Game Date: 11/3/2012
System: Unisystem / All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Module: Coffee Break of the Dead
Cliff - Narcissistic Jeweler
Matt - Frustrated Writer
Star - Frantic Intern
Ted - Disgruntled Ex-Employee
The story began by following the typical morning of four typical citizens. Cliff played a jeweler with a smarmy personality, reminiscent of Andrew "Dice" Clay. Matt's neurotic writer was as cowardly as he was useless in battle. Star's intern was a highly skilled expert... at getting coffee. And finally, Ted's ex-employee was a true wildcard, who nearly ended the session before it really began.
As each of us got ready for work in the morning, we heard reports about a bomb going off at GeneTech Labs. The GeneTech building was near our own office, so we all prepared for a rough day at work. We each arrived at the office and went through our usual routine, with the exception of the recently-fired Ted, who showed up with the intention of going on a mad shooting spree. As fate would have it, the four of us were on the elevator at the same time when the power went out.
As the strongest of the four, Ted tried to force open the door. He was starting to make progress when Cliff tried to help him. Unfortunately Cliff rolled terribly, causing the doors to slam shut, nearly mashing Ted's fingers. Already looking for an excuse to go postal, Ted pulled out his gun and shot Cliff in the knee. But Cliff was also armed, and soon they were having their own little shootout in the tiny elevator. Matt and Star cowered in the corners.
During this gunfight, something landed on the elevator's roof. We heard more gunfire from somewhere above us, and the elevator lurched and dropped a bit. Matt tried using the emergency phone, but there was more chaos on the other end of the line. The elevator dropped some more, ending with the doors getting jammed open at an odd angle. We crawled out of the elevator into the dark basement level. Ted and Cliff agreed to a temporary truce, and we started looking around. Two of us had flashlights, but otherwise the only illumination came from emergency lights. The first thing we found was a dead security guard. His throat had been ripped out, and he'd been shot as well. We took his gun, leaving only Star unarmed.
At the other end of the room was a set of double doors. Something on the other side was pushing on the doors, trying to get them open. We called out but nobody answered, so Ted shot through the doors. The doors burst open, and we faced several walking corpses. Ted, Cliff, and Matt started firing at them. Weaponless, Star hid out of the way. Matt realized that Star could help us by as a light source, so he tossed her his flashlight. Unfortunately his throw was way off, and the flashlight broke against the wall.
We kept shooting, and the zombies shambled into brawling range. Star picked up some scissors and ran up to help Matt with a zombie. At that moment, Matt fumbled another roll, firing his gun wildly. His errant shot missed his zombie and grazed Star instead. I suppose that's what she gets for running with scissors.
Matt got bitten by his zombie, which caused us to wonder - just how Genre Savvy are these characters? Are there zombie movies in this universe? Would our characters consider a bitten person to be a future zombie? Rusty ruled that Ted might think Matt's a risk, so Ted tried to shoot Matt and the zombie in one shot. Luckily he missed, and Matt finished off the zombie at point blank range.
Once these zombies were dead, we explored the floor a bit more. On the next zombie encounter Ted and Star failed their rolls against fear, causing Ted to flee and Star to faint. Ted eventually fled all the way into another group of zombies, but he'd dropped his weapon, so he had to fight them unarmed. He proved to be as deadly with his fists as he'd been with a gun. Meanwhile, Cliff managed to craft some Molotov cocktails from chemicals he'd found in the janitor's closet.
Next we found the building manager's office. The manager himself was still there, as a very weak zombie. His office still had power, so we killed the zombie and checked out his computer. The internet was working, but every site we tried to visit was too busy to load. There was also a small television. Cable wasn't working, but we managed to pick up a local news report on the rabbit ears. Apparently the GeneTech explosion had caused a chemical spill, which was somehow bringing the dead back to life.
Being on the basement level, there were only two ways out of the building - the stairs or the elevator. The elevator obviously wasn't an option, so we headed for the stairwell. A bunch of zombies were descending the stairs, and Cliff tried to act like a zombie to sneak past them. It didn't work, though it's hard to say if it was because of Cliff's bad disguise roll, or if the zombies just had ways of knowing the difference. Ted rolled badly on his next shot, and ended up shooting Matt. Fighting to their last breath, Ted and Matt both fell to the swarm of zombies.
While the zombies were busy feasting on Ted and Matt, Cliff and Star sneaked past them and ran up the stairs. They opened the door to the ground level, and saw a lobby filled with the undead. From there they could also the building's front doors, which were covered in bullet holes. They made a run for it. As they neared the front door, they heard someone outside yell, "Hit the deck!" Both dropped while a hail of gunfire blasted over their heads, taking out their zombie pursuers. Cliff and Star crawled out the front door, into the safety of their rescuers.
They were taken to a nearby church that had been converted into a temporary military base. Star hadn't been bitten, so she was just cleaned up and debriefed. They had to watch Cliff a bit more closely, but he succeeded on his constitution checks to avoid zombification, so eventually he was cleared as well. And the two survivors lived happily ever after, or at least as happy as one can be in a zombie apocalypse.
I love trying out new systems. This was my first time playing "All Flesh Must Be Eaten", and I really enjoyed it. Admittedly, I don't think I ever really got the system down, but it seemed pretty simple. I only had to use two dice for the entire session (d10 for attacks, d6 for weapon damage and for crits/fumbles). Some weapons also used d4s or d8s, but that's about it for dice. Instead of adding numbers to damage rolls, you multiply them, which can lead to some interestingly high numbers.
Like the Savage Worlds session I played a couple of weeks ago, this game uses exploding dice. So if you roll the maximum or minimum on the d10 roll, you then roll a d6 and add/subtract that to the roll. If you roll max/min on the d6, you get to roll yet again, and so on. Maybe it's just the novelty of it, but I really like exploding dice. It's thrilling when you get several max rolls in a row, and almost feels like you're in a casino.
The game has you making fear checks whenever something scary happens, which is pretty cool for a horror-themed game. In practice, though, a couple of the interactions felt like continuity errors. My character was the session's biggest coward, but he managed to hold his bladder throughout the scenario. Meanwhile, tough guy Ted ran for his life when he saw a zombie, even though he'd already killed a couple of them quite handily. If I ran a session, I think I'd only have a character make a fear check if he sees a monster he's never seen before. Or maybe you'd get a bonus to your fear check equal to the number of this monster you've killed in the past.
I'm not hip on the dying rules, but I haven't looked at them too closely. For such a deadly scenario, it seemed like it took forever for us to die. Usually I'm the first one to advocate systems that make survival easier, but in a horror game I think I'd rather just die when my life gets below -10. When I'm already unconscious and having chunks of my flesh bitten off, there's not a lot to be gained in rolling constitution checks every round.
I loved that our characters were somewhat normal people. I'm so used to playing rangers and clerics, that it's nice to play something involving accountants and secretaries. Heck, I enjoyed just looking at the character sheets, and seeing how normal people are statted. I don't think I'd want to play an entire campaign with normals (I play RPGs to escape normality), but for a one-shot it rocked. Overall, I thought the game it was quite fun, and I look forward to playing it again sometime.