The
 5th TERRAIN

Q&A for - The I, Me, My ZOMBIE MASH

As Bob explained the idea of creating ourselves as characters, that would be able to explore the Beacon Hill Project, we quickly realized that we had on our hands a great opportunity for having a lot of fun. The game story rolled out of our imagination with enthusiasm and ease. But then the question of how do we translate our Real-life experiences onto a character sheet came up. Utilizing the Savage Worlds RPG System by Pinnacle Entertainment Group, we began developing iterations of ourselves to see how we might look as a character. Check out the Savage Worlds Core Tools if you need a little help with creating you as a character. The program seems to adhere to their rules and can’t be tailored much. More than likely, you may need to fill in a character sheet by hand. You know – old school. The following is a bit of Q and A that evolved from those experiments in self-characterization.

1 - WHY SAVAGE WORLDS?

It's all about resolving combat quickly with a large group

In our ongoing search for an RPG system able to run more than a few players at a time we have tried running AD&D 2.0 and D&D 5e in a fantasy setting at past cons and have found them to be a bit overburdened by many layers of rules, combat rounds, and actions of opportunity. If you host more than 20 players in a session it can take longer than the lifespan of a Mayfly to resolve a single combat event. We were thinking of giving Pathfinder a shot next but after reviewing the system, we found it was not likely to be any faster than D&D. 

Using Savage Worlds as the RPG system, looks to be the simplest way to design you as a character. The combat is fast, giving the player a slight advantage. Using this system; we can dump you, as a character, smack dab in the middle of a hostile zombie takeover. If that doesn't work out, you could join the Zombies in their unquenchable thirst for domination.

2 - WHY ZOMBIES?

They don?t shoot back - but they are kind of clingy

We chose Zombies because there are so many of them around us right now.  With all the movies, TV series, trade shows, games and parties out there based on Zombies, we thought you might want to do away with a few of them on your own terms.  We also thought they would be easier to run away from, as a simple human.

3 - WHY PLAY ME?

Who could play you any better than you?  Not me

Most players play their characters as an extension of themselves, all geared up with power.  In this scenario they actually get to place themselves in the game along with all their personal skills and cunning nature. And guns? yea, lots of guns.

4 - HOW CAN I DEFINE MYSELF?

Come on!  You know you can't climb that 50-foot rope these days.

This is where you no longer need to fear the power gamer.  Optimizing yourself, when you are limited to your own age, experiences and physical abilities, can be a bit tricky when the other players are looking at you.  We will be using Savage Worlds, published by Pinnacle Games, to help create yourself as a character.   (Check out the sidebar to the right of their page for a basic understanding of the game.) 

Players will start at a level equal to their age.  From there you will ignore the minimums and limits by level and concentrate on how you can reflect your own; 1- Race, 2- Traits, 3-Edges and Hinderances, 4- Gear and Background Details to place YOU in the game.
Hints to define by:

  1. RACE ? Unless you are something other than human (which you may not want to disclose) this should be the easiest part of the character to define. 
  2. TRAITS ? List the attributes and skills you actually have and try to give them an appropriate level in die skill.  You know there will always be some Doubting Thomas tossing you a few questions to call you out.
  3. Edges and Hindrances ? Don't worry about the points.  You are not trading points for anything.  You know your own drawbacks and advantages.  As an example: With your glasses on you may notice things around you better than an average human (d6) but without your glasses on, you may only notice things as a d4.  If you can't find an Edge listed that defines your what you know, define it yourself and list it.
  4. Gear ? Here is where assumptions prevail.  Look around you and picture yourself separated from everyone in your life - except for the players around you.  (Yea, I know. How did you end up here? And who are these people?)  There are 2 simple guidelines.  1- You can only have what you can carry and 2- If you have a car - you will need gas.  (Nobody is making gas these days.)  As for weapons, guns need ammo and most Katana swords are fake cheap steel.  You might consider a 5-foot length of rebar with sharp points on each end and a leather wrap around the shaft, if you can handle the bloody mess it makes.
  5. Background Details ? Do you really want everyone to know who you really are?  It might help at some point - or hurt.
5 - OUR AGE WILL EQUAL OUR ADVANCEMENT?

