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, June 28, 2012

Feathering the NEST (Part One)

The roads looked like brackish water, heat shimmering in ribbons above them. A strange wail descended as the convention currents rose, driving wind through the broken high-rises - the I-Beam Banshee. Yet the torture was still not complete - there was also the fetid breath of the city - hundreds of car interiors, carpets, and other organic materials rotting from five years without cleaning or climate control.

Somehow, RATS were still seen as the lucky ones. Everyone else was confined to the air-conditioned hell of the arcology building, limited space, limited power, and no way to escape the same frustrated people day in and out. "Remote Access Technicians" got to leave, the work ants of the glass and steel hive, bringing back needed supplies from the ruined cities nearby.

Tom Smith was a fairly typical specimen. Formerly a barrister, amateur boater, and avid jogger - he was physically fit, familiar with the local geography, and a volunteer. He'd been with the group since nearly the beginning now, and none of the environments bothered him that much. The type Threes on the horizon - that was a different story.

Many citizen militias were just that - citizens with their own guns, and a local leader - but RATs received training. An obstacle course and regimen of lessons was established early on when when the need for something like the RATS became apparent. Former police officers, and occasionally - former criminals on how to fight, and how to enter buildings.

But nothing carried over from the old world prepared one to fight a Three. Not much larger than a normal human, in fact, usually looking a bit more like a healthy person than a type two or its Beta derivative - they weren't always easy to spot. Yet a second glace would tell you all you need to know - at various points, it seemed metal burst from their seems like a robot stuffed into too small of a flesh covering. Often the hands were completely gone, replaced by five fingered metal manipulators of some strange alloy. Wounds from prior encounters were silver lumps, like they bled molten metal that hardened into strange blisters. Many often carried broken pieces of steel as weapons, or wrapped rebar around body parts. It moved like a human, but punched like an encounter suit.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Big Question

What took the government so long to rebuild? Its the elephant in the room. Didn't they have continuity of government plans dating back a century to the cold war and nuclear attack? NEACAP, Looking-Glass, Boomers, Camp David, Raven Rock... Most reports even said the president himself survived so succession should have been a non-issue.

Well, truth be told, the problem was none of these things - but rather legitimacy and intimacy.

Its hard to say you're the government of the people if you take the hard stance and reconquer them with military force - if you have much military force left after the alien war and reanimate uprisings, and can get them deployed to the right places of course. Conversely, if you do too little, you seem to nothing but a pretender to the throne unable to actually affect anything. Perhaps worse - and to a great degree, what happened - is to seem unprepared next to local movements, and thus present little incentive to join the greater good.

The quick rise of city states was one of the biggest problems for national governments. Most people were used to Uncle Sam hovering over their shoulder in all sorts of little ways - from the currency, to the FCC regs on their computers, to traffic lights - even if you're just lulled into it being everyday life, you know someone's organized it. A lack of presence was felt quickly and hard, in turn allowing anyone who presented some stability seem wonderful in comparison. People quickly adopt an US vs Them mentality, and if the government didn't show itself quickly, others would take its place. 

Furthermore, it must be remembered, that this wasn't a single great weapons exchange or natural disaster, but that reanimates and rouge aliens remained a threat for years to come, meaning the legitimate government had a war to fight in addition to rebuilding. In the old question of guns or butter, guns were undoubtedly needed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hammer it Home (Attempt One)

Greasy rain dripped through leaking roof tiles and pipes unmaintained for years. Each step kicked up mold spores - even with a HEPA-filter mask, bile and vomit tried to rise as well. But I still followed the bright spot of the flashlight, making my way through the complex.

Everything here had a story, and I hoped to "plagiarize" a few. But its organization system was the end of the world, its index terror and panic as the dead rose and civilization fell.

A dame entered the office, late 40s, thin, red dress and ugly as only unnatural reanimation can. Jerking about like a movie on a poor connection. I've never really been good talking with lades, so I let my .45 speak for me. The whole room lit up with muzzle flash just long enough to see the skull split and small white shards fly into the far wall.

Wait. Listen. No other movement? Ok, quickly now, open cylinder, punch out casing, reach in pocket, find new round, reload, close.

