"So the freeway heading north, right through downtown, is actually going to be the easy way to move north?" Dawn asked Larry incredulously. "Downtown must be completely overrun by now."
"Yes, but look at the neighborhoods." Larry had a fold-out map of Minneapolis from the phone store. "Downtown doesn't have that much in the way of residences, and the ones that are there are apartment buildings and condos. If people turned inside of those, they may be stuck in there."
"This still seems crazy dangerous." Anna offered, looking again out the nearby window into the early morning gloom. "I know we decided that crossing back east was the way to go, and that the northern bridges were our best bet, but I don't know about going through the city. I doubt I would have done that before all this..." Anna chuckled. "I'm willing to try though."
"When I was still at the hospital, we heard from some of the drivers that the freeway was pretty clear. The police had some barricades, and with it's limited access, the 'infected' were not as common on the roads." Larry again referenced his map, continuing his plan. "The sooner we cross the Saint Croix and get into Wisconsin, the easier it will be for us to head east. I just hope your friends are still at the farm."
Dawn looked worried briefly, glancing out the windows at the yellowing eastern sky. "I hope so too..."
Having looked at the region around Minneapolis, the group is going to try to go east, back to Wisconsin. Rather than head south and cross the Mississippi outside the city, the group has decided to go north, cross the St. Croix river and move through northern Wisconsin on their way back to Ella's farm. They want to upgrade to an SUV of some sort, but will use the hatchback car they have available for the beginning of the trip.
There are some special rules for this scenario. This will be a series of encounters, along the freeway corridor running through downtown Minneapolis. The group will need to traverse 16 boards, all variations on the same theme. Success will be determined by surviving with a usable vehicle and at least two survivors, one of which must be Dawn. Each road section will be generated as the group enters. There will be 2d6 vehicles (randomly determined - type and wreck/usable) and group size +d6 zombies. Every board will have a PEF located roughly halfway, and will not move and only be triggered when the group approaches within 12". It will be handled as a normal PEF, but any result of double 1's for the PEF resolution will be a 'special' encounter.
|An empty road|
It is day 37, the ER starts at 4, with zombies appearing on a 4+. The group starts out early in the morning, they each have a pack with some of their supplies and weapons, the rest are stowed as cargo in the car. The car has 4 units of fuel, it is a hybrid of a sedan and a sports car - Bash 2, Spd 16 (8), Turns B, Seats 4. It's meant to be an economical commuter car.
Okay, I'll try and explain if anything else comes up. Time for some action.
Larry turned onto the ramp, dodging around a few zombies that shambled along the roadway. "It seems pretty quiet." He said, signaling as he moved onto the main road.
"I'm pretty sure you don't need to worry about proper signals." Dawn said with a smirk. "I don't think anyone is going to be on the roads."
"Sorry, force of habit." Larry said, looking a bit chagrined. "Here's the exit for 35. Are we still doing this?"
"We agreed this was the best way out." Anna said, watching the side of the road. "Let's get this done."
|Road section 1|
|Larry lines up on the road|
|Swerving around wrecks|
The PEF revealed to be one zombie standing amongst the wrecks. Anna fired and knocked down the zombie closest to the car at the end of the turn. More zombies appeared, two on the other side of the wall. The group had driven down the board most of the way. I avoided zombies, as a bash 2 car has a fair chance of being damaged by colliding with a zed.
|Hey, was that SUV usable?|
Something to keep in mind - if you don't activate, the vehicle drives current speed, turning only to avoid crashes. The group misses it's activation roll, and drives off the board. Whoops. I will need to control the speed better if I don't want to miss opportunities in the future.
"Damn, I think that orange SUV was in good shape. We should have stopped." Dawn said, watching the cars disappear behind them as they drove on.
"Sorry, but I am trying to keep us moving forward as fast as we can." Larry said, driving around a stopped pickup truck. "I'll try and keep us from missing anything else."
The car drove along for a short time, Larry was keeping their speed up, but still slowing down as more stalled cars and wrecks appeared. A few zombies stumbled along the road, bumping into cars and signs. Larry was almost feeling like he was just driving to work again as he approached a wreck.
"Watch out!" Anna yelled as Larry swerved around a burned out car, and a group of zombies appeared in the road ahead.
Five zombies were in the first section of the road, right in the path of the car. I lined up on two zeds, hoping to make the fewest possible collisions. At least the road is pretty clear, just a few wrecks.
The next turn starts with a random event...
|Awww, come on!|
Randomly rolling, I discover Dawn's SMG has been destroyed. Bad luck, but at least there is another available, and she packs a BAP anyway. The PEF is revealed, and increases the ER, now a 5. While Dawn changes weapons, zombies charge the car.
|No Free Rides!|
Larry swerved around the zombies, feeling a thump as one went under the rear wheels. "The road looks clear past this accident. I'll try and gun it through there!"
Engine revving, the yellow hatchback skidded off the shoulder, Larry turned the car onto the road, scattering gravel behind them as he aimed for open road.
|Swerving around the zed|
Two sections done, this seems pretty easy. Maybe this isn't going to be as tough as I thought.
