Below is a sample transcript of a short gameplay session intended to provide a general feel for the setting and rules. The transcript encompasses roughly thirty minutes of gameplay
The Story So Far
A small band of Survivors have escaped into the local library of a small suburban town looking for a map. Player 1's character, Andrea, is a teenage girl; Player 2's character is Tubbs, a Mafiosa Hitman, and Player 3's character is Father Higgins, an elderly minister.
GM: You come back upstairs from the basement archives and are on the main floor of the library again. There is a distant lightning flash indicating the storm-clouds you saw earlier are getting nearer.
Andrea: I head to the door towards the parking lot.
Tubbs: Wait! I grab her and make sure to look around before moving forward.
GM: You look out into the reading room of the library and don't see anything moving.
Higgins: What's the layout of this place again?
GM: The library is roughly bow-tie shaped, with a large reading room in the central rotunda – the knot – and the stacks in the wings to either side. The check-out and entrance to the library is on the eastern side of the “knot”, with large glass windows on the left. The wings – to the north and south – are two stories high, with the second floor overlooking the central reading room. You are in the southern wing, having just come upstairs from the basement.
Higgins: And there are no zombies?
GM: You don't see any, but it's hard to see. It's nearly night so there's very little light from the windows and the electricity is off. Lots of concealing shadows, especially in the wings where all the book stacks are.
Andrea: And I've no intention of exploring. I rush to the main entrance. Let's get back to the car before we attract any attention.
Tubbs: We follow, keeping an eye on our surroundings.
Higgins: And keeping our weapons at the ready.
GM: Okay. You cross reading room and make it to the exit without incident. The glass doors are closed and you can see out into the parking lot.
Tubbs: Can we see our car?
GM: Yes. However, in the dim light you can also make out a number of moving forms. A large number.
GM: [rolls a die for the characters to determine whether or not they can make out any details. Despite the murk, he doesn't assign any penalties. They roll a 4, indicating success]. Seems to be. You guess there are at least thirty of them in the parking lot, and there may be more further out.
Higgins: Are they between us and the car?
Tubbs: And have they noticed us?
GM: There are at least twenty between you and the car, although they aren't all bunched up. You are fairly confident now that there are many more further out, though. [rolls another die for Perception, to determine whether the monsters have noticed the players. He rolls a 4, indicating the undead are alerted to the presence of the Player characters.] There's a sudden lightning flash and roll of thunder as the storm approaches from the west. Whether because of the noise or whether they have noticed you, the undead start shuffling in your direction.
Andrea: Can we make it to the car?
GM: You can try. There are a lot of zombies out there though, so you'll probably bump into at least a few. The monsters continue to shuffle in the direction of the library.
Tubbs: Could we hold them off from here?
GM: The doors are made of glass. They are also unlocked. The herd is getting closer; they are maybe twenty feet away. Are you guys going to do anything?
Higgins: Do they see us?
Andrea: What do we do? Are we going for the car?
Tubbs: No, they are too close. We'll get mauled.
Andrea: We should go for it.
Tubbs: No, back to the library. Maybe they haven't seen us.
Higgins: Can we lock the doors?
GM: [rolls for Perception again and gets a 3, which indicates the zombies are not aware of the characters]. It's not immediately clear that the undead have noticed you yet, but they are definitely heading in your direction. You can try to lock the doors, but it'll take extra time and you'll be standing right in front of the doors while you lock them. I need a decision guys.
Tubbs: We dash back into the library and hide behind something. Leave the doors unlocked; if they have seen us, they'll just break them open and if they haven't, they probably aren't smart enough to open them anyway. Uh, do you have to pull or push the doors?
GM: Luckily, the doors needed to be pulled open from outside. Okay, you dash back into library and hide behind the check out counter. [Rolls one more Perception roll; he decides to give a +1 to the zombies because the players are right in front of them, but also gives a -1 penalty because of the darkness and because the players are trying to hide. He rolls a 5.]. Uh-oh. You make it to the counter but there's a definite increase in the moaning from behind you. You hear some dull thumping on the glass doors.
Tubbs: I think they saw us.
Higgins: Is there any other way out?
Andrea: Can I shoot some of the zombies from here?
GM: You want to attack them?
Tubbs: No! Not yet. You'll just break the doors. Let's see if we can get out some other way.