It all becomes automatic, reloading whenever there is a spare moment - better than being caught a bullet short at the wrong time. Sometimes I even reload a perfectly fine gun just to switch out the ammo to make sure its fresh and ready.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Setting Up Camp (Part One)

The two great things about being a biped, are that it freed up the forelimbs to become manipulators, and the greater height meant a broader horizon to watch out for predators. Yeah, I know - 2055, a few hundred thousand years late to the party - but its still something to keep in mind when you're looking for a place to set up camp for the night.

An open area seems nice - clear sight lines to whatever might come. But it works both ways - they can see you too. Reanimates are usually slow, but people with guns aren't.

The woods are another two edged sword. With adequate warning, a person can generally make better time through broken terrain than a reanimate. The catch is getting that adequate warning, and you have to be wary of advanced types that can climb as well. Personally, an open area stirkes me as a better place than an enclosed one that might be full of silent stalkers.

Cities and towns are a special case. You can be out of sight, and fortified. Just be wary of being too fortified - they have a lot more patience than you do, and an exit will be necessary eventually.

A set-up at the base of a hill, or cliff can give you a good compromise - you can't be seen from one side, have clear sight to the other,. Get up a solid roof, or some traps so they can't come over the top (Or just pick a big enough cliff - a reanimate falling a hundred feet goes splat, just like everyone else!) - and you're pretty well good to go.

Water sources are nice, but remember that reanimates can swim, or at least make a journeyman's attempt. Last thing you need is the river at your back, defenses to the front, and soggy cannibals in your midst.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Economy of Steel

Heres a rub for ya - the end of the 2050s is gonna look like the end of the 1950s. Its the economy of steel my friend.

Very few people are pumping oil, so plastics are out. Nano materials are special labs, with a lot of electricity rearranging things on a tiny level. Wood doesn't work so well in most applications - not enough strength to keep out reanimates, too much effort to cut it down and saw it out. Ceramics are great, but do you know the micro-ingredients that differentiate body armor from flower pot? Nope.

Trade away lightness, absorbancy, and flexibility - but you still have strength, and boy do you have abundance.

A truck leaf-spring can be made into a very fine knife, and you can barely go three miles down a highway without finding some abandoned vehicles. Besides that, its good for everything from cooking pots to k-pots - that's combat helmets by the way.

Its not just the materials science though. People are working hard to re-invent the carburetor engine, because unburnt computer chips are hard to find. Silicon, Silicon everywhere and not a transistor to think.

I think fins should be in too. The whole point of the 50's "higher the fins, closer to god" mentality was to emulate supersonic jets and rockets - a sign of the times. We need a few reminders of our greatness.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Citizen Funerals (Version One)

"You've mentioned before, that you joined the colony effort because a sibling was murdered. I don't mean to be insensitive, but is there anything you can tell us about Citizen funerary rights? Is there a concept of an afterlife?"
   "It takes six days, though they're slightly shorter than the days of this planet. The first three are rather sad, as the family gives up their loved one. Any pictures they have of them are stored away, a gift at one time granted by the deceased is symbolically given up to another. The next three are quite joyous as they celebrate the rejoining of the dead with the greater spirit of the world. What is left of the dead person's effects are given as gifts - according to a list of last wishes if possible and their achievements remembered. Everyone content thereafter, they go on with their lives. If the death was other than natural, there is an unofficial seventh day, where everyone plots revenge, or pays tribute to everyone who died in the incident - or sometimes both if the war is that bad."
   "To what extent is this honor-killing allowable?"
   "For the sake of argument, its not. Most of the time, the planning doesn't go anywhere, or the revenge is merely symbolic, or meted out by the actual justice system. Sometimes it happens though. As usual, it depends on if this happened within the confines of a guild, family, or if its an international incident."
   "Are the dead buried, cremated, interned...?
   "So long as there is the sense that they have returned to the planet, it doesn't really matter. Going into space was a bit of a religious challenge - if they're lost is space, then what? Or if they return to a foreign planet? Most of us figure every world has a spirit, so it doesn't really matter. Indeed, they may be overjoyed to receive a citizen in addition to its normal creatures - honored that someone would make the trip."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Little Horde and Something Else

Lyod flipped the selector switch, and waited a split second for the "Iced" (Infantry Combat Sight Display) to switch from the precise cross hair of single shot, to the circle indicating beaten zone of automatic fire. He then braced the gun on the windowsill and waited for signs of his partner. It wasn't long.

