Player Briefing

Before allowing players to select from the pre-gen characters or create their own, provide them with this player briefing to introduce them to the world of Outbreak!

Outbreak! is a short, one-off scenario in the style of classic zombie films. It begins a few hours after the start of an unexplained zombie apocalypse with the characters fleeing for their lives on a bus headed for the mountains. In keeping with its cinematic inspiration, most characters will die before the end of this adventure and happy endings are unlikely even for those who do survive.

This adventure is not about defeating an enemy, finding a great treasure or even surviving. The players' and Game Leader's goals are to have fun recreating the spirit and style of B-movie horror and to achieve a suitably cinematic end to their characters and the adventure.

The Generic / Modern character paths are recommended for character creation. Almost any sort of character will be appropriate though it is recommended they are more everyday type of people. Fighting abilities are useful but combat-orientated characters should lean towards civilians and police officers rather than special-forces and military-trained uberwarriors. Character start with little or no equipment, certainly not anything as useful as a gun with ammo. Any equipment the character once had was used or lost prior to joining the bus.

Attitudes, Handicaps and Secrets

The slow-moving, predictable zombies are never the real enemy in zombie films. Inter-personal conflict and sheer stupidity are the root causes of most deaths. To enhance this aspect of the adventure, groups are encouraged to give their characters an attitude, a handicap or a secret which will stimulate role playing and fractious group dynamics.

Attitudes are simple personality traits which other people find difficult to live with. In the pre-gen characters there is Cherry Blows and her fundamentalist christian outlook, plus Belle Reeves' take-no-shit approach to life. Other possible attitudes include racism and sexism though please discuss these with the group to ensure everyone is comfortable with role playing these topics. Cowardice or laziness are also good traits for causing conflict. Any personality trait which is hard to get on with in real life will make a good trouble-making attitude for a character.

Handicaps cover anything which reduces the character's ability to act. In the pre-gen characters we see this in Clint Harrison and Junior Simpson who start the adventure handcuffed together. Physical handicaps obviously fit in this category though care must be taken to prevent them being too problematic, e.g. wheelchairs are difficult to move through forests or upstairs, vastly limiting the character's and group's options. Mental health issues such as claustrophobia add role playing opportunities without significantly limiting the character. A more subtle handicap would be an inability to speak or being profoundly deaf. A character who is heavily pregnant can add an interesting twist to the adventure.

Secrets are things kept hidden from the other characters and even, possibly, hidden from the character and player themselves. Mary Mallon in the pre-gens is a super-carrier whom the zombies will not attack and whose player is unaware of this fact. Most secrets do not need to be kept from the player, only the other characters, but the point of secrets is they come out during the adventure, creating role playing opportunities. For example a character's secret background as a violent convict will slowly come out as the character is forced to draw on those abilities. Problems with drug and alcohol abuse are good secrets in this regard.


The final detail needed about the character is how they arrived on the bus. The apocalypse started around dawn and by midday the city was in chaos. As the sun is setting the characters find themselves on a bus, fleeing the city. What happened to them during the day? What loved ones have they left behind or even killed before joining the bus? The events of their day are not directly relevant but help establish the characters in the opening scene.

Pre-Gen Characters

The pre-generated characters are a motley crew of survivors.

Cherry Blows
A cheerleader with a philosophy, she is tougher than she looks.
Clint Harrison
Prison guard currently handcuffed to Junior Simpson.
Mary Mallon
Creepy little girl who has a secret.
John Otto
Bus driver.
Belle Reeves
Hardcore street punk girl with attitude.
Axel Reid
Cage fighter and all-round tough guy.
Junior Simpson
Career criminal and master of breaking and entering. He begins the game chained to Clint Harrison.

With less than seven players, the game functions better with a particular mix of characters. The Game Leader is free to use a different mix of characters but it is recommended Mary is always kept in as she creates an interesting twist.

Number of Players Character(s) to Discard
6 Axel Reid
5 Clint Harrison and Junior Simpson
4 Axel Reid, Clint Harrison and Junior Simpson
3 Axel Reid, Belle Reeves, Clint Harrison and Junior Simpson

The spare characters start the game as NPCs on the bus but are killed in the crash in the opening scene.

Mary's Secret

Mary is special. She is a super-carrier, a girl who carries the zombie virus but is immune to it. Even if injected with zombie blood Mary will not gain infection cards. However, as far as the zombies are aware Mary is a zombie and they just ignore her, even pushing past her to attack others. How explicit this behaviour becomes is up to the Game Leader.

Mary's player should not know this at the start of the game. They may attribute the protection to the medallion Mary wears but this is a red herring to snare greedy players. Unless the scenario goes really badly, Mary should survive. When any player becomes a zombie they will have to be told they cannot attack her but not why.

The Handcuffs

Clint Harrison & Junior Simpson start the game handcuffed together. This hindrance imposes a 1d6+0 penalty to most actions either of them attempts. In combat, every enemy gains 1d6+0 to their defence against attacks by either character. The zombies also get a 1d6+0 bonus to attacks targeting Clint or Harrison if the characters attempt to defend themselves with resistance actions.

If the characters are co-operating, each character can move in their turn, bringing the other character with them. However even when working together, moving around in handcuffs whilst in constant fear of zombie attacks is not easy. A mosey only moves the characters one 5' square (MR 1) and attempts to run acquire an additional resistance of 1d6+0.

Obviously, the characters must remain next to each other at all times but positional movement is allowed. As long the characters stay adjacent they can manoeuvre without incurring any penalties even if the other character wants to prevent it. Note this does allow characters who were handcuffed right hand to left hand to suddenly be standing as if handcuffed left hand to right hand. Should a player spot this, explain it as the sort of bad continuity expected in a low-budget horror movie.

If one character wants to move but the other one does not, the non-mover makes a resistance action, adding their score to the movement resistance. This is in addition to the 1d6+0 penalty just for being handcuffed together.

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open/oneshots/outbreak/playerbriefing.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/01 16:35 by darth_tigger
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