[WotD] Spoilers - Chapter 2 monster question

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Wibbs
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[WotD] Spoilers - Chapter 2 monster question

#1 Postby Wibbs » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:11 am

Hey all,

I'm currently getting up to speed with the goings on in Chapter 2, and I wanted to ask a few things about Ragers.

My first observation is that these things are tough, strong AND fast. I know they have a low parry, but with toughness 11 they need to be hit really really hard to even shake them. I suppose my concern is that I'm not sure how my players are going to take them down, and their speed makes them very difficult to get away from. Also, with their strength, any hit from them is going to hurt and as one wound is enough, it makes them absolutely lethal. For those who have played/run chapter 2, what are your views on this? What tactics are open to players?

My second concern relates to some of the similarities between them and the zombies that have already been encountered. Another monster that effectively kills you with a single wound with some kind of infection...I think my players will find it a little repetitive.

I am trying to think of ways of mixing things up a little without having a major effect on the overall story arc. The most obvious thing would be to make it so that players have to 'die' before they turn into one of these, giving them a lot more leeway with three wounds to play with. I would also consider having them not passing on an infection at all, but then am unsure on how they would increase in number. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance,

Wibbs

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#2 Postby Jordan Peacock » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:08 am

Re: Rager Infection:
If you don't want to deal with yet another monster that can infect the heroes with one bite (since, after all, it can RIP THEM IN HALF anyway), I don't think you'll kill the story if you take the infection part out, or mute it. For the sake of brainstorming....

1) One-Time Ragers:
Under this model, the Ragers are ONLY composed of those persons who were subjected to a flawed attempt at immunization (with "Ferals" being another identifiable strain), and mutated into these things. Rager bites are not infectious. If Ragers are encountered in the distant future (World of the Dead), beyond this initial "batch," it will be because the things reproduced the old-fashioned way -- and the second generation might be even more mutated in appearance if you want to go that route. For purposes of the story, they don't really need to increase in number, since they're supposed to be rare (but the PCs are just "lucky" enough to run into them in a couple of places in Chapters 2 and 3).

The only major hit the story is going to take from this (unless I misremember) would be:

"Samantha's" scripted death due to Rager infection, despite her supposed immunity.


I can live with that. There are enough nasty turns already in the campaign to drive home that the Apocalypse is a nasty thing. You can just consider that this NPC loses "plot armor" past this point (no scripted events the NPC has to be alive for). It's just up to the PCs whether the character lives or dies in the remainder of the campaign, depending upon how diligent they are.

Anyway, the only places where the PCs encounter Ragers by Chapter 3 are places where the "Rager strain" has reason to be introduced other than just "spreading naturally," so there's no story-reason, per se, to require it to be spread by bite. Besides, with Ragers being as vicious as they are (and cannibals, of course), it seems like the number of folks who survive a Rager attack but just got bitten should be very, very small, thus contributing very little to the Rager population as a whole.




2) Infection, But Still Hope:
Another possibility would be that anyone exposed to Rager/Feral infection is, indeed, infected, but it's not a sure bet that you're doomed. Just in case the group is in the habit of shooting everyone sporting a bite mark by now, it might be a good idea for some NPC doctor to fill in the heroes on what Sanctuary knows about the Rager bite at the first opportunity, or let a PC discover some useful information.

Once the fever kicks in, rather than automatically gaining a level of Fatigue automatically each hour, your Vigor roll is made to see how it progresses. If you fail the check, you gain a level of Fatigue; if you merely succeed, you stay at your current level; on a raise, you recover one level of Fatigue from the disease. If at any point you are at 0 Fatigue and you score a raise on the Vigor roll, the fever breaks over the next hour, after which the character is still tired and shaky for a while and in need of some rest, but there's no game-mechanic effect, and the character has recovered. Thereafter, the character is immunized against Rager/Feral disease.

If you've got a doctor in the group, that character's Kn (Medicine) skill can be applied to the Vigor roll as if it were a Cooperative check. If someone in the party has the Healer Edge and is providing help, apply that bonus as if it were a Natural Healing roll.

No "vaccine" has been developed yet, though Sanctuary is working on it. The only real option is that someone could be deliberately infected while under ideal conditions (in a medical center that gives a bonus to checks, under the care of a doctor with a high Kn (Medicine) skill), in the hopes of building up immunity, but it would still have significant risks (especially for Extras).

