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Zeros
2016-12-08, 04:27 PM
I've been asked to start preparing a 5e campaign to run, and I've always preferred to create my own worlds than to pick up another's campaign. In the past I've tried to put together a 3.5 Zombie Apocalypse game, but for various reasons it fell apart before it began. I'm now trying to take that old idea and port it into 5e, but that requires some modification.

The biggest modification is on Zombies. Fantasy zombies usually aren't the sort to bite you to convert you, usually they only show up when a necromancer or cleric raises them. I want to get that feel across in this campaign. So here I present both the plague and the modified zombie.

The Plague: Infection comes via piercing or slashing injuries that come from an infected source, as a Plague Zombie's bite. At the time of infection the victim makes a constitution save against 8 + Con modifier of the zombie who infected them. On a failed saving throw the disease begins incubating.

Every day the victim feels incrementally worse, not enough to keep them from concentrating or fighting effectively, but its a noticeable feeling of illness. Every day the victim makes a constitution save against 10 + days since infection. Once they have failed three saves the disease enters its acute stage.

After it enters the acute stage the creature no longer heals naturally. Every day they make a save 10 + days since infection. Each Failure grants one degree of exhaustion.

A creature that dies while the disease is incubating will re-animate as a Plague Zombie in 4d6 hours. A creature that dies while the disease is in its acute stage will re-animate one round after death.

There will be a way to restore from the incubation stage of the Plague, but I haven't quite decided what it is as it will be story intensive. Suggestions are welcome. Current ideas are a combination of lesser restoration with a specific item.

Plague Zombie
(Same as base creature) undead, Neutral Evil
Armor Class: 8*
Hit Points (xd8+x*con mod)**
Speed: Base creatures ground speed -10
Str*** Dex 6 (-2) Con*** Int 3 (-4) Wis 6 (-2) Cha 5 (-3)
Proficiency Bonus +2
Saving throws: Wis +0
Damage Immunities: Poison
Condition Immunities: Poisoned
Senses: Darkvision 60, passive perception 8
Languages: No languages
Challenge Rating: Varies

Aim for the Head: A critical hit will automatically kill a zombie. If when an adventurer attacks with advantage and both dice would hit they score a critical hit.
Undeath: Zombies do not die at 0 hp, but their movement speed is reduced to 0 and any successful attack against them is treated as if it were a critical hit. When at 0 hp zombies have disadvantage on all attacks and can only make opportunity attacks against a creature that walks through its space.
Feeding Frenzy: When a living creature is grappled by another Plague Zombie within 5 feet this zombie gets advantage on Strength (athletics) rolls to initiate a grapple.
Smell their fear: A zombie gets advantage on perception (wisdom) checks against living creatures it could smell that are within thirty feet.

Actions
Bite. Melee weapon attack +(2+str mod) to hit, reach 5 ft, one target. Hit: (****+str) Piercing damage + roll against the Plague
Feed. Melee weapon attack +(2+str mod) to hit, reach 5 ft, one target. Hit: Initiates grapple: Zombieís Strength check versus the targetís Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). On a failure the target is grappled and the Zombie may use its action each round to deal its bite damage and . normal grapple rules apply


*If base creature was wearing armor calculate their AC as if they were wearing that armor.
**Calculate HP by treating X as the level of the base creature, minimum 3.
*** Strength is equal to the base creature, Constitution is base creature +2 (minimum 16)
****based on base creatureís size 1 for tiny, 1d4-1 for small, 1d4 for medium, 1d6 for large, 2d6 for huge, 2d8 for gargantuan. If the creature naturally has a bite attack, use the greater of the two values.

I'm wondering about a couple of things.

Balance
Clarity
Consistency



I'm interested in any thoughts on it of course, but this is a sort of integral part of the campaign and I want to make sure that it works from a mechanical side.

King539
2016-12-10, 11:11 PM
So a zombie squirrel would have higher Strength than your average human? :smalleek:

Steel Mirror
2016-12-11, 02:40 AM
Mechanically it looks to me like it should work pretty much like you want it to. Once the infection gets even the tiniest foothold, it starts its inexorable march, and barring those plot-related ways you alluded to for cleansing it, it's only a matter of time before it claims the person and converts them into the walking dead. I like the stacking levels of exhaustion and the failure of healing in the latter stages of the disease, it's a good way to signal "you're pretty close to being screwed" that still leaves a tiny bit of time on the clock for the players to race desperately for a cure.

One thing you might do, depending on how long you want to give the players once they are infected, is lower the initial save DC of the infection to something like 8+number of days since infected, or maybe even lower. All that does is give them a couple more days, but for classes that don't get proficiency in Con saves even a DC 10 save is basically an even shot, and you could have players succumbing to zombieness only a few days after the first fight scene of the campaign. Of course, if that's what you want, well okay then. :smallsmile:

The zombie stat block looks good too, though I hope you do eventually introduce some more types of zombie enemies than just the basic shamblers. I especially like "Aim for the Head", and how it lets you score a crit with 2 success rolls on an advantage attack. That's a mechanic I've been toying with a bit myself (in a completely different context) and in this situation it fits perfectly.

Other than that I don't really have any nits to pick, it looks like a cool take on the gritty and desperate zombiebpocalypse, and I hope it works out well for you.

Zeros
2016-12-11, 06:03 PM
So a zombie squirrel would have higher Strength than your average human? :smalleek:

This... This is we I post such things to the board, for the silly things that we miss. Perhaps just change it to base creature +3. I may discount beasts from getting the disease, restricting it to sentient beings, but I'm not sure yet.

As for lowering the DC, that is definitely an option, it just gives them a little bit more time to survive (and puts in more in line with other DCs being based on 8 + (x)).

I am still considering the more unique zombies (as going through hordes of zombies will probably get a touch boring). The problem is what style of them. I'd rather not borrow too explicitly from other specific games too highly though.