Act 1 - Bag of Guns
We were trapped! We'd hunkered down in the derelict nightclub at the corner of Lily and King afterour camp was overrun by the horde. Our escape was bloody and rushed. We had no idea if anyone else made it out. Ammo was low and all of our fuel, other than what was still in the tank of the Camaro, was lost to us. We hadn’t been this desperate in months. Hold up...what’s that in the street?
Our story begins with a centrepiece familiar to most modern zombie fans: the bag of guns.
We are playing on the intersection between Lily Avenue and King Street in Bloom, the infamous stomping ground of the Lil' Kings street gang, where some unknown hoarder has abandoned a bag of guns and ammo in the middle of the intersection. The encounter begins during the day.
Our player group can't stay in the club without food or supplies and with the horde dispersed and a juicy opportunity to resupply sitting in the middle of the road, there's no time like the present to relocate.
Lily Avenue and King Street
Our first three characters, Jake, Jim and Sunny, begin inside in the nightclub (left) and the bag of guns is in the centre of the intersection. The player group's Camaro is parked out of sight round the corner from the club.
Play began with Jake heading up to the roof to provide silent overwatch for the other survivors, exposing the first PEF (Possible Enemy Force - a token representing the potential dangers unknown to players) as a group of three zombies previously hidden by the VW Golf in the street.
Jim and Sunny exited the building, Jim quietly taking out the oblivious zed outside and running into the high rise across the street and Sunny charging the other three zeds near its entrance, knocking two down but unable to reach the third.
Jake gains a better vantage point
Zeds emerge from the intersection
Jim knifes the unsuspecting zed...
...and breaks into the high rise.
Evening descended, reducing the survivors' visibility but partially concealing them from the zeds. Jake loosed an arrow and dropped the zed that Sunny missed, leaving Sunny to dead-check the two zeds he'd knocked to the floor and move to join Jim in the high rise.
Meanwhile, Jim searched the ground floor of the high rise and although there were no zombies it became apparent that the area was more dangerous than he thought. The Encounter Rating (ER) increases. Not wishing to hang around, Jim looked for anything useful and found a radio controlled car. Always the scavenger, Jim slipped the RC into his pack, certain that it would come in handy.
THWUNK! Another zed quietly bites the dust
Nodding thanks to Jake, Sunny kills the prone zeds
It was time to get to the bag of guns and get out of there. Jake had an idea. He headed inside the club and tried to find the back-up generator. Finding it gassed up, he turned it on without much difficulty and the club's sound system blared back to life. "They're playing my song!"
Jim and Sunny used the distraction to their advantage and exited the high rise, taking out three distracted zeds that had gathered just outside the door and making their way along Lily, away from the noise of the club and the clamouring horde.
Phil Collins calls the zeds in
Jim and Sunny double-team the captive audience...
...then slip away
Back in the club, Jake made a sharp exit to the roof and took a running jump onto the adjacent rooftop, only narrowly escaping a two storey plunge into the gathering zeds below. Safely on the other side, Jake waited until the zeds below were no longer blocking his route. Sinking another arrow into a newly emerged zed's head, Jake climbed down the handy ladder and ran along the now empty alley to the waiting Camaro.
Whoa! Nearly didn't make that one
The horde keep closing on the noisy club
The way is clear
Time to boogie
Jim reached the bag of guns, which turned out to be a secret PEF and two police officers stepped out of the deli on the opposite corner.
We hadn't seen any cops in months and we'd never been happier than to see them now. Officers Diggs and Ramirez explained that the bag was theirs - the "BPD" lettering on its side made it plausible enough - and it had been dropped while running from a horde. Must've been the same zeds drove us into that club. Anyway, they offer us safety...so we offer 'em a ride.
The cops are friendly but the guns are theirs. Jim led them to the Camaro and Jake started the engine and headed up King Street. Sunny was held up searching the VW so Jake made a quick stop to pick him up on our way out of the area.
Lets get to the Camaro!
Sunny hitches a ride
Final thoughts: I don't think this encounter could have gone any better. By playing carefully the survivors retained the upper hand throughout. We had a couple of really cool, unplanned cinematic moments, found some essential resources (food, fuel etc. - I don't mention them as they pop up quite frequently and reading about it would become tedious) and after the battle Jim and Sunny both received an increase in Reputaion (Rep) to 5. Score!