Andrea: Good point. Also, I just remembered I don't have a gun anymore; I lost it in the basement, remember?
Higgins: Wasn't there a window on the other side of the room?
GM: Yes, the opposite wall of the reading room is a basically all glass, from floor to ceiling.
Higgins: Any doors?
GM: Not that you can see. There are a large number of zombies now clustered at the entrance, moaning and pounding on the glass. What are you guys doing?
Tubbs: I sort of crouch-walk into the reading room looking for another exit.
Higgins: I go with him.
Andrea: Is the door holding? I stay by the counter and keep watch on the door.
GM: The door is still holding; they are pounding on the glass and it's vibrating scarily, but it hasn't even cracked yet. [to Tubbs and Higgins] You don't see any exit. The window doesn't have any doors in it, and – as far as you can tell – none of the windows open. The library is climate controlled.
Higgins: What, no emergency exits? There has to be a fire door or something; this is a public building!
GM: There might be somewhere, but you can't see any. There is no electricity, so the emergency exit signs aren't lit. Um, roll a die for Perception, with a -1 because of the darkness.
Tubbs: I rolled a 6.
GM: Okay. Staring out the big windows, you see the large lawn in front of the library. It appears empty at first, but at the next lightning flash, you suddenly realize there are dozens of zombies standing on the grass looking in your direction.
Tubbs: Uh-oh. I think we're surrounded. I duck behind something.
Higgins: Did they see us?
GM: It seems likely. Some of them were just a few feet away from the window.
Higgins: We might have to shoot our way out after all.
Andrea: Wait, I don't have a gun, remember? All I have is this 2x4 board!
Tubbs: Is the door holding?
GM: Yes, although you don't know how. There are probably thirty zombies pounding on the glass.
Higgins: Wasn't there a second floor? Are there stairs or something?
Tubbs: You want to go upstairs?
GM: Uhh... yeah. You see some stairs leading up from the central reading room up to the north wing.
Higgins: Can we see anything up there?
GM: Bookshelves and darkness.
Andrea: What are we going upstairs for?
Higgins: Maybe we can hide. Zombies have problems going up stairs.
GM: Better do something soon. The first spidery crack appears on one of the glass panels around the entrance.
Tubbs: That's it. Everybody head for the stairs!
GM: You all scramble for the stairs. There's a sudden roar from behind you; if they weren't sure you were in the library before, the zombies sure know you are there now!
Tubbs: Upstairs, upstairs!
GM: You make it to the second floor.
Higgins: I look for something to block the stairs, like one of those book trollies you find in libraries.
GM: Good idea. You find one.
Higgins: I shove it down the stairs, so it falls and blocks the way.
GM: It tumbles with a terrific clatter.
Tubbs: I look for other stuff to throw down the stairs.
GM: Okay. Uh, have Tubbs roll a Perception die for me.
Tubbs: I roll a 1. That's not good, is it?
GM: Hmm. Okay. Here's what happens. You see a couple of chairs in one of the aisles and go to get them. When you do, a pair of arms lunges out behind one of the shelves and grabs at you. [rolls “To Hit”, and gets a 6.]
Tubbs: Sneak attack!
GM: It doesn't hurt you but it sort of has you caught. You can't do anything this round. Everybody else can fight normally.
Higgins: Where are we?
GM: Tubbs is between two of the book shelves. The zombie is in the aisle on the other side of one of the shelves, and is reaching through the books to grab at him. Higgins and Andrea are at the end of the aisle, so you can see everything.
Higgins: I still have a gun. I can shoot him; is he in range?
Tubbs: No, don't shoot him! The noise! We're trying to hide up here!
Higgins: Oh, right. Okay, I rush up to Tubbs and try to pull him free.
GM: Roll a Skill check for strength. Um, Tubbs isn't caught that tightly, so have a +2 bonus; anything other than a 1 will free him.
Higgins: I rolled a 1. I am an old man.
Andrea: I rush behind the zombie and smash it in the head with my 2x4 board of zombie-slaying.
GM: Okay. That's like a club, so you normally get no bonuses, but I'll give you a +1 to damage because the zombie is facing away from you and totally fixated on keeping Tubbs in its grip.
Andrea: I rolled a.... 4 “To-Hit!” Yes! And... a 5 for damage.
