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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 2013

I haven't been having a great couple of months, and the materiel on this site is thinner that I would hope. Its been harder to keep my commitment to you than I'd like.

To make it up, let me show off some of the other work that I have produced.

A Teenage Texas Road Trip 
While still in draft form, is a longer piece of fiction set in the zone, and deals with a group of teenagers exploring the area outside of the Lone Star arcology. It contains an encounter with both the Planetary Citizens and Type One/Alpha reanimates. I think the story gives a good impression of entering a new town and dealing with the aliens.

The Last of Second Platoon, Charlie Company
This story is a fairly good example of how I want to eventually anthologize the sort of stories on this blog. While some of it should be recognizable from the archives, they are linked fairly well and the last section gives a good feeling for both operating a power armor and fighting Beta reanimates.

On My Way to Birobidzhan
This has no relation whatsoever to Dead... and Back, I just want to show I can write things that aren't related to zombies, and do so pretty well in fact.

Remington, IBM, Smith-Corona, and Underworld Typewriter Repair
Also unrelated to the game, but part of a different demon infested  cosmology I occasionally write about.

Let us not forget - its October 31st. Time for a music video to inspire your games. This time around, its scenes from "Hellsing"

There is no reason you can't replicate vampires in my game, and I certainly hope the above gives some good pointers on how to destroy ghouls with style.

Good luck with your gaming, and aim for the head!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Japan Tourist (Part One)

Japan just sounded like a neat place to visit. For all the energy shortages, social security problems, and rising sea levels there was still something to experience. Somehow it maintained or recreated that image from the late nineties - half samurai mysticism, half neon insanity. It seemed like a parody, like they were trying too hard to hold on to the days when economists talked of the coming war between the great economic powers. (No really, I've got a book "The Coming War With Japan"). You kind of just had to go and see what was real.

Well, I finally managed to find a tour group and uploaded translation software into a brand new set of headphones. It was going well - that perfect mid part of a trip when you're over jet lag, but still have some fresh clothes, and have not yet experienced stomach problems from the big shift in diet and eating street foods.

That is when The Event hit.

Everything in your life suddenly shutting down and states of national emergency are bad enough. When you don't know the language, your computer is wiped clean, outside communication is shut down, and all your currency records are wiped out?

I woke up in a hospital. Apparently it was just a panic attack, but bad enough I couldn't breath and passed out anyway. It didn't go full on movie cliche, fortunately. There was plenty of staff, they took excellent care, and even put me in contact with a girl who spoke fluent English. She's an otaku, but for Dungeons and Dragons of all things. Simply could not ask for a more perfect match.

Reanimates didn't show up immediately in the wake of the Citizens arrival, but things were in rationing and emergency mode pretty quickly. Probably comes from living with tsunamis, and the limited resources of the island. I imagine Israel got through it all pretty well too - albeit for less natural reasons.

I also imagine that the USA fared decently well due to the high per-capita gun ownership when reanimates really did show up. In a place where most of the police don't have firearms - it was hammers, kitchen knives, and table legs - the JSDF at one point was dropping loads of baseball bats and golf clubs onto rooftops to give people they couldn't get too a fighting chance!

The nation changed from the "land of the rising sun", to the "land of only sun". Reanimates have better night vision than humans, even if they can't see as well overall. Everything just shuts down and locks up a bit before sundown. I've been through orthodox Jewish neighborhoods on Friday night, and it still isn't as quiet as this. I swear the fog horn that sounds the all clear each morning is actually the nation's collected farts because they're that unwilling to make noise in the darkness.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Colonel Isaac Bradbury

Isaac felt old well before the The Event occurred. Fifty years as a first firefighter and national guard officer do that to a man. He even looks the part despite nano-medicine, bald, sagging jowls, lined face, and shifted weight. But his mind remains sharp, his will strong, and his sense of duty unshakable. If he could get out of the office long enough to march into hell, the other guardsmen would gladly follow him.

