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    Bugbear in the Playground
    Mephibosheth's Avatar

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    Jul 2005
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    Default 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.

    Quote Originally Posted by LurkerInPlayground
    Are zombies the only undead? Really, you could pass off different types of corporeal undead as "higher" zombies easily enough. Ghasts, ghouls, vampire spawn, etc.
    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.

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by vegetalss4
    now you need to decide whether you want the PC to survive being bitten. depending on your choice the feel will change, and so will the players actions. if they survive the are going to be bolder and to consider the Zombies less of a threat, however if they die they will instead be much more cautious.
    both have upsides both have downsides. however I would choose to have them die, after some time, in order to keep the fear level of the zombies high
    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.

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deth Muncher
    Hey now, here's an idea. Did you ever see Evil Dead 2? If not, for shame. But, in the movie, the character Ash gets posessed by this evil spirit lurking in the woods by this cabin, right? Twice throughout the movie, Ash loses control of his body to the spirit, wreaking havoc.

    I told you that story to tell you this story idea. Why not have it where the PCs, since they can, presumably, be kinda healedish by the other party members, only partially succumb to the disease? The most basic version of this would perhaps instead of being able to eat as normal people, they would need raw food to sustain them, at first. As the PCs go longer and longer without food (by being holed up, for example), perhaps the bitten PC and dog need to make checks to avoid looking at their party members like delicious steaks.

    Or, to take it a step further, craft a Half-Zombie template for them. Basically, taking what I just said and adding a few things to it, or setting more limitations. I like the idea of having these half-zombies have "The Craving" every so often, be it a certain number of hours/days or where story appropriate, having them have to make concurrent checks to keep from feasting upon their party if they can't get something bloody and meaty into them.

    OH! Or, taking one step further, have the half-zombie template be a slowed-version of the actual virus, so that this template will keep the PC and dog as PC and Animal Cmpanion alive longer than the average commoner, so as to perhaps be able to research how to reverse the effects.
    Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to see any of the Evil Dead movies *hangs head in shame*.

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyace
    I don't think the Zombie-via-possession is the way Meph wants to go, Deth. At this point in the game, it might be best for Bracken's player to take control of one of the survivors in the inn, most likely one of the two guards after he croaks.

    Something I might offer as advice in regards to the xp problem for keeping the characters low level but giving them rewards could be to break the gestalt into a more granular system where you advance from 1//1 to 2//1 then to 2//2
    Something like:

    {table=head]XP|Gestalt A|Gestalt B
    30000|6|6 [/table]

    It'll inflate the value of XP a bit since it takes more XP to get to the same class features but you could always change the XP values to fit the rate at which your characters progress.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus
    The nice thing about these sorts of games is the funniest things become the greatest type of treasure. A fancy weapon and cure potions might not be that good but PCs, Bags of Holding, Endless Decanters, or even potion of invisibility are certainly worth more.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbuck_II
    Have you see Night of the Living Dead 3?
    If so then you've seen the Zombie Girl who still remembered her friend and didn't kill him.
    She killed others, but not him.

    So, that got me thinking, the players could choose to still be zombies, but they get a will save DC (10 +1/2 HD + 1/day they haven't feed) every moment to resist the feed. Could make them roll every morning and certain situations you deem (like when a person is attacked/bleeding)
    Yes, this means the higher level, the higher the DC.
    A remove disease gives them an extra week before rolling.

    They get +2 resist when surrounded by allies.

    Basically, they lose Con mod to hps while in the zombified state (and the RP issues of no one trusting them). Just an idea.

    You tell them they can choose to continue trying to play their characters , but the urge to feed is great and they might succumb any moment.

    If they choose so they keep their mind temporaily (until fail check).

    I love the story so far.
    Glad you're enjoying the story.

    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...

    Quote Originally Posted by Talanic
    I wish the campaign I'd been in was so skillfully done. The DM started us out on an undead-infested world, but stopped after a handful of sessions (and the introduction of an epic wizard as our benefactor).

    I took over the campaign, and what I ultimately decided was that the epic wizard (who was from a different setting, as were a few of the PCs) was actually there for the purpose of quarantine only, and wouldn't interfere much in the affairs of the players; mostly she was working with other epic wizards to cut this world off from the rest of the multiverse. She could allow trans-planar trade at exorbitant prices, or allow the party to exit in order to trade, but they would be watched closely and kept separate from others.

    Dunno if that'll help you with the loot idea, but there's an option. I wish I could tell you it worked out well, but we disbanded for other reasons after a year of play. I wasn't really that experienced at D&D either so I'm sure I botched some things, but it was a lot of fun for all of us.
    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.

    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).

    Quote Originally Posted by quick_comment
    I would at least let the player make a fort save vs the disease.

    If you want to introduce tiers of zombies, you can have the zombies start eating each other once the streets are free of living prey. Eating another zombie results in more power, maybe even to the point that the most successful zombies regain sentience, and are powerful zombie lords.
    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.

    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!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frigs
    I say Zombify them. Scare the players a bit. If they decide to hole up, Have the zombies either slowly lose intrest and leave or have them break down the reinforcements in a hunger frenzy.
    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.

    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.
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