Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is There a Doctor in the House?

We had a game night last weekend! Played 3 encounters of ATZ:FFO. What follows is a narrative report on the action...

At the crack of dawn on the day after the outbreak, Paul and Marie got into their car and headed to find the kids.  Marie's brother had not returned and they feared the worst. It had been too dangerous to go for the kids during the night so they prayed the kids were safe with their dad and tried to prepare for the next day. By first light Paul and Marie were both desperate to get going.

The city had been in chaos all night - gunfire, sirens, people screaming, running feet.  By 3am the sirens had stopped. The gunfire, shouts and screams continued another couple of hours and then that noise also died down. By dawn there was an eerie quiet in the downtown area, broken only by the occasional low moan. They could see figures staggering around in the light of the streetlights and a few lifeless forms lying in the street. The smell of smoke was in the air.

They loaded their weapons - a .357 double action revolver for Marie; a .22 semi-auto carbine and .45ACP automatic pistol for Paul. Ammo was short but getting more would be another mission for another day. Paul took a machete for close up work and Marie picked up a wicked looking kitchen knife from the store. First things first: find the kids.

The plan was straight forward:  drive to Sean's and pickup the kids. Since Paul's friend, Doc, was on the way, they would stop at his place to see if they could find him. He'd be handy to have with them, especially because of his medical training, never mind the fact he is one of Paul's best friends. He was pretty handy in a fight too. With Doc along the trip to Sean's would be a bit easier.

They sat in the front seat of the car for a moment before Paul turned the engine over. Paul put his hand on Marie's in her lap and gave a gentle squeeze. They looked at one another and Paul gave his best "it'll be ok" smile. Marie's eyes were red from lack of sleep and crying but she tried to smile back. Neither Paul nor Marie said anything to the other about what they would do if the kids were not at Sean's...

Paul Carlson - Rep 4 Star, Free Spirit, Agile, .22 Carbine (rifle), .45 Automatic (BA Pistol), Machete
Marie Carlson - Rep 3 Star, Fast, Initiative, .357 Revolver (BA Pistol), Knife

The Carlson car is in the lower left, Doc's house in upper right. 3 PDFs were placed (red dice showing REP).
The Carlson's had some trouble on the way to Doc's neighborhood. The roads were choked with abandoned vehicles. It was slow going in the city and the couple became concerned it may take longer to get to Sean's than they expected. It was noon before they got near Doc's house.

As Paul began to make the turn into Doc's neighborhood, he saw vehicles blocking the way...again. "Son of a bitch," he muttered. Fatigued and confused for a moment he began to look for a way around the roadblock. Marie was becoming alarmed to see the crowd of zombies they were attracting.

"Ummm...dear..." she began to say but Paul was not paying very close attention. Looking out the window sideways, he allowed the car to drift into the gas station parking lot.

"PAUL!", Marie said more forcefully, which snapped sense into him. He quickly hit the brake and stopped the car. With a sigh, he shut off the engine.

"I guess we'll have to run from here. Come on! It's not far."  Now that the car was silent they both swore they could hear a phone ringing. "Weird...", Marie said. 
The Carlson's drive to the intersection. The car noise generates a few zeds. A random event of "cell phone" starts ringing near the military vehicle (red die).

Paul is unsure of how to proceed (fails activation) and drifts towards the gas station (car moves even though inactive). The cell phone keeps ringing...

Fortunately for Paul and Marie the drift of the car carries them away from the gathering zeds.
David "Doc" Wentlam was worried. He'd gotten a text from Paul yesterday afternoon saying Paul and Marie would be heading to the store once they got the kids and supplies. It made sense to Doc. The store was a solid, cement block building with limited access. A good place to hole up until this craziness blew over.  Paul's last text had said for Doc to come to the store if he didn't hear anything.

Doc waited all night, figuring it was safer to stay in his home for now. He'd watched the news all through the long, dark hours. Too many reports on too many channels, but all of them saying the same thing: the dead were rising and attacking the living. Some were saying it was the end of the world. Doc thought that was a bit extreme.