The cops took us to the Lily Ave precinct for a bed and some chow. The place wasn't like a police station any more, more like a refugee camp. Cots in the cafeteria, children in the cells, all the desperate faces of Bloomites with no place safer to go. Suppose it was lucky for them that Diggs and Ramirez kept the place runnin'. I guess they took their oath to "serve and protect" more seriously than the rest.
No sooner had we arrived in that place, we saw some familiar smiles. Looks like we weren't the only ones to make it outa camp after all.
So when we get to the police station we meet some of our old buddies from our previous camp (the rest of the characters we brought for the campaign) and could now choose who to take on encounters.
The Lily Ave Cops are now a friendly group of survivors and will also be our "quest-givers" for this act of the campaign.
After taking stock of our inventory and a bit of deliberation, we decided as a group that our next priority would be to obtain another vehicle and stock up on fuel. For this we would be heading back to Lily and King.
A new approach
Ross and I chose to bring different characters to this game but Jim elected to keep his previous character going so the starting character line-up was: Jim, Ted and A.J.
We used the same board layout as Game 1 but entered from the opposite end of the table this time (the end we drove off previously) on foot.
Our first activation triggered a random event: a dog came running towards us followed by three zeds. Thankfully the zombies were out of sight and in the opposite direction to where we were heading so we just ignored them.
Jim began by searching the nearest car while A.J. and Ted moved to cover him. Jim found some fuel so we were off to a good start. Ted also searched the police car and found some body armour. Nice!
Ted then turned his attention towards the bar and opened the unlocked stockroom shutter where he was surprised by four zeds. Being a melee monster, Ted lopped off two of the zeds' heads and knocked the other two to the floor. Seeing the commotion, A.J. ran into the stockroom and finished off the prostrate zeds with his AR15. While the others were taking care of business indoors, Jim ran around the side into the deserted alley behind the bar.
Hey, it's open
Ted's blade springs to life
A.J. spots the melee...
...and joins in the fun
After searching the stockroom - Ted finds some food and A.J. finds a wrench (one-handed weapon) - the two survivors exit through the back into the alley to meet Jim but A.J.'s gunfire had attracted a group of six zeds into the bar.
Pack-rat Jim produces a door wedge, which he uses to jam the stockroom door shut behind them (increasing the Defence Value (DV) by 1), he and A.J. head off down the alley and Jim hops the fence into the now empty street.
Ted breaks off and makes his way around the side of the building next door.
The zeds hear the ruckus in the bar...
...but Jim and A.J. are out of there.
Over the fence, Jim sees just what he's been looking for: A Freelander hoisted up on a tow truck. His prayers are answered threefold as both vehicles have fuel and both have the keys inside too. Deciding to leave his prize for A.J. and Ted to deal wih, Jim crossed the street into the car park to check out an abandoned truck.
During this time, A.J. was having a nightmare of a time trying to get over the alley fence. It would seem the Basketball star had an old injury that was flaring up. After failing to scale the fence, A.J. managed to pry and kick the slats apart with some help from Ted and the pair got in the tow truck to wait for Jim.
Jim ignores the Porsche
A.J. and Ted head for the tow truck
Jim searches the truck's cab and finds that it has nearly a full tank of fuel. Moving to the rear, he carefully jimmies open the shutter and startles a ganger (a member of the Lil' Kings) hiding inside. Too quick for the wannabe gangster, Jim wins the In Sight Test and opens up with his shotgun, dropping the ganger like a sack of spuds.
The recent gun play refocussed the attention of the nearby zeds so, signalling Ted and A.J. to start the tow truck and leave, Jim retrieved the ladder that was on the ground, hot-wired the truck, and slowly peeled out of the car park.
Ted and A.J. sped off down the street, running over two zeds and shooting another on the way to make their getaway. Jim drove off in the opposite direction, splattering another two zeds across the front of the truck.
Jim surprises the ganger...
...and takes no chances.
A.J. and Ted mow down a pair of zeds...
...and make their escape.
