Thursday, 13 December 2012

All Flesh Must Be Eaten : a one off adventure

All Flesh Must Be Eaten: 12th December 2012

There has been a bit of a break from our usual adventures in Ravengro recently due to a variety of real-life commitments affecting some or all of the players over the last few weeks. Tonight, three of us turned up anyway to play a game put on by another DM who had a few places available at his table. This is a one-off adventure based in the modern day - a zombie apocalypse game I have not played before. The game plays well and is both fast moving and highly exciting. Trying to play to as many cliches as possible, we all had a load of fun with this one. Thanks go out to Gary for putting this on for us.

The Survivors
Cpl. Masterton – Soldier from out of town
Officer Gabriel – Local law enforcement officer
Harry – Local detective
Tom – Video store clerk
Dawn – Out of town reporter
The Doctor – English scientist abroad
Norman – Computer Hacker
‘Mad Dog’ – Local biker and garage owner

Riverside, WA, USA (Wednesday 12th December, 6:03am)

“… urther news from upstate Washington on this cold and icy morning. It seems that there has been an influx of wolves into the town of Riverside over the last few weeks. Professor Romero of Seattle State University has put this down to the sudden cold snap descending upon their usual hunting grounds and forcing them to scavenge further afield. The army has been called in to take care of the situation but all has gone quiet over the last few days. We have been assured that local residents have nothing to worry about. We have sent in roving reporter Dawn Haven to investigate. We have heard nothing back from her just yet, but she should have arrived in town late last night and we should get our first live broadcast, weather permitting, later on this morning.

Now it is over to Stuart for the weather. It is due to remain cold but clear tod …”

“Goldarn it”, cursed Tom, the video store clerk as he rolled over in his warm, cosy bed and switched off the alarm clock radio. “I just knew those soldiers were here for a reason.”

He crawled out from under his duvet and sprinted to the shower, his breath trailing as small puffs of heat as he huffed in the coldness of his room.

The shower warmed him through thoroughly but he spent too long in there and found that he would be late for work if he did not get his skates on. He grabbed a few mouthfuls of last night’s lukewarm coffee that was still on the percolator and got his scarf on before making his way out of the door towards George’s Pancake House for breakfast.

Lower 3rd Street, 7:12am

Making his way to the pancake house, Tom heard a bit of a ruckus going on. He noticed that the local law enforcer, Officer Gabriel, was in a heated row with one of the soldiers mentioned in the news story and the local troublemaker Mad-Dog. As he approached the scene of the argument he noticed that a few more of the local citizens had come out of their homes to see what was going on. As he got closer he began to see why things were becoming heated; the ground all around them was covered in blood. The lawman insisted everyone should stay calm and return to their homes, but the soldier, a Corporal Masterton insisted that everyone, including the officer, needed to leave the scene for their own safety and security. Mad-Dog was just there for the fight.

A crowd of about eight people were milling around just as the local scientist known by Tom as The Doctor (after his own love of the British Sci-fi series Doctor Who) picked up what looked like a severed human hand from under a parked vehicle. It was at this point that Tom decided it best if he started to shoot this on his camcorder as it looked like things were starting to turn interesting. Everyone had started to talk at once and the argument became more heated until Officer Gabriel let off two shots that shut everyone up pretty quickly.

The Doctor looked at the hand, aided by his two friends Tom and Norman (the guys he played D&D with every Wednesday evening over a few beers) and came to the conclusion that it was indeed a human hand that had been ripped from an arm by a fearsome force and then worried at by teeth that did not look like they belonged to a wolf as everyone was suspecting; in fact they looked decidedly too similar to human bite marks! This set everyone panicking again and Tom started quoting zombie lore from all of the films he had been watching recently (working at the video store meant he could watch as many as he wanted whenever he wanted, and boy did he watch videos).

Officer Gabriel requested that Cpl. Masterton inform his superior officer about the situation whilst he tried to call in backup from out of town. Cpl. Masterton ambled off in search of his colleagues just up the road and the lawman went to his patrol car. He tried the police radio but only encountered static. He then tried his mobile, but could get no signal. Finally, he decided to rejoin the small party back at the crime scene, but only after retrieving his shotgun and spare ammunition from the trunk of the car.

Corporal Masterton returned to inform everyone that his entire squad were missing from their tents and there was blood everywhere around the camp. Everyone started to shout all at once, many in fear of what was happening and others in trying to find out what the authorities were going to do about it.

