Friday, 25 November 2016

Tarot`s Musings

Tarot`s Musings
November 25th: Washing day and room tidy - and putting off doing either as long as possible.
Well, the gang are all sick. On the way back from the uk recently a woman behind me on the plane was coughing so badly I wondered at the time why she was even travelling (and doubtless infecting dozens of other people). Sure enough, although it seemed to miss me entirely, I ended up being the carrier, and indeed I carried the virus right into the guys’ home. Now Stevie has a virulent chest infection and looks like death warmed up: and seems to be turning interesting shades of green every time he has a coughing fit - Poor guy :(   And Hil is not much better, and she says her ribs hurt with all the coughing, and the pair of them are totally out of action for the rest of next week I`d say.
So it falls to me to cover for them.. which is the least I can do, seeing as I inadvertently bought the thing into the house in the first place.
And so, having spoken with both the Gilberts senior, they have given me permission to talk about something which is very important to........... well, all three of us really: Stevie, Hil, and myself. I want to talk about blogs and blogging, and some pretty major changes we all want to make to the way the site runs. This should ensure that the future of The Game Cupboard (for us, the contributors) becomes a more rewarding place for us to express ourselves.
Originally the blog was a celebration of all things fantasy: from Zombies, Heroclix and Dungeons and Dragons, to full on game reviews and battle reports. The site was originally created by Bryan Scott and Stephen Gilbert, with regular contributions from Steve`s wife Hilary, and from me as well. I think the whole thing was heavily influenced by the more `fantastical` side of things, and Stephen`s love of historical was really just a foot note.. more of a nod to this facet of his hobby than anything else. But then Bryan found it quite taxing to write material for both this site and his own `main` blog, and so after several months, he withdrew from writing for us entirely, which allowed him, once again, to concentrate on his main passion over at his Vampifan site. His hobby love is undead things, zombicide and the like, and he enjoys regularly showcasing the figures he paints.. and just lately, indulging in a new passion - Judge Dredd miniatures. so you can see, he is kept pretty busy over at his blog. And so Stephen and Hilary took over the running of The Game Cupboard (originally called the Gamers Cupboard, but Stevie changed this to what he considered a more `snappy` title when he took over full ownership of it all).
Now here in lies the dilemma. I have given a brief history of the blog to show its roots and original aims. But with Bryan gone, many of the overriding focus points that did exist, no longer apply. We all found ourselves writing articles and posting things we thought everyone else wanted to read about.. instead of enjoying the subjects we really wanted to cover; and which excite us to write about. And so, thinking to write something everyone would enjoy, we started our “Ravenloft” Dungeons and Dragons campaign, believing this would excite everyone. However, of our main contributors, it has become clear that D&D is not something that floats people`s boat. In fact, only one regular contributor to our posts seems to be enjoying it. In truth it is often hard to tell if a blog topic is popular or not, because of a steadily growing membership/following (if you are a blog owner yourself, you will have discovered this yourself) probably only about 10% maximum, will ever leave comments... so we usually lack the feedback to know what goes down well and what doesn’t. 10%, that’s about one in ten people (statistically) will ever respond to a post. So yeah, it’s not easy always to gauge what to write about. However, of our forty or so followers (we are still a relatively a new site, so regular readers is still small) this means we receive regular comments from about four people. Of those four, only one has expressed any deeply favourable comments about our Dungeons and Dragons articles. From this we can only work on the assumption of the feedback we get.. so if only one of four people (comment writers) are enjoying our new campaign, obviously it’s time to `axe` it and think of something new to write about (of course, we will still play the campaign ourselves, we just won’t post the result of our sessions or after action reports). We assume everyone enjoyed our Hero and Horror Clix posts, so we will go back to that soon: and we will keep trying out new things: Shadows of Brimstone will soon in the offing, as too will be other fantasy tit bits to delight and thrill you hehe, well that`s the aim anyway.
