14 April 2013

Metagame: On the Zombie Apocalypse.

Greetings, my Readers and Followers.

A quick update. I am working on getting a T5 Character Sheet out, the Herald may have to get a bit more work, the Lion Rampant 2 needs even more, I started a project dedicated to the Imperial Armed Forces in collaboration with a well respected source. And yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated by taking it off. So today, instead of working (which of course being serious, I did a bit of anyway) I am playing the coolest game in the world, Zombie Gunship.

For those who either can't figure it out from the title, you are the Gunner of an AC-130 in the Zombie Apocalypse. It is of course pretty basic. You, some guns, orbiting some god-forsaken base with little live humans running desperately to get to those bunkers before either the doors close in their face or worse they get eaten to death. You are their only hope. You get points for the humans the bunkers take in, you get a couple of civilian kill passes, two or three before they order your ass back to base.

You can buy upgrades and objective skips, but where's the role-playing in that. And there it rears its ever present head. The original twelve year old boy who grew up on pen and paper, books and video games at the same time. With the Moon rockets of my childhood gone at least I got some neat stuff, I thought. So, when I play this game, I am in the damned Gunship, I pull the trigger, those are my rounds  landing out there, I...*crestfallen sigh*...*a couple deep breaths, shoulders up*, yes, Sir, I did kill those live human beings with my fire, Sir! And, it sucked for me too, Sir.

And child of the Cold War that I am, I know what the fuck the AC-130 gunship is all about. I mean, Vietnam was just chock full on neat wonder death toys for our side (that being the losers, the United "Sure, you can elect who you want, we don't mind at all, we encourage voting in fact and we 'encourage' you to vote for our guy" States), which as you might recall, in the end did the US fat lot a good. Gave the new owners some sweet US hardware though as a parting gift. :D To me the AC-130 gunship is crewed weapon system. Loaders, flight crew, fire control, that is actually quiet a crew there. So, the idea that it just me there in the sky is sort of ludicrous. In the end of course, I just build one in my head while I play. In fact, the more I play the more wrapped up in this horrible world. And it is a world.

It goes something like this. Standard Zombie Apocalypse breaks out. For whatever reason, peace is declared on Earth probably the fact that zombies don't see those pesky national borders, or color, or religion, you are just live, tasty flesh to a pack of hungry zombies. Also, zombies have yet to work weapons, much less sophisticated anti-air defenses. So humans are broken into various strategically located, logistically sorted bunkers and bases. Bunkers are the base, that is where live humans are saved and initially processed. Medical checks, quarantines, debriefings, skill and aptitude exams given and graded, all this is done at the Bunkers in a Zone. Then, they are shipped off screen in the misty background mythology. The basic Bunkers contribute in other ways, that is where the gardens and the arms are still being manufactured. Research Bunkers are kept out in the Badlands somewhere, but I'm not cleared for that, just a Gunner after all, nothing but Warrant on the LT's ride. That fact led that to somewhere I realized, somewhere, there must be Air Bases for these damned things to be flying out, rearming, I mean they keep ordering me back to it alot. So, I wondered, what would it be like? Think about it. To the civilians who are fighting to get into the Bunker, to the ones who are still there making their 10,000th 25mm High Explosive shell, you lead a cushy life if you are that AC-130 orbiting up there in the air, no zombie threat, no threats at all, fly around, kill zombies, go back to a nice cushy base for tea and crumpets.

It isn't. It is being in the world's largest, ever running, never ending, non-stop war. There is no the doors closed now it is safe here. No, you Nugget are now based in the largest outdoor collection of zombie bait in the North American Human Defense Forces (Combat Air Department) system. I mean, the Navy's got some damned water keeping them safe for while, nowhere near the security requirements. So, get used to the sounds of the guns, you never stop hearing them, big guns, arty, tanks, mortars, mini-guns, the works. Mix that with the sounds of gunships and other attack aircraft taking off and landing all day, every day. Sure, you have nice quarters and food is good, but that is upside of the zombies that never, ever stop, always trying to get in and eat you.

Since the Declaration of Peace Among the Living Humans on Planet Earth under Article 4. Citizen Participation in the Armed Forces limited mercenary contracts have been opened up allowing a Citizen to have a limited control of various military weapon and systems with government support to run missions for the defense of humanity.  In this case you have been given a Gunship. Nice thing is this being the near future, the logistics of keeping the gunship crewed and armed have been greatly reduced. This allows the new AC-135 Wight Gunship to be crewed with less crew due to among other things, an upgraded, robotic, autoloading system. There are still two human Loaders who help keep the ammunition flowing and the Plane Chief who is responsible for keeping the Gunship in the air and the guns running smoothly. Due to the lack of qualified Fire Control Officers (FCOs) in the NAHDF, fire control computers now slave the gun systems to the control of one FCO letting the service spread the remaining FCOs out broadening the areas patrolled. The new touch screen interface aids in both training new FCOs and lets experience Fire Control Officers work miracles they would be unable to duplicate with old TL-7 analog interfaces. The lack of AA due to the Peace (if anyone dares break it all will fall on them and wipe them out) allows the flight crew to be reduced to a single Pilot/Navigator who is the final call regarding the safe operation of the vehicle to and from the Zone of Operation.

