Category Archives: Session Logs

GURPS After the End, Session 108

Dramatis Personæ

John Cromartie (Rigil Kent)
Korbin Savage (Mike E)
Nicholas Biermann (WxMan)
Wes Johnson (DefiantBudah)

Angels and Demons

24 Apr 2013, ~11:00

Meanwhile, back at the convoy…

The sick were being transported on the Crew’s trailer, and were under guard. A couple of hours in, the convoy stopped to let those walking rest. Ann was off-duty, and helping the elderly, like she used to back in Alaska; Wes was on-duty at the trailer. One of the sick rescued from the bus-fire in the wee hours of the morning, Lenny, who was also bitten by zeds trapped in the bus and considered to be a “goner,” requested to speak with Bill Adams, and Bill was fetched to the trailer. Wes was asked to give them a moment; though he couldn’t quite hear what was being said, standing out of earshot, it was pretty obvious that Lenny was asking to be “put down,” indicating a barn off the road as a likely spot. Bill asked Wes to come along and bear witness, being nearby, and not a resident of Harveyville (so he didn’t really know Lenny).

As the three walked away from the convoy toward the barn, Wes, as an experienced auto-mechanic, recognized a smell of fuel on Lenny, and asked about it; Lenny suggested it was likely a result of the bus-fire. Inside the barn, Lenny leaned against a post, resigned to his fate; he and Bill briefly discussed how he wanted it to go down. As Bill said his goodbyes, and was about to pull the trigger, Lenny changed his mind, deciding to do it himself, and requested the gun; Bill relinquished the pistol. With an evil smirk, Lenny turned the gun on Bill instead, and pulled the trigger—it failed to fire. Wes went for his gun, about the same time Bill produced his, and Bill then revealed that he knew from examination of the crime-scene that the fuel for the fire was poured outside the bus, and the only way Lenny could have it on him was to have poured it himself.

notLennyAt that point, Lenny’s eyes turned completely black, as he sneered, and said that he would have to resort to “Plan B,” and lunged at Bill. Wes was frozen in place, shaking. Bill reflexively emptied half his magazine into not-Lenny, but the man remained standing, and called Bill a “murderer”—then he “vomited” a large volume of black smoke into the air, before collapsing to the floor, now very dead. The two stood stunned for a moment. Upon hearing others approach, no doubt coming to see what the gunfire was about, Bill advised Wes to say nothing of what he saw, lest they start a panic, and to let him do the talking, before they both exited the barn. As Bill walked ahead to meet the incoming townies, Wes caught someone out of the corner of his eye, motioning him to come over to the corner of the barn—it was Kesler…but he was dead, wasn’t he? After what he had just seen, Wes figured this couldn’t be any worse, and approached. As Wes cleared the corner of the barn, out of sight of the others, “Kesler” warned him that he was in great danger here; he put a hand on his shoulder, and Wes turned to see the Crew’s truck as it maneuvered into the parking lot of the Wamego hospital(!)—and “Kesler” was nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital…


As the truck pulled into the hospital parking lot, Nick, in the bed, was distracted by a flock of white birds scattering some distance behind them, when he noticed Wes standing by the road, motionless, as if in shock (or possibly a zombie). He immediately alerted the others, and after parking, they went over to see what was going on. Wes, still a bit shaken, told what happened, but understandably, none of the others could truly process his story, nor fathom an acceptable explanation for how he got here; they decided to continue their mission to loot the hospital for meds anyway and think about all that later.




There was a crashed med-flight helicopter blocking the lobby, so they circled around and entered through the emergency-room entrance. Matthew’s shopping list in hand, they stuck together, trying to keep as quiet as possible (which, as it turned out, wasn’t all that quiet) while pilfering the hospital—which turned out to still have quite a bit of stuff left; jackpot! As they crept room-to-room, they found quite a few bodies, all in advanced state of decomposition, and the smell was horrendous; as soon as they found some medical masks, they each put one on, just in case. They planned to take their time, and search the place thoroughly. An hour and a half into their search, some zombies started to straggle into the area outside, so the Crew blocked off the exits they weren’t using, locked doors, and wedged gurneys and such into the hallways, to make it as difficult as possible for the shamblers to get through. While searching near the garage area, Korbin found where some helicopter wreckage had fallen and blocked in the garage; he was eying one of the tail-rotors as a potential weapon, and wiggled it a bit to see if he could work it loose, when the whole mess came noisily crashing down. When the dust cleared, they discovered an untouched ambulance behind the garage door—fully stocked, fueled, and ready to roll, if not for the dead electrical system. The trickle of zombies was increased, as expected, attracted by the noise. Everyone stopped what they were doing to evaluate the situation, and decided they could probably get the mess cleared out of the way, and tow the ambulance with their own truck—even without power, it would still be an excellent mobile medical center for the convoy—fortunately it was old enough they could shift it into neutral for towing, and Wes had grabbed a tow-strap at the auto-parts store they first came across in Council Grove. Wes and Korbin brought the truck around and started working on getting it free, while John and Nick went back inside to continue looting.

As John and Nick approached one of the rooms, they heard something knock over within, and cautiously pushed the door open, ready for a fight; the door opened inward, and was attacked by a golf club, wielded by a living man, a doctor by the look of him. He was relieved at the sight of the living, and confessed he had returned here a couple of days ago from elsewhere, and gotten trapped inside out of fear of the walking-dead outside. On inquiry, they revealed that they were looking for medication to take back to a convoy headed to safety, and the doctor was more than happy to find what civilization remained in the world; he helped carry a load of supplies out to the truck. As they navigated the defensive maze they had created, John continued to ask questions, but wasn’t entirely satisfied with the answers the stranger was giving, and he suspected the stranger had picked up on John’s otherwise expertly-hidden suspicion—no mean feat.

Emerging outside on the path to the garage area, Korbin spotted them and asked about the new guy. As introductions were being made, Wes, who was buried in his work at the moment, popped into view to see what was going on; upon seeing Wes, the stranger’s countenance changed. The Crew looked on in utter confusion as the stranger bellowed at the empty air for whomever-it-was to show himself, and asked them, rhetorically, how it felt to be “bait on a hook.” He then addressed Wes directly, amused, asking if the “Old Man” had been strung up by the townies yet, confessing that the look on Wes’ face when he turned the gun on the Old Man was priceless; as the stranger’s eyes went full-black, like back at the barn, a wave of horror passed over Wes as he recognized that this was not-Lenny, seemingly in a new body. As the others saw the stranger’s eyes turn, they choked back their own fear, and began to act; Korbin lowered his hand to his pistol, but not-Lenny whipped around to glare at him, saying, “You won’t be needing that,” as he waved his hand in Korbin’s direction—Korbin was thrown against a nearby wall, and held suspended by the neck, by some invisible, telekinetic hand. Again, the stranger demanded whomever-it-was show himself.