Unfortunately - many of the other residents want to send him there as soon as possible.

Colonel Bradbury maintains absolute devotion to the United States first, and to the NEST VIII outpost second. He does not show any great favor to leaving the NEST, and is cool to the notion of stretching the resources by inviting more in. The colonel stands by the military justice system, rather than the jury rigged one of the complex. This also makes him an impartial party in decisions and gains him a great deal of respect.

On the other hand, this makes him an impartial party in decisions where many of the other complex leaders would like to have support. There have already been a few attempts on his life in order to install a more favorable underling.

While none of the attempts have come particularly close to killing him, Isaac has become somewhat paranoid and withdrawn, avoiding contact with people outside the national guard or his hand-picked RATs. He is still one of the most powerful people in the NEST, however, being in charge of the military, most of the RATs and almost all of the armory. In total, he has nearly three hundred soldiers, a dozen light armored vehicles, and about 100 trained scavengers. (Of course, there are others in the complex to fill needs Bradbury will not commit to.)

Strength 4
Quick 4
Tech 4
Wits 4
Range 2
Close Combat 4

Animus: 10
Lucidity: 8
Deadening: 8
Up-Rise: 8 (16 kg in backpack)
Pack: 8 (8 slots/48 kg on hand)

Investigation (Very good at paperwork and logistics)
Access (Firefighter and Soldier)
SA: Rank/Society: National Guard

Equipment of note:
Col. Bradbury has an M-32 PDW in his office and a 9mm pistol on his belt, both of which he can use proficiently - even if his eyesight isn't what it used to be. His office is full of firefighter memorabilia, and he keeps his old turn out gear in his apartment - thought he acknowledges that its for the best to leave the job to younger people (as of 2055 he is 68).

Role in a Game:
Colonel Isaac Bradbury is a major figure in NEST VIII - and more likely than not, is going to be the player characters' boss. He is in charge of the RATs and Military.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Back to Texas

Adam drained his second canteen, and wiped the sweat from his brow. Dry heat wasn't supposed to be as bad, but everything counts in large amounts. It had been a long time since he was in this part of the country, and needed to acclimate once again. Another few days, and the tacky giant glass disco ball that formed part of the arcology complex would be visible. It contained high class restaurants and five star hotels, yes, but that would never change his opinion of the architecture. None of them would be quite so fancy five years of the apocalypse anyway..

Other feats of engineering were already visible - roads, construction depots, clusters of adobe houses, and metal shelters. Two entire communities popped up around the mega construction project. One was just the workers seeking to avoid commutes and costs by living nearby. Adams father had been one of those. Farther South of the complex was a refugee camp where his mother had lived. It almost seemed like Moses had parted Central America, sending people flying North and South - though sea rise and desertification had more to do with it.

There had been some attempts to make the place more livable than a shanty town. Few of the official actions had amounted to much, but a very large number of women had unofficially become tile layers and painters for the project. Normal union rules didn't apply, since the area had been declared and EDGE special economic zone. The government decided getting things done was more important than being right, and had let private interests take a free hand.

Even now, that was part of the reason why the young man was reluctant to return. There were many people who still held large amounts of the old money and a feeling that they owned the place. Legally that was true, but did those old rules mean they got to be the uncollected de-facto rulers of the complex? A legislative body existed, but the old rich held veto power over all but the biggest majorities. Maybe it was just a bit of low class resentment, but it just didn't seem right that there be kings in America.

Other problems waited there as well. To the East were the holy soldiers of New Birmingham, always eager to assimilate the complex. West and North were a pair of Planetary Citizen - tribes? Swarms? Nations? Groups - and opposed to each other no less. Alternately both sided would cajole or threaten the people of Lone Star to get supplies for their conflict, and none of the humans were really quite sure which to support. Mexico to the South had returned to the semi-feudal Hacienda system, a patchwork of plantations, some owned by the former government, some by independents, and many by former criminals. It was the 1910 revolution all over again, complete with soldier trains and horse cavalry. No brilliant general Obregon to bring it to a close, however.