Jim also heads for home
Final thoughts: This was our first player-led encounter of the campaign, the last one being semi-scripted to get the ball rolling, and our Rep 5 defacto leader Jim did a great job of leading us in and out safely. We scrounged up not one but three new vehicles (bringing our total owned to four) and enough fuel to run a couple of them for a long time. A resounding success. Oh, and A.J. increased his Rep to 5. Winner!
Game 3 - The Safe House
After our brush with the Lil' Kings, Officer Diggs told us how the gang were making their presence felt after the outbreak: shaking down survivors, killing with impunity. It made us sick. The worst thing was that Diggs and Ramirez couldn't risk goin' after them and leaving the folks at the station unprotected. That's when they told us about the safe house.
So the Lil' Kings are a real problem in Bloom but the cops can't do anything substantial to solve it. However, an old CI (Confidential Informant) has been anonymously feeding the Lily Ave Precinct information about the Kings' movements using dead drops, including the whereabouts and layout of the gang's hideout. Perhaps there's something we can do about the city's oldest infestation.
A.J. took the lead on this one. The Rep 5 sporting hero had done outreach work in inner city neighbourhoods (for publicity, no doubt) so knew the area quite well. He is accompanied by Al and Ted.
We played the encounter in a new part of Bloom and used the Safe House rules from I, Zombie by Two Hour Wargames for the assault on the gang's hideout proper.
We planned the assault around the fact that safe houses are completely sealed at street level, with doors and windows barricaded, but the upper floors, although blacked out, are otherwise quite vulnerable. So we decided to take the ladder, send A.J. and Ted up to the 1st floor to break in through a window of the section of the floor with internal ladder access and send Al to demolish the ground floor entrance directly below with her chainsaw. The raid will go down at night.
In addition, the Lily Ave cops asked us to find the CI and get them to safety if possible. Basically, for every In Sight Test we take, we had to roll a D6 for each ganger taking the test. On the roll of a "1", that ganger has identified themselves as the CI and takes the In Sight Test against any other gangers.
So with all that is mind we began our encounter. And this is what we listened to (you might want to skip to 0:40 to avoid the intros):
The Lil' Kings' home turf and safe house (left)
The abandoned 'hood
Our group's entry point
Our survivors entered the board on foot with Al in possession of the ladder. They were pursued by a group of zeds who must have caught their scent on the way in but our survivors used the darkness to their advantage and kept out of sight, hugging the buildings as they move toward the nearest alley.
Lets do this
The group stay out of sight...
...of the ravenous zeds...
...and get ready to head into the alley
As the group reached the alley, they came face to face with a lone zombie and Al and Ted wasted no time in taking it out with their blades, quickly and quietly.
Ted and Al clear the way
Ted then entered the alley alone where he disappeared (random event)!
"I'll be right back"
Amidst the chaos of A.J.'s melee, Ted reappeared behind the zeds and helped his friend despatch the dead-heads.
Unfortunately, all alone in the alley, Al was confronted by five zombies (PEF) that emerged from the building behind her.
Ted emerges from the shadows...
...with sword in hand.
But could this mean the end for Al?
A.J. and Ted both activate before the zeds and charge in to rescue Al, slaughtering four zeds and knocking one off its feet. That was a close call!
With Ted going missing and the group getting into some unexpected scrapes, they had lingered too long and dawn broke (day part advances).
However, the group were no longer impeded and made their way around the alley to the safe house.
The boys come to the rescue
The group prepare to assault the safe house
Now that we had reached our destination we changed the playing area to a floor plan of the Lil' Kings Safe House.
A.J. and Ted begin on the ladder at the 1st floor window of the room that has internal ladder access between the floors and Al positions herself at the ground floor main door, waiting for the signal to start up her chainsaw and demolish the barricaded entrance.
The safe house floor plan, Ground Floor (top) and 1st floor (main)
A.J. and Ted at the 1st floor window
Al prepares to breach the main entrance
A.J. takes a Savvy Challenge to gently pry open the window just enough to take a look inside without alerting its occupants; two gangers: Dishonne Williams (the leader of the Lil' Kings) and his henchman, Jamar.
In the spirit of maintaining a stealthy approach, we used the Peek-a-boo game mechanic from the High Rise to Hell encounter, Black Hummers.
Using Peek-a-boo, A.J. and Ted succeeded in observing the gangers without having to take an In Sight Test. Perfect!
