Episode One: Discovery
What's going on?
The events of this Story take place after the Zombie Apocalypse has been well established, maybe two or three months. The Cast Members are somewhere in rural America, the exact location is up to the ZM.
Setting the Scene
It is important to get the characters interested from the beginning. Finding a dependant, loved one, or old friend as incentive is probably the easiest way to get them involved (it is unlikely that roving crusaders for Good exist this early in the Apocalypse). However, the players must recognize their obligations to this person, or that the relevant Cast Member has to be reunited with his or her loved one.
In this Episode, emphasize the near panic that grips the Cast Member as the party explores the loved one's empty house and the deserted rescue station, a small school. Zombies stumble and moan around the old school house, most without a mark on them. There seems to be some kind of laboratory or hospital in the basement, yet it is deserted.
Tell The Story
It is high summer, and the world has become a deserted wasteland. There are very few living humans left, and those are either wandering souls like the Cast Members, or are in government rescue stations waiting for the nightmare to end. Every day the number of living humans lessen while the population of the walking dead explodes across the earth.
One of the Cast Members is searching for a loved one that, upon last communication, was at a rescue station set up in a small schoolhouse in a little town somewhere in rural America -- exactly where is up to the ZM. The person's house is empty, with a hand-written note giving the address of the school.
Driving through the small town draws a crowd of walking dead at all times. If the Cast Members halt for any extended period of time, they find themselves hemmed in and must fight their way out. If any of the Cast Members are from this town, they recognize many of the now-undead citizenry that they are forced to blow away.
The rescue station/schoolhouse is quite close, less than a half mile from the house. Curiously, very few cars are parked around it, and no fence. No sign of activity whatsoever can be seen and an overall feeling of loneliness envelop the place. The glass doors stand open, and a few shambling undead can be seen around the playground. Not the ideal rescue station to their eyes. Their hopes begin to fail.
What Rescue Station?
The schoolhouse is on two levels: a main level and a basement. Six classrooms, a main office, a gymnasium with locker rooms, and boys and girls restrooms make up the main floor. The basement level has the cafeteria, an arts room, storage, and a mechanic's shop/boiler room. Located outside are a swing set, jungle gym, and a paved area with a couple of basketball hoops, a few foursquare surfaces, and a tetherball pole.
Upon close inspection, it is obvious that a large amount of vehicular traffic drove over the grass of the playground recently, including some with very large tires and heavy tread (see below).
Approaching the schoolhouse, have the Cast Members make Simple Perception rolls. Upon a successful roll, they hear sounds coming from the lower-level windows (about 3' of the basement is above ground and windows look into the cafeteria and art room from about 8' high). Looking through the dirty glass of the window reveals the cafeteria -- a large, tiled area (also used for town meetings and musical performances) with long tables, nasty little colored plastic chairs, and a multitude of undead. They stumble about the room, moaning, slapping and clawing at the walls and a set of padlocked double doors that the Cast Members can see from the window. As they stare into the hideous scene, one zombie sees them (they recognize it as a neighbor of their loved one and a family friend), and stumbles towards them, clawing hands outstretched. The rest immediately follow, moaning and wailing at the fresh meat peering in at them. A Fear test is appropriate here, no matter how brazen the Cast Members are.
For some reason, at least 20 walking dead have been inexplicably locked into the basement of this small schoolhouse.
Two things can be observed from the window:
1. None of the zombies in the cafeteria bear any wounds. None. Zombies usually carry the calling card of their killer all over them and these are totally unblemished (other than the obvious fact that they are undead).
2. Lying haphazardly about the cafeteria are a few tall chrome stands -- the kind used to hang blood- and IV-bags over a patient in a hospital bed or over a person giving blood.
Careful examination of each zombie in the cafeteria does NOT reveal the undead presence of the Cast Members loved one, nor do any of the "loose" zombies that wander through the schoolyard and building. The person must have escaped, perhaps with the rescue station personnel.
Whadda We Do Now?
If they do shoot down the zombies, the resultant gunfire draws a crowd of curious and hungry former citizens from around the small town. The Cast Members have to act quickly, or have a clear plan in mind if they choose to go by this path.
If they somehow manage to clear the room without destroying everything by lobbing in a grenade or two, they discover not only the metal IV stands, but a number of discarded plastic IV needles, a small unopened box of fresh blood bags, and some spent syringes -- labeled medical morphine and Sodium Pentothal. An army issue jacket tossed into a corner conceals a two-way radio (see below).
If they explore the upper level, they discover little more than normal supplies found in a small, under-funded schoolhouse. However, if they look in the office, they see that the surface of the principal's desk has been cleaned off (where Lloyd placed his own laptop), and, if the garbage is inspected, a few Styrofoam coffee cups are found. Rather than coffee residue, these cups are stained with a crimson substance -- blood to anyone with any medical background. The cup was obviously emptied by drinking or pouring.
Some Clues . . .
There are two clues as the current whereabouts of the rescue station personnel. It is important to remember that the Neo-Vampires are breaking down mentally, and have not covered their tracks as well as they could have.
Outside: The deep tire-tracks clearly show which direction the convoy left if a Cast Member can make a Difficult (-2) Tracking Task. It has rained within the last 48 hours, and the tracks are fresher than that, with older, rain-obscured tracks lying under them. Since only one real road leads through this little to wn, it is obvious that the trucks went south, and not very long ago. Looking at a map (or questions any living locals) reveals that another small town with roughly the same population lies about 30 minutes to the south.
Inside: This clue can only be found in the cafeteria after all the imprisoned zombies have somehow been "dealt with." One of the Neo-Vampire soldiers, in his brain-muddled condition, left a two-way radio behind. It lies under an army-issue jacket that has been tossed into a corner. The zombies have, not surprisingly, ignored it. If at any time that the Cast Members come within range (2 miles) of the Neo-Vampires, they hear occasional communications between them. All transmissions between the soldiers are scrambled, and can only be heard by this radio. Any person making a Simple (+2) Electronics Task, or a member of the armed forces, realizes immediately that the radio has a built-in scrambler and a working range of 2 miles. Very hi-tech stuff. If the Cast Members go in the direction indicated by the tracks (south), they eventually begin to hear transmissions between the blood-sucking soldiers.
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