In a state of utter confusion, the Crew never noticed that there was another man standing nearby—or did he just appear there?—and not-Lenny released Korbin and acknowledged the new stranger’s presence. The two began to verbally joust, like best-of-enemies or worst-of-friends, ignoring the baffled Crew entirely; the new one referred to not-Lenny as “Abaddon,” who referred to him as “Pyriel.” The Crew had apparently been used to draw this “Abaddon” out of hiding—the bait. Pyriel, with no emotion whatsoever on his countenance, politely informed them that they should immediately flee—and they did so, bolting for the truck, which had thankfully not been connected to the ambulance just yet. They dared not look back, but could see from the reflection around them that there was a blinding light, like the sun, behind them, and a great wind kicked up a cloud of dust and debris around them, along with a mighty roar. Korbin, in the driver’s seat, almost blind, did his best to punch the accelerator through the floorboard, as they peeled out of the garage area and down whatever street immediately presented itself.

A few hundred yards down the road, Korbin slammed the brakes, skidding the truck to a halt. The light from whatever-it-was could still be seen over the trees and houses, like a sunset behind the hospital, in stark contrast to the overcast skies. They were frantic struggling to explain what it was they had just witnessed, but couldn’t make any sense of it, other than to guess about “demon possession” and “warrior angels.” Frustrated, Korbin stormed out of the truck toward the nearest zombie, and buried his machete repeatedly in its head until it stopped twitching. As the light over the hospital died, the Crew decided they couldn’t very well leave all that stuff, and the ambulance behind, so they cautiously made their way back to the hospital’s garage. They found a debris-littered crater where they had stood some moments before. The ambulance was scarred, the top of the box seared off like a sardine can, but they figured it would still be useful. They fixed the tow-strap, piled what they could in both vehicles, and made haste for the highway back toward the convoy, mercifully putting Wamego, Kansas in their rear-view. It was slow going towing the ambulance; John steered it while Korbin continued to drive the truck. Further down the highway, in the distance, they spotted the Winnebago they had encountered earlier. As they approached, they could see bodies strewn all around it, and feared the priest hadn’t survived, until a vent opened atop the RV, and the priest emerged, waving in greeting.

GM’s Notes

  • GM Confidence: 4 of 5; despite the extra week to prep, I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked, exacerbated by the last-minute absence of Ann’s player, which complicated what I wanted to do for the session. There was also a bit of a delay getting started, which caused me to cut some early content. It felt a bit railroady to me, too—maybe just because of the stuff with Wes at the beginning. That said, in the end, I felt like it accomplished what I wanted, and seemed to get the reaction I intended.
  • I intended to bring Wes and Ann back to the party at the same time, but I couldn’t quite justify her showing up and immediately passing out (or being otherwise useless); I opted to get everyone to the point where they can just show up at the convoy next time, and reassemble the team there
  • More tarot hilarity: the helicopter crash was a tarot result (Knight of Wands, Reversed); during the search process, I “asked the tarot” what sort of complication they would encounter, and drew Wheel of Fortune—which usually indicates a lucky break, and isn’t much of a complication—so I enlisted the players’ help, and ended up with the fully-stocked ambulance, which would be a bit of a distraction from their “real mission”; the priest’s situation at the end was another reading—Devil, Reversed; a number of ways to read that one, but I had plans for him later, so his death wasn’t an option for the moment, so I read it as a zombie-siege that he came out on top of
  • Korbin’s player rolled a Critical Failure on Stealth for the looting process; we ended up with the helicopter-debris incident—the fact that it revealed the ambulance was a narrative convenience on my part; there needed to be a reason why it hadn’t been touched, so being “buried” made sense
  • If you hadn’t picked up on it yet: Cylon=Demon, here; logically, that means that there are others amongst the Fleet…err, convoy
  • Obviously, I’m ripping of…doing homage to Supernatural’s angels/demons; intentional from the start

GURPS After the End, Session 107

Dramatis Personæ

John Cromartie (Rigil Kent)
Korbin Savage (Mike E)
Nicholas Biermann (WxMan)

Scouting Ahead

24 Apr 2013, ~09:00

ksmap-107Bill Adams took the Crew aside; as they had a pickup, he advised them to hit some of the off-route towns and try to come up with some medical supplies. He suggested Wamego as a good target; everything within a twenty-mile radius of Harveyville had been picked clean already, so Eskridge would likely be a waste of time; Alma was on their projected route, but it wouldn’t hurt to check. Wes decided to remain with the convoy to see to some vehicle problems; Matthew would stay to tend the sick, though he supplied a list of useful drugs and where to find them; Rush held onto the Marti to work on when he got the chance. The rest piled into the truck and headed out, map in hand, taking their sleeping-bag full of gear with them (minus some food for the ones that remained behind); Korbin took the wheel.

Wamego would be a 45 mile trip, predicted to take an hour or so at less than the usual highway speed limits. They encountered little of note for the first twenty miles, as expected; Eskridge was a ghost-town. Just after the twenty-mile limit, they had to bypass a collapsed bridge at the joining of KS-4 with KS-99; no trouble without the trailer to bother about. Another fifteen minutes or so brought the Crew to the Alma city limits.


They stopped briefly at a gas station at the south end of town, but it appeared to have been pilfered already. Nick spotted a food processing plant a block or so to the East, so they went to check it out; as they expected, there was a rather foul smell of putrefaction emanating from the open door, so they moved on. They stopped to scavenge a car parts store, and came up with a jerry-can of gas that had somehow been missed by everyone else, buried in a pile of trash. A little further into town, they ran across a medical clinic—a potential jackpot. They piled out of the truck to see what they could scavenge. At the same time, they noticed a large gaggle of walking-dead up the road—maybe less than a hundred—initially moving to the East but, having detected the truck coming, starting to divert toward their position. Korbin got back in the truck and drove into the crowd, avoiding actually hitting any, honking the horn, in a successful attempt to lead them in a less-dangerous direction, giving the others more time to rummage through the clinic—which turned up nothing of interest. Korbin circled back to the clinic after fifteen minutes or so, and brought out his mechanics’ tools to help strip the wheels off an old Ford truck in the clinic parking lot—and in a freak accident, ended up breaking the lug-wrench in the process. With the zeds returning from their goose-chase, they abandoned the task at hand, got back in the truck and continued forward. As they did so, Nick observed that there appeared to be small-arms and explosives damage to many of the structures in town, suggesting a fight with “the living” had occurred here at some point. On the way out of town, they stopped just outside a motel that had some obvious defensive structures built up around it, but after a “warning shot” by the hidden occupants, decided to leave them be, and moved on.

DSC_0072-1Back on the highway, there was another fifteen miles or so to go. On the way, they encountered a derelict Winnebago at the side of the road, and stopped to check it out. Nobody was inside, but a man stepped out of the nearby treeline (appearing to have been answering the call of nature) and greeted them in a friendly manner. The man, Mario Rodriguez, coming from North-Western Mississippi, was a Catholic priest until recently, having lost his faith and gone wandering on his own. He traded a case of good-quality toilet paper for some fuel. It took some convincing, but John, with the others’ help, coaxed him into giving the Harveyville community a shot—they could really use the RV. They said they were headed to Wamego, and would be heading back this way in an hour or so, and would escort him back to the convoy; he said that he would stay put and wait for them, giving him some more time to think it over.

P1020252Back on the road, they stopped a few times to check out a derelict vehicle, but found nothing of interest. Some time later, they arrived at the Kansas River bridge leading into Wamego; they briefly considered stopping for water. In town, easily double the size of Council Grove, was in a poor state; the Crew spotted smoke from a few house-fires, and no sign of organized survivors—the place appeared to have been left to disintegrate. They followed the street-signs leading them to the local hospital, and found it, a rather small but intact facility, and prepared to go inside.

