Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › 2012.05.10: Night of the Living... (Zombie Cinema)

2012.05.10: Night of the Living... (Zombie Cinema)

Erik H.
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 7
It's 3 am in Philly and a few tired and lonely passengers are taking the late-night train going anywhere. Down in the subway systems in the dead of night, a creeping horror slowly emerges...

The heroes:
Officer Derek Chin (Jamie) -- a desk jockey who came into his own, but who learned that his own involved him being pretty spineless
Doc Emily Watts (Ben) -- an ER doc (is that right? it's what I recall) coming home after several shifts straight. Bone tired, asleep in her seat, with a bandage on her arm. Don't worry about that though, it's probably nothing
The Right Reverend Harold Smith (Anders) -- a curmudgeonly man of the cloth, frail, in a walker, convinced that demons were infiltrating human society and he was gifted a knowledge of their workings
Joshua Barton, esquire (Erik) -- surly teen, smart but not too bright, busily texting his girlfriend on his way to her place. If only she actually wanted him to come over. She's blocking your text for a reason, you creep.


They only need to run faster than one another when the zombies arrive...

Or you know, even if they don't. Either way, everyone died. We settled into the setting, but we decided on a hook: this would be a zombie movie, with no zombies. A post modern examination of the genre. It was tremendously fun, and I felt it was quite successful, but myself, I found it VERY hard and several times got myself bogged down in trying to tie the logistics of the escalation, adjusted for the absence of any causes for escalation into every action, which was the wrong tack.

We started on a train between stations, that'd been stopped for 20 minutes. The characters assemble, but can't get into the driver's compartment. Finally there's disagreement over what to do next. The doctor and the cop are going to walk the tracks to get help, but Josh and the Reverend won't take no for an answer when they insist on coming too. Finally, the doctor and Josh head out while the cop stays to try to rein in the agitated preacher.

Another passenger has a pry bar to jimmy the engineer's compartment door, but when moaning and thumping come from the other side of the door, passengers urge Officer Chin to keep it closed as the person on the other side might be infectious. He pries the door anyway. Inside, the driver is pale as death, covered in lesions and blood and all the rest. And edging towards them. A total zombie, right? The Reverend is screeching about his being a demon. The passengers are begging Chin to close the door again. Like any brave officer he...does so. When another shambler begins thumping on the back of the car from the outside, they all decide to vacate in the direction of the other two.

Meanwhile Doc and Josh are walking the tunnels. They arrive in the next station, only to be confronted by a crazed transit worker with a shotgun who wants to know if the pair are some of "them". He's almost mollified until he sees the bandage on the doctor's arm, at which point he begins to babble in a way that suggests someone's going to get shot. And someone does--the transit worker, in the foot--when Josh tries to wrestle the gun away from him.

Coming up the tunnel, the officer's group of train refugees is increasingly unsettled when even the emergency lights go out and in the dark, nearer and nearer at hand they hear moaning and thumping noises. When a roving flashlight shines in the face of another pale shambler, everyone scatters.

The doctor's attempts to help the injured gunman eventually earn them a story of the crazed shambling people, blank eyed and ill-willed, that caused the transit worker to seal off the station. For a brief instant, Josh gets service on his phone and sees info online of mass panic and illness above. When the doctor and Josh figure out how to open the gate and peek outside, they see violence in the distance, an ambulance speed by with hazmat-suited EMTs, and helicopters blaring messages demanding everyone stay indoors due to medical emergency.

Josh entirely sold on this being a zombie apocalypse by now. Doc Watts can only roll her eyes at him. Josh is determined to get to his "girlfriend" Abby's house, and wants to press on down the tunnel further, but the transit worker has crawled into the tunnel back the way they came. When they hear a noise in the dark, Josh levels the shotgun...as does Officer Chin, and the other two only just manage to keep Chin and Josh from blowing each other away.

Josh and the Reverend find common cause in proclaiming this an outbreak. Even Officer Chin is giving into the idea.

...

Eventually Chin and Doc Watts journey above ground. Chin is shot by a gangland thug, and Watts, in fleeing, runs into a neighborhood mob who identifies her as one of "them" before clubbing her.

Josh and the Reverend, in the tunnels, pressing on towards the station nearest Abby's home, run afoul of another trainload of passengers, and are killed by people suspiciously like the passengers on their own train, and by an officer much like Chin. At which point, the second group announces with relief that they killed the two zombies and that they need to keep moving.

_______________________


My first play of ZC. There was a lot about this game I really enjoyed. And I learned a couple of things, as well. I learned that in Storytelling games, Jamie plays an excellent cop. And that I seem to gravitate to playing the sort of character who will try to make a grab for your gun.
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 288
Oh what timing! I sent the What We Played message out a minute ago weeping that this game had no thread…
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 289
Chin is shot by a gangland thug, and Watts, in fleeing, runs into a neighborhood mob who identifies her as one of "them" before clubbing her.
Actually Doc Watts was shot by the posse. It was straight out of Night of the Living Dead, sans racist overtones. She was pale from exhaustion, filthy from crawling around in the tunnels, and covered in blood from tending the shot subway attendant. From a distance, under a streetlight, slumped with weariness, she would look a lot like a zombie. Who can blame them? It's a metaphor for the plight of the health care system!

We settled into the setting, but a scene in we decided on a hook: this would be a zombie movie, with no zombies. A post modern examination of the genre. It was tremendously fun, and I felt it was quite successful, but myself, I found it VERY hard and several times got myself bogged down in trying to tie the logistics of the escalation, adjusted for the absence of any causes for escalation into every action, which was the wrong tack.
Playing sans zombies was definitely bonus-level difficulty. You can't fall back on the "and then he gets eaten by zombies". Instead we had to come up with believable situations where there were no zombies but it could plausibly look like people would think there were. Definitely a lot harder but I think everyone did great at walking that tightrope.

I learned that in Storytelling games, Jamie plays an excellent cop. And that I seem to gravitate to playing the sort of character who will try to make a grab for your gun.
True and true! Always grab the gun. Always destabilize the situation ;)
A former member
Post #: 2
I'm glad to see the summary. When I heard the table next to ours describing a "hobo with a shotgun", I became really curious about what was happening in your game.
Erik H.
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 8
Ah, shot, right. So many crazed mobs, they all start to run together.

Remind me, Ben or anyone, the name of our fourth player, the Right Reverend Harold Smith? I got all the name tags but one, it seems.
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 290
I'll wait and see if Anders chimes in first… oh wait, what a giveaway! biggrin
Erik H.
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 9
Ah thank you. And thank Anders for being there tonight so I made a mental note to remember this time. ;)

I'll edit the original post and put that in.
Anders
user 8278228
Seattle, WA
Post #: 3
Thanks for the excellent write-up, Eric. I feel an interesting tension between the roleplaying & logistical aspects of these games, & the extra difficulty making zombie scenarios work w/o any zombies sort of put that into sharper relief. A stumped at times, but a lot of fun.
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