AFMBE: After Game Action Report
"And a Little Child Shall Eat Them."
Last night I ran All Flesh Must Be Eaten (AFMBE) game set in my very own zombie apocalypse. It was the first installment in an ongoing campaign. Additionally, it was my first swing at Eden Studio's zombie RPG as well as my first effort with their UniSystem.
I've been building my zombie apocalypse for a good while now weaving a tale of survival horror laced with ample freak out moments. I've been itching to run this game.
Last night's action was set in the fictional northeast Texas town of Calhoun. Historic Calhoun is like a number of other such towns in Texas. It's courthhouse was built in the 1890's and the town grew up around it. On the grounds of the courthouse and municipal building is a park area complete with fountain, memorial sculpture garden, and trees. It is the center of town both figuratively and literally.
The town square is host to a number of retail outlets such as an antique store and tea room, gift shops, and a used bookstore. On any given day, you'll find what you need at the corner hardware store while the wife heads over to the Dress Barrel for somethin' nice for Sunday services. And where do you stop for dinner? Well, that would be the Calhoun Cafe.
And that's where our story begins...
It is a Friday night in September and the Calhoun Cafe is busy with its crowd of regulars. Jenna Hoffman, that sweet high schooler that got herself in the family way and had to drop out? She's at a table by herself polishing off the the day's special - chicken fried steak with green beans and mashed potatoes. Sheriff's deputy Hank Delotto wraps up a long afternoon at the courthouse with a peace of peach pie. Christa White from the library and her new beau Ryan Appleworthy sip their iced tea and share the day's events over a basket of fried mushrooms. Across from them, the Calhoun Ladies Bridge Club, consisting of four women the youngest of which is 71, play their usual game and order sweet tea and some of that good peach pie. Lyla Jennings and her kids Kyle and Katie sit across from them. Nichole Ceballos tries to eat her own dinner while simultaneously nursing beautiful baby Brionna.
Calhoun Cafe regular Sean is over at his booth counting his peas.
Sean (A player character run by Jamie) eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the cafe every day. He has his own booth. It is always held for him. Every night after dinner, he takes home a piece of pie. Currently unemployed, Sean lives in an assisted living home several blocks away. He is mildly autistic, but manages to function in society. Others often see him as weird and solitary. His hobby, or rather, compulsion is with anything mechanical or electrical. Despite his disorder, Sean displays savant-like proficiency in these areas. He enjoys drawing and has an uncanny even frightening sense of intuition. His focus right now is on his peas. There's an odd number of the legumes on his plate giving him cause for concern.
Marine Sgt Derek Fielder (Aaron's player character) is only passing through Calhoun. On leave from his tour in Iraq, he'd hitched a ride with a buddy from the base bringing him as far as Calhoun. The plan was to meet an old friend here for a ride out to Denton for his highschool reunon. His friend is late.
Also from out-of-town, Peter Badger (Rodger's player character) and Rudy Valle are exhausted from their day long efforts wrangling the kids on their UIL Academics team. They'd brought eight highschool students up from Dallas to compete in the meet and got soundly beaten. It's been a long day and it looks to be a long night heading back to DFW on a bus full of surly kids. The children had eaten. Peter and Rudy are delaying the inevitable.
Carla, a waitress in her fifties, drops off the check: "You pay for that at the counter, Shug."
"That's yours," Rudy pushes the ticket to Peter. "I'm headed to the bathroom."
Peter steps to the counter.
Through the door entered Associate Professor Blaise Postelwaite (Gary's character). He's in the Physics Department over at the University of North Texas.
"You're late," Sgt Fielder tells him.
Derek seats himself across from his friend. When they were boys, Blaise helped Derek with his studies while Derek kept other kids from beating him up for having the name Blaise.
Derek orders pie and coffee.
Sean frowns at the peas. Equilateral is his preference, but with the number of peas provided an Isosceles triangle is all he can manage. Despite his growing frustration, he is aware of a problem with Brionna, Nichole's nursing baby. The child is spitting up... or something. Hard to see from this angle.
OUT OF GAME COMMENTARY
"Goddammit!" He shakes his head and glares at me, "Fuck. You."
Suddenly, Nichole screams. It is a pealing wail of shock and terror. Peter turns, from the counter - eyes wide.
Derek is on his feet, responding to the flash of blood he sees. He clears the distance between them quickly with long, purposeful strides - slowing as he sees the baby stained with a black ichor from chin to belly. And blood. Lots of blood. The infant tears at her mother's breasts chewing away long, elastic pieces of flesh.
