Monday, July 13, 2009

Storytelling on the Fly

There are probably some spoilers ahead—those that visit from the Savage Worlds Forum may want to skip the read if they plan on playing in a Zombie Run Game. You've been warned.

Session four of our Zombie Run Game has come and gone. There were two ways I could have taken the game tonight. I could have run the next chapter in the Adventure, but the mix of people that had confirmed attendance was not the mix of people that I wanted to send into that situation. So I've been wanting to try running what Pinnacle Entertainment has dubbed an Interlude.

Savage Worlds is not what would be considered a storytelling system, but the Interlude is the Savage Worlds way of introducing storytelling to the game. The interlude storytelling device was first published in this particular edition of Zombie Run (Updated for SW:EX) which was released the week I started running it back in May. They stated that they would be releasing a free edition of the Interlude (via the website), that can be used in any Savage Worlds Setting shortly after releasing it in the Zombie Run Savage Tale—but I haven't seen it there yet.

Roughly the way it works, is that based on the card you draw—you tell a particular type of story. We learned that one character has a nasty puss filled scratch on the leg, one character has issues with shopping at the mall, one character thinks he's completely wrong in his assessment of mall shopping, one character has anger issues, and one character actually found a Humvee full of M.R.I.s back in Camettesville when they were scouring the Mall for Supplies.

The Role Playing was great—even our most Munchkin of players really got into character, and everyone seemed to have a real great time in character. Looking at the clock after everyone was done telling their story I found that it was approximately two hours before I planned on being done for the evening. So I had to figure out what to do next—everyone else had had their chance to come up with story on the fly, and now it was my turn—since I didn't want to run the next written chapter of the adventure.

To stall, I busted out the Atlas of the United States and asked them where they wanted to go. They bantered in a friendly manner about where to go and eventually decided on a direction. Then, not wanting to completely dismiss all "Roll" playing from the evening, I had to come up with some sort of encounter.

So I put a road block in their way.

An abandoned military roadblock—i.e. three Humvees on a road through a forested area (represented by boxes of Monster Snap Fireworks) where the trees come right up to the shoulder of the road. They cautiously examined the Humvees. Got one started and moved out of the way—which promptly ran out of fuel. They found an unexploded grenade with a missing pin in the back of one of the Humvees (this served to escalate their already heightened "paranoia" that something bad was going to happen) and a small crate in another of the Humvees. While they were distracted by the small crate (i.e. extremely overly cautious opening of said crate) I was able to walk some Zombies out of the forest and start a combat situation.

The crate contained grenades, I'd been trying to find an excuse to give the party grenades for three play sessions now. (admittedly, I was looking for an excuse to use the Burst Templates that I had so masterfully crafted). Zombie combat ensued. Grenades were thrown (one severely missed its target—blowing up a tree that fell onto and covered almost the entire roadway—brilliantly represented by a Twizzler on the map)

After the Zombie Combat was over, I was wondering what plan they would come up with, in order to remove the tree from the road,since the bus couldn't drive over it or around it—but Brandon remembered that Justin had a chain saw.

The only really weird part of the evening, was that one of my players had earlier in the week asked if he could invite a friend to the session. I had reluctantly said yes. Reluctantly, because this person has some quirks that I didn't want to distract from the game—I mulled it over in my head and the quirks that I had observed in the past didn't seem like things that could distract from the game. I said Yes because I thought we were going to be on the low end of players for this session, and I didn't think it would hurt to have another survivor on the bus, but I stated the Caveat that I didn't really want him to become a regular because I already have thirteen people invited to this game, and although it hasn't happened—I have this sinking feeling that one of these weeks all thirteen are actually going to show up.

He's a nice guy, and I have no personal problems with him—Let me state this again, I like him. We have done things with him before, he is not a bad person, I will probably play games with him again in the future; but he spent the entire session preparing a talk for church—That is odd— I invited people over to play a game, and participate in a little escapism; not to prepare their talk for church while half heartedly participating. I probably would have said something, but he was keeping it mostly low key and I honestly didn't notice at first; and when I did notice I was a little too... shocked is too harsh a word, surprised is not harsh enough... I was somewhere in between. Luckily it didn't distract from the game too much, but as a result he really didn't add much to the session.

As contrast, I had one player comment that they wished that P could have been there because he would have added to the situation, rather than just being there.

But Everyone, Even Sunday Sermon Planning Man expressed having had a good time. My player that is normally a GM stated that it was a good off the cuff encounter. Overall, I think everyone had fun, and that's what's important.


  1. I certainly enjoyed myself and got more in to character than I thought I would. Sorry about bringing the gay women in to conversation, that one just wouldn't die!

  2. I will be there next time. I've already informed S that the group NEEDS me.