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, December 27, 2012

Dead of Winter Edition Released!

I tried to get a new version done for February, to mark a year since the supposedly temporary "FFS edition" was released. I tried for may for my birthday, 200th post, the 250th post, Halloween... Still nothing.

Well screw it, I'm not going to say I couldn't release a version until 2013 or 2014. It might be the eleventh hour and not quite a milestone post (295 published if you're counting, so 300 is next month...) but here you go - a rough draft of the Fourth Version of the rules.

Dead of Winter, Release Candidate One

It is a lot rougher than I'd like for a release.I fully admit there are blank entries in some charts, tons of optional rules since I haven't gotten enough feedback to settle a few things, a few old examples haven't been altered, and setting information is limited. (That should be a whole other book though...)

What is present?
  • The Character Creation chapter has been reordered, and is hopefully a bit more intuitive.
  • Updated rules for vehicles
  • More of the scarcity system for tracking resources
  • Combat now behaves like everything else - the top two numbers on the die, not just one 
  • Some incomplete random tables for creatures
  • More information about handing out Altruism Points
  • A new character sheet and reference sheet 
  • Changes to the initiative system - its now once per combat, though deadening can be spent to alter the order temporarily.
  • At least some setting information for both Unit 2552 and Anarchy Zones, and a very basic introduction to the Oroborus project.
Generally speaking - this new document is slightly over 80 pages long, the last release was about 50, and the very first edition of the game was only 20. Yet I am still not done. So many stories, so many little errors, such a need to run a con game for feedback. How many more drafts until this is sitting on the shelves at your local book store I don't know, but I hope its not more than two or three.

Thanks for reading, thanks for playing, and aim for the head. 
You OK? You Okay? Damn It! You're worse off than I thought. Well, so sorry to find you're the first one to learn the Zone has gotten a lot more deadly. I'm trying to get some vehicles together, move a bit out, but things are getting more scarce and the creatures have some new abilities of their own. Oh Well. Get out the word. Its time to revise your survival plans.
Oh, um - nothing personal, my friend but you know - got to remove the head, or else they come back.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Links from the End of the World

The Apocalypse was not very friendly to server farms. EMP burned some out, the disruption of the power grind turned most off. A few were even accidentally targeted by alien strike teams - anything drawing that much power and requiring that many heat exchangers must be a weapon of some type - right? Cell towers got knocked down in the fighting, satellites were vaporized, and the whole looting and fighting in the cites broke a lot of the remaining land lines.

For a society addicted to bandwidth, this was almost as bad as the reanimates.The SPHERE system was augmented reality, the internet was notes and warnings superimposed over every object, not pages accessed at a terminal. To be reduced to 1980s text at best is very disorientating to many, though its hard to tell if this has had any big effect on psychology. Funny thing - insane people tend to get eaten by reanimates. Go figure.

There have been attempts to set up cellular towers and begin establishing networks. However, with no satellite relays its a local system at best, highly dependent on line of sight. Cables would be nice - but who is manufacturing spun glass fiber-optics when the dead are beating down their doors?

Shortwave radios and physical couriers have proven to be the most reliable means of sending messages, though a few have yielded response from pigeon carriers. Drones will work in some areas, but the citizens are very aggressive in removing any craft even near their territories. With rather good reason they are wary of humans coordinating attacks on their settlements, and are quite aware of how effective human anti-tank missiles and guided bombs are against their far lighter built units.

In theory, the Citizens do have the capacity to communicate long distances, using their remaining ships as relays. It is very rare for them to take advantage of this fact. Some have speculated that the settlements do not want to talk to each other, and there is a lack of cohesion in the alien ranks. Others believe that most of the Citizens' resources were expended during The Event, and there is precious little equipment left to back a global response even if they wanted to. Rumor has it that people who sufficiently ingrate themselves with the PCs can even get messages sent via their networks. Whether this consists of simply being polite to the guests or actively selling out the human race is up for debate, of course.


Speaking of net connections - Stand by for Thursday's Post.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Commander Titov

One thing to make clear: F--- Communism. Yes, we're a bunch of autocrats in Russia, and yes we use a lot of symbols from the old Stalinist State. But we're not here to make everyone equal, or bring about a world revolution. Most of us anyway. There are some with delusions of grandeur and access to strategic weapons systems - but I doubt anything is going to come of it.

Imagery of the second world war (Thought I was going to call it the "Great Patriotic War?) is good for keeping up the spirits and though Unfortunate Stalin was in charge at the time. The USSR was a real empire which is a source of pride, never mind ninety nine percent of the people around here were born decades after it disintegrated.

In the end though, there is no idealism here. We're just a bunch of soldiers on the Kola peninsula and some wayward civilians who think if they're not safe on a military base, they're not safe anywhere. Great place for it - its an arctic wasteland with the two largest populations centers being Reindeer breeding grounds and nuclear power plants since nobody is around to complain about them.

Well, it has warmed up and melted a lot in the past forty years, so we can at least consider farming or taking shortcuts to Canada - not that there is much reason to do so. Various hydrocarbon deposits and mines have opened up too. Civilization started in the fertile river valleys, and its going to restart in the former wastelands of Siberia and the Baltic. Irony? Nah. Never was much of one for story books.

Resources, retainers, military personnel, and a whole bunch of naval assets. Very few aliens and reanimates though, I don't think they like the cold. Not none - but few. If it weren't for the other forces of Europe trying to wipe us out, or the armed bands who keep trying to break in seeking treasure and fame, we might be on to something.

They can call us vikings all that they want. Simple truth - we have the facilities to make use of those materials, the force to take them, and not much other recourse. We'll take on whatever navys remain, and emerge triumphant. We'll rule the seas or roll through the Fulda Gap. No human, alien, or other is going to keep us bottled up for long.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Once Again, as a Round

I used to love chain songs, I'd sing them all the time to my children. And now I can't. I've got no more children, and they all hit too close to home.

I was just an HVAC - Heating, Venting, and Cooling - technician. what was I going to do about the dead rising, and looters, and aliens? I couldn't even get home until well, weeks later. The NEST went into quarantine mode pretty quickly - just apparently not before the reanimation bug got inside.

This is the cat that killed the rat...

I've had my time to come to terms with that. I think. The death of the rest of the world, I don't know. Its all the little things, but surely they are there, and like the songs, its just so simple, yet it goes.

What is a refrigerator? Take it from an expert - its a magic little box. You'd think woman's liberation and feminism is just from changing views of human nature - and don't get me wrong - self motivation was and is a big part of feminism. But the ice box played a large role in making it possible. No longer did time have to be spent every day going to the market for fresh items - shop once a week and store it at home. Nor did a meat dish require raising the animal yourself - go to a butcher and chill it. The ice packs of "Dr, Mom" and popsicles to keep everyone happy. Insulin for the diabetic - also needed proper storage.

Electric lighting and the oven with temperature thermocouples did much the same thing - grant more free time, more time to study, better oneself, or be productive outside the home.

When the compressors don't run, and the tubing gets moist holes can form, refrigerant gets out, cooling fins corrode... the whole system needs to be replaced.

Meat packing, microchips, spaceflight, medicine production, electrostatic paint, server farms, sugar mills - all these things require temperature control to keep the products fresh, or ensure proper application - even outright prevent dust explosions in some of these cases.

Any chance of getting society back together relies on a supply of C-860 and electric pumps, neither of which are being produced anymore.

We're done for. Its all lost, and we're back to subsistence farming, and pre-colonial days. Can't even say its the Wild West - at least then you had trains and could travel without your brains getting eaten. Worse than the dark ages really, and we know so well what we're losing.

