Welcome to my blog, the story of my continuing journey into the World of Zombie Wargames.

Monday, 27 May 2013

When Jimmy met Millie

The street between the two crossroads is where all the action takes place
I make no apologies that this post will be fairly verbose as I try to explain some thoughts on how I wish my campaign to “feel”, though I've kept most comments to notes at the end, should you just wish to read through the "action". 
Rather than following the story of one character or group I’ve decided to give the bigger picture of the city.
When Jimmy meets Millie
As a first outing for my rule changes and amendments I wanted to take a little more time over the game and it turned out to be much more time consuming than I’d thought it would. This was not only due to me wrestling with the tangle of rules from ATZ and FFO and my own but also I hadn’t anticipated how many notes I’d need to take to explain everything I wanted to and how many photographs I’d have to take to show the action.  I know how much readers like the photographs, so I won’t be scrimping on those.
The City of Perdition has sixteen urban and suburban districts surrounded by the eight rural districts that make up Harbinger County. USA
This action takes place in one of the urban parts of the city, it’s mid afternoon. There are no PEF’s (potential enemy forces) not are there any “players” in the true sense, that is to say the population’s actions are entirely decide by the dice and some obvious choices.
A lot happened that didn’t affect the actual “action”, civilians and vehicles moved on and off the table throughout the game, not all of which have been shown, but can be deduced from some of the wider shots.

Turn 1
Initiative (1d6): The civilians threw a 3 and the Zombie (Old Jimmy) threw a 5, which in my game I ADD to their Initiative rating to give final scores of Civ: 6 and Z’s 9. [i]
(The raw dice rolls for initiative will also determine events in future games.)
 Had the Civilians won the initiative then I would have deemed them to have just moved to their starting position and then it would have been the Z’s turn in any event)

General view of the action area
After initiative the zombie attacks its victim (and with it came the first frantic search through the rules for a solution to the first “problem” - see note[ii] )
In melee the zombie and Millie each get 3 dice per their melee ability.
In my games humans don’t get the single automatic success against a zombie as I wish to make zombies a little more fearsome than they are in FFO and not just a hindrance.
Anne Nhon pulling up and getting out her car.
The results of the melee were: Millie 1 success, Old Jimmy the Zombie 2 successes, the impact die after the melee indicated Millie was out of the Fight (OOF).
This action concluded the Zombie initiative for turn 1.
The civilians in the area now have their activation.[iii]
The only other person of note in the area is the occupant of the silver car, which when diced for turned out to be a single woman.
She sees the Zombie and I suffer the same dilemma as above over what she does, (see note 2).  All dice results indicate she should charge into melee but she’s in a car currently travelling at speed[iv]
She therefore slows to a stop and gets out to confront the Zombie !
General view at the end of turn one

Turn 2
Initiative results: Civilians 9 and Zombie 6, the civilians move first.
The situation just before the civilians move.
I’ve adopted a convention of moving all vehicles first before pedestrians.
All the civilians on the table were moved.
Only the civilian driver from the silver car (now named Anne Nhon) had a decision to make, having passed the Zed or no Zed test, she immediately failed the Brown Pants roll and stood for the time being.
Situation after the civilians have moved
Five citizens entered into range of seeing what would become the Zombie Feast

After moving all vehicles and civilians on the table I again diced to see if any new vehicles or civilians entered (a 5,6 on a d6 indicating that a vehicle would, whilst a die roll of 1,2, 3 indicated a single civilian, a 4,5 indicated two and a 6 indicated 3. – further dice were thrown to indicate which side of the street they would be on etc.).
Old Jimmy the zombie’s action was mandatory in that he had to start his feast.[v] – on poor Millie.
The zombie’s action of feasting also meant that all within range had to take the “test of seeing the feast”. [vi] In the game I replaced poor Millie with a large red counter. Seeing the feast, results in two civilians running away (indicated 
by a red counter), one civilian ducking back (yellow counted), and two civilians stunned (blue counter)
The erstwhile have-ago heroine Anne Nhon in the silver car also erred on the side of caution and ducked down back inside her car (yellow counter).
It can be seen from the photograph that “Jimmy the Zed” has his back to these newcomers to the party and so no Zed or no Zed tests were taken.
I justified this by thinking that from their point of view, he could equally have been a mugger or trying to give help to an injury on the prone victim (mouth-to-mouth anyone?).
The driver of the red car is more than 6” away from the feast and it’s debateable whether or not he could see it due to the silver car blocking the view.
 To get this far into my game had taken about two hours and I was quite done in, having moved figures and vehicles about and taken 2 pages of scrawl which only just passed as notes. The write up has taken about twice as long.
The scenario has actually been completed and part two will follow next week.