In this case, you could still go with the "scripted event" mentioned above if desired; the NPC in question just didn't roll well.

Just to make it clear that the character had a close brush with a fate worse than death, the longer the character spends in the thrall of the fever, the more changes might take place that have superficial effects on the character's appearance to suggest early stages of progression into Feral or Rager form -- e.g.:

* Paler complexion.
* Accelerated hair growth; hair turns bleach-white.
* Strangely colored eyes.
* More "feral" features.
* Original canine teeth pushed out, replaced by fangs (again, no actual combat value, but makes you look freaky if you smile).

This might not necessarily affect the character's Charisma (at least, at the more superficial levels), but would give the character a reason to be more careful about his or her appearance among strangers, lest one be shot on sight "just to be safe."
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#3 Postby Wibbs » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:30 am

Interesting...I was actually heading towards you first suggestion anyway, and your thoughts have helped a lot with this.

What are your experiences with the lethality of Ragers given their stats? I am concerned that the non-combat focused characters with lower toughness/parry/armour are going to be ripped apart within seconds.

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#4 Postby Zadmar » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:55 am

Wibbs wrote:My first observation is that these things are tough, strong AND fast. I know they have a low parry, but with toughness 11 they need to be hit really really hard to even shake them.

Double barrel shotgun to the head? Or if your Shooting skill is poor (and you don't have time to aim), you could just target the legs and run away afterwards.

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#5 Postby Jordan Peacock » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:05 am

What Zadmar said about a double-barrel shotgun, if you're up against just ONE Rager ... but then you'd have to reload for the next one. ;)

In the introductory scenario, the PCs are largely insulated from the Ragers by having a bunch of "red shirts" around them taking the worst of the assault. However, for future encounters, a few thoughts on survival:

1) Put bayonets on those M-16s. The Sanctuary troops should already be doing this. A bayonet on an M-16 turns it into a close-combat capable weapon that, even if you never hit or shoot anything with it, is vital to make sure you aren't an Unarmed Defender -- and it gives you +1 to Parry! Plus, Str+d6 damage is decent, and the Reach 1 means it's easier for Extras to lend those Gang-Up bonuses (even if they have no actual Fighting skill to speak of).

For a similar reason, one of the first things my PC group did upon being forced by Fuerrie's gang to march through a zombie-infested town was to construct makeshift spears (we had two people with Repair) and even improvised "bucklers" to give to the Extras -- never mind whether or not they could actually fight -- simply to increase their chances of being harder to hit, and to give them a chance to help out via Gang-Up bonuses vs. zombies.

2) Burst fire. +2 to hit and damage is well worth spending a couple of extra bullets. Even an Extra with only d4 Shooting has a pretty good chance of hitting a Rager at Short Range if he aims for center of mass (e.g., no called shots). With 2d8+2 damage, you've got better than a 50% chance of causing a Shaken result vs. Toughness 10. (I need to look at the stats again; I forgot whether Ragers were Hardy or not.)

3) Shotguns. If you can't get an M-16, a shotgun is a pretty good option. A double-barreled sawed-off shotgun is a great weapon if you're up against ONE enemy, or you're in a situation where you can retreat to cover to reload (e.g., sitting on a rooftop, picking off zombies milling about at the base). +2 to hit and 3d6 damage per barrel is pretty nice, and even a character with no Shooting skill might get lucky and kill something now and then. However, having two empty barrels to reload is a problem. Since you're likely to only get one shot anyway before the enemy closes in, you might as well Aim first if you get the chance, to make sure it counts. An Extra who Aims and fires a shotgun has a pretty decent chance of hitting!

With a pump shotgun, you don't get the double-barreled option, but 3d6 damage at close range (with +2 to hit) gives a passable chance of shaking a Toughness 10 target if you've got several people armed with them. If you've actually got decent Shooting skill, you might go for the head shot for the certain extra damage.

Another nice thing about shotguns is that if the PCs get a chance to get ammo, rifled slugs can make the weapon more versatile in the hands of a skilled shooter at range (giving you a flat amount of damage to roll at any range, vs. decreasing at greater ranges), though you'll lose that +2 bonus to hit.