Maybe we'll still have books. Or are we going to go back to parchment? Really, who has a printing press and a way to get them to those who can read? Who has time to read, or a good atmosphere to relax in? Can you even save left-overs? If you want meat, you got to catch the goat yourself.

one little goat, that my father bought for two zizm...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Traveling the Zone

You have to take a holistic approach to the zone, treat it as a living thing. Kind of like a bear - you don't mess with it, or poke around in its territory, and it won't give you over much grief.

Traveling about with a convoy, collecting every convenience and treasure to be had, will make you a target for bandits. Going along with just a hatchet and your wits - what can they steal - where's the profit? Never mind getting all that stuff probably involved stepping on some toes. The rival recovery team? The village you nearly bankrupted for payment? Maybe some military guys who don't want you picking over their old vehicles and the bones of their comrades?

Don't forget about the reanimates. The more you poke about in urban areas, the more of them you see. Now I can't confirm this, but I just have this strangest feeling that they can remember you. Reanimates know the trouble makers from the good boys. Dumb as any type one is, we've seen them show group intelligence before. They attack in mixed groups with threes commanding attention so Betas can get close, type ones trigger the mine field so that others can get through, even if that trap stops the whole bunch, somehow the creatures know to use a different approach next time. And damn, for creatures that can't speak, they certainly know how to organize a group.

I suppose you're going to wait for me to say "the journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step" and go on about the preparations you need for any sort of travel. Well screw that, its all a bunch of BS. The more you try to prepare, and the more stuff you pack, the more fuel it takes to move it, the more spares you need to bring to ensure nothing gets left behind if the vehicle breaks down, the more batteries you need - run as fast as you can to stay in one place. As a hippy would say - "you don't own stuff, stuff owns you".

Well, that works for me anyway, though I am a live off the land explorer. Your results may vary, void where prohibited, and see box for further details.

What to expect then? Well remember - if its a hot tip - it isn't. Someone passed that information along, and most things are either known, or lost for a damn good reason. If no one has raided that factory, it may well be because a tailings pond burst its dams and the air is toxic. Otherwise, someone probably has been there already. Not that you won't find anything, but look less for treasure, and more for investment opportunities.

You may face bandits, the type you meet depends - the bold or the well armed take to the often traveled roads, in spite of caravan defenses, the more desperate hunt off the beaten path. Other adventures, possible, but more likely to find reanimates wandering aimlessly. The Citizens do occasionally explore new areas just for the knowledge, but more often than not, if you meet them, they have a mission.

Wild animals can be a problem and a big one. Those stories about tigers in Illinois? Not really stories. You have plenty of animals that got out of zoos either from their own ingenuity or keepers trying to be more merciful than leaving them to starve in their cages. They feed on the carcases of just about anything - especially those stupid toy breeds of dogs - and are used to humans. Kind of a bad trait in a 300 pound predator. Feral domestic dogs are also not afraid of humans either, so watch out for them too.

Don't get me wrong, its still a great place to travel, and most days you'll be alone with your thoughts and the concrete bones of the modern age. Its that one day in twenty where you run across a mutant walking corpse, an alien war-machine, opportunistic bandits, Southerners on a mission from god, and an emu that test your skills.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Next Edition Blues

Fourth Edition. Sounds so lofty. It took D&D a bit over thirty years to do that, for me somewhere between six and seven. Well, I'm sure they had a lot of drafts, and that is what most of my work counts as. Still, the incomplete document I'm revising at the moment surpasses seventy pages, and will likely be over one hundred when its done. The very first released version of this game was twenty pages long.

So what is taking so damn long?!

Well, Altruism Points are one sticking point, since I've thought of a lot of ways to use them, yet don't want to clutter up the game with too many alternate systems. I am also trying to refine the rate at which characters advance and what can increase

A lot of examples need to be rewritten - especially the two page story that serves for a combat example. Initiative has changed, as has what you roll to hit, the number of dice, types of necropoints, and I've recently written up the three characters involved as complete NPCs.

Hand to hand maneuvers have been added and I'm trying to strike a good balance between them. currently they cover things like pinning an enemy to reduce an opponent's SDI, grappling to reduce the target's DR, tripping them to alter initiative, slowing down their speed,and simply trowing the creature across the room to open up distance.

Scarcity has been expanded quite a bit, from just a way of tracking ammunition to possible fear rolls and tracking food.

Have I mentioned there are over 250 stories to edit and consider for inclusion?

Character creation has been reorganized, and more description is being added to most of the skills and special abilities.

GM advice, oh GM advice. When you can think of nothing else, tell the people play the game how to do so...

Vehicles have gotten some new rules, and needed examples since day one anyway. Weapon range and scale might be nice to include next to the new rules for tanks and such - but that might start breaking the simplicity of combat I want to keep.

Examples of towns, outposts, and a whole chapter of sample NPCs to help get the game going quickly once the players have waded thrugh the ever-growing (and hungry) document.

Revising some creature stats for the new rules to make them a bit more dangerous.

Expansion of the alternate settings to make them playable out of the box, rather than two pages of "you can also do this". 2552 is making good progress, Oberous is still pretty thin.

None of this is helped by the sense that I tend to see the entire effort at once, when I should be focusing on small chunks that can be finished in reasonable intervals.

Sorry if this isn't the most elegant post, but hopefully it gives some insight as to where all this will be going soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

LOST Sec Interview

You would think that sitting in a naval base with a group of fully equipped cruisers would be the safest place to be in this world. You would be right. And wrong. We're a target, from so many different sides, its hard to tell who is an enemy.

Missiles, we have a plenty. Spare parts - those too. Fuel. That is a problem. Ship oil consumption is measured by the ton. We've got the preservatives and reprocessing additives to prevent it from turning to sludge in the tanks - but there is no way to collect or process enough crops to replenish our supply. There are only so many sorties we can run before the ships will be useless. I won't say how many, of course. You claim to be from the government, and have the confirmation codes to back up, but with all due respect Mr. Mauser - information like that is probably well above your security clearance.

We've had our fights about what to do. Every idea has had its time in the limelight - from one last hurrah for the Navy taking nuclear warheads to any known alien infestation to taking them out to sea and opening all the valves to deny anyone the use of the vessels and claim we never surrendered. Sure, there has been some scuttlebutt about going pirate like the Soviet fleet - but it never had much traction. On the other hand, one of the captains had a popular idea that we travel to then end of our fuel, heading for the North Sea, then engage in the war we've planned for the last hundred years - fighting what remains of the Russian fleet and saving Europe from those raiders.

Poetic. But have we not responsibilities closer to home?

Of course there have been offers from New Birmingham crazies, and I won't lie, they have some sympathy in this fleet. Various factions in the Mexican nations have also made offers - they have less sympathy - but a hell of a lot more money, oil, women and booze than our local god squad if you catch my drift. Many of us have family at, or at least visit the LoneStar complex, so there is that reason to just stay put.

The only ones that haven't offered us an overture is the aliens themselves. At least I don't think they have - we see some of their vessels approach surprisingly often - we keep some smaller patrol craft out and about just in case they try to do something.

Otherwise, its just damn boring. This base was built for aircraft carriers, so we don't have anywhere near the over crowding of the boys in Vegas. We also don't have the blind loyalty of they do - Mister Mauser. You're not the only one who has claimed to be a representative of the USA, not even the only one with official looking code documents. There have been claimants to the throne from the North East, and down in Florida or Gitmo. We might be the US Navy, but we want to make sure it is the right US.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brian Gunderson

Brian is having a bad day. But it can't last forever. One of these days, he is going to wake up and it will all be over. All the cannibals and raiders will just be a bad dream. Soon it he will be secure in the fact that he did not waste the first fifty years of his life following every rule, crossing every T, saving every penny, and enforcing even the most esoteric statues of federal labor law. Certainly all the money he put in the bank hasn't just dissipated with a burst of electrons and a little war - right?

