The MARS Project: Zombies part deux!

Because no one demanded it, here is more information about the latest adventure I’ll be running, the MARS Project, a zombiepocalypse game. I wrote about it last week (and tweaked the text a little bit, nothing major but you can click on the link to read it!) and after that we sat down to create characters and play our first session. Alas we never got to it. Since we are learning a new system we took out time making characters, I answered questions and gave them a rundown of the system and the setting.

The players also shared their character concepts. I had told them, as an incentive, that I would be giving them some extra experience points for pictures and character backgrounds. Not everybody was set on their concept, so not everybody had a picture or a backstory. I also shared with them some more detailed descriptions of the NPCs inside the MARS Project facility.

So I’ve decided to share some more of the preparations and the backgrounds my players created. We are ready to start playing, next session we are jumping in into the action.

Before I get on with the post, one last thing… I have a great set of players and I really want to thank them for their contributions to this and every game I play. This time around it’s Pierre, Luis, Fernan, Carlos, José and our visiting player Enith. Watch out for the undead!

The members of the MARS Project (NPCs List)

  1. Doctor Martin Hueller, MARS Project Mission Leader, head of the sociological research team. Renowned psychiatrist and researcher. His sociological experiments have been controversial but he remains an authority in his field. Openly opposed to the recruitment of Roberto Rodríguez, aka DJ Master Justice, ad a member of the team. Arrogant and aloof, has a preference for classical music and dislikes modern music, particularly gangster rap and hip hop. MARS Project Classification – THINKER
  2. Frida Adalheir, head of the genetics and biological research team. The German born Harvard Professor possesses a PhD in Genetics and is an authority in botanical research and genetic manipulation. Speaks loudly and is seldom still, treats almost everyone like a student or lab assistant. She has had some arguments with Dr. Zimmerman about the ethics of genetic manipulation. MARS Project Classification – THINKER
  3. Amala Chaudhari, head of the Project MARS documentation initiative, an attempt to record the experience of living inside the facility. Best-selling writer and Pulitzer winning journalist, born in India, she became a naturalized American Citizen in her twenties. Warm and friendly, she smiles a lot and talks to everyone, listening to them intently, often asking to record the conversations. She has stated in no uncertain terms that she believes Ludwing Brom’s project to film a documentary inside the facility is a limited endeavor as images can never capture the true complexity of the human condition. MARS Project Classification – THINKER
  4. Banjit Marshall, head of the chemistry and earth sciences team. Often called the Renaissance-Man of the 21st Century, with a PhD in Chemist and another in Philosopher and extensive studies in many other fields, a Mensa certified genius. Of mixed British and African Heritage he was adopted by a British couple who raised him. Has taken a Sabbatical from Oxford to participate in the project. When involved in a project he can lose himself in what he is doing and becomes unaware of his surroundings. As an avowed pacifist he often engages Natalia Romanech about her former military service, in his philosophical musings he has often been hurtful or dismissive of her, even if he doesn’t realize it. MARS Project Classification – THINKER
  5. Anthony George Willard, head of MARS Project systems and maintenance team, thus supervisor of the work shifts. Engineer and Architecture wunderkind, as a young man he impacted British architecture as no one had done at such a young age. His success made him famous and rich and he became infamous for his drinking, partying and womanizing. Having lost most of his fortune and living under the shadow of his former glories, this recovering alcoholic resents the skill and prowess of Doers Jack and Joseph Brooks; he often assigns them extra work in their shifts. MARS Project Classification – THINKER
  6. Ishmael “Billy” Farrakhan, formerly William Washington, foreman of the Doer team, in charge of agriculture and animal husbandry. He grew up in the inner city but after a stint in the Marines he brought some land and became a successful dairy farmer. He converted to Islam after his sons died in an accident. MARS Project Classification – DOER
  7. Felix Matasantos, in charge of electrical repairs and IT support. Mexican born, he entered the US illegally, but after becoming a citizen was a vocal advocate for immigrants’ rights. He lost his business during the technology crash and out of necessity joined the project in an attempt to rebuild his business. Despite his intelligence and business savvy he often plays the role of ignorant laborer around authority figures, allowing him to often remain unnoticed. MARS Project Classification – DOER
  8. Holly Thomas, in charge of supplies and food preparation. Culinary school drop-out, she became a line cook in various restaurants in the south, even serving as a sous-chef but never managing to hold a position long enough to make a name for herself. The only team member that was not recruited, she had to compete for the position with many others. Before the mission was underway there were rumors that she achieved the position not solely by cooking. She is an expert cook and her skills have dispelled any question about her qualification. She is friendly, warm, laughs a lot, but can be somewhat nosy.  MARS Project Classification – DOER

