Grizzly Gaming

Friday, July 12, 2013

State of Decay Stories - In the beginning

Welcome one and all to the newest feature on Grizzly Gaming - State of Decay Stories!

If you haven't been playing "State of Decay" I hope you have a good reason, because it's a great game and deserves your time. "State of Decay" is an open-world, zombie apocalypse sandbox game that gives you control over a small group's survival during the end of the world. What makes it different from other zombie games is its emphasis on survival, which includes everything from fortifying your home base to killing zombies and scavenging for supplies.

As I've played and become attached to my group of survivors, I've noticed that "State of Decay" is amazing at telling emergent stories. The story and side missions of the game itself are nothing spectacular, but as I became more and more invested in my characters, the actions of my characters became much more interesting to me than the story of the game itself. Yes, obviously I'm controlling all the action that's happening but viewing those actions in the context of the game world and in the context of the survivor group dynamic, these stories and adventures have made much more of an impact on me than any scripted scenario. And now, I want to share those stories with you.

A lot of what you're about to read is embellished, but only so that it reads more like a story and less like someone telling you about what happened when they were playing video games. I've tried to relay all the character traits about my survivors that are pertinent and I'll also do a short recap at the end of posts to give a sort of perspective on what was going through my head as I was playing and why I felt these stories were interesting enough to relate.

Call it fan fiction, call it a creative writing piece. Call it whatever you want, really. In the end, I just hope you call it "entertaining." And so I give you the first installment of Grizzly Gaming's "State of Decay Stories."


In the beginning
The sun crept over the hills surrounding the Trumbull Valley. At the end of their second week in hell on earth, most of the survivors had come to the sobering conclusion that their current situation would not end soon. Most of the survivors - except Ed.

Ed had shown up to the church in Spencer’s Mill with Marcus and Maya. They had been stranded at the lake near Mt. Tanner with Lily and Jacob’s father, Thomas, but were not present at the ranger’s station when it was overrun. Upon finding Thomas and the few others dead, Ed began to search the recently deceased, finding truck keys and a radio. But in the process, a reanimated Thomas attacked an unsuspecting Ed, critically wounding him. After making contact with Lily on Thomas’ radio, the group relocated to the church in Spencer’s Mill.

Right away, Marcus established himself as a leader in the group. He lent a hand wherever he could, was always able to scrounge up useful resources on scavenging runs and proved himself to be a worthy zombie slayer. Maya, too, added a great deal to the group dynamic, sharing her skills with firearms with the rest of the group. Ed, on the other hand, only brought strife with him. He was temperamental and prone to arguing with other survivors. He would often get into shouting matches in the church over trivial matters and Marcus would routinely need to talk some sense into him and cool him down. As the days turned into weeks, Ed made it clear that he had not quite fully grasped how much the world around him had changed.

Some speculated that Ed was always a sour person and that it was always in his nature to act this way. Other’s held the idea that the near-death injury he suffered at the lake had brought on a deep depression. Rather than see the positive in recovering from a life-threatening wound, Ed seemed to spiral ever downward as he started to see the full extent of the zombie infection in his hometown.

As the sun rose near the end of the second week, Marcus was just returning from a long scavenging trip. That night, Marcus had a close call in the Spencer’s Mill gun store, but that is a story for another time. As Marcus returned, he checked in with Lily and found that the other able survivors weren’t ready to head back out into town. Rather than push himself further, Marcus asked Ed to head into town.

“I’ve never been out there by myself,” replied Ed nervously.

Marcus could immediately sense Ed’s reluctance. He knew Ed better than anyone else and knew that to push Ed too far or to become angry at him would only make Ed pull away. Somehow, Lily sensed as well and spoke up before Marcus could.

“Guys…I’ve been meaning to ask you something. You were up at the lake when…with my father, right? Would you be able to do me a favor?” asked Lily.

With all the time that Ed had been spending at the church, he had gotten to know Lily pretty well. Since they had returned from the lake, Ed had a nagging pit in his stomach concerning Lily and Jacob’s father. Even though he, Marcus and Maya weren’t at the station when Thomas died, he still felt responsible. Or maybe it was just that he felt wrong about picking a dead man’s pockets. Either way, when Lily asked for a favor, Ed changed his tune.

Ed took one of the vehicles in the church parking lot and began to head back to the lake. While the prospect of exploring the town on his own frightened him more than he cared to let on, going back to the lake didn’t seem so difficult. Marcus had taught him a few things about dispatching zombies and he took a crowbar and simple pistol with him on the trip, as well as a snack and a few painkillers.

