View Full Version : How to defend a town from hordes of zombies?

2014-12-31, 04:44 PM
I have recently come up with the idea for a mini-campaign of about 5 or so sessions where a small town of around 500 people has found out that a massive hoard of undead will reach their town in 3 days. Knowing that help is at least 4 days away and being the stubborn townsfolk they are, they decide to defend their town till help arrives. Enter PC's. The way I have it set up is that the town must defend itself for the entire night against the endless hordes of undead until help comes the next day. The PC's will have three in-game days to prepare the village as much as possible, but are encouraged to think outside the box during the weeks between each session. I really want them to come up with some unique ideas, such as training npcs, building barricades, chokepoints, traps, etc. I was wondering if anyone has any creative ideas to add to this scenario, such as ways to spice up the undead invasion, creative ways to defend the town, ways to make npc's more useful, and basically any other creative input would be greatly appreciated!

Honest Tiefling
2014-12-31, 04:55 PM
A guy named Oakspar77777 did what seemed to be a decent zombie campaign and posted it on the WOTC boards. Sadly, it was pretty long and I cannot navigate it well because I am old.

Anywho, some ideas I am either stealing, or made up myself:

Plan out the town, so you know what resources are present, such as a blacksmith, granary, tanner, etc. This is a case where I'd say a map is necessary.
Are you planning on tracking spell components? If so, silver for holy water will become important.
What is the setting like? What sort of tech, what sort of buildings?
Why are the PCs here? Perhaps they should decide this, and have the requirement of some knowledge or hooks regarding an NPC there. (There to meet family, a contact, a fence, etc). Have them understand that they know things about this NPC which might or might not be accurate.
NPC conflict is a must. I'd start with two factions in the town, and have them butt heads. The PCs get to meddle or mediate. They might also need to rescue important or useful NPCs...Which could help determine their reward.
Something happens that might prohibit help. A bridge is taken out, there is flooding, bad weather. Second part is clearing that so help CAN arrive. That is, if it does.
Age-old dilemma of what to do when someone is bitten. Perhaps the town smith gets bitten, but they really need him to do things.
Someone suspects it is an inside job.

2014-12-31, 09:43 PM
Obviously, just surround it with Treadmills, they'll never get past that! XD!

Hiro Protagonest
2014-12-31, 10:06 PM
Get a druid to grow and awaken vicious plants all around the outside of the town.

2014-12-31, 10:10 PM
creative ways to defend the town

If these zombies can't climb (and don't rip down whole buildings), then simply getting people atop roofs would be a sufficient defense.

If the PCs have ways to quickly build tunnels (i.e. summon giant badgers to dig up dirt), then the townsfolk could seal themselves up in a mini-dungeon (probably built from an existing cellar, with a huge metal door or simply sealing the entrance with debris) for the night.

If help is 4 days away, the townsfolk have 3 days of peace, and the zombies don't stand between the town and help, then the townsfolk could just leave in the direction the help is coming from, meet the help halfway (or 3/4 of the way if townsfolk are really slow), and never bother with zombies at all.

2015-01-01, 01:46 AM
What is the PCs' relationship to the town? Why is it their problem? (As opposed to, say, the mayor or the constable.)

500 people working for 3 days should be able to throw up some quite respectable defences. I'm thinking rudimentary earthworks - a ditch, ridge and palisade - which incidentally would be an entirely sensible thing for a town that size to have anyway. That should pretty much stop mindless zombies. Then you'd just have to defend the gates.

Kid Jake
2015-01-01, 01:53 AM
A guy named Oakspar77777 did what seemed to be a decent zombie campaign and posted it on the WOTC boards. Sadly, it was pretty long and I cannot navigate it well because I am old.

Here it is (http://home.nerbonne.org/dnd/oaksparthread-H.xhtml), I believe. It's one of my all time favorite campaign logs, though it is ridiculously long.

2015-01-01, 06:20 AM
Just the zombies, without any mastermind behind them, and three days to prepare? Since the survival is trivial under such circumstances, we're talking adult men protecting some non-transportable property from the undead that, according to some in-game knowledge checks, would otherwise damage it (and not just leave it as it is).

Walls, gate, and a big industrial mincer? Just kidding. You ride forward on a horse a day in advance, bring a reach slashing weapon, ready "rider swings, mount withdraws" and change often because of getting tired.

2015-01-01, 06:43 AM
Just mindless zombies, three days of preparation, and surviving only one night seems pretty easy. Pick a few of the largest and sturdiest buildings and reinforce the walls and cover all the doors and windows with as much heavy boards as you can get. Then get a good number of people with long polearms on the roof to push back any zombie that in some way manages to climb up. The only way the zombies could possibly get inside is by building a ramp out of zombie bodies, but almost no depiction of zombies has them so extremely agressive and persistent that they would do that. Generic fantasy zombies would simply crowd the place and perhaps press against the doors and windows.