GM’s Notes

  • GM Confidence: 4 of 5—I wasn’t very well prepared for this one, but I started getting more comfortable as we went on; there was a lot of tarot involved this week, which turned out pretty well, and I’m developing a system for dealing with urbanized areas
  • Ann’s player was out sick this week, and Wes’ player was out of town; we decided to move ahead anyway, since the story was at a good place to allow for it
  • In retrospect, I probably should have had Korbin make a Fright Check when dealing with the zombie crowd—I keep forgetting about that
  • The broken lug-wrench was the result of a Critical Failure on Korbin’s Mechanic check to remove the wheels
  • There is an expectation of finding derelict vehicles along the highway that wasn’t really playing out via the random encounter system, so I enlisted some Player help in working out a quick-and-dirty system for generating some for those long, quiet stretches of road. I’ve had a similar concern with zombie appearances, regarding which I just arbitrated that the random encounter system only generates those instances where they have to be “dealt with,” but they are always there in some numbers otherwise
  • The encounter with the priest was entirely random; rolled up a derelict RV that was still “claimed,” plus a better-than-neutral Reaction, and the tarot did the rest. Now that he’s there, I have some plans for the guy for the future
  • Ended a bit early, for a good stopping point

GURPS After the End, Session 106

Dramatis Personæ

Ann Cameron (Lab Rat)
John Cromartie (Rigil Kent)
Korbin Savage (Mike E)
Nicholas Biermann (WxMan)

The Exodus of Harveyville

23 Apr 2013, ~16:30

bsg-season-1-castThe townsfolk of Harveyville accepted the presence of the Crew, but some among them were clearly not too excited about seeing the “Jackals” return. Jack went out of his way to greet a thin, balding, older man, Saul Tyson; smiling broadly, Jack sucker-punched him in the jaw, and the two had to be pulled apart by their respective fellows—the Crew correctly guessed that Saul was responsible for leaving the Jackals behind while on patrol. The apparent man-in-charge of Harveyville, Bill Adams, a local policeman, greeted the Crew and thanked them for being “Good Samaritans,” in spite of the fact that he wasn’t terribly excited about the Jackals’ return. There were around a hundred of them left, and they had little in the way of supplies—the reason for their exodus—but he welcomed the Crew to join their convoy, which consisted of a handful of older vehicles, and a few old buses (they could really use that truck and trailer). They planned to set out the following day, for Oregon, and a rumoured survivor-city in the mountains there. The town was suffering from an outbreak of an unknown-to-them illness—anyone with sufficient medical expertise had been lost—at which point Matthew lept into action, grabbing his medical supplies and rushing to the bus where the sick had been quarantined—he would later return his diagnosis as “influenza,” though privately, he cautioned that this appeared to be a surprisingly virulent outbreak, and warned the Crew to stay clear of the population, just in case. There was a faction amongst the townies that believed the sickness to be a prelude to Turning (to zombification), and felt those infected should be mercifully put down; the Jackals were loudly in favor of killing them, and Bill didn’t quite trust them not to take matters into their own hands, hence their attempted removal—the chosen method of which was not approved by him. The Crew were put up in a nearby church, which had clearly seen better days; there were a few cots set up there, and Wes immediately collapsed into one. The others eventually followed.

They were all awakened by a strange dream: standing in the basement of the church back in Bushong, where they had found Matthew, and left Kesler’s body, Kesler was standing there, alive and speaking to them. He said:

I’m trying to find you, but Our vision is clouded now. I must be quick, as I must remain undetected by the Enemy. You were saved for a reason, for a purpose, to gather the Untainted, like yourselves, and get them somewhere safe, to start over; “Blessed are those who have not seen…” But you must beware the wolves hiding amongst the sheep; they will seek to scatter the flock


24 Apr 2013, ~03:30

Ann and Korbin separately decided to stay awake; Korbin decided to do a quick security patrol, and Ann ended up following. As they wandered down the street toward where the vehicles had been gathered, they realized one of the buses—the sick-bus, as it turned out—was on fire. The two rushed to help, Korbin kicking in the door to the building on the street-corner, to get a fire extinguisher—the surprised occupants pointed him to it, and followed after to help. Ann spotted some movement inside the burning bus, and as they approached, could tell that some, but not all, were likely zombies. Hearing some of the commotion after having rolled back over to return to sleep, John, Nick and Matthew arose and saw the fire, and ran to join the effort. Korbin doused the emergency door at the back of the bus, and Ann, using some bits of tire-rubber found nearby to protect her hands, opened the door quickly. Korbin dropped the fire extinguisher and produced “Suzie-Q,” his Ruger Super Redhawk, taking aim at the zombies while carefully trying to avoid shooting the living—the report of the .454 Casull could be heard for miles, and he ended up switching to his machete. Ann helped the first survivor get clear. John, Nick and Matthew arrived on the scene, about the same time as some townies bearing water-buckets; Nick and Matthew went ’round back, and helped survivors out of the bus, Matthew performing first-aid; John ran ’round to the side-door and kicked it open, as Ann joined him with the fire extinguisher and doused the area. In the end, four of the infirmed made it out of the burning death-trap; all had burns, and two had been bitten—out of earshot, Matthew sadly declared he didn’t expect those bitten to last the day. Everyone in the Crew, with the exception of John, had now had physical contact with flu-victims, and were at risk for contracting it. By the time the entire town had gathered, the fire was smoldering, the bus a total loss, as were those that didn’t make it out in time.

Those in charge immediately started trying to figure out how this happened, though many, predictably, pointed the finger of blame at the Jackals; they were not present at the time, but were brought forward, and in spite of their protest of innocence, were incarcerated, under guard, in a nearby building, pending judgement. One of the bucket-brigade was the assigned bus-guard, who said that he had been knocked in the head from behind, and never saw his attacker; the survivors saw nothing but a silhouette in the darkness. John had looked over the crime scene and identified a few gas-cans that clearly suggested arson.

Given the noise, Bill ordered an immediate zed-patrol; Ann, Korbin and Nick volunteered, and were accepted, given hunters’-vests, the informal “uniform” of the militia; there were a few walkers attracted to the commotion that were put down—regular patrols had cleared out most of them already. John went around talking to those who remained awake to patrol or pack, comforting and encouraging. Korbin found himself inspired by the role of town protector.

ATE-TZacharySome time after sunup—if you could call it that, with the still overcast skies—the entire town was rounded up for a meeting. A lynching was stirring up against the Jackals, and the town leadership agreed that whatever was going to happen needed to be taken care of before they left. They decided on a tribunal; Bill Adams, Laura Rosen, and Saul Tyson would judge the case, and Lee Adams, son of Bill, a local lawyer, offered to stand in the Jackals’ defense. Jack Elliot declared the Jackals’ innocence, although they had no real alibi—John paid close attention to Jack’s body language, and felt he was being truthful, and a little fearful of his crew’s inevitable condemnation. The opposition was stirred up by another townie, Tom Zachary, insisting that everyone knew who was responsible. John was mentally preparing for whichever way the town went: by having brought the Jackals back to town, the Crew could be associated with them, and potentially share some or all of their ultimate fate, but by siding with an angry town, the Jackals would undoubtedly count the Crew as their enemy. However, himself unjustly accused at one time, John spoke up, in an impassioned speech about “rule-of-law,” “innocent until proven guilty,” and “this isn’t how we do things in America.” After the debate-dust between John and Tom had settled, the tribunal, and the town in general, were swayed by John to give the Jackals the benefit of doubt. Afterward, John immediately went around to the particulars, to make sure that they understood that he wasn’t all that friendly with Elliot’s crew, and taking their side out of loyalty; all but Saul seemed to genuinely understand and appreciate his efforts to promote true justice, and bore the Crew no ill feeling. It did, however, leave them all with no idea how the fire had occurred.