If we run this again at ORCCON 2019 ? you can level up

Yes. Absolutely! Yep, well sort of? It?s about the range in a player?s life.  Some of us become leaders of the free world while most of us work and raise a family as others struggle to evolve out of our parent?s basement. Therefore, your Advancements (XPs) are equal to your age, although, this shouldn?t limit your skills, edges and hindrances.

6 - IS THERE A SCALE FOR TRAITS?

You get better as you grow older and worst as you grow old

No, I?m an apple and thick boned. I hate scales. What? Oh. Still, no scales. This is a process of building yourself. The numbers only go to twelve, if you are a 12 we will ALL be able to tell. But, ?I?m wiry? you say? Ok, then just tell me what your number is, just try and be as honest with yourself as possible. Remember no matter what attribute you are talking about we all fall on the human spectrum. Are you in the top 10 percent of humans? In the bottom 10? Or somewhere in the middle 80%? 

7 - WHAT ABOUT MY SKILLS?

If you didn?t have skills ? you couldn?t read this

This is where the conversation gets interesting! Let?s consider the hero and the hero?s need to have skills. When we build a hero character and we give him skills we define those skills very broadly and give them a hero level stat. This way a hero can do anything we can image, within that skill, really well. Humans, as discussed earlier, occupy a wide range of skills levels but very few of us are good at Everything. HOWEVER, the vast majority are very skilled in a few areas; hobbies, jobs or a sport.

8 - HOW WOULD I REPRESENT MY SKILL LEVEL IN A NARROW FOCUS?

Oh, I see ? you have special skills ? excellent

Here is an example of talking through the difference. I have been plinking cans since I was knee high to a kobold. I am very familiar and have received training in a wide variety of fire arms. (agility skill shooting d6) Despite my training I have a dislike for pistols. (narrow skill to a d4 to reflect reality) On the other hand, I have the knack for picking up rifles with iron sights and within a few shots becoming highly accurate out to 300 Yards. (narrow skill d10 to reflect a skill I am quite proud of). Strangely enough, I am unable to hit the broadside of a silhouette target at 500 yards. (define as a restriction)

9 - WHAT IF I DO NOT HAVE ANY COMBAT SKILLS?

If Can you cook, sew, clean or load a gun ? your combat budy needs you.

No worries, ever notice how in horror movies it is usually the skill-based character that survives and the fighter type rarely makes it past act two? Humanity will need all types of skills to survive. I can shoot but I have never learned to field dress wild game. I wouldn?t starve but I might kill myself with contamination. Similarly, I am prone to cut myself but can?t stitch myself closed and could bleed out. Also, Bob says everything is a weapon when the only other option is to become a zombie snack.

10 - ARE ANY WEAPONS BANNED?

If you can get a weapon of mass destruction ? we have an agent you should meet

Yes. Pretty much. We all know where to get a hammer, knife, that fake katana hanging on the wall or guns, lots of guns. Very few of us know where to get a bazooka or a case of dynamite. We might have someone playing who has the ability to fly an F-52 fighter jet - but can they steal one - no. If you have a good story on how you got your hands on a rare item, like an F-52, let us know - and if we laugh, you may want to find something else you could honestly get your hands on.

11 - HOW IS AMMO DEALT WITH?

We might be on a 'Bullet Standard' for exchange

A. Calculate how many rounds you can carry, keeping in mind the weight and mass, along with anything else you're packing and knowing you have a long hike ahead. That was for the people who like to crunch number. As for the rest of us; too much ammo will slow you down and a short supply may be why you are running away in the game right now. Count your shots and keep in mind

12 - WHAT TIME PERIOD ARE WE PLAYING?

