My Standoff with the Police

Last Saturday, I took three hostages.

I had gone to the apartment where my ex-girlfriend lives with her parents to find her and get her back. After four months of living together, she had moved out a couple of weeks earlier, and I was desperate to find her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t there, and as things got heated with her parents, her dad stepped up on me, so I shot him in the shoulder. Shortly thereafter, the police showed up. I guess I should have expected that, but it took me by surprise.

The police had a negotiating team with them who called me to try to sort the situation out. They kept trying to get me to release her dad. I probably should have let him go, but I was scared, and felt like I’d lose my leverage without him there. Besides, they kept promising me things and then going back on their word, so I wasn’t too inclined to cooperate with them. About four hours into the standoff, my girlfriend’s sister escaped out a window, and I panicked for a while, boarding up the apartment and trying to make sure that nobody could get in the same way she got out. But I guess I knew at that point that it was only a matter of time. After repeated requests, they finally put my lawyer on the phone, and after talking with him for a while, I decided to surrender. I stepped out of the apartment with my hands above my head about 6 hours after the whole ordeal began, and was immediately arrested. I’ll be going to trial in a few weeks.

None of this, of course, actually happened.

This was all part of a training exercise for various police negotiating teams, and I was only playing the role of a hostage-taker. My dad is an expert in such matters — he literally wrote the book on crisis management– and helped to organize this training exercise. When he was looking for participants, he sent me and my brother a note saying “I need actors to play emotionally unstable, biploar, hostage-takers on the 10th of December (Saturday). Of course, you two came to mind, immediately.”

While I wasn’t actually holed up in an apartment, I did spend about 6 hours on a phone, talking with various negotiators from the New Braunfels team and giving them a chance to exercise their skills. It was fun, but exhausting, to play the role of a frightened, intransigent, irrational man-boy for that long. The negotiating team did a great job, maintaining their cool while I was being quite bellicose and disagreeable at times, and working hard to establish rapport and empathy without validating the destructive actions my character had taken. I was nasty enough that I felt the need to, once the exercise was done, apologize to them all and individually shake their hands. To their credit, none of them took advantage of the opportunity to shoot me — a homicide that, under Texas law, I’m pretty sure would have been considered justified at that point.

Thanks to Dad for the opportunity to be a part of the shenanigans, and to the whole crew involved for putting together such an interesting day. It seemed like the teams got something good out of it, and my siblings and I certainly got a fun story to tell. And delicious breakfast tacos. (Ironically, feeding me tacos is just about the best way to keep me from taking hostages in real life, so the crisis would have been pretty short-lived in reality.)

ZombieTown: A Free GURPS Adventure

For Christmas last year, one of the gifts I gave Liam was the opportunity to have a custom-made GURPS game, with pizza and a sleepover included, for him and a few of his friends. After a brief dalliance with the idea of a ninja setting, he settled a zombie-themed play session. So I got to writing, and he rounded up some of his usual RPG compatriots. When the designated day arrived, we all came together and had a rip-roaring good time, careering through a Colorado town, shooting up zombies, invading secret labs, and curing the zombie outbreak.

Since I invested a fair bit of time in writing the adventure, and there seems to be a dearth of free material out there for GURPS, I decided to go ahead and release it for other people to use. While it’s designed with GURPS in mind, should be able to be adapted for other RPG systems pretty easily. And while it’s fairly fleshed out, I haven’t spent the time to format and polish it up to a professional level. Thus, gamemasters should be sure to spend a bit of time with it before trying to run it to make sure they know how they’re going to handle various situations when they arise.

The adventure is released under a Creative Commons license. You can use it and adapt it, but not make money off of it or fail to credit me if you create derivative works. It also comes with many of the NPCs already fleshed out in the excellent GURPS Character Sheet software, and the documents available in Pages and PDF formats.

Without further ado, here it is:



If you take a look at it, please drop me a note and let me know what you liked or didn’t like about it. I’d sure love the feedback, and would be especially tickled to know how it’s received if someone else runs it with players. Have fun!