However, and here is the big but! We have always, up to now, primarily written about things we thought went with the original premise of the site – i.e. fantasy (in its many guises) was always the lead most topic to be covered. This left us all a little empty at times, and yearning to write more about the things that really interested us: which is a lot more historical games such as: Sails of Glory (a Napoleonic `age of sail` table top ship to ship combat wargame), Memoir 44 World War Two, The Great War (which is another cool Richard Borg game), `Black Powder` Zulu Wargaming, Black Powder American Revolution wargaming, Bolt Action (and variations of that theme), FFG`s Tannhauser (weird World War One and Two), and we really want to cover The American Civil War at some stage as well. All these fully painted, half painted, and partially painted projects all champing at the bit to be covered by us, and yet up to now we have not done so as we should have liked to do.. because we wanted to try and cover subjects we thought were more in keeping with the original aim of the blog. Of course we also wish to cover fantasy but the fantasy we (ourselves) would REALLY like to cover, are things like Lord of the Rings 40mm TMG – a rare and barely remembered blast from the past, when Peter Jackson`s first LotR movie “The Fellowship of the Ring” was only just out in the cinemas, and queues (in America and the UK) were reaching over a mile long just in the hopes of getting in to see it. People were camping on the streets, in sleeping bags over night, determined to get a chance to see this remarkable piece of cinema-graphic history  (to this day I never understand those who (latterly) say the films are crap: a symptom of the modern mind and its over indulgent analysis, as every person is a critic nowadays). Also we want to cover some 70`s and 80`s British TV dramas, like Terry Nation`s Blakes 7, Survivors, Timeslip, and The Tomorrow People. Alternative world reality HeroClix also needs to be covered in much more detail (Hail Hydra), and maybe even some custom Black Plague material (that was another subject we originally planned to cover, but which received little interest). Of course, with Super Dungeon Explore “Legends” just around the corner, our love of anime won’t be forgotten either, especially the more `eastern` themed adventures. We also hope to get round to FFG`s Arkham Horror, and a lot more of that sort of thing in the coming future.
But it is with the historical gaming we will, from now on, concentrate on a lot more: perhaps more like 50% 50%, proportionally, and see how it goes from there.. This will allow us to enjoy what we write a lot more, and might even (eventually) attract more wargamers to the blog. We are aware we may lose some of you as well, as pure fantasy may well be your main (and only) tipple. But it’s a case of catch 22. Continue to write to please, what we can only assume, you want: and it is not always the sort of subjects we really want to be covering, and in detail. But write for ourselves, and we run the risk of changing things so much, that our current followers simply move on to other blogs.. while we hope, in time, to attract some historical gamers along the way.
 Support our historical heritage. Run by really knowledgeable people who care deeply about our past and strive to keep it alive for all to discover and enjoy for themselves.
My belief is, if you write with conviction and are obviously enjoying what you write, it will show through in the standard of the articles themselves.
Please do take a couple of moments to leave us some comments. Our delight when you do is so very much appreciated: and helps us to gauge what you enjoy to see us post.
Article by Tarot

