This synopsis marks the second half of the campaign, which is filled with more action, and a bit darker in tone, with some unexpected twists and surprises in store as the brave travelers continue their journey towards the Alaskan weather station. A journey that will test not only their resolve, but their dedication to each other and the unspoken obligations that come with friendship.
In the land of the undead being human is more then having a pulse, it’s having a heart and the courage to cling to your humanity even when it can cost you your life.
Now without further preamble, I continue with Darkest of Winters:
After their run in with the Reapers the group re-boarded their trucks and set course for Hamburger Lane, the groups plan to push their way through at high speeds eagerly embraced by everyone, despite the potential danger. Riley took the lead with Jessy, a thick low lying fog making the early morning visibility difficult, despite the powerful lights on the two military trucks, Jessy commenting how the fog seemed “unnatural somehow, like a shroud or veil that’s hiding the undead from view.”
Despite the road ahead obscured by the mist, the convoy kept up an acceptable speed of 25mph, Riley holding course down the center of the road and simply slamming derelict vehicles out of the way in a scream of tortured metal and breaking glass, the few moving shapes within them quickly left in the dust.
The road clearing approach made for relatively quick (if noisy) progress until the lead truck came upon an overturned bus blocking most of the road, looming ahead out of the fog. Braking suddenly and yanking the wheel sharply to the right Riley narrowly avoids a head on collision, coming to a halt inches from the wreck, Renee swerving to the side and ricocheting off of the guard rails as she barely avoided rear ending War wag one.
No sooner do the two trucks stop moving then a series of echoing moans were heard from deeper within the fog, and the crack of breaking glass. With some tricky maneuvering Riley managed to squeeze his truck past the over turned bus and guard rails, the heavy vehicle barely able to nudge the buses mass to the side enough to scrape by.
As Renee maneuvered her truck close behind, a series of heavy thumps were heard landing on her roof, and the skittering of claws scraping across the metal. Yelling for heather to “DO something!” Renee accelerated to keep Riley’s truck in view as he pulled ahead into the fog, Jessy yelling at them over the radio to “keep close we’re putting the pedal to the metal!”
Back inside war wag two Heather yelled at Renee to "punch it" and secured her seat belt more firmly, trusting in the vehicles armor to keep the undead at bay. The throaty roar of the machine drowned out any further commentary from Heather as Renee surged forward, plowing into, and through the twisted forms of several zombies as they fell from the tops of a Gray Hound bus into the road in front of them; the wash of gore and spray of entrails covering the hood of their vehicle.
Up ahead war wag one found itself beset by surprisingly fast moving zombies that leapt from one wrecked derelict to another, keeping pace aside the truck as they moaned in unison, Jessy rolling down his window and taking a few (full auto) pot shots at the runner on his side. Riley struggled to swerve around the looming hulks of buses, flinching at the stream of hot brass Jessy’s full auto fire sent flying through the passenger compartment as he unloaded an entire magazine of ammo at the running zombie; managing to score several strikes at the end of his burst and send it tumbling in a shower of blood and bone in-between a set of wrecked cars.
As he was cheering his successful drive by shooting, a fast zombie from Riley’s side leapt across onto the hood of the truck, its rotted fingers grabbing for purchase as it tried to slam its head through the glass into Riley. With his view blocked Riley struggled to see around the fiend, as Jessy helpfully reached over to turn on the windshield wipers in an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the attacker and warned the girls in war wag two of their situation over the radio.
Behind them Renee held course, matching Riley’s crazy path between the smashed vehicles and array of body parts, the barking of Heathers dogs from the cargo area reminding them of the unwanted passengers still clinging to the roof. Fearing the zombies up top will manage to block their view similar to Riley’s problem Heather rolled down her window and leaned out revolver in hand, struggling to get a clear shot at the unexpectedly obese zombie oozing over the top of their cab.
Timing her shots to match the sway of the vehicle Heather managed to place three solid hits into the center mass of the zombie, the mounds of its blubbery flesh absorbing the impacts without apparent effect, the noise and attack only serving to draw the zombies attention to heather where it clumsily lunged forward with its right hand, a stubby mess of gristle writhing with maggots in the gaping finger sockets.
Meanwhile, war wag one continued to careen forward, Riley choking back a rise of bile as the zombie still clinging to the hood had its nose torn free in a spray of puss by the windshield wiper, its death grip on the truck unshaken by Riley’s frantic maneuvers. Ahead Jessy spotted a Winnebago looming out of the mist and screamed an unintelligible warning to Riley seconds before impact.
At over 50 mph the six and half ton truck exploded through the side of the RV in a spray of aluminum, insulation, and splintering wood, as the recreational vehicle disintegrated under their impact, a tangled mass of lingerie and other unmentionables still clinging to the truck as it erupted from the other side, it’s undead passenger swept aside in the maelstrom of debris.
Within war wag two Renee quickly reached over and grabs at Heather, dragging her back inside by her belt seconds before their truck followed Riley’s through the RV in a bone jarring impact that mingled with a sound similar to that of a sledge hammer hitting a sack of rotten fruit. Struggling to regain control Renee side swiped war wag one, ripping off its passenger side mirror before coming to a stop several dozen feet later, the frantic barking of Heathers dogs all the more deafening in the sudden silence.
Staring in shock at the rotting corpse previously obstructing his view of the road now replaced by a bright pink bra and panty set, Riley looked over and gave the dazed Jessy a thumbs up, only to wince at the squealing scrape of war wag two as it tore past them coming to rest further down the road, a train of slimly entrails covering its rear cap and forming a bloody trail behind it.. A quick radio exchange between the two vehicles confirmed everyone was mostly okay aside from several scrapes and bruises.
Their brief respite was short lived however as the echoing moans in the wreckage behind them reverberated within the fog, a cold reminder the denizens of Hamburger Lane were now behind them in eager pursuit.
* * * * *
Will the next leg of their journey be plagued by zombie followers? Is the road ahead safer then the path behind? Can the heroes return by the same route with their volatile cargo safely? Find out in the next adventure synopsis #17!
Too keep session prep to a minimum I take the recycling approach when it comes to zeds in my games. Before the start of the campaign I rolled up about 2-4 of each zombie archetype (i.e fast zombie, crawler, sloucher, etc..) and then reuse these stats for that style of zombie whenever they encounter them.
The variable of 4 different sets of stats makes for enough variety they don’t get boring, and I can always mix and match the stats between the 2-4 pre-written zeds from that archetype for even more options if I want to mix things up.
The key with this approach, is while the stats may remain relatively consistent, the description of the zombies needs to continually change in order for them to feel “fresh” to the players.