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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Silus's Avatar

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    Default Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Ok, I started a thread in the 3.5/PF section but I wasn't getting the feedback I was really looking for (It was mostly in the vein of "Casters/Clerics/Ranged will pwn"), so I figure here in the generic forums might get more of what I'm looking for.

    What am I looking for anyway? Well some mechanics that I could use (I'm leaning towards Pathfinder, mostly 'cause I have about 90% of the printed source books), some homebrew that would work well for the campaign, general thing to watch out for and ways to give the PC's a fighting chance.

    Scenario
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    This campaign would be used as the opener for the setting I'm making (More later. Maybe). The PCs start out separated in the "We're not a party yet" sort of dealy. Something happens (Attack in the street maybe?) and a zombie virus begins to spread among the people. The options here is either the plague starts slow and the PCs can investigate, or we jump right into the "Ok, zombies are roaming the streets. What do you do" part.

    The objective of the scenario is that the city gets locked down to keep the plague from spreading. Relief is coming in ten days from a neighboring city in the form of clockwork soldiers (Or similar disease immune soldiers). The PCs main objective is to survive the ten day period with side objectives cropping up here and there. Save the townsfolk at X location, secure X amount of food from Y location, gather supplies to make a barricade, ect. ect.. Completion of these objectives would net the players rewards in the form of supplies, contacts (assuming the NPCs survive) and/or XP.

    The target level for this game would be between levels 1-3.


    Current homebrew
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    1. At character creation, the PCs will receive HP as normal (Max class HP + Con bonus). For each level gained during the plague, the PCs will only gain their Con score in HP per level (Min of 1 HP gained regardless of Con score). After the plague, the PCs will roll their health as they normally would have upon gaining levels (So after they finish the plague scenario they would roll up however much class HP they would have gotten. A Barbarian that gained two levels would roll 2d12 for their HP at the end for example). The reasoning behind this is that, well, it's a necromantic plague. That stuff messes with people's health. In addition, it would encourage smart fighting instead of "Rawr, I've got plate armor and a greatsword, bring'em on!" or "lol fireball" or the like. A group of three zombies starts to become a very real threat to a party of four (more on zombies later).

    2. The disease is contracted as normal for zombie movies. Upon taking damage, the player has a % chance to contract the disease (the type of armor worn help mitigate this % due to how much of the body is covered). If they fall within the %, they will have to make a fortitude save or contract the disease. Every hour, they take an unspecified amount of Con damage (seems best as zombies have no Con score and it's the most likely target for a zombie disease/virus). If a character dies while under the influence of the disease, or falls to 0 Con and dies, they will rise an unspecified number of hours later as a hostile zombie. As with any disease, divine casters are able to cure it with a Cure Disease spell or similar.

    3. The zombies will be the "slow" variety. They will only be able to take a move or a standard action during their turn. Aside from this and the disease, they will function as the printed zombie creature in whatever system MM/Bestiary is suitable for the system (For Pathfinder, all the zombies would be classified as "Plague Zombies" in the first Bestiary). The only other change is how many zombies will be fielded at a time. Depending on the location, the groups of zombies will go from solitary (1) to a horde (30+). The idea is to make the players think about how they proceed. If they have to cross a marketplace and it's swarming with zombies, they may have to actually, you know, plan something. In addition, while having poor observation skills beyond "Mmmm food", noise and light will attract hordes of zombies.


    Known issues:
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    1. Casters
    1a. Clerics will more than likely be the major problem for someone running this (Likely myself) what with their undead destroying powers. With any luck, the sheer number of zombies will keep them from flexing their divine powers overmuch, and the risk of turning and the little HP the others possess will, hopefully, keep them concerned with playing a support role for the duration of the plague as opposed to a zombie-turning-whirlwind-of-plated-doom that others have though they would be.

    1b. Mages are likely to make short work of the undead hordes with their blasty magic and AOE. And this is fine, but wearing cloth/light armor and causing a magical ruckus will more than likely be bad for the party as it will draw the undead by the score.

