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Subject: Into the darkness, into the fire rss

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Stefan Schneider
Germany
Stockstadt
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always injured...
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Everywhere there was darkness, the air was full of smoke, rising from the ruins of what once used to be the city. Bits of broken glass covered the ground, tracing a path through the doomed neighborhood.
Leo, Jack, Nina and Lucy could hear other survivors, screaming and running away from an unimaginable horror.

 


But there was no time to take a rest and see if they could help them somehow. It might be too dangerous and they've come to this part of the town looking for something. A slim sliver of hope.
Sticking closely together, the made their way towards the house, they'd been searching for so desperatly. The last fortress in a barren land of death.
Lucy took the photograph ouf of her pockets, looking at it, then the house. She nodded and passed the photograph around, letting the others make sure for themselves.

Dr. Mortimer's laboratory was supposed to lie in this house and within it a dose of the antidote against the lethal epidemic turning humans into zombies.
The four of them looked grimly at each other. They'd been through a lot together and this a desperate attempt to regain something each of them had lost. Hope.

The four of them entered the house. They stood close together, every one facing another direction, listening intensely and trying to see anything that might attack them.
Leo was in front. There were two shapes in front of him. As his eyes adjusted to the dimly lit interiour, he stiffened and moved back a bit, bumping his shoulders against Jack and Nina, alerting them to the danger.

 


Zombies. The Undead. Demons, Revenants, Hell, even the Bogeyman. He believed in all of those things now. He'd seen too much. Those two shapes in front of him, slowly moving towards them seemed to be zombies. Only two. They had a good chance to kill them without getting wounded.

 


But supplies were scarce. So were weapons. They only had one gun left between them, with just 4 bullets. The otheres had taken up a knife and a baseball bat. At first, Leo had scoffed at that bat, but seeing Nina in action, letting her fury and anger consume her while batting at zombies, he had to admit that that thing was effective. At least as effective as his trusty axe.

„Let's split up!“ Leo whispered.
„Are you out of your fucking mind?“ Lucy challenged him. „Let's kill those creatures quick and quietly and not alert anything else lurking here!

„No time to argue.“ Nina whispered and moved towards them, slashing those things with her knife. She used to be a Nurse and the last couple of months had given her ample opportunity to combine her medical knowledge with close quarter combat. Those zombies never stood a chance!

Leo just shook his head and wanted to follow her, then he spotted something out of the corner of his eye. He bent down and gingerly picked up, A shotgun. Nice! Things were looking up already!

The four of them moved around the house. They tried to be as quiet as possible but their imagination was running high, they'd seen too much. Encountering more and more bands of zombies didn't help.
They hardly ever dared to split up, they always stayed in eyesight of each other to be able to help the others and not fall victim to one of these creatures in here.
Which was a good thing! Only a short time later, they heard a screaching sound. The four of them froze and instinctively moved into a tighter formation, shoulders touching.
Then the screeching came again. Then they could hear it. Behind the zombies, there was a giant birdlike creature. They could hear the wings beating.
The thing nearly filled out the whole room and they quickly spread out so they wouldn't present such an easy target.

„What is that thing?“ Nina screamed, to be heard over the flapping of those wings. She still maintained anough presence of mind to raise her knife, ready to lash out at the wings or the claws if they came too close to her.

„Dead bird.“ said Jack behind her. He was being serious. Chunks of flesh were missing from this creature, it had started to rot. Just like the zombies. He took aim and fired at it.
The creature howled in pain. Or maybe just anger. Or hunger. It really was hard to tell with these things. It attacked Jack and managed to throw him down and pin him on the floor.
„Help me!“ screamed Jack, his composure gone. He couldn't move and everytime the claws raked at him and the beak tried to take a bit out of him, he screamed higher and louder. All control gone, he didn't even remember to continue shooting, he was mindlessly trying to scramble to his feet and get away.
The others stood still for just a heartbeat and then attacked the thing themselves. Baseball bat, Axe and Knife took their toll out of that thing and soon it succumbed. Whatever unholy life this thing had been given was gone.
It took all of them a few minutes to calm down and take a look at Jacks wounds. He was in pretty bad shape, his leg torn and blood seeping through what used to be his pants.
„Don't stop here,“ he rasped. „There will be more of them coming, lets move on! There must be a way to open that damn labortatory.“
He nearly toppled down again when he tried to stand but slowly and steadily he dragged himself on.

At last, they'd made it to a computer terminal. Lucy took a seat and tried to hack into the system.
„It's no good,“ she said after a few minutes, „I can't just brute force my way into the system. We need to decode it. I've found one sequence, but we need to find the others.“

 


After a long and frustrating search, the four of them, battered but still alive had managed to access and override the security system.

The four of them looked at each other, warring emotions plainly written on their faces. Hope warring with dejection, pain and experience that things usually only tended to end badly.

