Monday, November 29, 2010

Tommy's Take on War of the Dead: Chapter Two Week Six

With War of the Dead Chapter 2 at Week 6, we're at (kinda) the halfway point to the chapter. Last week, the PCs made it to the city of Sanctuary, to find a true war brewing between multiple factions...and it was, in my opinion, one of the strongest installments yet.

Does the trend continue this week?

Week 6 begins with the PCs having to (hopefully) calm down Caitlin, who wants to tear apart UniMed for kidnapping Samantha, the little girl (who is immune to the virus) that has been with the PCs since Chapter One. This also pretty quickly devolves into a chase scene, as the genetically engineered UniMed dogs are on the party's trail, and we even get a "falling" chart for those that stumble in the very rough terrain.

The PCs catch a fleeting glimpse of a young kid previously thought captured by UniMed, and (coincidentally?), a group of Living Dead are laying in wait to ambush the PCs! This could be absolutely frightening, but when the dogs catch up with the party, they'll be assaulting the Dead instead.

A SECOND horde of zombies show up, and again, the Savage Worlds rules come to life as it is the PCs vs 10 dogs vs 60 zombies, a fight scene that just wouldn't work without a bunch of hand waving in a lot of situations.

This is meant to be a "run or die" type situation, and the only obvious escape route is a trap...of the weirdest variety: A handful of kids are allied with the Living Dead. This Living Dead faction, led by a General (and former leader of the Survivors camp) is protecting the little kids...the Survivors have been faking kidnappings of kids as food got scarce, and serving them up as stew!

Unimed soldiers crash the party and, in another mind-boggling twist, are seemingly the good guys all along. The leader of the soldiers is even willing to give up sidearms to the PCs to prove that they're on the up-and-up.

As the PCs and soldiers are almost to safety, the final faction in Sanctuary makes its move, snatching a soldier away...


This segment is story heavy and kinda rail-roady (plot captures, "one way out", etc), but essential in setting up the conflict for the war that seems to be coming to Sanctuary. The author does a GREAT job of playing with expectations and flipping them on their ear, as we find out that all three factions in this conflict are NOT what we expected: The Living Dead are protecting children, the Survivors were endangering themselves by living in the sewers and eating their own and Unimed are apparently on the up-and-up. Next week is the full introduction to the Ragers, it seems.

Also of note, War of the Dead Adventure Cards were also released recently, for free, no  less...32 zombie apocalypse specific cards just for you, featuring such gems as automatic headshot conversion, a random survivor showing up, a sudden explosion, a "blaze of glory" heroic sacrifice, a pithy one-liner that gives you a free Taunt, Trick or Intimidate roll or an "either/or" card that forces all damage from an attack to hit an item instead (destroying it) or allows for maximum damage on a damage roll (with free acing on each die, once) but destroys the weapon in the process. Others include finding a free vehicle and making a new animal friend. Just some cool stuff in there.

I'm digging War of the Dead a lot...I could see some chaffing with how "story-heavy" it is...I think the important thing is that, as with most games, you need a group with a proper "buy-in" going into it. The PCs are still getting banged around quite a bit, and I'm really looking forward to that moment where the paradigm shifts and they are the badasses...but it is worth noting, also, that we're not even at the halfway point of the full, planned War of the Dead (slated for 52 weeks overall, culminating in the World of the Dead campaign book).