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Hilary`s Musings

Thoughts on Dungeons and Dragons
{A Week End Filler Post}
Next time, Stevie will conclude the small zombie adventure, starring Dakota and her new best `friend.` But for now, as it will be a while until that can be played through and written up (probably by next week end I`m guessing), But for now, I figured I`d do one of my small Hilary musings - this time on the Dungeons and Dragons game.
As I think has been mentioned in past postings, we recently took the big plunge of moving our rpg games over to 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. This was no small feat for us to make, I can assure you *sighs* as we have been well entrenched in our regular 3rd edition campaigns for many years now, and although I am happy to say the crossover potential between the two systems is a fairly comprehensive one to make, with a bit of time and effort: 5th edition D&D is, never the less, substantially different from previous versions of the game. This is exacerbated by the fact that we find ourselves constantly juggling between 3rd (actually 3.5) edition table top rpg, plus the D&D adventure System Boardgames, which.. to make matters even worse.. are primarily based on the 4th edition (uuugh!!), and now we have to add yet another ball to this `slight of hand` juggling act, by trying to fit 5th edition into the whole thing. It’s all a bit of a gaming nightmare, believe me. But it is possible; and we are managing it all quite well, so far.

Why would we mix and match games, you might well ask? Well, it’s simply a case of trying to use all we have in our collection, rather than just chuck out a lot of material which is really good, and we are unwilling just to `throw the baby out with the bath water.` Why change to 5th edition at all, you could also ask? That one’s slightly trickier to answer. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with 3rd ed, it’s a great little old game (actually there’s nothing small about it, with core rule books and manuals easily running into 40 or more tomes of knowledge), but we do like to evolve our games, and to do that, and to be able to enjoy all the new material for this game as and when it is released, we need to evolve with the game as well. There is the case to be made that “what’s to stop Wizards of the Coast from simply changing the rules yet again in a few years, and coming out with a dreaded all new 6th edition?”  hmmmm nothing! We can`t be sure. But all signs and indications seem to suggest that Wizards have finally learned their lesson. So many followers jumped ship for other systems having grown sick and tired of Wizards constant changes, that the company have had to sit up straight and do a heck of a lot of work to restore faith in their customers once more, and to update the rules one more time, right now, would be a suicidal move on their part.

No I feel satisfied and fairly confident that 5th ed is here to stay for the remainder of this decade at least. SO that means, over the coming years, we can expect a slow trickle of new material to enhance our games, and this is the life blood of rpgs. It’s fun to look forward with excited anticipation to each new release. Stick to our 3rd edition of the game (though some might say this is the more logical choice) and we divorce ourselves from the main stream, and Stevie and I do very much enjoy being part of the official on line `living world` community that exists for anyone to share and be a part of. For Stevie too, this move into 5th edition is also a financial one. If he writes professionally for companies, he really needs to be up to speed with the game as it is now, not a retro game which is no longer supported in any way.

But back to the problem. With our beloved older version of D&D, it is fairly easy to use most of the material, as is.. especially if using the bountiful independent open licence D20 material that is out there. SO that in itself isn’t a major hurdle. It’s the Adventure System Boardgames which give us the biggest headache. These Boardgames were released right in the middle of the (much hated, by most) 4th edition of the game, and as such, the boardgames naturally followed that pattern.

However, once 4th edition D&D became kaput, was no more, and obsolete: this gave the faithful owners of boardgames a real problem: nothing for that game would ever again fit neatly into the new edition of the game.. uuugh!! They kinda fixed this with the late release of the Temple of Elemental Evil Adventure System Boardgame (the fourth stand alone or/and compatible boxed game in that series), but the fixes in those rules are sloppy. Wizards of the Coast had firmly nailed themselves to their own post on that one. I often wonder if the forth Boardgame was designed, and put into workshop production.. i.e. was soon due for release.. before their decision to shift to 5th ed? This would explain their strange decision to release a new game using the old 4th edition rules many months after their new rules were available on the public market? Certainly, the quick fix changes to the latter boardgame feel hurried, almost an afterthought by the producers. Yes, the changes DO work, and feel like a tool box for players of that game system to make the relevant changes for themselves. Such as the new “Advantaged” and “Disadvantaged” rule: and the inclusion of a simplistic character levelling system, now (happily) contained within the box. And the latest boardgame rule book is obviously meant to replace the earlier versions of the booklets, i.e. the ones found in Castle Ravenloft, The Wrath of Ashardalon, and The Legend of Drizzt. But again, the whole thing feels unfinished, almost footnotes of incomplete ideas for the poor players to try to decipher for themselves, and create their own adventure paths using the ad-hoc fixes available. Shame really.
But for us now having moving into 5th edition of the game, this throws a huge spanner in the works, mostly because of the spell system! The boardgame uses 4th edition spells which are set into three categories “Daily” powers, “At Will” and “Utility.” And the boardgames all come with a host of lovely spell cards which players are meant to place beside their character sheets so they know which spells they have available and at their disposal during the game. But guess what, the new 5th edition does away with all this entirely, and goes back, yet again, to the old days of D&D, uuuugh!!! Now our 4th edition spell cards are obsolete, except within the framework of boardgames themselves. But this means it is utterly impossible to get a true 5th edition feel to the game, and alienates the boardgames even further from D&D proper, by having two utterly dissimilar spell systems in play. And this is meant to be the same game? I think not.. so double uuuuugh!!!