'After all,' he thought, 'even if civilization ended the world would continue.'  He started to give himself a little lecture:  'The key to survival is to be part of the world and not depend on civilization.'  This was something Doc had gotten very good at over the years. He had to admit, he was excited about the possibilities. Still, never one to rush or make hasty decisions, he waited through the night to hear more from Paul.

'At noon,' he told himself, 'I will leave to go to the store and find the Carlsons.' As the morning wore on he gathered his supplies and weapons and loaded them into his SUV.

Doc in his bedroom gathering supplies and preparing to travel.
David "Doc" Wentlam - Rep 3 Star, Brawler, Medic 2, .12 Gauge Shotgun, .38 Revolver (Pistol), Fireaxe

"Follow me," Paul said.

Without waiting for a response, he jumped from the car and ran towards the woods near Doc's house.  He figured it best to stay under cover.  Startled, Marie also got out of the car.

"Paul! What are you doing?" she called.  Annoyed that he would just take off, she ran after him. Of course, being much faster she easily outpaced Paul and entered the woods just ahead of him. "Jerk!" she said as she ran by.

When they entered the woods, Paul and Marie slowed. There were noises coming from behind Doc's house that unnerved them. A banging, like something was in the garbage cans. They could also hear rustling in the woods just out of sight.

"Probably a squirrel," Paul said, trying to sound reassuring, but he gripped his machete tightly. "Let's just get to the house."

PEF in the woods, not quite close enough for LOS. Is it a squirrel or something much more menacing?
Marie broke into an easy sprint, running right up to the side door of Doc's house.  Unable to keep up, Paul was dropped like a bad habit.

Marie knocked on the door.  Looking through the glass window, she tried to peer through the slats of the closed blind. She prayed Doc was still at home.

As Doc entered the kitchen, shotgun in hand, he heard someone banging on the door and saw a shadowy figuring just outside. He'd been hearing strange noises around the house all morning. Something was out back messing with the garbage cans, he knew that much. Now apparently that something had come to his side door.  He leveled the shotgun but hesitated. His gut told him not to pull the trigger.

"Who's there," he called out.  Immediately he thought to himself, 'Idiot! That was a classic movie mistake!'

Fortunately the sound he heard from the other side of the door was not the howl of some undead thing but the voice of his best friend's wife. He went quickly to the door and unlocked it.

With the 'Fast' attribute, Marie easily out distances Paul and makes it to Doc's door just as Doc is about to leave. Fortunately Doc recognizes Marie as she approaches the door and doesn't fire his shotgun at her!
Paul, feeling like a jerk, struggled through the woods. Ahead of him, he could just make out Marie approaching Doc's door. To his right the rustling suddenly burst through the leaves and underbrush. Paul twisted, nearly crapping himself, and raised his machete. The squirrel shot past him through the dry leaves and ran up a tree.

"For feck's sake!" Paul exclaimed, feeling simultaneous relief and rage at the squirrel.  His heart hammering in his chest, he jogged up to Doc's door just as Doc was opening up for Marie.

"Thank God you're safe," Doc and Marie were saying together. "Jinx," said Marie and they all laughed as they went into the house.

Paul struggles through the woods. The PEF turns out to be nothing more than an arboreal rodent. Whew!

The cell phone has continued to ring, ironically helping the Carlson's make it to Doc's unhindered.

Safe in the house for the moment, the Carlson's explain the situation to Doc.
The Carlson's sat in Doc's kitchen as he prepared some lunch. They explained the situation and what they were planning.

"Sounds good to me," Doc said through a bite of sandwich. "I'll go with you to Sean's and then we can all go back to the store. We'll figure the rest of it out as we go."

"Thanks," Marie told him. "It makes me feel good to know we'll have a medic with us if something happens to one of the kids."

