Monday, January 25, 2010

Anticlimatic Ending—An Apolgy and Explanation for my Players

The Final Session of Zombie Run was Anti-climatic. I had a suspicious, little, nagging, thought in my head that led me to believe that the potential for an anti-climatic resolution was possible.

I had read through the mass battle rules multiple times last week—and I still didn't feel like I had a grasp on them. I had read a post on the Pinnacle Entertainment Group forums that talked about some house rules that would help to alleviate the mass battle rule letdown of the finale to Zombie Run, but I felt that they were too complex and had come up with a house rule of my own (a house rule that I forgot to use when it came right down to it—I'm still kicking myself over that one).

I had decided to run the mass battle rules as written, but between rounds, draw cards and have each character play out exactly what they were doing on the battle field. What happened? The player characters rolled so well (and I simultaneously rolled poorly) that my army should have cut and run after the first round. I made the decision on the spot that my army was so bent on misplaced loyalty that they were going to fight to the end—and I forgot to have everyone draw cards at that point and describe their heroic actions (grumble, grumble, grumble)—to which they again rolled ridiculously well, obliterating the army of non-player characters that was me.

I was hoping that the setup period for the battle would elicit a little more Role Play than it did. Also, I had a feeling the Mass Battle rules would end it too quickly, but I decided to roll with them anyway, since I was curious as to how they worked and reading through the rules 7–8 times didn't seem to help. When I find I don't understand a gaming concept on paper, I know I have to actually play it out to gain understanding. I even came up with that house rule so that people would actually have an opportunity to do something heroic or cool during the battle and then I dropped the ball and forgot to follow through when I got flustered about the battle technically being over in one round.

If I was to call a mulligan, the following changes would be made.

1—Remember to actually use the house rule I had come up with.
2—Use more battle tokens. (70 to 100, instead of 7 to 10)
3—Have their General roll the correct dice. The player with the highest smarts was acting as General and I was having her roll her smarts since no one actually had knowledge(battle). It would have made a difference if they had been rolling a d4 -2 (unskilled attempt) and then adding the cooperative rolls and situational modifiers into the mix.
4—Preparing for the battle should have involved Zombies. Zombies should have wandered into the Mine Field and destroyed some of the Zombie-Bus-Melting, Tactical-Nuke-Land-Mines. Zombies should have attacked when they were putting up the Tank Traps, and the Mines (technically, there probably should have been potential to mess up when arming each of the mines—that could have been sad and very unheroic).
5—Also, Random Zombie Attacks from Zombies Drawn to the Battle by whatever senses they posses.
6—The Dead Rising During the After Battle Clean up.

I don't know why I can't come up with these things before or during the game. Chalk it up to my inexperience as a Game Master.

So I apologize to everyone for a pretty lackluster game. Particularly to S, since she doesn't come often and this explosive finale that I had been hyping up ended up being kind of lame—and to Brian, who showed up after the battle was over already.

On a more positive note. My wife wants to do character creation for Deadlands: Reloaded next session whereas before she had requested that we take a Role Playing Break and have a couple Board/Card/Video Gaming Nights.

Also, she just called me and informed me that the flowers she received from her parents for her birthday tipped over and my Deadlands: Reloaded book narrowly escaped The Flood.


  1. You are very lucky that the pink water completely avoided your book and flooded the rest of the table instead.

    I'd be up for a mulligan (maybe after we create characters next session). Either that or we can play games.

    Thanks for all you do as GM! at least you are learning, right?

  2. I think I'm learning. I just hope everybody has fun—there's nothing worse than going to do something that is supposed to be fun, and not having fun.

  3. I had fun with the game. It is the first time I have used the mass battle rules. I have a hard time figuring out when to use the mass battle rules. If I run a military campaign I usually have the PC act as commando's. That way they don't get bogged down in the overall details and their actions still affect the outcome of the battle. Best of all you can run the PC's actions in the battles as a series of regular encounters.

    I can't take credit for this idea. I have to give the credit to Wizards of the Coast. Their book "Hero's of Battle" is where I got the idea.

  4. By the way, the above comment was not a criticism of my DM. It was an observation. I don't care for the mass battle rules except in certain situations. Situations where you want the battle to be resolved quickly and simply.

  5. No apology necessary. It was fun, although it was also a bit anti-climatic. Oh, well. You live and learn.