So how have we gotten over this?
Actually, fairly simply. We took a load of the spell cards to the print shop, got a dozen full colour A3 sheets printed out.. which gives us literally hundreds of spares (showing only the backs of the cards:which has the  “Daily” “At Will” and “Utility.” Clearly marked), and now we make our OWN spells up to add to the existing ones in the boardgames. The boardgames never ran with a full spell list anyway, only a hundred or so of the several hundred available in The Players Handbook: so this gives us plenty of room always to expand and convert to the game. All we do is flip the cards over, and write neatly, by hand (on the white unprinted side) any new spell we introduce into the game.
Incidentally, we did the same with the monster cards a well, and we now have the ability to add in an unlimited number of our own creations whenever we want.
                                                                              So that is how we do it.

There are still differences between the two editions, but nothing we can’t overlook, and the games really don’t suffer because of it. I think the key here is `willingness to adapt and overcome.` another might be `where there  will there’s a way.

Article by Hilary


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Zombicide - A Twilight World:

"A Twilight World"
Long ago, I wrote and published a zombie novel called “Twilight The Awakening.” I always wanted to go back and write the sequel, but somehow, I was always too busy with other writing commissions. Maybe that second book will never now get written, but I can at least bring my world alive again, on the table top.
Dakota stopped running! She couldn`t have managed another step, even if the bowels of Hell had opened up before her and spewed forth entire legions of zo.......  Dakoto shock her head, still not fully able to say that word.... unable to believe and register what she had witnessed only half an hour earlier at the Penitentiary.

She bent forward, leaning her hands on her knees, looking at her shoes; head down and breathing like an express train. Still standing though; that`s it, just like the Cell 7 Gym instructor had taught her. "Atta girl. Breath, slowly, that's right, through your nose.... no, don`t collapse. Stand... ride the pain out." Dakota could still hear Cooper`s voice in her head standing over her. Ogling her, wanting her, desiring and wishing he owned her. Yeah right, in his dreams.

"Spit!" Dakota shivered at the images flooding her mind now. `Cooper was gone, like the rest of them... maybe.. maybe everyone, all gone.` Cooper had gone down in the Gym... along with the two armed guard gorillas in there... and all the lycra covered posing macho dudes with their blaze tattoos and muscle six packs: the hollow girls and the packing babes, hustling the guys with tease and `come on`, enough maybe to get a piece of action later behind the Beufort store rooms; some blow, a snort, or maybe even a full pack of Ace... lifers all within that manic eternal merry-go-round, grey stoned electrically fenced city!

Then the shit had gone down. Within minutes, the world... the normal world where sane people lived... was gone... and Dakota was running, hiding, killing, anything to stay alive. "One in a thousand kiddo" she told herself. She had escaped the sack and was running, stumbling and gasping her way through Briar Wood, just as the sun began to fall, easing over the sky horizon in a sickly blood red haze.

Dakota half expected heavy pursuit: the wail of the police sirens, the high power search lights; the torches, the shouts of men, and the barking of dogs... the road blocks ahead, the..........  but nothing came.

Only the heavy choking of her desperate breathing as she now stood puffing, alone on the stony path.

Freedom. So close. Living hell behind her; a future ahead... hell yeah. She had to make it.

The full reality of the world gone wildly wrong had not yet hit Dakota with its entire dark, stark, slap in the face wakeup call madness.

There was a heavy belch, ahead, and to her right among the trees at the side of the path!

Dakota looked up, and for a full series of seconds, transient time stood still as the blank horror of what she was seeing, filtered through her rapidly weakening senses.

The stench hit her next. The filth of death: the decay assailed her lungs and threatened to topple her over into darkness: `night, night, lights out, and.... the end.!`  With effort Dakota found strength. "On your feet girl... move it" The fattest dead man she had ever seen, was slowly stumbling towards her, menacingly. Hatred and hunger filled his eyes and his mouth slobbered frothy crimson as he crunched down upon a recent kill.. some warm flesh still lodged within that deadly, gaping maw.

The `herd` which followed was almost upon her. So silent had been its deathly approach.

 A flash of speed... the smell of death.... and defying all logic, a dead runner sprinted towards her; its feted stench was over powering.

