Sunday 20 January 2013

ATZ Game 9 - Return to Golden Hills


In game 6 of my ATZ campaign, the small community of survivors who were living at the Golden Hills retirement complex were scattered and separated.  One elderly couple (Albert and Gertrude) was accidentally left behind, while Bomber and his dog fled to the east.  His search for a pair of companions who were out foraging at the time of the zombie attack on Golden Hills was played out in game 7.  Bomber is now returning with a motley group of civilians to try to find his friends.  The mission is to cleanse the area around Golden Hills and to find out if anyone from the community is left alive there...

The Cast

  • Bomber: REP 6 survivalist with brawler, shotgun, baseball bat
  • Clancy: (Bomber's Irish wolfhound) REP 6 dog with brawler
  • Goofy: REP 4 survivalist with nerves of steel, shotgun, knife
  • Iain: REP 4 civilian with initiative, cricket bat
  • Pavel: REP 3 civilian with toy Star Trek phaser.  Suffered a sprained ankle just a few hours previously, in game 7.
Based on these stats, does anyone want to take a guess as to who dies and who lives?

The Location

"Golden Hills" is a sheltered housing complex.  This part of it consists of 4 cottages, of which the grey one at the front left was smashed up and invaded by zombies during game 6.  There is also a nearby filling station as well as some lock-up garages.  These latter have been previously fortified by the residents and contain their small stock of emergency supplies.

The Action

Bomber and his companions approached cautiously from the corner near the lock-up garage.  The men could see a number of zombies on the road just ahead of them, but these were all facing the other way and did not spot the humans.  The zombies just stood on the spot, heads bowed (several failed activation rolls in a row!)
As quietly as possible, Goofy opened the nearest garage door and led Iain into the stronghold.  They rummaged about for a while, trying to keep as quiet as possible.  Iain stuck a small pistol into his pocket, whilst Goofy grabbed a lumber axe.  He strode outside and pressed the axe into Pavel's trembling hands.
"Here you go.  This'll work better than that toy" he said.
"But I don't know how to wield an axe" responded Pavel.  "I can't fight!  Anyway, this is a genuine, original series, Mark II phaser.  It cost a lot of money!"
In response, the taciturn Goofy just grabbed the fibreglass prop and threw it over the roof of the garages.
"Use the axe!" he commanded.

The humans crept forwards to the corner of the garages.  Still the zombies just stood there, not moving.
"What's the plan?" asked Goofy.  "What do we do?"

As Bomber looked round to answer, he saw Iain go pale (random event!)
"Hey, what's up, man?" he asked.
Iain gulped.  "That one over there" he said, pointing to one of the nearby zombies.  "She was my next door neighbour."  He paused, then added "I had the hots for her."
"Wow.  Tough break."
"I'll be OK.  Look, if we're going to do this then let's get on with it!" (Iain passed 2d6 and was therefore able to continue without penalty).

Quickly, Bomber and Goofy stepped into the road and fired their shotguns at the 3 zombies standing in the road.  The undead didn't stand a chance and all 3 were felled without even seeing their attackers.
At the same time, Iain and Clancy ran to attack the other group of zeds, just round the corner of the garages.  The man and the dog both knocked down their respective opponents, but both zombies were still moving.  Pavel stood rooted to the spot with fright, clutching the big axe to his chest.

Bomber and Goofy ran into the melee to help, even though both still had their shotguns in their hands rather than their melee weapons.  Between them, the 3 men and the big dog put down the 4 zombies who had been standing on the wasteland.  But it was taking too long and all the time more zombies were arriving in ones and in twos.  Pavel just stood still, watching as another pair of the creatures approached slowly along the road.

Finally, as the newcomers were almost on him, Pavel snapped into action.  He dodged around the clumsy pair and fled further up the road, screaming.

Having finished off his melee opponent, Goofy turned round to find no sign of Pavel - and zombies approaching him from the rear.  He reloaded his shotgun quickly and blew away the creatures.

Bomber and Clancy had moved on a short way, into the small park.  There, the man stood on top of one of the park benches and fired his shotgun several times to exterminate more clusters of approaching zombies.  Whilst removing the immediate threat, this did attract several more...

Pavel ran round the end of the first cottage he came to, straight into a group of 3 zombies.  They were far to close to dodge this time!

