10/25/2011

BRAAAAAAAINSSS!!!!

In honour of Halloween and the second season of the Walking Dead (not to mention the soon-to-be-released Issue Three of d6 Magazine featuring material by yours truly), I thought it was time to revisit d6 Horror and share with you some of my designs for everyone's favourite brain-devouring, drooling masses of near-human monstrosities... ZOMBIES!!!

You thought I was talking about YouTube comment writers, didn't you?

I love zombies and horror survival games.  So much so that I broke my own rule to never buy another Kevin Siembieda game and picked up DEAD REIGN when it came out a couple of years ago.  It was a ton of fun, though admittedly I had to tweak the hell out of it to make it playable (when my players realized that the zombies had the strength of Superman, and kept coming after being shot in the head four or five times, it really killed the excitement for them).  All that tweaking eventually led me to the d6 system, which I also mangled to create a custom d6 Horror games (some of the rules of which will be appearing in the afore-mentioned d6 Magazine Halloween issue). 

A zombie game needs zombies to kill, but the question is, what kind of zombies?  Do we go with our classic slow, stupid, shambling zombies from Night of the Living Dead?  How about the rage-fueled fast zombies from 28 Days Later?  Or even the super-powered, life-energy sucking mega zombies from Dead Reign?  (Seriously, you need a rocket launcher to kill the goddamn things)

Is your grandmother ready for the zombie apocalypse?
This might be sacriligious, but in a game setting I prefer the style of zombies from the Resident Evil games - that is, a variety.  The bulk should be standard, slow, old-fashioned zombies like your daddy used to headshot, but every now and then you need to mix it up with zombie dogs, zombies with ranged attacks (acid spit?), fast runners and even giant mutant zombies the size of a tank.  Fighting (or running from) endless hoards of identical monsters is fun for awhile, but personally I feel you need a wider selection of baddies in order to customize individual encounters and battles.

Besides - eventually your players will get really good at killing run-of-the-mill zombies, so you need to have surprising FUCK YOU options to throw at them.

A zombie kitten is also unexpected and oftentimes hilarious.
Without further ado, here are a few zombies of different shapes and sizes, ready to drop into your very own d6 Horror game.

SHAMBLER
This is your standard Romero-esque zombie.  How the zombies are created (whether alien virus, ancient curse, biological warfare, whatever) is entirely up to you and your campaign, and may not even be important.  Sometimes it's just about survival, and the players don't need to know where the zombism comes from.  You can also choose how contagious the infection is that spreads the disease (does a victim have to die from an attack?  be bitten by the monster?  get a speck of blood on their eye?).  Either way, here's what a zombie looks like when it's coming at you:

AGILITY 1D; APTITUDE 1D; INTELLECT 1D; PERCEPTION/PRESENCE 1D, Hide 3D, Sense Humans 3D; STRENGTH 1D, Brawling 2D; WILLPOWER *

Health Levels: 4
Speed: 6
Horror: 3D

Qualities:
Natural body armour - Shamblers have a natural 5D to resist all forms of damage except fire, to all parts of their bodies except their heads.  Damage to their head is inflicted normally, though a called shot to the head always has -2D to hit.
Mindless - Shamblers have no Willpower stat because they are effectively mindless and immune to all forms of charm, persuasion and mental fatigue
Dormant - If a shambler does not sense a human for an extended period of time (a couple of days), they will tend to find a sheltered area to crawl into and go dormant.  This could be under an abadoned car, in a storm drain, under a porch deck, etc. The zombie basically remains in a state of hybernation until it is alerted to the presence of living humans (by loud noises or a human passing within a few feet of its location).  The zombie will then awaken and lash out at th nearest living thing, possibly surprising its victim.
Undead - Shamblers do not need to eat, sleep, or breath, and thus the lack of any of these necessities do not harm them.  They are also immune to poisons, gas and toxins.  They are immune to pain and thus do not suffer wound penalties from damage, though severe damage (such as severing a limb) will obvious impose penalties at the GM's option.

