We played a one-shot of the Outlive Outdead zombie apocalypse game, getting up close and personal with the people at the centre of a zombie-induced struggle. Brilliantly entertaining, if rushed, session of 'Extinction Event' this evening - an episode that saw all the players running Neanderthal hunter-gathers in southern Spain. Four players lost three characters by the end, with one of the survivors wounded (the replacement character for the guy who lost his character earlier in the session).
The starting team consisted of: Hork, Alpha Male; Tell, Medicine Woman; Kriq, the Elder; and Wors, the Hunter.
We had a really limited window of play for this one-shot - less than 150 minutes, all told, which I would have liked to avoid really. I've rarely managed demo games at cons in less than 3 or 4 hours, and they never feel like complete games.
The written episode starts with an ice-breaker, hunting prehistoric cows, but I skipped that bit and went straight to the dilemma. The tribe has stopped receiving words from another tribe across the mountains, and scouts sent to find out why haven't returned. Some initial arguments about the first course of action settled, the group dropped their auroch skins and meat back with the tribe at the settlement, then headed off towards the mountains. They found the Cave of Messages where finger-painting on the wall, communicating an encounter between the Hyena tribe and strangers from the East. The gist of the story didn't seem to end too well for the tribe - with a promising meeting rapidly turning into a fatal encounter with enraged spirits.
For the entire session so far, every roll the group made came up with a single-figure number, when they really needed to roll high. Every attempt to find shelter, follow trails or whatever - failed. Instead of helping to communicate the mechanics of the game to my three newcomers (out of the four playing), they learnt how frustrating any dice roll can be when you just want to get something done. In the end, I just allowed successes based on the lack of stress in the situation, efforts taking a little longer but getting the same results in the end.
The group found a trail to follow, have gleaned all the clues they could from the cave, and travelled up over the mountain. The weather deteriorated as they worked their way up to the ridgeline (with a comment from one players that all my adventures seem to offer poor weather). On the way down the opposite side, the group could see the great plains of the Hyena people stretching before they and I skipped encounters to speed play - but allowed them some entertainment keeping to the trail. When they found their lost scouts, one was dead and the other badly injured. At this point, the strangers appeared - and the situation went from fair to unpromising. Kriq hid up a tree, while the rest watched the shambled strangers get closer and the threat of the situation dawned on them. Everyone ran and the zombies, all 28 Days Later-like, followed at speed. Kriq climbed down from the tree and carried on towards the Hyena settlement, but found everyone dead except for that tribe's elder barricaded in a cave.
Meanwhile, everyone else struggled back up the mountain, dragging their injured scout along with them. Some quick thinking by Tell created an avalanche that the rest of the group avoided but the zombies didn't. After that delaying tactic, the group managed to get some distance over the zombies, but the injured scout deteriorated. Tell argued that they should leave him behind, but Hork insisted they couldn't do that. Hork died from an impractically large gap in his throat after the zombified scout utterly surprised him - and a roll of 10 on the break in the scuffle that followed didn't help (the game has a stress mechanism that means if you roll too high, you succeed but the anxiety and strain of the events happening around you overcome common sense).
The player running Hork took up a spare character, Venn (the Omega Male of the group), and the group carried on up the incline toward the ridgeline. Kriq and the other elder circled round on a slightly different route, a faster path Kriq recalled from his youth. On reaching the ridgeline, everyone found it at the same time - though Kriq emerged some distance to the north. Alas, the struggle to the top and the death of Hork meant that the zombies had regained ground and emerged at various points north and south of the group. A mad dash down the slope into the valley resulted in most of the group, and the zombies, rolling down rather than staying upright. It didn't matter so much for the zombies, but three of the four party members came out of it Sore.
The Hyena elder suggested the group split, as it became evident that zombies lay between them and the Valley tribe's settlement on the river. Venn went ahead to warn the tribe, but broke his Hide roll and attempted to find cover in plain sight, certain the zombies couldn't see him. As the pale flesh-eating creatures closed in on him, Kriq called out (and they both managed a Control check) and Venn came to his senses. Surrounded, he managed to flee north along the valley, while everyone else, paired off, headed west. Much battling ensued, with pairs breaking down to individuals and everyone engaging hand-to-hand with various zombies threatening the men, women and children of the tribe. In the closing moments, with our session drawing to a close (and the pub we play in calling last orders), almost everyone had succumbed to injury or death.
When your best weapon might be a flint hide scraper, you have to get all MacGyver on the zombies to stand a chance. The players did a lot of neat thinking and came up with alternate ways to handle the zombies, like the avalanche. The inclusion of a hunting dog - belonging to the Wors player - worked well, and Dog outlived his master to fight another day.
The slow pace at the start - with three newcomers to the game - made the escalation of pace and rapid switching between focus on individual players facing the zombie assault at the end all the more effective. Much gnashing of frustrated teeth from one player who had a key revelation mere moments before becoming zombie chow.
Despite early poor rolling, Kriq, armed with an atlatl, saw repeated action in the midst of the scramble in the end scene, pulling off plenty of nice Called Shots.
Will the dejected fragment of the tribe survive? I shouldn't think so... but who knows.
Coming away with people asking for more information about the game makes me feel good and know that I've done a reasonable job!
At the time of running this session (and posting this report), the Outlive Outdead Companion Kickstarter is still running - and includes this adventure. You can check out the details - whether active or historically - at the other end of this link: http://kck.st/V7584m.
- Last edited Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:13 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:48 am