The town wasted no time getting the exodus under way, minus one of the buses. The Crew volunteered to help, and were tasked with scout duty: a number of militia were being sent out ahead of the convoy to scout the road and towns and report back before sundown. The Crew was briefed on the route to be taken—a 1700 mile slog, with much of the town on foot—and where they expected to be at the end of the day. The Crew’s trailer was hitched to one of the convoy vehicles—they really didn’t need it. Matthew and Rush stayed with the townies; the rest of the Crew boarded the truck and set off down the road.

Zombie Lore

  • Don’t appear to be any more vulnerable to fire than what one expects from a “normal” corpse

GM’s Notes

  • GM Confidence: 5 of 5—couldn’t say why, but I felt really good about this one. Maybe just the long hiatus combined with the desperate need to get it back on track
  • Due to absences and GM breakdowns, this session followed an effective three-week hiatus—the intro actually occurred earlier
  • In the interim, I developed a new procedure: instead of requiring the Players to telegraph their next moves, I’m requiring them to “write the next session”; gives me exactly what I need to know about their expectations. This session was the first instance of that procedure in use; I used elements of what was suggested, with my own twist on it. I’m planning to keep this going and see how it shakes out
  • defiantbudah had to bail on us this week; he could potentially be gone for a while for work—Wes may end up hanging back with the townies to help keep the vehicles running
  • Part two of why Kesler’s Player having bailed is good is now beginning to be revealed
  • The (New) Battlestar Galactica homage/ripoff is an old idea of mine that I planned to use, in one form or another, through a few non-produced campaigns; everybody in the group has seen the series, some recently, so it works especially well here. My original plans were to take a town, like Jericho, and populate it with BSG folk, but the tarot draw from last time had them leaving, so we now have “the fleet”
  • Got to break out some new Social Engineering stuff, in this case, the Debate (in this situation, more appropriate than the Trial); John’s deck was stacked against him, but it worked out in his favor anyway. I drew tarot to determine how the trial would go, and came up with the Magician, in reverse; a charismatic, but bad influence—Tom Zarek was the obvious choice. Also, with all the attention, determined that nobody in town recognized him (visually)—Reputation not in effect (yet)

GURPS After the End, Session 105

Dramatis Personæ

Ann Cameron (Lab Rat)
John Cromartie (Rigil Kent)
Nicholas Biermann (WxMan)
Wes Johnson (DefiantBudah)

Road Trip

23 Apr 2013, ~14:00

While Korbin hunkered down in a back-office with the radio, scanning for signs of life, the others kept watch outside. There were quite a lot of walking-dead in the general area, but they were widely spread out (thanks, in part, to the Crew’s earlier efforts), and were not an immediate threat.

Matthew and Rush talked about what they did or did not see during the Blackout, and Rush revealed that he had heard, on the radio, that some people actually “dreamed” while they were out—no details, though, much less confirmation. He had heard about the Western US being overrun with the living-dead. He also recalled hearing a large number of reports of this-or-that city having been nuked, including around twenty more-credible accounts, including some overseas. His office was able to cross-reference and confirm a handful to some degree of certainty: New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver—and some like Lawrence, KS were known, but made no obvious strategic sense. Not surprisingly, the federal government was reportedly in complete disarray, and reports of military or paramilitary units going rogue were not uncommon.

tctelcoMeanwhile, Wes finally got the chance to check out the motorcycle they had picked up earlier, but it turned out to be dead; they drained the fuel, and left it behind. John and Wes decided to explore the complex, looking for a new/second vehicle; though they did not succeed at their intended mission, they did find quite a few small trailers that might do the trick, at least, temporarily. As thirty minutes had passed, the hum of the generator (it was assumed) had attracted the attention of some of the nearby zeds, and a gaggle had formed, and was moving toward Korbin’s office position—the Crew decided they had best get moving, rather than try to fight them all off. While Ann signaled John and Wes, Korbin threw the Marti (radio) in the truck bed, and Nick started it up. They drove around the corporate-headquarters building to lead the walkers along, then met up with John and Wes, who were prepping the chosen trailer for hitching-up. The truck only had a factory hitch, so it wouldn’t likely stand up to long-term use; they got it connected and secured just in time to have to drive around the zombies in the parking lot that were flocking their way. They would transfer the contents of the truck-bed later, though it did rattle around quite a lot, while empty.


Nick drove them back to the intersection of US56, and they dickered a little about which way to go—back into town, possibly to check out the other radio towers, or just keep moving West, away from known nuclear strike-zones; they chose West. A mile or so down the road, they stopped to move their cargo around, and continued down the highway. Korbin slumped over in his seat, blacked out; Matthew determined he was in no danger, so they kept moving. As they drove, Ann and John kept watch for signs of life in or around whatever homes or structures they passed; another mile or so, and they spotted what appeared to be living humans around a large farmhouse complex, so they slowed the truck to get a better view before approaching. They discussed briefly what to do, and decided to go ahead and approach openly, to see if the stranger(s) had any news of what was going on. Nick drove the truck at a walking-pace down the driveway, while everyone else had their weapons out-of-hand (but nearby), and John did the talking; the one stranger, pointing a rifle of some kind, was revealed to be a total of seven armed folks. John made his case, that they had no desire for anything but information, and the strangers eventually relented, and lowered their weapons.

The scruffy-looking, ill-equipped band was led by Jack “Jack-El” Elliot, part of an organized patrol for a survivor-community in Harveyville, looking to catch up the rest of their patrol, having gotten separated some days back. John got the impression Jack was hiding something, and manipulated him into an admission that the separation might not have been “accidental” on the other patrollers’ part. Having grabbed an armful of maps back in Council Grove, John offered one; looking it over together, they determined that the strangers were just over forty miles off-course. John was feeling charitable, and the Crew really had nothing better to do, so after a quick bit of conference with the others (including some concerns about the strangers’ trustworthiness), offered to give them a ride back to Harveyville. Jack was reluctant, but his fellows had no desire to do any more hiking, so he accepted the offer on their behalf. The lot of them piled into the truck-bed and trailer, while the Crew glanced over the map to find the easiest route to Harveyville, and set off, back to the East.

It was a long, dreadfully-boring, highway ride—and not exactly comfortable for those in the back. Nick drove a bit more slowly than usual, for safety, and they stopped frequently to look over abandoned vehicles they passed on the way; at one point of the trip, they had to navigate a collapsed highway bridge, and Nick nearly lost the trailer. They learned that their new passengers were not very likeable folk, and it wasn’t hard to imagine why the townies might have wanted to abandon them. An hour and a half later, they pulled into the tiny town of Harveyville, to find the surviving populace packing up the town into vehicles in apparent preparation for an exodus.

