So, a quick update...
Unfortunately I've had to cancel the game with this group for complicated reasons. However, I am still running it with a second group every other week, and will continue this thread as a record of their play through.
Jerico Malice – A strange and shadowy character with no morals, who was experimented on by the folks at Dalesbury and has more than a hint of rager about him.
Cassandra Kain – One of the originals on the boat, has been through a lot. Her husband died, she was shot in the head at close range and developed a slightly unhealthy need to look after Samantha. She is also immune.
Isaiah Irons – A firebrand religious type who is convinced the zombies are the end of days.
Saphy – A loner who joined the party when they encounter Hell Feurie for the first time. Has a habit of wandering off by herself and getting into trouble.
Major John Douglas – A former military medic who has a singular (and possibly unhealthy) drive to find a cure for the 'infection'.
Samantha Hickman – as written in the campaign apart from the fact she was introduced on the ship at the start rather than being a Hickman.
The Story so Far...
This group has a habit of splitting up at the drop of a hat, which has made my life interesting. There have been three PC deaths; two as they escaped the ship, and one around Jacksonville.
They've been in Sanctuary for a few days and are about on week 7, which puts them roughly at the same point as my other group before it died.
The attack to kidnap the children happened as scripted, with Samantha et al taken. The only difference was that Caitlin was with them at the time. I ruled that she was knocked unconscious by one of the ragers who was more interested in getting the children than killing her.
We join the story as the characters arrive on the scene...
Major Douglas quickly got to work on Caitlin, bring her around so she could describe what had happened. She confirmed that the ragers had headed straight for the children and then left in a hurry. Fatigued from the blow to her head, she demanded stimulants from the doctor, but instead he gave her a sedative, as he thought she would be more of a hindrance in her current state. She realised what he'd done but was too far gone, and just before she fell unconscious she vowed to kill him.
This is going to create an 'interesting' situation when she comes too, and I'm not sure yet how its going to play out. Caitlin will be furious but she isn't stupid. I'm half thinking that she'd be so angry she wouldn't travel in the same group as the doctor...
Saffy did her usual thing and went off on her own, tracking the ragers a little way away from the perimeter and safety of Sanctuary. Oh yeah, she didnt have any weapons either. She quickly found herself isolated and in danger. Jerico sensed something bad was happening and hailed her on her radio. She tried to hide from whatever was after her but ended up in a building with a feral close to hand. She then decided to leg it, pursued by three ferals in total.
Cassandra, Jerico and Major Douglas got to the fence in time to see her sprinting towards them about four blocks away. A couple of accurate shots felled the pursuing beasts to end the encounter.
Jerico and Magor Douglas found the closest beast, who was incapacitated but alive, and came up with an idea. They reasoned that as the ragers had shown no interest in hurting people, there might be the possibility of bargaining for the children's release. Instead of killing the creature, they patched it up in the hope it would go back to General Russo.
The discussion that led to this was really interesting and completely unexpected – that's why I love this campaign!
Unfortunately, Cassandra had other ideas, calmly walking up to them and putting a bullet in its head before they could stop her. An argument predictably ensued...
The role playing here was fantastic and the highlight of the evening. Everyone at the table was completely focused on the situation and in character. Cassandra in particular was brilliantly played, her bloodthirsty hindrance coming to the fore – I just sat back and enjoyed the spectacle!
Meanwhile, Commander Morrison had reached the scene and proceeded to give Saphy a viscous dressing down for going off on her own. Isaiah watched the whole scene bemused, wondering why they were patching up a creature that was obviously a demon. He was happy when Cassandra did her thing.
Back in the safety of the perimeter, plans were discussed. The party was split, with some arguing to go after the children, but others arguing that they should wait until morning. The group spent a while weighing up the value of the children against the risk of going after them at night. This was particularly difficult, as certain people were not convinced the children were actually in any danger. After much deliberating, Commander Morrison decided to wait until daylight, when the ragers would cease to be a danger.
Another long discussion, but I let it run because it touched on many of the issues at the core of the wider situation. I found it very difficult to decide how the Commander would react, particularly given his Heroic hindrance. In the end it took some serious Persuasion rolls to do it, but they just about convinced him that waiting would be the better option for Sanctuary as a whole.
Everyone prepared to retire and get some sleep apart from Isaiah, who was furious with the Commander's decision, and Jerico, who had left earlier to get more sleep. Isaiah proceeded to go around telling anyone he found of the decision the Commander had taken, including residents, sentries etc. A large group quickly formed around him as he whipped them up to a state of fury. Commander Morrison and the other characters arrived on the scene and proceeded unsuccessfully to try to defuse the situation. It ended with the Commander changing his mind, asking for volunteers to go after the children straight away. The PCs each put their names forward, and arrangements were quickly made. Jerico was predictably extremely unhappy with this, making the point clearly that he thought they would be walking into a trap.
This part was so unexpected, and completely brilliant. Again, I struggled a little to work out what was going on because there were some many conflicting actions. I figured that given the Commander was only just convinced not to go in the first place, the weight of fear/anger from the crowd was sufficient to get him to change his mind.
The group, made up of the five PCs, Commander Morrison, Alexandro and his team, six soldiers and four attack dogs left, with Saphy tracking ahead.
I simplified this part, getting rid of the other two groups of soldiers and combining everyone important into one group. My reasoning here was that I couldn't see why the three groups could be justified given how clear the tracks would be. Having deciding this, I figured that the 19 people would be around the largest practical group that would travel as one.
Progress was quick, but the lack of any aggression towards them was strange, and strengthened fears that they were walking into a trap. After finding Samantha's two shoes on the floor one after the other, the group were on high alert for a possible ambush.
The group were so paranoid at this point that it was funny.
A little way further on Saphy followed the tracks to a manhole missing its cover. The group followed a little way behind, convinced an attack was imminent. They were not wrong, and a combination of ragers and sprinters converged on them from all directions...
And thats where we broke for the evening.
A fantastic session with great role playing, and once again the players completely suprised me with their actions. We actually got part way through the last combat before we had to stop, but I will write the whole thing up as part of the next session.
I had intended to make the confrontation with Brandon Russo and his chums more meaningful by giving the group the chance to save some/all of the children if they got there in time, but given how long the delay was before they got going I'm now going to kill them all and make sure Brandon lets them know it was because they got bored. Oh, and I'm also going to let Samantha die from blood loss
Coming back with no kids is going to send Caitlin over the edge, speaking of which...
One thing I could do with ideas for is how to play Caitlin's response to being drugged against her will by the doctor. Things I have considered...
- her leaving the group, particularly when they come back with no children...
- her holding a major grudge and trying at some point to hurt/kill the doctor.
However, I'm not convinced by either of these ideas, and I'm sure there must be a more interesting situation I can create given the drama of what's happened.