The sound of the old World War Two siren by the Town Hall pierced the morning air, causing everyone to quieten down quickly. Officer Gabriel told everyone to return to their homes immediately whilst he went to investigate what the meaning was. He hadn’t taken two steps before everyone else had joined the huddle behind him and followed directly in his tracks.

The Town Hall, 7:37am

The group of townsfolk arrived at the Town Hall only to find the front doors swung wide open. It was dark inside but faint scratching noises could be heard coming from deep within. Corporal Masterton, taking control of the situation un-shouldered his assault rifle, primed it for action and switched on the torch over slung on the barrel. Tom, still filming the scene, followed closely behind him to get the best shots possible. The rest of the troop followed on in a gaggle.

A trail of blood led from the door, past the benches dimly illuminated on either side of the main hall, to a pile of intestines in the middle of the floor. With a yowl, a fluffy white cat ran from under the benches and through one of the back doors leading off the back of the room. Detective Harry yelled for someone to grab the cat as it was the main lead in a case he was trying to crack. No-one took any notice and let the cat go. Footprints, most likely those from a large canine, could be seen within the vicinity of the viscera leading off to the other one of the end rooms of the building.

After spending several minutes trying to piece together the clues given up by the body parts, Corporal Masterton took the lead and re-settled his assault rifle into the crook of his shoulder. Tom and Mad-Dog advanced close behind, loosely followed by the rest of the crowd. The sounds of snuffling and scrabbling became louder until the door was nudged open by the toe of the soldier’s boot. The bark of the assault rifle was loud in the small room, and the panic caused by the sudden shock caused both Tom and Mad-Dog to open fire with their handgun and shotgun respectively. All three shots hit but the wolf just turned towards the shooters with a snarl on its half-rotted face illuminated by the half-light of the open window and leapt out of it in a single bound. The sight of the half-eaten corpse of the mayor on the floor caused a riot and everyone started to scream in fear and shock.

After a few seconds of pandemonium, Mad-Dog yelled for everyone to be quiet. The volume was cut immediately and in the silence scrabbling noises could be heard coming from upstairs. Officer Gabriel decided to take charge again and suggested some people should investigate the noises upstairs whilst others tried to find a light switch to get the place illuminated. After seeing the monstrosity that had leapt out of the window, Cpl. Masterton took it upon himself to start closing any windows on the ground floor that were still open, starting with the one in the back room. After they were closed he then started to rather inexpertly try to barricade them too.

One up, one down (8:11am)

Mad-Dog, Tom, Dawn and private detective Harry, in the hope he may come across the cat again, headed up the stairs to investigate the scrabbling noises. They entered a landing area with a locked door at each end. The scrabbling sound came from behind the door closest to the head of the stairs. Mad-Dog barged the door open and levelled his 12-gauge at 7 year-old Sarah from down East 17th. Dawn shouted not to shoot the girl that was cowering behind the overturned filing cabinet and went forward to comfort her. With a snarl the girl lunged for her, her hanging entrails leading to the puppet-master’s clutches; a heavily decayed corpse with its hands within the child’s eviscerated body. Dawn just managed to leap backwards in time to avoid the shot from Mad-Dog’s shotgun. Blood and bone flew everywhere. The cadaver behind the filing cabinet rose to its full height but it too was blown away by the combined might of Mad-Dog’s shotgun, and Tom and Harry’s handguns.

Meanwhile, downstairs, The Doctor and Norman had headed down the wooden ladder to the switch room. They slowly descended into the darkness when suddenly Norman slipped on the bottom rung, snapping it in two. The Doctor made his way down carefully after asking if Norman was OK. The noise though had disturbed the silence down in the room. Sparks started to erupt from the breaker board and a faint scrabbling could be heard in the darkest corner. Frightened but unperturbed, the two intrepid adventurers proceeded towards the fuse box, when suddenly shots could be heard coming from upstairs. A hand lunged out of the darkness. Without thinking Norm levelled his handgun and opened fire. The Doctor, whose only weapon was a flare pistol he had in his coat pocket from the fishing trip he took a few weeks previously, also let loose, setting the rotting corpse’s clothes on fire. The corpse started to spin around rapidly, bumping into the walls and filing boxes, upturning them all and setting them alight. The fire spread rapidly through the room and forced the two townsfolk back up the ladder

Officer Gabriel, now left on his own, decided to follow the party that headed upstairs, his authority well and truly undermined. Gunshots sounded from above and a few seconds later from below. Confused, he stuck to his first thoughts and went where the most noise was. He needed to get the peace back into some sort of order. He couldn’t have townsfolk going off and shooting at every shadow.