GM’s Notes

  • GM Confidence: 4 of 5; a little prep-work seems to make the difference—I need a bit of “direction,” at least to start. So noted. Next week, I’ve got the town to work with, so it should be good
  • I decided, after last week’s session, that the group had gotten off a little too easy by having an hour of “activity” without any undead consequence, so I retconned a bit, and did the “hour of radio-scanning” over; the PCs’ avoidance of direct contact with zeds ended up cutting the time a bit short, but the end-result was the same.
  • After further study, I determined that the complex where the PCs were was not a radio station, but a cable TV/Internet company; since I couldn’t find any specific info about the rest of the complex, I went ahead and let them keep the Marti—any number of reasons it might be there, and Rush’s office was obviously using it
  • I have a random-roller for “rumours,” but I don’t have a good idea what to do with a situation like Rush’s, that is, his office spending weeks scanning the radio and collecting data—meaning, lots of rumours. I ended up using tarot to try to figure out what he might know—didn’t work as well—and then just giving them some of the basics
  • Korbin’s player was absent for this session, so I had him work the radio instead of Nick (and after that was over, had him pass out)
  • The encounter with the militia-guys was randomly rolled, the details of which were determined by tarot. I have to say, I’m really liking the way these tarot-readings are turning out, as I’m starting to get more proficient and comfortable with reading them
  • The results of the above led me to base the lost patrol on the “Berserkers” from Falling Skies; bandits/marauders who were trying to assimilate into town-life but failing. They would likely have tried to rob the PCs of whatever they had, but a Critical Failure meant they saw the PCs as having nothing of any value—we decided they had seen the mostly-empty trailer and stopped looking
  • During the Google Earth flyover of the route to Harveyville, we encountered a bridge out, apparently under construction; we decided to run with it
  • Ended the session a bit early, as they reached Harveyville—good stopping point, and I wanted more time to figure out what their deal was—but I did a tarot reading for them there. Although I read the results a little differently after-the-fact, my on-the-spot reading was that the town was packing up to leave in case the ne’er-do-wells showed back up—they really didn’t like them 😛

GURPS After the End, Session 104

Dramatis Personæ

Ann Cameron (Lab Rat)
John Cromartie (Rigil Kent)
Korbin Savage (Mike E)
Nicholas Biermann (WxMan)
Wes Johnson (DefiantBudah)

Dead Air

23 Apr 2013, ~12:00

The Crew opted to wait out the thunderstorm in the dark garage of the tiny gas-station in downtown Council Grove, Kansas. They took the opportunity to scour the place for potentially-useful items, take inventory of what they had recovered from the attempted-mugging, check out the truck, and finally eat something—nobody had eaten anything substantial since they left the bunker in the wee hours of the morning. There was little left behind in the store-area but a few snack-foods, although they did find an old phone book; they checked it over in the occasional strobe-light of the lightning outside, and Wes pointed out an entry for Council Grove Telecommunications to Nick, who had been talking about trying to find a radio station they could use to make contact with whomever was still broadcasting. Looking for a police station or somesuch, they found the County Sheriff’s offices on the street-map they had liberated earlier; it was just down Main Street about a half-mile—their next stop. After sorting out the contents of the gangbangers’ sleeping bag, they noted that they now possessed quite the armory, but were rather low on appropriate ammunition; everyone selected their preferred firearm, even John, excepting Matthew, who is committed to total non-violence—however long that will last in this world. Wes went over the truck, and decided that the old folks that owned it, previously, must have had a son or grandson that took really good care of it—it was in excellent condition for its age and considerable mileage. The downpour raged on for an hour or so, and slacked off to naught but a drizzle, at which point the Crew moved on, headed West toward the County Complex.

Just leaving the downtown area, they took a pit-stop at an Ace Hardware store, and went in to see what could be had in a hurry. After twenty minutes or so, they emerged with an armful of heavy flashlights (that hadn’t been stripped of their batteries), and Nick had managed to hobble together something that might serve as bolt-cutters—otherwise, the place had been mostly picked clean already.

As they approached the County Offices, they could see that it had been boarded-up and locked down, with no sign of activity inside. However, at the same time, they were beginning to see quite a number of Zeds trickling in from the North—maybe a hundred, spread out—that would be upon them in short order should they stop to break into the Sheriff’s office. They decided, instead, to move on and see what could be done with the Telecommunications company.

Their new destination was on the West edge of town, up a poorly-maintained stretch of pavement—they spotted the radio tower quickly enough, and knew they were in the right place. They approached the office complex cautiously, and saw quite a few more walking-dead wandering about, scattered in small groups, a few of which appeared to be intently trying to gain entrance into what they guessed was the main-office—they guessed that to mean someone was inside. After a brief discussion, John and Nick dismounted to creep around the building, while the others continued slowly forward in the truck, honking the horn, in an attempt to draw as many zombies away from the area as possible.

Nick and John avoided contact with the Zeds that remained, leading them around the outbuildings in an attempt to lose them, and entered the office through a smashed, large, plate-glass side window. The office had clearly been besieged some time ago, blood staining the office throughout, but the two kept their wits as they carefully navigated inward. Nick yelled, “Marco!” Instead of the expected response of “Polo,” a voice answered from inside a barricaded conference-room, shouting, “Go away!” A formerly-living employee who was trying to get at the conference room also took notice of the intruders’ presence, and began to pursue them; Nick and John tried to trip it (her?) up with some network-cables—which almost worked—and then led it in a merry chase ’round the cubicles, tossing chairs in its way, effectively trapping it in a maze of discarded office furniture. Nick told John to go ahead and talk the survivor down, while he kept an eye on their maze-rat. By the sound outside the building, they were aware that the truck had returned; the others were preparing to dismount and come inside to help. John managed to convince the man in the conference room to let him in.

His name was Rush Renner, and he was an administrator at the company. After the Event (as he referred to it), everyone at the office stayed put, attempting to keep the broadcast going and “get the word out.” But, after a couple of weeks of zombie assaults, dwindling supplies, dwindling personnel (who were either killed by the undead, or broke away to get help and never returned), and a lack of fuel for the generator to keep the station working, he ended up alone, barricaded in the conference room, afraid to move. As he had run out of food and water, he had considered taking his own life, but had no instruments with which to do it. John merely needed to mention that they had food to convince Rush to come along.