Dakota raised her stolen `sawn off` with shakily uncertainty.... and fired.... instinct..... the runner went down like a lump of lead, twitching where it lay.
Crap! More of those foul smelling bad boys started to pour out of the woods, either side of the road ahead of Dakota: totally blocking her intended path.

Dakota found herself with no other choice. She turned and ran, back... back along the path towards the prison. "Oh God, noooo!" she wailed to herself. "Will this ever eeeeend?"  Dakota screamed into the rapidly approaching night, as she sped back along the same path she had just recently taken.

Insanity would almost have been a mercy for her.
Still short of breath, Dakota raced along the path, back towards the Penitentiary as fast as she dare, ever fearful of losing her footing in the growing darkness. To slip, stumble or fall to these sickeningly horrifying walking monstrosities, would mean certain agonizing death, literally pulled apart and eaten alive by these manic mindless cadavers.  To twist an ankle now on a loose stone would be disastrous. She fancied she could almost feel the rancid breath of the herd, close on her heels.
The lights of Midway West at the bottom of Mabry Hill, twinkled off to her left: distracting her attention for a moment. The huge shopping centre and surrounding suburb housing  should have been awash with lights. Even from the prison, if looking out from the higher most levels of Block H, where you could see the shoppers` delight sprawled out either side of the Delta River.. a veritable city of shops and arcades, all fed by the spaghetti  intersection at Highway 9. Dwellings from the Alexandria `First Time Paradise.` The Happy Homes estate should have been alive and buzzing at this time of the evening. It was secretly every inmates daydream pleasure to tiptoe up and stare out the barred windows of H Block and spy life... real life... as real people lived it, and to imagine what it must be like to know freedom. Now almost the entire urban sprawl lay in stark darkness, and only the anguished moans of the dead drifting on the wind, reminded her that Alexandria.. even now.. wasn’t an entirely deserted place, but had instead become a charnel house for the unliving.
But there were lights, never the less. Not many.. not bright, but flickering through the trees below. They were all centred about one spot - The Happy Shopper Mall. It must run off its own generator, like parts of the Penitentiary ran off its own power system. When the grid went down, the Shopper had flipped itself automatically to emergency backup power, and now the lights Dakota was seeing sparking through the woodland below, all coming from that week-end shoppers` metropolis.
Fuck! it was week-end.
 That place must have been a frickin` buzzing hive of people when the shit all went down. It had all happened so fast. Now that mall would be infested with those.... things. Whatever they were?
But that place was a still maybe a better option than returning to the awful Prison.
Suddenly, Dakota veered off the road to her left, through the trees, hoping against hope that they were clear of the nightmare... the dead that walked. Midway West and that shopping mall was her best course of action now. That place had food, lots of food, and maybe guns and... hell, all manner of things she would need. Looking down at herself, she allowed herself a wry smile.  She looked a mess, and stank too. That mall would have clothing, and perfumes and.... mmmmm cigarettes. She quickened her pace; grateful that the woods all about her seemed to be completely clear of anything wanting to eat her. The branches whipped at her face and bare arms, but she barely felt it. Getting there might be easy, but getting into the shopping mall would be the tricky part. Luckily, the heavy duty wrench she has thought to pick up as she fled the Prison, might just come in very useful indeed.
Quickening her pace as much as she dared without making too much noise as she battled her way through the dense foliage, she headed in as straight a line as she could, towards The Mall.

