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, January 31, 2013

Reanimates Revisited Four and Five

The three most elusive things in the zone are the Type Four reanimate, the Type Five reanimate, and a trustworthy account of viewing a type Four or Five Reanimate.

I am not quite sure why there is so little doubt about their existence, since they are quite rare if present at all. But like a good conspiracy theory, it lives on even after all evidence to the contrary is presented and the case closed long ago. Perhaps its because in a way, these things make what is happening less scary. Its a pretty tall order to believe that something like the reanimates is just pure chance, and that as dumb as a type one might be - together they seem to have a functioning hive mindset.

Type Fours fill in the need for a "Queen Bee"or a general of the undead army. They're what use the recovered bodies from fights to make new reanimates, and why there is a standard and measured response to parties entering abandoned cities and megastructures. Attempts to sweep an area clear of reanimates will often succeed for a while, and then witness waves of the creatures returning. If all of them were wiped out - how do they know to return to the area - why would they return?

Now, there are people who believe that the reanimates are some sort of divine retribution - but most accept there is some science behind it all. What science - that is the question. Some believe that this is a government conspiracy, and that nanovac was always meant to allow the government to take control of people. Others thing that normal nanovac is benign, but the military had some exotic types on on hand for either enhancing soldiers, or building something worse. Reanimates are supposedly a national emergency response to the appearance of aliens - its just bad luck that they turned on their masters as well.

More recent rumors imply the Type Five is a more recent development from reverse-engineering the reanimates. Blame is alternately placed on old governments trying to force compliance from city-states attempting independence, transhuman enclaves like the Free City of Tesla, or the ABERHAM facility held by New Birmingham.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gamma Reanimates Part One

There are a lot of names for the advanced Type Three reanimate. Most common is "Kappa" - arising from a misunderstanding about the Greek alphabet. It does not in fact go ABC - alpha-beta-kappa like English. To be fair, even a long time resident of Athens would be hard pressed to concentrate on letter order if they ran across one of these things.

Ones are normal people back from the dead, and one theory holds an Alpha is what happens when they remember part of who they used to be. (Not a theory I espouse, mind you - but it does raise some interesting question of could there be an Alpha-plus with further recall. That is beyond the scope of my reports for now.) Type Twos were the sick and injured with excess nano-vac inside them, and are rebuilt strangely. Three's are cybernetic zombies, raised to the strength of the titanium artificial limbs rather than the calcium bone...

Perhaps it would be better to say the gulf between base and advanced is a matter of limits, and exceeding them. A basic corpse moving after brain death shouldn't have any notable intelligence - an Alpha surpasses that. Two is reconstructed, Beta improved in more grotesque ways. Threes integrate machinery into the reanimation process, but are still human in form.

A Gamma no longer relies simply on the human form and the materials present within it at the time of reanimation - instead it actively assimilates from the environment, and grows. Most of the reports so far claim they retain a general humanoid shape, if somewhat resembling a power armor or alien encounter suit that any normal person. Rumors abound though, that when the bipedal stance can no longer support their weight, they can adopt to something else. What these new forms might be vary from tales of "gun-toting zombie elephants" to tanks merged with human flesh. Although both of these outcomes seem unlikely, all reports do agree that the Gamma merges with ranged weapons making them the only reanimate to consistently be able to fight at a distance. (Alphas might use firearms, but it is unlikely.)

Gammas seem to be the only type of reanimate that shows a territorial preference. They seem only to be found in cities, or large complexes like mega-structures and industrial parks. Within these places, they are truly king and queens - the broken sight lines and narrow terrain greatly complicates the placement and use of the kinds of heavy weapons needed to kill one of these monsters. Meanwhile, it gives the Gamma plenty of places to hide for ambush or escape.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reanimates Revisited, Type Three

You just don't fight a Type Three. Not without HEAT rounds, mass drivers, or ATGMs at least.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the reanimates are like an organized army, nay - a super-organism each expendable, yet vital to the whole. Your Type One is the worker ant, Alphas are generals or commandos. Twos and Betas function as shock troopers or fast attack vehicles from - quick strikes from unknown directions.

Type Threes are tanks. I have seen a sniper tag one in the head with a fifty-caliber anti-material rifle, and it didn't even stumble. Less former human, more Rabbi Lowe's unstoppable golem, or that robot from the movie that had its sixtieth anniversary release a bit before The Event. It probably even has metal bones - so far as anyone knows, its what happens when a person with a lot of cybernetics reincarnates.

