2008-12-08, 11:13 AM (ISO 8601)
Bugbear in the Playground
Re: A Zombiemageddon Campaign Journal - Please read and comment!
Thanks for the replies everyone! I'm glad there's still interest in my humble offerings.
At this point, zombies are the only undead, if only because the PC's are still 1st level and have only just encountered the beginnings of the outbreak. I may end up breaking out different types of corporeal undead as things progress, but the jury's still out on that for me. I think it'll depend largely on how long the campaign progresses and how powerful the PC's get.
Originally Posted by LurkerInPlayground
The main problem a zombies-only campaign presents is boredom on the part of the PC's. It's hard to get excited or stressed or scared in combat when you know you're going to be fighting the same thing you've been fighting for the past 10 sessions. The challenge for the DM becomes providing the players with interesting and unique challenges within the context of the broader campaign. In this circumstance, the DM can do this by framing encounters in non-traditional ways. Sure, the players are still confronted with zombies, but the goal isn't to simply kill the zombies and move on. The goal is to avoid fighting the zombies at all or to find a way to eliminate the zombies as quickly as possible. The focus becomes creatively using whatever resources you have to find unique solutions to these problems. In most cases, the zombies can almost be seen as difficult terrain in the sense that they restrict what the PC's feel capable of accomplishing and they provide obstacles for the PC's to overcome. If the DM views the campaign in this light, it's easier to make encounters fresh and interesting while still using the same opponents.
Indeed. I decided even before the campaign started that I wasn't necessarily going to pull punches. As you (and other posters as well) have mentioned, the only way to make the zombie threat credible is to maintain a real threat of PC death. And the only way to maintain this threat is for PC's to actually die.
Originally Posted by vegetalss4
When Bracken's player decided to step outside the door and into the street, I warned him that his character might very likely die. I also told the group at the beginning of the campaign that PC death was a distinct possibility. Finally, I emailed Bracken's player yesterday to ask about his thoughts on the character dying, especially since it is only the 2nd real session of the campaign. He is completely ok with the character dying for many of the reasons that have been mentioned in this thread. I'm sure we'll be able to work out some way to introduce a new character or come up with a solution that works for everyone.
But ultimately, I will probably let the character die. I think it's better for the campaign as a whole.
Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to see any of the Evil Dead movies *hangs head in shame*.
Originally Posted by Deth Muncher
I don't think I'm going to go this route, if only because, as others have said, it makes the PC's seem special and removes the credibility of the zombie threat in the minds of the players. True, the characters won't know that they should have died and didn't, but the players will innevitably be aware of the plot gymnastics I went through to ensure that the character remains playable, which will ruin the suspension of disbelief.
If I were to go this route, there are a couple of methods I could see using. There's a couple of templates or feats that fit the bill. The Corpse template from the Book of Vile Darkness would work, or I believe someone's mentioned the Necropolitan template. Tomb Tainted Soul might be another option. Or I could go with something homebrew. Your suggestion (and Starbuck _II's, which seems pretty similar) is an interesting one, where the "zombie" character has to constantly resist the urge to feed. I could also homebrew a half-zombie template. But ultimately, I think that the "disease" following its normal path is better for the campaign.
This is an interesting idea, and I would definitely consider something like this were I to start this campaign over again from the beginning. However, I don't really feel comfortable introducing a house rule like this in the middle of the campaign. It's important that your players know what house rules you're using at the outset so they don't feel surprised and (to an extent) betrayed when you invoke a rule that works differently than they expected. I do, however, think this is an interesting solution for the problem of too quick advancement that still provides players with tangible rewards for their actions at a rate they're used to.
Originally Posted by Kyace
I agree. This is one of my favorite things about this type of campaign. It encourages the players to view certain items as valuable resources that they would otherwise shove in their handy haversacks and disregard. Finding caltrops suddenly becomes a fantastic discovery. Masterwork weapons are like gold, far beyond when they would normally be exciting. Players actually use their Craft skills for interesting stuff. Zero-level spells are hoarded and conserved instead of being spent willy-nilly. I'm really excited to see what my players come up with now that the initiative is on them.
Originally Posted by Prometheus
Glad you're enjoying the story.
Originally Posted by Starbuck_II
I think this could be a interesting solution if I had decided to keep Bracken alive rather than letting him die. I like the idea that more powerful characters find it more difficult to resist the urge to feed. It speaks to some interesting characteristics of the "disease" that fit moderately well with the ideas I have for the future...
I played in a campaign with a similar solution. In ours, a mercane merchant had set up shop in a city overrun by demons, allying himself with a group of war trolls and using the chaos of the city to loot valuable magic items for interplanar customers. He also used our party for this purpose and facilitated exchange and found items for us in exchange. At higher levels, this is definitely a viable solution, and it can be rather elegant and bring in some interesting plot elements.
Originally Posted by Talanic
Ultimately, the issue of how to allow some sort of economic activity is only going to come up if the PC's get powerful enough to require more expensive and rare items. At low levels, they can still be supported by looting and small-scale barter with isolated bands of survivors (where possible).
The players don't get fort saves to fight off the "disease" completely (I want the "disease" to be more powerful and mysterious than that, and only a completely irresistable disease could result in a disaster of the proportions we're discussing) but they can make fort saves to stave off the effects for a time. The "disease" requires fort saves every hour to avoid 1d4 Constitution and 1d4 Intelligence damage. The saves start low and increase by 1 for every save, whether or not the character is successful.
Originally Posted by quick_comment
I also like the idea of survival-of-the-fittest undead. It seems less arbitrary than other explanations for more powerful undead, and the PC's can actually watch it happening. If I decide to go the "elite" zombies route, I may end up adopting this. Thanks!
I have some ideas for disrupting the safety of the PC's fort, but part of me thinks they won't stay there very long. This group seems pretty restless and I expect a lot of forays into the city for various reasons. The main question, if this is the case, is how they intend to travel without attracting every zombie in the city.
Originally Posted by Frigs
Thanks a lot for the comments everyone! I think I touched on everything. I'm happy to hear that people seem to enjoy my journal.
Last edited by Mephibosheth; 2008-12-08 at 04:54 PM.