Game On:
I wanted this game to feel more like an episode from The Walking Dead. Perhaps one of those episodes from time to time which features only one (or two) of the main cast... as seems to happen to the character “Carol” or ”Daryl” quite a lot of the time. But Zombicide needed quite a few changes for it to work the way I wanted it to... to give it a more cinematic feel.
First off, the guns mostly all had to go the way of the do-do. Zombicide has faaaaarrrr too many of them for it to feel like a realistic horror epic. I mean come on man.... you walk into a burger joint and there`s a machine gun under the counter: you walk into a toy shop and find a flame thrower....  jeeese, who writes this stuff hahaha.  In my collection alone I have dozens of zombie films, and have seen way over a hundred more in my time, and I have read the same number of books on the subject... and with the exception of, literally, two episodes of The Walking Dead (throughout all 7 series), to my certain knowledge, guns have never exactly `jumped out` at anyone for the taking. No the trouble with Zombicide is that it is primarily a boardgame and if you think only within that box, the game can never really be anything more than the sum of its parts. You actually need to put some constructive input into the thing to make the tone realistically macabre, so you feel like you are actually there, and can buy into the whole ethos of the thing. So I took out almost all the weapons and simply gave my main heroine what she needed from the start... no doubt, picked up as she fled the prison.  A pair of short barrelled shooters.... “Jack and Jill” she calls them.
In fact, I`m not even using the Zombicide rules at all, I am instead using “Generic Wars & Miniatures Figurines” which is a set of rules I wrote for myself and my friends to enjoy (for home use), though I will happily send a copy to anyone who asks me for them in comments. The rules are based off of another thing I wrote called Chibi World, but with many, many alterations and additions, new artwork and so on. I always knew Chibi World could be more than the sum of its parts, and as that game works so well, I wanted to create a truly generic version of the same, but which would work equally as well for, oh let`s see.... Roman Britain, King Arthur and the Dark Ages, Medieval Knights in Armour, the Horse and Musket era, 19th century Colonial, Pulp, Horror, either of the two Worlds Wars, Post Apocalyptic and zombies: Superheroes, and of course fantasy or science fiction.
I have decided (for now) to use most of the components from Zombicie (just because they are useful): and I have also put a lot of emphasis on the `lesser` search cards: the food stuffs and drink, etc; and have written up extra rules to cover their usefulness in the game. In addition I have allowed Dakota to start with a number of Search Points (6 in total) which allows her free searches (as many as she wants to make per turn, while they last). But each time she searches, it gives her a -1 to her chance of pulling more undead onto the board.
Zombies spawn on the roll of a 6... -1 per search card pulled from the pack, -1 per noise token in play. I think the amount of noise the survivors make should be proportional to the risk of attracting more zombies into play (a ruling that the official game misses out on entirely). So for example, if Dakota searched a room normally in the game: that just counts as one of her actions for the turn. But let’s suppose she is feeling lucky (and greedy) and uses two search tokens for two additional searches in the room she is in. Let’s also say there are no noise tokens currently in play. When it comes to the zombies spawn phase, a card will be pulled from the deck on the roll of a 6, -2 for the two search tokens used (from Dakotas initial search pile of six), so a zombie will be spawned this turn on the roll of a 4+ (CHECK ONCE FOR EACH SPAWN POINT ACTUALLY IN PLAY). See how it works?  However, had Dakota used her guns this turn (6D6) this would have resulted in -6 to her roll... obvious maths would indicate it would have been impossible for Dakota to roll low enough on a D6, so a spawn card would have been pulled automatically from the deck. Her guns make a LOT of noise.
I also only reveal the tiles I figure the survivor(s) could realistically see or hear. Just like a ‘Dungeons and Dragons dungeon crawl where the map is revealed slowly as the players explore more and more of the complex. I do the same for the zombie spawn points as well.
The Pimp Mobile is also going! The name alone is just awful. In its place I have used standard vehicle tokens from the Last Night on Earth game. Much better and much, much nicer I must say. Playing Zombicide, one would get the impression that the streets are patrolled entirely by police cars and pimp driven limousines. Such an easy fix to make and its these little things which really help improve the game no end.
Dakota starts with 20 wounds (for those who know Chibi World, they will know what this means and how strong this makes her). I figure as she`s a prison `bint` she would be hard as nails and quite used to handling herself... even thriving, in that environment. Also, she does not lose equipment if she takes any wounds (like Zombicide forces you to do).
Equipment dropped in the game, stays in play throughout.
Cars are not driven by idiots, and do NOT hurtle into other survivors with pre set default regularity. Similarly, survivors tend not to hit other survivors when firing into a space containing both humans and zombies. But of course, you can`t fire if adjacent to an enemy in any case (similar to Chibi World). But due to the nature of the Zombicide tiles, I will have to implement a bit of common sense here when/if needed.  Finally, I have customised the spawn deck, removed many of the cards and reduced the number of the special (expansion set) cards quite considerably.
The scenario is my own, and I call it “ Shopping Like There`s No Tomorrow!” It uses a similar tile configuration as the Toxic City Mall scenario “The Big Rubble.”
Scenario Objective: Well, let’s just get her there and inside safely shall we. After that, her priority is food and drink; some warm bedding, and perhaps somewhere safe to hole up for a while so she can take stock of her situation and plan her next move. Maybe.. just maybe she might find something else she can use as a weapon: a stout knife or even a hand gun in a locker... and some ammunition too (i.e. perhaps a dice upgrade or something). The thought of finding anyone else alive, strangely perhaps, has not even crossed Dakota`s mind at this stage.
Dakota enters the board.
Not using the Zombicide character cards in my game. But it is handy to use as a reference when customising my own version of Dakota.
Dakota (Survivor):
Movement (that`s 4 actions per turn)
Weapon Attacks: 4D6 / ranged 6D6-2 (only 2 because we are using the Zombicide tiles)
Iron: 4
Hits: 20
Traits: Control, and Hand Grenade (Molotov) I have upgraded this in the game to an 8D6 weapon on the target, and 2D6 on all others sharing the same tile.
Just as she had guessed, when the shit hit the fan, the guys working at the Mall at the time had hurriedly closed and locked the outer doors. Luckily, Dakota had her crowbar to hand.