    2. Ranged. Sure, they can pick off zombies from a distance, but there are two factors that work against them. 1) Limited ammo supply. I cannot for the life of me think of a class that has access to an unlimited supply of ammunition (barring the Warlock from 3.5), and 2) you can usually only target one creature at a time. Either they'll get overwhelmed or have to fall back.

    Both are useful, but not game breaking for the task at hand IMO.


    So, with all these walls'o'text in mind, am I forgetting anything? Any suggestions for...well...anything? Anything that I've not thought of that I should look out for, either for or from the PCs? I wanna try to get this to be perfect (Hard, I know).

    Edit: Also, I hate posting long things like this late at night, because every time I do I end up posting it during the forum backup.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Ok, first off, this is what I want to do too so I grabbed quite a few ideas.

    I considered using a different system. The AFMBE(All Flesh Must Be Eaten) is a solid, more gritty, system to slaughter Zombies or get torn by their necrotic teeth.

    If you decide to stay on Pathfinder:
    Then here's the point it gets tricky.

    As you mentioned casters have an advantage: Disrupt Undead all day long + Clerics have their Turns/Channels. But being on level 1 to 3, a Cleric won't have that much dmg output from their channel, and their Turns might not be that good. (You should might consider banning the Sun domain)

    I would build the Zombies this way.
    You introduce PF's Aiming rules and change them a bit, so that ranged and bludgeoing attacks only deal real damage on the head, but swords and axes can do a bit more than just hit his head.

    That's what I can write for now, since I'm AFB and away from my notes...

    EDIT!!!:
    Instead of doing the % with the Armor for your Hollywood Zombies, let them be monster grapplers, let their "slam" attack be the first and rule a bit different, if a zombie deals half damage of the targets hp, it's entitled a grapple check, while in grapple they can bite or tore armor apart.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Krazzman; 2012-01-27 at 05:39 AM.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Krazzman View Post
    Ok, first off, this is what I want to do too so I grabbed quite a few ideas.

    I considered using a different system. The AFMBE(All Flesh Must Be Eaten) is a solid, more gritty, system to slaughter Zombies or get torn by their necrotic teeth.

    If you decide to stay on Pathfinder:
    Then here's the point it gets tricky.

    As you mentioned casters have an advantage: Disrupt Undead all day long + Clerics have their Turns/Channels. But being on level 1 to 3, a Cleric won't have that much dmg output from their channel, and their Turns might not be that good. (You should might consider banning the Sun domain)

    I would build the Zombies this way.
    You introduce PF's Aiming rules and change them a bit, so that ranged and bludgeoing attacks only deal real damage on the head, but swords and axes can do a bit more than just hit his head.

    That's what I can write for now, since I'm AFB and away from my notes...

    Hope this helps.
    Are the aiming rules in Ultimate Combat or the Advanced Gamemaster guide (The one book I don't have)?

    I know of AFMBE (Have yet to play it, but it's on my list), but I kinda want this to be the intro to my home-made campaign world (Mid level tech (steam and clockwork), only core races + animals, Dire animals, and Abberations in the deep underground. Offworld travel possible thanks to magitech).

    I've actually yet to read about the Sun domain, but in all honesty, I probably would not tell the players that this is what was in store for them. it's not like, realistically, there would be a group of lvl 1 equivalent people in a city during a zombie outbreak that were specifically tailored to combat the undead.

    EDIT!!!:
    Instead of doing the % with the Armor for your Hollywood Zombies, let them be monster grapplers, let their "slam" attack be the first and rule a bit different, if a zombie deals half damage of the targets hp, it's entitled a grapple check, while in grapple they can bite or tore armor apart.
    That's not a bad idea =D I'm not sure what the grapple check is for a zombie offhand, but maybe if they have someone flanked and hit with a slam they initiate a grapple as if they had Improved Grapple (Zombie dogpile)?