Attacks:
Grab - Shamblers generally try to grab and hold their victims, to make them easier to bite.  Because they are so weak and clumsy, most normal humans can easily avoid/escape these grabs.
Bite - A shambler's bite inflicts 3D damage, and usually requires the victim to be grabbed before it can be attempted.  At the GM's option, the shambler may forgo the grab if it surprises the victim (on a hide check).  The bite may also inflict the zombie infection upon the target. The exact details of infection is left up to the individual GM (based on their favourite movie), but it is suggested that if the bite inflicts Wound-level damage or higher, the character must make a Very Difficult Strength check or become infected.  An infected character will die and be reborn as a zombie within 2D hours (or rises in 2D minutes if killed before the initial time runs out)

RUNNER
A runner are those terrifying zombies that come from the back of the pack and move at twice the speed of the regular shamblers, able to easily outrun a human and are generally much harder to kill (if only because, unlike most zombies, they sometimes try to avoid attacks).  In a setting like 28 Days Later, all the zombies may be runners.

AGILITY 2D, Dodge 3D; APTITUDE 1D; INTELLECT 1D, Sense Humans 3D; STRENGTH 2D, Brawling 3D, Jumping 3D; WILLPOWER *

Health Levels: 5
Speed: 11
Horror: 3D

Qualities:
Same as the Shambler, except depending on the setting the DM may remove the 5D resistance to attacks.

Attacks:
Bite - same as Shambler
Pounce - A runner will usually try to jump onto its victim and hold it down while the other zombies catch up, though it may certainly attempt a bite or two in the meantime.

BRUTE
Brutes are your tougher-than-average zombie.  Often this is simply due to increased mass - the zombie was a body builder or simply obese during life, so in undeath they are a big, heavy slab of reanimated flesh.  In certain settings, perhaps they could be specially created as elite bodyguards or enforcers, or perhaps they are infected with a difference virus/parasite than the others.  Whatever the case, Brutes can take - and inflict - significantly more punishment than standard Shamblers.

AGILITY 1D; APTITUDE 1D; INTELLECT 1D; PERCEPTION/PRESENCE 1D, Sense Humans 3D; STRENGTH 4D, Brawling 5D; WILLPOWER *

Health Levels: 7
Speed: 6
Horror: 3D+2

Qualities:
Same as the Shambler, except increase the damage resistance to 6D.

Attacks:
Grab - Same as Shambler, except because of its better strength it is much harder to escape from its grasp
Bite - Same as Shambler
Crush - Sometimes, instead of biting, the Brute will simply try to crush a grabbed victim, then suck out its brains once the victim stops squirming.  A brute can inflict 5D crush damage to a grabbed victim every turn until it escapes or the brute is killed.

HULK
Depending on your game setting, Hulks may represent a "boss" style monster, or they may not exist.  Hulks are huge abominations, around 3 metres tall and almost as wide.  In a fantasy setting, they would be considered a zombie ogre.  In other games, they would have to be created specially by the evil corporation/alien task force/maniacal wizard behind the zombie apocalyse.  They will obviously not be appropriate in certain settings, but in a game where you want a super-powerful beastie to throw at a particulary tough group of players, or you just really want your PCs to shit themselves, toss them one of these guys to deal with.

AGILITY 1D; APTITUDE 1D; INTELLECT 1D; PERCEPTION/PRESENCE 1D, Sense Humans 3D; STRENGTH 7D; WILLPOWER *

Health Levels: 10
Speed: 10
Horror: 4D+1

Qualities:
Same as the Shambler, except increase the damage resistance to 9D.

Attacks:
Slam - A Hulk will usually just smash anything in its way with its huge fists.  Roll 7D to attack, and 7D for damage.
Grab - Same as Shambler, but good luck getting away.
Crush - If the Hulk grabs a victim, it will usually try to crush the poor sap in its huge hands. The hulk inflicts 8D crush damage against a grabbed victim every turn until it escapes or the hulk is killed.

***

So what do you think?  Feedback is always welcome, and please feel free to add your own favourite zombies in the comments section, below.

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4 comments:

  1. I was thinking along similar lines earlier this month. Check out the "People vs. Creatures" rules for the Player's Handbook, and also the one-page customizable zombie sheet. It's for an Old School Hack chassis, so very fast and light.

    http://fictivefantasies.wordpress.com/old-school-hack-modern-slash/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ready for the ZombiesOctober 25, 2011

    I loved our zombie game!!  It was my favourtie RPG experience ever.  There were times I laughed so hard I peed a little...like when our characters started out and sucked at everything.  I also loved the props that you used...maps, letters, clues...we should do that again...

    ReplyDelete
  3. CDGallant_KingNovember 04, 2011

    Sounds good to me.  Give me a place and time, we'll make it happen.

    ReplyDelete
  4. CDGallant_KingNovember 04, 2011

    Curious.  Interesting stuff.  The convenience of the 1-page stats and rules is nice.

    ReplyDelete

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