At Nick’s request, Rush offered to help the Crew get the radio running again. They emptied one of their spare gas-cans into the generator for fuel, and fired it up. While the others kept the zombies away, for as long as the fuel would last, Korbin spanned the frequencies in an attempt to pick up whatever was there…

Zombie Lore

  • Although they react to sound, it doesn’t appear to be their primary “hunting” sense, which seems to be effective through barriers
  • Suck at mazes

GM’s Notes

  • GM Confidence: 3 of 5; didn’t feel all that excited about this one. In 103, I had a bit of a plan to start with, but not so, here, and I could feel it (whether or not anyone else did). Perils of “sandbox” gaming.
  • We spent waaaay too much time sorting out the weapons, and I was afraid we weren’t going to get anything of substance done; really should have gone ahead and done that during the week, but I kinda wanted everyone to “participate” in it
  • Still not 100% satisfied with the “scavenging system,” but it’s still being fine-tuned
  • The players are starting to develop a play-strategy I had not anticipated—avoid combat. Essentially the exact-opposite of what I’ve had to deal with in the past. Going to have to bear this in mind for the future. Figures 😛
  • I had located the telecomm company in Google Earth prior to the game, and I wanted the group to know about it, but I couldn’t find a good in-game excuse to just come out and tell them, so I ended up resorting to eliciting a plot-point for “GM Hint”—need a better way to handle that in the future
  • I’ve gotten as much information as can be easily had about the area, but in some cases, that isn’t much. Hopefully nobody from Council Grove is paying attention to this, and if so, this is an alternate-timeline where that building is a radio station—deal with it 😛
  • Mike E’s radio-broadcast schooling came in rather handy in this session; kept me from having to guess at how things work, and what’s what
  • Rush Renner was completely unplanned, a result of the tarot reading for the telecomm office

GURPS After the End, Session 103

Dramatis Personæ

Ann Cameron (Lab Rat)
John Cromartie (Rigil Kent)
Korbin Savage (Mike E)
Nicholas Biermann (WxMan)
Wes Johnson (DefiantBudah)

The First Holdup


23 Apr 2013, ~11:00

Council Grove, Kansas was a ghost-town, or looked like it, at least. The storm coming in from the West looming dark overhead, and the distant thunder, promised an “interesting” day ahead. The Crew pulled the truck over at the Napa Auto Parts store, and split up to look for supplies: Wes and Korbin went into the auto parts store to look for stuff to keep the truck running; Nick and John went across the street to the liquor store to look for stuff to keep them running, having gone eight waking hours without any booze (in Nick’s case) or nicotine (in John’s and Wes’ cases); Matt stayed in the truck-bed, keeping an eye on Ann, in case she woke up.

mexigangThe door to the liquor store was unlocked, and John and Nick entered. Nick heard some scuffling behind the counter, and was about to suggest they leave to get the others’ help before six Latino youths popped out of hiding and pointed various firearms in their direction, demanding they “get their hands up.” The two froze for a moment, having never been mugged before. Nick, having the most experience with such things—being an alcoholic—noticed telltale signs of slight inebriation amongst their assailants, and supposed they had been into the stock already; he kept his mouth shut and let John do the talking. John, speaking passable Spanish and recalling his movie-cop experience, tried to talk them down, and find out what they wanted/intended. The banditos declared they intended to take the truck, and all it contained, but were content to leave the Crew alive; they relaxed, somewhat, as John’s smooth-talk convinced them the truck might not be worth the bother, and they demanded the two lead them outside to have a look at it—as requested, they also allowed John a pack of smokes, and tossed Nick a bottle of peppermint schnapps (that they had no desire to consume—nor anyone else, apparently).

The two left the liquor store with guns at their backs, back into the street, John chattering away, trying to keep the situation “light”—it appeared to be working. They found Matthew still in the truck-bed, unbuckling Ann from the stretcher, now conscious; the thugs bristled again, and demanded they get out of the vehicle and put their hands up as well. John kept talking, convincing them that the new guys were harmless, and got them looking around for another vehicle that they might be able to get running—they had spotted one a block down the street that was in good condition. They admitted they needed the truck because they had a lot of stuff to carry around.

Wes and Korbin finally heard the commotion outside and witnessed the developing situation. From his experience as a teacher and coach in an inner-city, Los Angeles, public high-school, he immediately recognized the youths as gang-members, though he didn’t recognize the gang. Keeping low, he and Wes started looking around the parts store for usable weapons; on a whim, Korbin reached under the counter for a gun, and (to some surprise) produced a sawed-off shotgun, which he tossed to Wes. Then they took up position behind some store-displays and observed the scene on the street, waiting for their moment to intervene. Korbin could make out the discussion outside enough to work out that they were looking to get a vehicle running, at which point he grabbed a mostly-complete set of tools from the shelf, and proceeded out of the store like nothing was wrong. Speaking Spanish, he asked to be led to the other truck, fully intending to get it working; half the thugs followed him down the street, with hardly a second thought.

A few minutes later, Nick spotted some movement between and behind the liquor store area—a handful of zombies, presumably attracted by the noise of the truck. The three gang-bangers that had remained behind turned around and advanced, unloading their weapons into the walking corpses—pretty much like one might expect from wet-behind-the-ears, untrained shooters, who have seen a few too many action movies. The zombies were barely touched as they approached. At the same time, John and Ann ran back into the Napa store to find some sort of weaponry, while Nick followed behind thugs and “encouraged” them. Upon hearing the shooting from half a block down the street, Korbin took charge of his group, and they followed him back to the scene at a gallop, arriving just as the others had expended their on-hand ammunition, and they began firing, in similar fashion. Nick and Korbin inquired where the thugs might have more guns and ammunition; between ineffectual shots, they replied that they had assorted firearms in a sleeping-bag in the back of the liquor store, but they were too afraid to go back in. Korbin and Nick ran past the zombies, into the store, where they found the sleeping-bag, as described. The two fetched guns from the bag: Nick, a pump shotgun, and Korbin, a .38 auto-pistol. They emerged from the liquor store as the zombies had the thugs, guns empty, backpedaling toward the truck. The two rushed up behind the zombies to touch their gun-barrels to the zombies’ heads before pulling the trigger, just to be certain—everyone who’s ever seen a zombie movie knows to shoot for the head—as the zombies were intent on other prey. But the gang-bangers morale was already broken, by their failure with the zombies and their now-armed “victims” (which now included a sawed-off–wielding Wes who finally emerged from cover in the auto-parts store), and they scattered in all directions; one attempted to slide over the hood of the truck and didn’t quite clear it, and was nearly bitten by the last zombie. Nick was following close behind it at a jog, trying to smash it in the head with the butt of his shotgun, before Wes stepped over and blasted its head at close range. The nearly-caught youth bolted immediately to catch up his buddies. The situation was over.

Knowing all the shooting would undoubtedly attract more zombie attention, the Crew wasted no time, but set about gathering what they could as quickly as possible: a couple of complete sets of auto-mechanic tools; belts and hoses, some gas cans, and assorted replacement parts for the truck; as much tobacco and liquor as was left in the liquor store—not much; and the banditos’ sleeping bag, full of food, guns, and sundries, was dragged out to the truck as well (as Ann was digging through it to see what was there, she found a wallet full of cash, that had pictures of a family that was not in any way Hispanic—clearly stolen).

Then the Crew all piled back into the truck and continued to the West. They stopped to check out the SUV the gang-bangers had pointed out, a Lincoln Navigator; its electrics were completely dead, and the vehicle useless, so they siphoned off the fuel. They also stopped across the street at a gas station, to pilfer a map. Again, continuing down Main Street, they crossed the river, into downtown Council Grove, and immediately pulled into an open garage to get out of the way of the oncoming storm that was bearing down on them.