Desperately, he swung the axe at his attackers.  His clumsy strokes knocked down 2 of the zombies and he managed to fend off the remaining one, for now.  Pavel called out for help, praying that his new friends would come quickly.

The other members of the party had just finished off the last of their targets when they heard the cries.  They ran in the direction of the screams, but Goofy and Clancy were a bit too slow and couldn't quite make it.  Iain was fast enough, but hesitated when he saw the zombies; he failed to attack (as a civilian, he had to take the "brown pants" test).  Only Bomber charged home, quickly felling one of the 3 zombies.
However, it was just too late.  The terrified Pavel was killed before their eyes by the other 2 monsters.

With a roar of anger, the remaining humans and the dog destroyed the remaining zombies in this group.

The survivors moved into the Golden Hills complex and started to search the houses for clues as to the whereabouts of their friends. However, they hadn't gone far before they heard ominous noises from behind them.  Looking round, they saw that a new pair of zombies had found Pavel's body and were starting to tear chunks off it and eat them!

This was too much for Bomber and Goofy!  The 2 men, closely followed by Clancy, raced back to the scene and wiped out the new zombies.

Then, with Iain's help, they dragged what was left of Pavel's corpse into the nearest cottage and found a sheet to wrap it up.  They would bury the body properly later.

The party continued to explore the cottages.  The next one (which was Captain Salty's residence when he was still alive) had been broken into by zombies before.  It was no great surprise to discover that the temporary repairs to the door and windows had failed.  2 further zombies were lurking inside the cottage, though these were easily dispatched by the battle-hardened survivors.

By now, there were only a couple of zombies wandering about outside.  One of them saw the team as they left Salty's cottage, though the humans had no difficulty in killing it quietly.

Finally, the men approached Albert and Gertrude's house.  This pair of pensioners had been left behind inadvertently when everyone else fled from Golden Hills (in game 6).
"The door's stuck" exclaimed Goofy as he tried the handle.
"Here, let me try" said Bomber.  It did seem to be jammed, almost as if something had been pushed against it from the inside.  Bomber gave it a kick and it flew open.  He charged into the building, baseball bat at the ready.
2 figures rose up from near the fridge.  The old woman was trying to start her chainsaw, whilst the man was waving a walking stick.
"Woah!  Steady on; it's only us!" called Bomber quickly.
"Hi, Mr and Mrs P." said Goofy.
It was indeed Albert and Gertrude, who had been hiding behind the couch for the best part of a day.  They had been prepared to sell their lives dearly to any intruders; their relief on being rescued was enormous!

The final zombie was now approaching the cottage, oblivious to the group of humans inside it.  However, they saw it through the windows.
"This ends, now" said Bomber.  He strode out of the front door and up to the side of the building.  When the zombie came round the corner, he beat it to death with his bat.


The mission was a success, in that the party did retake Golden Hills and did find Albert and Gertrude, alive.  This gave the survivors a chance to increase their REP.  Both Bomber and Goofy made the right rolls for this, though Iain and Clancy did not.  This means that the group is now equipped like this:
  • Bomber: REP 7 (!) survivalist with brawler, shotgun, baseball bat
  • Clancy: (Bomber's Irish wolfhound) REP 6 dog with brawler
  • Goofy: REP 5 survivalist with nerves of steel, shotgun, knife, lumber axe
  • Iain: REP 4 civilian with initiative, pistol, cricket bat
In addition, Iain has killed at least 3 zombies and has passed the See the Feast test.  In order to upgrade from Civilian, he now only needs to cause damage to an armed human.  Hmm.

So where do they go from here?  Golden Hills still doesn't look like a defensible position.  However, if Bomber's crew leave the area then how will they find the other group of friends (led by John the photographer)?  John's group were taken off to a resettlement camp, but no-one seems to know where that is.  What to do next?  And can a REP 7 character ever miss a target or be beaten in combat?


  1. Much respect to Bomber for making it to the lofty heights of Rep:7. To answer your question, can he be beaten in combat? Yes, if he rolls badly and his opponent rolls well. Plus, do remember that Star Powers don't work against zombies. However, the chances of him losing are very, very slim. He has little to fear but beware of being too cocky with him. The death of Pavel was so very predictable. He won't be missed.

    1. Yes, Bomber has been fantastically good at rolling '6' when determining a REP increase. I can't remember for sure, but I think he's increased REP about every 2nd game in which he's appeared!