One of these days he is going to have a psychotic episode and jump off a building after realizing he is useless in this new world. Fortunately, he has some good friends, a couple of ex-wives to search for, and a briefcase full of  prescription medicine. 

Brian Bjorn Gunderson

  • Strength  4
  • Wits  4
  • Technique  6
  • Quick  6
  • Close Combat  2
  • Ranged Combat  2

  • Animus  12
  • Deadening  8
  • Lucidity  10
  • Pack  10
  • Up-Rise  10

  • Wood Working
  • Swimming
  • Location Perk: City Inspector


Brian is rail thin, but not all that tall. Even when he fails to shave for days at a time, he never has more than a shadow of a beard and a scruffy mustache.  Even in his suit, homeowners have mistaken him for the Mexican gardener - a pretty mean feat for someone with European parents who grew up in Wisconsin.

To his credit, Brian has kept his car running even after the EMP since he insisted on keeping it in underground climate controlled parking lots to preserve its resale vale. At some point he acquired a handgun, probably left behind by ex-wife number two (the one from Texas... or was it Arizona?). He also has suits, rubbing alcohol, air fresheners, tax forms, and a variety of other suburban nick-knacks

While we like to believe that anyone can survive a disaster with a bit of quick thinking and pre-planning, the fact is there are some that just would not be able to. Brian is one of these people, and frankly his continued survival seems as much about a cruel universe toying with him as any sort of saving grace. He is the definition of a put in his dues and always on time "Walter Mitty" type of person whose choices are never based on what is fun, or even what is optimal - but on what is the cheapest and and within the rules.

Brians numerous Ex-wives never said he was a hurtful or mean person - simply a joyless and neglectful one who preferred punctuality and scheduled over intimacy and experience. A boring miser fit to be the foil to fun loving children on a low budget afternoon cartoon show.

Recently all that has been undergoing a mild change. He is till a penny-pinching bore - but he does feel a initial need to make his life worthwhile and do something to improve the lives of others.

Use in a Game
Brian is in denial about the depth of the situation, and probably more afraid of the idea that he has wasted his life than of anything trying to eat him. On one hand, he can just be a drag on the group, and quickly eaten to show the group the GM is serious. Brian does have his uses, however. Finding medication for him can be a minor adventure hook, as can be his instance on finding his ex-wive or old co-workers to make sure they're still alive and OK.

In the end, he does care for other people, its just he feels that any displays of this should wait until after everything else has been taken care of and he's retired to Hawaii.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hobbes in the Morning

Apparently I got 342 hits on the blog in October, and 355 hits in November when I was writing nothing. Not a great sign. To those of you who aren't spam bots - thank you for your patience. Without further ado...

Good Morning Wasteland!

Another great day in what remains of the USA. The predicted temperature is really cold and snowy - but you're not stuck on a mountainside for radio wave line of sight, so enjoy your warmer day until winter catches up with you as well.

Something rots in Denmark! Shortwave reception says that the Kola Command Authority is on the march again, making some of its final raids before the Ports get too iced up! Everyone is happy that icebreaker got sunk which limits winter raids - but the missile boats want vengeance!

Several farms have changed hands during the month of hacienda wars south of the border, but we have no figures on casualties, and there seem to have been no great upsets in the balance of power.

The US government wishes to remind everyone that the postal service is vital to the reconstruction, and the penalty for raiding a mail convoy is summary execution. The reward for arrest or destruction of the raiders who have been interdicting caravans in the South East territories has been raised once again. It is now 200 liters biodiesel fuel, one four wheel drive light military transport, a generator, and five liters nano-vaccine.

Transmissions from a station in Altoona have gone silent. This is a great chance to play the hero and find out what happened.

Reanimate forecasts for the local area are low.

We have reports of heavy reanimate activity and type Lambda sightings around Ashland and advise caution to those in the area.
Remember, they hibernate and can come about without warning when you're desperately seeking shelter or food in the snowy months - so stockpile now and avoid the rush.

For those of you who missed the announcement last week at 15:00 we'll be starting a new program of music for citizens, lasting approximately an hour each day. We've tried to limit it to instrumental pieces to avoid unknowingly offending anyone, and from blowing out your speakers with naturally high pitched citizen speech. Still, you might want to watch the volume.

That concludes this mornings announcements. Now to be followed by classical "Beethoven with breakfast" music schedule and after that some medical tips courtesy of Paramedic Ms. Feral.

Be careful in the zone.

104.3 or similar radio stations can play a vital role in your Anarchy Zone games. Each broadcast might introduce plot hooks, warnings about areas to avoid, or simply show the progress of time and reveal background details. Being mentioned in the dispatches can be a special reward to the players for a job well done - an indication their characters are now (almost) famous. Getting together supplies to start their own station could be the focus of a long term game.

Furthermore, it can be a good ritual to get all the players ready for the session - sit down, play the teletype sounds, and read off the news to set the mood. Last session go poorly -reports of infighting, lost settlements, and reanimate attacks. Things going well? Share recipes or advertise products to show commerce is returning to the lands and trade routes reforming. Keep the practice up long enough, and one night an errie silence and lack of announcements can have a meaning all its own.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Aardvark's Absence

October should have been the key time for anyone writing a horror themed game. Yet I found myself tired and with writer's block - and missed an unheard of number of posts - I did better with pre-written entries while in India last year!

November is recognized by some as the "Naga Demon" - National Game Design Month" - a variation of national novel writing month. I would like to use this time as a sabbatical from D&B to work on some of my other projects, or finish a new one (its been a while since I wrote a 24 hour game for instance.) I also want to return to the point where I'm adding stories to D&B out of a sense of crating the world or because I have something fun to share, and not simply - oh no, its Tuesday again, and I have to write something for my invisible audience.

An actual need to publish is rearing its head. In part, I could use the income, and in part because this project has gone on long enough and really deserves a place on some shelves. Friends and family have pointed out that I have put a huge amount of effort into this, yet for the most part only get back the occasional comment.

Version 4 is going to be free, and I don't want to take that away, but presumably any feedback from that is going to be affect the commercial release.

Sorry about the lack of posts, I hope to have enough to make up for it when I start writing these stories again in December. Thanks for reading, and thank you for your support.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Experience of Experience Points

Experience points are not a reward, and should not be given out at the end of a role-playing session. A movie soundtrack is not a reward for watching nor does it come only at the end. Instead, the music is a major factor in how you enjoy each stage of the film. Proper music highlights emotions and sets the pace for scenes indicate of when characters are tense or relaxed.

Experience points can be seen as a soundtrack for your RPG - what you reward and how many you give out goes a long way towards shaping the world of your game.

In Dead and Back, there is a certain level of antagonism when it comes to the use of Advancement Points. They are a vital resource for healing and recovery of used mental stats of your character, or a means to increase the abilities of someone else. This choice gets even more difficult with the possibility of group and place AP are introduced into the mix. (further splitting the choice; heal, help the community, or strengthen your allies.)

Giving out a large number of points per session makes it possible to heal and spend on others, allowing for safety and quick advancement. Allotting only two or three points each night means fully healing could often be near impossible, much less saving up to purchase new stats for your friends.

Give out AP in the last quarter of the game, and then roleplay the choices of how to use them. Spending these points represents something going on in the world - people don't just "level up" after all. For example, the choice between improving mental stats and building the settlement is akin to hiding somewhere to read for a while, or pulling your weight digging the new canal. Does the character just sit and watch movies until the nightmares go away and their hands stop shaking - or do they get some bruises and help with their friend's jujitsu lessons? Not only can the players speak amongst themselves about how to spend the points earned each session - but they can play out the character's demands for how they should be spent or of act out the new training regimen.

