Zombies. What wonderful creatures they are! Dead. Restless. Grotesque. Hungry… And with the success of the graphic novels and subsequent TV series for The Walking Dead I suspect we’ll be enduring zombie hordes for many years to come. I hope that’s the case anyway. I’m a bit of a “zombieholic.” If there’s a book, movie, or TV show with zombies in it, I am very likely to see it at some point. And apparently I’m not the only one.
Greg Marks has been involved with D&D for many years and apparently also has a penchant for the walking dead. So What’s the Zombie Like, Anyway? brings some love to these maligned and often glossed over creatures who deserve another look. Not only can you give the walkers some pizazz with better visual descriptions, but figure out what they’re carrying, how to apply some templates to existing creatures to “zombify” them, and even some story hooks to increase the zom-count in your adventures.
If you look at a zombie, it has three distinct phases.
- Its birth after initially dying from a zombie attack.
- Middle-age where it wanders trying to find food or stands still indefinitely until roused.
- Its death when some zombie slayer puts it out of its misery.
Usually adventurers in D&D or PFRPG don’t see phase 1 unless they are attacked or they witness an attack and subsequent rise of the new walker. They will likely run across lone zombies or groups in phase 2. And if they’re heroes, they may choose to stop a few zoms from attacking innocents or eradicate an entire outbreak. But all zombies look alike, right?
Wrong! The Walking Dead proved that in the first episode of the first season. We don’t all look and act alike. Why would the zombies? That’s where Table A comes in… “What’s the zombie look like?” Roll d100 and see what you get. I decided to roll up a trio of zombies waiting to be discovered. I ended up with a Zaphod Beebelbrox zombie with an additional head grafted on that lolls about (#46), a naked zombie whose clothes have rotted away (#65), and a child zombie (#98). A whole family of zoms! There are all sorts of descriptions from extra or missing limbs or other parts, entrails dragging on the ground, or maggot-filled zombie bar goodness… Yuck!
Next up, let’s see what the zombies are carrying courtesy of Table B. One of the zombies has a cane (#14), another has some “Halfling jugglesticks decorated with bright red and gold streamers and capped with smiling doll heads” (#34), and the last one is holding a jade dolphin statue (#87). Perhaps this zombie trio is a grandfather, a mom or grandmother, and her child or grandchild. It just gets creepier!
The templates in Table C are… disturbing… and awesome at the same time. From the frozen and grinning zombie to the zombie pet or zombie limb swarm ([shudder]), these will offer some intriguing choices during your next in-game zombie apocalypse. (Not to mention a few nightmares about swarming zombie limbs…)
And lastly we have Table D: Hooks. Twenty ideas to spark your imagination for an encounter. Here again are some creepy choices like a zombie speaking with someone else’s voice (like a puppet master) and a Soylent Green slaughterhouse. After having so many great entries in the first couple of tables, I was a little disappointed by the number of ideas here. But the quality of the ideas definitely gets the head quickly working on an encounter or 6.
In the 15-page PDF, there are 7 pages of content among the four tables. The book uses the standard Raging Swan two-column layout with occasional art and a good use of white space. And as always, it’s well written and edited.
If you’re looking for a way to jazz up your zombies for a Halloween gaming session or really any time of year (do zombies *go* out of season? 🙂 ), this is a solid resource for your GM toolbox!
For more about So What’s the Zombie Like, Anyway?, check out…
- … the product page at Raging Swan Press.
- … the book at RPGNow.
- … or check out Creighton’s Raging Swan and gaming blog for details on this and other products.