26
Aug
10

Side Mission 03 – The Bleeding Edge, Chapter 1 – Part 3

SIDE MISSION 03 – THE BLEEDING EDGE, CHAPTER 1 – PART 3
Written by: Marius          Played on: 24 JuL 2010
PREVIOUS: Side Mission 03 – The Bleeding Edge, Chapter 1 – Part 2
NEXT: Mission 20 – Career Path – Part 1

After much discussion we decide to use him to drop the lockdown. Being that we don’t want to leave the facility with all the infected standing, and that I hate all things corporate, we decide that overloading the reactor is the way to go.

This was an unexpected direction for me. I had figured the team would make a beeline for th exit (which initially they did, but were unable to escape without dropping the lockdown). At best, I thought they might persue Dr Logan to learn what they could from him, but it quickly became apparrent they didn’t care about him at all. Instead I let the security chief tell them most of the backstory.

Charging after the reactor to destroy the facility was not in the original mission write-up and I had to make it up largely as I went along. Still, it was a fantastic decision on my player’s parts and a lot of fun.

The scene came as a direct result of following the Rule of Yes; that unless there is a compelling reason to tell the players No, you should say Yes. It lets the players help shape the game world by their own expectations and takes the game in unexpected directions. 

As we head that direction, Fred Jones doesn’t seem to be very responsive. That’s when Clint notices a bite on Fred’s arm. He grabs Fred by the shirt and looks deep into his unfocused eyes, whispers, “Sorry Fred, you did well” and as he throws a bladed fist into Fred’s face. Fred bares his teeth and screeches just in time to have Clint’s blade to tear through his skull.

No time to waste, we continue to the reactor.

We make it there without encountering any infected. We discover that the only way to stop this thing is to cut off the cooling system and physically block open a failsafe system that drops into place to cut off the reactor. I run into an infected HTR soldier and drop him with a headshot.

The mechanics for shutting down the reactor were, as the whole scene was, developed somewhat on the fly. As they navigated their way there I brainstormed out the idea of how they might shut it down.

One thing I immediately knew I wanted to do was to find a way to briefly force the party to split. Not in a major way, but in one that could result in some tension as each has to face off against their own small threat without the backup of the rest of the team.

The reactor was designed so that it could have the coolant system shut off from one terminal but two rods would drop into the reactor to shut it down  automatically. The two rods were on opposite sides of the reactor and had to be jammed in place, requiring team members to be in three places at once.

As the Doctor shuts off the colling system Clint and I wedge the rods in place. We are all immediatly swarmed. I dispatch another HTR and a regular infected, Clint throws two down to a lower level. We will discover later that this was a piss poor idea.

I described the sudden swarm here at the end as being a very Left 4 Dead style assault. I told the players that, if they were playing a video game, this is the part where they would hear a far off screeching noise followed up by the heavy action music signifying a rush.

I coupled this with a very short amount of time for them to get out of the facility in to force them into a running gun battle against a horde of infected. I knew the team’s natural reaction would be to hunker down somewhere and wait out the assault otherwise, playing it safe.

I said I was proud of them for going after the reactor. I didn’t say I wasn’t going to make it appropriately difficult for them though.

I sprint to the control room. Inside, Clint, the Doctor, the security chief, and Levi kill three more. The security chief is badly wounded. As I am shooting at three infected out side I hear a single gunshot from the control room; I would find out later that Levi shot the security chief even as the Doctor was trying to help him.

I kill one infected as Clint seals in the other two in a physical barrier. I clear the enclosed infected and stop at the door, turn and cover the enclosed infected as the team advances to my position.

I am tackled by an infected from behind, coming in through the door to the reactor room. Levi kills it with two shots and enters the hallway where three more infected are. The Doctor kills one from the doorway.

Turning to the outside hall, I shred a second and injure a third. I am then tackled by an HTR (the one Clint threw over the balcony, ass). I am really hurting from this one. I hear and feel ribs break. Clint becomes enraged and shreds this thing, killing it.

The HTR that became infected were my psuedo Special Infected. They were wearing a lot of armor which made them harder to kill and were generally in better shape and stronger prior to death than the regular infected.