Advancement Point costs are still being balanced, what ever the numbers are in the end, D&B isn't going to be a game of super characters. There will probably be a cap placed on just how much characters can improve most likely preventing more than an extra die or three being gained and maybe a few new skills. It is the players who will learn about interacting with the world, thus protecting their avatars better, rather than simple escalation of figures.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Charlie Hendrix

Charlie has no relation to the famous guitarist - he doesn't even care for that style, a smooth jazz aficionado. Though he would never mention such at work, there he is all business. Indeed, Sargent Hendrix is the kind of overly serious, straight laced police officer featured in 1960s procedural dramas like "Dragnet" and mocked as "the man" in later years.

Rather a surprise to his parents, who really were second generation hippies trying to keep the dream alive. What would shock them even more would be his well hidden violent streak unbecoming of either a flower child or the city's finest. If it can shoot, he has a distressingly close relationship to it and if danger is involved, so too is an unsettling joy.

Charlie "Moonbeam" Hendrix

  • Strength  4
  • Wits  3
  • Technique  3
  • Quick  3
  • Close Combat  4
  • Ranged Combat  5

  • Animus  9
  • Deadening  7
  • Lucidity  6
  • Pack  6
  • Up-Rise  7

  • Negotiation: Charlie is a Response team member, and knows how to defuse hostage situations.
  • Animal Handling: He cared for many animals on his parent's organic farm
  • Martial Arts (+1 DR for hand to hand): Charlie is a Response team member, and knows how to take people down when negotiations fail.

Charlie is the caricature of every police-officer - light blond hair, piercing eyes, perfectly straight tall stature. If he was a marine, he would be one of those sentinels at monuments - unmoving for hours until a perfectly timed ceremony changes the guard.

It is not unusual for a US police officer to carry a gun off-duty. To carry more than one, and occasionally talk to them when no one else is around, is a bit unusual. Two hidden gun cabinets, one in the hall closet, and another in a log cabin in the woods, each with multiple rifles and handguns would probably attract federal attention if he wasn't such an upstanding citizen, with notes about hsi good conduct in the official police registrar. All the guns are legal but when the undead rise, he will acquire fully-automatic arms from the police stocks and be reluctant to give them up for anything.

Spending so much on guns doesn't leave much money for anything else, and Charlie lives quite modestly and simply, even keeping the vegetarian ways of his parents. 


It is rare for him to speak, but when Charlie speaks, you listen. He is forceful, confident and usually only opens his mouth when there is something important.   Just don't get into an argument about firearms, police procedure, or farming - those are areas of expertise and he does not like being wrong about those. Few people would call him friendly, or forgiving, but can respect that he leads by example.

It is rare for Charlie to laugh, but when he laughs - be afraid. So far he hasn't let himself have too much fun with living targets - but with the undead, every bullet is a celebration. He often seems wilder than the raiders that have popped up as society fell.

Use in a Game

Raised on a farm, serving in the police, and dangerous in combat (and somewhat creepy when doing so) Charlie is a good support NPC that can protect new players or go down in a blaze of glory to show the PCs that the world is dangerous even for well trained SWAT officers. His slowly draining sanity can also be an unsettling note, his tendency to talk to firearms and flip between perfect cop and movie villain is a way to psychologically play with characters.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mr. Williams, School Bus Driver

Aside from his parent (long deceased) Mr. Williams has not a single person that uses his first name. Whether it is a matter of professionalism  in front of the children, or unfamiliarity with teachers, or low rank compared to principles - no one refers to him by something other than surname or "bus driver".

Overweight, quiet, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, he does not seem like one who would outlast the first few hours of an undead uprising. However he is a man of hidden depths and is capable of great bravery for the purpose of protecting children. Mr. Williams is an excellent chef, collecting dozens of cookbooks and even keeping a Dewar flask of liquid nitrogen on hand for fancy molecular gastronomy creations. His creativity extends to model building as well, from ships in a bottle to remote control jets at 1:20 scale. Quite often, he does better than the actual mechanics at diagnosing problems with the school bus' turbocharged diesel engines.


Mr. ---- Williams
  • Strength  3
  • Wits  3
  • Technique  7
  • Quick  3
  • Close Combat  4
  • Ranged Combat  2

  • Animus  8
  • Deadening  6
  • Lucidity  6
  • Pack  10
  • Up-Rise  10
    • Repair: From tiny model engines to a school bus
    • Wood Working: His tall ships are not plastic kits
    • Cooking: If Julia Child has cooked it, so has Mr. Williams.
    • Driving: Certified driver with an impeccable record over twenty years


    Ralph Kramden of "The Honeymooners" would be a good start, though Mr. Williams is older, fatter, balder, and wears rather dated wire rim glasses. Even in his own life, he seems to be just a walk on extra of a generic older man in the background. Most people are so used to seeing him from a short time twice a day - and in a dark uniform hunched over a steering wheel at that - they wouldn't recognize him off duty in khakis and a red sweater. Often he seems like a low budget and elderly version of the human characters from "Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood".

    Mr. Williams would never handle a gun, and would strongly oppose allowing a child to be near one. On the other hand, he is quite adept at handling all sorts of sharp objects from hobby knives to meat saws for parting out cow halves ("You see sir, the meat is better and cheaper if you get it from the farm, and you need freshness for carpachio...") and chainsaws for ice sculptures. His garage is full of tools, electrical equipment for scale railroads, jet fuel, a Dewar flask of liquid nitrogen, a wood burning stove, and old "popular mechanics magazines". His aging car sits under a canvas fly on the driveway. (Likely a Buick of some description.)

    Mr. Williams will preface almost every statement with an apology - as if each time he speaks he is interrupting or acting out of place. Everyone is a sir or madam, maybe a Mister or Misses if the situation is very informal. Much of the time he doesn't even bother speaking to adults. To children he is more of a stern but soft-spoken authority figure. For everyone else, he is at best wallflower.

    As unassuming as Mr. Williams is, he takes his responsibility to keep children safe extremely seriously.

    Use in a Game
    Mr. Williams can provide valuable transportation, and possibly maintenance if coaxed. His house could make for a rather interesting base for those of the "McGuyver" persuasion. Although unlikely to add much to a debate or plan, he is nearly guaranteed to follow it to the letter - with one exception. He will not harm children, and would rather wrestle an abomination the the ground with his bare hands than allow it to harm a child. Its likely that a player's first encounter with him is a valiant attempt to use the bus to evacuate children or otherwise move them to a new home.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Alice Ferral

    Alice has the generic good looks of a hopeful model waiting tables in LA. She would rather be a boyscout than an actress, however, and prefers X-rays to glamor shots. Although many of her professors lauded her perception and efficiency - the grind of emergency calls in bad neighborhoods at strange hours rapidly wore away her good demeanor and professionalism. The Undead rising was almost a change of pace, and at the very least - a new challenge.

    While drug overdoses and domestic violence calls have all but disappeared, they've been replaced with worse things. Too many incurable necrotic infections, and a shortage of almost all medicines mean once treatable conditions are far more worrisome. The hours are still bad, and the neighborhoods aren't getting better either.

    She is just about at the point of giving up the stethoscope to grab a shotgun and move on to new pastures and proficiencies.


    Alice Narbon Feral.
    • Strength  3
    • Wits  3
    • Technique  5
    • Quick  5
    • Close Combat  2
    • Ranged Combat  4

    • Animus  10
    • Deadening  7
    • Lucidity  9
    • Pack  8
    • Up-Rise  8
    • Awareness: Special Ability - Initiative Rolls are considered Skilled - Years as a first responder have taught Alice to keep an eye on everything.
    • Medicine: She is a trained and Licensed Paramedic and ambulance driver
    • Investigation: Far too much experience looking for clues of drug abuse, domestic crime, and otherwise working backwards to find the pathology of an injury



    Everything just seems slightly above average for her - from height to breast size. Even in a room full of brunettes with shoulder length hair, she'd be easy to pick out - even if she didn't dye her hair as she usually does. Alice bottle blonde, and rather proud of it, though when she doesn't need to worry about professionalism and the fact most people don't trust doctors with magenta hair - more unusual colors will show. .