So, we now have a total crew of six. Pilot/Navigator, Lieutenant Unnamed (Smith) whose job is so much easier than in those human v. human wars, he flies a rock steady orbit though. Airman Loader Jones mans the two 25mm cannons (there is always a Jones on my crews :D), Airman Loader Druthers handles the 40mm and the 105mm. They get their jobs done quickly and well. Oh, and me,  Fire Control Officer Thornwood (Brevet, Owner/Operator: Thornwood Security, LIC). Last of course is the Plane Chief, "Chief". That's it, no one knows if he has a name or not, he's just Chief, as in "Okay Chief, get some paint and get her name on."

Which is an actual line in my head. Look, if you are shaking your head now and going "What a loony.", you either are new here or missed the part where I plainly told you my head is an interesting place sometimes. Welcome to it. Hey, this is the fun stuff, not like where I seriously look at what is going on the real world and try and figure out what can be done. That place is far darker and less fun. So back to fun.

Man do you empathize when you play this game! And so there we are, me and my crew going out and trying to save as many of those little people shaped blobs from the ones trying to kill all human life on Earth. Each one valuable not only in Credits earned, but in Honor and they are in your care, each one you lose a personal failing, each one saved, a joy. Thing is the little black and white figures on the screen, they start to matter a lot. (You can chose whether you have them show as black or white as living because you can choose the display mode. I keep them as glowing white hot bodies of live humans I am trying to save from the cold, deeper than background black of the ravening zombies. Also I like the dark landscape too, otherwise the landscape is too damned bright on the eyes.) So there I am trying to save each and every soul from the never ending streams of zombies bent on eating them or getting run over by the train.

Yeah, there is a board, um, a Zone where a Train runs through the Zone now and again mowing down everything in its path. Sure cool when it gets nothing but zombies, not so cool when it gets one of the souls. God comes up of course in those moments, or when you see a live person fighting the losing fight against a zombie and you can't switch to the 25mm and save them, because the Bunker perimeter is danger of being breached, so you swing the sensors and guns back to the gate and get to work. You don't see them die, but you know they did, alone, scared, knowing that if there is a God, it surely hates them. Still, the mercy for you is you didn't get to watch them go from bright white and full of life to quickly cold gray as they drop and fade away as your rounds dance about as you try not to kill them with a stray round as you save them. Yeah, if there is a God out there, he hates us. But then, maybe not, because I will have those moments where I am thinking about whether I should take the shot with the current weapon or switch to a smaller one when I find the trigger squeezed and the rounds fall oh so sweet. *shrugs* Don't matter much either way. Sometimes you sooo save the shit out a live one and then while trying to blast Zombie Jink-a-Lot a stray round wastes that exact same soul. Man, that one really sucks. Hurts the bank balance too.

Which gets to back the upgrades, which are sweet. You can buy them if you wish, but my crew, we earned our credits the old fashioned way, worked a mission for 'em. We're not some "weed" Count from Canada here in this unit to go and buy a Commission. *rolls eyes* I mean, you know except for Lieutenant Unnamed, he actually claims he is one, never proved it yet. We all think he's faking and is just another Reserve (Activated) Flight Lieutenant. Never can tell, again, doesn't matter, flies right. You can upgrade the weapons and get some nice benefits like increased civilian kill count, and my fave the extra Bunker Defense that lets one zombie actually breach the perimeter. They  get more expensive as you go which is to be expected. Since I am was already this deep, I decided our Gunship needed a name, I was going with Star of Life have her painted up in gunship meets ambulance paint scheme, but the crew wanted Apocalypse Rider, I don't think we are the first crew to use it, so it was settled on Apocalypse Rider 6 and her scheme shall be a garish fluorescent blue, brilliant white and international distress orange in razzle-dazzle stripes. A suitable crest to be applied to the nose, under or behind the pilot station window with the Gunship's Name emblazoned underneath. And that led to the bit about Chief painting the name on the ship. Actually, I figure a lot of the planes have WWI style paint jobs with no need to avoid enemy air assets or ground fire there is more leeway in paint schemes in aircraft. Hell, probably ground units too, the point is you want to be seen and identified from a distance. Seems sensible thing to do, I mean if a Zombie Apocalypse does breaks out. So back to earning those upgrades and stuff, there are also, these neat objectives like say Use 1000 Rounds of 25mm in a Round without Overheating. Sounds pretty fucking easy, short controlled bursts, spend a long time just mowing them down and bingo. Not so at all. It is amazing the times where I just don't get to use the damned 25mm, I am all on the 105 and the 40. Or I will just let run a smidge too long without realizing it till the little red letters tell me I screwed the pooch again.

There are other neat bits, but I will let you discover them for yourself, if you haven't already. Or not, suit yourself, me, I love gunships, I love blasting zombies and saving humans. From the safety of the sky.

Anyway, I got to get back to killing the already dead.


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