„Oh, snap out of it!“ Lucy said grimly. „Let's see if the rumor's true.“
They made their way to the steel door behind which they assumed the laboratory to be. A quick glance to the camera showed that it really was disabled. Lucy pushed to the front of the group and easily opened the reinforced door.

Gingerly she took a step inside and almost immediately her eyes found the it. The antidote. An Erlenmeyer flask full of a greenish liquid. At least she really really hoped it would prove to be the antidote.
She made a few more steps into the room and slowly took the flask in her hand. As she carefully stowed it away a hand grabbed her arms!

 


Lisa Mortimer screamed and raved at her. „You bitch! You destroyed everything! You bitch! Safe! Nothing! Safe! Only fire! Fire! Cleanse and burn and cleanse...“ a maniacal giggle escaped her blood stained lips, turning into insane laughter.
Lucy stumbled back and out of the door again.

„Burn, must.. the house. You all burn, my pretties. Pretty flesh. Safe.... the fire!“ Lisa stood in the doorway and stared at them.

As if in answer, Nina took the dynamite she'd found earlier and threw it in the lab, then turned to flee.

Lisas laughter turned to howls of pain, then the laughter redoubled. She made her way out of the lab, blabbering. „Burn the house, not safe anymore. Burn the house. Not … safe. Burn....“
Stumbling along the hallway she sort of absentmindedly lashed out against Jack and Leo. They both fell down, but Lisa seemed more focused on the corner room. She went into it and suddenly there was an explosion and the whole room started to burn. Flames roared higher and higher and the others looked at each other in realisation.

„She's trying to burn down the house! We have to stop her!“ Jack shouted to be heard above the roaring flames and took aim. He hit but Lisa didn't seem to notice.

The others took turns, shooting and attacking her while trying to get out of her reach when she tried to claw at them.

It was a long and harsh fight. More and more rooms exploded into flames, smoke obscured the sight and it got harder and harder to breath. The house was creaking and one half of it was already destroyed. The heat and the smoke was getting to them. But they've come this far. No way this insane bitch was going to end them!

 


With a last group effort they attacked her with everything they had, every last ounce of strength. And then it was over. Lisa Mortimer was finally dead.



This game is convulted. And difficult. I think it would greatly benefit from a streamlined version of it!
I still like it. It's a great game, very challenging. But it's also very random. The random setup, the dice, the randomly drawn chips to hack into the computer system... This game can be horribly difficult and downright impossible.
The rule really are a mess. Thankfully, the author (who didn't write the first, published rules) wrote a second rulebook which is a lot better.
My main problem with this game are the dice. You roll the same dice for every action you do.
If you search a room, you only look for successes. But if you roll the same icon twice or more, the event on the horror die is triggered.
Then you roll for camera checks. Then you only check for failures.
The rules are just not straightforward. Every situation seems to have different rules.
What I really do like is the way you open the lab. Finding the different colored chips and removing them from the security panel... That's a neat idea. I think the author stated somewhere, that the professor was so paranoid that he left clues on the objects he hid around the house. So if you find an object you also get a little piece of the puzzle to shut down the security system. Might not work for everyone, I admit the logic seems kinda weird and far fetched, but it works for me.
There's alot going on, with the action points, everyone has different abilites, the action board where you can split up into groups, spawn new zombies, the darkness track that doesn't give you time to rest, the security panel... Very well done all things considered.
A very underrated game that suffered from the horrible rulebook and apparently a bad kickstarter campaing. The game can be found quite cheaply nowadays and is well worth it, in my mind.
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You may call me
Canada
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Your story narrative encapsulates pretty much why I can overlook its flaws and enjoy it for what it creates outside the mechanics. Great stories, replayability, challenge and intensity.
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David Ausloos
Belgium
Ranst
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Stefan, thanks for the session report.
This is exactly the reason why I designed this game: to create a unique narrative with each play. There are some randomizers build into the system, mainly using dice, but these are not there to inject an element of luck into the system (after all they can be altered...you can decide if you will take a higher risk by entering a room with more characters or not to lower the dice pool during a camera check for example) but to offer some variables that will sooner or later trigger a unique tactical challenge for the team to solve.

I regret how the game still has a dark shadow of it's kickstarter campaign surrounding it. It might never find its audience because of it.
But now and then I get a message from someone in the world who plays it and has experienced a tense narrative packed into a memorable experience, and that means alot to me. It at least makes me realize all these hours working on the game was all worth it.

Thanks for sharing your experience.
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reaching out from the in-between spaces...
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Baldwin
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It is true that the random set up can lead to some really difficult to win games, but when you get familiar with the system you'll be able to spot a poor set up and just alter it. Very replayable. One of the few games with Euro mechanics that still has a well integrated theme.

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Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
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Read the rules this past weekend and am looking forward to pulling this one out. Thanks for the write-up.
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Matthew Berard
United States
Wabash
IN
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Only two years late to the party, but after reading this review I really want to pull the game out again and play. It does provide a great narrative experience, and though I've had games last as long as 2.5 hours (or as short as 10 minutes) I've yet to have a bad time playing.
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