OUTSIDE the MARS Project

  1. Jonathan Bixby, Technical Services Director and supervisor of the support and transmission crew living on site, but separate from the participants of the MARS Project. He is a former television producer and studio executive. Selected because of his experience in handling large crews involved in large reality television projects and his ability to keep to the budget. He is loud, friendly and larger than live, but focused when necessary. An acquaintance of Ludwig Brom, he had several clashes with Dr. Hueller before the project got underway.

The members of the MARS Project (PC list)

  • Ludwig Brom (José) – Producer inside the facility tasked with creating a documentary of the experience as part of the MARS Project documentation initiative. MARS Project Classification – THINKER
  • Natalia Romanech (Enith) –National Guard reservist, investigator and wife to Ludwig. MARS Project Classification – DOER
  • Joseph Brooks (Fernan) – Firefighter. MARS Project Classification DOER
  • Norman Zimmerman (Lao) – Surgeon and Nobel Peace Prize winner. MARS Project Classification THINKER
  • Jack (Pierre) – He can fix almost anything he touches. MARS Project Classification DOER
  • Roberto Rodríguez aka DJ Master Justice (Carlos) – Former baseball player and gangster rap singer. MARS Project Classification DOER

For this last character my friend Carlos surprised me with a terrific written character introduction. I’m sharing it here with you after getting his approval to do so. This next part was written by Carlos Matos, good friend and player…

DJ Master Justice Interview

Master Justice: MJ

Reporter- Lisa Draper: R

R: Hi! And welcome to “Red Hot”. We have a great show. Tonight’s guest is the controversial, sometimes misunderstood, but always “Hot” DJ Master Justice. Welcome to the program.
MJ: Lovely to finally meet you. Let me tell you that you are more beautiful in person than what I expected.
R: Oh! Thank you. Ahem! There is a rumor that you are about to embark on a new project, but let’s start how you end up been a rap artist. You started in sports, specifically in Baseball. Is that right?
MJ: That’s right, baby! I started playing since I was a boy. My father was a fan of baseball and he used to take me to the Tiger’s games.
R: So you are from Detroit?
MJ: Hell Yeah! Born and raised in south Detroit.
R: Someone told me that your father named you after a baseball player.
MJ: Yes! After the great Roberto Clemente, I wanna give a holla to the Boricuas in tha house. Whoop whoop!
R: So it is true that your real name is Roberto Rodriguez and that you are from a Latin descent?
MJ: Yes. My father was Puerto Rican and my mother from Detroit.
R: You grew in Detroit, but you didn’t study there.
MJ: No, I went to the U.
R: You went to the University of Miami on a full scholarship, where you broke four of their records.
MJ: Five, and I still hold them.
R: You had some problems there. Tell me what happened?
MJ: They were making money selling my jersey, using my image and number in commercials for Nike and Gatorade, while I was eating Chef Boyardee. So I decided to go Pro.
R: You were a Boston Red Sox for three years.
MJ: That’s right; I was part of the 2004 championship team. Here look, this is the championship ring.
R: Why didn’t you keep playing? Was it because you were up in jail for having a problem with the law?
MJ: NO, the next year we won, I had an ALC tear that took me out of the game for a whole year.
R: That’s when you had your incident in the discotheque club?
MJ: I was having some fun with friends when this guy started insulting me telling me that I was robbing the team organization for the millions they were paying me without playing.
R: Accordingly you shot him?
MJ: Hey! I was declared innocent.
R: How did you end up with drug problems?
MJ: I was with the wrong group of people at the wrong time.
R: You were out of jail within the year for good conduct. Why didn’t you continue to play in the Major Leagues?
MJ: They said I was a bad influence, so there were only a couple of teams interested in me, but they wanted to send me to the Minors. Ha! Me to the Minors! So I told them to…beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!
R: Subsequently, you came out of jail with new tattoos and a new attitude. How was it that you started in music?
MJ: MY cell mate was D. Trigga. He saw me writing some lyrics, said that I had talent, and when I came out, I had a record deal waiting for me.
R: Consequently, you two became partners.
MJ: Yes.
R: Therefore you became the owner when he was shot to death coming out of a concert.
MJ: What are you trying to say? He was my brother from another mother.
R: Changing the subject, the MARS Project, what’s that?
MJ: Well it stands for Miniature Arcology Research Simulacrum. Some of the companies involved in this are of course Tombstone records, MTV, Coors and VID. Yo! People you better check it out, it starts this month on NBC every Tuesday night at 8pm.
R: You heard him. This is the show for tonight; see you next week in “Red Hot” Goodnight.