Corporal Masterton was still busy trying to barricade the windows when he heard a clubbing and scratching at the main doors of the Town Hall. He decided to chance a look out of one of the front windows. He pushed the sash window up and slowly pushed open the external shutters. A clawed hand try to grab him, but he quickly pulled away from it. Outside he could see a sea of walking corpses trying to break their way into the Town Hall. He rapidly pulled the shutters to, slammed the sash window down and re-barricaded the potential entrance.

The Town Hall secured, 8:25am

After they had checked over the two corpses in the upstairs office, Officer Gabriel suggested they checked the rest of the rooms. An empty board room led onto the mayor’s office, which also proved to be empty. Upon hearing the shouts of alarm from Corporal Masterton downstairs, they all looked out of the upstairs window and noticed that there were dozens of slowly moving corpses gathered by the front door of the Town Hall. A quick look to either side of the building showed that they were totally surrounded by these slow moving horrors, but they were also accompanied by no less than a few faster moving zombie-wolves. They returned to the room at the top of the stairs where they realised that the fire started in the fuse room was still burning uncontrollably and belching black smoke that made it difficult to breathe.

Things were looking bleak for them as they realised that the fire needed to be put out before anything else happened. More than half of the Town Hall had been proven to now be empty; there was only one last wing upstairs that needed exploring. Luckily it was behind a heavy closed door.

Officer Gabriel gathered everyone together at the top of the stairs and explained the situation. The phone lines were down, mobiles had no signal, the electricity was cut and there was a fire in the basement. Worst of all, there was a whole town full of walking dead surrounding the very building that they were now stood in.

Delegating as best he could, he assigned a few people to fight the fire downstairs. Fire extinguishers and fire blankets were found and The Doctor, Mad-Dog and Norman returned to the place of danger to attempt to put it out. The flames and smoke forced Norman back, but The Doctor and Mad-Dog struggled on bravely to reduce the flames.

Tom, Dawn, Harry and Officer Gabriel returned upstairs to explore and make safe the last few rooms upstairs. Corporal Masterton set himself to watch over the walking corpses in case they tried something whilst the others were busy trying to make safe the building. Guard duty was what he was good at.

The Phone Call, 09:07am

Dawn, the reporter, listened at the locked door and swore she could hear muffled voices beyond. This made everyone more wary, but the sound of a small petrol engine starting up made them all look round. The detective had pulled a mini-chainsaw from his rucksack. It was to get the cat out of a tree he explained. The little petrol engine exploded into life and the last locked door on the landing was cut open in the blink of an eye. The room beyond came as a shock to all those on the landing. After expecting undead to jump out at them, they saw that the room beyond was just an empty kitchen. Norman, who had now rejoined the main party, as had Mad-Dog, noticed the loft door and pulled it open so they could climb up to investigate if there were any ways out of their predicament. Whilst Officer Gabriel, Dawn and detective Harry went on to investigate further rooms, Tom decided to look through the kitchen cupboards. He had seen all the zombie movies and knew that food and water would be important in the days to come. He stuffed his backpack with all of the food that was left in the cupboards. Just as he was finishing he heard the chainsaw rev up once more and then the shattering of glass. Those on the upper storey could now shout down to those in the main vestibule of the ground floor below where Cpl. Masterton was continuing on his rounds.

Mad-Dog and Norman broke through to the roof and then called for buckets. As many as could be found in the kitchen area were passed up to them; they were then handed back down full of snow. Chain-gang style, the buckets made their way down to the basement and the flames were finally put out.

Reconvening on the landing at the top of the stairs, the survivors tried to think what to do next. Dawn, feeling that she should call in to her office, dug the satellite phone from her bag; she had a signal… just. Officer Gabriel commandeered the phone and passed it to Cpl. Masterton to call his commanding officer for backup. He did as he was asked, and after several attempts at getting past the desk jockey he finally spoke to his captain. Promising to put him on a charge for being drunk, he said he would send down a couple of MPs to arrest him. They would be there in about three hours.

The Hacker’s Escape, 09:48am

Hearing this, Norman cracked and decided that it was all becoming too much for him, so he would get out whilst he could. He returned to Sarah’s room, where he had earlier spotted the main electricity and ‘phone cables just outside the window. He removed his belt, slung it over the thicker of the two cables, shouted “Geronimo” and leapt out of the window before anyone could stop him. He slid about halfway along the cable before grinding to a halt, hovering directly above a side-alley half-full with zombies. He tried to wriggle to get the belt moving again but all that helped to achieve was a shorter amount of time he could hang on. A few seconds later, the nerd’s strength gave out and he fell to the street below. He twisted his left ankle badly but was able to jump up and make his way towards the video store where he used to hang out in saner times with The Doctor and his pal Tom, the video store clerk.