For now, all that could wait. Only a few hours remained until sundown, and traveling at night was rarely a good idea. Better to stop now and find a residence. Provided they were free of reanimates, the old adobe houses up ahead would be the best accommodation Adam had in months.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hatching a Game in a NEST

A massive hive like structure that can contain and entertain a human for their entire lifespan. Whether its one massive skyscraper, or multiple thirty-story blocks connected by a web of sky-ways, its a construct larger than most towns. It would seem daunting to map all the passageways, to plan out a settlement for thousands of people, and describe a building unlike anything the players have seen.

Yet a NEST - or other arcology megastructure - is probably one of the better places for introducing new players to the world of Dead and Back's Anarchy Zone. Behind the gigantic walls are very familiar settings. Being largely self-contained and decently populated means there are plenty of alliances and conflicts waiting, aside from simply shooting reanimates. People from all walks of life survive inside the halls, so players are free to make characters outside the basic survivalist mold, and can easily replace them as necessary.

While the scale might be huge on the outside, within the NEST is very familiar territory. Medium to small apartments (many of them single room studios), fast food restaurants, school rooms, theaters - it is like any other city, just without sky. Although many places may be dark or dingy after five years of neglect, most of the interior has not fallen to ruin like exposed structures. Interior green spaces look like a mall's atrium or city botanical gardens, just with roof heights of between three and five stories.

A small city is too large for direct democracy, there will be bureaucracy and competition. Should the doors be opened to other survivors, or must some of the current population be expelled due to over crowding? How should the former property of others be divided among the survivors? Leaders will change, either through clever elections or more violent means, and the players can be their to exert influence, either for their bosses, or to gain some power themselves.

Many new stories are possible because many people survived thanks to the buildings inherent disaster isolation elements. Outside, much of the world belongs to raiders, ex-military, survivalists, and the savvy - though the simply lucky make for a good percentage as well. Few people would think of playing "Conan the Barber", cutting hair across the wasteland. But a stylist that maintains their business within a NEST, and over hears the discussions of the powerful because of it, could end up in some political intrigue. A teacher would struggle not for them-self alone, but with the question of what to teach in the new world, and how to keep a classroom as a safe and inspiring place when outside there is so much danger.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Before The Event, Nest VIII was like a Florida retirement community. Pleasant climate, stores, meeting people in open spaces to talk, sports clubs, shuffling about, and at night each retreated to a little box containing little more than a bed, closet, and old TV set. After The Event, it still had that Florida vibe. Now it was the swamps, however. Warm, dark, stagnant. No alligators, but plenty of other predators.

Advertisement spoke of a strangely retro city of tomorrow. Neatly manicured with each person in their place, easy commutes and modern conveniences. Reality was a bit more like a cross between a shopping mall and a prison. Turn out from bed, eat in a cafeteria, walk to work, relax in common area, back to little cell for the night. No parole. The apartment you reserved was generally the one you kept no matter the changes. Overbooked even before construction finished, space to move was lacking.

Not even the dead rising could lessen the crowding. Many apartments now were unowned, but not necessarily unoccupied. If anything, space constraints became tighter with refugees from locked off floors.

Most of the systems that kept the spaces habitable for so many shut down in short order. The great condensers that maintained temperature, the gargantuan banks of lights, and the grand Moloch incinerators that purified organic waste - all silent now.

Residents can't even walk about the floors normally. The once neat layout is in shambles from the haphazard pattern of closed passages. It is a maze of halls and shuttered security doors that separate the dark warrens from the overrun apartment blocks. No one is quite sure how the reanimates remain alive, much less occasionally active even after five years of being locked away. The living inhabitants have set up aquaculture in the fountains and farms in the atrium, but what have the many neighbors been up to?