All the while Nichole screams.
Momentarily, Derek is stunned.
Blaise is frozen to his seat.
The waitresses - Carla and Heather - cry out in alarm. Jose, the cook, dashes out from the kitchen to answer their cry.
Deputy Delotto is frozen to his seat.
From the men's room, Rudy stumbles out. His throat is a savage wound, red running long down his chest and side. His footing is precarious.
"Rudy!" Peter calls out in alarm, stepping to his friend.
A feral child with the black substance drooling from his chin flies from the men's room, charging Rudy. Peter attempts to get in between them, but isn't fast enough.
Peter is slammed to the floor, the back of his head cracking hard. The child - Lyla's 8 year old son Kyle - locks onto Rudy's chest, teeth shredding him.
Peter rushes in and kicks at the zombie tyke, planting the heel of his shoe in the side of the child's head. The creature flips back and cracks his head open on the wall. He lies still, succumbing to true death.
"KYLE!" The boy's mother cries out.
At the same time, Jose reaches to pull the wild baby off of Nichole and winds up getting his arm chomped on for his trouble.
Derek gathers up a set of steak knives and goes to work. At once, he observes that the baby zombie is super-humanly fast and freakishly strong. He knocks it into the window. It bounces off and spins about on all fours adopting an agressive cat-like posture. It regards Derek and growls.
The monster launches itself at the marine. Derek dispatches the creature, stabbing a steak knife through its forehead.
Simultaneously, Sean attempts a different pea configuration and observes that Lyla's daughter, five year old Katie, is not feeling well. She holds her hand over her mouth. The girl's body jerks in a reverse-peristaltic heave. Inkish black fluid spills down over her chin to her chest. Her eyes are wide with fright.
Sean hears it plain as day. It is a sickening crack of bone. Katie's body trembles as life flees from her. What is left is an undead thing.
But Sean cannot be bothered with this. The peas are a disaster. And where's the pie?
Friday is peach pie day. Peach pie Friday. Peach pie. Peach pie.
With everything going on, it does not appear likely that the pie will arrive any time soon.
Sean rises to fetch the pie himself.
The Katie Zombie targets on Sean and tackles him. Both tumble to the floor.
At last, Associate Professor Pettigrew leaps to his feet, gathers up a chair and knocks the foul dead thing off of Sean. This serves to draw the monster's attention from Sean to Blaise. Within moments the only thing preventing the professor from becoming zombie food is the chair he uses to push the zombie back...
"Dereeeek!" He cries.
The marine dispatches the monster.
And that's how the game started. After five hours of gaming, Rodger's character Peter had lost his fellow teacher and four of his students to zombiedom. The survivors broke into a sporting goods store to arm themselves and nearly got their heads blown off as looters. Instead, Peter shot out a deputy's knee cap.
Other zombies emerge. These were slow-walkers, moaners - completely absent the speed and power of their feral brethren. The moaners appear to be those struck down by the feral zombies.
The players returned to the school bus with Jenna in tow and drive east away from town towards the hospital.
That's where we left off.
I am really pleased with how the game went last night. My preparation seemed to be adequate to the players requests, the world being fully readied for their efforts. Further I was thrilled at how engaged the players were. Everybody fully committed to the game, playing the scenarios more like people freaked out by a sudden zombie apocalypse than hard-boiled adventurers. This is always the tightrope that players walk: the conflict between what's a material benefit to the player versus the benefit of story and character.
My guys walked it well!
As stated earlier, this was my first effort with the Unisystem. It's a simple system and quick to learn. I like the combat rules and plan only to tweak a few minor items in future games. I particularly like the automatic dodge and attack options with no penalties each round.
I dislike how vague the rules are on what the SPEED score means in a combat round. For about five minutes the game stalled as I was trying to determine a player's move rate in a combat round. I'll be ironing that out before the next game as well.
I do wish the game utilized more dice. The players only ever need to use a ten-sided die. As the GM, I used a lone ten-sider for most of the game. Like most gamers, I've got this gigantic assortment of dice - ten siders, twenty siders, four siders, six siders, eight siders, twelve siders - it'd be nice to use them a bit more.
Regardless, I am pleased with how well the night went. I'm still jazzed.
Next game is in October when once again All Flesh Myst Be Eaten.
Posted by Aron Head
at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 9 March 2008 8:39 PM CST