In the hall three more infected have appeared, I kill two with headshots and Levi drops the third. We encounter six more; Clint tries a physical barrier but it gives way and an HTR tackles Dr. Cordil and literally rips off her arms before we can do anything.

Sometimes particularly good NPC rolls coincide with particularly poor player defense rolls. Which then get pared with poor damage resistance rolls. With a critical glitch thrown in for good measure.

I am loathe to put my players in situations that I suspect will result in them being killed, however, I also intentionally wrote this mission as being slightly more difficult than average.

We kill these infected; Levi gets one, I get two, Clint gets two, and I think we leave one alive; I’m not sure, it may have been dead. I get slashed pretty good in the encounter.

We enter the lobby and find five more infected. I hit one and everything goes black as another one leaps on top of me…

*This log up until now has been writen by Marius Finnion. I, Clint McFly, have written the rest, as Marius lost conciousness.*

Levi drops one and blasts the one on Marius. Two zeds rush Levi, he gets tore up prety good. He shoots one in the head killing it, but takes alot of damage in the encounter.

Marius is now passed out. I behead one, and we run for it, leaving the rest wounded. I levitate Marius to bring him with us. We board the Tram and Levi gets it moving.

After healing himself, Levi and I examine Marius. It turns out he has been bitten pretty bad… Levi casts cure desiese; it does not seem to help. Levi passes out from the strain and damage; I try to heal him, but he is still near death.

As Marius turns I cast a physical barrier. Levi casts cure disease again, nothing. We decide to wait until the facility is destroid before dealing with Marius in case, by some miricle, he ‘snaps out of it’. The Tram is rocked by an explosion, I grab hold of a bar and manage to steady myself, but Levi hits his head hard and cracks his skull, blacking out again.

Marius’ aura is black, and I know he is dead. I release my physical barrier and as the zombie Marius charges; I bring my blade up through his chin and out the top of his skull, a single tear makes it way down my cheek as the corpse of one of my dearest friends slides to the floor.

*The sounds around the surviving team members fade slowly to silence, the world to black. Soon the silence is replaced by new sounds. The humming of computers, the creaking of an overhead fan about to fall off its hinge. As the team removes their VR goggles, Detrius and his buddy are all grins.*

“That game a rush, or what, bro?”

This session was a bit of a metagaming mind fuck. I planned for this to be a three part series dealing with a progressively larger scale zombie infestation in the world. From the begginning it was designed as a video game the team was playing in. Certain events were intentionally setup as and described like gaming events (such as the climactic zombie rush when the reactor overload was triggered). Technically the characters knew they were really in a video game; the trick was that the players did not.

The adventure was intentionally built a little tougher than usual, though, had the players not decided to destroy the facility, they likely would have made it out unharmed. The plan was to run the missions without outright telling the players they were in a video game until either a player died or they reached the end of the third act (which would likely include a world wide zombie apocolypse event). I could have played it as an actual plot, no one in the game argued the feasability of zombies existing, however it wasn’t the direction I wanted to take the game world in.

The players were not in on the trick until the very end, after Marius had become infected and Clint forced to kill him. It was a great emotional event that played out just like it does in the movies. The players had no problem killing anyone who got bit before they turned… until that person was someone they actually cared about (ie another player). There was out of character discussion between the two as to what to do with Marius, with Clint even going so far as to suggest they bind him and search for a cure (the cliche desperate actions of most zombie movie protagonists).

As it happened (and tends to happen a lot for us) we ran over our scheduled time slot. Often times the team will choose to keep the momentum going and stick around to the end of the run. This time however, Levi and Dr Cardile’s players chose to leave, letting Marius and Clint wrap-up the end game (just prior to Marius getting knocked out in the lobby). When discussing the end with the players, Marius suggested telling the other players that everyone had escaped just fine from the facility. During our second part game play then, I got to use the same metagaming trick on the players who had either left early or who had not been present for this run.

PREVIOUS: Side Mission 03 – The Bleeding Edge, Chapter 1 – Part 2
NEXT: Mission 20 – Career Path
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