GM’s Notes

  • GM Confidence: 4 of 5; I hit my comfort-zone, and felt generally good about it afterward, though there were some bits I wish had gone better. Knowing the Social Engineering situation was coming, I should have been better prepared. When the shooting started, once again, I had people thumb-twiddling, when I should have had them playing someone else—zombies, bandits, or maybe Matthew
  • In retrospect, I could have also had some zombies show up in the back-area of the Napa store, giving those inside something to fight, or at least, flushing them out
  • The bandits were completely random-rolled. The Event Generator came up with 6 marauders/bandits in ambush, and the tarot cards generated the story: they were immature, flush with success and overburdened by it, and celebrating. All together, the liquor store “accidental ambush” made perfect sense, and combined with the fact that they were slightly drunk, slightly tipped a potentially-deadly situation in the PCs’ favor. I went with Latinos as a hat-tip to Mike’s zombie one-shot game, where we ran afoul of a roadblock run by similar folk—before the tarot stuff, I intended to rip it off more “directly”
  • Per Tactical Shooting, the banditos were using Guns at default; at average stats of 10, with -1 DX for Tipsy, that put them at Skill-5! They weren’t going to hit anything they intended to except by accident
  • Regarding the standoff: it felt like there was some real tension there, like the PCs might actually lose the truck—they were in a truly bad position—but I did expect John to be able to talk his way out of it
  • They’ve been lucky so far with the zombie numbers rolled—that won’t last forever 😉
  • Now the PCs have some food, some guns, and some gas; should be able to really get going now…once the storm passes, which is going to be a doozy

GURPS After the End, Session 102

Dramatis Personæ

John Cromartie (Rigil Kent)
Korbin Savage (Mike E)
Nicholas Biermann (WxMan)
Wes Johnson (DefiantBudah)

Catching Up

23 Apr 2013, ~08:30

bushongchurchThe Crew piled into the formerly-abandoned church, and set the still-unconscious Kesler down on the floor. Matthew West, the Nurse from the show, immediately stooped to check on Kesler—apologizing, he informed the Crew that he was dead. They had no idea when it might have happened, or why, or how long he may have been dead, except that he was alive when they left the bunker around two hours past. After a pause, Matthew expressed his puzzlement at the Crew’s escape from the bunker, as he had been a part of the crew futilely trying to free them; at mention of the earthquake, he admitted he had experienced no such thing here.

MWestMatthew began to answer the question of what had occurred: 28 days ago, the morning after the incident at the bunker, he was jogging to clear his head and passed straight out mid-stride. He came-to in what would be later revealed to be nearly twelve hours, as did, apparently, everyone else. Anything with a circuit board was fried; the obvious conclusion was EMP, which suggested an attack of some kind. It was revealed that just before the Blackout occurred, there had been breaking news on TV of some kind of “statue” in numerous cities, followed by a trumpet-like noise. As a result of the Blackout, there were numerous accidents and crashes, resulting in injuries and deaths, and he and the show’s Doctor and the medical crew went immediately to work helping out those that were not beyond saving. Meanwhile, the show’s Scientist and some of the production crew left in an old pickup that still functioned to head to Topeka for news—they returned hours later saying that Lawrence had been nuked.

The Nurse’s story was interrupted by Ann, as she collapsed to the floor, unconscious, for no discernable reason—looked just like Kesler. After checking for vital signs, he mentioned that this was not uncommon since the Blackout—these “aftershocks”—and that she would likely snap out of it in a while.

Matthew continued: Around twentyfour hours after the Blackout, the dead began to stir. There was brief elation at the return of the deceased that turned immediately to horror as the deceased began to attack the living mercilessly—like some kind of zombie movie. As more were killed, more would rise. Everyone known to be dead had returned to plague the living, less than an hour after the fact, including the sick old local man whom he had been checking in on since before the Event, and had not been bitten or attacked at all—but not Kesler, who had been in the bunker during the Event. Additionally, Matthew had observed that nearly everyone was behaving in an excessively hostile and aggressive manner—moreso than the situation warranted—resulting in fighting amongst the production crew, and many leaving the camp on foot. A couple of weeks in, a few military vehicles came through the camp and started shooting up the place, killing indiscriminately, for no reason he could fathom—the additional deaths would later, predictably, exacerbate the zombie problem. Matthew kept his head down, still trying to gather and tend to the living when he could, until a couple of days ago when the sick old man finally died for lack of medicine, and then rose and attacked. No one who had left the camp or town had returned.

Moving On

bushongtowerNow, as informed as they could be, there was one primary action on everyone’s mind: getting out of this town. This would require a functioning vehicle of some kind. Korbin and Nick volunteered to climb the town’s water tower they had passed on the way to the church, and scout for an accessible and appropriately-old vehicle—anything recent would have a computer, which would be useless. (Although Wes was the expert auto mechanic, there was no way he was climbing that water tower.) As the church was surrounded by the dead, they would have to clear a path, first. After some scouring of the church building, Nick came up with an old box of light bulbs, and some lawn-mower fuel, and created a couple of flash-bombs; using borrowed surgical tubing, he catapulted them out of an upper window to draw the zombies away from the church—which worked, if only briefly, enough that the two could get clear of the building. Atop the water tower, Korbin and Nick spotted what looked to be a 1970s Ford F100 in good condition on the other side of town. However, their run to the tower had attracted some zombie attention; a handful of walking-dead had gathered around the base of the tower. They waited at the top for a bit, hoping the dead might lose interest, then with a bit of noisemaking, and running about to draw the zombies away, they were able to get clear of the tower and head back to the church to get the others. Meanwhile, those at the church secured Kesler’s body in the basement, and kept watch for the others’ return.


72f150It was unanimously decided to make a break for the truck. There was nothing more they could do for Kesler, and they had not the time nor equipment to bury him properly; the best they could do is leave him in the basement of the church, where the body would be safe from “predators.” Then, as a group, including Matthew, they hasted toward the residence on the other side of town, carrying Ann on a proper stretcher (that Matt had liberated from the medical building), encountering naught but a wandering zombie or two that they easily avoided. Korbin and Wes looked over the truck, and tried to find a spare key, while Ann was placed in the open truck-bed, and the others entered the house to scrounge for whatever they could use. The home appeared to be the residence of an elderly couple with grandchildren, who had left with what they could carry, leaving much behind; the group found a racing dirt-bike on the back porch, along with an old bicycle-built-for-two, and inside, an old-but-functional radio/tape-player, along with some random sundries and household chemicals—all secured in the truck-bed. The truck’s key was discovered in the wheel well, and it was determined to have a three-quarter tank of fuel remaining—Korbin in the driver’s seat turned the key, and the truck roared to life without a hiccup. Everyone piled in where they could, and they set out.


They passed the production camp on their way out of town; they were tempted to see what could be recovered, but there was a mass of walking-dead clogging the road into the camp—the Crew were still finding it difficult to think of them as inhuman, and moved on, rather than run them down with the truck. They were planning to head to Topeka, but after some discussion at the intersection of US56, decided better of going anywhere near Lawrence, and instead, turned left, toward whatever lay in that direction—including the incoming thunderstorm. Around fifteen minutes down the road, they encountered Council Grove—a much larger town than Bushong, but that’s not really saying much—and as they drove through town, they spotted a Napa Auto Parts store, with a liquor store across from it, and decided to make a supply stop.

Zombie Lore

  • Not everyone Rises, but most do
  • Infection doesn’t necessarily require contact or attack
  • Is attracted to noise
  • Is attracted to the living, through some other sense
  • Is slow, but not that slow
  • Makes no noise, but by its movement—no moaning, growling, hissing, etc.