But before she even tried the heavy duty Mall doors, first thing she did was to slide over to a lone abandoned truck sitting close by.. and carefully open the cab door to check what she could find inside. Whhoooa!!!  Dakota really came up trumps this time. Sitting on the passenger seat was a dusty old green bottle. A piece of rag was sticking out the top and by the smell of the thing, was coated in petrol. She had found a ready-made-up Molotov cocktail, just waiting to be lit and thrown at the lifeless hordes. Maybe burning them wound destroy them... Dakota wasn’t sure? But judging by how they smelled, there must be a hell of a lot of noxious gas building up inside those nasty fuckers? 
Whatever had happened to the original owner of the vehicle, Dakota didn’t want to think too much about that: however, judging by the dried blood smears on steering wheel, whatever it was couldn’t have been pleasant.

Moving next to the doors of the Mall: she looked quickly left and right to make sure she was still alone. She set the wrench to the lock, then twisted and pulled downwards. The lock came apart,... silently! Bingo... she was in!

Taking a moment to check all around her again, she looked left and right one last time. To her left the rubble caused by.. God knows what, totally blocked the path ahead, ensuring no zombie could reach her from that direction even if it tried. However, the way was totally clear of all movement in any case. To her right (the one active spawning point in play) the direction she had come across the parking lot, shapes moved about in the distance, but nothing to worry about. Darkness hid her from all roving, hungry eyes.

{She rolled a 3 on the spawn table... safe for now}.

Bingo! She was in...

Moving quickly through the foyer, her eyes darted hither and thither about the floor. Rubbish lay strewn everywhere, but nothing useful caught her attention. But as she opened the next door, horror of horrors, there was a foul shambler, several paces in front of her.

Without even taking aim, she raised her weapons and fired BLAM! The thing exploded in a showed or blood, bone and gore. But this zombie was different, as it came apart, it turned into a toxic grenade and spewed disgusting green ichor everywhere. Where the globules landed, the surfaces smoked as though they had been touched by acid. Dakota was visibly startled for a few moments, and thanked her lucky stars she not been standing any nearer to the thing when it... went off. As it was, none of the gloop landed on her at all.

 But the sound of her weapon was horrendous and she looked around nervously. Sure enough, lady luck played her a different sort of card this time. A terrible, horrifying roar filled the air... coming from behind her. It sounded like it came from quite far away, but then again, the other side of the world would have seemed too close right now. A second dreadful roar filled the air as... whatever it was.... built up momentum, and began to lumber clumsily towards her – no doubt having now caught her succulent scent. Hunger drove these things, and hunger made them deadly in their single minded focus to feed.

