Freshly Sketched: zDayz Character


I’ve unearthed some characters that I had long forgotten about. Think of this as an exposé into my gaming roots. Every piece of artwork has a story behind it so rather than just post random pictures that no one other than me and a handful of people know about, I’ll include a bio as to the origin of the particular character. This has high levels of geek in it (hence the Geek Zone pairing) but fear not, it’s entertaining at least… if you’re into zombies and such (AMY). As always if you’re not interested in reading you can just view the artwork. Makes no difference to me. I like talking to myself. I once had an argument in an empty room so don’t worry about offending me by not reading.

…but at least comment if you have something worth while to interject… hehe

zDayz MeGame Name: Untitled
Game System: Improvised
Genre: Zombie Horror
Character Name: Ian E.
Game History: This was the first classic pen & paper RPG I ever played way back in the days. Oddly enough it was my father (of all people) who not only got me into it but ran the game. I know, it sounds unlikely but it’s very true. My pops is probably as big of a zombie fanatic as I am. He corrupted me on the brain munchers at an obscenely young age. He’s awesome like that. Anyway we had a good number of zombie movie watching under our belts and I recall us having those long overly-precise conversations about the subject. You know how it goes – we’d be driving around and comment on which places would be best to hold up in, which areas of the city would be overrun, where the best place for weapons would be. At that time I had just started reading about another roleplaying game system and figured why couldn’t we just run a game ourselves?

The makeshift system we had relied more on storytelling and decision-making than dice and stats. We primarily used dice as a sort of chance factor. Certain tasks required a higher or lower roll depending on the complexity of what was trying to be accomplished. We had d10s (a 10 sided die) so basically insanely hard or nearly impossible tasks required a roll of 8 or higher while average difficulty feats were around 5 or higher. It was pretty simple.

The Character: Since this was my first official character it was my easiest to play because it was myself for the most part. The story took place in the then present time right at the start of a zombie outbreak. The particulars about why or how it happened were always left to speculation. You can pretty much surmise any conclusion based on any zombie movie you’ve seen. It was a fast paced game in that I woke up to “the shit going down” and had to work from that premise forward. I was by myself at the start and was inside my apartment building. While some of you uninformed individuals out there might see this as decent place to begin, let me say that my pops was merciless and made full use of the fact that the neighborhood we lived in housed more than 10,000 residents in a 6 block area. He wasn’t absurd and didn’t make them all undead, but if you can imagine the panic of a catastrophic event like that happening in such a confined area littered with drug dealers and unsavory characters it has the makings for a chaotic start to a game.

After a long series of unfortunate events and narrow brushes with death I managed to escape the housing projects but didn’t get too far before I was forced to take refuge. Ironically enough I ended up holing myself in the convent across the street from my elementary school. I was familiar with the area and knew that the convent was one of the more secure places around. It was mindracking trying to make sure I had everything fortified but thankfully there wasn’t anyone inside I had to “deal with”. Once I felt that I was secure it became a waiting game with the supplies that were left in the building.

After several days of listening to people screaming, cars crashing, sporadic gunfire and explosions the city began to eerily get quiet. Soon the only thing that could be heard was the persistent moan of the undead as they prowled the streets in an endless search for anything living. The secret to my success was lying low, staying quiet and remaining out of sight. These zombies were old school in that they didn’t run but they had a little bit of getty up in them if you got them riled up. Get enough of them around you and you’re meat. I hadn’t been out since the first day of the outbreak and now food and supplies were running dangerously low. I would have to venture out and start foraging if I was to survive.

With a bat and kitchen knife in hand I set out to the local convenience store to see what I could salvage. Looters had already ransacked the place like a horde of locusts so there wasn’t much to take. Evading the undead wasn’t that hard. They have more sight-based tracking than anything else and their vision was comparable to the living so as long as you kept to the shadows you were fine. The area wasn’t as densely populated with them  as it was. I had assumed many of them followed the people who were trying to flee which meant the highways and bridges must be infested. That was sort of a relief considering my apartment building was quite literally next to the 59th Street bridge. More than likely that area became a death trap.

On my way back to the safe house I got caught in a serious moral dilemma. Darwin preaches “survival of the fittest” and I’m Gloria Gaynor when it comes to saving my own ass. However en route back  I caught sight of a young girl being assaulted by a group of stumble monkeys. She foolishly jumped into an abandoned car as a last-ditch effort to escape from them but doomed herself in the process. They would hang around and pound on that car for days – weeks even – until she eventually died of starvation or whatever injuries she may be suffering from. It plagued my mind replaying all the panicked screams of help I’d heard over the past week and change so I strayed from better judgement and decided to try to rescue her. It was a gruesome fight. Luckily I had the element of surprise on my side so I was able to dispatch a couple of them almost instantly. The rest swarmed like kids to the ice cream truck. She wasn’t an idiot thankfully and used my distraction to not only escape the vehicle but assist me as well.

