfaces.

image from pixel pandemic
Subway Zombies
Strength  2
Constitution  2
Dexterity  2
Intelligence  0
Perception  1*
Willpower  2

Dead Points  15
Speed  4
Endurance Points  n/a
Essence Pool  9

Attack:  Bite Damage d4 x 2 (4)
Weak Spot:  Brain (+6)
Getting Around:  Life-Like (+3) 
Strength:  Dead Joe Average (0)
Senses:  Like the Dead (0), Acute Senses (Hearing) (+2, as the Quality)*
Sustenance:  Weekly (+4), Sweet Breads (-3)
Intelligence:  Animal Cunning (+2)
Spreading the Love:  One Bite and You’re Hooked (+2)
Special Aspects:  Horrific Appearance 1 (+2) (AotWD), Spores (+5) (If more than 10 points of damage are delivered to the torso or fifteen points to the head, the zombie’s body erupts with mold spores over a four foot cone area. Breathing in the spores is the same as being bit by the zombie:  once the character dies, it is only a matter of time before they return from the dead. The mold is also a highly toxic allergen likely to cause breathing problems and may cause long term Constitution damage.)
Power:  23

image copyright MGM

Subway Engineer

Strength 4
Dexterity  3
Constitution  3
Intelligence  4
Perception  3
Willpower  3

Life Points  47
Endurance Points  35
Speed  12
Essence Pool  20

Qualities/Drawbacks (10/5)
Charisma 2 (+2)
Cowardly 1 (-1)
Delusions (Phobia) (-1) (going above ground)
Hard to Kill 3 (+3)
Honorable 2 (-2)
Impaired Senses (Sight) (-1)
Jury-Rigging  (+3) (OotL)
Strong Stomach (+2) (OotL)

Skills (35 + 5 from Drawbacks)
Brawling  2
Climbing  1
Demolitions  1
Dodge  3
Drive (Car)  1
Electronics  2
Engineer (Mechanical)  4
Engineer (Civil)  4
First Aid  2
Hand Weapon (Club)  2
Instruction  1
Intimidation  2
Mechanic  3
Notice  2
Repair (Plumbing)  2
Scavenging (OotL)  2
Stealth  2
Streetwise  1
Traps  3

Folded up collection of subway tunnel maps, knife, large flashlight, multi-tool, safety helmet with light, lead pipe, radio with working batteries, tool kit

I was working in the tunnels when the world went to shit. Me and the boys were tearing apart an engine in the mechanical room near the Division Street platform. The first indication we had of something being wrong was when Mark came in covered in blood. We thought he had been nicked by one of the cars. Donnie had that happen to him last year; lost his left arm and leg. No sooner do we get Mark calm enough to talk, that voices start screaming through the radios. Naturally, we turn the radios down to better hear what Mark has to say.

Mark starts rambling about being attacked and bitten. We all figure he ran across that new gang hanging around Central. Ramone gives Mark some Oxy that he’s held onto since his back surgery and Mark is fast asleep. We patch up Mark the best we can and as he’s no longer bleeding, we figure we’ll take him up with us when we’re done working.

We needed parts from our room over by the Pine Grove platform. Ramone turns his radio back on and calls over. No one answers. He tries twice more. No answer. I try my radio and get the same result. The rest of the guys pull out their radios, turn them on, and start calling over to Pine Grove. Pine Grove doesn’t answer, but the feedback loop confirms the radios are working. Ramone calls base and no one answers. I tune to the security channel and call for help. No one answers.

Two teenagers burst into the room, at that point. We often catch kids in the tunnels looking for drugs, sex, or brews. These two were scared stiff. The girl starts screaming about locking the door and getting out of the tunnels. The boy plants his feet and braces the door with his back. That’s when I notice a faint whiff of smoke in the air and a lack of subway trains passing by in the tunnel.

I’ve managed to stay alive down here using my skills at building and fixing things. I trade my skills with the gang running the Central platform. I only go top-side when I must. I would rather trade with the drifters settling in at Ashland. They won’t last long. They don’t understand how to build proper barricades; they’ve lived on the run too long.

Sure, I can fix that. I have a map that shows you where you need to go to find the parts I will need.

1 comment:

Daniel Efosa Uyi said...

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Keep it up.