Upheaval, "Let's go Bowling!", Episode 4
Catherine grabs a backpack, one she used to use for day hiking but is now only interested cramming whatever loot they can find from the bowling alley, drug outlet, pet supply, clothing store, and taco joint at the Harmony Plaza.
Douglas checks over his gear and hands a baseball bat to Catherine. “The less we shoot, the better I think.” Catherine reluctantly takes the bat because she knows that this means getting in close to the horrible things they’ve seen. She shoves the bat into the bag, with the knob sticking out. Then she eyes the assault rifle slung over Douglas’ back “The less we shoot, huh?”
It is a windy day in the area around Harmony and dust is being kicked up around the edges of Route 68, the road that leads to east towards the Plaza.
“Pop, Pop, Pop Pop Pop”
Douglas and Catherine look at each other and then their surroundings. The Plaza is further down the road and there’s little cover where they are.
“That gunfire is coming from up the road, probably the Plaza.” says Douglas as he indicates with his hands that they should start running.
They kneel down and find some cover along short wall that surrounds the Plaza’s parking lot. There’s a pair of people with machine pistols ducking in and out from the drug store. Another is kneeling down behind a car that has the windows busted out, doors mostly ajar, and the trunk wide open. On the opposite end of the parking lot is a group of three behind various bits of cover, two of which have assault rifles pointed back at the drug store.
Douglas peeks over the wall again and ducks back down. “I recognize the group at the drug store with the orange armbands. Roman’s bike gang.”
“Roman is not good at playing with others.”
“Should we go help the other side out?”
“Yes but I think we should stay on this side - put fire on them from both directions.”
Douglas waits for the drug store men to shoot again and as they do he puts three rounds into a figure by the doorway. Catherine shots at the one by the car, misses, but it forces them to run for cover. The folks wielding assault rifles sieze the opportunity and drop another gang member by the door. The last gang member makes a run for it.
Catherine and Douglas crawl around to the other side and meet up with the people they’ve aided. Before any pleasantries can be exchanged two groans of two zombies are heard crossing the road nearby. Douglas makes quick work of one with his knife while another man bashes the head of the other zed in with the butt of his assault rifle.
“Nice shooting earlier, appreciate the help.”
“You fought with Roman’s gang before?”
“Nah, we showed up looking to loot and they were here first. I tried to talk to them but they insisted on shooting. Dumb.” he motions at the dead zeds “The shooting just attracts them.”
Douglas looks over the group of three, two assault rifles and shotgun between them. “You are rather geared up for a fight.”
“It is becoming harder and harder to find stuff out here, people gettin’ nasty.”
Catherine moves into the conversation. “Anyone else here when you showed up?” She looks around the parking lot for Gray & Thomas’ truck but doesn’t see it.
“No one in the bowling alley, there’s not much left in there. We were getting ready to cross over to the other stores when those folks started shooting. One of them did yell at us they were always willing to take more captives.”
Catherine shoots a concerned look at Douglas. Douglas puts his knife away, slings the assault rifle over his back, and readies his pistol. “I think we’ll check the drug store for our friends. We can share any meds that are left.” The group of survivors nod in agreement and they move on to loot the clothing store.
The glass doors and windows are shot out entirely from the drug store. Much of the broken glass is on the sidewalk in front of the entrance.
Doug peers inside and sees a lone remaning orange arm band gang member towards the back of the store. They are shakily holding a gun up and behind them are Gray & Thomas, you’ve had their mouths and hands duct-taped.
“Don’t come any closer!” shouts a wary looking figure, who looks to be in their teens.
“Ok, ok. Calm down. No one else needs to die today, kid. Let’s say you and me make deal.”
The teenager looks around, angling to get look over Douglas shoulder. Behind Douglas, Catherine has a pistol trained on the teen, and behind her one of the assault rifle folks from before has come to check out the disturbance. “Yeah… yeah we can do that.”
“I’ve got a nice bottle of whiskey here, it can be all yours. Go back to your friends, split it, and maybe you’ll get the better of me next time.”
Two more of the survivors show up in the back and the teen eagerly nods his head. He approaches the ground in front of Doug carefully, where Doug has taken the bottle of whiskey out from Catherine’s backpack and set it down. He grabs the bottle and looks around before hastily exiting the store.
Catherine runs over to Gray & Thomas and works to remove the duct-tape. “We were worried about you!”
“We’ve been hunkered down at home but Thomas needed to refill his prescription. I didn’t realize things had gotten so dire.”
Thomas picks up a couple bottles of pills from the ground and shakes them “Got my refill though.”
The four of them hug and gather their things. Douglas and Catherine head behind the counter and find some common antibiotics to take. They thank the other survivors again for their help and head out to the parking lot.
“So, I hate to ask but where’s your truck?” ask Douglas
“Taken from us the moment we pulled up into the parking lot. There were too many guns pointed in my face to say no.” says Gray.
Douglas nods in understand. “I lost my car a few days ago, same way.”
“Think anyone might have left their dirt bikes at the Redwood Lights Track?” asks Catherine.
Doug holsters his pistol and looks out in the direction of the track. The hill with the radio station is between them and the track. In Douglas head there are flashes of gun fire, the sound of a knife stabbing through flesh, and the steady growling and scratching sounds of the undead. “Could have. Worth a look.”
Another Find Encounter today. The first PEF rolled up as our PCs coming upon a Confrontation already in-progress between two other groups. ATZ: Evolution doesn’t have “met before?” test from 5150 New Beginnings but it is painless to bring it over. The Survivors and Gangers had never met each other before, our PCs had never met the Survivors, but Douglas had met the Gangers before (having either worked with them or against them in his past criminal life.)
While this part of the map is pretty rural, I upped the level of this place to suburban for the encounter rules. Too many stores and too high of chance that the drug store would not have prized loot. Given all of the multi-shot weapons play it is lucky all of the gunfire didn’t spawn more than two zeds.
Because our PCs helped out the survivors this gave them an Interaction bonus which I was able to leverage into Further Interaction and thus another clue. Each time you get a clue you take a test to see if you can roll equal to or lower than the number of clues you have - if you do then you’ve found what you are looking for. I rolled equal to the number of clues gathered at that point and the next table told me that the NPC(s) I was looking for could be found by completing a Raid Encounter. I ended up rolling a lone Ganger that Douglas had met before so it seemed pretty likely this was the same group from before and all of the “facts” led me to the idea that they had been holed up in the drug store, probably took the neighbors hostage early on, and were in the process of finishing their looting when the Survivors showed up.
The instructions for the Raid Encounter don’t say I have to use violence to solve so I had Douglas interact with the Ganger - offering to barter the Luxury good he was carrying with him for the return of his neighbors. That worked and Douglas convinced the Ganger to scram after that by letting them know just how badly outnumbered they were.
I’m thinking about spinning up a 5150 New Beginnings campaign and so I’ll be alternating between 5150 and ATZ recaps going forward.