Thursday, October 25, 2012

3rd map and how to make building out of bins

This week we hosted the second installment in our annual Halloween zombies game. For our initial effort last year, Tim (our zombie gamemaster) set the bar pretty high, with a walk-right-up-and-play urban horror game featuring desperate survivors and mindless zombies. This year, we turned the dial up to 11 with more terrain, more players -- and of course, more zombies. Here's the zombie pool that Tim used to populate our map.

For last year's game, we used All Things Zombie with a few modifications. This year, we used Blasters & Bulkheads, which did an excellent job simulating a small group of heavily armed heroes blasting their way through hordes of walking dead. B&B has a "henchmen" mechanic that was well-suited to running the zombies -- keeping them dangerous in big groups but also giving survivors a chance to escape.

We set up a tabletop with all sorts of urban terrain, including office buildings, abandoned military checkpoints and an industrial area with fences and warehouses. Here are a couple of the little vignettes that helped tell the story of the last days of New Chicago.

What's this? An abandoned medical supply depot? Who knows what's in those barrels...

And over here, it looks like the military fortified this office building against the oncoming horde. But where are they now...?

Prior to the start of the game, each player selected two armed survivor figures from a big pool of maybe 30 figures. Then Tim randomly generated each character's stats. They were assumed to be armed with exactly what the miniature was carrying -- little wonder, then, that the shotgun-wielding figures got selected first!

The players started their figures in a couple different board edges. Here a small group of survivors creeps onto the battlefield. By the end of the game, we had developed a persona for the guy in the tan coat -- his name was Jimmy Jaworsky, a tough-as-nails South Sider wearing a Bears jersey underneath his jacket. Yes, I put on my very best Chicago accent when it was Jimmy's turn to activate.

Across the board, Tom's two survivors found themselves in an abandoned industrial area. A warehouse loomed up ahead, so Tom sent Professor Paulsen -- an aging, tenured scholar from the University of New Chicago who nonetheless knows how to handle a shotgun -- to explore.

Tim came armed with plenty of random charts to aid in our looting efforts. In this case, Professor Paulsen stumbled across a handful of zombies -- and two survivors cowering behind a stack of crates! After Tom's two survivor characters dispatched the zombies, the two newcomers agreed to join the survivors, giving Tom two more figures to control for the remainder of the game.

To the north, a multi-story garage loomed against the darkened skyline. That's where Karl sent his two survivors, who were both clad in bright yellow biohazard suits. Perhaps they were scientists before the outbreak?

Inside the garage was a garbage truck, a formidable mode of transportation with the potential to squish dozens and dozens of zombies -- if only Karl could get the vehicle started! His attempts created a lot of noise, which brought even more moaning, groaning zombies to the scene.

As with last year's scenario, noise played an important role as the game unfolded. Fighting in melee, starting cars, shooting firearms -- all of these things generated noise, which in turn could attract zombies. Sometimes a gunshot or scuffle wouldn't result in any undue attention from the undead, but other times a half dozen zombies might show up, hungering for flesh.

Anyway, back to the game. Across the map, Jimmy Jaworsky was getting himself into a bit of trouble. He spotted a high-end sports car peeking out of a shipping container, and Jimmy decided that this was the ride that was going to get him out of New Chicago once and for all. But as he closed in on the vehicle, two small groups of walking dead stumbled after him...

Meanwhile Mike's two characters -- a grizzled military veteran and a plucky girl sidekick -- commandeered an old pickup truck, got it running, and began zooming across the map, splatting zombies left and right. 

They sideswiped a big mob of zombies that were harassing Jimmy, then skidded around a corner and headed off into the industrial sector to help out Karl's survivors.

And speaking of Karl's survivors -- they finally got the garbage truck up and running, but about a dozen zombies were thronging around the garage, pursuing two different groups of survivors.

By this point Karl's survivors had mobilized the garbage truck, and Mike's survivors were careening around the map in their pickup truck.

Poor Jimmy Jaworsky had gone to the big Polish sausage stand in the sky, though -- he was ripped apart and devoured by eight zombies as he attempted to hotwire an abandoned car. Professor Paulsen, too, went on permanent sabbatical, as he was dismembered by zombies in the industrial sector. Luckily Tom's other survivors proved particularly adept at self-preservation, and they emerged onto the streets to meet the garbage truck saviors.

We called the game there, as Games Plus was about to close. Everyone had plenty of praise for the scenario and for Tim's gamemastering. The game was fun, bloody, exciting and grim, just like any zombie apocalypse game should be! Here's the final photo, showing the garbage truck plowing into a mob of zeds.

Doubtless we'll run a zombie game next Halloween. Until then!

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