Too much noise!
Walking carefully across the arcade, avoiding broken glass and underfoot detritus as much as she could, she headed towards the big metal mesh doors on the other side of the Mall avenue.
Behind her, the thing roared once more! It sounded slightly closer this time.
Dakota felt the need to move it! And began, with force, to apply her crowbar to the mesh. The metal buckled, and gave way under her efforts, and with an audible wail of twisted plasteel, it gave way, and Dakota was able to lift the door... it didn’t take any effort and after a slight flick, the mesh gate slid upwards of its own accord. The squeal of runners made her wince, and sure enough, behind her came another mighty bellow of frustrated anger and unquenchable hunger.
It was only now that she realised that ever since entering the Mall, there was illumination... not  bright, only the emergency generator doing its thing, but its flickering neon lighting was enough  for her to see quite clearly... except for in those dark oh so darkest, sinister corners.
A small toy store lay before her. It looked like it had been recently looted, judging by the state of the place. Adjoining this small block was a discount shoe stockroom. Footwear spilled onto the floor hither and thither from the disarray of racks. But it was the zombie shambling towards her which most caught Dakota`s attention.. another followed close on its heels.
BLAM! BLAM! Went Jack and Jill, and the lead most cadaver, probably once an attractive looking woman - now  splattered the walls with her pale green hued gore. Once again, Dakota was thankful she wasn’t too close to the thing when her weapon fire hit it. She pressed the trigger again, hitting the second zombie in the kneecap. It staggered and went down for just a moment and in that instant, she was in and on the vile creature before it had time fully to recover.
She swung her weapon, heavily pistol whipping it in the side of the head: and the thing collapsed at her feet and lay twitching for a moment. But this time Dakota wasn’t so lucky and a dollop of green goo from the zombie`s head, splattered her semi bare chest. Dakota screamed in pain, clasping at herself... and only succeeded in getting yet more of the nasty stuff on her hands.
{{1D6 Hits: divide by two – round down = she took 2 hits}}
Using a discarded piece of wapping paper she spotted on the floor, the blooded woman worked in a frenzy to clean as much of the stuff from her skin as possible. The skin would smart and itch like hell for a while, but she would survive the wound.

It was only then, that she was suddenly aware of a lone figure standing... silent, and as still as a statue in the far corner of the shoe store. She jumped, visibly, and almost screamed a second time. She stood open mouthed and staring at this apparition, with stark horror momentarily etched on her visage. It reminded her of something out Stephen King`s “IT.” It was a frickin clown! A hideous dishevelled, honest to fucking god clown!
“hi”  it said, with a deep guttural welcome, and waves an arm once, like it was cleaning a window. This alone nearly made Dakota put two barrels into its chest. But she barely stopped herself just in time. It was a man, for all his macabre appearance. In normal times he would have looked funny... a delight for the children as he no doubt handed out balloons and Candy to the greedy little brats out shopping with `mom.` His face paint was smudged, and he had a silly metal and rubber Honk Honk maker in one hand, in his other he wielded a nasty looking machete which she noticed, was dripping with fresh, very dark coloured blood. Patches of pale florescent green gore was mingled with the crimson.

“Hi” he said again lamely.  “Don`t worry, I won’t hurt you!” he added, in that same quiet, though almost empty tone.

Dakota raided her right arm a little higher: “I`m the one holding a fucking gun pointed at your head, Mister!”

The clown smiled.

“Yes but I`m the one holding the fucking keys to the Mall.” He replied, tilting his head slightly and smiled slightly wider. That cold smile made the woman shiver involuntarily.

Behind Dakota, now seemingly even closer, something big roared.

“I suggest we get moving.... talk later?” the clown reasoned in a level tone, and gestured to a door, half hidden behind a high pile of boxes and a tall shoe stand.

After a moment, she nodded stiffly in agreement and pressing necessity: lowering her weapon as she did so... and pushing past the man (to show she was not afraid of him) she walked slightly ahead. She paused a moment, looking over her shoulder,. “You coming?” She said.

End of Part One.
Part Two coming - SOON!
Thank You to Bryan.... without whom this story wouldn`t have happened. But when he `gifted` me Dekota last year (because he knew I loved the figure so much and couldn`t find one myself), I wonder if he knew the use I`d put her to in my games hehe.
Article written by Steve.