Planet Zod. A Savage Wrap-Up

Movie Masters General Zod at the Mattel booth at San Diego Comic-Con InternationalWhen I set out to recap our Savage Worlds gaming group’s playthrough of my homebrewed Planet Zod campaign, I didn’t realize it would turn into such a monster. Roughly 8,000 words later, I’m kind of spent… but also very pleased at the end result. You can see the chapters collected here:

  1. The Savage World of Ordinary Heroes
  2. Two Cops Saving the World
  3. Secrets in Smallville
  4. Warehouse 13
  5. Return to S.T.A.R. Labs
  6. Dark Knights
  7. The Joker’s Wild
  8. A Time to Kill

A writer is never an objective critic of his own fiction, but I think I turned out something pretty decent. You’ll be the judge of that. But I was was also trying to help other Savage Worlds players (and potential SW gamers) understand how the game works — hence, the “Gameplay” insertions that hopefully aren’t more of a distraction than they’re worth.

I want to thank Ali and Dave for being such awesome Players. Your choices and dialogue helped fill in the nebulous parts of the story with plot twists and characterizations I never would have considered. You helped tell this story. I just wrote it.

One thing I wanted to put out there that might not be obvious to someone outside our group — everything detailed in the story’s various chapters happened in just two Savage Worlds gaming sessions. Yup. There are eight chapters to this story, but it didn’t happen over 8 weekends of beer, snacks and nerding out. We ran this campaign in under six hours, total.

It just goes to show that for every line of dialogue, trait test or combat you run in an RPG, there’s lot more action going on in the minds of the Players and GM. The game can be just a framework for a much larger story.

Running the Planet Zod Campaign for Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds gamers, feel free to use these stories as inspiration for your own campaigns. I’m also pasting below the notes I used as a reference for the game. You’ll notice that the game we actually played differs pretty substantially from what I originally planned. You can decide whether the original campaign ideas had more potential.

Maybe they’ll be of use to you. Until next time… Kneel before Zod… or something like that.

Planet Zod. Savage Worlds campaign background

The tyrannical rule of General Zod began just over six months ago. A being with no known weakness, who never sleeps, whose power can literally move mountains. He came seemingly from nowhere. Even his name was mysterious — he came from no earthly army and commanded no soldiers, yet he insisted on calling himself General. To get the world’s attention, he flew down to the harbor of NYC and threw a freighter into the Empire State building.

He waged war upon the world. Philadelphia was burned to the ground just to give a demonstration of his power. He attacked Moscow, stealing a nuclear warhead and blew it up in Red Square (while a kidnapped CNN reporter filmed live) — to show he could survive the explosion. When a suicide bomber from Libya tried to blow him up at a press conference, he dropped a mountain range on Tripoli — the seismic shock reverberated throughout the Middle East and Africa.

After that, the world acknowledged his rule. He has set up his throne at the Capitol in Washington, D. C. America now enforces General Zod’s orders. In between months of thinking on his throne, he is completely psychotic, spending days torturing, killing and engaging in random acts of extreme violence — anything from throwing innocent bystanders off of tall roofs to pulverizing hydro dams to unleash a flood on Chinese villagers. Sometimes, he orders the US military to invade Mexican cities just to watch the carnage. His violence is getting worse and the time in between his tantrums grows shorter and shorter. The world carries on as best it can, but fears that General Zod will literally destroy their planet eventually if he isn’t stopped.

Plot Points for the Planet Zod Savage Worlds campaign

1. Murder in Metropolis

Two ordinary detectives in Metropols plus a Zod agent are called in to investigate a burglary at S.T.A.R. labs. A scientist is reluctant to divulge any details, even though a security guard was killed. If the detectives investigate successfully, they will discover that a mineral marked Krypto-8921 is missing. Another successful investigation will point them to Smallville, where the sample was discovered.

2. Secrets in Smallville

The Heroes go to Smallville, where they find the Kent Farm. He shows the remnants from a rocket ship and bones of a small baby in the barn (he kept tiny souvenirs). Jonathan Kent is a raving lunatic conspiracy theorist who is totally distrustful of government. He never told anyone about the alien because he didn’t want to get killed by G-Men. He just covered it up until a man from S.T.A.R. Labs visited his home shortly before General Zod appeared, looking for anything from a meteor that he thought crashed there. The man was as crazy and ruthless as Jonathan Kent, suggesting that the rock came from “a particularly interesting part of the galaxy they’d been watching with telescopes”. Jonathan showed him the rocket ship handed over the green rock from it to make him go away. Surprisingly, no G-Men ever came to kill him.

3. The Warehouse

The detectives get a call from a man who won’t identify himself, but tells them to come to a warehouse alone. (If they come in with guns, he’ll try to defend himself). It is Lex Luthor, a scientist from S.T.A.R. Labs who has gone AWOL and probably killed the security guard. Luthor tells them they know too much, but if they want to save the world, they better help him. That’s when police come, drawn by the sound. The characters must escape!

4. Green rocks and rocket ships

The Players hunker down. Luthor explains his theory about Kryptonite — that it may be lethal to General Zod. He reasons that the aliens wouldn’t have intended to send a dead baby. The baby was supposed to live and perhaps infiltrate human society. But the rock embedded in the space ship had killed the baby. Perhaps it is radioactive to them? General Zod must be from the same planet — the odds of two alien races landing on Earth are astronomical.

Shortly after Zod appeared, Luthor was canned from S.T.A.R. Labs. All research into Kryptonite was shut down.

After this is explained the police close in again on them. This time they are rescued via helicopter/sports car by Alfred, a henchman of Bruce Wayne.

5. The Bat Cave?

The heroes are brought to Bruce Wayne in Gotham. A rich industrialst, wealthy off of defense contracts, he’s been watching Luthor. Now he wants to negotiate with General Zod to be made President of the United States, to enforce a crime-free, moral society. So long as Zod leaves the USA alone, he can do what he wants with the rest of the world. Wayne’s plan for negotiation will be seen by the heroes to be wishful thinking.

He wants the heroes to give him the Kryptonite so he can negotiate with Zod. The heroes will have to convince him to come to their side (unlikely) or kill him.

The heroes must break back into S.T.A.R. Labs, which has the equipment to weaponize Kryptonite into a bomb. They must weaponize it and get away.

Assuming this doesn’t work out — and it SHOULDN’T (ideally, the players will FAIL and will have to fall back on plan B), since security has been increased at the lab, the heroes will need to contact the slippery terrorist figure, the Joker, who can be counted on to weaponize anything. He’ll actually be excited at the prospect of “killing God.”

7. The End?

The heroes arrive in Washington, D.C. General Zod has ordered a parade in his honour down the main road leading up to the White House. The heroes must find a sniper’s post in a building overlooking the parade and somehow counter the security that will surely be looking for snipers (for fear of a reprisal by General Zod).

He gives a short speech from a podium at the Capitol before proceeding to fly above the parade and use heat vision to burn everyone on the road. The heroes must use their weapon to bring him down while they can. They get one shot.

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