4) Get a vehicle, if you've got a PC with Driving skill, preferably an Ace. My PCs (two of them Aces) soon discovered that the most devastating weapon to use against a Rager, Feral, or plain ol' Shambler/Sprinter would be a big car. Yes, the collision damage can be just as devastating to the car and its occupants, and you need an evacuation plan to get OUT of the car quickly when the dice go bad and it eventually wrecks, but until then, it can dish out considerable damage with relatively little of it splashing back to the car itself and occupants (provided you're only hitting SOFT obstacles, such as Shamblers and Ragers).

Don't forget that firing from a moving vehicle in Savage Worlds is pretty chancy, though; Unstable Platform makes it impractical to make called shots while riding in the back of a truck ... but that's just fine if you're outrunning the zombies anyway.

...

In short, going toe-to-toe with a Rager with hand weapons is a pretty nasty proposition, so the best thing the PCs can hope to do is to NOT BE in that situation, shoot them before they get there, outrun them, aim to keep safe in numbers (make lots of non-infected friends!) or at least put up the best defense they can.
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#6 Postby Lee_Szczepanik » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:18 pm

A few points I want to toss out, as well as an error on my part:

1) Ragers are not Living Dead and do not require a headshot to kill. They can be killed like anything else.

2) Unless specifically stated, they are Extras. One wound equals done.

3) The error: The Slow Regeneration should have read:

Slow Regeneration: If the Rager is a Wild Card, it heals faster than humans when wounded, making a natural Healing roll once per day.

That will be corrected in Chapter 4. Extra's would only regenerate if they had "Fast Regeneration", which they don't. The entry, though, makes all Ragers appear as Wild Cards.

4) The Ragers do, indeed, procreate. That point is revealed in Chapter 4, including the speed with which they do. It is not 9-10 months.


Jordan is correct that in the introductory scenes, the PCs have the typical red shirts insulating them. That remains true, by the sheer amount of survivors they get in their camp, until the end of the Chapter 3 and into Chapter 4-- where they will face some Ragers up close and personal. By then the characters should be into Heroic, and Legendary by early in Chapter 4 (assuming they don't have a ton of TPKs), and should be very capable at taking down some Extras that don't require a called shot, even with the Toughness 11.

Also, always keep in mind that the number of monsters confronting the party was written based on combat with the play test groups. If the number of opposing forces is too high for your group, simply lower it. While death can always occur easily in a zombie apocalypse, the player-characters should always have at least one way out of an encounter.

And always use their allies. They aren't canon-fodder or extra dice, but should also be treated as living people, too. Just like all those characters in "The Walking Dead" that are with Rick, Lori, and Shane--- to use a popular example. :wink:

Spoiler Note below:

As far as dropping the Rager Infection, one of the major NPC allies is written out of the campaign in Chapter-4 by such an infection. So, if you do so, you'll have to adjust Chapter 4. But you'll probably make adjustments anyway. No scripted campaign of this size is going to go exactly as written, whether it is due to off-the-wall PC actions, the nature of the dice in Savage Worlds, or a GM wanting to keep a scripted NPC death alive-- as some have done with Samantha at the end of Chapter-2. So, don't be afraid to adjust to fit your group. The core story is still there with the work done for the GM, modifying events won't change that for you unless you want it to.

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#7 Postby drkrash » Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:06 am

I really want to know who's scripted death is in Chapter 4 now... :)

I just got my players to the Ragers in chapter 3. Their plan is to run like hell, but Joe, the character with Overconfident and a d12 Fighting, and who didn't get a chance to fight them before, really wants to punch one in the face.

Honestly, this far in, my players are more inclined to get past combat scenes. They're still enjoying the tension of the scenario without worrying about a crappy die roll killing them and we also don't use battlemaps. So sometimes I simplify fights to move things along. I suspect that will be the case with the ragers too.

Oh, and my players wondered about their reproduction already, but moreso they wondered what they ate if they're not dead. They were satisfied when I said they ate corpses and zombies.

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#8 Postby Lee_Szczepanik » Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:43 pm

drkrash wrote:I really want to know who's scripted death is in Chapter 4 now... :)


Check your PM if you want to know. I'll put it into a spoiler quote, though, just in case you don't want to know early-- that way you can delete it, instead. :wink:


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