In a first proper playtest of my new T.H.R.E.A.T.* rules for post-apocalypse and weird modern gaming, the disciples of the dark gods known as the Cziernovoyska came up against the professional scavengers the world calls the Yellowcakers. The Cziernovoyska are better trained and more numerous – but the Yellowcakers came with Jack and Jean, their machine-gun toting MRAPs. In the fight to secure the mysterious contents of a crashed helicopter, who will win out? Sorry about the pictures, I got a bit too caught up in the game to keep taking them methodically.
* If anyone has a good backronym, please post it in the comments!
3x 3 Upyr (Squads) with assault rifles or special weapons
Metkiy'Strelok, Lone Wolf sniper
Blazheny, Lone Wolf commander
Posvyashchat, Lone Wolf second in command
Captain Reathe, Sergeant Smojke, Ukufa, Qishi & Burne – Lone Wolf characters
Jack and Jean – vehicles
|The Dark Force left, with Strelok the sniper in the road.|
|The right - Blazheny & his team, and the SMAW on the wing.|
|Main Yellowcaker advance, hooded Qishi in foreground.|
|Jack the MRAP "sneaking" up the flank...|
The game started with cautious advances by both sides. The cream-coloured Jean went on Overwatch, aiming down the road with the GPMG installed up top. The first shot was taken by the Dark Force fireteam with a shoulder-mounted AT, firing at Jack, who was trundling through the woods. The missile sailed past, but unnerved the gunner enough for all his shots to go wide.
|The SMAW misses, but barely.|
As the sound of gunfire tore through the woods, both sides began advancing in earnest. Qishi, the Yellowcakers' resident mystic, began marshalling his powers for the fight ahead. The SMAW fired again, barely missing Jack and sending the driver into conniptions. Jean opened fire on the sniper who had aimed at Ukufa with her GPMG, and severely injured him, riddling him and the rusty wreck he was using as cover with holes. Jack opened up with his .50 cal, injuring one Upyr and blasting the head clean off another.
|Posvyashchat leads his men forward as Strelok bleeds.|
A new turn started with Strelok the sniper Frozen in pain. As the firing sounded out once more through the forest, Posvyashchat's team missed Jean with their RPG and took two casualties for their pains. The SMAW gunner finally got his round on target, blowing off Jack's front right wheel and shredding the rear tyre. It was not enough to save them from the Browning's revenge.
Blazheny's bodyguards moved up through the woods to cover his advance on the helicopter. Seeing them, Captain Reathe moved back – so they opened fire on Ukufa instead, emptying their clips at him with fierce abandon. The brave South African slumped dead in the treeline, the Yellowcakers' first casualty of the battle. From his position at the crossroads, Sergeant Smojke opened up at the RPG team with his sub-machine-gun, injuring the gunner with a full clip. This was apparently not a battle for fire control. When Posvyashchat fired back and hit him in the chest, the Dutchman just bared his bloody teeth in a barbaric snarl.
|The table, mid game. Lots of wound and ammo markers.|
As his men reloaded, Blazheny approached the helicopter's wreckage. Qishi finally got his Oriental sorcery under control, and flooded the minds of Posvyashchat and his injured gunner with primal terror. They would no longer be a threat to his comrades. Even as he did so, Burne – trusting more to steel than sorcery – crept around the rusted out truck to open up on them with his trusty Sterling. Still holding the crossroads, Smojke laughed manically as Strelok sent a bullet crashing through his ribs. By pure chance his return fire caught the Russian killer just above his eye socket, killing him too. Jean's gunner cursed the fact that his guntruck was boxed in by walls and wrecks.
At the end of the fourth turn, Blazheny was in a difficult position. Six of his men were dead and two had fled, leaving just him and his four bodyguards to claim the helicopter's riches for Cthulhu. The Yellowcakers had lost Ukufa and Jack's mobility, but the survivors were closing in (except Smojke, who was too injured to move). Luckily for him, the fifth turn started with Smojke and Jack Frozen and unable to act, cutting down the odds considerably. For his first activation, he used There's No Time!, rushing his investigation to (hopefully) get away faster. The dark gods were smiling on him as his gambit paid off – he found the suitcase that so many of his men had died to protect.
Hearing his savage shout of triumph, the surviving Yellowcakers surged forward, desperate for Ukufa's sacrifice to not be in vain. He emptied his clip at Burne, winging the young Irishman, only for the favour to be returned in brutal style. The suitcase dropped from his limp fingers as a hail of bullets severed his spinal cord. Reathe fired his hand cannon from the woods, felling one of his bodyguards. In the luckiest event in a day of lucky happenings, the return fire from the Cziernovoyska's machine gun got wedged in his armour, his cigarette case, his beret, even his Bible – but nowhere in his flesh.
At the start of the next turn, Qishi proved his worth in grand style. The bodyguards were retreating with the suitcase when he unleashed a psychic assault of terrible power, stopping both their hearts dead in their chests. They fell down, and the suitcase was Reathe's...
Cziernovoyska: Everyone except Posvyashchat and his RPG gunner. Looks like he'll be the new Blazheny if he survives his superiors' displeasure...
Yellocakers: Ukufa dead, Sergeant Smojke severely injured (one point away from death), Jack badly damaged.
Man of the Match
Despite his lame showing in the first few turns, Qishi and his psychic powers were a real game winner. Honorable runner-ups are Blazheny and Smojke for their fearless attempts to further their missions.
The game ran smoothly and quickly, which is the main thing I wanted. I may have to tweak the initiative system however – granted, I rolled high all through the game, but the accumulation of Fear markers slowed very few people down at all, except in the literal sense of their movement. Since the game is based on survival horror video games as much as post-apocalyptic or weird horror movies, I wanted to give Fear a central role in the mechanics, along with rules for ammo shortages &c. It's a pulpy game, but lethal – no human tanks here, just good old-fashioned gritting of teeth and bullet fragments.
As a first outing for the post-apocalyptic scenery and miniatures I've been working on recently, it was good fun. I look forward to honing the rules over the next few months, as well as finishing other gangs of scavengers, veterans, police and mad cultists. Since I'm starting a new job soon, who knows – I may even add in a Reaper Bones Cthulhu at some point...
|Quite proud of these, despite the poor calligraphy.|