"Yeah," chimed in Paul.  "Besides, we don't know what we might find when we get there or what we might run into between here and there. We need to stick together on this."

"Yep. No worries. I'll even drive. My truck's got more room than your little car," said Doc as he stood up from the table and chucked Paul on the shoulder.

"That it does," Paul winced, rubbing his shoulder.

When they finished eating they loaded the last of Doc's supplies into the back of the SUV.  Paul was pleased to see an iced cooler with a nice selection of Stouts and IPAs among the bits of equipment and weapons.

'Good old Doc,' Paul thought. 'Always prepared for any occasion...'

Encounter one for the evening was a success! Next up will be Encounter 2, Day Two:  Bushwhacked!  Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

5150: Star Army Diversion

This isn't zombie related, but the other night we had a game night. My daughter was staying with a friend so my littlest and I, along with his mom, played some 5150: Star Army. I have been eager to try these rules using some of my large Warhammer 40K collection and this seemed the perfect opportunity. Ayden was all too willing!

We set up on a 4'x4' table depicting a bombed out crossroad outpost. The mission was a simple patrol:  explore the area to determine enemy activity and report back to base. For the enemy, we used some old Rogue Trader Space Orks I collected in college. It was startling to realize I painted these figures over 25 years ago! I kept it simple and used the Hishen stats for the Orks. For our force we used my Praetorian Imperial Guard as Planetary Defense Force (PDF) troops. At some point I will take a crack at creating my own THW army stats for my 40K armies.

For the PDF, we each took 4 figures equipped with soft body armor and lasguns (assault rifle equivalent).  One group had a Rep 5 leader, the rest were all Rep 4. One group also had a rocket launcher. The Orks were straight Hishen equivalents. We set up the Possible Enemy Forces (PEFs) and went for it!

Ayden is attentive during the mission briefing. I explained the situation to him as the game unfolded and let him make his decisions and roll the dice. He caught on quickly!

An Ork squad, dug in and defending, appeared on our right flank. The two squads on our right got bogged down and unable to advance.
Meanwhile, on our left, mom's squad advanced uncontested.
Trying to outmaneuver the dug in Orks we get clobbered! My squad goes down from off board mortar fire (2nd PEF). Ayden's squad loses three members trying to dash through the open and get into cover.
The game ended when mom's squad activated the final PEF at the rear of the Ork center. It was another Ork squad and they made short work of the Praetorians. We had only 2 Imperial Guard figures left on the table so we called it. Ayden played on for a bit though while we watched. Using more imagination than dice, he decided these last two guys linked up and returned to base, dodging Orks the whole way. They were able to report on the Ork locations and guide an orbital bombardment that took the Orks out and turned the tide of the war! Nice.

I really enjoy Two Hour Wargames rules, especially for coop play like this. Wargaming has always been about the modeling and storytelling for me and these rules enhance that feel. I walked away from WH40K years ago when it became more about maxing out a force to win tournaments and less about the story. I've kept all my models though because GW does make some impressive figures. Thanks to Ed and the crew at THW, I now get to use all those figures to play a game that feels like the old Rogue Trader glory days of 40K.

I also appreciate the more realistic combat of the THW rulesets. Firefights are a dangerous, bloody thing and these rules keep it so, pushing players to make careful decisions as they engage the enemy. The rules reward good tactics, something we need to work on considering the outcome of this game! It seems someone was asleep at the Imperial Guard command in the rear...
The Praetorian command mascot, Oscar, an English Bulldog mix, is unconcerned with the butcher's bill.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

FFO: Day One

Been gaming but not blogging much. A while back we started an FFO campaign with the Day One scenario. The situation was my wife was at her work place in Downtown Tedolo. Her two kids were at the Catholic Club in day care (we decided the campaign would start in the summer). I was at work at St. Victoria's hospital, also downtown, about 2 miles from the store. Here's the cast of active characters...