GM: With that +1 bonus, that's a 6. The zombie is dead.
Andrea: Yeah! I smash its skull to pieces!
GM: The zombie collapses to the ground with a groan. Bits of scalp and brain are hanging off Andrea's board. Tubbs pulls himself loose from its grip.
Tubbs: I straighten my shirt. Tubbs does not get scared from this sort of stuff.
GM: Uh-huh. Well, maybe he will get scared from this. From all around you you start hearing movement and low moans, as if something – or things- have been woken up. Also, from downstairs you hear a loud shattering of glass.
Tubbs: They've gotten in. And they are upstairs. Great. We're dead.
Andrea: Can I see the other zombies up here?
Higgins: I look for an exit. A window or something.
GM: What with the darkness and all the shelves, its hard to make anything out but you see shadowy movement from behind the stacks. And there aren't any windows up here.
Higgins: No windows? A door? Oh, I know; is there, like, a ladder to the roof or something?
GM: Oh, good idea! I like that! Yes, it is barely visible, but you see at the far end of the wing a ladder on the wall leading up to a trap door in the ceiling.
Higgins: Anything between us and the ladder?
GM: Not yet.
GM: You dart for the ladder. It's dark and you almost break your neck stumbling over some books, but you make it.
Higgins: Up! Up!
Tubbs: Can we go up? Is the trapdoor locked?
GM: It looks as if there is a place for a lock, but it seems to be empty. You can probably just push the door open when you climb the ladder. Also, you see several shambling forms stumble into the aisle behind you; they moan and start moving in your direction.
Higgins: Can we get up the ladder first?
GM: You can if you go right away; they are a few dozen feet away.
Tubbs: Okay, Andrea and Higgins go first. I'll go last. If any of them get close I'll try to shoot them.
GM: I'll let Andrea and Higgins make it up this round. Tubbs will have to climb the ladder next round. The nearest zombie will be in range by then, though.
Tubbs: Okay. They climb, I'll shoot. Next round I'll climb and hope it doesn't hit me.
GM: Andrea goes up the ladder and shoves the hatch open. She scrambles up onto the roof. Higgins follows her without any problems. Roll “To-Hit” to see if Tubbs hits the zombie. What are you attacking with?
Tubbs: I have my pistol. I have a +1 bonus because I used my Players Option for Pistols. I roll... 4. With +1 that's a 5.
GM: That's a hit, no problem. Roll Damage.
Tubbs: 6! I got a 6!
GM: Bang! Your bullets catches it squarely in the forehead and it flops over backward, dead. Unfortunately, you see another two zombies behind it.
Tubbs: Are they in range?
GM: No. Not this round and – thanks to the dead zombie blocking the aisle between the shelves – they won't get you next round either. You can climb the ladder in safety if you want.
Tubbs: I want! I want!
GM: Okay, next round. What are Andrea and Higgins doing?
Higgins: We're on the roof, right? What do we see?
Andrea: I help Tubbs up the ladder.
GM: Oh, let me think. The roof is flat and, um, there's a low wall around the edge. There's a small dome above the central reading room but otherwise you can walk from one side of the building to the other.
Higgins: Any zombies or anything?
GM: No, unless they are hiding on the far end of the building; it's pretty dark. But it's unlikely that any of them made it up here.
Higgins: I slam the hatch shut as soon as Tubbs makes it up then.
GM: Tubbs is up. The hatch is closed.
Andrea: I look over the edge, what do I see?
Higgins: Are we near another building?
Tubbs: I catch my breath.
GM: You are by the north-east corner of the building. Looking over the edge to the right, you see the parking lot. There are a lot of zombies clustered by the entrance to the south. Ahead of you, to the north, is another building, a bit taller than the one you are on. It's separated by an alley about, um, ten feet wide. To the west is that big lawn that had all the zombies on it. You can't see what's at the far end of the building.
Higgins: Any way down? Like a fire escape, or ladder, or can we climb?
Andrea: I crawl towards the far end of the building to see what's down there.
Tubbs: Wait, can we lock the hatch?
GM: Hold on, hold on. No, you can't lock the hatch, there's no latch or anything. Maybe you can weigh it down if you want. From where Higgins is standing, you can't see a fire escape or ladder, and you don't remember seeing one from when you came in the building anyway. Uh... you might be able to climb down, I suppose. I'll say the building is made of brick. Andrea wants to go alone?