Having no place to go she followed me back to the convent. This was both a blessing in disguise but also a nightmare come true. My shady little nook had avoided attention for all this time but now I had woken up the whole neighborhood to my presence there. The addition of an extra body – especially a female one – made the trade-off somewhat even. You know one hand – army of zombies, the other – live-in hotness. What can I say? I’m shallow. Sue me. It was a game. ;p

As time went on the two of us ended up become a great zombie-bashing team. We even started rescuing more and more local people and bringing them back to our zombie compound. With more people came more responsibility but also more opportunity. Over time we raided abandoned police stations and armories amassing a substantial arsenal of weaponry. After several months of defending our turf we had accumulated a following of 23 people. The downside to that was the once spacious former convent was like Guantanamo prison now. There was virtually no space for all of us to be housed there. We had been clearing the region block-by-block for weeks in an effort to foolishly put and end to the zombie threat. No matter how many we would clear in a day, more would show up the next. We needed a place that had limited access but enough space for use to expand our operation.

We decided to take over Roosevelt Island.

That was no easy task by any stretch of the imagination. The logistics of it were staggering to comprehend but it was our most viable option. It was surrounded on all sides by the East River and had only one bridge in. Having to guard just the one choke point would make defending ourselves that much easier. The biggest problem (aside from other organized bands of survivors) would be clearing the island of threats and taking care of the 59th Street bridge that crossed over the southwestern portion of the island. We couldn’t very well have deadheads falling on us from above or make available the threat of repelling raiders so we decided to do the impossible and blow up the part of the bridge that crossed over. We had collected a disturbing amount of explosive material over the months so we had the supply and a couple of people with the know-how (or at least believed they had the knowledge) so it was just a matter of execution. Six of us were to go to Roosevelt Island (in two-person pairs) and clear it out while the rest would escort and stage the demolitions on the bridge.

We knew the demolitions squad was going to take quite a while to execute the game plan so we decided to clear the southwestern side of the island first and move northeast so that we would be out of the way when the roof came down. By this stage of the game I was incredibly arrogant, cocky and feeling invincible – which is why I didn’t foresee this as being too difficult. I pulled off a great number of accomplishments with the aid of good dice rolls and creative thinking on my feet the entire time we were gaming and I’m certain my pops saw me getting too big for my britches. He did something that changed gaming for me forever. While my partner-in-crime Maureen and I were in the condemned remnants of a mortuary I was cutting a lot of corners with regards to operating protocol. When dealing with zombies you have to always be vigilant and stay faithful to the guidelines and tactics that have kept you alive the whole time because they do not learn and will capitalize on the slightest deviation from procedure. I was lazy and wasn’t watching my corners and blind spots when all of a sudden my failure to check something came back to haunt me. One sneaky little pussbag crept out from the shadows and took a chunk out of Maureen. We quickly gave him a prison beating but by that point the damage had been done. We’d seen what bites, scratches, heck even accidentally getting a little blood in your mouth can do and she had a full-on gaping wound.

I was pissed, more with myself than what had happened. It freaked me out how ‘attached’ I got to this character and knowing I killed her bummed me out big time. A sobering last conversation with her ended with having to put two into her head. I couldn’t shake the feeling of hitting the reset button even though this was a live game. I didn’t want to play anymore and in true suck-ass teen fashion I ended the game. The attention I had drawn to myself attracted more and more maggot factories to my position. I didn’t care anymore at this point. I sat down next to my oldest companion and waited for them to come. As they started to surround us I popped the pins on a couple of grenades and gave them a profanity riddled last statement before committing character suicide.

It’s Worth Noting:

  • This was the first game that I experienced character attachment. It’s an unexplained phenomenon in gaming where people inexplicably become attached to their character and the ones that surround them. I would learn later on when I started running game how to use this to my advantage to steer a campaign and write good dialogue. You know you’ve succeeded in your storytelling when people reminisce about characters like real life people.
  • This game was an inspiration to the zDayz first-person blog style narrative I wrote.
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8 responses

  1. I’ve been sharing all of your sketches with the kids. You are the boys’ new hero! Impressed is not an accurate statement. You are talented!

    May 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm

  2. The drawing is very good. I confess to skimming the post though…what does Jemaine have to say about this character?

    Wendy

    May 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    • Nothing much. He tends to not care unless it’s tied in to food some way – and I’m not about to introduce him to brains either. ;p

      May 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm

  3. Amy

    1. – LOVE when I’m called out by name for my love of the undead!

    Two – even before I read the text, I saw your drawing and said, “huh, that looks just like him.” And it is!

    C. – Your dad sounds cool.

    And, awesome story! This could be a book or a movie.

    Plus, the Gloria Gaynor comment cracked me up!

    May 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm

  4. So, I’m glad you admitted that this was basically you, because the sketch is essentially you at our wedding. 😉 Er…our wedding after party. Our parents probably would have slaughtered us if you wore that to the ceremony. 😉

    May 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    • No kidding. If I had a bandana on that would be pretty spot on.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm

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