The whole situation sounds too easy. Make the people hold out a week instead of a day and then things get a lot more interesting.

2015-01-01, 08:49 AM
Acquire an item of Blinding Glory.

Or, y'know, just make walls and fight them the conventional way, because they're terrible at actually fighting.

Jay R
2015-01-01, 12:46 PM
The PCs should just stockpile brains and join the winning side.

2015-01-01, 01:16 PM
Thanks to everyone for the responses, they are super helpful. I realize now the title might be a bit misleading; there will definitely not be "just" zombies. There will be some higher ups controlling them with evil intentions, either a necromancer or lich or whatever I come up with when I run this campaign. The catch for the villagers is that that the higher power WILL destroy their village as he/she passes by anyway, so the townsfolk, arguably in their folly, think "Hey, we can hold out for a night till help shows up, how hard can it be?" In an effort to save their town from destruction. Therefore the attacks will be much more strategic and coordinated than mindless zombies stumbling around. Thanks again to everyone for responding, you guys are awesome!

2015-01-01, 04:03 PM
Am I the only one who was instantly reminded of this (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?59107-Horror-Campaign-(prev-Army-of-Commoners))? It might have some good advice, from the players' perspective.

I was scrolling down to see if anyone had beaten me to it XD

I'd see if you can emulate what they did, or at the very least get the townsfolk to have ranged weapons. If you do have magic to mold the battlefield, use it to protect key points and channel the zombies into a killbox, maybe.

2015-01-01, 08:30 PM
Blinding Glory is unneccesarily high level. What level are the PCs anyway? All you need is any 7+ level cleric to cast Celestial Brilliance (BoED) in all their slots until satisfied. It creates a 60' radius of light on a moveable object that deals 1d6/round to undead and lasts at least a week, removing even the pretext of mount shenanigans or scarcity of ammunition (also a sor/wiz spell but Clerics always have it available). The only weakness is that you can't actually blanket the town with it, but can easily surround a building with a few castings (over multiple days). Also works against evil outsiders, though the hp difference makes it likely that even with the increased damage a fiend will last longer than a common skele/zombie.

2015-01-01, 08:44 PM
I'd just make AC/DC play somewhere else.

2015-01-01, 09:44 PM
Here's my two cents.

If you're doing a 'zombie' game and not just a horde of bad guys or event undead then your PC's probably have zombies on the brain. They're either going to watch a Walking Dead marathon or break out Max Brooks and run with that sort of game plan. This can be a lot of fun because they will prep for 'dumb slow zombies' and may not be ready for things you don't see on AMC.

I'd play it that there is a slow, lumbering horde on the way. Reports indicate that it's a wide front of shambling dead with no direct indications of other undead. If the PC's decide to send out scouts you can offer various spot checks to see if they pick off any signs of intelligence.

So let them setup for a large siege. Go with what's already been suggested for factions in the town. Let them think that's going to be the 'twist'.

Then let the horde come. If they've done their job well, they'll either slaughter piles of walkers or have them beat their hands against strong defenses. Let them feel like they're winning and all their planning as worked well.

Here is where it gets fun. So the big bad guy (BBG) behind the horde notices that there is a bulge in his line. Who dares to stand against him. So he sends in his reserves which consist of non-human zombies. Start with something like minotaur or ogre zombies that can break through a few barricades or force back trained NPC's. You can always then follow up with zombified animals like elephants, bears, rhinos, etc. Perhaps this causes a breach in the outer wall. If they're smart they've setup fallback positions and they have to hold the line against the rest of the zombies until the town can pull back to the inner defenses.

Another twist you can pull is non-corporeal undead which can pass right through barricades and cause havoc behind the lines.

At this point the BBG has gone from annoyed to pissed. There are a few escalating options here. He can send some sort of caster that can dispel any defenses like Celestial Brilliance (vampire, minor lich). Another option could be something like a Death Knight or other tough undead. If you really want to screw with them, there's always a Corpse Gatherer.

If they can hold here we get into the endgame, an assault by the BBG himself. I see you could have a few different options here:

1. The PC's see they're in over their head and bug out. They'd have to sneak out of the town but the remaining NPC's would serve as a target while the PC's try to punch through the line of normal zombies and get to safety.
2. The PC's try to break out with some of the NPC's. Maybe some stay stubbornly, others have to be left behind due to injury. There is some interesting role playing here for the PC's and then a running battle to get a few surviving NPC's to safety.
3. The PC's take on and destroy/injure the BBG.
4. The PC's hold until morning when some key undead have to retreat underground.
5. The PC's hold until they are rescued by the reinforcements. This could either push the BBG to withdraw or provide enough of a distraction to give the PC's a chance to punch through and take out the BBG.
6. The PC's fight to nearly the last man. The town is overrun and almost everyone is dead but them. Maybe even some PC's fall before help arrives. Or maybe they all die. Depending if these are long term characters or not a fight to the death could be very appropriate for a zombie game.