Our hardy band of survivors consists of Dr. Gaz (he’s legally obligated to inform you that he doesn’t have a medical license), Totya (a massive brute with a small mind, a big heart and even bigger muscles), and two wayward scouts from the Hazardous Waste/Nuclear Fallout Facility at Yucca Mountain: Professor Dink (expert in Bark Beetles) and Vladimir “Jim” (former corrupt security guard at the facility). The campaign is set in the greater post-nuclear Reno region.
The game starts with the PCs held captive by slavers for several days. Herded towards an uncertain fate, the band stops one day so the boss can visit a nearby settlement. Shoving the group into an old culvert, the gang boss heads off, telling the ‘boys’ to keep an eye on the slaves until he gets back. But it’s not long before the ‘boys’ are drunk and fighting, giving the group the perfect opportunity to earn their freedom. The drunken raiders are quickly subdued, netting the party a handy crossbow, a lead pipe (and other cudgels), some dried rat meat, a bottle of irradiated hooch and various trinkets taken from the raiders. They decide to lay a trap for the boss and murder the surviving gangers in their sleep that night.
On the morn, the boss returns and stumbles into the PC’s trap. Dr. Gaz hits the boss with a well-placed crossbow bolt, sending the thug running for his life. Totya quickly runs the raider down and caves his head in with a massive chunk of concrete, though not before being clipped by a couple of rounds from the raider’s automatic pistol. They loot said pistol, four bullets, an old billy club, leather armor and one condom (used).
Spotting the nearby settlement, the group heads for it hoping to find work. It’s a dilapidated shanty-town made from tin roofing sheets. The locals tell them the town of approximately 100 souls is Kelbyville, named after the town’s founder and sheriff. Making a bee line for the general store, the group stocks up on a few supplies. Dr. Gaz purchases an old can of paint, makes himself a shingle and goes into the doctoring business in town.
Told of a giant, mutant coyote, dubbed El Diablo by the locals, the party undertakes to rid Kelbyville of this menace. Tracking the beast down in the hills west of town, they catch up to it near dusk as it feeds on…something. To their horror, the group discovers El Diablo is a two-headed coyote nearly as big as a horse. Careful to stay downwind, they lay a trap for the abomination. As Totya draws the monster close the rest attack it with ranged weapons, hoping to bring it down quickly (or, at least, severely injure it).
“Jim’s” pistol finds it mark, hitting the creature in the flank and causing it to flee the trap almost before it’s sprung. Professor Dink hurls a home-made spear at the creature, catching it in the leg and slowing it enough for Totya to catch up and give it a good bashing with his trusty concrete chunk (breaking it in the process). Severely wounded, and one head either dead or knocked unconscious, the group gangs up on the coyote to give it a good ol’ fashioned curb-stomping, killing it wasteland style (though the beast managed to get in one last radioactive bite on the simple giant). They spend the night dragging the carcass back to Kelbyville, where the group is hailed as heroes. They’re officially inducted into the Kelbyville Scouts & Hunters Guild (which grants no benefits whatsoever). Kelbyville uses every last piece of the massive canine, with the group’s share coming to a princely 50 bullets! And they waste no time spending their new found wealth, cleaning out the Kelbyville General Store in the process.
With fame comes new opportunities. The next day the party is approached by an old trader/prospector/salvager named Pappy. Pappy is an old man set to retire, but he needs to retrieve one last stash of goods, hidden not too far away. Unfortunately, the cave he’s hidden his goods in has recently been inhabited by dog-sized mutant spiders. He’s too old to go up against spiders, but the heroes of Kelbyville could surely get the job done. In exchange, Pappy agrees to give the party his old map of the Reno region, complete with marked locations, notes and even places he’s hidden a few supply caches. Such a map can set the group up for a lifetime (well, for a lifetime in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, anyways). The group agrees and the next day they set off to the south to find Pappy’s cave.
Following the old freeway for a few hours, “Jim” spots another party coming up from the north: 8 raiders armed with at least a couple of rifles. The group hides, hoping to avoid contact. But as the raiders approach they can tell that three of the raiders are actually slaves pulling a cart (made from an old pickup bed, of course). Springing an ambush, one rifle man is severely wounded with a crossbow bolt in the leg and the boss, riding in the cart, is hit in the neck. Professor Dink yells out to the slaves, encouraging them to throw off the (literal) yoke of their oppressors; the slaves proceed to beat the crap out of the wounded rifle man.
Distracted by the commotion up front, the two raiders behind the cart don’t notice Totya loping up behind them. With a flourish, one is nearly split in two by Totya’s shiny new fireaxe (okay, not really all that shiny, but it is quite sharp). Seeing his companion split in twain, the other raider drops his crossbow and runs for the hills, but doesn’t get far as Prof. Dink’s incredibly aerodynamic spear pins him to the ground. The raider boss gets off a single burst with a sub-machinegun before Totya lumbers into the back of the cart and hacks him down. The last rifleman runs for it but falls, pin cushioned by crossbow bolts, before he can take more than a few steps. The party nets a cart, a couple of rifles, SMG, 8 rounds of ammo and various foodstuffs and hooch. They give the crossbows to the slaves and send them in the direction of Kelbyville.
Continuing on, they find Pappy’s cave about an hour later. The ‘cave’ formed in the ruins of a collapsed overpass. Finding evidence of a massive spider infestation within, they gather up a huge pile of dead brush and set it ablaze, fanning the smoke into the cave as best they can. “Jim” notices that a good portion of the smoke is also drifting skyward, easily visible from miles around. But they don’t spot anyone nearby, so they continue with the plan. Soon enough, a tidal wave of spiders come pouring out of the cave, scattering in all directions. When the wave peters out to a trickle, they extinguish the flames and enter the cave, quickly locating Pappy’s hidden stash.
On their way out, however, the spiders start back into the cave, blocking their exit. They opt to just run for it and make it through well enough. Professor Dink, using his book smarts, covers himself with spider ichor and egg goo; so camouflaged he is able to just waltz past the spiders, almost completely ignored. The good professor would have made it out unharmed had he not attempted to capture a couple of small spiders nesting in his hair. He’s bitten for his trouble, and would have died from radioactive spider venom absent the good Dr. Gaz’s timely application of a poultice.
Successfully retrieving Pappy’s goods, they head back to Kelbyville, dragging the semi-conscious Professor with them. Reaching the spot of the previous slaver ambush, “Jim” looks back and notices a column of dust heading in the direction of the spider cave. Realizing someone is on their trail, they opt to march straight back to town rather than risk camping and being caught out in the open by an unknown force.
So that’s where the game ended. I thought it went pretty well considering I wasn’t expecting to actually run a game last night. I want to use some props in this campaign and towards that end I’ll give the players an actual copy of Pappy’s map (I have an old, beat up map of Reno that I can mark up with Pappy’s notes, giving them plenty of adventure seeds). I’ll also use some plastic toy bullets to track the PC’s currency/ammo, and make up some loot cards representing the junk they salvage from the wastelands.
What will they find in post-nuclear Reno? Among other things: the wasteland warlord known only as the Pit Boss, who’s trying to conquer the entire Reno region; mysterious military forces infiltrating through the irradiated Sierra mountains from occupied California; the mystery of the Carson City Crater (provided they find a way to navigate through the Washoe Valley wastelands); the Gator Men, living in the sewers and maintenance tunnels of Old Reno; gangs fighting over the blasted ruins of Sparks; the Caughlin Clans cannibals; the Lovelock roadblock, blocking all traffic headed east on I-80; and the ever elusive military bunker complex, code name 6-D, long searched for by Pappy, but never found (though he had some ideas).