    The % for armor is for just having a chance to contract the disease. Like someone in cloth will have a higher chance 'cause it's easier to claw through cloth than it is for plate. Or I suppose I could just mix in Plague and regular zombies...
    Last edited by Silus; 2012-01-27 at 05:47 AM.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    If you're going to make a big deal out of the passage of time and scarcity of supplies, you could homebrew some significantly more detailed rules on the depletion of food, tools, etc.

    I don't know how in-depth Pathfinder or whatever system you might switch to treats food, but you might do something like this:

    Eating 2 units of food a day is required to stay at full strength and operate at maximum capacity. If you had eaten 2 units of food yesterday, it is also okay to eat just 1 unit without penalty.

    Eating only 1 unit for two days straight reduces your stats slightly (not sure how Pathfinder works, but make sure this stat reduction is punishing for every class/build). Eating no food on a day causes your stats to deteriorate even further, no matter how much you ate yesterday, though eating 2 units of good quality food can help you slowly regain your stats.

    Food can be of good quality, designating anything fresh or preserved or not too badly befouled and can be eaten safely. Food can also be of poor quality, designating anything you wouldn't eat under less stressful circumstances or food that is adultered to stretch the supplies further. Eating poor quality food can make the character more prone to get the zombie disease or reduce their stats in some other way.

    Maybe you'll also want to keep track of the survivors' morale and the heroes' reputation (perhaps make the true value of these things require a social check to find), track access water separately from food, and such. The more items you present as depleting resources, the more chances you can force players to choose between what handicaps they want to play under and the more you can make the players feel the stress of dearth.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    The "Aiming rules" are either in the APG (Advanced Players Guide) or the UC.

    After careful reading I now have gotten the percentage thing, was totally confused the first time I read it...

    Don't forget, that with a Cleric, you'll have food. (Or did PF remove the spell?)


    To go back on AFMBE, you can create your world there, IF you have some supplements afais. Since there are some rulebooks about Medieval, Fantasy, Ninjas and so on. Alternatively you could do something like "The Evil Dead" and "Army of Darkness"-esque.

    But for PF you have to break something: city special population rules, for obvious reasons.

    And you have to face their reaction as being scaredy-cats (which would be smart) and to try to flee out of the city. Furthermore beware of the Gunslinger class in PF, since this class will be most likely the one that starts making his own ammunition (it's the smartest choice when you have to buy 1 Bullet for Gold instead of buying 20 for 1 Gold.) and he could have ammo-ingredients and therefore could come up with the idea of blowing things up....

    Hope this helps you further.
    Have a nice Day,
    Krazzman

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    I would say, 10 days could potentially be a very easy amount of time to stay alive. When playing a zombie campaign I found that my players actually cared little for survivors, though none of them had picked a good character annoyingly all being neutral. But saying that, they are PCs, if you put a big shiney chest of gold etc they could be enticed to go for it.

    If you're set on that short of a time frame, I would make sure to have the zombies be very aggressive. So if they see the players go into a building and lock the door, they stay by that door until they get distracted to move away. So there is the constant threat that their hiding place might not actually be as secure as they think. Plus I play it so overtime the zombies to eventually get in to wherever they are hiding. It's not massively fair but the longer and more thoughtful they get in securing their base of operations the longer I let them keep it, plus I want this to a constant threat.

    I've done my zombies different to the ones you've listed but I didn't want my players fighting these things. I want the fear of "oh crap, they've got in, run like hell" and in that vein I gave them DR5/Slashing, Fast Healing 1 (can only heal them to a maximum of 1hp so kicks in once they have 0hp) and toughness. They've got terrible AC and don't do much damage, but if you end up with 3-4 of these around you, they've all got improved grab that works on their claw attack and that entitles them to a bite in the next round at a +4 bonus.

    So its not that the zombies are hard to bring to negatives, its more you have to spend so long killing 1 of them (as you either need to crit them into negatives, which is an instant kill, or coup de grace them once they go down) that more and more turn up so you get overwhelmed.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Talesin View Post
    I would say, 10 days could potentially be a very easy amount of time to stay alive. When playing a zombie campaign I found that my players actually cared little for survivors, though none of them had picked a good character annoyingly all being neutral. But saying that, they are PCs, if you put a big shiney chest of gold etc they could be enticed to go for it.