Its almost acceptable, to have a creature that can punch through concrete barriers, lift a small car, or walk through an artillery barrage like a summer rain shower. With all that has happened, its almost normal. What isn't, is what they look like. These aren't body builders pretending to be machines, they're normal people who were frail enough to need robotic parts surgically implanted. A little balding barber with some artificial legs, a pretty young prom goer that got in a traffic accident after her big dance, a convenience store clerk shot in the lung during a robbery - they're all as likely to be a Type Three as any hulking former marine.

You'll never know until they rip a tow truck in half.
A Type Three reanimate has 12 points of animus, and an SDI of 6. While damage will slow them down, even the average rifle (DR 4) is going to be hard pressed to leave much of a mark.

It might have average intelligence, awareness, and understanding compared to a human (4 each in Wits, Tech, and Quick) but there is no denying it is above human in strength (an 8!) and almost any use of unbridled force is considered skilled. (So for example, an attempt to smash a vault door is 8 dice, and they succeed of 4-6) Perhaps more distressing is that they might have other cybernetic componets that allow other stat tests to be considered skilled as well.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reanimates Revistied, Beta

Yes, I am calling it a reanimate to be technically correct, but everyone else is just going to refer to is as The Beta. At this point, it has ceased to be anything resembling human. Neither appearance nor temperament hit that this creature might once have been a man or woman - its just a shock trooper more alien than even the quadruped Planetary Citizens.

Other reanimates, "Kappa" aside - look pretty close to human, this one doesn't.  A Beta's skin is like half-melted tires, in both consistency and resiliency - they barely even notice something less than a shotgun slug. Its hands and feet have hooked talons between the digits allowing them the ability to climb many surfaces and tear off huge chunks of skin. Two arms, and two legs is only the minimum, Betas with six or eight limbs have been mentioned in many stories around the campfire. Exaggeration? Possibly. But there are enough things to be scared of without adding fanciful reanimates to that list.

You can find them hunting in packs, or rarely alone - thank god for small blessings.

Fortunately, their intelligence seems to stop at the logic more fewer humans equals better. The Beta might surprise you due to its location and silence - but they don't set the same sort of planned ambushes an Alpha or Type Two might. On the other hand, they're fast and will give chase a lot more readily than other reanimates. Be very wary of this! Betas can run faster than most humans, though they're not too agile, so you need to make rapid turns or duck through small openings to get away.

SDI 5, NT 2 NP 2- Bare hands are useless against a Beta, and even just knives and pistols (DR 2) are very uncertain without burning lucidity or burst fire. Their odd biology means once you do break through the armor, there isn't much behind it.

Betas have low stats despite their toughness - Two for wits and quick, one for technique and ranged. Close combat is a respectable five however, and their running speed is Run/12 making an injured human generally unable to escape through speed alone.

Unlike prior reanimates these ones have notable weapons - and are capable of ripping up armor and opening cars like tin cans - DR 5 with claws means they are close to being capable of ripping a person's head off with a single swipe (remember - DR six exceeds the SDI of two for a human by four - overkill...) Betas are capable of reduceing this if they want to take someone alive for some unknown reason...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Revisiting Reanimates, Type Two

About the only good thing you can say about the Type Two is that they are not as smart as the Alphas, and easier to spot than the Type Ones. Unfortunately, these are both only a matter of degree, and if you don't spot them or account for their intelligence, you are in for a world of hurt.

Perhaps the best way to describe the Type Two is that they reanimated wrong. Many of them seem a bit dis-formed or gangly, and almost all show open sores or pustules, often displaying a kind of quicksilver like discharge. Tumors and discolored patches of skin can be commonly found - hair a bit less so - often its missing in spots or gone entirely. In short, almost all of them look like victims of some terrible industrial accident, horrific disease, or chemical weapon attack.

Don't let these seeming injuries fool you however. They are not slowed down, addled, or falling apart - quite the opposite really. These reanimates are more like packs of Hyenas, if Hyenas could climb walls and ignore a load of buckshot to the face. Reports commonly describe them harrying victims, or one runner driving prey into an ambush set by the rest of the pack.

Treat a Type Two as you would treat a bloodthirsty Samurai wearing a flak vest, and perhaps you will survive the encounter.

Type Two Reanimates use the Necrotic Threshold - SDI 4, NT 1 NP 3 - meaning it takes three hits of at least two damage (the first "absorbed" by the NT" each to take one down. Given that a character generally only attacks once in a combat round, this is quite deadly. This gets worse, when they appear  in hunting pairs, or groups of three to eight.

