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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dr. Anita Jurez, Day 27, Observations on WD-3-900-A

Day 27

Subject: Staff Sargent Michael M. Major
Catalog Number: WD-3-900-A-656487
Classification: Whiskey Delta, Subclass Alpha
Date of Birth: 10/31/2015
Date of Death: Mid 2050, Actual Date Unknown, approx. between 7/14/2050 and 8/1/250 (Records lost)
Sample Collection Date: 11/12/2050
Recovery Point: Chicago IL, near Devon Avenue

Collected quite intact, despite rumors of sever mutilation seen in victims. Recovery was difficult due to heavy presence of other. [Whiskey Deltas]  Dirty and unkempt, but still mobile. Typical of victims from early part of event, when reaction to calls required quick reaction.

Personal Observations: [Time Stamp: 19:37]
It might not be professional of me to record this so casually. But I can't keep this clinical atmosphere going. I think the others who listen to this might take comfort that actual human beings were here, and not just automatons divorced from what is happening.

My god, what is happening. I've had two days to memorize a bookkeeping system for tracking -Whiskey Deltas. Reanimated Things - people. W.D. code for responder status: One civilian, Two police or EMS, Three National Guard, Four Regular military: a three digit code indicating how intact the specimen is - pristine being about 950, and a sub-class. Rumor has it, there may be different types of these...

Uh, no. No. You're more professional than this. Don't just repeat what they already know... aw chis- turn off the recorder when you talk to yourself...

[Time Stamp: 19:45]
Again. Staff Sargent Michael is a typical example of Guardsmen responders. Unaware of the true nature of the threat,and most regular military deployed elsewhere, much of the recovery effort is carried out by reservists. Unfortunately, for the time being, expedience of deployment and movement provided them with only limited armor, and many that were issued chose to forgo it due to weight and lack of weapon carrying adversaries.

Its just like our predictions for any other outbreak, or NBC scenario. Expediency and the rush to save people quickly clash with best practice, placing unreasonably large tolls on first responders...

According to reports, SSG Major went down heroically, acting as rearguard as civilians were evacuated from a housing block in Chicago...

It seems everyone dies heroically these days, just to keep spirits up. Not a one by blind chance, or overwhelming numbers...

Reports say he was beaten and dragged down by between five and eight humanoid assailants in a hallway intersection. Once on the ground, several bites were inflicted. Signs of sever blunt force trauma are present on the head, ribs, and left arm. However, these are mostly healed and revealed through regrowth patches. Skull shows severe yet healed fracturing - despite standard issue Kevlar helmet. Light scaring does reveal biting.

WD-3-900-A-656487 was recovered some ten kilometers from the last point SSG Major was seen, further into the urban areas of the city, by a special action group assigned by the CDC to collect samples for analysis.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Across the Pond

Yeah, I suppose you hear about the American G-zones the most. With the US have an astounding number of guns per-capita, and Mexico in the middle of a damn near civil war - you'd expect the population to be up in arms and able to resit everything from aliens to reanimates. You think tiny place, uncoordinated response, zero survivors,' cept for those thrice damned Soviet Vikings.

Well, I wouldn't approach most of the major cities of continental Europe, nor the radioactive craters of major cities in the British Isles. Look to the outskirts, the countryside - hell, even the castles - they make a damn fine fortress against the 'mates and the 'imps - and you'll find quite a bit more population than expected.

Shrimp knew to attack military bases first. But they had no idea how many bunkers there truly were scattered across Europe, many dating back to the cold war days. Weapons aren't so hard to come-by now, but trained soldiers, like chickens teeth. So valuable, that free companies can demand almost anything - a return to the reign of the mercenary army, like the pre-gunpowder and model army days. 

They aren't all cut throats, indeed, many are quite deserving of our respect. European armies were generally kept closer to home than US ones, so they put up quite the fight when then aliens landed. Fighting stopped as much because both sides ran out of fuel. Yes, you heard that correctly, even the aliens. Hasn't it occurred to you that they could have done a lot more with those spaceships in the last few years than just leave them parked near the moon? We might have blown up fiver or eight of them, but there are still around fifty.

Well, the up shot is, the aliens aren't too aggressive. Heck, there is at least one free-company of aliens doing much the same work as the other mercs to try and get on the human's good side. They don't seem to be too keen about attacking other aliens, but I've heard rumors they will for the right price. Otherwise, they stay hidden behind their big lotus laser towers.

As to the 'mates - they're all accounted for, we've got the same types as everywhere else. Well, I don't buy the stories about type fours and fives. Ants have Castes and directives but no general commanding it all, just instinct and pheromones. Why would these things need them either - any single one of them is smarter than an ant. Most of the time. Type five super soldiers? Probably just rumors spread by the free companies to either make themselves legendary, or feel needed. The Human body can only do so much and a few pin-head sized robots aren't going to change that. Most of the people I've met with cybernetics are less strong than they used to be - so yeah.

We're trying to get our act together. With less space to work with, we might get the links before the USA does. But there are still squabbles, and people who want the new Europe to be their Europe. Even I think we need less co-operation and more some new Napoleon to take the continent by storm. Just don't let it be that damned Gorgon, or Greegon, or Grigori - who ever that bastard in command of the KCA is. I've got this horrid feeling it might be. Russia probably had more of those bunkers the aliens overlooks than anyone else. You know them, got planes hidden under the Siberian permafrost in case Hitler ever returns from the grave and tries to re-stage operation Barbarossa. Who knows? We've seen enough other dead people walking...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Minor Anoyances and a Major Hazard in the Zone

Most injuries accounted for in the Dead and Back combat system are ones that (usually literally) take a chunk out of someone - enough to impair their ability to keep running. However, not all injuries in life are those that will permanently cripple a person. Fortunately, only a very few do that.

One of the easier ways to model relatively minor injury, is to apply the same impairment as when low on fatigue or lucidity - die rolls use only six as the target number. At the Game Master's discretion, this is further limited to only problems where the pain might come into issue. A hurt hand doesn't impair thinking, an injured leg has little to do with aim and sense of direction.

Standard Nano Vaccine does not protect against chemical hazards. A specialized form of the stuff can remove toxins, but can't actually prevent them from acting. For one, it can't act fast enough (generally the micro robots need an outside way of identifying the toxin) and often blocking a chemical entirely is problematic, since a great deal of poisons are analogs for internal chemistry. Blocking a neurotoxin, for example, would probably end up with the nano affecting the hormones that are supposed to be acting on the receptors as well. Internal surgeons do at least mitigate the damage and speed up recovery.

 As with minor injuries, many chemical effects can be modeled by either role-play or assigning higher difficulties to tasks.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

PC Education

Hobbes did not keep to a daily exercise regimen as well as Diego, and it showed. Hauling lumber and loads of tools to repair the wall and roof damaged in the recent storm had left him panting and a bright shade of red. Setting down his hammer for a moment, he crawled to the buildings edge, and looked down on the Sing-Sing. She was bare phased by the work, but then again, she also had a robotic encounter suit to make the labor almost a non issue.

"Sing Sing, what can you tell me about the Citizen educational system?"
The Ekaide's head shifted upwards in a surprisingly life like gesture to face the human. "Its good. Taught me everything I know."
   "Well, it just seems that you answer a lot of questions with 'I don't know" or I am unaware" If it is something you don't want to talk about, you can just say so. This dodging makes you seem kind of - ignorant."
   "Mr, Hobbes, I - I guess I am strange in that I want to know these answers as well as you do. Most are quite happy with... can I say that in English - Every citizen has a history, but not every history has citizens.
   "Very Zen."
   "What?" The robot made the usual alien shrug.
   "Wait - why does the robot do that when you're confused?"
   "Its set to follow my motions for fine work. Its an upper and lower arm thing - how do you manage with just two arms?"
"Never mind, please - continue."
   "To explain - there is no all encompassing history of Planetary Citizens. Everyone learns to read, write, manipulate numbers, pray. Most other subjects are taught by the family or guild as necessary. What happened on other islands doesn't come up, unless you were somehow involved, and then it tends to be somewhat partial. Family history might say there was a battle at such a place and time, and use art description for what happened, but not what tactics or weapons. Mercenary guild members will learn a battle happened between force one and two on such terrain with certain tactics and weapons, but will mention no names. Knowing the full truth means being both a family involved and a mercenary and personal reflection to put it together."
   "So I'm guessing you can't tell me much about this guild?"
   "It is more protection of travelers than hired soldiers."
   "Knights Templar - sorry, another human term you wouldn't know. But we have had similar organizations in the past. Perhaps we need some now."
   "Is there some reason for all this division? Historically, or well - didn't you say in the past that the colonization project was to get over these differences?"
   "All worship planet. More territory controlled, closer to the great energies that fuel us all... To conquer all would be to become the singular voice of the divine. Aside from that - more land is more wealth, food, and fame. A lot of places at home, families had to work just to make dirt, much less a happy life."
   "So even space ships can't overcome hundreds of years of religious and territorial warfare and family loyalties?"
   "It would seem so Mr. Hobbes. You aren't exactly unified by abominations and aliens are you?"
   "Point and match - Sing Sing."
"Hey you two - we have a radio station to fix!" Diego shouted.
"Coming" Hobbes replied.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Citizen Contacts

It me, KC again. Been a while - huh? Well, that is just what I do - I'm an adventure, a lone wanderer, explorer or the Terra nova. You can expect me to be out of contact occasionally - most of the time even.

Where specifically have I been recently? Well, the area North of Lone Star and South of Vegas for one, even made it to near the California border. I really miss that place, but so far, there isn't a safe way through. Most places, the Citizens are in just a big of a hole as the rest of us, squabbling over resources and the proper way to move forward. They have their S--t together, and they don't like us. Shoot on sight, search and destroy don't like. Hate us as much as they hate the guys on the other side of the Rockies.

Yep, I've actually seen shots fired in a Planetary Citizen civil war.

I'm trying to be optimistic about this. Not in the "hopefully they'll kill all of themselves for us" way either. A number of them are decent people, I've stayed with a few on occasion, and traveled with them on others.

For my survival guide, it comes down to a basic rule. Let the Citizens come to you. The kill everybody types aren't going to signal, and only rarely communicate - they don't care. Ones on the fence or outright friendly will if they've got something to say. Watch their right hand. If they make a peace sign - thumb to opposite finger, middle fingers in a V and wave it back and forth, that is a gesture of greeting. Waving a fist back and forth go away. Its just like how humans wave to each other for attention.

Now, once you do make contact, the question is what to do. The two big recommendations would be to ask for escort through their territory, and permission to salvage structures. Pretty often, the answer will be no, but at least some of the time they'll agree. Travel becomes safer, and they're quite interested in learning about the remains of towns and factories near their settlements.

A payment is likely to be requested. Don't sweat it. Citizens have their own tech and supply needs, so they're not going to ask for your most valuable stuff. They're too small to drive your vehicle or use a human rifle very well - so unlike humans, they won't be constantly trying to get those. Raw materials, snack foods, up-to-date information some help dealing with a raider or reanimate problem, translation work.

Despite the seemingly fantastic nature of working hand in hand - in hand - with our four armed friends, its not going to make you rich. Aside from the perks you ask for, they're not about to offer much. You could get some food if you really want it, but you do realize they're insectivores - right? Won't kill ya, but I'm sure a lot of toxic things taste better anyway. Weapons - well a decent knife or hatchet is possible - steel is steel regardless of the blacksmith, and those gyro-jet guns they've got - well, what is the point considering how hard it is to get ammo?

Nor is cooperation going to give you a lot of information. You can't really ask about what the Citizens are up to or about the more violent groups. Imagine trying to ask a person who only speaks Chinese to describe the command procedures of a lunar colony - most of the language is different, and many don't really know anyway. Actually, I'm kind of suspicious - I think they're feigning ignorance or playing up unfamiliarity with terms to get out of answering questions. Its a bit hard to tell what the overall agenda is.

On the other hand, how much can you trust the agenda of most Humans? I know its kind of a catch-22 but as I said, stay optimistic. If you just try to shoot first and presume everyone is out to get you, doors are going to be closed, then karma is going to come around, and people are going to see the worst in you. Try to be good, you might be swindled now and then, but you'll also make friends that will help you through those rough times. Some of them might even be from another planet.

Catch you later.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

City Immune Response (Part Two)

"Last time, we got a bit off topic and reflected more on the troubles police used to face. Shall we try again?"
   "You agreed to let me stay the night, its the least I could do. Speaking of, I thought I heard something large outside - do you have any of those alien machines around here?"
   "Nothing Diego or I could take apart, no... Do aliens complicate matters of law enforcement?"
   "Well, I'm not sure how to arrest them, or if handcuffs would fit on their - they do have wrists - right?"
   "Four of them as I recall."
   "Weird. Well, the fact that there are aliens that can cause trouble for a community, its trouble for those that keep that community safe. I am quite fortunate that that the town I'm from has a separate military and police force, so those demon machines aren't my problem, but I know a lot of places don't have that luxury. When it comes to internal affairs, its a hard job.
   As I mentioned yesterday, national police forces were big enough that you had back up pretty much wherever you were. You could also specialize- you had forensic scientist who pretty much never left the lab despite what TV might have you believe, and specialized armed response teams, which didn't necessarily overlap with community officers who talked down domestic altercations. Now, its all a matter of wits. You need to collect clues, talk to people, and deal with threats all on your own. It is entirely up to me to decide if the threat of force is going to make the suspect back down, or escalate the situation. That was not part of my original forensics specialty."
   "So what would you say to prospective police officers in the age of reanimates? Any advice for the job?"
   "First of all, what is in your head is generally more important than what is in your hand. That above all else really. The other things, is what our internal memos used to call the Community Immunity Plan, or C.I.P. We always found it kind of stupid since it was a big outside consultant thing that amounted to the common sense - 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'. It did go a bit farther, but it was basically look at the community as a living organism, gaian new age [bleep] What was that?"
  Diego flipped on his mike  "Don't swear on the air. Its against regulations and unbecoming of an officer"
  "You're more rule bound than I am."
  "We're not going to rebuild society if every follows different rules or lives by breaking them"
  "An interesting debate Mr. Diego, we did invite Sargent Mulchaty for his views, not ours. Sorry sir, if you will please continue?"
   "He does have a point Mr. Hobbes, but I do have mine. The big thing is measured response. be nice and treat people as blisters to be smoothed over, not organs to be amputated. No, that is a little too much. Try to be present, and find sources of irritation to the community first. Not everything calls for force, its a rash before its a tumor ectera. Start with the big force, and you'll come to rely on it.
   You know, the weirdest thing is - you could learn a lot from the reanimates in this field."
   "Really?! How so?"
   "There are some dangerous places that are always crawling with the things. Military bases most often, but sometimes they just love a particular gas station, school or house. However, anywhere else, its more of a time thing. I've got a friend who swears if you never stay in one place longer than three days, you'll see nothing other than type ones and alphas. Its probably not that exact, and more location based, but there is truth. The longer someone is in a city, the more of them that come out of the wood work, and the more vicious and varied they get. Maybe they hibernate until people show up and set up camp. I don't know."
   "Thank you again for appearing on the show, but it seems we're running short on time."
   "If I might ask - why do you sign off like that so often? You're not competing against other stations, and for all intensive purposes, you could talk as long as you want."
   "Its the same reason we bleeped you earlier. We're really not located to give people up to the moment warnings about alien or reanimate sightings, most of the time we don't have other human experts around to teach people. So instead we try to provide a calm atmosphere and a sense of normalcy by sticking to a set schedule. Maintenance and battery life play a role as well. Frankly, there are some local stations that have their own agenda, and we try to be the professional CBS or BBC above the propaganda and local shock jocks.
  Coming up: the seven o'clock classic hour and the local weather before the eight pm sign-off. Live from the Dead Air, this is Thomas Hobbes on 104.3."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

City Immune Response (Part One)

"...and we're back! As advertised, we're sitting down for a chat with one of Denver Colorado's finest - Police Sargent Michael Mulchaty. Welcome to 104.3 sir."
   "Thank you Mr. Hobbes."
   "So how has life as a law officer changed with The Event?"
   "Where to begin. It... its at once easier and harder. You don't have the same types of crime, nor the paperwork, and certainly not the same legal system. The is a lot more hands on, and man handling going on. Er - I apprehend people, and often do the punishing - weather its exile, jail, or oversee the chain-gang. I'm not coordinating with private security firms, or passing off investigation to the detectives."
   "Do you appreciate the change? I know a lot of the police forces were going thrugh some rough times."
   "I assure you that everything you herd about police strikes and pay cuts and shady dealings are nothing more than vicious ugly and completely true lies. Panopticon surveillance was a touchy issue, as was the use of drones, and if it could be justified to equip riot police with powered armor. Working with corporate security and arcology internal affairs could be a burden, as was the influx of immigrants from around the world due to climate shift, storms, you name it. Pandemic lock-down - don't get me started on the patient zero laws. It was a good day when all I had to worry about was kids using the sphere to avoid pursing cops with hidden notes and real time access to cameras. I turned down so many chances at a better paycheck just to avoid dealing with the more cyberpunk elements of society."
   "You're not the first to reference that literary genre when reminiscing."
   "I guess it kind of dates me to bring up slogans like 'information is a weapon' but it was getting kind of scary. The right radio frequencies and encryption would let you use military drones, the proper CAD blueprint would let you turn dishwasher mirco-factory into an arms producer, and the push for smart buildings on their own power supplies meant you could run independent hideouts in the middle of nowhere unseen and unknown. We certinaly weren't trying to have an underclass, but well world events kind of forced one and that is where you recruit your desperate or see crime families emerge for projection. Er - protection."
   "Both really."
   "Good point. Anyway - things were fast, information was wanted, supplies were wanted, people were concentrated and looking for escape. Actually, they still want it, and a lot of places are more casual about drug use now than I'm used to. I guess that is the worst part. No matter how bad things ever got before. I was part of a fraternity of like minded individuals, and a brother to all cops from the rent a guard at the mall to the top FBI admin seeking to keep people safe, and slow as they might be, the gears of justice ground towards unavoidable justice. No, wait, thats not how that goes... you get the point. Now police are really alone - no BATF for extra resources or state patrol to catch the runner on the highway. Its scary a lot of the time."
   "So why do you keep up as a police officer? Without the uniform, you look the same as anyone else."
   "Honestly - because the blue shirt is right there hanging in my closet. I knew some who would say its in their blood, or they have the oath to be the thin blue line between order and chaos. Yes, I also met a few, more than a few really, who would do it just for the authority or to get perks and bribes from the city states. But right now, its just a habit. Putting on pants one leg at a time and buckling the belt each morning is just proof that the world hasn't come to an end. Despite aliens and reanimates - the sun rises, birds sing, and I put on the badge."
   "You sell yourself short. I, and I sure the listeners, would love to hear more from you."