    Alice knows how valuable her expertise can be, even if she hates dispensing it and dealing with patients. Thus she tends to lug around as much medical equipment as she can. A shotgun, if available is going to be with her almost constantly. A .38 chiefs special snub-nose revolver (a gift from dad) will probably accompany her, even in the shower and to bed. The lifestyle of the EMT and put upon has also taught her the value of high-caloric snacks and energy drinks, and a half dozen of each are quite likely to be in her backpack as well.



    On a good day Alice is a consummate professional, capable of almost any life saving feat short of open-heart surgery. Unfortunately, good days are somewhat rare.More often she is in a mood that reminds people of a violent alcoholic - though strangely - Alice is quite the "straight edge" and won't touch anything more intoxicating than coffee. If her free time not spent surly or practicing medicine, she likes techno, video-games, stunts, unconventional sports - sort of like the stereotypical sophomore party animal at college.

    Despite the foul moods, she is fairly loyal to friends, and open to new ideas, seeing the undead situation as something to explore. Alice is usually quite quick to point out she is not a pathologist, a surgeon, or a mortician - and is thus not going to cut up necrotics or otherwise try to find a cure - she is just going to enjoy the situation while it lasts.


    Use in a Game

    Alice can be a doctor for the group of course. More to the point - her observational skills means she can often find clues to link players into adventures, or point to problems in less than stellar ideas. The search for medical supplies can be a good plot hook or source of income - having a doctor to separate the wheat from the chaff is a helpful addition. Conversely, the stream of people seeking her aid, and her often confrontational attitude can get the group in trouble.

    For a game set in the Anarchy Zone, she might be a member of the "Ambulance Chaser" group - or at least be approached for membership. However, Alice would be one who prefers the raiding over the civic duty elements. In an Oberbours game, she would be the one comparing the outbreak to a videogame, and trying to play the hero or otherwise investigate further - arguing loudly with anyone who things discretion is the better part of valor.  She may even go so far as to lie that she needs their help to find the cure (see above). Furthermore, and emergency call to an isolated location is a "good" reason to end up at a creature testing site.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Another Century's Reanimate

    Sometimes I wonder if this would have been better two centuries ago. Heck, maybe just one century ago wouldn't be as bad.

    Think about it - back in the Wild West. Most of us wouldn't be relying so heavily on guns, and those of us who do - you can make Minne balls running your own lead, and black powder is easier to replicate than superconducting magnetic coils. Mercury fulament caps might be a bottle neck, granted. Medicine back then would be pretty bad. Of course, all the medical miracles we have these days that we can't access, or have the facilities to use are doing us a world of good. I've lost more friends on runs to retrieve medicine  and nano-vac than any other cause.

    We're using horses right now - and back then most people would be able to do so without killing them. Its kind of a nightmare right now for the poor animals, worse than for us.

    The image that folk were hardier then is probably just a national mythology - but we'd be a lot less desperate to get our infrastructure back on line. Heck, homesteading is when they started that infrastructure. But we'd be fighting back and building new log cabins - not hiding in old apartment complexes and trying to get the water running. I mean damn - it takes a lot of people to clear, secure, and repair a water treatment plant - much harder than digging your own well - and what do we need an entire town's worth of water for anyway?

    Perhaps the 1950s would be a good middle ground. Not so much computer reliance, but nice guns and the nuclear bomb. A 90mm tank shell should be more than enough to stop an Succubus, it just wouldn't have all the high tech sighting equipment. A guass rifle isn't any more powerful than an M1 Garand - it just has a bigger ammo feed and full auto fire when you keep the battery charged. If you don't keep the battery charged, the M1 is better all around.

    And hey - those classic cars. Given the number of retro style Touring cars on the road, who would notice the difference? Before the national highway system, we wouldn't have have the boneroad kill zones outside every major city. Would that be a good thing - or would it just be worse in the city? Hmm...

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    Late Courier

    "Its been quiet, too..."
    "Don't jinx it!"
    "You do realize that only invites trouble in TV shows, not real life?"
    "And would you have believed in aliens and reanimates five years ago?"
    "Ahh - if you weren't my brother... All the same, a courier should have been through here by now. If nothing else, the government at least keeps its word about mail delivery. Can't spare arms, can't airlift us a generator, but at least we can send letters."
    "Well, the basic network they set up is still working. Why should they even bother with physical couriers when setting up a repeater tower here and there wouldn't require so much effort."
    "Well, first of all - you can't e-mail bullets and MREs. Secondly, it would take a lot of towers, or very big ones, that are hard to set up - remember, no satellites so its got to go the long way with no hubs, and no central power supply - a small group of runners is less than the manpower needed to set up even one of the resulting towers."
    "How'd you get so knowledgeable about all this?"
    "I read the packet they gave us. Given how unreliable transmissions can be - printed materials are important, and make it easier to recall vital information."
    "I know that. I was being rhetorical and sarcastic. Sarctorial? Rehtastic?"

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    NEST Musings

    The interior of a NEST is surprisingly bright. That somehow makes it worse. At least if its dark, you're always wary, and searching. During the day you can get complacent - or worse yet, miss something in the shadows that are cast.

    A large part of energy efficiency, is not needing energy in the first place. Most of the arcos are not one monolithic block, but a series of smaller inter-linked towers, each of which is narrow enough that natural light can penetrate all - or at least most of - the way into the central core. Some use mirrors, some fiber optics, and there are a few that really are pitch-black in many spots.

    Given the massive expense and time it takes to create these things - it becomes evident that shortcuts and stop gaps were made at various times, so be aware that some levels aren't always the most logical.

    Anything that can be acquired by a quick "smash and grab" run, probably has. Instead, the endeavor must be approached like climbing a mountain. Clear a base camp, and set up stopping points along the way. If you can, get a guide. Just like on Everest - oxygen tanks might not be a bad idea - there are all sorts of internal pollutants and rot. Rappelling gear can help avoid certain areas for those who don't mind scaling objects two hundred metres or so above ground.

    Reanimates can hibernate when no prey is around. It might be hard for the lesser variants to chase people into an arco and navigate the labyrinth, but there are still huge numbers just waiting to wake up.

    Given the danger and complications of mounting a several day - or even several week long - expedition into an arco - most of them are still quite full of untouched supplies and artifacts. Food is probably going to be the limiting factor on any given adventure, since anything stocked in the building has probably expired. Aside from that, artifacts in the interior areas, up to and including national guard armories and nano-vac hospital stocks may very well be still in place.

    A possible way to start a game is to either have players as survivors who are trying to get out of an Arco, they've been living is, now that all the supplies in nearby apartments have been used up. Another would be a large group of reanimates chasing them into the structure - leaving the players with little choice but to go up and find a way out that isn't blocked.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Red Keycard Blues Part One

    The gun gave a throaty roar, overpowering the soft gurgling as the creature collapsed to the ground.  Flynn wasn't too sure what it was, just that it was like a shaved gorilla with a sharks maw, and it smelled worse than three day old road kill. That was easy enough to ignore though, the fact that a half-dozen rounds from a service pistol only served to piss it off - that was an issue. How fortunate the frantic chase had led them past a mutilated security guard, a shotgun lying close to where the man had fallen.