I really enjoyed that, thanks for Carlos for that. If you are interested I can share some of the other player backgrounds and keep you updated about how this experiment with Savage Worlds is going. If anybody is interested, just let me know if you are interested in the comments. Thanks for readying.

7 thoughts on “The MARS Project: Zombies part deux!”

  1. I meant to ask for follow up information, because the first article seemed to sort of drop off. It doesn’t give much information about how “Zombies” plays into the name of the setting, or anything along those lines.

    I suppose it’s enough information for players, but for me, I tend to think of these things as a potential GM, not a potential player. So it just left me wondering “when’s the second article?” because the first article definitely demands a second article (not this one: this one is about the players/party … I mean a second _setting_ article — what’s going on in the world outside? presumably zombies have taken over … but, how much of the world is infested/infected? are there other living humans left? if so, where? what type of zombies are these? flesh eaters? brain eaters? do they die from overall damage or only brain shots? do they pass on the disease by bite or something else? is there a fatal infectious bite or is regular death (including massive trauma from biting and bashing) required and then the “plague” spreads to dead bodies only? is their breath carrying an airborne version?).

    As a GM, there’s way too many unknowns left in the first article. And if that’s what you intend, for other GM’s to fill it in, you should put a bullet list at the end of “things other GM’s running this setting need to decide for themselves”.

    and then time/work got away from me and I didn’t get a chance to ask my follow-up question.

    1. Sorry my reply went in as a general comment, that’s what I get for posting on the phone! The general comment was meant as a reply for you. Again thanks for the constructive criticism and thanks for reading.

  2. You are right! I should have given some context. These posts are going live as we build up to the actual game tonight and the players don’t know what’s going on outside, so that’s why no information is given. My intention is to do a follow up about this in a week or two. Would that be helpful? In the future would you rather I wait until I can do the whole reveal before posting? Thanks for reading!

    1. The “whole reveal” can wait, as long as you let people know in the first post “this is the first half, the second half will come later”. Or “this is just player info, GM info will come later”.

      (and, thank you for reading it as constructive criticism — I wrote that late at night, so I’m not sure if I got my tone correctly or not :-} but I definitely meant it to be constructive and not catty )

  3. Looks interesting, I agree with johnkzin that I’m looking forward to more of the setting info. Love zombie games, and I’m trying to get my group to play some All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

  4. Sorry for the LONG interruption. I meant to follow up on these post but real life took me in another direction. I ran the game for 6 sessions and it was a success. I hope to do a follow up post about it int he near future.

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