A.J. gave Al the signal to start breaking through the barricaded entrance and Al happily obliged, gunning her chainsaw to life and shredding the first planks blocking the way (reducing its Defence Value by 1 per turn).
Dishonne and Jamar remain unaware of the group's presence...
...until Al's chainsaw starts biting through the front door.
The gangers activate and immediately go down the ladder hole to defend the ground floor entrance just as Al gets a little closer to breaking through. Not wasting the opportunity, A.J. uses his speed to enter the safe house, drop down the ladder hole and ambush the gangers from behind, leaving Ted to guard the 1st floor room.
A.J. easily won the In Sight Test (since the gangers couldn't take it at all) and fired at the Lil' Kings on full-auto with his AR15, killing Jamar outright and knocking Dishonne off his feet. Since Dishonne is a Star, he used his Star power to reduce his damage to knocked down but carrying on (he must be wearing body armour).
Ted stands watch
A.J. ambushes Dishonne and Jamar
Jamar is killed instantly but Dishonne is unharmed
Dishonne activates first, regained his feet, won the In Sight against A.J. and unleashed two blasts of buckshot at the survivor, knocking him down. A.J.'s own Star power saved him from any damage (two can play that game, Dishonne).
Al finally breached the barricade and took the In Sight against the distracted Dishonne, winning and killing him with a shotgun blast to the spine. Thanks, Al!
Dishonne gets the drop on A.J.
Al breaks through, shotgun in hand. Goodnight, Dishonne
NOTE: With all the shooting and excitement we forgot to roll to see if we had located the CI. Oops! However, we decided that it was unlikely to have been Dishonne since he was the leader of the gang and Jamar wouldn't have been able to tell us even if he was as he was shot in the back so unexpectedly. So we resolved that, should we clear the safe house out and not find the CI (by rolling that "1") then it was Jamar all along and A.J. would have to live with his decision to shoot first and ask questions later.
Meanwhile upstairs, Ted heard a noise in the next room and went through to investigate. He was greeted by the deadly Laquanda (Dishonne's girlfriend) and her Tec 9. Ted's curiosity proved to be his undoing as Laquanda won the In Sight and put Ted Out of the Fight (after using his star power to lower the result from Obviously Dead).
Hearing the gunfire from upstairs, Al left A.J. to get back to his feet and charged up the ladder hole, chainsaw whirring, attacked Laquanda in melee and took the ganger Out of the Fight.
Blood-drunk and overconfident, Al moved into the next room and met Tayvon, who turns out to be the CI (phew)!
Ted and Laquanda face off
But the ganger shoots first
Al wreaks vengeance on Laquanda
Al finds Tayvon, the Confidential Informant
With A.J. not far behind, Al and Tayvon search the next room and are greeted by the remaining four Lil' Kings: Troy, Charelle Williams (Dishonne's mother), C.J. and Mollique.
Tayvon is shot dead immediately by Charelle just before Al charges her and Troy. Al cuts Charelle down and takes Troy Out of the Fight but then C.J. and Mollique unload on the preoccupied Al, knocking her to the ground Stunned (with a little help from her Star power).
A little late to the party, A.J. charges the remaining two gangers, knocking them both Out of the Fight with his wrench and ending the Lil' Kings' reign in Bloom once and for all.
The aftermath of the safe house shoot-out
"You play with fire, you get burned," That's what Officer Diggs told us when we handed over the 'Kings that were still breathing and told him the bad news about Tayvon. Poor guy. Bet he thought there'd be a better things waitin' for him at the end of that day than a bullet in the head. Anyways, the safe house was ours and the cops were already making plans to relocate some of the refugees from the station to there. But for us, for now at least, our work was done.
Final thoughts: This was a great game as it really tested our survivors to their limit and threw up a lot of unexpected twists. Our group narrowly missed losing a member although I reckon Ross would have used his Lucky B*****d perk to save Ted as he was shaping up to be a great character. The encounter was exciting from start to finish and Al turned out to be a real star and increased her Rep to 5 to prove it. The Lil' Kings were a challenging opponent too and, one way or another, I doubt this is the last we'll see of them.
So that wraps up Act 1 and I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we did playing it. At this point it was time to take a break for dinner and to let me change up the table for Act 2.
See you there!
Catch up on all of the Safe House action below: