Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Vampifan's Views 16 My Monthly Musings part 4

Vampirella by Joe Jusko. How perfect is that lion's head?
Monday the 28th of November was the day of my dad's funeral and he couldn't have asked for a better send off. Everything went so smoothly on the day and everyone was so kind. His funeral service was attended by over 200 people, a sure indication of just how well-liked and respected he was. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who left me messages of sympathy and support.
There is never a good time for anyone to die, but what made the timing of my dad's death particularly poignant is that he died on the day of his brother's birthday (sadly long dead) and it was also my birthday less than a week after he died. So this was a memorable birthday for me, but alas, for all the wrong reasons. Still, I have no complaints about the presents I received. My mum just gave me money for my birthday, so that I could buy what I wanted. I've already spent it on a big order to Miniature Heroes for a bunch of Reaper 28mm scale Chronoscape figures (9 civilians, 9 zombies and 2 killer clowns). My brother bought me the Bones series 6 DVD set. I'm a big fan of the show and of the novels by Kathy Reichs. I'd ordered a few zombie-related items for myself and they arrived shortly before my birthday. They consisted of two books and a DVD. The books were The Walking Dead Chronicles by Paul Ruditis and The Official Zombie Handbook (UK) by Sean T. Page. The DVD was of my all-time favourite zombie film - Dawn of the Dead by George A. Romero. Yes, I did already own a copy of this film, but when I was browsing on Amazon, I saw what has to be the ultimate version of this film - a four disc boxed set, containing the theatrical version of the film, the director's cut and the Dario Argento cut (all varying in length, with the director's cut being the most complete version). In addition, there are over 11 hours of extras on the discs (awesome!), including some very long documentaries about the film. There is also a poster and booklet included. In short, it is a fanboy's must have item and I certainly had to have it.
Obviously, a lot of my hobby work ground to a halt during the latter part of this month, but I still got a fair bit done prior to my dad's death. On the figure painting front, I finished painting 9 Studio Miniatures 28mm scale zombies from their Wedding Party and Halloween boxed sets, and 11 Foundry 28mm scale zombies, 5 of which I converted to corpses. Expect reviews of them soon. At the moment I am painting 20 Recreational Conflict 28mm scale contemporary figures - 12 civilians and 8 survivors.
I am busy working on furnishing the evidence room room for my WWG 28mm scale Mayhem City Police Station. I hope to get that room finished very soon. Next in line will be the toilets for the police station.
For the second month running I failed to get to the cinema. Ho-hum! Still, I have plenty of DVDs to watch.
I finished reading a couple of zombie novels this month. First up was Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. This was a tie-in to The Walking Dead comic series. If you've only seen the TV show, this will make little sense to you as the Governor has yet to appear. I'm thinking he'll probably appear in series 3. It was a fairly good novel right up until the last page, when the rug is pulled from under your feet. I won't spoil how it ended but it left me feeling somewhat bewildered, knowing what I do about the Governor. He is an evil and sadistic son of a bitch, with a quick temper and an unhealthy relationship with his daughter. This is primarily a book for fans of the comic.
The second book that I read was Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater and it was excellent. This was part two of her As the World Dies trilogy and I'll do a full review of it very soon.
I am currently reading Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry, one of my favourite authors. It's a zombie novel but it is not part of the Joe Ledger series.
Earlier this month I bought and downloaded about 20 Microtactix 28mm scale card buildings from their Twilight Streets sets. Yet more buildings to add to my Mayhem City project. When will I find the time to make them all? I also received a fantastic offer from Robert, one of my followers from Germany, which I'd like to talk about at some length in a future post. I've mentioned the kindness of others before but this offer may just be the most amazing yet. Robert, if you're reading this, thanks very much. I still can't get over what you sent me!
On that happy but somewhat cryptic note, I'll wrap up. It is great to get back to blogging again but I know you'll understand why I had to take an enforced break.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Vampifan's Views 15 End of an Era

No, I'm not early for my end of the month musings. This is a special and rather poignant posting to let you know that my father died yesterday. He was 81 and had not been in good health this last year. I was with him in hospital when he died and I have honestly, never seen a more peaceful death. He was sleeping when my mum and I visited him for the last time. The hospital minister joined us soon after and shortly after the minister led us in prayer dad just stopped breathing. it was as if he knew it was his time. I have heard that your hearing is the last sense to go, so maybe he hung on until our prayers were over.
Obviously, I'm sorry he has gone, but because of his condition his death was not unexpected. I am feeling quite calm and serene but I have a load of things to do and people to call so forgive me if my blog takes a back seat until after the funeral is over.
I am blessed with the best friends and neighbours any one could wish for, so I will pull through this but my mum is going to take a lot longer to recover. Fortunately, she has me to look after her and I will be strong. I just need some time away from the computer to do what has to be done. I'll try to resume normal service as soon as possible. In the meantime, thanks for listening.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

My ATZ Campaign - Day 59 - Meeting the Media Part 2

I left Part 1 of this batrep just as a group of zombies entered the general store that Team Vampifan were about to leave. Show time!

TURN 11.   Activation - Vampifan = 5, Zombies = 1
The appearance of the zombies forced Team Vampifan to take an In Sight Test. Vampifan and Lieutenant Catweazle passed 2d6 and could open fire as normal. Gap and Simon McQuarrie, the cameraman, only passed 1d6, so if they fired it would be classed as a snapfire. They decided not to. The other three team members were hidden behind one of the shelves and couldn't see the zombies. So Vampifan and the lieutenant fired three round bursts at the horde with their Assault Rifles. They hit and killed two apiece.
I rolled 6d6 for zombie reinforcements because of the gunfire from Vampifan and Catweazle. Only one zombie turned up, at the back of the house closest to the general store.
 TURN 12.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 4
The last two zombies out of the group of six charged at Vampifan and Catweazle. Both men passed 2d6 on the Being Charged Test and were able to fire before the zombies reached them. A single shot from each of them was enough to hit and kill the zombie pair.

The remaining zombie moved round the back corner of the house, attracted by the sound of gunfire.
I rolled 2d6 for zombie reinforcements but none appeared.
TURN 13.   Activation - Vampifan = 6, Zombies = 4
Vampifan stepped outside and immediately spotted the zombie lurking in the alley between the house and the store. He fired once and blew a huge hole in the back of the zombie's head. Instant kill!
 The rest of Team Vampifan moved along to the front door of the nearest house.
 I rolled 1d6 for zombie reinforcements and one appeared across the road by the lamp post.
 TURN 14.   Activation - Vampifan = 3, Zombies = 4
The zombie shuffled halfway across the road, emitting a loud moan.

"I'll get him!" Jamie exclaimed, before anyone else could react. She raised her.44 Magnum and fired twice. One bullet went too wide but her second shot was bang on target and burst through the zombie's wide open mouth out the back of his skull in a spray of blood and pieces of bone and brain matter.
"Good shooting!" Vampifan complimented her.
Lieutenant Catweazle led the way into the first house, whose front door was unlocked. The Risks and Rewards card revealed that it was occupied by two zombies but that no Resources were available.
The zombies moved to attack Catweazle and Big Sil. Sadly for the zombies, they lost the Surprise Test, which allowed Catweazle and Big Sil to open fire before the zombies reached them. Catweazle killed his opponent with a single shot. However, Big Sil could only manage a Knock Down result with his shot. Still, it was enough to prevent the zombie from attacking this turn.
I rolled 4d6 for zombie reinforcements and one arrived on board just next to the red Peugeot 206 parked further up the street. For some inexplicable reason I forgot to take a photo of its arrival. Sorry, my bad!
 TURN 15. Activation = Vampifan = 4, Zombies = 1
Team Vampifan finished exploring downstairs and began to climb the staircase to the next floor. Big Sil used his rifle butt to stave in the skull of the zombie he'd knocked down.

Here is the zombie reinforcement from last turn. He moved away from the Peugeot towards the house currently occupied by Team Vampifan, drawn by the sound of gunfire from within.
 TURN 16.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 6
The zombie could not activate this turn. The upstairs of the house was devoid of humans or zombies, but, as can be seen by the Risks and Rewards card, a Shotgun Recource was there to be found and this time it was Vampifan who found the Resource.

TURN 17.   Activation - Vampifan = 1, Zombies = 4
The lone zombie shuffled closer to the house with the wide open front door.
 Team Vampifan moved back downstairs with Gap leading the way.
 TURN 18.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 3
The zombie took one step inside the house, prompting an In Sight Test from Gap. He passed 2d6 and fired once at the intruder, hitting him and scoring an Obviously Dead result.

Gap led the way outside the house and began to move to the house next door.
I rolled 1d6 for zombie reinforcements but none appeared this turn.
TURN 19.   Activation - Vampifan = 5, Zombies = 5
Normally when rolling doubles for Activation you have to reroll the dice. However, this time I kept the scores because there were no zombies on the board so for the most part the dice rolls were irrelevant. A double six or double one would have been a different matter. Big Sil overtook Gap to check the front door of the second house and found it unlocked.
TURN 20.   Activation - Vampifan = 4, Zombies = 2
Big Sil took point duty in the house and found it occupied by a solitary male zombie lurking in the kitchen. The Risks and Rewards card revealed that there was a Fuel Resource waiting to be found. Gap found it hidden underneath the dinner table.
Big Sil beat the obese zombie for Surprise and fired a single round into his chest, which only succeeded in the zombie being Knocked Down.
The zombie used his turn to stand back up.
I rolled 1d6 for zombie reinforcements but none turned up.
TURN 21.   Activation - Vampifan = 6, Zombies = 4
Big Sil drew his combat knife and charged at the zombie, easily passing 2d6 on the Wanting to Charge Test. The combat was short and brutal and very one-sided as the hairy biker decapitated the zombie with a swift cut to the neck.
"Now stay dead!" he grumbled, as he wiped the blood from his blade on a kitchen towel.
Catweazle led Jamie and the news crew upstairs. Vampifan and Gap remained downstairs with Big Sil.
TURN 22. Activation - Vampifan = 1, Zombies = 3
The Risks and Rewards card showed that there was nothing to be found on the upper level of the house.
"It's all clear here," Catweazle said in his deep voice for the benefit of the three survivors downstairs.
This seemed like a good point to draw a close to the scenario. There were no more zombies left on the board and Vampifan did not want to push his luck by exploring the last two houses. The team moved outside of the house via the kitchen door. At this point, Simon and Jenny, the news team, headed off in the opposite direction to Team Vampifan. Both groups wished each other good luck and hoped they'd meet up again sometime soon.
Incidentally, you can find full rules for using a media team in your games on pages 28 and 29 of the ATZ supplement "Haven." If the couple had remained with Team Vampifan I would have used the rules to assess if they were eligible for a Rep increase.
Speaking of Rep increases, Vampifan, Big Sil, Gap and Jamie were all eligible for a Rep increase. They'd all killed at least one zombie apiece, none of them had Hunkered Down or gone Out Of the Fight and they'd all found one Resource - a Shotgun for Vampifan, Medical Supplies for Big Sil, Fuel for Gap and Food for Jamie. Sadly, I did not roll high enough for any of them to gain a new Rep level. Ho-hum!
Acquiring Lieutenant Catweazle as a new team member was ample enough reward for them. Originally, he was a Rep:5 Star, who after his second scenario, adavanced to Rep:6. I have considered keeping his Star status but definitely not his higher Rep. A lot could have happened to him in the month since I first introduced him. Perhaps the loss of his colleagues accounted for his Rep decrease. Having two Stars in Team Vampifan may seem like overkill but they are a growing group and this ensures that I will always have a Star to lead the group if one of them stays behind to guard their base.
In all likelihood, this will be my last campaign batrep of 2011, so all I can say is, roll on 2012!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

My ATZ Campaign - Day 59 - Meeting the Media Part 1

This was Team Vampifan's first foray away from home since the death of Angie just over a week ago. Hannah decided to stay behind to look after her son, Billy, who was still recovering from being shot on his last outing. As the rules stand at present, Billy could return to action as soon as he made his recovery roll, which he did. However, I'm using a bit of common sense here, and it will take him time to fully recover from a bullet wound to the stomach. This left just four members able to go out on the mission. Here they are with their stats -
Vampifan; Rep:6 Star with Nerves of Steel and Slow attributes; armed with Assault Rifle, BA Pistol, Combat Knife and Body Armour.
Big Sil; Rep:5 Grunt with Knife Fighter attribute; armed with Assault Rifle, Combat Knife and Body Armour.
Gap; Rep:4 Grunt with Phobia of Clowns; armed with Assault Rifle, Knife and Body Armour.
Jamie Vaughn; Rep:4 Grunt with Brawler attribute; armed with BA Pistol and Medical Supplies.

The game was played on a 3' by 3' board divided into nine 1' square sectors with sector 1 being in the top left hand corner of the photo above where the small wood is and sector 9 being in the bottom right hand corner where the general store is.
The only new item on the board that I haven't featured before is the stretch limo that has crashed into the wood. I bought it at a local toy shop in a sale for about £3 or £4 instead of £10.
Team Vampifan began the game in sector 7 next to the front entrance to the deli store. I rolled to see if any of them had suffered from a lack of sleep prior to setting out but all made their checks without any problems.
I then rolled for the placement and Reps of the three starting PEFs. PEF:1 was Rep:5 and was placed in sector 6 at the front of the alley between the two houses.
Pef:2 was Rep:2 and was placed in sector 1 in the small wood.
PEF:3 was Rep:1 and was placed in sector 5 at the back of the limousine.
HOUSE RULES. There was recently a discussion on the Board of the Living Dead forum about whether external doors should be locked or unlocked. The default rule in Better Dead Than Zed is that all doors are unlocked. The argument is that is this realistic? Well, no, but it does speed up gameplay. Anyway, I have decided to adapt Joe's (aka Zabadak) rule that all doors are unlocked on the roll of 1-5 on 1d6. Only if I roll a 6 will a door be locked. Locked doors can be smashed open but doing so creates noise, equivalent to one gunshot for the purpose of attracting zombies and possibly alerting any occupants inside the building. I have also made the decision that I want no Ragers or Smart Zombies during the first six months of my campaign (i.e. up to day 183).