[i] I use five characteristics for figures, more or less in line with what I’d came up with about a year ago, I feel any more would be too cumbersome.
Initiative (a general catch-all for everything the other characteristics don’t cover)
Leadership (for interaction with others and in groups to determine whose Initiative to use)
Shooting (for all (non-exotic) firearms.
Melee (for all brawling and hand-to hand combat)
Driving (For driving all vehicles)

Zombies always have Initiative 4 and Melee 3 .

For this encounter and for ease, all Civilians have a characteristic of 3 for everything, the Emergency response units were determined to generally have 4’s.
Civilian vehicles moved at a more or less constant rate of 12” whilst on the table.
[ii] First the victim (whom I’ve called Millie) has to take a Zed or no Zed Test, with three possible results:
ATZ: Carry on; take being charged test; zombie charges with an advantage,
FFO: Take charge into into melee test;  Zombie charges and you can take a shot; zombie charges.
The ATZ being charged table again has three results:
Have a shot, melee normally; melee normally; retire (ie runaway)
The FFO Charge table has four possible results all basically ending with a melee
The ATZ result of “carry on” doesn’t make sense when the zombie is charging you – (Carry on being charged?) whilst the FFO results all end with a melee with no chance of running away.
I opted for the ATZ result and allowed poor Millie to take the being charged roll, but alas she opted to stay and fight !
However in FFO she would also have to take the “Citizens Brown Pants – Part two” rule which gives two possibilites: got to the charge table or runaways and got to the breaking off melee table (there are two distinct sections of rules in FFO for this which is highly confusing as one refers to characters and the other to Grunts, but both could easily be rerering to a Player’s figures)

[iii] Both cars and civilians reaching a junction throw a die to determine their route, civilians move 6” per move (Zombies move at a rate of 4” normally but 6” if within 6” of humans”.  I felt a movement rate of 8”/6” was too much given the size of table generally being used. On a four foot wide table a human moving 8” with fast move can clear the edge of the table in 3 turns from anywhere on the table and with smaller boards even faster.

[iv] It’s a speed of 2 (12”). Each “speed” a vehicle does equates to a 6” mandatory movement” in my driving rules. Vehicles can go up one speed per turn or down two. They also have a “bonus” die of 1d6” which drivers can use all, some, or none in their turn. – This enables a bit more precise movement.

[v]  Normally, in ATZ, the zombie feast lasts a number of turns equal to the throw of 1d6 but I really don’t like the predictive nature of this. Instead I determined that a die is thrown each turn after the the feast has started to see if the feast is concluded, a 5 or 6 on a d6 indicating that it has. This obviously means that you can’t predict or know when it will conclude.

[vi] Both ATZ and FFO have similar results although ATZ take two tables to get there.
ATZ does have a chance to “Carry on”, whilst FFO doesn’t’ and FFO doesn’t have the “Hunker down” reaction.
I prefer the “cleaner” FFO version (but see note iv above.)
I also consider the feasting of zombies on a fresh corpse to be a mistaken view of a zombie’s frenzied biting of its victim, to try and make sure the victim is infected.

 That's all for this week then except to welcome my latest follower Phil C, I hope there's something here to interest you.

As always your comments are both welcomed and appreciated.


  1. This is a promising start, mouth to mouth with a zombie though! Could of done with out that thought in my head lol.

    The characteristics are interesting it might just be the word used but I was wondering how come zombies have a higher Initiative than Civilians? I'd of figured zombie would been more instinctive than free thinking?

    1. Thanks Brummie
      I believed that the z's always know what they're doing and like you say instinctive, they are very restrictive though in what they can actually do.

    2. fair point I suppose with what they can do it makes them more certain they can do it. I get your line of thought with it now. Cheers :0)

    3. It's actually also in line with ATZ where zombies have a REP of 4 and with FFO where zombies have Rep 4 when in sight of humans.

