Alone in the Dark
Jordan could hear something scratching. Fingernails... fingernails on metal. The metal of a dumpster he must have managed to crawl into before he passed out during a scuffle with a bunch of tribals. He sat up, instinctively reaching for his trusty machete - at least, that's what he told his fourteen-year-old body to do. In actuality, he doubled over, stifling a cry of pain from the searing pain coming from what he could only imagine was at least one broken rib, and the feeling of his jacket matted with warm, fresh blood.
His vision returned slowly, almost reluctantly. It was dark - how long had he been out? The moon hung high in the air, casting a cold, pale light down upon the ruins. Jordan could barely make out his machete nearby, clutching it close for the life-saving tool that it was as he struggled to his feet, quickly and silently dispatching the shambler that had been idly clawing at the dumpster's side, catching the corpse unawares. Smirking to himself, thankful at least one part of this had been easy - but his satisfaction was cut short as he caught sight of another shape moving in the street, one he recognized, even in the moonlight: La Loca, the wretched tribal witch that had speared him only hours earlier.
The scene dimmed as the fog blotted out the moonlight and the only human between him and the nearest shanty town was her. This was going to be tougher than he thought.
Alone in the Dark is a new Confrontation that we've put together based on some of the ideas we had but didn't have enough scope to get into the book. We will be adding a section of the website for downloadable free content such as new rules and Confrontations, but for now you can download Alone in the Dark here.
Since no new Confrontation would be fun to release without showing people how it can play out, we decided to play a game and write up a battle report of the fun! Alone in the Dark is a solo or co-operative Confrontation in which each of the human players control one lone survivor who has been left for dead after a previous battle and has awoken in the middle of the night, wounded and bleeding as the undead roam the streets looking for flesh. Their only hope is to rely on each other to avoid zeds and escape to the opposite corner of the table - but it won't be easy! They're injured, so they can only move 4" plus a d4 if running, where a failed Agility check can cause them to stumble and lose their entire move! And to top it all off, they're still bleeding, and leave a Blood Trail token at the end of each movement that will attract zombies.
In this Confrontation, it is deep into the night and a thick fog has rolled over the ruins, making visibility some of the worst possible in Zed or Alive - Neither humans nor zeds can see past 10".
Ryan and John were brave enough to take on the challenge, and if successful their characters will gain a bonus to recover from the wounds suffered in the prior battle! John stepped in for Bret, controlling his Tribal group, while Ryan brought Jordan "Vorhees," the loudest and toughest of his all-kid group.
Robert, our in-house Virus Strain specialist, would be attempting to stop the players from escaping the shamblers littered across the battlefield. To make things fair, we had him start a new Strain rather than use his regular, more advanced one. True to form, Rob picked one of his favorite Aberrants - the Hellhound. Even a starting Hellhound is frighteningly fast, and combined with the Drag mutation it has the ability to ambush a survivor and pull him into nearby Shamblers should they stray too far from each other.
John and Robert had the standard three bennies, but since Ryan's character was a Kid, he got an extra benny for a total of four.
We had Robert roll for loot (although it really doesn't matter who rolls), and he got four crates to place around the battlefield. As shrewd as he is, he placed them near the interior of the battlefield in an attempt to lure the humans into dangerous packs of Shamblers.
Robert rolled a three and a four for the Shambler density for a total of 23 which he placed around the table evenly to cast a wide net. He also elected to use both of the allowed two Shamblers held in reserve. His four spawn points were placed in a spread out pattern to cover open streets that he felt may require bolstered zombie numbers.
John and Ryan deployed and agreed to stick together, with their main strategy being to avoid fighting more than one or two Shamblers at a time, taking relying on each other to finish off any zeds that get shaken or knocked down. They also proceed slowly, steadfastly refusing to risk running and losing an action. The down side is that there is no way to space their Blood Trail Counters far enough apart to shake a Shambler from their tracks moving so slowly, especially with two people traveling together.
So far, their plans appear to be working out properly - the two encounter one zombie at a time, clearing them handily as "Vorhees" hacks one zed down and La Loca skewers its head while it's helpless, then bumping into a second zombie the next turn which Jordan decapitated cleanly with a called shot to the head, rolling an 8 to hit and a whopping 15 damage!
At this point, Ryan and John have found their rhythm and are making good time. Even though they did get bogged down in a few turns of combat which allowed trailing zombies to catch up, their initiative draws (John got back to back Jokers. Nice shuffling, someone!) and rolling were so stellar that, combined with their teamwork, they cleaved through their aggressors with relative ease. Once out of the quadrant of the battlefield that they deployed on, the two survivors became tempted by the siren's song of free loot...
The crate just past the container trailer was one of the hairier scraps of this battle, as the group had managed to attract a few zeds and get bogged down in a prolonged melee, which is extremely dangerous. Zeds get back up, allowing others to arrive, their swarm attacks becoming increasingly lethal. Jordan got hit for two wounds, but managed to soak them both thanks to his copious amounts of bennies! John was willing to take the risk to get more loot (especially since he was playing Bret's group, not his own!) but it paid off. His face went from dejected at finding a Magnum Lite to elated at finding a pair of Claymore Mines. And it wasn't long before they'd be put to good use...
In what could be described (especially by John) as the most exciting moment of the game, his character hobbled away from the four zeds who had spotted her when she opened the crate, with about 1/4" of a lead on them. John decided it was worth risking being caught to use the terrain to his advantage and hopefully catching them all in an explosion. That is one nice thing about dealing with zeds - sometimes being chased can be advantageous, as they're easily lured into traps. Luck was on John's side, and the last zed to enter the killzone failed its roll, setting off the mine.
Having dealt with her pursuers, La Loca risked a run, spending a benny to reroll a failed Agility check, catching up with Jordan, who was steadily moving forward. Using their now well-practiced one-two combo of knocking a zed down and finishing it off in the same turn, they plowed forward, until getting blocked behind the video store. Stuck and forced to fight, this was easily the bloodiest fight, with a total of eight shamblers being taken down over about a dozen turns. Aided by the narrow gap, the zeds were only able to get a +1 swarm bonus at any given time, and La Loca was also able to use her spear's reach to help knock down zombies on Jordan's side with a Gang Up bonus of their own!
Once the way was cleared, they moved up to clear one final zed, then hit the home stretch toward salvation!
Now, poor Rob. Between Bret and John's careful route and bad luck all around, be it with his initiative draw, the roll of zombie wandering, and everything in-between, Robert's Aberrant was inactive for most of the battle. He finally was able to get a Joker in the last turn of the game and got within an inch of La Loca, but it was too little too late; most of the Shamblers were already dead, and they were already at the exit. There were some extremely tense moments, however, as the players skirted very close to the sight of a zed that could have alerted the Aberrant as well as turns that a Joker on the part of the Aberrant would have spelled certain doom for them.
In all, they slaughtered 19 zombies on their way to freedom. Now, they're much better off from an experience standpoint as well as having the increased chances of avoiding permanent injury from their wounds in the previous battle.
One thing to remember when playing Alone in the Dark is that, due to the nature of the scenario, you will most likely have a lot more turns than the average battle. Since there are fewer wild cards, and the humans will most likely be avoiding combat wherever possible, turns go very fast. This battle, for instance, ended up weighing in at a whopping 46 turns! The entire battle took a couple hours, and everyone had a blast.