Dead... and Back is a survival horror Role Playing Game. The Anarchy Zones is its official setting - aliens, reanimates, and the ruins of 2055 America.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Building a Zone Adventure

"The important things are always simple; the simple are always hard. " - Murphy's Laws of Combat

Most people do not plan to go on an adventure. They have a a goal in mind, a plan to achieve it and seek to minimize their exposure to the dangers of the zone. Yet life seems to seek excitement, and things get complicated quickly.

Its OK to have an occasional milk run - perhaps even recommended. First of all, the players gain a sense of achievement to overcome difficulties easily. Secondly, it can lull them into complacency, making the transition to a problematic state all the better.

There are quite a number of degrees when it comes to setbacks. Simple ones might be the item in question not being in the expected place, requiring extra exploration, or greater than expected reanimate presence. Greater complication comes if someone has gotten there first and laid claim to the goods, or is simply using the place as a base of operations.

Having more than one possible adventure ready may prove prudent. There are some people who try to remain on task and won't bite.

Sample Prompts
  • Along the road players find the remains of a convoy torn apart by vicious attack. A lone survivor asks for help in either recovering important goods,or missing members of the group.
  • Someone flags down the group to ask for assistance. An alien task force has asked them to evacuate their current living area. Its up to the players to assist the move, find a new place, negotiate with the aliens, or organize a defense.
  • Reanimates ambush them, but an alien power armor assists in removing the threat. However, it asks that they repay the assistance somehow. Such as asking a small settlement to move out of a PC claimed area, or finding a missing PC scout.
  • The players find a wrecked military truck is found at the side of the road, with two safes. One is bolted to the floor and has dimensions of approximately four meters long and 50 centimeters wide marked B61-mod 19 and has at least two locks. The other is roughly wide enough to hold a beach ball (1.3 meters square) and is marked with a radiation hazard symbol and the term "Physics Package".
  • A storm delays their travels, forcing them to make temporary shelter. Unfortunately, the most convenient site is already occupied by either type three reanimates or a few survivalist style raiders who are going to hit an run the group all night.
  • Someone is trying to track down and arrest the players. This may be a case of mistaken identity, or they could have a legitimate grievance.

Disruptive Player Characters
There are some who are going to refuse to help, or even actively derail adventure prompts. Many people are tempted to take advantage of the broken social order to play sociopaths who can get away with what they want. Indeed, the major problem I had during one play test was a PC inditing on shooting the old man who tried to peacefully talk with the group. (They then stole his truck and tried to break into an occupied NEST arco when the guards didn't want them entering at 2 am...)

Antagonistic gaming should not be the first resort. Instead, a reasoned approach should be started - explaining why such a character does not fit well in the game, or why it is less fun for the group.

However, if this continues to be a problem, you should make it clear that the character could receive retribution. Many people in the zones have taken to the habit of "Sousveillance" -carrying personal visual recording devices at all times to let them record important locations, odd behaviors, and crimes in progress due to the lack of other government intervention. Anti-social behavior will eventually be learned about, and in turn people will be less willing to trade, or assassins might be after them.

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