Stat wise, the reanimates have low technique (2), but high for a human strength of 6, Wits 4, Quick 5, and close combat 5 and DR 3, though only ranged of one - they don't use tools often.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Revisiting Reanimates, Alpha

A quick note and apology - I just realized I forgot to update the link to the right to the new game file, that has now been rectified. The video post and the game files page had the correct link to the DoW release.

And now back to your regularly scheduled abomination.


Alphas are the stuff of nightmares. That sort of terminology does get thrown about a lot for the higher level creatures, and not without reason. Certainly the carnage wreaked by Betas is easily noticed, as is the whole swaths of destruction left by a Kappa. The terror of an Alpha is subtly. Its very easy to mistake the kills inflicted by one of these undead serial killers for the work of another human being. Quite likely, their kills are under-reported for this exact reason.

Other types of reanimates have hardiness or speed on their side, Alphas not so much. They're almost as easy to disable as a normal human - but key word is disable. Like the rest of the reanimates, you're still not going to destroy them  like that. You still need completely remove and then desecrate the head at some point to ensure nothing recovers the body and brings it back.

Finding it to do that though, is the catch. Chances are, it will find you - while you sleep. Alphas know how to hide, to track, to wait for targets to be distracted by other threats, and how to use tools. They can and will cut through barbed wire, scale a fire escape, enter the door, quietly sneak up on people, bash their heads in with an ax, then make an exit.  Thats right - these things know how to sneak and observe.

Hard as it is to tell a type one from a human, an Alpha is even harder. They know the value of camouflage and bathing occasionally - though they don't seem to be too picky about cleanliness. Alphas move as fluidly as a normal person, not with the stiffness of a One, or the loping of a Two. The lack of speech is similar to other reanimates, as is the high body temperature, but those signs are not obvious at first glance.

Some say you can tell them apart by their curiosity - Alphas are known for prodding defenses or exploring areas, or just walking off to the beaten path. Then again, those are all quite human behaviors as well. These creatures seem to have a fondness for melee weapons - but once again, many prudent humans also rely on such.

So yeah, its a reanimate with a survival instinct, near human intelligence, and extremely difficult to tell from a normal person up until it bashed your head in with a hammer. They are thankfully rare, but that certainly doesn't mean you'll only find one at a time.

An Alpha has stats similar to a baseline human - four strength, five wits, four quick, three tech, three ganged, and four close. Some might even qualify for certain skills, though that would be rare. They can run, (speed 10/run) but are not likely to give chase - preferring to reevaluate and ambush the prey at a more opportune time.

Alphas are harder to damage than humans, but not necessarily as oddly tough as their lower ranked Type One - SDI 3, NP2.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Revisiting Reanimates, Type One

More people are killed by Type One Reanimates than any other. They're just that ubiquitous, and many travelers are all too quick to dismiss them as a minor threat. It is true that the fastest they can move is a slow jog, nor are they much stronger than a normal human - most seem a bit emaciated in fact. Type Ones aren't known for subtly or grace either - although they don't speak or groan (of course, none of the reanimates vocalize) they are the most likely to just blunder through underbrush and puddles giving clear clues of their presence.

All the same, anyone with a good handle on their mental faculties and in good health has ways to avoid reanimates entirely. Chances are, you'll be facing the Type One in less than optimal situations. Furthermore, since they seem to hibernate in hidden places - its possible to think an area is clear, just to get ambushed. None of this is helped by their tendency to group up - dozens at a time is a very possible threat, disturbing an unexplored office tower could release hundreds.

Probably one of the more vexing things about the simple reanimate is that it doesn't use its brain. Put a bullet through its forehead, it won't notice. Right between the eyes - still not going to stop it. Through the chin at an upward angle - nope. The brain is already a small enough target - figure a five inch circle or so - but for a type one, you need to hit a certain part of it, at the low center - about where the spine and cranium meet. Short version - shave their mustache with a shotgun, or it will keep coming. You can knock them down for a short while aiming at the legs, but their bones seem to fuse in minutes, and then they're right back up.

Incinerate them, dissolve them, remove the head entirely and crush it with a sledgehammer separately, encase the things in concrete and dump it off a pier. If you haven't done that, they'll come back in a few hours. Or disappear and re-group.