    Chance of rolling 7 or 8 on a d8: 25%
    Chance of not rolling a 7 or 8 on 3d8: 42%

    Probability of one success on a d6 - one in three
    Probability of complete failure to hit with three d6: 28%

    Pattern for d4s: 50% and 12%

    Why the boring math? Because super shotguns are fun. If you remember a certain game staring a space marine from 1993 or its 1994 sequel -you know what this means. If you don't, you are dead to me - as dead as pinkies, cacodemons, lost souls, and everything else is after a few shots with the BFG-9000...

    Dead and Back is a framework for running a game. Most of the time its about survival horror, but that doesn't have to be the case. What matters is how the game master describes the situation, and how often the players are granted respite.

    As the above figures show, a one NecroPoint creature has fairly little chance of surviving against an average character with a weapon appropriate to its SDI. As for creatures that are weak but small and hard to hit? Then you can use necrotic threshold to simulate that any weapon can hurt them, but a certain level of success is required to do so.

    The base zombies would probably be about two SDI and one NP, Chain-gunners and standard demons same SDI and two NP.  Lost souls also have one NP and one SDI, but a threshold of two, so they're really hard to hit.

    Our next tier of opponents - like the cacodemon have a higher SDI, but a rocket will still demolish them in one hit, so its still just one or two NP.

    Barrons, Cyberdemons, and the like are why there is an abomination category with speed tracks. These are the ones that take many hits, though their danger may vary. Knights have a low SDI, but are still bullet sponges, while their half mechanical counterparts have SDI high enough to take multiple hits from anti-tank weapons.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Turkmenistan. Farm. Deployment 35.

    The ground smelled of fresh earth, the scent of newly cut hay was heavy, the dew light. It was a good place. An honest place, worried of of harvest and kin, a world away from the insanity of our leaders and the other ones ready to kill us all over a matter of economics.

    Too bad it was 5412-02021983-325-8889.

    It would have been proper to simply have the man who let a level five hematvore escape shot. But this was odd, and too secret to bring before the usual justice system. We sent him in first instead, some up close and personal knowledge of what the creature could do. He probably did from the old training films, but Mr. Lvod would do worse with a combination of combat drugs and a twenty-centimeter trench knife.

    Outside, there was little blood, at least not in a place where would see it easily. Perhaps in a row between fields, amongst the windbreaks branches, or by the duck pond - but we had built the level five infiltrators too well to expect anything blatant. Inside would be a different story. The creature would be going mad from the lack of support drugs, falling apart and unstable.

    Theses simple people wouldn't be abusing the kind of drugs favored by Hollywood producers, nothing worse than vodka and kvass. Yet still, our creation would be tearing them apart to get some semblance of what it needed to prolong its existence. We could only hope this had gone on long enough that we would not have to do further clean-up.

    Aside from our - volunteer - leader, it was all routine. 

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Creatures Concepts

    Dead and Back is a one person project. I would love to find an artist, and probably need an editor - but up to now, all the work has been just me. As such, there are not going to be any major point-buy systems to balance. If you want your character to be a one-armed alcoholic samurai jazz pianist - role play it, but don't expect to get any extra character dice at character generation.

    On a similar note, I am not implementing a big buffet of creature powers like "All Flesh Must Be Eaten". AFMBE is a good game - for that reason alone I shouldn't copy it, and make mine just a pale imitation.

    What I am doing, however, is to create a table with a various abilities. Senses go in some columns, weakness in others, movement in the next, and other twists in yet another. The GM may roll to randomly throw an abomination at the players, or pick and choose to form what they feel is a reasonable fit for their setting.

    Through the Free RPG Blog, I've learned of a free book of random mutations - "Metamophica". Personally, I'm trying to avoid looking at it until I've compiled some ideas of my own. I have too much pride to go the "ctrl-c" "ctrl-v" route, but why seek temptation? You are quite welcome to use it in your games. The Oberous Setting for D&B is practically built around the idea that some nebulous organization is releasing mutated creatures in isolated areas to test their abilities, and those of the unfortunate townsfolk.

    Speaking of creations, I've got at least one more setting on the back burner, and an overhaul of the AP system cooking. Actually, there is enough running, that I'm a bit worried about the October 31st deadline, but I'll try to have something ready.

    Anyway, some of the ideas for creatures I've thought of:
    • Low Light, Infrared, Hawk like, and spiritual sight - as well as "non visual" 
    • Excellent Hearing, Seismic Detection
    • Blood Hound Nose, Shark Taste, Electro-receptors
    • Aquatic, Cold Proof, Fire Proof, Gecko Climbing, Gliding (Zombie flying squirrel)"
    • Sprinter, Horse, Car
    • Untiring, Noxious Fumes, Venomous, Super Strong
    • Web Spinning, Acid Spit, Regenerating, Highly Infectious
    • Telekinetic, telepathic, EMP inducing, 
    • Pack Hunter, Hive Mind, Contortionist
    • Claws, Tentacles, Bites through steel
    • Weak, (material) vulnerability, poor senses, falling apart, mindless, attracts carrion feeders, light sensitive, entranced by singing, afraid of ducks.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Day 31, Behavior Notes

    Subject: Unknown Name, Middle Aged Female
    Catalog Number: WD-1-650-1A-1034229
    Classification: Whiskey Delta, Subclass Alpha
    Date of Birth: Unknown, possibly around 2000
    Date of Death: Mid 2050, Actual Date Unknown, approx. between 7/14/2050 and 8/1/250 (Records lost)
    Sample Collection Date: 11/15/2050
    Recovery Point: Toledo, OH

    [Time Stamp 03:45]
    So little staff, so much to do - we confirmed a third effective strain yesterday, showing considerable anatomical differences from the previous Whiskey Delta types - identified as Strain One, and One Alpha. We are still unsure if this represents a further stage of subject transformation - a beta level of metamorphosis, or distinct second type. I have been temporarily pulled from my anatomical study of [Redacted] to assist in observations of captured specimens. Since tracing the pathogen has just gotten exponentially more difficult - wee are trying to focus on methods to escape the active vectors, and in turn, how to protect from attack, rather than a cure for the attackers. 

    Doctor Wilkes has come up with an unusual suggestion for starting our descriptions. Time and again, survivors have made the comparison has been made to Zombies from cheap horror films, and as such, he recommended that we use that as a baseline. Doctor Lincoln disagrees, and finds this a silly and illogical assumption, but does concede that for the average person, pop-culture familiarity may be the key to quicker comprehension than a proper bio mechanical analysis.

    Those kind of films made me kind of sick before hand. Watching one to understand this point of while similar events transpire outside our compound does not sit will at all. Worse yet, Doctor Benway seemed to laugh through the whole thing. I'm half inclined to call the man a harbomaniac, but it could be just because the effects of the move were poorly done... if only we really were dealing with actors covered in gray paint. 

    I watched the movie nine hours ago and still can't sleep. This probably isn't good...

    [Time Stamp 12:30]
    Reviewing actual footage now, and our subject. There is in fact a startling degree of overlap. The gait of Whiskey Deltas is somewhat stiff and uncoordinated, at least in subclass one, though the mutation shows far less of this. They also show a marked ability to ignore wounds that would be fatal in a baseline human. WD-1-650-1A-1034229 is missing arm and sports several holes in the Thorax and Abdomen made by an automatic rifle. 

    However, our whiskey delta does not have anywhere near the purification of the movie version. It still maintains an oddly healthy pallor and shows little signs of exsanquinating, despite the multiple wounds that would have killed a baseline a matter of minuets from bleeding out.

    [Time Stamp 17:53]
    Dr. Wilkes has pointed out that Whiskey Deltas show a lack of fixation. Determination to get their targets, certainly, but unlike his fictitious video game examples they do not have to take the most obvious route, and they move from target to target. While in that - deplorable - movie, the ghouls would drag down the victim, them stop to rip it apart and eat its innards WDs don't. In the film, the main character was able to escape while the creatures were distracted by its meal, and at a latter point, made a dash to distract several from his friends.