    If you're set on that short of a time frame, I would make sure to have the zombies be very aggressive. So if they see the players go into a building and lock the door, they stay by that door until they get distracted to move away. So there is the constant threat that their hiding place might not actually be as secure as they think. Plus I play it so overtime the zombies to eventually get in to wherever they are hiding. It's not massively fair but the longer and more thoughtful they get in securing their base of operations the longer I let them keep it, plus I want this to a constant threat.

    I've done my zombies different to the ones you've listed but I didn't want my players fighting these things. I want the fear of "oh crap, they've got in, run like hell" and in that vein I gave them DR5/Slashing, Fast Healing 1 (can only heal them to a maximum of 1hp so kicks in once they have 0hp) and toughness. They've got terrible AC and don't do much damage, but if you end up with 3-4 of these around you, they've all got improved grab that works on their claw attack and that entitles them to a bite in the next round at a +4 bonus.

    So its not that the zombies are hard to bring to negatives, its more you have to spend so long killing 1 of them (as you either need to crit them into negatives, which is an instant kill, or coup de grace them once they go down) that more and more turn up so you get overwhelmed.
    I figured ten days would be a good round number of days for the PCs to be stuck inside the city. As for getting the PCs to help the NPCs, in my experience PCs up and leave an NPC, especially if it's a mother and child or something similar

    I do like the zombie variant you presenting and may see about blending that with the Plague zombie (for virus spreading). As for the tactics, I was gonna see about running them like the average zombie movie. Swarming mob tactics, can smell prey, attracted to bright lights and noise, ect. If they see/catch the scent of the PCs, they (the PCs) are gonna have to run and hide hell'a good to escape them.
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    I wouldn't use D&D/PF for this. Even at levels 1-3, free food/other resources are widely available and flight is very possible at moderate optimization levels. Add to that the system's lack of functional chase rules, and most of the genre's problems/scenes just disappear.

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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Manateee View Post
    I wouldn't use D&D/PF for this. Even at levels 1-3, free food/other resources are widely available and flight is very possible at moderate optimization levels. Add to that the system's lack of functional chase rules, and most of the genre's problems/scenes just disappear.
    Thing is, I won't be telling the PCs what the first adventure is until after it's happened. And the zombies won't be doing much chasing as much as they're going to be slowly shambling after the moving meat.
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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Here's the issue. They always start out fine...but zombies don't scale well with level. I mean, it feels fake if you just auto-level all the zombies to match them, and the horror trope of "Oh no, MOAR zombies" will eventually cease to scale up.

    Honestly, once they get rope trick and/or flight, or reach+great cleave+combat reflexes, the genre sort of cries itself to sleep.

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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Here's the issue. They always start out fine...but zombies don't scale well with level. I mean, it feels fake if you just auto-level all the zombies to match them, and the horror trope of "Oh no, MOAR zombies" will eventually cease to scale up.

    Honestly, once they get rope trick and/or flight, or reach+great cleave+combat reflexes, the genre sort of cries itself to sleep.
    Like previously mentioned, the plague will only last for 1-3 levels and ten in-game days. After that then they go off to other adventures. The overpowering of zombies at lvl 2 and more so at lvl 3 should, IMO, represent them getting better at combating the undead.
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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Dang, now I want to run a PbP zombie apocalypse game... do you mind if I use some of your ideas, and the other stuff presented here in this thread? Mostly about zombie statistics.

    EDIT: On the other hand, I don't think I'm going to use any of the stats. They're great, but I don't really need them. Feel free to look out for my game on Myth-Weavers though
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    Default Re: Running a fantasy zombie game/session/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Silus View Post
    Thing is, I won't be telling the PCs what the first adventure is until after it's happened. And the zombies won't be doing much chasing as much as they're going to be slowly shambling after the moving meat.
    Alright. You just might want to have a plan in case they grab a fistful of currants and just spend a week or two hanging out on a raft or in a tree.

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