Even the ones extra dumb individually show the strange group survival instinct reanimates are known for. Unlike movie zombies, reanimates will break off an attack that has almost no chance of success. This works both ways, unfortunately. If they don't seem to be giving up despite horrendous odds against them, chances are, the reanimates know something you do not - so be prepared to run!

As to appearance - do we really need to go over this? By now everybody knows that they look like a normal, but very unkempt person. Unless they have been in a fight with humans recently, there will be no tell-tale wounds or detached limbs like a move monster. They tend to move in a stiff jointed fashion, or appear drunk if a bit more limber than usual. Like all reanimates, they have a higher than normal body temperature - though you need a rather accurate themrograph to notice the roughly 2-3 degree C (6-9 F) difference, so don't rely on that method. About the only other notable physical sign is that they tend to shake their head a lot and scan the horizon by turning their heads rather than just shifting their eyes - but that is an easy thing to miss.

In game terms, the Type One would be a Sufficient Damage Index 2, 3 Necro Points, Jog (6) creature. People with weak weapons and minimal combat training are woefully unlikely to hit or penetrate the vital area. Fortunately their low SDI means that they can be torn apart by powerful weapons, or at least harmed by traps easily enough.

For physical stats, they have about Three in most areas, though four in close combat, and only two in ranged.  Someone who was a notable physical specimen before reanimation might carry over these enhanced abilities, but weaknesses are compensated for by the reanimates unusual life-cycle.
Rumor has it they can be trained, with some claims stating New Birmingham is amassing a small army of them equipped with old rifles.

Even without city-state interference, they can work their ways into hordes - SDI 3/HF3 for a small one, and SDI 4 HF 5 for bigger ones. Their SDI goes up as a horde, since their limited weak-spots mean the "spray and pray" tactics and shrapnel laden explosives normally needed to stop mass groups are not too effective.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Kind of Resort

Location: Redacted
Name: Redacted
Purpose: Level Three Testing

Although field tests provide an excellent proof of concept in the real world, far too many variables are in play for very accurate assessment of some program aspects. Furthermore, the task of isolation and clean-up afterwards is a non-negligible expense and can provide the occasional hazard if the tests - deviate. Hence a need to rely on controlled locations and conditions provided by specialized laboratories.

This location in particular is useful due to its warm setting and inviting atmosphere - though it is admittedly not the most isolated of locations. Fortunately, as a hotel, it is home to a population of transients, so it is unlikely that they have much familiarity the area, or that locals will notice their disappearance as anything other than routine.

I can't say I care for the decor of the main lobby - it reminds me a bit too much of the rather messy "coconut Grove" clean up operation a good while back, though I am one of the few staff old enough to remember that. Perhaps the more legitimate critique it looks cheap, like every other "tropical" theme bar festooned with plastic palm fronds and random pineapples.

Once you're checked it everything does markedly improve. To the left is the main hall, complete with stage, dancing, buffet, and second level bar overlooking everything, though just isolated enough to be quiet. There is an outdoor mezzanine, but the view is somewhat ruined by the structures containing most of the accommodation behind them. We're probably not going to do well trying to host weddings here but I suppose that is what happens when your hotel is designed by biologists instead of architects.

To the right is a few smaller rooms dedicated to activities - small movie theaters, meeting rooms, and an arcade. I approve of the last one - we don't have nearly enough of the younger demographics in our tests - though the selection might be a bit anachronistic. Do children really play pinball all that much these days? Nine of ten machines should be actual video games with a few analog machines, not vice versa. Also, that virtual robot twin stick game is unduly distracting the staff.

Yes, yes, I am griping about minutia. Do you expect anything less of me at this point? Allowing even small mistakes breed complacency, and that is hard something our operations can afford if we wish to remain on schedule.

At the very least, there isn't much to complain about with the rooms themselves. They are your very standard tessellating L-shaped hotel room, set back to back on on two story buildings, accessed by covered halls. If it weren't for the cheery setting and fairly plush amenities, it would seem like a fairly standard mom and pop motor lodge, but credit where it is due, as out of date as the arcade is, the rooms are very modern, and our agents have put their best foot forward in their masquerade as hotel staff. Paying them twice also probably helps, but the hotel does seem to be self-supporting so far as budget goes.

Room 101 contains a clever entrance to level B of the labs, whereas Level A is from a more discrete location near the boat house. Of course, you should already be quite familiar with the testing are layout - its quite similar to the one in Paris, though a bit reinforced after that accident with type "tree triple H" (Parasitic).

Testing is set to begin soon, though it will be starting slow with a surgical type to make sure everyone is properly up to date with SOP.