Day 59 - Meeting the Media Part 1
This would be a standard Discovery scenario set in the suburbs of Mayhem City during the hours of daylight. Note that any reference to the Better Dead Than Zed rulebook will be abbreviated to BDTZ and any reference to the I, Zombie supplement will be abbreviated to IZ.
TURN 1.   Activation - Vampifan = 4, PEFs = 3
Vampifan was going to enter the deli store but he found the door to be locked. Inside, the shop looked deserted so he moved along to the dry cleaning store, with the rest of the team following faithfully behind him.
PEF:1 passed 2d6 on the PEF Movement Table and moved alongside PEF:3 in sector 5.
TURN 2.   Activation - Vampifan = 1, PEFs = 5
PEF:1 again passed 2d6 on the PEF Movement Table and moved into sector 7 at the corner of the dry cleaning store. However, when I rolled on the PEF Resolution Table, it turned out to be a false alarm. Much relief!
This time the door was unlocked and Team Vampifan entered the dry cleaning store. I turned over the top card of my Risks and Rewards deck to reveal no humans, no zombies and no resources.
TURN 3.   Activation - Vampifan = 5, PEFs = 6
With the PEFs unable to activate, Team Vampifan left the dry cleaners and headed across the road. This brought them in sight of PEF:3, so I rolled to see what it was and got a result of NPC Interaction. I determined that the NPCs were a news team made up of a Rep:4 cameraman and a Rep:3 reporter.
TURN 4.   Activation - Vampifan = 3, News Team = 4, PEF = 5
The PEF was unable to activate so the news team moved towards Team Vampifan.
Team Vampifan approached the news team and introductions were made. The cameraman was called Simon McQuarrie and his young colleague was called Jenny Tyrell. I rolled on the NPC Interaction Table (see p.117 of IZ) with both sides rolling d6 equal to their leader's Rep. This meant 6d6 for Vampifan and 4d6 for McQuarrie. No other modifiers applied to the rolls. After a couple of rounds of rolling Vampifan won 2-0. This gave him a +2 bonus when he rolled 1d6 on the NPC Positive Reaction Table (see p.117 of IZ). I rolled a 4 for Vampifan, which with the +2 bonus, gave him a score of 6. This meant that the news team would hang out with Team Vampifan for the rest of this scenario. I'd rather they joined them on a permanent basis but for that to have happened I'd have had to roll a 6 on the 1d6.
TURN 5.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, PEF = 1
The six humans moved further across the street towards the general store.
 PEF:2 passed 1d6 on the PEF Movement Table and moved into sector 5, taking cover behind the stretch limo. This brought it in sight of Team Vampifan, so I rolled to see what it was on the PEF Resolution Table.
I got a result of Hostile NPCs, or more specifically, zombies. There were six of them but at the moment they were too far away from Team Vampifan to be considered a threat, so no one fired at them.
TURN 6.   Activation - Vampifan = 6, Zombies = 3
Team Vampifan reached the front door of the general store, which was unlocked.
The zombies shuffled along the road towards the clearly visible group of humans.
TURN 7.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 5
With the zombies unable to activate this turn, Vampifan led his followers inside the general store. The Risks and Rewards card once again, revealed no humans or zombies inside but there was a Food resource, which Jamie found amongst the mostly empty, looted shelves.
TURN 8.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 4
The six zombies ambled slowly down the road, getting ever closer to the general store.
Vampifan led the way up the stairs at the back of the store.
TURN 9.   Activation - Vampifan = 3, Zombies = 1
As Vampifan entered the living room upstairs, he was confronted by a very tall man with a handlebar moustache and dressed in the uniform of a National Guard Officer. He was a Rep:5 Star, armed with an Assault Rifle and he possessed the Brawler and Nerves of Steel attributes. I rolled on the Meet and Greet Table, rolling 11d6 for Vampifan (6d6 for his Rep and 5d6 for outnumbering the officer by five) and 5d6 for the officer (his Rep). Not surprisingly, Vampifan won by more than two and so the officer would join Team Vampifan permanently. As the Risks and Rewards card revealed, there was a Medical Supplies Resource to be found and Big Sil snaffled it.
The six zombies were now less than six inches away from the general store entrance.
TURN 10.   Actibation - Vampifan = (4) 2, Zombies = (4) 5
After tying for Activation I rolled again and this time the zombies rolled too high to activate. So, Team Vampifan spent this turn getting acquainted with the National Guard officer. He identified himself as Lieutenant Ulysses Catweazle, the only survivor out of his platoon.
Note that Lieutenant Catweazle has appeared in two games of ATZ prior to this encounter, although they were not part of my official campaign when I played them way back in 2009. You can read about his exploits here - and here -
Now that Lieutenant Catweazle has joined Team Vampifan, his two previous scenarios are now canon and they will form part of my ongoing campaign.
TURN 11.   Activation - Vampifan = 5, Zombies = 1
Vampifan lead his rapidly expanding team back downstairs, as he continued to chat to Lieutenant Catweazle.
Two of the six zombies entered the general store, with the other four close on their heels.