Dawn pulled the backup SMG out of the bag of weapons in the back. She could see zombies slowly following them, but falling behind quickly. "We're making pretty good time, and there are fewer of those things than I thought."
Another mile fell behind, and the car rounded a bend in the road. Larry was still having to dodge around various stopped vehicles, but the road was pretty clear. Ahead Anna could see a vehicle painted in camouflage, it's greens and browns standing out in the gray of the freeway. "Hey, is that a military Hummer?"
"Looks like it's in good shape." Larry said, looking over at the Humvee on the opposite side of the highway. "That would be a great ride for our trip."
"Let's try for it!" Dawn said, slinging her SMG and pulling out her pistol.
|One side is clear...|
This setup has three potentially usable vehicles. One turns out to be a HMMWV, stopped next to a pickup truck. There is also a sedan that may be usable all on the opposite side of the freeway from where the group is driving. There are also 8 zombies and the standard PEF. I added a line of fences to simulate the opposite noise barrier walls.
|The group speeds into the area|
|Just short of the PEF trigger|
The next turn starts with a random event. (spoiler alert: this is going to be a theme)
|This happens far too often...|
|Hey that's no zombie!|
"Don't leave me out here!" Blake yelled as the car skidded to a stop. "I'm alive!"
"We're going to try for that Hummer!" Dawn yelled as she got out of the car. "If you're with us, help out!"
The disguised zombie turns out to be a rep 4 survivor, Blake. He is armed with a BAP and has the attribute Initiative. The meet and greet goes well, and he asks to join the group. Larry stops the car, and turns off the engine. I make the decision to leave the cargo, and plan on driving the Hummer to the car and loading up. I'm going to want the fuel from the car if possible, and I don't want to risk the car crashing. The PEF turns out to be nothing.
|Dawn dispatches the first zed in melee|
|Anna shoots another|
|More zombies appear|
Another turn starts, and another random event kicks off.
|It's not so bad|
I decide to try something I had been considering for a special zombie. Instead of being armed, this zombie is a former soldier, wearing body armor. On the plus side, if looted, the group can get body armor and possibly a weapon. The armor reduces the impact of any attack by 1, reducing the chance for a kill (it effectively negates a pistol attack) I also add the impact 2 weapon for the zombie as well, just to make it fun.
|An armed and armored zombie|
The group starts moving for the Hummer, Dawn leading the way.
|Dawn charges a lone zed|
|The group moves well together|
With loud echoes, the group's running added sound to the otherwise silent freeway. Moving around and through the wrecks the group approached the Humvee. "It looks like it's in good shape. I'll check it out." Anna said, opening the passenger side door.
|Reaching the Humvee|
The Humvee is out of gas, but is otherwise functional. It is missing the support weapon (that would have been fun to have!) and is empty - no zeds or gear. Blake moves to check the nearby pickup truck, it appears to be in good shape as well.
Blake approached the pickup truck, looking at the cab, wondering if the occupants were dead or worse. He reached the passenger side door, and rapped on the window with his pistol. Three zombies inside the cab, still buckled into their seats, began thrashing around, trying to get free and attack.
"Three in here. I'm going to finish them off and see if this thing has any gas." Blake yelled, lining up a shot.
"Get it done fast! The rest are getting close!" Dawn yelled back, turning to face the zombies shambling towards her.
|Zombies trapped in the truck|
|The zombies move closer|
The survivors get a turn of activation without the zombies activating. All that really happens is Blake fires twice, killing two of the zeds in the pickup truck. The resulting 2 zombies that spawn, appear beyond the nearby traffic wall, out of play.
|Two head shots!|
|Zombies outside the freeway area|
Zombies get the next turn, and the survivors don't get to act. Luckily, only one zombie charges Dawn, which she shoots as it charges. Another zombie appears in the roadway from her shots.
|The zombies arrive|
The zombies get another free turn, and charge the group. Larry misses his charged roll, and doesn't even fire a shot. Anna fires twice, dropping her target. If the group isn't going to activate, this could get ugly quickly!
|Larry is in trouble!|
Larry braced against the Humvee, waiting as the zombies stumbled around the nearby wrecks. As soon as they had cleared the wreckage, the zombies began trying to reach for Larry. Seeing a soldier stumbling undead with the various civilians, Larry panicked. "If..If a trained soldier couldn't survive...What chance do we have?"
Anna aimed and fired, killing one zombie that tried to grab her. "Larry! Snap out of it! Fire!" She yelled.
Larry jerked back as the first zombie crashed into him. He desperately tried to swing his bat one handed at the zombie's head. Soon he was in a fight with the undead trying to eat him.
|Fighting at the Humvee|
Larry redeems his poor luck. He manages to tie the first zombie in melee, continuing to fight. Larry then manages to win against the undead soldier, but only by 1, which the body armor cancels out. On a whim, I decide there is only a 50% chance the zombie is knocked down. In this case, it isn't knocked down.