      Although Bomber and John are the "stars" of my campaign, I haven't been using the Star Power rules for them. So far, neither has needed that extra boost anyway...

  2. It was obvious Pavel was gonna die, but at least he gave a decent count for himself before he perished! I do like your Golden Hills set up.

    1. I don't know about that; I'd like to think that all characters have at least *some* chance! Anyway, all Pavel did in the end was knock down 2 zombies - which promptly stood up again!

  3. Good-bat-rep, I was wondering about Albert and Gertrude and whether we'd ever see them again.

    I'm not much in favour of having Reps at 6 let alone greater than 6 !

    1. Ah, Albert and Gertrude were always safe - as long as someone younger and fitter could find them!

      I also have mixed feelings about REPs higher then 6. I think I'd be happier about it if I was still using the old combat rules (i.e. from ATZ-BDTZ); the chance of anyone threatening Bomber in melee now seem very slim. As for shooting, even at REP 6 a shotgun virtually guarantees that you can kill at least 2 zombies per turn!

    2. I agree, though I'm yet to compare the old ATZ and the new FFO melee systems in detail. I still have the image of antagonists queueing up to fight a single opponent rather than all attacking at once.The multiple attackers don't get any advantage either, which seems very strange to me. Why does FFO only allow 4 attackers too ? - It seems very random.

    3. The splitting melee dice rule in the original ATZ was probably the zombies' best friend, and killed Robb (more than once). Now in melee I get to pit by 4 or 5d6+1 success for fighting zombies against 3d6 each time. That means the odds are always in my favor. I can only imagine what a REP 7 person with a two-handed weapon could do to a crowd of zombies.

    4. I'm tempted to try something such as changing the "evenly matched" cumulative melee bonus into an "outnumbered" bonus for *all* attackers in a single round. Under such a scheme, 4 zombies attacking a single character in the same round would *each* get 6 dice in melee (3 for REP + another 3 for their friends). It would still give a powerful character a good chance, but they wouldn't be invincible.

  4. With enough zombies, a Rep 7 will go down. Of course. You can make a star zombie, as a nemesis

    1. A star zombie? Interesting idea :-) ...

    2. Or someone like Sunny the Killer Klown!

    3. Yes, though Sunny is your character; I wouldn't dream of a direct copy of that idea. On the other hand, I might well take inspiration from it :-) .

  5. Rep 7 can and have died in my games. Remember an OD result from a ranged weapon will take 3 Star Power successes to reach Carry On. If you only reach Stunned you are very vulnerable.
    Also it is possible that he could have a failed mission and his Rep decrease.
    In any case wonderful campaign.

    1. Yes, I figured that gunshots could kill him, but I don't think any number of (melee) zombies have more than a tiny chance!

      Thanks for reminding me that REP can go down for a failed mission. I think I'll have to start challenging my players a bit more!

  6. Nice report. Andrew had great fun playing as Bomber, and I think the "more fighting and less hiding" nature of this particular scenario suited him well.

    All things considered, the core group of regular survivors is shaping up as an effective little squad. Such a pity that Pavel bolted for cover when he could have ducked back into the lock-up and sat out the whole nasty business. It sems that it's less fun to be a lower rep character, but sticking with the group, and fighting in a bunch seems to be the way to survive and progress.

    I hope he doesn't make a return appearance as one of "Them".

    As for Bomber, perhaps he could lend his shotgun to one of the more timid members, and focus on his baseball skills.

    1. Ah, Pavel! I don't think he (the character) was thinking rationally. The poor guy couldn't take the horror any more and just ran; I don't think the direction mattered to him.

      It had occurred to me that he could rise again, but I haven't made any firm decision on that yet.

      Good luck with asking Bomber to give you his shotgun!

    2. The survivors buried Pavel by the tree where he met his fate. A solemn occasion where even Goofy found a few appropriate words.

      Meanwhile I hear that Iain can be seen in front of the bathroom mirror rehearsing "Can I just borrow the shotgun? Please Bomber".

  7. Very exciting stuff, your terrain is amasing

    1. Thanks, though if you see it up close then this terrain isn't as good as Vampifan's appears to be, for example.

  8. Missed this one. Good scenario.

    1. Well I'm glad that you found and enjoyed it eventually (actually, it's only been a few days since I posted this report)!