Upon seeing their companion make his desperate leap and subsequent fall, they rushed to the window to see how they could help him. Despite his twisted ankle, he could still outpace the zombies, but the noise had attracted no less than five of the zombie-wolves, who closed in on him rapidly, drawn by his yelling for help and screams of agony.

Tom shovelled body parts from Sarah and the puppet-master zombie out of the window whilst Officer Gabriel and Harry the great cat detective started shooting at the zombies from the upper floor. Corporal Masterton heard the commotion and popped open a lower window, shooting at anything that moved before spotting Norman on the other side of the alleyway.

The survivors shouted at him to get into the video store whilst they held the zombies off. The soldier’s assault rifle and the law officer’s shotgun made short work of the zombie-wolves that were attacking Norman, but not before one of them bit his swollen ankle. Those that were attracted by the meat feast below the window gave Norman just enough time to smash his way into the shop. Using the butt of the gun proved impossible against the tempered glass (made to stop thieves), but his last but one bullet shattered the door lock. He was saving the last bullet for himself. He got into the shop and through the internal door in the wink of an eye, and proceeded up to Tom’s apartment where he barricaded himself in and set about logging into Tom’s computer to hack into the military servers.

As the commotion began to die down, the fluffy white cat came out from hiding. The detective made a grab for it and said that the cat needed saving too. Tom would have none of it – he had seen all the movies after all: anyone who tried to rescue the cat died. He promptly grabbed the feline off of the detective, blew out its brains and threw it out of the window.

The Hacker, 09:59am

Feeling a little worse for wear, but still carrying on, Norman managed to power up the PC and hack his way into the military site. He was able to amend the order to send just two MPs to send a platoon of soldiers instead, and at a high priority. He then made his way back out to tell the others what he had done.

Meanwhile, the rest of the survivors noticed that all the gun fire had attracted dozens of other zombies to the vicinity. Now numbering well over a hundred walking cadavers outside, this was starting to become a little onerous for even the most stout hearted. Making as much noise as possible they attracted the zombies away from the video store towards the Town Hall again. When the majority of the zombies were clustered together in one place, the survivors let loose with everything they had on them. Corporal Masterton’s assault rifle let off a constant barrage of shots, everyone who had a handgun or shotgun pumped bullets into the undead crowd and even the mayor’s liquor cabinet was raided to make Molotovs. A few well thrown grenades cleared a large path through the walking corpses and Norm saw his chance to run up the street away from the hostilities.

Running as fast as his swollen ankle would carry him he got to the army checkpoint and leaped into the truck there. The keys were still in the ignition, so he gunned the engine. It was at this point he realised he could not drive a truck. Undeterred, he managed to slam it into first gear and drive it lurching into the side-street beside the Town Hall. The survivors all jumped into the back of the truck except for Mad-Dog, who could drive the truck. Gunning the engine and slamming the vehicle into reverse, he drove over several walking corpses, their guts spilling out at the impact. When on the main road, he slammed it into first and accelerated away up the street heading north out of town; the sound of sirens approaching from ahead of them spurred them to greater courage and determination.

The Cavalry arrive, 10:23am

Those in the back cheered as they heard the sirens and saw the corpses rapidly dwindling with distance behind them, but Mad-Dog howled in agony as Norman’s teeth sunk themselves into his neck. Not able to shift the grip of the newly formed zombie, he yelled for someone to help him. Tom leant out to try to get a view into the can via the wing mirror and was just able to yell “Zombies” before he was flung from the back of the truck, still filming as he fell. Officer Gabriel and The Doctor didn’t like the sound of that and made a jump for it. Dawn followed suit, and in suitably gymnastic style landed neatly on her feet, leaving Harry and Cpl. Masterton in the back.

The fight in the cab would soon be over the biker, so Mad-Dog decided to end it in his favour. He rammed the truck into a tree. It crashed and turned over, throwing the pair of them through the windshield and onto the side of the hood. The two passengers in the back were flung around like rag dolls, but got away with just minor cuts and bruises.

The newly created Norman zombie started to rise whilst Mad-Dog clutched a shattered leg. He called to Officer Gabriel to end it for him – he didn’t want to end up a zombie like Norm. Officer Gabriel took aim with the flare pistol on the fuel tank and BOOOM! The whole truck went up; Cpl. Masterton, detective Harry, Mad-Dog and all.

The survivors sat dazed by the kerb as the military arrived to the tinkling and clattering of truck parts falling about them.

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