Hello there, friends!
Today I am going to be talking to you about a project I’m working on for a few friends at my games club. Using the Inquisitor game rule book produced by Games Workshop I will be running a short, story driven campaign. The setting I have chosen will be a planet in the 40K universe that I created for use in a previous Necromunda campaign I ran about a year ago. As the blog post title suggests, this campaign will be zombie flavoured. I know a lot of people are burnt out on zombies, with every game ever getting some kind of undead mode or DLC, but for what I require them for they are perfect. I will be taking a lot of influence (read that as ripping off) from video games like Left 4 Dead, Call of Dutys Zombie mode and a few others.
Left 4 Dead in particular has been a massive influence on some of the choices made for the campaign. Primarily I have stolen a lot of the special infected and plonked them straight into my system. Normal shamblers are alright and I have plenty of them in the game chasing the characters around, but the special infected will add a real danger element to the proceedings and make things really interesting.
So how is this going to work from a player’s point of view and how do they end up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse?
Each player will be in control of one character which they will have to provide a suitable model and short background for. Perhaps a paragraphs worth explaining who they are and what they did before the attack.
All stats are based off of percentile dice, 2 D10’s with 1 marked as tens and the second as units. Rolling these gives a result out of 100 and you need to roll underneath your stat score, obviously the better you are at a particular thing the higher your score and the more likely you are to roll below it on a percentile. What actions a player can make during a turn is decided by their speed dice. You declare what you would like your character to do and roll a set amount of dice, 4+ is considered a success and for every success you can accomplish 1 of the things you stated you wished to do. It’s a very easy system to pick up and most of the work is done by the GM (in this case me). The player will simply tell me what they wish to do, roll some dice and I will do all the number crunching and tell them what they require to roll next. This is a great system and allowing the GM to make decisions on the fly with the stats backing him up makes for a really flexible game session with many cinematic possibilities available, which is what you want from a good game. I will give some examples in the course of chronicling my experiences with this campaign.
Story wise, the first game will see each character being summoned to a meeting by a VIP (I’m undecided what to make him yet, a crimeboss, an official, it all depends on what backgrounds the players come up with for their characters). Think about the start of the classic film The Warriors. All the characters get drugged from their drinks, and wake up with who knows how much time passed, in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. I’ll admit that it isn’t the cleverest of introductions but it gets everyone in the same place, and more importantly unarmed. Thats right, no-one is having any weapons at the start of this campaign. They are going to have to scavenge to get equipped. Tell this to any miniatures game player, “You are unarmed and surrounded”, and they will shudder with fear. I have a long term plot in mind but unfortunately I don’t know if any of the players have access to this blog, and some of the elements I would really like to keep as a surprise for them.
So far we have had a few playtest games where we are trying to get used to the system again, and get the balance to the sweet spot of taxing but not impossible. The first game I initiated an all versus all game, with players attacking each other and no zombies. One of the major things we learned was that falling damage is incredibly harsh and we have tweaked it around since then to a level that we are happy with.
The second game we pitted the players against a large horde of zombies. Initially, the players were mildly complacent, think they could hold up in one location and simply blow the zombies away as they shambled slowly towards them. Bad luck for the survivors then, as the undead horde kept marching forward, absorbing fair amounts of gunfire. I could see the panic in the players eyes as all hell broke loose and the players scattered. From this game we learned that zombies total hitpoints could probably do with dropping a tad, but otherwise they worked exactly as they should. I decided that zombies in the same area would move and work as a group. This wouldn’t make them anymore intelligent, but it speeds up how long it takes to control them. Another thing that came from this would be whenever our zombies began climbing as a group they would have to pass a collective initiative test of a percentage of that group would fall to the bottom of whatever they are climbing.
The last test session we had, I introduced Left 4 Dead-esque Spitters and Hunters. Hunters turned out to be ultrafast maniacs that get in the survivors face quick and harass them while the regular zombie hordes close in. I am very happy with this, and the player panic levels rise. The spitters are a bit more subtle, using their spit attacks more for area denial, especially if a survivor is in a precarious position already. All player tactics flew out of the window in this game and they purely moved to stay alive. There were a couple of close calls, like one player jumping his character out of a window to escape a group of zombies, only to land awkwardly and fall unconscious anyway.
I shall end today’s post there, but I have plenty more to write about in the future concerning this subject. I amy even get some photos of the characters and write up their backgrounds when they are done.
Thanks for reading!