  2. Great looking pics. I'm always attracted to the eye candy. :) I especially like your take on the "Feast" rules. There's too much opportunity for metagaming with a known result on how long the feast will last. Having it end on a 5-6 adds a much higher level of uncertainty, very good.

    1. Thanks LJ, a lot of visitors to blogs I think would be quite content with just the piccies.
      There is a chance (though be it slight)that the feast it could theoretically go on forever, but I'd already thought of a few other ways the feasting could end.

  3. Very entertaining, Joe. I applaud the changes you have made to the rules. As Ed has said before it is your game to do with as you wish. The main thing is having fun.

    1. Thanks Bryan, I finally getting the rules to where I want them.

  4. That is a lot you've got going on Joe. I can only applaud for trying something unique, but as you've said, things pile up fast. I am interested in seeing how you will develop your campaign - I really like the "lived in" feel you got in your city with cars and people coming and going (something to borrow :P), but representing what is happening in a city as a whole seems a bit overwhelming perhaps?

    I hardly give an opinion on the rules as I don't have the rules, but I have noticed you've changed the initiative rolls - if you add the numbers, you can't get an idle result? As in not-activate due to roll being higher than initiative level or something as per rules?

    1. Thanks for the applause ! Though I hardly feel it's a unique scenario and the present "living city" feel will make the "after the apocalypse" city seem that more barren of life.

      I've written a page and a half explaining why I don't think the initiative systems in ATZ and FFO don't work from my viewpoint in this particular incarnation of the THW rules.
      All parties in my games will get to act at all times.

    2. That's on the Board of Living Lead? I'll go and have a look soon! As it happens (and before reading your thoughts!) I agree with this idea

  5. Great start Joe, loving your take on the the initial outbreak!

    1. Thanks Dave, though I consider it it's just a single instance of many such occurrences that will happen.

  6. While I quite like the idea of a "have a go" heroine, I've always taken the "charge" or "shoot" reaction test results to be optional - the player can choose to do this if desired, or they can carry on about their business. There are a few cases in FFO where the wording is "*must* shoot" or some such (random event table, for example) and these wouldn't make sense if the action was optional.

    1. You're absolutely right C6 and I agree with you wholeheartedly. It may have been quite different had someone been playing as the civilians, but we're generally far more "gung ho" when there's nothing riding on the decision, hence I needed a mechanism for deciding what the NPCs do.

  7. Excellent Zabadak, a good read thus far and i really like your homebrew rules tweaks, look forward to more.

    1. Thanks TE, there'll be far fewer rules to contend with in the next post.

  8. Good Lord old boy what detail. You have really thought of this and I'm very impressed. I'm sure that as you get used to it the rules will flow more to the 2HW ethos. I like the way you have considered the many options open to an individual and altered the rules accordingly. Interestingly I came across this today http://anubisstudios.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/what-is-cast-of-thousands-2008.pdf . I've skim read it and it seems to move were you are going. Please let me know what you think.

    1. Thanks Irqan, as you sat once I get familiar with what I'm trying to acheive things will speed up as they did through turns 3-6 when I had help.
      I took a look at "Cast of thousands" and was impressed enought download it - I'll be making a hard copy and going through it for further inspiration.
      When my apocalypse progresses beyond the civilians and they fade into the distance I can see all "sides" being controlled by players rather than dice rolls.

  9. PS. Great city models, love them. Great job on the'North American Street' models.

    1. Thanks again Irqan, as I now got some more foamcard too I'll soon doubling the amount of my tenements.

  10. Sorry for taking so long to get round to reading all this. But it was either read this or watch Brittains got talent. Having read it I know I made the right choice. Really really good and totally entertaining. Well thought out and totally believable. I can see the outbreak starting like this. Or a film, and then the titles rolling up the screen! I'm hooked.

  11. (Apologies are never needed.)
    I'll take it then that you enjoyed the trailer !

  12. Great start! I don’t wait the next post!

    1. Thanks Titoit's all ready to put into my next blog.

  13. Joe, excellent looking table and great write-up. The explanations are very welcome too. Please keep up this style in your posts - I appreciate it's a pin for you, but it's great to read!

  14. Thanks for the comments, I haven't any intentions to alter anything currently and I'll continue to explain why I change the way I've done things, rules etc.

  15. Great way to start the campaign. With the first Zombie! Look forward to seeing how it develops.

  16. Thanks David, though I consider it the first of many similar incidents.