Andrea: Yeah, but I'll go slowly and carefully; if I see anything weird I'll head back immediately before I get close.
Tubbs: Oh, I know! Old trick; I penny shut the hatch!
Tubbs: You know; I use some loose change to wedge shut the door.
Higgins: Will that work on a trap door?
Tubbs: Shut up, it'll work.
GM: Uh, I don't know if it'll work in real life, but what the heck. You penny shut the trap door. It's not opening without being forced now.
Tubbs: Hah! Let's see them get up here now!
GM: You hear a lot of moaning from beneath you, but the hatch is solidly shut.
Higgins: It worked.
GM: Also, there's a loud crack of thunder from above you and you start to feel a few drops of rain.
Tubbs: Oh, I forgot about that.
GM: I didn't, heheh.
Andrea: What about me? What do I find?
GM: Oh, right. You carefully circumnavigate the building, and discover... that it is standing all alone and there are no other structures abutting it. Also, you don't find any other trapdoors or a fire-escape. They didn't expect people to come up here.
Andrea: So we are stuck here?
Tubbs: In the rain.
Andrea: And surrounded by zombies.
Tubbs: In the rain.
Higgins: Enough with the rain; at least we are still alive. There's no way down?
GM: Not that you can see.
Andrea: Maybe we can jump to that other building.
GM: You can try. It's about ten feet away, though, and right into a blank wall.
Andrea: Can't we jump on the roof?
GM: The other building is two stories taller than this one. The roof is out of reach.
Higgins: Wait, I have an idea. I look over the edge to the east. You said the parking lot is down there. Can we see the car we came in?
GM: What with the rain and the night, it's pretty dark so you can't spot too many details, but yeah, you can make out the general shape and position of your car.
Tubbs: Getting wet here.
GM: It's not really raining that hard yet. It's mostly drizzle, but it's getting quite windy and the there's frequent thunder and lightning above.
Higgins: Are there any zombies around our car?
GM: Good question. Let's say no. There are a handful of undead wandering the parking lot still, but these are far apart. Most of the walkers are either clustered in front of the entrance or have already filtered their way into the library.
Andrea: So we can get to the car if we can get down.
Higgins: We'll climb down the wall. It's made of brick. Is there anything to hold onto, like wires or a drainpipe?
GM: No drainpipe, but there are some cables loosely nailed to the brickwork.
Tubbs: We should go down the wall into the alley first. It will give us some cover. Is there anyone in the alley?
GM: Roll a die to see if you spot anything.
Tubbs: Uh... got a 3.
GM: You don't see anything. The alley is pretty bare; just some trash bins and a fence on the far end. There doesn't seem to be anything moving down there.
Higgins: Are there any zombies near the entrance to the alley?
GM: No. The wanderers are mindlessly roaming the parking lot and all the alerted ones are down by the entrance. It's a straight shot to the car.
Tubbs: Great. So now all we have to do is climb down.
Higgins: It's only two stories. Even if we fall we'll probably survive.
GM: It's about 35 feet up. The first floor had a pretty high ceiling. Oh, and that rain you were expecting is starting to come down now.
Tubbs: Well, I don't want to stay up here. Let's climb down.
Andrea: I'll go first. What do I have to do?
GM: Um, it's a difficult climb, and it is in the dark and wet... so how about a -2 penalty.
Andrea: Okay, I go. No, wait; can I use my Players Option to help with this?
GM: If you want. You can give yourself a related skill that will give you a +1 bonus.
Andrea: How about... Andrea is a 16-year old girl, right? She's taken gymnastics all her life, so she's skilled in stuff like this.
GM: No problem. You use your Players Option for Gymnastics. Let's say that will give her a +1 to any climbing or tumbling rolls she needs to make.
Andrea: I climb down the wall. I roll a 5.
GM: With the -2 penalty and your +1 bonus, that turns into a 4. After carefully picking your way down the brickwork, you make it down safely.
Andrea: I slide against the wall and keep watch on the zombies to make sure none of them are coming near.
GM: You seem to be safe for the moment. The alley is empty and the undead do not seem aware of your presence yet.
Tubbs: My turn. Over I go. I roll a 5.