Zombies are everywhere, check out the CDC - https://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombie/index.htm

A. February 18, 2018. Look around you. A month ago, the zombie craze had taken a turn for the worst. You have chosen to join this motley group (for one reason or another) and you need to make the best of it. Or, you could just split from the group at the start of the game and join the zombie craze - half eaten. Did I mention there's hoard of zombies trailing the group, picking of stragglers? (More on this in the story line)

13 - WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE WE WHEN THE GAME BEGINS?

A real place to visit someday soon

A. Eagle Lake, California 960150. The lake is located just over 430 miles north from Los Angeles. You can find it at this coordinance 38.942378 ? 120.122377; located southwest of South Lake Tahoe. The location is secluded and surrounded by mountain forest. In the game, clients are taken there by helicopter or they hike into the valley with a guide. All others are forbidden to go there because (for the sake of this game) it is privately owned by a holding company. The castle is built on the lake with a stone bridge leading to the gatehouse. During winter the lake freezes over, allowing anyone to walk to and from the castle on the ice. (More on this in the story line) Your characters will start on the bridge, heading toward the castle gates when you notice zombies coming out of the woods around the lake. There are too many of them to deal with out in the open.

14 - HOW COME THE CASTLE DOES NOT SHOW UP AT EAGLES LAKE WHEN I GOOGLE IT?

It's a conspiracy, I tell you

A. There's a map inside the castle that says otherwise. Play and see for yourself.

15 - WHY ARE THE CHARACTERS GOING THERE?

Be afraid

A. Because an honest NPC is leading you all to the safest place he knows.

16 - IS THIS CASTLE SOME SORT OF LODGE IN THE WILD?

We wish - but we'll settle for pretend

A. The castle had been a playground for the ultra-rich. An exclusive resort where hundreds of support players and facility employees supported a period immersive environment. Allowing the rich to play at being the lord and lady of their own little kingdom.

17 - CAN I HAVE A VEHICLE?

If you have a license ? or not

A. Yes, all the way to the parking lot at the trail head. But I ask you, how's your fuel level? (= % dice)

18 - DO WE HAVE SUPPLIES?

If it's not on your list

A. Yes, if you can get it and carry it, you can have it. Remember, prior to start time a GM needs to approve your character sheet. If a ridiculous item appears on your sheet it may fall off.

19 - WILL THERE BE ANYONE IN THE CASTLE?

Knock, knock

A. On a cold misty morning the crisp mountain air nips at your nose. You emerge from the trail and behold Eagle Lake. It has been a long dangerous journey and feelings of relief begin to wash over you. As if on que the fog peals away presenting the castle. It looks quiet and safe, there is no movement on the castle walls or on the bridge. What do you tell the rest of the group?

20 - IS THE NPC THE LEADER OF THIS GROUP?

You can lead a character to a castle but you can't keep them from becoming a zombie

A. Of course, how else would you know about this place. Somebody had to make up your mind and lead the group..

21 - WHAT IF THE GROUP SPLITS ON WHO SHOULD BE IN CHARGE?

Dust your Walkman off

A. Well ? we suppose it would depend on how the NPC vacates their position as the leader. On the other hand, because Mario will be running the NPC, we think a 'dance off' might work to the player's advantage. Or ? we could leave it up to role-playing.

22 - ARE THERE ALIGNMENTS IN THIS GAME?

The good, the bad and the indifference, playing yourself

A. Like Popeye said, 'I am what I am and that is all what I am.' What would you do to preserve humanity? what rules would you break? What lines wouldn't you cross? What morals would you set aside to survive? Alive = good / Zombie snack = bad

23 - WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE WHERE THE CASTLE IS LOCATED?

You've seen frozen lakes - right

A. Same as Lake Tahoe, located on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Northern California. Beautiful in the summer. In the winter, let's just say you might want to read up on the Donner party. We will go by weather in real time on the evening of the game.