James cam tearing around the corner at full speed and then some, rushing down the open boulevard. Loping behind him, a small horde of reanimates. The gunman aimed low, and squeezed the trigger, the whine of capacitors quickly overwhelmed by the snaps of metal darts breaking the sound barrier. Trying to hit heads at this distance, especially when they were moving was a waste, but once knocked down and crippled, he could take his time and finish them off with the gun in sniper mode.

About the same time the last reanimate hit the pavement, a red indicator lit up on the helmet mounted site indicating the magazine was down to ten percent - six rounds. Just as well, it was time to switch ammunition types anyway. Standard iron darts were cheap and easy to make, but they were too heavy, sharp, and strong - they went right through, no tumbling or deforming - fairly minor wounds if they didn't hit something important. Killing was best down with the steel core semi-jacketed ceramic types. Much lighter, a small concavity at the front, and a bit of frangibility of the middle - not quite like real lead bullets, but enough to make human rights advocates uneasy.

The helical magazine fit in a well in the upper part of the stock - the weapon was a bull-pup type, like most gauss rifles, since they needed all the barrel length they could get for the magnets. It came out with a soft click, while the double column straight magazine went in with a loud reassuring click. There was an actual tab on the side of the magazine specially there to make that sound, so everyone could hear and feel the locking. Although it held only half as many rounds, the alternate shape made it easy to tell ammo types apart, and was easier to load than the big ones under tension.

One click of the safety put the rifle back into semi-automatic mode, and a quick twist of a key-chain mounted tool engaged the unofficial overcharge setting. Bad for the battery, but the hunting rounds just didn't fly like the darts, and military sights didn't adapt to non-milspec ammunition - but this made a good approximation.

Still struggling to move forward, a few reanimates were a ways from where they fell. A pair even managed to stand up, but then dropped down for a final time as the man on the ground finished off the early risers with his pistol. James turned around and looked up to his partner, gave a thumbs up and grinned.

He was still smiling as the Gauss round went through his forehead and then into the pavement. He was still smiling as the body collapsed in strangely slow motion. The impact might have changed it, but lying face down, no one could tell.

"Nothing personal - just money", Lyod said to the empty room."Birmingham pay a lot better."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rock Power Armor Scissors

When it comes to power-armor, its rock-paper-scissors with over-sized hydraulic fists. There are a couple of extraneous models sitting on the sidelines, but the big ones one, two, three - shoot!

An Eisenhower is what most people think of, its the base-line, middle, rock. Unlike a vehicle, when bullets hit you, you will get hurt. Unlike normal body armor, it does a decent job of absorbing the bullets. Think something that would give you additional hit-points as well as damage reduction if you were playing a game on the SPHERE. The suit won't make you superman by any means. Don't try to fire a Baby-Three (It replaced the "Ma Duce" -what did you think we'd call it?) from a standing position  - you will end up on your ass. But the point is that you can that lug a fifty-cal machine-gun for a few dozen kilometers rather than a few dozen meters before your arms fall out of their sockets. You also get improved sensors and decent air-conditioning in the bargain.

The Ike is like a space suit for a big man, the MacArthur like a diving suit for a gorilla - no mistaking them. Mighty Macs are built to counter lesser armors. Thicker carapace, stronger hydraulics, multiple anti-tank missiles, light autocannons that you can both carry and fire. Its more of a one-man IFV or light tank than an armor, though most of the same rules apply. You will feel the hits you take, but less than if the armor was lying right against your skin.

Now you can't shoot what you can't see, and that is where the Donavan fits in. This does look like something fit for a superhero - complete with cape - and it does have chameleon and stealth systems that are beyond normal human capability as well. However, the suit is there to support the systems, and you're there to support the suit - you really don't get the strength and endurance boost of the others, nor most of the extra heavy weapons. A few boom tubes or rocket launchers will still put a dent in someone's armor, and rest assured, you can get close enough to use them, but it really won't take the hits if they shoot back.

Waiting on the sidelines are things like FARPS - Forward Area Resupply Personnel Systems, if I recall correctly. Think the super-hydraulics of the Mac with even less armor than a Donavan - less ubermencsh, more uber-forklift. There are also power augmented diving suits, and variants designed for HALO parachute insertions. You're not too likely to see those even the big three - they're pretty maintenance intensive when you get down to it. Maybe someday we'll be abel to have a fully mechanized infantry unit, but it will always be exactly one day after you get skragged.