Characters are thrown together in a “controlled” environment and strive to win the prize – but must face off rivals, and possibly each other in a situation that rapidly brings the true horror of Yellow Dawn into focus
This is a team builder scenario designed for beginners to the Yellow Dawn world. Characters who do not know each other are thrown together in a “game show” type event that is broadcast to off-world and Living City audiences.
“Are you a survivor but never had the chance to succeed? Always feel like you’ve been dealt a bad hand? Zendori Corp are offering you a chance to make things different. This is high-stakes. Your life will be at risk. But the rewards are significant. Interested? Step-up to the plate and prove you’re got what it takes to survive.”
This is an advertisement visible to new arrivals into a Living City, somewhere on Earth. The advertisement is positioned at the low spec Trading Tables, where people may be selling whatever they have carried (or stolen) for a few credits to give them a start in the City. It’s an uneasy interchange between the Haves and the Have-Nots. It’s a place where the weak become the prey of the forever hungry, those people with an agenda to push, or crime to carry out.
The characters who make contact are told to meet at a warehouse used by the CRC (City Recovery Corps). Characters can also sign-up for a tour with the CRC – use the scenario *1st Job* for this. High-risk and low pay but it is steady work and can generate rewards.
Read about CRC on page 63 of primary rulebook, and a little about Zendori (masked by RoGong) on page 68.
Zendori Corp are running a syndicated reality show called “I’m a survivor, get me out of here!”. The target audience are wealthy survivors in Living Cities (too scared to step beyond the boundary of the Dead Zones) and less affluent folks on off-world colonies (who hold a fascination about what has happened back on Earth). The production costs are kept low through recruiting survivors (of Yellow Dawn) arriving in the city.
Arturo Massey is the “VP of Frontier Programming” for Zendori. The show is his baby. Revenues are middling but show steady growth, albeit a little shallower than he’d hoped for.
His wrangler and right hand “man” is Janice Jenson. A broad-shouldered, big-chested woman from Nebraska who grew up arm-wrestling farm-hands at her dad’s ranch and learning how to smoke cigars, play poker and drink whisky from the age of 13. She is a no-nonsense, tough piece of work who can display a matronly, motherly facade when it’s useful (new recruits to the show) but is absolutely ruthless about getting what she wants: her bonus, based on high stats from focus groups who watch the show.
Unlike Arturo, who missed the horrors of Yellow Dawn unfolding across the planet by living in orbit, Janice survived Day Zero and the nightmare that followed by forming a gang of bandits / scavengers, that then evolved into rural mercenaries before finding herself becoming useful for a production company who wanted to run gigs in the wilderness. She learned quick and rose fast.
Unknown to Arturo Massey, Janice is double-loading her income stream from the gig by allowing a research team from the Mirage Project to work alongside the production.
The Mirage Project, run by Dr Irene Hughes, is currently studying a newly discovered phenomenon, where physical reality appears to being warped in small areas where a non-infected person is in close proximity to large numbers of Infected. For example, in Dead Zones. First reported by CRC teams, it was mostly dismissed, but events in London triggered a bit of a media buzz which got noticed. In game terms, this is an early scientific study of the Influence of Hastur (see notes on DOM and DOM-i-KNOW on page 19 to 21 in primary YD rulebook.
Author’s Note: If you want to read more about the Influence of Hastur, pick up the novel The Social Club (a post-apocalyptic detective story set in London, after Yellow Dawn).
Dr Irene Hughes is paying Janice Jansen for experimental opportunities. In other words, having subjects placed directly in the danger zone to allow them to observe, record and study.
Although this ties-in nicely to Janice Jenson’s brief to have people placed in mortal danger for the good of the camera and the ratings of the show; there is a crux of tension, where Dr Irene Hughes wants swifter opportunities that she has more control to shape, balanced against Janice’s need for time to allow character arcs to evolve and play out – and so giving the audience time to build rapport with the participants and increasing emotional impact of tragedy and peril.
Dr Irene Hughes has a unit of City Mercs who guard her portable lab module; they keep prying characters away. They may also be used by Dr Hughes to kidnap and coerce some participants to enter places of extreme danger… outside of Janice Jenson’s sphere of awareness and influence. This is so Dr Hughes can conduct specific “experiments” with tightly controlled parameters. However, if a major character from the show goes missing (off camera) then it creates a huge issue for Janice Jenson. Arturo Massey is going to be making contact asking what the hell is going on down there? How can Janice “lose” yet another key participant? This is killing the ratings! “This is hurting the show and it is hurting me!“, he will say. He may even send in a corporate response team to clean things up and remove Janice if things get too messy. The GM has a lot of opportunity to play with small and big pieces on the board here.
The Scenario Gets Underway
IN THE WAREHOUSE: SELECTION PROCESS
Characters are able to join the film crew, if they have 40% skill in any tech skill, or use of video camera equipment.