GM: With the -2 penalty, that's a 3. You are clinging to the wall when about third of the way down you lose grip on the bricks and crash into the ground with a thud. Roll for damage; you feel slightly more than 20 feet so that's a +1 on the damage roll.
Tubbs: I rolled a 3.
GM: With the +1, that becomes a 4 so you are Injured. You slam into the ground on your back and feel a sharp pain in your chest. You breath is knocked out of you and you are out of it for a few moments. Any future rolls will suffer a -1 penalty until you get Healed.
Andrea: I rush over to him to see if I can help.
GM: Tubbs will be fine; he's just momentarily Staggered. But he'll also move slower now too.
Tubbs: I'm fine, I'm fine. Tubbs is made of stern stuff. I get up slowly.
Higgins: It will be harder for us to get to the car now, though.
Andrea: I know; I'll get the car and drive it over here. Then you guys just leap in and we drive away.
Higgins: Good idea. Go now, and meanwhile I'll climb down. Except this time I'm going to use that cable you mentioned.
GM: So Andrea is going for the car, Tubbs is staying in the alley -
Tubbs: With my pistol out, just in case.
GM: Sure. And Higgins is climbing down?
Tubbs: That's the plan.
GM: Okay, we'll do Andrea first.
Andrea: I run across the parking lot, trying to keep a low profile.
Tubbs: Wait! I have the keys! I throw them to her.
GM: Andrea, you hear Tubbs go “hsst!” at you to get your attention and he tosses the keys in your direction. Roll a Skill check to see if you catch them.
Andrea: Okay. Oh no, a 3.
GM: It's just too dark for you to make out the keys in flight. They crash into the ground in front of you in what seems like a deafening clatter. [secretly rolls a Perception check for the zombies, and gets a 3, indicating the zombies are now Alert].
Andrea: I grab the keys and run to the car.
Tubbs: I'm watching intently.
Higgins: Am I down yet?
GM: No, but if you started when Andrea left you should be down soon.
Andrea: Do I make it to the car?
GM: Yes, you are at the car. However, several zombies have apparently noticed you and are heading in your direction.
Andrea: I get in the car!
GM: It will take at least two rounds, since you have to unlock the doors first.
Andrea: I unlock the door then.
Tubbs: Can I see any of this?
GM: Roll Perception
GM: No, it's just too dark. At best you think you see movement in the parking lot. Okay Andrea has the door unlocked. The shamblers are getting nearer.
Andrea: I get in the car and slam the door shut!
Higgins: No, don't slam the door!
GM: You yank open the car door, leap into the drivers seat and loudly slam the door shut behind you.
Higgins: Oh boy. Tell me I'm down.
GM: Wait your turn. As soon as the door is shut, Andrea, a zombie slams into the window with its fist.
Andrea: Ahhh! Does it break through? I put the keys in the ignition.
GM: No, you are safe for the moment, but there is at least one zombie right outside the driver's side door. But let's leave you for a moment and do the two guys in the alley.
Higgins: I'm climbing down the wall, using the cable to help support my weight.
GM: Okay, roll a skill check. Remember, you have a -2 penalty.
Higgins: No problem. I roll, oh no. A 1!
GM: Ouch. That's an obvious failure, even without the penalty. Roll Damage to see how bad it is.
Higgins: No! A 6!
GM: Oh boy. And I wasn't even going to give you a penalty for Damage. Alright. You are carefully creeping down the wall using the cable to help guide you down and support your weight when suddenly it pops out of the wall and you go flying backwards in total surprise. You slam awkwardly against the ground, and there's a loud crack as your neck breaks. Technically, you are dead, but for drama I am going to say you are actually still alive but paralyzed from the neck down. You can't move or do anything, but – at least for the moment – you are still alive and aware, although in great pain.
Higgins: Gee, thanks.
Tubbs: I go see what happened.
GM: You go over to where Higgins is lying. His neck is at an awkward angle and there is blood everywhere. His eyes are still open and he still seems to be breathing, albeit painfully.
Tubbs: Is there anything I can do?
GM: No. As far as the game is concerned, he is Dead. This is just for pathos. You won't be able to Heal him and he'll never be able to move or do anything.
Higgins: Can I talk?
GM: Sure. Not much, but you can have some parting words if you want.
Higgins: I say something noble like, “Go, leave me. Save yourself”
Tubbs: Can I salvage his gear?