As he neared the ruined bridge which led to the Mt. Tanner ranger’s station, Ed noticed an empty warehouse on his right. Slowing his car before the turn, a sudden urge overcame him. The warehouse looked empty enough and probably still had all manner of useful materials in it – materials Lily and the rest of the group could use to fortify the church or build a much needed garden. That he even had the idea to search the building on his own surprised even Ed, but he was even more surprised at the feeling of excitement about what he could find.

Pulling up to the building, there were a handful of zombies outside. Luckily, they hadn’t noticed his car as he rolled to a stop. He dispatched the nearest one quickly and in his haste, alerted the other two nearby zombies. While not very athletic, Ed had always been a spritely fellow and evading the shambling grasp of undead hands was easy for him. Executing the killing blows Marcus had taught him, Ed felt a rush of adrenaline. For the first time in weeks he felt useful, felt that he could be more than just another member of the group. In his excitement, Ed rushed blindly into the dark warehouse – and into the waiting hands of several stoic zombies.

Maybe it was his newfound courage or the thrill of killing a few zombies that made Ed rush headlong into the dark warehouse without second thought. Or maybe it was just his lack of foresight and “living for the moment” attitude but when Ed burst through that warehouse door, a handful of ghouls just waiting for their next meal nearly made Ed’s first trip away from the church his last.

Forgetting the poise and confidence he’d show in the parking lot, Ed began to flail wildly. A lucky blow caved in the skull of the nearest zombie but gave the rest time to close their distance to him. One managed to snare Ed and attempted to pull itself in for a vicious bite and Ed only barely shook it off in time. Without a moment to spare, Ed deftly ducked another zombie and returned outside. No longer in the confines of the warehouse, Ed’ composure returned. Still gasping for air after his scare, Ed pulled out his pistol, took time to aim and downed the remaining zombies.

Ed could hardly believe the sight. There were a pile of dead zombies in front of him – had he really been the one to take them all down?  With one quick, furtive look around, Ed let out a loud cheer of excitement, feeling accomplished for the first time in weeks.

“YEAH! TAKE THAT!” Ed screamed to the air as he began to make his way inside the warehouse. There were one or two more zombies lurking in the shadows but they posed no threat as Ed quickly took them out. His search of the warehouse proved fruitful as well, acquiring some new hand to hand weapons as well as a few caches of building materials. But the final desk Ed searched turned up something unexpected.

As Ed rifled through the contents of the desk drawers, he noticed the papers on seemed out of place from the rest of the work-related materials he’d come across in the warehouse. Ed picked up the sheets up paper and began reading. What he held in his hands were the last confession. Ed didn’t know why he thought it was a last confession apart from the feeling of hopeless finality that the note conveyed. The note turned out to be written by another survivor. The hand writing was terrible and hastily scrawled but from what Ed could tell, the note’s author was remorseful and admitting guilt over having kill another survivor. With their food supplies dwindling rapidly, this man had killed another, over a can of tuna.

Ed was so gripped by the heart-wrenching contents of the note that he only snapped out of his trance when a new group of undead fiends burst through the door to the warehouse, apparently having been drawn its way by Ed’s gunshots. That or his loud celebration. Once he dealt with them, Ed made sure to stow the note in his own pack. Something about the note had a deep effect on Ed. Despite the note’s grim contents, it gave him a feeling of hope. The world had gone to hell when he wasn’t looking and until now, he wasn’t sure how to deal with it. After reading the note, the dire reality of the world around him seemed to come into focus for the first time. Packing up a few materials from the warehouse and leaving more for another trip, Ed began to make his way to the lake. 


Whew...that turned out to be longer than I thought.

Taking Ed to the lake was a big decision for me. When Lily offered the Memento mission, I wanted Marcus to do it, just because he was well more capable at killing zombies than anyone else. But, as I stated, Ed was being a real pain in my game and I honestly thought taking him into the field would do him some good (I know - I'm insane). He was very low level when I took him out the first time but I found he was pretty quick and could turn out to be useful.

When I found the note in the warehouse, I was enthralled. I didn't know any pieces of world building clues like that were something I could find at first, so just its discovery was pretty neat to me. Once I actually read the note, I found the entire scene very poigant - Ed, the sour patch kid who was always causing problems finally realizes that others in this world gone mad had it way worse than he does. And yes, right as I finished reading the note, more zombies came crashing into the warehouse, as if trying to cement the notion in Ed's mind that he either needed to change his ways or end up like the guy in the note.

I originally wanted this story to include Ed's actual trip to the lake but I wrote really long and am going to save it for another time. And don't worry, I've got way more material. This story came from a few paragraphs of notes I took and I literally have thousands and thousands more words left in that .doc file of notes.


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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