Road Trip of Hope and Doom – Part 1

I still have Freeway Warrior (part 1) on my desk from last weekend’s Zoom group playthrough. That was a lot of fun, and we died when our car ran off a bridge after ramming a roadblock. I had previously played it with a friend, without Zoom but in similar fashion where we took turns reading and rolling, and where we were killed by dogs after a pretty bad run-in while stealing some automotive parts. But maybe I could try playing it solo for a change?

It’s 2020, and the book is set in 2020, so I feel obligated to play through the whole series in the next 9 months anyway. So let’s get to it.

You know the backstory by now: In 2012 the world was wrecked in a nuke-ya-ler terrorist attack. In 2020, our community of survivors north of Dallas has decided to make the road trip to California where life is so much better. (which was true even before the nukeyaler attack) We expect some radiation and mutants, but mostly that most dangerous monster of all: humans.

Cal Phoenix’s stats are: 25 Endurance, 18 Combat. 4 in driving, shooting, and stealth. Armed with a knife, a pistol, and 8 bullets.

Before we can hit the road, I have to rescue Long Jake. He was on a scavenging trip and his truck has broken down, 90 minutes away in Sherman. I arrive to find him holed up in the hardware store, pinned under gun fire. I scramble into the store but take a bullet to the leg for 4 endurance. I meet his new protege, a young lady named Kate who is on the run from these same gangers. We start to make a plan but BOOM! the back door explodes and the gang starts to move in among the smoke and noise and confusion.

I make a lucky shot into the smoke, and kill the leader of that crew with one bullet. Long Jake, however, was killed in the assault and the rest of the gang is regrouping. Kate and I scramble out in the confusion, and make it into the car and vroom out of town. Back home, the rest of our town decides that we should hit the road ASAP.

Denton! Denton! Ra ra ra!

On that same page… we have arrived at Denton. Sadly, Denton is no longer the home of happiness, Brad and Janet having perished 8 years ago in the nukeyaler attack.  It is, however, the home of some biker carjackers. One of them tries to board my car, I assume to kill me and steal it, but I make my driving roll and he fails his Intermediate Riding Course skills His bike goes down, and we leave him in the dust.

Later on, we arrive to the dried up bed of Lake Lewisville. It’s sharp rocks and salt, and the wreckage and garbage folks dumped into it back when there was water. The bus moves slowly because of the rough rocks and the unstable ground. And up ahead, I see someone spying on us with a telescope. That’s smart; if I saw a convoy headed my way I would certainly pay attention and see what they’re up to. But, no — I take offense to this, and I pull my gun. He’s too far away, though, and I waste ammo. On a completely unrelated note, a while later that fella and the rest of his gang waylay us with no provocation at all. While the bus is at a standstill and a standoff, Cutter and I decide to flank them, see if we can flush them out of cover or maybe even scare them off once we’re up close.

Bad move for me. We spook them, and one of them pulls a gun and gets a lucky shot. Or rather, I roll my third 0 in a goddam row, and he hits me for 6 points. I decide to switch dice because this one is clearly broken.

The gang’s loot is pretty nice: a fair amount of ammunition, water, med-kits which I use immediately, and some odds and ends that are likely to come up such as a metal file, a mirror, and that guy’s telescope. At least there were enough med-kits to patch up my damage.

Trinity River Roadblock, and a Goofy Inventory Glitch

Moving on, we reach Freeway 35 and North Texas State University. We figure there could be some loot left, and I head in. Sadly, Cal Phoenix is uneducated (the world was blown to shit when he was in 2nd grade, disrupting his schooling), so when I find bins of “NaCl” and fail a perception roll, I become spooked about being around chemicals and sciencey stuff and leave NTSU in a hurry, empty-handed.

We reach the outskirts of Fort Worth, and a potential crossing of the Trinity River. However, we know that Fort Worth is rife with aggressive gangs, and would rather not get any closer. I decide to check out the nearby town of Lakeside Village to see about the bridge there. The bridge is out, but there’s a wrecked bus with a lot of  spare parts! Sadly, for reasons known only to Joe Dever in Heaven, these spare parts count as backpack items which is goofy, because I’d stow greasy-ass engine bits in my car’s boot and not in my pockets. Also, for reasons unspecified I can only loot two parts from the bus. I sigh heavily, and randomly grab the oil plug and the fan belt.

Back outside Fort Worth, the bridge over the river is indeed blocked by some local gang. But it gets better: my neighbors have come up with a suicidal plan, to simply ram the bus into the blockade at full speed, and damn the loss of human life and damage to machinery. But before I can say “I have a bad feeling about this” the bus is already tearing down the hill. CRASH! debric flies everywhere, including an overturned car coming right at me.

This is the point where we died last time.

Even with a 4 driving and 3 perception, a roll of 0-3 will mean instant death. A roll of 4-7 means I get injured, then make a second roll and 0-2 is death anyway.

And yep: same outcome as last time. I don’t die instantly, but I get hurt and fail my second roll (another damn 0) and Game Over.

My adventure ends here.