DCC RPG: Fast Zombies

Art by welovethedark on Flickr, used under Creative Commons

 

Background

Zombies have been on my mind a lot recently. I started listening the We’re Alive audio drama a couple of weeks ago and have been catching up on all of the episodes so far. In this drama there are several types of zombies – ones that can move extremely fast, behemoth sized zombies, jumpers, climbers and smart zombies. I’ve found myself intrigued by fast zombies before and other systems do have fast zombies. With that as my spark I wrote up a fast zombie creature and the framework of a ritual to go along with it. After all these things have to be created somehow!

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The Ritual

Lost to the passage of time in an ancient necromancer’s laboratory is the rite of ritualized magic to create powerful undead. Within these dusty tomes are rituals thought by many of the art to be impossible. Combining the dark arts of wizardly and clerical necromancy the tome details a three-day ritual by both to create this breed of fast zombie. The ritual frees the animated zombie of the chains of rigor mortis while retaining its mindless obedience and its ability to sustain devastating amounts of damage before its destruction.

Wizards and dark clerics who study these long lost tomes over time will decipher the ritual and learn the tools, words and movements to complete the ritual. While the majority of the ritual needs to occur near a cemetery or suitable burial ground, the final portion of the ritual must occur under the phase of a new moon at the burial ground. Several of the required components are not trivial to obtain, further complicating successful completion of this ritual. Components can vary depending on slight variations of the ritual and what is available. Several ounces of quicksilver or mercury are always required for the ritual.

Upon successful completion of the ritual the casters are able to animate fast zombies.

The Zombie

Zombie, Fast: Init +2; Atk bite +3 melee (1d6+1);AC 12; HD 3d6; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead, on critical hit also gains additional attack; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C

Fast Zombies are terrifying opponents and frequently catch unsuspecting adventurers unaware. Bearing remarkable resemblance to the more typical zombie, the fast zombies have remarkable speed that often takes their opponents by surprise. Few can out distance a fast zombie who will pursue untiringly after threats. The fast zombie does this while retaining the toughness of slow moving zombie.

5 thoughts on “DCC RPG: Fast Zombies

  1. Zombies have been done to death, … so to say. So naturally, in order to keep the thing going people come up with zombie-variants. That keeps the players guessing, and scared, which is of course what we want. No one wants a player to roll his eyes and say “oh … zombies … again?” … to that end I use zombies so sparingly in my campaign (that is I have never used them yet after 30 years) that some day when some evil necromancer unleashes ‘The Zombies’ I expect it to be a pretty big deal for the players. I’m not planning to do that any time soon (give it another decade or two, please), but when I do, I’m going to go with the traditional (if any zombie genre can be considered as such) slow moving, more-or-less invulnerable types that make more zombies who gather in mobs and won’t take no for an answer. The thing about these traditional style zombies is that they do not suffer from fatigue. So if you run, they’re slow, but they catch up eventually. And when they do, there’s more of them. Trying to outrun zombies is like trying to outrun … ummm… well … zombies. It’s not a winning proposition. You can hole up and try to fight them off… but then you starve. It’s not pretty. When the zombies come… it’s bad. That’s why I use them sparingly. In my case, because of this, I don’t feel the need for suped-up zombie-variants, though i do think they’re cool as hell. In fact, if I did have the new versions, I’m seriously afraid it would be Over-Kill. :p

    • hmm… on the other hand, there’s another kind of traditional zombie — those of the voodoo persuasion. In those cases each zombie is individually made via the use of a special poison. I was impressed by these guys from the classic zombie / necromancer movie “White Zombie” with Bela Lugosi. Now those kind of zombies are not nearly the same as the others. One, they don’t go around eating brains and propagating. They do what they’re told, and that’s it. Now that kind of zombie I could see peppering around my world a little bit, every once in a blue moon. And in those cases, I could see maybe having one or two Fast Zombies, just for kicks. So thanks for the thought. I’ll keep it in mind! :)

      • Thanks for the comments!

        It has been awhile since I have used a zombie in a campaign as well. I think an early PbP I ran back in the 2004 time frame. They were the slow lumbering types.

  2. I ran a zombie apocalypse mini-campaign with Savage Worlds (Pinnacle’s Zombie Run). I found that if you are using a battlemat and minis/tokens, you really need to plan out encounters carefully (including the nature of the encounter map) otherwise traditional (slow) zombies will rarely be a threat to the characters. They simply move too slow. You have to build your encounters tactically, box them in for a bit, to make them truly worried. If you are playing with no map (‘theater of the mind”) then you are free to have zombies appear and move as you narrate. This is much more cinematic – you can control the threat level to keep tensions high without overwhelming or boring your players.

    In a good zombie focused game or campaign, the zombie should be treated more like a ‘environmental effect’ – the real enemy are those making them, the other opponents, etc. Players should be rewarded with success when they learn the ins and outs of how to handle the type of zombie in your game. Do they respond to sound? Smell? Movement? Can you distract them? Then once they’ve gotten comfortable, introduce some new type or force them into more dangerous situations.

    • Great ideas on integrating multiple zombie types into a game! Then you can have a place for the slow zombies, fast ones, climbers, jumpers, etc.

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