Notes for Game Leaders

In many ways Outbreak! is an easy adventure to run. The plot is not complicated and there are no NPCs for the Game Leader to worry about. It is possible to run the adventure with only a 10 minute skim-read beforehand.

But…

Outbreak! is all about atmosphere, tension and speed. It is designed to be completed in a single session. Like a good horror movie there should be periods where nothing happens punctuated by sudden shocks and death, all building towards a frantic, chaotic final showdown. If the Game Leader is constantly looking for information in the adventure or misses giving the characters certain clues or prompts, it is much harder to build the desired atmosphere. Knowing the adventure well also helps with ad-libbing. Players will do unexpected things and go 'off plot'. The better-prepared the Game Leader is, the easier this is to handle.

The ending of the adventure is impossible to plan for. It is unlikely that the characters will survive long enough to find all the equipment they need, let alone get back to the bus. Have in your mind a few likely outcomes; watching a few of the films suggested in the Afterword will help. A good ending switches to a cut-scene as the Game Leader describes the last few moments of the film. Some characters' fates will be certain, wandering as zombies or just tatters of flesh on the floor. Other characters will be less clear-cut, trapped by the zombies or blindly fleeing into the woods. These are perfectly good endings and leave the door open for a sequel.

Discovery Actions

The characters start the adventure without equipment, effectively lost and unarmed in the woods. This sets the characters up for a desperate scrabble for weapons, useful equipment and information in a strange house, another staple of the horror genre. Guidance is included as to the difficulty of finding key items and clues but as with all discovery actions it is up to the Game Leader to decide how much the character finds.

Though the house in the woods contains everything expected of a modern family home there are only a few items that are immediately useful. These are all identified within the adventure. Other common household equipment will exist but is not up to the task - for example, in the kitchen there are plenty of knives but only the Cleaver is an effective weapon. Everything else counts as ad-hoc and is only worth 0d6+2 in an action. The only proper weapons in the game are:

Aerosol
Turning spray-on deodorant into a personal flame-thrower requires a source of ignition. It is up to the Game Leader decide how easy or difficult it is to find a lighter or box of matches. Aerosols are single use weapons (Discard keyword).
A Frickin' Chainsaw
The most deadly weapon in the game. Not only does it do significant damage but it has the Reach (1) keyword which allows the wielder to attack targets in non-adjacent squares. Note that the chainsaw is a two-handed weapon. Wielding it with one hand is dangerous and any character attempting this should be reminded they are not Bruce Campbell and may be rewarded with missing limbs.
Cleaver
Well-balanced and super-sharp, making it an effective melee weapon.
Double-Barrelled Shotgun
A great weapon with a very limited supply of ammo.
Records
Inspired by a man named Shaun, this collection of 80s vinyl makes a poor weapon with one redeeming quality - the ability to attack targets at range.
Infection!

Whenever a character is injured by a zombie, they gain an Infected status effect. This is automatic, requiring no special action by the zombie, and the victim gains the status effect in addition to the Life damage. The CP value of the infection is equal to the number of points of damage (i.e. the attack's degree of success). Additional attacks will increase the CP value of the infection.

The infection attacks the character once per scene (though see below), forcing them to resist. Most of a character's advantages will be inappropriate for resisting the infection and failure results in Life damage. When a character is dying, having lost all their Life advantages, they turn into a zombie. If the character successfully resists the infection, the CP is increased by two but the character does not suffer Life damage.

Infection is a very important part of Outbreak!. It fosters the feelings of paranoia and despair prevalent in zombie films. That being said, it is important to remember infection is a tool for the Game Leader to enhance the narrative and tension of the adventure. It would be unfair if a player is infected in the opening section and then becomes a zombie within ten minutes of game play because of bad dice rolls. The infection's Start-of-Scene keyword is for guidance only and the Game Leader decides when the infection attacks. Early on in the game this should be rare. Only in the later stages of the adventure should characters really have a chance of turning. As the situation degenerates ask for more frequent resistances, especially if an infected character finds themselves alone with someone else.

Turning Into A Zombie

Anyone injured by a zombie becomes infected and, no matter how they die, they are coming back. When a character dies and becomes a zombie they replace their character sheet with a monster sheet for a standard Zombie, Slow. However, character zombies have a little more personality and the zombie gains:

  • One Life advantage of the deceased character at the same CP and dice value.
  • One Skill advantage or an item of equipment they were holding at the time of death.

Players should be allowed to have fun in their choices of the advantages they carry over. A zombie with a chainsaw adds something to the situation and after all, their character has just died and the player deserves some reward.

Once turned, zombie characters should be given a new mission: Eat their friends. Oddly, players seem to enjoy turning into a zombie and take great pleasure in killing their former comrades. However the player is now an enemy and must be dealt with, ensuring a memorable end for the character.

Killing Zombies

Zombies appear in two forms in Outbreak! Up until the Endgame section the zombies are individuals with their own monster sheets, whereas at the end there is a horde of zombie mooks. Killing the zombie mooks is as per the 6d6 Core - a single point of damage will destroy them. Dealing with the individual flesh-eaters is harder.

Zombies with their own monster sheets are run as per characters, with potential and using advantages, plus Life advantages which are lost when the creature is injured. However, to be killed they need their brains destroyed with a blow targeted at the head. This requires a normal attack action from the characters but adds 1d6+0 to the zombie's resistance. If the targeted attack does damage and the zombie has no Life advantage after the damage has been accounted for, the zombie is killed.

Healing

This is a game where characters die and healing should be extremely limited with the healing throttle set to a period of a day. The characters will be constantly busy leaving little opportunity for the body's natural healing to work. Only one First Aid Kit is available in the adventure and is only good for a single use. Characters may attempt healing using whatever skills they have plus ad-hoc bandages torn from sheets but there will be situation bonuses against it (see the Circumstances section in the 6d6 Core rules). It also takes a scene to treat a single character, keeping the patient and medic busy, away from the action.

Healing only applies to physical wounds received from attacks by zombies or other characters. Neither the infection nor damage done by infection can be treated. Once a character is infected, death is inevitable.

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open/oneshots/outbreak/preparation.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/31 14:33 by tregenza
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