GM’s Notes

  • Kesler’s player decided to back out of the game, so I siezed the opportunity of his absence to reveal the “not everyone rises” factoid; there’s a reason for it, but that’s for later
  • Again, the session was a bit short on content; I was a little disappointed with the pacing, and should have pushed a fight in there somewhere
  • I’m starting to see a problem with the random systems I currently have in place; a little too feast-or-famine—I have some plans for improvements
  • I made a lot of use of the tarot cards this time, for clarification of details and whatnot—I may come to rely more on tarot than traditional die-roll-tables for content generation, especially as I grow more proficient in reading them

GURPS After the End, Session 101

Dramatis Personæ

Ann Cameron (Lab Rat)
John Cromartie (Rigil Kent)
Korbin Savage (Mike E)
Nicholas Biermann (WxMan)
Wes Johnson (DefiantBudah)

The Setup

26 Mar 2013, late-afternoon

The PCs are on the set of the reality-show, After the End—four “contestants,” an actor, and an intern—around the end of the first month of filming. The set is a long-disused Atlas-E missile site in the middle-of-nowhere, Kansas. The contestants had chosen the Launch Observation Building (LOB), an underground bunker, as their HQ for the duration. The PCs were off-camera for the moment, and went into the LOB for undiscussed reasons (to fetch something, perhaps?), when someone leaned against the wrong wall, and the bunker door snapped shut; they were told by the production crew to never allow that to happen, as it would be nigh-impossible to get it open again, due to wear and damage to the door. The PCs could hear the production crew trying to rescue them for hours, but it eventually stopped for the night, and exhausted from trying to escape, they went to sleep.

26 Mar 2013, 18:38

They awoke, not on the next morning, but more like evening (16:38, according to Korbin’s wind-up, analogue watch), with no explanation as to why. They never heard anyone outside the bunker door again. For the following 28 days, they continuously tried to find a way out, but failed to do so. They rationed food and water (as this was the HQ, they had stored much of their supplies here), and generator fuel (one of the first trials on the show was getting one of the LOB’s generators working).

Game Time

23 Apr 2013, ~03:00

The PCs awoke to a rather-strong earthquake—Ann, being from Kansas originally, knew that this was unusual for this area. Along with some obvious structural damage to the bunker itself, they immediately discovered that the quake had caused the bunker’s escape hatch—welded shut years ago—to buckle and pop loose. An escape route, at last! However, Kesler was still asleep, and would not wake, no matter what they tried. John went up first to take a peek outside—nothing there but the moon, and the dreary Kansas landscape. They scrounged up what they could, and managed a carry-harness for Kesler, made of sheets and power-cords, and the lot of them climbed out.

Above ground, surveying their surroundings, Ann noticed a shadowy figure of a long-coat–clad man walking down the road toward Bushong, the tiny, half-abandoned town where the crew built their production base-camp that housed the nearly 500 crew and actors for the show. Korbin was about to run out to the man, but they lost sight of him in the darkness. Rather than stumble about in the darkness, the PCs opted to wait out the sunrise before moving out. They took that time to gather some water and sundries from the bunker; with a pair of broomsticks, and some coats and sheets, they fashioned a stretcher to carry Kesler, still completely unconscious.


They set out as the light of the new day began to fill the sky. It was about five miles to town; they had been driven the route plenty of times over the last month or so, but never walked it. It would end up taking a bit over two hours to reach the base camp. Along the way, they saw no sign of life at all, save for a few cows that were running loose on the side road—presumed to have been released as a result of the quake. It was early, though; maybe nobody was up yet.


As they rounded the trees within sight of the production camp, the PCs spotted some folk wandering listlessly here and there—looked like half the crew (that is, hundreds). As they approached within fifty yards or so, it became apparent that the crew were filming some kind of zombie thing—at least, that was the only explanation for the walking-corpse makeup. John volunteered to go find the director, while the others waited at the road. They watched John as he approached the first gaggle of “actors.” Then they heard John scream, and run back up the road at full-gallop; he would have kept going, had Korbin not blocked him. Knowing John to be an actor, himself, the others weren’t immediately convinced of his account, and left him and Wes behind, with Kesler still on the stretcher, and went ahead to see for themselves. John and Wes watched as the three of them approached the same gaggle of “actors,” heard Ann scream, watched Korbin faint and collapse in a heap, then watched Ann and Nick scoop him up in a fireman’s-carry and run as fast as they could back to the road.

As the reality began to settle in, they could see the “actors” were still in low-speed pursuit, and they knew they needed to get clear of this place. There were vehicles at base-camp, but they were disinclined to brave the crowd there to get at them, so they opted to leave the other direction, off-road, across the field along a treeline that bounded Bushong; John and Nick carried Kesler’s stretcher, while Ann and Wes carried Korbin, who finally snapped-to along the way.

At a break in the treeline, a short distance down, they found the town’s abandoned schoolhouse, and turned in, hoping to find a car in town. A short distance down Oak Street, they spotted more listless-walkers in the distance, and backtracked a bit, turning East. They spotted the Bushong Church there, with a gaggle of zombies trying to get in the front door, and suspected there might be living folk inside. They hid in the nearby trees, and Korbin and Wes sneaked around to the back of the church; they attracted no attention from the zombies, but were apparently spotted by someone inside, who quietly directed them to come. There was one zombie at the back of the church, in their way, so the two sneaked up behind it to smash it in the head with some tree-branch clubs they picked out of the woodline; the creature was tough, and grabbed Korbin, but the two managed to beat it until it could no longer pursue—but not really “dead”—well, more dead. The person inside the church popped the door open—it had been boarded shut—and waved the two inside; they signaled to the others at the woodline to follow. After a bit of stone-throwing to divert the zombies’ attention elsewhere, they entered the back of the church as well, still carrying Kesler.

Once inside, they immediately recognized the man as the “Nurse” from the show—a man they knew fairly well over the last month or so, as a knowledgeable professional—and they collectively asked him the question-of-the-day: “What the hell is going on?”

GM’s Notes

  • This session was a bit short on content, but that wasn’t unexpected—my first “real” campaign in almost two years
  • Kesler’s player was unavailable for this session, so I rendered him unrecoverably-unconscious for the time-being, and forced the rest of them to carry him along; this will likely not be the last time this occurs (and there is a reason for it). This is also not the first time I’ve dealt with Player absence in this manner
  • This is the first time I’ve been able to use Google Earth as part of the game; it appears to be working well enough, and with judicious use of “Street View,” gets the scene across without any misunderstanding
  • After Korbin fainted, as a result of his Fright Check failure, we discovered that there is little in the rules to tell us how to snap someone out of a fainting spell; we had to rely on some anecdotal accounts that lead us to conclude that there was little to be done with it, short of smelling salts (which is in Biotech/HT)
  • As they beat on the zombie at the back of the church, I realized the creature I was using—from Monster Hunters 3—was still, by the rule, susceptible to Knockdown/Stun, and Death checks from non-brain hits, which didn’t sound right at the time; I’m in the process of modifying their stats, based on group consensus
  • In retrospect, I should have had a zombie or two come after the PCs in the woodline while the two were beating down the one behind the church; there was some thumb-twiddling going on there, which I usually try to avoid, as GM—still getting re-acclimated