Once again, the zombies win initiative, but at least the survivors get to act. The zeds charge, including one managing to get out of the pickup truck. It looks like the zombies are making a big push!
|A wave of zombies!|
Gunfire thundered between the concrete walls, echoing through the wrecked cars and empty streets. The gentle tinkle of spent brass spilling on the pavement filled the suddenly silent air during a pause in the shooting. Zombie corpses began piling up on the road, and the survivors struggled in hand to hand with the few remaining on their feet.
|A good turn for the living|
Larry manages to kill one zombie in melee, but can't even knock down the soldier zombie. Yet again, the next turn starts off with the zombies. This is getting old!
|Just a few zeds left|
Larry finally managed to finish off the soldier zombie in melee. Anna fired on the charging zombie, but was forced to finish it off with a blow to it's head from her rifle stock. The survivors finally get a chance to act after the zombies go.
|Larry finally wins|
|Dawn moves in to finish the last zed|
Two more zombies are shambling up the road towards the Humvee. Dawn plans on intercepting them, and has Blake and Anna start to transfer fuel from the pickup (it has 4 units of fuel) and Larry searches the dead soldier zombie.
|Late to the party, but more zeds arrive!|
|Will Dawn be caught unaware?|
Dawn heard the shuffling of the undead coming closer. She watched Larry give her a thumb's up as he moved to search the dead soldier. "You look good Larry, I'll take care of our visitors!" With that she hefted her machete and charged the zombies.
|Dawn plows down two zombies|
|Larry grabs the body armor|
Dawn finishes off the zombies, as the rest of the group loads the Hummer with fuel. After a couple of turns, we find out if it will start. I have a bit of a problem, it's a military vehicle, and every one I have ever seen did not have any 'keys'. I decide to follow the normal rules, and manage to get a '1' right off, so the 'keys' are in the vehicle. I figure someone spends the time to actually read the instructions and start the truck.
Finishing off the zombies, Dawn looked back at the hatchback. "Larry! Let's get over there and get the fuel and supplies out. The others can catch up." Dawn yelled as she ran towards the yellow car. "We'll get our gear ready for the truck, and move on."
|Dawn and Larry start unloading the car|
|Anna brings the Humvee around|
Rumbling loudly in the morning air, Anna guided the Humvee between the freeway barriers. She pulled close to the hatchback that had served them earlier. "Should I shut it down?" She yelled at Dawn, who was running past the front of the truck.
"No! Keep it running, we'll move out right away!" Dawn ran at the nearest zed, slicing it's head with her machete. "Everyone hurry! Let's get out of here!"
|Transferring supplies to the Humvee|
What a surprise, the next turn starts with a random event!
The survivors eventually get a free turn, and the zombie Dawn had just killed jumps up to have another go at it. Not a good plan for the zombie.
|A zombie pops up|
|More zombies are attracted by the Humvee|
Zombies poured into the street, the dull rumble of the Humvee acting like a dinner bell, summoning the undead from blocks away. Dawn stood her ground, watching the wretched forms shamble closer. Behind her, she could hear Larry and Blake loading equipment into the truck. They would need more time.
"Move a little quicker guys!" Dawn yelled as the first zombies came close. "The welcoming committee is here!"
|More zeds arrive!|
Dawn watched the horde descending on her. This would be an impossible fight. "Anna! Get out here and start shooting!" Dawn yelled back over her shoulder. "Larry! Take the wheel, we'll leave even without the fuel!"
Blake ran back to the car, grabbing the last can of gas, and firing his pistol at the zombies moving towards Dawn. "We may need every drop! Just hold them for another minute, and we'll be gone!"
Rifle fire barked as Anna stepped out of the Hummer and started firing. More zombies moved through the shadows, closing on the outnumbered survivors.
|Chaos on the street|
A bunch happens in a short couple of turns. The zombies pile in towards Dawn, and I have Anna exit the Humvee and start shooting (they are close to being loaded, so a few more chances for zombies shouldn't be a big deal.) More zombies appear, but the group has nearly everything loaded.
|More zombies on scene|
For once, the dice decide to be kind. The survivors win initiative, and everyone jumps in and they take off. The last zombie tries to chase after the Humvee, but isn't fast enough to catch up.
|Zombies pursue, but not fast enough|
That was three road sections done. Only thirteen to go to get through town. The group has upgraded their ride, and I have to say it is just about the best they could hope for. It's too bad it is such a gas hog, but it is easily the most capable vehicle they could want for the trip they want to make.
As an FYI the stats for a Humvee are:
Speed 16 (both on and off road), Turns: 1, Bash: 6, Seats: 9* (these stats are for a weapon carrier version of a military Humvee from Haven) The seats are supposed to be for a crew of three (2 for the main weapon, plus the driver) and seats for six more. That gives this beast a tremendous cargo capacity.
I hope the group can make it through the downtown area...
Blake watched the zombies falling behind as the Hummer roared down the highway. He grabbed a bottle of water from the supplies that had been hastily thrown in the back of the truck. "Thanks for picking me up back there. I don't know how much longer I could last out there." He drained the bottle in one long drink. "Why in the hell are you heading into the city?"
Chuckling, Dawn answered "Actually, we just want to get to the north side, so we can pass over to Wisconsin. I have some friends with farm..."