Hi folks, it’s x-humed again.
Last time we took a look at Cherry Blows, the cheerleader from the Outbreak! adventure. Having spent some time looking at her Life cards, this time we are examining what else she has in that deck: Abilities.
Abilities are blue cards that represent the skills and feats that a character has acquired. They are used in the same way as Life cards but often have special applications that allow you accomplish tasks much more easily. Shooting and reloading is much easier if you have a Weapon Specialisation [Shotgun] card, for example. It has a Rotate keyword so the card doesn’t leave the pool when played. Instead it rotates 90 degrees and is unavailable. However, at the start of the next turn it rotates back automatically, meaning that your character does not need to spend their Flow to putting it back in the pool.
Not that Cherry has that card. In fact being a 16 year old cheerleader, Cherry’s cards are naturally very limited. Part of this also comes from game balance. With so many Life cards, Cherry doesn’t have many points left to spend on other things. So what does our plucky heroine posses?
Acting, singing, dancing and the other performing arts. A pretty straight forward card that allows Cherry to cheerlead. On its own, it doesn’t have much practical use but by combining it with one or more of her other cards, it can give her an extra 1d6 in some of her more useful abilities.
Leaping and tumbling. Move at half speed when combined with a movement card. Acrobatics is a really useful card to have. Not only does it add well with many of Cherry’s life cards (Grace, Speed, Balance) but because it has the Skill keyword, if Cherry fumbles, she gets the chance to reroll and avoid a disaster. This can be the difference between hanging off the edge of a building and plummeting to your doom.
Avoid attacks and sudden danger. This card does what is says on the tin. As an Ability card it’s not lost when Cherry is damaged (unlike Life cards) which means that even when she is been beaten up and in trouble, Cherry still has a card she can use in defense.
Distract an opponent from their action by doing something unexpected. This card is perhaps one of the most complex in the deck. It has three keywords on it. The first of those is Range (1) which allow Cherry to use this ability on enemies a little way off. The second is Resistance and is the real power in this card.
When anyone is attacked or similar, they gain a resistance roll to avoid damage by playing cards from their pool. The Resistance keyword means that Cherry can use this card to help when someone else needs to make a resistance roll.
A zombie leaps out of the darkness and attacks Clint, another character in the party, for 2d6+1. Clint is caught unprepared and only has 1d6 worth of Brawn to fend off the zombie. The odds are against Clint. Suddenly Cherry jumps up, dancing and shouting “Eat me, Eat me”. Though it is not her turn and she is not being attacked, the Resistance keyword on the Distract card allows her to act.
Now Clint’s defence is 2d6 (his Brawn plus Cherry’s Distract) versus the zombie’s 2d6+1. Better but still risky. Fortunately, as with any other action, Cherry can play any combination of cards she thinks is appropriate. Here her Perform card becomes useful, making her distraction louder and more obvious. Clint now has a defense of 1d6 (for his Brawn) plus 2d6 (from Cherry’s Distract and Perform cards) giving him 3d6. He could still be hurt but the odds are on his side.
The final keyword on the Distract card is Static. This mechanic means the card doesn’t take up a place in Cherry’s limited dynamic pool, instead it sits in the unlimited Static pool. The card can be placed in the Static pool whenever Cherry has a spare moment and it it can remain there, ready for use, without taking up one of the precious four slots in her Dynamic pool.
Stiffen the resistance of an ally with a rallying battle cry. Originally developed for barbarians and other warrior types, it amused me to have this card in her deck. It leads to a lot of “Go team!” shouts from Cherry’s players.
This is another Static and Resistance card like Distract, and it uses are very similar. The major difference is that it has Range (5) making it far more useful. Just with the Distract card, used smartly in combination with other cards, Cherry can easily add 3d6 or more to an ally’s defence. With the Distract and the Battle Cry, Cherry can be a real life saver and turn the course of a battle.
That’s most of Cherry’s deck sorted but we have one more card to discuss*. It a white card sitting by itself at the end of the deck. White cards are equipment based cards that can be traded between players as easily as saying “I pass him the revolver/chainsaw/flowers”. Most pieces of equipment are pretty straightforward. Cherry however, like to be complicated.
There is nothing more distracting than a cheerleader. Except a cheerleader with Pom Poms. This is a really useful card for Cherry because it adds to most of her abilities. The card has a value of 1d6+3 which means it is another dice (and more) that Cherry can add to her actions. Of course it’s up to the GM to arbitrate when Poms Poms will help with an action. A clever player might somehow convince the GM that they deal damage or help fend off a zombie’s bite but generally they can only be combined with cheerleading type activities. However, that includes her Distract and Battle Cry making the Poms Poms a powerful piece of equipment.
The Pom Poms have has two keywords on the card. The first is Two Handed. It’s pretty obvious that when Cherry is wearing her Pom Poms her hands are tied up, so she can’t use them if she’s wielding a weapon or holding onto a ladder. The second keyword is Rotate. This allows them to be used every round without costing the player the Flow. This is important as it leaves her Flow available for putting her Distract and or Battle Cry back into her Static pool. This almost guarantees that she can aid one of her allies with 2d6+3 every round (e.g. Distract plus Pom Poms) so it pays to be nice to the cheerleader.
Not Just A Pretty Face
So there you have it. A cheerleader who can be an effective addition to any group. Saying that, since I wrote the first article we have run three sessions of Outbreak!. Cherry so far has distracted the whole group causing them to be ambushed; wandered off on her own and got attacked; lost her skirt; stolen the vital medicines; locked herself in the upstairs bathroom; applied makeup during a fight; and turned zombie at the wrong moment, blocking off the only escape route from an exploding kitchen. It just goes to show that even a tiny amount of rope is enough for a good roleplayer to hang themselves with.
See you soon (probably flanked by zombies).
*If you’ve noticed the shotgun cartridge card, ignore it. it’s not part of Cherry’s deck. It is in the PDF because of the way we printed the deck originally.