Content of the article: "Stories from my 26 player The End of the World: Zombie Apocalypse game NSFWish?"
You might be thinking, what the actual fuck, 26 players, why?
Well for those of you who are not familiar, in TEotW, players play… themselves. You stat yourself out, and then everyone votes on if your stats are accurate, and then you adjust. It's a cool system.
Anyways, I figured that in a game where you play yourself, death is permanent. You don't get to make a new character. And I wanted this to run more like a campaign, which is not advised in the rulebook.
Suffice it to say, I was expecting player death to help cull the herd so to speak, and up the stakes for the surviving players.
What follows are some of the random stories I remember from running this game about 3 years ago. I may comment below with more stories as they come to me, but all in all this was my number one experience in gaming… ever.
Things may start off simple enough, but if you will bear with me there is some absolute fuckery coming.
So things start simply enough, everyone is in the meeting room we booked at the university (in real life) when the apocalypse starts to hit our town. A zombie is banging on the glass door. Blood smearing across the glass, more of them slowly piling up, it takes about 45 minutes for the team to formulate a plan to exfiltrate. It basically boils down to the 5 people with pocket knives being the Vanguard, with all the rest of the crew pushing wheeled tables into the zombies and preparing to run.
We escape the school safely enough, and make a run for the rural area not far from there, thinking less density=safer. For a while, it does.
The party encounters a few zombies along the way, people running and screaming, but these being Romero style slow zombies, we aren't too concerned. Tired of running, they find a house and a fish processing facility, so they are thinking food+chainlink fence = a good time. One of the team even has his lockpicking kit so they break in easily enough.
They check out the house, it seems quiet and empty. Okay, thats cool, no need to inspect that anymore. Lets get into the fish factory.
One section of the team is picking the door to that, one team goes back to the house to try and break in. They break a fucking window instead of waiting for the lockpicker to come back. No alarm, so they just let themselves in, start turning on lights and checking the place out. They even find a few guns!
Then, the lockpicker messes up, and the factory alarm goes off, and its loud AF.
It's about this time the lady of the house comes down the stairs with a shotgun. WTF is going on, GTFO my house.
"Hey lady, its the apocalypse, we're just trying to survive. Cant we just get along and share this house? There are tons of zombies out there."
"My husband is still out there. You all are getting the fuck out of here or I will shoot you. Also, y brothers will be coming to check on the alarm. Youd better get out of here."
One of the players then propositions her. In character. As himself.
To be fair, I think he may have been playing himself accurately.
"Listen lady, your husband is probably dead. But dont worry honey, I can take care of you" something like that, with some more interesting imagery.
She shoots him. He bleeds out over the course of the rest of this encounter.
Her redneck brothers show up with guns ready, several in the back up the pickup, and we have ourselves a standoff. A few choice words, and the bullets start flying. I think we lose another two players here. Others survive with crippling injuries, one in particular has lost use of his jaw, but survives.
Someone makes some kind of a godlike natural 20 on a Charisma check and stops the shooting, and the survivors are allowed to flee with their tails between their legs.
They safely find an empty house (evidenced by torn apart rooms for quick packing of clothes) and stay the night as snow begins to fall.
In the morning, one of the players goes off into the foot-deep snow to scout, alone, against the protest of literally everyone. He rounds a corner, finds a herd, trips, and dies. How basic.
The players describe in fine detail their catfood, moustard and goldfish cracker casserole they made for everyone to eat for breakfast, and they all discuss their masturbation habits and schedules to make sure everyone is taken care of before they leave the house. We wouldnt want our stress building up in the apocalypse, after all.
For most of this game, I have had Google Earth running on a projector, using Google Streetview to show the world around them as they explore. Its most of our hometown, so everyone is pretty familiar with whats around. We're walking through a suburb when one player asks if the house to the right is ransacked. I roll for it, and say no, it seems perfectly intact.
"Okay, so I go inside, pull on the string for the stairs to the attic, go up there and get my scoutmasters chainmail suit and his broadsword."
This fucker took advantage of my roll and my good nature. I wouldnt go back on my ruling of it being intact, so he's basically a god now.
So its around this time that they hotwire a car or two, and hear on the radio that the military has set up a refugee gathering area. They arrive, get checked in, and are assigned jobs in cooking, maintenance, etc. One of them, having nearly graduated with a tech degree, is assigned to IT.
Things proceed as you may expect in such a place, people are sad, trying to make the best of the situation, etc. Several of my players are trying to get laid.
One of them rolls a 20 in charisma, and so he's got a real shot! He takes his lady to the igloo some of them built for a little privacy, and there in front of 20 of his closest friends, he rolls a nat 1 on his Con check for… stamina. The old one pump chump.
Youd better believe he did not live that one down for a long time.
Anyways, some time goes by and we learn that food is running low, and theres talk of resorting to cannibalism. And its coming from the military… eat those who dont pull their weight as much, we become stronger and last longer type thing.
So they plan an escape. IT Guy will deactivate some of the defenses and theyll all make a break for it over the wall.
Some escape scotfree, some are injured by the barbed wire/being shot, but some people are just too damned slow. I think 3 or 4 are captured and face a firing squad.
Two die pretty easily.
One of my friends has a metal plate in his head, and due to a freak roll a shot ricochets off of it and strikes an army guy. He gets torn to shreds for that one, but dies a hero.
The last guy faces two rounds of the firing squad, but their rolls are horrifically low and they only manage to break both of his arms but not kill him. He argues very well that he has served his sentence of being put to the firing squad, and is permitted to leave.
Arms still bound behind his back by zip strips, he finds his way to a barbed wire fencepost, where he attempts to free himself by wiggling against the barbs.He takes one more point of damage from the barbs, and falls unconscious for two hours.
He wakes up, and flees to a nearby farm. Zombies are chasing him.
They take him in, but he has led a horde to them! They fight and lose, but our guy manages to climb into the hayloft without his arms. Slowly but surely, the zombies make their way up to get him. His only recourse is to jump out the window, where he breaks his leg, and zombies piledrive him into the next life.
We were this close to greatness.
Now for the rest of the team, they are formulating a plan. They want to get as far away from people as possible. Load up on food, start farming, rebuild anew. They plan to get a boat and go to a nearby fishing and hunting lodge for supplies, and then onward to a nearby uninhabited island.
Remember our friend who broke his jaw? He now has a broken leg and a serious infection. They get on the boat, but they have to carry him there. It is a constant struggle to puree food and keep him safe and clean.
Two of his best friends approach me between sessions.
"Will you let us kill X?"
"I will let you do anything, but you have to live with the consequences with literally you figuratively killing literally him and removing him from the game."
"Oh yeah thats fine. Cool thanks"
So the moment comes, the two of them managed to get onto the nightwatch when no one else is awake. They look at each other, at X, and then to me
"Can we do it?"
Looking at X "I'm so sorry X"
"Its okay guys, I understand."
"Okay, so I cut X's throat and push him overboard."
"You said it was okay! You understand!"
"I thought I understood but I didnt think you were going to do that!"
From this point on, things are more or less straightforward. They raid the fishing and hunting lodge, battle with a few bandits, and 5 of them survive to make their new life on the island. Once the "good" ending has been achieved, they go on murderous rampages until they all die. As you do.
I wish I wrote this sooner cause there were some real gems that happened across the journey from 26 players to 5, but all in all if any of you have the patience and the group to run a game like this I highly recommend it. Though my player count dropped each week, my attendance went up because I had so many spectators coming to join in the fun and witness the fuckery. It was that good of a time.
If I remember any more of the stories I will add them later. If you made it this far, thank you for reading. Cheers friends
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