The film-crew is a “B-team”, running shotgun alongside the sim-stim crew. The latter are full-time contracted employees of Zendori who are responsible for ensuring all participants are fitted with working recording-rigs (sim-stim creates footage that can be played-back by users giving them a totally immersive experience of “being there”). This “A-team” maintain sim-stim equipment, make repairs, edit and stream the stim recordings back to Arturo’s production team.
If a character doesn’t have the skill, then they join the participants. These are the people who are going to find themselves in the danger zone, wearing sim-stim recording rigs and being observed by the film-crew at certain times.
Once the roles are allocated, contracts are quickly provided and signed.
Crew get 200 credits per day.
Participants get no pay, but all expenses paid and some rather fancy clothing (provided by sponsors) and good food during the gig. However, each participant who survives the 3 day and night ordeal will walk away with 5,000 credits cash; and one “winner” will take home 30,000 cash prize. Oooo, hear the audience squeal at the prospect of seeing their favourites win.
The CRC have been paid to act as scouts and taxi-service. They transport the participants and crew in two trucks, out of the Living City and through the Dead Zone. This part of the Dead Zone has been so heavily scavenged it has a very low risk of encountering the Infected. The CRC take them to a building that can be secured. And deposit everyone inside, make the building secure and then depart.
Note: a couple of CRC Roamers in micro-choppers have already braved the risks of the Dead Zone (even in the air) and have flown in and deposited 5 markers on the roof of 5 buildings. These are transponders with cameras attached.
The participants are given maps on softscreens; these are hydrogel sheets that can be rolled up, scrunched up, without damage. The map each participant carries updates with the location of the first transponder (1,000 metres away).
Before the Game Starts
A portable lab unit on the back of a truck with padded wheels, rolls up nearby. Heavily armed mercs get out and set up a perimeter, including snap-mesh. Nobody talks about who they are or what they are there for.
The Show Begins
Janice Jenson, bigger than life and full of charisma, does a live-recorded interview with each participant and then lets them loose together.
Each participant can work alone or form a team. The dynamics of their personality are at play here. It is what the show wants to record and experience.
Each time a participant reaches a transponder, their map registers this and then shows them the location of the next transponder. However, there is a restriction on this. They can see no more than 2 transponders in any 24 hour period.
The GM should decide on distances and locations.
The GM should try to weave in dynamics between NPCs and characters; fear, attraction, greed, betrayal, murder. Anything goes!
The film-crew will select one participant, or group, ever 4 hours of activity; following them with whisper drones and on-foot… this is dangerous work but a tough CRC roamer is there to give advice, help them find safety and keep things quiet. Or at least try to!
Page 106 in the primary rulebook covers the Yellow Dawn mechanics for entering Dead Cities including:
- At Any Given Moment…
- Within 50 metres of an Infected
- Consequences of Noise
- Zombie Surges
- Moving on Foot
- Getting Off the Street – Finding Cover
- Securing entry points – Hiding!
GMs should also review Chapter Eight (page 112) in the primary rulebook for generating random buildings. Not so much for scavenging but for the state of decay and risk of building collapse if characters enter dangerous structures and fail “Rubble Monkey” skill checks.
DAWN – Day Four
The is the end of the show. CRC roamers come in to escort much-relieved survivors back to safety of vehicles. Everyone is brought back. However, during the last three days and nights, some people will have experienced the manipulations of Dr Hugh’s and her mercs. There may be blood on her hands. And Janice Jenson is likely to be answering difficult questions to Arturo Massey. What will he do to keep things under wraps? This won’t look good on his record if he can’t control the people he has hired? Corporate life means making tough decisions at the right moment.
Also, the CRC roamers will be looking out for any sign of people with DOM. If they see it they will kill the victim, no questions, no debate. However, their contract states they have to wait until after the closing ceremony is filmed.
AND THE WINNER IS…
The character who was first to reach the most number of transponders, is declared overall winner and so wins the main prize. Their ranking on the league table is hidden from them at first, but any friendly member of the film crew can tweak the softscreen maps to show this feed of data. There is always a risk that an NPC is better than the player characters and so reaps the big prize. Depends on whether the GM is feeling generous or not. But even character’s who walk away with the big money may find themselves the target of people in the city with an eye on who wins: burglars, armed-robbery, kidnap and extortion, stings and blackmail… numerous criminal activities can act as a launch pad for the next scenario and bring characters deeper into the grit and blood of life at the lowest levels of a Living City. If they really want the high life, they’ll have to fight for it.
CREDITS: post-apocalyptic images *artist unknown, please advise and I’ll credit*  “Back off buddy” Post-apocalyptic mercenary by Ballz Graphics via DeviantArt (click for profile)
# # #
Read about the CRC and experience entering a Dead Zone after the apocalyptic event known as Yellow Dawn.
Read the novel, Dog Eat Dog.
This monster of a novel is a crime thriller on an epic scale. It also highlights the dangers of the Dead Zone and takes you deep inside one, riding shotgun with the CRC.
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“Atmospheric and Creepy” – The Guardian on The Black Lake
“The best Sci-fi I’ve read in 10 years!” – Floyd Hayes, former Creative Director of Cunning (New York) on Dog Eat Dog
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