24 - IS THERE CONTACT WITH ANYONE OUTSIDE OF THIS GROUP/ AREA?

"Major Tom to ground control?"

A. Communication has become limited and very sporadic. Humanity is hanging on by a thread and surviving has become more important than what is going on anywhere else in the world.

25 - CAN MY CHARACTER ACCESS FACEBOOK OR OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA?

"Ground control to Major Tom?"

A. Maybe, play the game to find out.

26 - DO I LOSE ACCESS TO ALL MY DATA SAVED TO A DIGITAL CLOUD?

Clouds make funny faces

A. No, but you may have lost your platform for access.

27 - DO ANIMALS GET ZOMBIE-FIED IN THIS GAME?

"Does your dog bite, Monsieur?"

A. Animals do not get Zombie-fied but they have been rumored to be carriers.

28 - WILL WE BE ABLE TO PLAY INSIDE THE CASTLE?

The best defense may be walls and doors

A. It depends, can you survive long enough?

29 - ARE THERE ZOMBIES IN THE CASTLE?

Snicker, snicker

A. The Eight-Ball says, 'Maybe, try again later.'.

30 - IS THERE A DUNGEON IN THIS CASTLE?

Oh, yea, the rodent level, we know it well

A. Eight-Ball says, 'are you still trying to play the game before the game?'

31 - CAN I JUST GO MY OWN WAY, SPLITTING FROM THE GROUP?

See ya!

A. Your character is free to roam where they may, but the game is at the castle. Be advised there are "lions tigers and bears" in the woods. If you find a Tin Man let me know, I have some questions for him.

32 - WILL CARDS AND BENNIES BE USED FOR THIS GAME?

Does a pine tree poop pine cones in the summer?

A. It wouldn't be Savage Worlds without them. You get 3 Bennies at the start of the game, to use in exchange for a new trait roll. Good news! A strength roll is a trait so, you can keep trying until you run out of bennies. The cards are used to determine who goes last.

33 - IF MY CHARACTER GETS BIT IN THE GAME, WHAT NEXT?

Owie, zowie - everyone must be faster than you

A. Don't worry, you have survived this long. What are the chances you getting bit in a 6-hour game? On the other hand, if you do get bit, pass it on.

34 - CAN I TERMINATE ANOTHER PLAYER?

Mother may not approve of this

A. Have you lost your humanity already? Well? maybe, "do you feel lucky, Punk?"

35 - CAN WE JUST RUN AWAY FROM THE ZOMBIES?

Sometimes it's the smartest move

A. What's the old saying; 'I don't need to be faster than a Zombie I just need to be faster than my buddy.'

36 - CAN WE EXAGGERATE OUR ABILITIES, PHYSICAL OR OTHERWISE?

Send in the surrogates

A. Hmmm, how can I put this? uhmmm, No. I mean there are people looking, watching, taking notes. Are you part of the resistance?

37 - NO EXAGGERATIONS? BUT WHAT IF I HAVE HIDDEN TALENTS?

"No capes!"

A. We said: NO MAGIC? I reference afore mentioned 10/80/10 concept along with the idea of drilling down on skills and attributes. For example, if I say I don't believe you are a 12 strength and your response is, 'well let me demonstrate this one-inch punch I've been working on.' Then we can agree that while you would be and extremely fit martial artist but you probably aren't bench pressing 400lbs. Thus, we have a basis for defining and narrowing of your specialty.

38 - WHAT?S THE STORY?

On a day not much different than today, zombies became a reality

The I, Me, My Zombie Mash is a scenario that allows players to play themselves in the middle of a Zombie apocalypse.

 

Well, we got to the 38th question and asked ourselves; "How much does a player truly need to know?"  We came to a conclusion straight away.  Our question can only be answered by how many questions we have yet to answer, for you, the player.