    Real - ugh - Whiskey Deltas don't pull the living apart, at least not humans. Reports of mutilated dogs and wolves would seem to back the idea they fight with other predators, but humans tend to be preserved. Possibly for later use as vectors? While hardly peaceufl, the attack seems to be more a combination of tackling or tripping, combined with punches to disable the target, a few bites to get past the defenses, or to start a secondary concern of bleeding or to slow down an escaping victim. Dr. Lincoln, suggested this may be toxic, and a way to get a "hit and run" kill or as a means to track the victim by blood trail or scent.

    Some Whiskey Deltas have been observed using weapons, generally items found in the environment. I have noticed that even in a cluttered environ - they will go for actual tools or weapons like axes or bats, before picking up random debris. The newly identified sub-type seems to have sharpened ends on its finger-bones, giving it functional talons and seems to do far less to preserve the victim than our normal WDs.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Finding the Factory

    It certainly took us a while to the factory, and it was a close run thing. We were fortunate to avoid the black days, and got some government assistance for a while, but in the end it was a combination of luck and resourcefulness.

    Black July was a hell of a time. All the best places, were all the worst places. Everyone wanted to go to the hospital because of the odd plague, the police department for protection form the psychotic cannibals, or just leave town via the highways. Almost everyone who tried that ended up as the popcorn chicken at a reanimate buffet. Some tried to run to city schools or malls and hold up there. They didn't die as quickly. The wife and I being sick at the time sheltered in place at our home, and tried to wait out some of the panic.

    Eventually the word got around that the real evacuation points were small town college campuses. You'd think the government would have planned on it being the hospitals, but in hindsight, this was a great idea. Plenty of space in unused classrooms, extra beds, cafeteria food service for large student bodies, young and able bodied volunteers in rural areas. Not a permanent solution though. After a few weeks of overcrowding and nothing but stale MREs, they tried to create "satellite campuses" to spread us out, and begin some farming to help ease supply concerns. This turned out to be rather hit or miss.

    Some didn't like the enforced WPA aspect, others couldn't handle the prolonged stress and farming. Worse yet, the we still didn't know much about reanimates at the time, and how how they are somehow drawn to large populations and movements. Several of the new small settlements were attacked and overrun.

    I narrowly escaped one of these fiascoes. Common sense dictated that my fellow survivors and I should make our way back to the main campus. But sense wasn't very common at that time. They couldn't hold the outposts, government personnel had been lost in the failed attempt to save it, and we didn't know if there was another army of the things on its way. Even if the main area held - overcrowded dorms, limited food supply, and rationed water wasn't very attractive. We didn't have a better plan than FEMA, but we were frighted and decided "anywhere but here" was the best place to be.

    Apparently, the college did survive, by the way. We even get weekly mail delivery out this way as they re-establish communication and trade.

    Well, a small group of us did the nomad thing for a while. Lost a few people, gained some more, not too practical about it at first. Managed to find a a national guard truck and some guns still in good condition - got a lot better after that. This went on for a few months, but was getting cold, and logistics were getting to be a problem. Wandering everywhere ate up gas, clearing buildings to search for supplies used bullets without replacement - sometimes even failed to provide anything useful. Open fires were beacons, and tents not warm enough.

    A winter shelter was needed, whether we chose to settle down permanently or just for the season. Several places were surveyed - schools, libraries, old hotels, and  the like. We came across this factory quite by accident, really. On a return from a scouting one of our first choice locations.

    As you can tell from the fact we're still here and expanding - it was a great choice. Already had a sturdy security fence, brick walls, and high glass block windows out of reanimate reach. Doors and partitions let us securely sweep it bit by bit, and would help contain invaders. There was room for our stuff, loading docks to make transferring supplies safe, and small offices that could be easily heated. The indoor hydroponics system came much later. But for the dark winter, it was a true fortress, and that is what mattered.

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Nomad's Guide to the Living

    Ahh, that was a good meal. A fine piece of venison, carrots in a vinaigrette, twice baked potatoes - the ultimate reason why you must be kind to your fellow man.

    The power of human beings grows exponentially when they are in groups. Traveling alone, you simply can't have meals like this. It takes a while to stalk wild game, and put together a fire, and secure your camp. There just aren't enough hours in the day to properly clean the beast, much less prep for preservation. Rip off some choice bits, and leave the remainder to the scavengers. Hey - coyotes need to eat too. But it would be nice to claim a bit more for your effort. When you're keeping to a light load - melting butter and a bottle of vinegar just don't pack so well.

    Now of course the downside is that when there are other people who depend on you, you get tied down. You accumulate stuff, stay in a central location, and don't take risks since others need you around. Not so bad if you don't enjoy the zone, but your are missing a lot if you don't.

    Alone or in a group, you have to be ready to work outside your clique. Your ability to tolerate and work with a-holes is probably the defining survival trait, more so than any ability to fire a gun or swing an ax.

    A good thing to do when meeting people, is establish a common ground, a shared sense. Tell them about trouble in the direction you're coming from and show a concern about their safety. If its a warm day, tell them "lets get out of this sun" and offer a water bottle. A nip of something in the old hip flask is a great icebreaker in the evening.

    It is possible to reason with the aliens, but you have to time it right. Outside their mech-suits, they're the size of a dog so a giant human with a rifle as long as they are tall is not a welcome site. Its safer to approach the robots really - they're aware they have the upper hand, and don't need to shoot immediately to protect themselves. Try to look at the shoulders of the suit - if its kind of blue or green, that seems to be the normal soldiers, no color on top of the camouflage is a commander and less likely to talk. Officers try to avoid the front lines it seems - so go for the soldiers, they're less paranoid.

    Also, don't try to talk if you're in California. Really, the farther you are from the West coast, the easier it is. Not all of them are working towards the same goals it seems, and the ones in the West are a nasty bunch.

    But enough about them - you mustn't get too worked up about the aliens, you don't meet them that often. Just enough be a challenge when you don't need it.

    Back to people. Aside from saying hello, I'm not that good with people. I try to pay my good fortune forwards and give tips to those I meet in the zone - just note what I'm dong now - but my priorities are my own, and this world is too refreshed to simply settle down into a cycle of we need more food to support more people to gather more food that seems to control so many settlements. Towns have got to have a reason to be, and a goal to work for and much of our strife is that people either can't agree to that, or chose a goal that is mutual exclusive to their neighbors.

    I want to see the zone. For now, that is enough. Unless you have pie - that would be great right now.

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Nomad's Reanimate Guide

    You would be surprised how many people don't know how to deal with reanimates these days. Sure, everyone knows the basics of defending their outpost, but if those plans fail - few are equipped for the evacuation, or the traveling life. Two years of proselyting has won over fairly few converts to my way of thinking, but even if you don't want to tour the zone like me, you can know how to survive it.

    First of all - don't travel at night. Reanimate vision isn't that great, but they certainly aren't blind, and at night - its better than a human's...

    Come to think of it, the best way to imagine reanimates is as some sort of large cat - puma, tiger, leopard. Maybe not the clearest color vision, but good to hunt at night, a stalking pattern that usually relies on ambush, decent sense of smell - though not a blood hound - and good hearing. Mind that last one - I try to avoid using guns as much out of not attracting attention as any sort of pacifism or desire not to hurt people.

    If you're not moving at night, you need a place to stay - simple enough. In the middle of nowhere, chances are a tent or staying in your vehicle are OK. though don't neglect a warning system just in case. Seaborne shipping containers on flatbed trucks make for great mobile shelters - they're built out of steel or carbon fiber to withstand storms and movement by crane. Semi-truck trailers however, are at best aluminum sheeting over a little fiberglass insulation and you can punch right through them.