Higgins: Really? I'm not even dead yet!
Tubbs: We'll need this to save ourselves. It's for the greater good.
Higgins: Fine. I have a pistol with two full clips and that food we found. Oh, and the map.
GM: How many inventory Slots does Tubbs have?
Tubbs: I'm only carrying my pistol and ammo right now. With all his stuff that will fill up my four Slots.
GM: Alright then. As he watches you with his pain-wracked eyes, you run your hands over his body looking for anything of value, which you then pocket.
Tubbs: Life is hard in Zombiepocalypse.
Higgins: Wait. Can I say one last thing?
Higgins: I say this: “Don't leave me alive for them.” 'Cause I don't want Higgins to be eaten alive, or to turn into a zombie.
Tubbs: You want me to kill you?
Higgins: Life is hard in Zombiepocalypse. Besides, technically I'm already dead.
Tubbs: Well, Tubbs is a stone-cold killer. With a sad look, I stand up, dust myself off, then carefully aim my pistol at my friend's face and take a shot.
GM: Higgins is even more dead now.
Andrea: Am I there yet?
GM: Oh, I forgot about you. Back to Andrea.
Andrea: I put the car into drive and head towards the alley.
GM: That will take more than one round. This round you can just start the engine.
Andrea: That's what I do then.
GM: If I was mean, I'd make you roll a Skill Check to put the keys in the ignition and start the car because of how dark it is -
Andrea: The cabin light is on from when the doors were opened!
GM: - but I wasn't going to do that anyway. You twist the keys and the engine roars to life.
Andrea: Excellent! I pull out and head towards the alley.
GM: Not yet. Your friend Mr. Zombie gets a chance to say hello first. He bangs on the window. [Rolls “To-Hit” and gets a 3] No go. He leaves messy, bloody prints on the driver's side window but that's all. You see another zombie heading towards the car, though.
Andrea: Can I drive now?
GM: Yes, it's a new round.
Andrea: I slam the car into gear and put the pedal to the metal! Can I hit the zombie?
GM: Not the one that attacked you - he was to the side – but you can try to hit the one in front of you if you want.
Tubbs: Don't do it. It's not worth it and you'll probably lose control or break the car!
Andrea: Aw, you're no fun. Fine, I zoom past the zombie.
GM: Alright. As you pull out, tires squealing, the zombie that was attacking you gets knocked to the ground. You avoid the other one and head towards the alley.
Andrea: So am I there yet?
GM: Uh, it actually takes another round, but since Tubbs is busy with Higgins and you're going to keep driving, I'll just move the zombies. Basically, between the gunshot in the alley and Andrea's loud antics with the car, all the nearby zombies are now orienting on the alley.
Andrea: Get in! Get in!
Tubbs: Can I get in?
GM: Andrea slams on the brakes right in front of the alley. The zombies are approaching but are all several rounds away.
Tubbs: I run out of the alley and leap into the car. How many rounds will that take?
GM: It doesn't really matter, so I'll say one. Maybe two. Ignoring the pain in your side as best you can, you hobble into the car long before any zombies get into attack range, anyway.
Tubbs: Go! Go! Go!
GM: Andrea doesn't know about Higgins, by the way.
Andrea: Oh yeah. I ask, “Where's Higgins?”
Tubbs: He didn't make it. Go!
GM: Are you going?
Andrea: I guess. Poor Higgins.
GM: You shove the gearstick into drive again and the back of the car slews unnervingly as the tires try to get traction, before you speed out of the parking lot. The herd of zombies, all now well aware that there are Living nearby, follow you but you quickly outpace them.
Andrea: So now where?
Tubbs: I have the map. Now we can find a place to hole up safely. Let's just get out of town. I try to find a route on the map.
GM: Using the map, you plot a course for the highway. But as you carefully drive through the rainswept streets, you see somebody running down the street toward you, yelling and waving at you with his with a flashlight in hand. It's obviously somebody who is still alive, and he's being chased by another herd of zombies.
Tubbs: Who is it?
Andrea: I stop the car and shout, “Get in! Quickly!”
GM: We don't know who it is yet. It's the replacement for Higgins.
From here, Player 3 is re-introduced to the party as a new character, and the players can now decide what to do next as the adventure continues.
(c) 2013 Spalls Hurgenson