Brains For Dinner, Brains For Lunch
Hello again dear readers,
It is getting close to one of my favorite times of the year, so Halloween has come to +2 to save.
We are all familiar with zombies. We are also familiar with the modern zombie movie. However those two things don’t coincide with typical AD&D rules, so I decided to do a little write up on some of the changes I institute with this classic creature.
Note: I use these as special zombies, they are not the zombies created with the common animate dead spell, for those I use the by the book zombies. The zombies listed here are created with a more powerful form of the animate dead spell that is used by priests of Mictlantecuhtli in my campaign. It is a 5th level spell and only the body or a fresh sacrifice can be animated.
I like to make these zombies a little bit harder to bring down. In the spirit of the Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead movies (best in the genre) these zombies can take tons of abuse before they stop walking, crawling, sliding towards that warm fresh meat.
Rather than increasing the number of hit dice or hit points however, I limit damage caused by weapons. This is a take on the way skeletons recieve half damage from edged weapons, and I implement it as below.
Blunt weapons – These weapons do half weapon damage and no strength or specialization bonus for damage is applied, any magical bonus is applied in full.
Edged Weapons – These weapons do full weapon damage and no strength or specialization bonus for damage is applied, any magical bonus is applied in full.
Piercing weapons – These weapons only do 1 point of damage and no strength or specialization bonus for damage is applied, any magical bonus is applied in full.
There is nothing like seeing the look on a players face when his fighter who is double specialized in a battle axe and has a 18/00 strength fails to drop a zombie in a single hit. Sure he may chop off a leg and half its movement, but until it’s dead it is still going to crawl forward and bite his ankles.
I also like to make these zombies a little more fearsome with their attacks. If a zombie scores a successful hit, then it has latched onto its opponent. If the zombie is not struck in the following melee round then it automatically hits the same opponent again and does an additional +1 to damage.
This represents the living dead grabbing hold of a victim and biting down into that tasty, tasty flesh. If the zombie is struck during the following melee round then its grip is broken and it will need to make another successful hit to grab hold once again. This can be particular nasty when zombies swarm.
Boris the fighter is trapped in a room with five zombies. As they stumble forward drooling he takes a mighty swing and opens a large gash across the chest of one of the zombies but fails to drop it. All five of the creatures greedily grasp at the harried warrior. Three of them manage to grab a hold of him with their cold boney grip bruising and tearing his flesh. In a panic he lashes out striking one of the walking corpses that has latched onto him. However the other two keep their iron grip, pull themselves forward, and hungrily sink their teeth into his warm skin as the others once again reach out for him.
It is only fair that if you make a creature tougher, you equally reward the players more. So the increase in zombie attacks and defenses leads to an increase in the amount of experience each is worth.
A normal zombie lists as 20 XP +2 per hit point in the DMG, I take that base then add 30 points for the special damage resistance, and another 15 points for the automatic hit (similar to a hug several monsters get) and award 65 XP + 2 per hit point for each zombie killed. This makes them worth more than three times the base XP which certainly seems fair.
So there you have my special zombies, a gift from me to you for this All Hallows Eve.
The Looking Glass
A more in depth description of the spell used to create the zombies described in this article.
Animate Sacrificial Dead (Necromantic)
Area of Effect: Special
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 round
Saving Throw: None
Explanation/Description: This spell creates a special form of zombie. Using the body of a fresh sacrificial victim the spell causes the fresh body to become animated and obey the commands of the cleric casting the spell. The spell will animate the zombies until
they are destroyed, the animation cannot be dispelled. Zombies so created crave flesh and blood, and if not fed on a regular basis may break free of the clerics control (10% chance per week that the zombie does not feed).
The cleric is able to animate 1 zombie for every 2 levels of experience. So a 10th level cleric may animate 5 such zombies. Only the body of a fresh (within 6 turns) sacrificial victim (human or demi-human) can be animated. To cast the spell the cleric must use a strip of flesh from the body he wishes to animate, the flesh is eaten as part of the casting ritual.