    In more urban areas, you will probably want to take advantage of one of the standing buildings. Avoid basements, and go for the second floor or hither. If reanimates surround the area, escaping an upper floor by going out a window or blasting your own hole is a lot easier than digging out of a basement. Of course, if you avoid being noticed that is even better. Another thing to avoid, is private residences.

    The standard house is build to be affordable to the standard family. Construction materials are not as heavy duty as commercial structure. Its not reinforced for thousands of customers, or made from simple sturdy concrete. Houses are mostly wood and aluminum siding, fiberboard, maybe a brick facade. A lot of insulation yes, but blown foam is not exactly meant to stop claws and bullets.

    Now I spent some unpleasant time in a government institution before, but I tell you these days, you can not go wrong with a government building. Those things are designed to stop bullets and bombs, armored glass, Kevlar wall paper, flame proof coatings - you name it. Run some heavy chain around the truck barriers, and reanimates will be stymied for quite a while. While many normal glass widows have broken, leaving buildings full of rotting furnishings, government places will still be nicely furnished. Just look out for if the building still has residents.

    Ahh, foods here, and I'm famished. If you'll excuse me - how to deal with other humans will have to wait for a bit later.

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    Citizen Wheels

    Sing -Sing cocked her head. "I don't think that beard works for you, Mr. Hobbes."
      "When aliens that don't even have beards dislike your new look, it might be an indication its the wrong one" Diego added. 
      "Ok, Ok, I get the picture- but considering how hard it is to get quality razors anymore we might just have to get used to it."
      "You just don't have the face for it boss, and its kind of unbalanced with nothing up-top."
      "As if your self-done bowie knife hair-cuts are all that great. The only one of us here fit for TV is her."
      "We're great faces for radio, what can I say?"
      "But you can't see faces on radio..."
      "Its an expression Sing-Sing."

    Hobbes leaned back on the threadbare couch and took another sip of his tea. "Speaking of Expressions - its been a while since you've told us anything substantive Mrs. Sing. Something other than tidbits about how you dislike politics or the proper way to pronounce EyeKaiAyDee."
       "Something you had in mind?"
       "What do Citizens drive when they're not in encounter suits."
       "We don't really drive. It is extremely rare for one individual to own a vehicle - this dates back ages when you need entire guild to build and maintain ships or run animal caravans."
       "Teamsters - from Outer Space!" Diego shouted, mimicking B-move reverb effects.
    Hobbes broke up laughing, Sing-Sing scissored her arms in confusion.
      "Sorry, that would take a while to explain, do continue".
       " As I've explained before home world is a lot like a bunch of little versions of Austria, complete with the baby-back, so ships and later aircraft were always best - you either circled around or flew over."
       "Baby-back is a cut of meat, and Austria is not an island. Its "Australia" and the "Outback".
       "[Untranslated Squeaking]"
       "That's the same sound you made when you dropped hammer on your foot - does that mean what I think it does?"
       "Back on topic - Some of the islands have things akin to your trains. They are often suspended from above though to pass over rough terrain rather than blow a hole through a mountain. Smaller ones shunt things around factories or cities. I've seen track independent wheeled vehicles, but I'm hardly rich enough to ride one."
      "How about bicycles, motorcycles - roller skates?"
      "Motorcycles - possibly, but balance is a bit of a problem - all your weight is in a vertical line, mine isn't. Strapping wheels to your feet or pedaling - a showman's trick. Airplanes on the other hand - were quite common for fast transport of just about anyone - its a lot cheaper and easier to make the transit at high speed and not pack all the extra food and supplies for a week long sea journey."
       "I suppose super-sonic transports would work better when not flying over cities and the noise complaints - that is part of why they never got much traction around here."
       "A lot of our airplanes are a bit like boats with wings, so they could put down almost anywhere in an emergency, and even islands without big airstrips could be visited. Also, I think that may be part of the arrangement with the shipwright guild since otherwise they never would have accepted... well never mind. Helicopters are also common, though often seen as less effective than other methods. We just happen to have a very large number of them now, since we weren't sure what the new planet we found would be like."

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    The Eisenhower Power Armor

    Tactical Augmentation exoSkeleton Carapace Model 79 Eisenhower.

    Almost no one calls it that. Its the Ike, the tin can, power armor, Sierra-Three (Slim-SpaceSuit), support armor or just a suit. AS to its actual designation - 79 refers to the number of prototypes and competing models rather than a date or notable index, and most of the augmenting pistons are under armor so it certainly doesn't look like an exoskeleton - making TASC-79 seem rather counter-intuitive.

    The machine seems to be a cross between medieval armor and a slimmed down space suit. There are several styles of helmet,  - allowing for different combinations of filters, visual gear, wearer comfort, and user preference (otherwise troopers can be hard to tell apart). Most are a cross between a a knight's Bascinet, a stalhelm, and a gas mask - the eye-piece a notable oval of tinted armor glass. Shoulder-pads both cover the areas where the arms, front plate, and back unit converge, and also can by shape and color help mark individual solders. Each elbow has a pad over it and volumetric-fabric to allow for ease of movement, while the knees are covered with jointed armor and fully protected.

    While the unit has a prominent hump/backpack most of the systems are in fact quite well distributed. Batteries are located in the legs and feet to help keep the center of gravity low, and provide limited additional protection from mines. Fuel cells are in the lower part of the pack, and isolated from the user, while above is a water system, and some electronics. Much like wearable computers, the inside of the arms mount input devices, though since these are non-flexible, there are much more durable than fabric processor units. Antennas run around the helm, so the radio is unlikely to stop working, unless the user is decapitated. (Grim tales from South America say, even then it might still work.)

    Armor composition is secret, but is generally acknowledged to be a metallic layer over a glass reinforced plastic filler, backed with nano-ballistic gel. Per usual, avoiding incoming fire is preferable, but reports confirm at least limited ability to block heavy-caliber pistols, light rifles, and buckshot.

    TASC-79 Stats (Full)
    • SDI 4 (Will slow down rifle bullets, resistant to shrapnel and pistols)
    • Animus Points: 12 (Convergent)
    • Abuse: 1d8 (More fragile than people think, but effective)
    • Fuel: 1d8 (Fuel cells are by necessity small, roughly 48 hours of operation)
    • Agility: -1d6 (Its about thirty-five kilos of armor, actuators, and batteries strapped to your limbs and chest - while it can go anywhere a human can, something like picking a coin off the floor is surprisingly difficult while wearing one)
    • Overdrive: 3 (Its a combat unit - sometimes redlining is for the best.)
    • Capacity: One person with nothing in their chest pockets.
    • Speed: Equal to the wearer or fourteen, whichever is less.
    • Sensors: Forward Looking Infrared (passive), IR search-light, Image Intensification night vision, 3.5x zoom camera, multichannel military radio, battlefield-networking compliant. Total package is +2d6 to searching, and identification and a bonus to initiative at night.
    • 1d8 threshold at the end of a track  Nicely built and distributed systems
    • Power Plant: A combination of fuel cells and high-efficiency batteries, plus pulleys actuated by
    • Other systems: NBC air-filter - though no overpressure system, piezoelectric heating system, built in water dispenser, urine removal system (PA does not unzip...)
    • Aim: +1d6 to ranged (Recoil compensation and targeting systems)
    TASC-79 (Amended)
    • Abuse: 1d8
    • Fuel: 1d8
    • HP: 12
    • SDI: 4
    • Agility: Pilot minus 1d6 for bulk and articulation limits.
    • Tech/Systems: +2d6
    • Ranged: +1d6