Paul Carlson - Rep 4 Star, Free Spirit, Agile.
Marie Carlson - Rep 3 Star, Fast, Initiative

My urban terrain is a bit meager but we made do. The cars will move around in the pics since we were trying to convey lots of action on this first day of the outbreak.

The situation was that we both heard of the outbreak at work and were able to text briefly before communication was broken off. We decided Marie would go to get the kids and bring them back to the store. I would take my car and go to our house, get some weapons and supplies and meet her at the store. We decided the store was the best place to hole up even though it was downtown (urban area) because it is a cement block building with only two, high security entrances that could be easily reinforced. Also, the nature of the family business is such that we would have plenty of luxury items to barter with if we needed.

First up is Marie. She is at the family store with her dad and her brother. There are a number of melee weapons available in the store, including several baseball bats. Marie's dad will stay to guard the store while Marie goes to get the kids. Her brother leaves to go find his fiance. It is a short walk to the Catholic Club so Marie heads out...

The store is in the lower left. Catholic club is the big gray building in the upper right.

Marie encounters 3 crazed civilians as traffic zooms up and down the street. She grabs a baseball bat from the store...
Unable to activate for a few turns, Marie bides her time as the civilians close in on the store entrance...
The crazies start banging on the door of the store. Marie gathers her courage and rushes out to deal with the them...

She makes short work of them with her baseball bat.

Dashing across the street, dodging traffic, she approaches the Catholic Club.

Almost there!
Unfortunately, arriving at the Catholic Club, Marie learns her children are not there! Maybe they've been picked up by their dad?! (Paul is the children's step-dad...) With tears of frustration running down her face, Marie heads back to the store.
Across the street she sees another pair of crazed civvies.

With a grim look on her face, the undaunted Marie closes with the crazies, hefting her baseball bat...

...and promptly gets beat down!
Fortunately, Marie's father was still in the store and saw her go down. He rushes out to the street and carries her back to safety. Marie's brother left with one of the vehicles to find his fiance and has not yet returned.

Meanwhile, a few miles away, Paul has left the hospital in his car and returned to the Carlson home...

The streets are quieter here but a lone crazed civilian seems to be waiting in front of the house. What in the world is that woman doing?

Paul slowly drives towards his house. The crazed civilian seems to be ranting in the front yard, shouting and waving her hands. As Paul pulls up, she glares at him in an obvious fit of rage. Fortunately, Paul keeps a long handled Maglite under the seat of his car.

As soon as Paul gets out of the car the crazy charges, shouting obscenities! Paul stands his ground and times his blow. The Maglite connects and knocks her out, clearing the way for him to get to the house.
Paul is able to get Oscar and Barney, the family dogs loaded up. He also gathers all his guns and any other weapons he can find. He fills the trunk of the car with all the food from the pantry and heads to the family business. (We dice for the drive and he makes it without incident.)

It is a tearful reunion for Paul and Marie. The kids are missing and it is not clear if they are with their dad. Marie's brother has not returned with his fiance. Paul's teenage son lives 30 miles away with his mom and Paul has not heard anything from him. Marie's dad is wondering about his wife, Marie's step-mom. Paul is also wondering about his good friend, David "Doc" Wentlam. How do we gather our people and keep them safe?

The news is telling horror stories. There is still power but it is only a matter of time until it is cut off. It's chaos! The small band needs a plan, but first decides to take stock of their assets.

4 Food units
3 Vehicles (2 with full tanks, 1 with 1 unit of fuel)
2 Pistols (1 with Marie's dad, 1 in his desk)
2 BA Pistols (limited ammo)
2 Pistols (limited ammo)
2 Shotguns (limited ammo)
2 Bolt action rifles (limited ammo)
1 .22 Carbine
3 Hockey sticks
10 Baseball bats
1 Machete
1 Midieval Sword
1 Oak Club
15 Luxury items (batteries, jewelry, cash, toilet paper, printing paper, etc.)

Now to formulate a plan for finding the kids (and everyone else!) and bringing them to the store...